CASeries #1: KNIGHT
Chapter Forty-Four: The Return
Valeriana didn’t see Chavi around for History class and got worried. She had been debating the entire way through lunch, wondering if she should check up on the other girl. Thankfully, the brunette had come around during recess hours and apologized, saying she had trouble getting out of bed.
“Seriously? I thought you were sick or something. I was going to the dormitories to visit you.” The girl sat down in front of a vacant table and sighed, setting the tray of her food down to the surface. “Lady Seraphina said there’s corresponding public service as punishment for every day you do not attend her class.”
“She said that? Oh god, I’m through.” Chavi pursed her lips. “Anyway, I’m fine. You’re only going to make a commotion in the dormitories if you go there. Being one of the Twelve, you already attract too much attention.” She referred to the current number of eyes trained to their direction at the moment.
She glanced around and saw her point. “Attracting attention or not, you’re still my friend, remember? Of course, I’ll worry.”
Chavi shook her head and breathed out heavily. “You really are too kind for your own good, Valeriana,” she said.
Valeriana bit into a sandwich as she raised a brow at her friend. “I thwink wi’me jusw wight.” She mumbled through the food in her mouth.
Chavi shook it off. “Really.”
The human girl continued to happily munch away on her food, stuffing her mouth and letting her worries disappear. Eating seemed to always offer some comfort.
“By the way,” Chavi started. “I don’t see you around the Twelve during lunch break. Why aren’t you with them?”
“Nah, I’m with them everyday. Besides, I easily am fed up by their relentless ‘do this’ and ‘do that’ and most of them are a bunch of, I’m sorry, asses to me more than half the time—especially that idiot Corvan. They’re a good bunch, but they have too much fun bossing me around.”
“I must say you’ve never gained an ounce of grace since I left.”
The whole room was swept with silence.
Valeriana froze. She grabbed her cup of water and chugged it down before turning to face Courtney, who stood behind her. Long auburn hair tumbled down her back, eyes narrowed and nose turned up as she gazed at the current fifth-ranker.
The earth-born did not know how to respond. “Welcome back?”
The former fifth raised a brow at Valeriana. “Thank you, I suppose,” she answered, sauntering forward with all the bearing of a princess.
There were small steps as she moved and Julian appeared behind Courtney, a smug look on his face.
Chavi gave him a death glare.
“I have heard of your achievements as fifth-ranker during my absence.” She paused, eyeing the girl up and down. “And that you genuinely defeated Zion. I must say I am quite impressed. You did a fairly good job keeping up the name of fifth-ranker—for a human.”
“Courtney’s going to—” Julian began, but Courtney shut him up.
“Quiet, Julian,” she said.
Valeriana looked questioningly at the both of them. “Thank you, I guess?”
“Don’t doubt,” she told her. “It’s a compliment.”
“I . . . see.”
“Now, I do not want you to unnecessarily see me as a spiteful villain trying to ruin your life here in the academy—which I am sure you’ve viewed me as so many times with how the things went during our last fight.”
“I will tell you now and I will continue to tell you as many times as it takes,” she paused, placing a hand on her hip. “My intentions may be misunderstood but they strive of a greater purpose far beyond your understanding.”
“You’re making me sound like I’m stupid.” Valeriana gave her a look of ridicule, angered by her tone. She didn’t know if this girl was actually making peace with her or trying to push her to her limits.
Courtney quirked a brow. “I have heard of your . . . dim-witted tendencies, although I acknowledge your fast-learning qualities regarding swordsmanship and other things.”
She huffed, her lips stretching into a displeased smile. “I do admit that I can be dense sometimes,” she whispered. “But I’m not dim-witted.”
“Forgive me if I have offended you. I should’ve not based my impression of you through rumors. Anyhow, I am willing to give you what you asked for.” Courtney’s tone was smug and came with unwavering confidence. A smile tugged on the corners of her mouth and graced her deceivingly angelic face. “I, too, desire to live my life in peace, so if this settles the conflict between us, so be it.”
Valeriana felt her brows rising against her will as she gazed at the former fifth in confusion. “What?”
“Valeriana Kerrigan, what do you say about another duel?” Her smile turned sweet that the girl forced herself to stay calm and not vomit.
She hated sweets. It brought nothing but bad things to her life.
“Another one?” she asked, her eyes wide.
“Courtney is going to beat you into a pulp—”
“Julian,” Courtney reprimanded. “If you’re going to say something threatening, please be more creative about it. Your lines are way too overused.”
“I am going to apologize for his rude behavior while I was gone.” She cocked her hips to the side as she folded her arms. “Punching him was not enough to compensate for his disrespectfulness. So, I humbly ask for your pardon. Anything he does reflects on me as I accepted him as my aide.”
“B-but, Lady C-Courtney . . .” Julian stammered.
She ignored him. “Do you not want to solve this issue once and for all? I did tell you that I will be back to take what is mine, but if you manage to keep it, then I will leave you in peace—if you agree to duel with me on a regular basis.”
“So you basically won’t stop until you have it back?” She started chewing on her bottom lip.
She had been starting to think that Courtney was somehow not that evil like she thought she was at first, but those thoughts were shifting once more. Seriously, why in the world did she have to go through this?
“I’m just doing what you always do,” she said—as though it was the most obvious thing ever. “Didn’t you say so yourself? I will never give up?”
Valeriana suppressed a groan. She hated people using her words against her.
“Think about it,” the girl said. “Give me your answer by the end of the day. I’ll give you the peace you need for now,” Courtney said. She turned away from Valeriana and started walking away.
Valeriana gazed at Courtney’s back as she disappeared.