CASeries #1: KNIGHT
Chapter Thirty-Four: Concern or Guilt
Valeriana’s eyes fluttered open and light blinded her eyes. She yawned and rose from the unfamiliar bed.
“Where am I?” she asked and reached up to rub her throbbing temple.
“You’re already awake?” Olivia, who was sitting on a chair, craned her neck and gave her a smile. “You overworked yourself and fainted.”
“I fainted? Oh, man. Corvan is going to kill me.” She massaged her forehead in irritation and sighed. “This never happened to me before.”
“Do you feel fine now?” the lady asked.
“Yes, I do. I think it’s time for me to go back.”
“Where are you going?”
“To my room.”
“Uh . . .”
The healer shook her head. “Don’t try to rush very much. If you continue like that, your body will fall. Try to mind your health, dear. That’s a warrior’s greatest wealth, you know.”
“I guess I was a bit reckless. But I only have about a week left. Our real lessons will start after that.”
“That’s right. Celeste Academy only uses the first month of the year as an eye-opener for the students. The real challenge will start, like you said, after that.”
“Please don’t remind me.”
The healer laughed. “It’s alright to cry out, you know. I’m willing to listen to your complaints. This would help vent out your frustrations, yes?”
Valeriana almost wanted to cry. “Oh my gosh, you’re so kind.” She grunted as tears misted her eyes. “Why can’t everyone else be like you?”
“You can’t blame anyone,” she said. “They all carry huge burdens. Just don’t go overboard with everything and get some sleep at least six hours a day.”
“You don’t have to be afraid of not being able to catch up. Believe me, I have an eye for things and I know you can do it.” She winked encouragingly at Valeriana.
“Thank you so much,” she said, smiling.
“No problem. You can come here any time you like when you have problems.”
Valeriana nodded. “Sure. Thanks.” The girl started to get up. “Thank you very much for everything.” Valeriana bobbed her head swiftly at Olivia before dashing right out of the door.
She managed to catch a swift glance of the time at the infirmary. Apparently, it was already a little past six o’clock. She thought it would help relieve her stress if she listened to music while reading the sixteenth chapter of her history book. Her mother did bother sending her the gadgets she owned, so she should at least use it from time to time.
Valeriana managed to finally familiarize herself with the route heading towards the high-class building the Celestial Circle kept to themselves. After almost a month of running around and doing the ridiculous things the circle made her do, she probably could walk her way back with her eyes closed.
Just as she was about to take a right turn, she smacked right into a hard chest. She fell over and landed straight on her rear end. Valeriana grunted from the pain and looked up, only to see Corvan staring intently at her.
She fumed and stuck out her bottom lip in frustration. “Why is it that I have to run into you every damn time since the moment I came here? Are you doing that on purpose or something?”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “Funny. I thought it was you who had the habit of bumping into me. It’s either that, or I would’ve thought that you liked having to run into my chest.”
“Haha. I’m laughing,” she sarcastically remarked, her face unexpressive.
“Besides, shouldn’t you be resting?”
She sighed and stood up. “I’m perfectly fine, mind you.”
“Then why did you faint? The healer said you had greatly overworked yourself, that’s why you collapsed.”
“Like, duh. Well, I guess it’s my fault for going overboard. I just didn’t have time to rest, that’s all.” She dusted off her bottom and looked up at the young lord, whose frown seemed to get worse every passing second.
They stared at each other without saying anything for a few moments before Corvan finally decided to break the silence.
“I see. Then blame yourself for your stupidity,” he told her, which made her deadpan.
“You insensitive jerk!” She stomped her feet in aggravation. “Why do you think I’m even in this situation anyway? If there’s anyone to blame, it’s you!”
He frowned even more, wrinkling the space between his brows. To her shock, he didn’t make any sort of retort that would counter what she said. Instead, he remained quiet.
“Uh . . . sorry,” she whispered, feeling awkward about his unexpected silence.
