CASeries #1: KNIGHT
Chapter Thirty-Six: The Twelve's Movie Adventure
Valeriana was rummaging through the goods loaded in the package sent by her mother when she suddenly saw something that made her jump. She fought the urge to scream—which she eventually did in the end—as she affectionately clutched the DVD cases in her arms. She jumped around, hair bouncing around her as she did.
“Oh my god! The first, second, and third movie of Kingdom Knights! Oh my god! And mom even included the new installment! Ahhhhhh!” she screamed, looking over the fourth movie with fervent eyes. “Kingdom Knights: The Princess of the Crystal Throne. Holy crap! Doug Landers looks even better than he did in the last movie! OH MY GOD! I was waiting for this to be released all year! I’m so excited.”
“What’s that, Valeriana?” Tamara asked.
“Oh, well . . . it’s the movie I was waiting for. I guess it was released when I came here,” she answered.
“A movie? What’s a movie?” Elfre asked, forehead wrinkling.
“It’s something you watch for entertainment—kind of like a play except recorded in a video and burned to a CD to be distributed among the masses for a suitable price.”
“I don’t understand,” Keelan said.
“Don’t,” Brindon agreed.
“How can a play fit in that small contrivance?”
“Wait a moment. I want to watch this immediately,” she said, before running upstairs to retrieve her laptop from her room.
The rankers shared a look before shrugging, clueless. Valeriana later emerged from the stairs with her laptop pinned under her arm. She walked over to them and placed the object on top of the table while the circle leaned towards the object curiously.
“My laptop,” she answered, pressing the power button to boot up the device.
A tune echoed from the computer as it started, making the circle hop back in surprise—all except for Valeriana and a few others like Tamara, Corvan, Charles, and Rowe, who remained calm. They just raised a brow at the device in confusion, apparently questioning its existence.
After it started, Valeriana typed in her password and ran her fingers over the touch pad. She opened the DVD drive, popping the case of the movie open. She slid the CD into her computer and started the movie.
As the intros played, the others hopped back even further, eyes widening as they caught sight of the moving pictures. Tamara, in particular, leaned over the computer, examining the front and the back.
“I don’t get how there are people inside that very small thing,” she said. “What kind of sorcery is this?”
“I told you, it’s a movie,” she answered and squealed. “Nanananana!” Valeriana fought the urge to scream while singing the opening music. “As dawn comes rolling, like night they come riding—”
“No, stop!” Tamara hurriedly clamped a hand over mouth. “For the sake of the king, do not sing!” Tamara pulled back after Valeriana quieted, looking strangely amazed with herself. “My words rhymed! Did you hear that?” she enthusiastically exclaimed.
Charles sighed and looked like he wanted to bang his head against the wall. “Just quiet down. So you rhymed, what’s so amazing about it?”
Tamara pouted at him. “Don’t ruin other people’s dream! I can be a poet for all you know!”
“You wish,” Charles muttered.
“Quiet down! It’s starting!” Valeriana chided.
Heeding her words, they all became silent.
Truth be told, the Twelve were more than entertained when they started watching. They found themselves reacting to every thrilling event as things took turn for the better or worse. Valeriana needed to cover her ears when they started yelling and screaming at Doug Landers when he faced his biggest enemy.
“Are you kidding?!” Tamara roared. “You do not swing your sword that way! How clumsy! You say you know how to hold a sword when you can’t even hold it properly? Shameless! Shameless!”
“Guys, they’re actors, not experts,” Valeriana muttered.
At the climax of the story, it turned out that the princess whom he fell in love with after saving her from danger, was the daughter of his greatest nemesis. And although the princess remained innocent from her father’s transgressions, she was now under his complete control, and was acting as a puppet under his enchantment.
They watched the protagonist struggle—not wanting to attack his loved one, while the cowardly father heartlessly used his own daughter to stall time for his escape—even bothering to collapse the whole building to trap Doug and make sure he didn’t come after him.
At the end of the movie, as the castle slowly started to crash, the princess willingly threw herself on Doug’s blade the moment she regained little control of her body, killing herself.
She said as she lay dying, “Hurting you is the greatest sin I commit.”
“It’s not your fault. You were being controlled. You were not yourself.”
“Still, these hands were the ones that inflicted those wounds.”
Tamara began to cry, so did Valeriana, Elfre, Genevieve, and Aneeka while the boys remained nonchalant and stone-faced. Zevlin even dared stick out his tongue and fake-vomit on the floor, apparently disgusted. Brindon—well, like anything would cause a reaction from him.
He received a big whack from his twin. “Ow!”
“How can you not cry, you insensitive men?!” Tamara sobbed.
Raziel laughed. “So Tamara does have a womanly side in her.”
“What irony,” Charles commented.
The exchange of words between the two lovers continued. “It was not you,” Doug told her. “It was me.”
“W-T-F.” Valeriana cringed. “Now that was cliché.”
The princess shushed Doug as tears welled up from his eyes. “Always remember the day we met, and the times we spent together. Although the time may have been short, I found happiness in meeting you.”
