CASeries #1: KNIGHT
Chapter Fourteen: Back Home
Lily woke up the next morning and found out Valeriana was gone. After a whole day of waiting, her daughter remained missing and she grew worried. Valeriana did not return calls nor did she leave any message. Despite the unease in her heart, she tried to be positive and assumed the girl would come back later that day, so she went to work. Even so, she was not able to focus very well as she kept on checking her phone in case her daughter decided to contact her, but there was still nothing. She spent the whole night moping, twiddling her thumbs while anxiously waiting for her daughter to open the door.
Once or twice she tried calling the police, but they told her that she should wait for twenty-four hours before reporting a missing person. She remembered throwing the phone down and deciding to go out and look for Valeriana herself but then she did not know where to start.
Jareth came trudging downstairs while rubbing off the sleepiness in his eyes. “I’m hungry. Mom? Aren’t you going to work?” He sauntered to the sofa his mother was sleeping on and shook her awake. “Mom . . . mom! You’ll be late!”
The woman jumped in fright and looked at Jareth disorientedly. A dried trail of her drool marked the edges of her mouth.
She held the remote control in her hands and glanced at their plasma television pinned against the wall. The screen blared with the morning news report. The television must’ve been running since last night.
“Did Valeriana come home last . . .” She wiped the area around her lips. “Last night? What time is it already?” she asked, brushing back the locks of her brown hair that resembled a bird’s nest.
“Seven-thirty and I don’t think so,” Jareth muttered sleepily. “I checked her room to ask her to cook something for me. She’s not home yet.”
“I think I’ll take a day off today, Jareth. I can’t go to work worrying for Valery the entire day. I need to find her,” she firmly stated.
Jareth sank on the sofa and trained his eyes to the television. “She’ll come back.”
“How can you say that so easily? Don’t you care for your sister?”
“No, it’s just that Val is really too stubborn to let herself be abducted that easily without fighting. I mean, if ever they try, I’m sure they’ll get a bruise or two.”
“Jareth! Sometimes, I feel like you don’t care.”
Jareth shrugged. “I do, but it doesn’t feel like she’s in danger.”
“I’m going to call the police and drop by the station after that. I’m really worried for Valeriana. What if those who kidnapped her were in a syndicate of some sort? Oh, good lords,” she said and fumbled with the receiver resting on the drawer against the wall. Not a split second afterward, while the dial tone was ringing, she glared at Jareth pointedly and spoke. “Get the newspaper. Check if we also have mail.”
Jareth obeyed her mother and walked out of their front door. He saw the newspaper on their front porch and plucked it off the floor lazily.
The red flag drew his eyes to the mailbox. Clipping the newspaper under his arm, Jareth pulled on the small knob he personally hammered into it when he was a child and found, as expected, a letter. He took it out and stared at the golden seal.
Crisscrossing swords with a pair of wings.
It wasn’t addressed to anyone in particular. He entered his house, examining the letter on all angles and sides.
As he closed the door behind him, his mother was standing by their clothing rack, pulling over her coat. Lily moved toward him while buttoning up.
“What’s that?” She nodded towards the letter in Jareth’s hands.
“A letter, obviously,” he answered sarcastically.
“Let me see.” Lily snatched the envelope from Jareth’s hands and flipped it to the other side. “No name? How did they send it, then?”
She ripped it open and found two letters inside. She unfolded the first and started reading. After going over the contents written on it, she beckoned her son to come forward, keeping her eyes trained on the piece of paper.
“Tell me this isn’t true!”
After reading it over two times, tears sprung from her eyes and she broke down. She began sobbing and shoved the piece of paper to Jareth’s chest, covering her face with her hands.
“That’s got to be some scam! Hand me google!”
“What does it say?” he asked, taking a look for himself. He started reading it aloud.
I’m sorry and I know you’ll be angry with this, like, REALLY ANGRY. I want you to know that I found a great school that I can study in without having to pay for anything. There was this guy named Airon La-something who said that he would be willing to pay for everything I’ll need. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to tell you goodbye, but things happened this way and I sort of just went along. I’m sorry if this might seem insensitive, but I love you and I had to do it. I’m sorry, sorry, sorry, sorrrryyy!
If you’re worrying if this is a scam, like you always do, then don’t. I have loads of evidence here to pull out in case you’re suspecting. And no, they’re not holding me captive telling me to tell you they’re not holding me captive.
I barely had time to prepare myself too. It isn’t easy for me because I’m not ready to leave you guys yet, but if you’re going to ask why now—why so early—when it’s summer vacation, I think it’s because this school demands a lot from its students. I’m even wondering if these guys ever rest.
And yes, there’s a problem. I mean, I have to (figh) find a way that I can pass the entrance exam. It’s far harder than I thought it was. And everyone here is so mean! Just because I’m from another (world) country from theirs. I’m a foreigner and they’re not used to foreigners (T.T) << by the way that’s supposed to be a crying face and not some weird symbol. Don’t misinterpret it.
Anyway, mom, this academy has very high standards and stuff. It’s called Celeste Academy, in case you’re wondering, and they’re a very secluded and old-fashioned lot. I don’t expect Google to help you with investigations. Weird right? Even the most stuck-up schools have websites. Unfortunately, these guys are so sad they don’t even have proper wifi and cellphone signals.
I have a LOT of things to tell you, mom! But for now, let’s end it here.
With lots of love and kisses,
P.S. I’ll try sending you a postcard!
“No. I don’t believe it.” She shook her head furiously. “I do not believe that!”
“It’s sis’ handwriting.”
“You don’t know how good people are at imitating those kind of things!”
“What about the other one?” Jareth inquired, pointing to the other piece of paper.
Lily hastily began to read.
To Mr. and Mrs. Kerrigan.,
We are glad to inform you that your daughter has been accepted into Celeste Academy and will now serve as one of our beloved students for the next four years. We want you to be aware that the school requires students to reside within our dormitories. You’ve no need to worry about paying any of her school fees and other miscellaneous, for she will study under a scholarship until she graduates.
Aeron LaVallene and Kylon Cadalyn
Administrator and School Headmaster
“Am I to believe this scam?” She almost threw the letter across the room—she did, and it hit Jareth’s face. “I am not a goddamn fool! I will not allow it!”
Lily began to pace around restlessly. Her son sighed as he took the piece of paper off his face. “Mom!”
“Where is that school? How can I contact them? I need to talk to Valery immediately! Where are their credits? I will not be able to rest easy until I know what kind of school it is!”
She chewed on her nails.
“Valeriana’s already seventeen years old. She’s old enough to take care of herself,” Jareth said. “Where is it anyway? There’s no address on the envelope.”
Lily’s brows creased into a frown as she stared at the letter Jareth was holding.
She shook her head. “It’s nothing. I’ll Google the hell out of this crap. I mean, there should be something. If nothing comes out . . .” She guided herself and headed for the stairs, her heavy, seemingly dragged footsteps echoing all throughout the house. “I’ll go upstairs,” she carefully told his son. “I pulled off a simple ham sandwich at the moment, go help yourself.”
Lily traveled through the hall and entered the bedroom which she and her late husband used to share. She sauntered into the room and stopped just beside their bed. She took a deep breath and bent over. Her hands snaked under the furniture until they caught a small, antique box and fished it out. Calmly kneeling on the floor as she stared at the small container sitting on her palms, she blew away the dust and closed her eyes.
She then placed the box on the floor, pulled out her smartphone, and got to work.