“When you get back to the residences, make sure not to do anything strenuous,” he told her before shoving something inside her hands. “Better yet, don’t do anything stupid that will make you fall face first on the ground. You shame the Twelve by doing so.”
She raised a brow at him.
After that, he turned his back on her and walked away. Valeriana stared at his retreating form before looking down to see what he gave her. It was a small pouch tied together by a small string. Opening it curiously, she saw herbs.
She brought it up to her nose and sniffed, catching a whiff of a familiar fragrant aroma. It belonged to that drink that Charles made for her a few weeks ago. If she wasn’t mistaken, it was supposed to give her enough energy to move about for a day.
Valeriana glanced back up at Corvan as he continued to walk away.
Was he concerned? Or just guilty?
She shook her head, feeling her brain being stretched beyond its limits at having to understand the first ranker. She decided to head back to the Twelve’s residences. She shoved the little pouch deep into her pocket to avoid losing it. When she entered the lobby, all eyes were curiously examining her up and down. As expected, Tamara was the first to comment.
“Oh, Valeriana! Back so soon? Anyway,” the third-ranker said. “A package arrived for you a while ago.” She jerked her finger towards a brown box sitting in the middle of the room.
Valeriana’s eyes were drawn to it and she could not help but let out a gasp.
“It looks weird. Shaped like a crate, but not made of wood,” Tamara commented.
She rushed towards the box and hugged it affectionately. She then pulled back and looked around the room. “Anybody got a knife?”
Charles fished a sheathed knife from his pocket and tossed it to Valeriana’s direction. The girl gave him her thanks before pulling the blade out and slicing through the tapes that held it together. The other rankers came forward, leaning over Valeriana’s shoulder as she pulled the flaps apart.
“Mom, you are awesome,” she said in excitement and took out a box of Oreo Double Stuff. This was the only sweets she ever liked. She never really took a liking to other brands of cookies or chocolates, but this one was an exception. “I can’t wait to munch on this.”
“What’s that?” Keelan asked, sniffing. “Smells sweet.”
Valeriana ripped one open and took out an Oreo before shoving it to Keelan’s mouth. “Taste it for yourself! You’ll like it!”
Keelan looked shocked for moment before he eventually chewed the whole thing and started swallowing. As the biscuit melted on his tongue, his eyes sparkled and he jumped excitedly. The strawberry-blond hair on top of his head bobbed with him as he leaned towards Valeriana for more.
“Can I have some more?” he asked.
“Here.” The girl shoved the packet in his hands.
Keelan peered into the packet before pulling out another cookie and shoving it into his mouth. “This is amazing!” He then smiled, revealing a row of teeth crusted with dark crumbs.
Those who saw this could not help but chuckle at the sight of the eleventh-ranker.
Valeriana pulled another one open before shoving one cookie into each of the rankers’ mouth when they curiously asked what Keelan was eating. She couldn’t help but giggle at the look on their faces when the crunch reverberated in their ears.
When everyone got their share, Valeriana went towards Corvan. She held out a cookie to him. “Want one?”
“What is that?” He frowned. “If you’re trying to poison me in anyway by deceiving me with such a sweet aroma, then you are horribly mistaken.”
“Relax.” Valeriana rolled her eyes. “It’s only a cookie. Although, you’re starting to make me hope I did put something in here,” she told him.
“I don’t eat human—”
He was cut off when Valeriana violently shoved a piece into his mouth, taking him aback. The girl grinned at him before walking away to go back to where her package was. She stopped short and gasped when she saw Raziel holding a pack of her menstrual pads.
“What is this contraption?”
The girl rushed to where he was and snatched it from his hands. “Don’t touch this!” she exclaimed.
Raziel raised a brow at him. “What’s it for?”
She went beet red. “It’s not something you should know about.” She turned her back on him, leaving a confused Raziel to himself.
“Did I do something wrong?” The sixth-ranker’s forehead wrinkled.