“What kind of rubbish is this?” Corvan narrowed his eyes at the scene.
The movie progressed to Doug carrying the lifeless body of his beloved as he made her lay down the crystal throne, something which her father had spent so many years looking for—something which he so easily abandoned for his cowardice.
The crystal throne was sought and desired by many, since it was said it was the door which led to paradise—a land seemingly untainted, free from any impurities. You could see jewels everywhere, skies a limitless blue, and the air was fresher than anything you would breathe in your entire life. Yet, no one knew what the key was.
The blood that trickled down the shimmering crystals triggered a reaction as, consequently, Doug’s tears fell from his eyes. The throne began to emit an eerie, bright, white light that soon swallowed the whole castle and seemed to have frozen time. The soul of the princess was seen circling her lover, kissing him passionately.
Her voice echoed as memories flashed on Valeriana’s screen. “My only wish is to see the paradise to which the crystal throne leads. It shall offer me salvation—a salvation for my lonely soul. I wish to find sanctuary from my father’s evil clutches—I wish to leave his side. To be used by him is something which I greatly detest.”
Then Doug’s voice came next. “What’s the use of paradise when you have me? Let me offer you salvation. You can find sanctuary in my arms.”
Corvan’s worse fell sour and Zevlin was literally on the verge of throwing up. Keelan’s face was filled with unspeakable disgust as he shook his head, unable to understand the sentiments behind the movie. Raziel, on the other hand, was bawling.
The princess gazed pleadingly at Doug. “Come with me, my love,” she crooned in his ear, her voice echoing like those of chiming bells.
Doug caressed the hand held against his face. “As much as I want to, I cannot. As a knight, I have responsibilities which tie me down. To leave those duties behind will forever leave me disgraced.”
“But, my love, heaven is not without you by my side,” she replied. “Come with me. Let us be together.”
The light slowly began to suck her in. The girls began crying in despair even more.
“I . . . am sorry,” he told her. “Even if I want to . . .”
The princess began to shed tears as her grip slowly slipped. Doug took hold of her wrists, holding her close and pulling her towards him to give her one, last, passionate kiss. They savored the moment their lips touched until the princess got pulled away from her lover slowly.
“Goodbye, Miradhea,” said the knight.
“Doug . . .” The princess sobbed. “I love you.”
Zevlin grunted. “I just died.”
With that, the light got even stronger and the princess allowed her hands to part from that of Doug’s. When everything seemed to have been bathed in the blinding light which exploded right after, Doug slumped to the ground. The gates to the crystal throne were then closed, leaving a broken hearted man to himself.
“And I, you,” said Doug.
The ending credits rolled.
“Noooo!” Tamara cried and she grabbed Valeriana by the shoulder, who was sobbing. “I need the next one to this, Valeriana! It cannot end this way! It simply cannot!”
“As much as I want to,” Valeriana sniffed. “We’ll need to wait until they decide to release the next movie. The most possible time is next year.”
The boys looked at them with confusion.
“What about those?” Tamara asked, pointing to the other boxes of CD next to the laptop.
“Those are the first movies prior to this one,” she answered.
“Let’s watch it!”
The girl hesitated. “My laptop doesn’t have any more charge.”
“What do you need?” Tamara asked.
“A socket, probably. Most importantly, I need electricity.”
“Electricity?” The third-ranker scrunched her brows.
“The computer is powered by electricity. It needs electricity to function,” she told her.
“RAZIEL!” Tamara screamed.
“And what can I do to be of service to you, ladies?” he asked, wiping the tears from the corners of each eye.
Tamara turned to Valeriana. “Raziel can help.”
“He is able to manipulate electricity upon will.”
“Oh, really?” Valeriana smiled up at the sixth-ranker.
Raziel smiled arrogantly. “Why, of course.”
“Cool!” she said and plugged in the charger to the laptop. She handed the other end of the charger which was used to plug into the socket to Raziel with a big grin. “Hold this.”
“Hm?” Raziel stared at the object in wonder.
“Now, do it,” the fifth-ranker told her. “Not too strong or you’ll destroy it!”
“Alright. Wait a moment.” Raziel tugged off the gloves on his hands before summoning the electricity. His fingers sparked visibly and Valeriana could hear a sharp crackling in the air like whip.
She turned towards her laptop and saw the fact that her computer was charging. “You’re awesome, Raziel!”
“I know,” Raziel said.
“Now, hold it like that for at least two hours and we’re good.”
“Yeah, alright—wait. WHAT?” His eyes bulged. “THAT LONG?”
“We need to store the energy on the computer, so yeah. That long.” She nodded.
Raziel withered on the spot. He held the charger, staring at it solemnly as it conducted the electricity from his hands.
Valeriana snapped the laptop close, folding it gingerly. She then stood up to grab the last of the items and was just about to reach the box when, suddenly, a knock called her attention.
Valeriana instinctively turned and ran to get it instead. “I’m on it!” she exclaimed.
When the door swung open, the headmaster came to sight. “Good evening, Valeriana.”
“Headmaster!” She smiled, the declaration alerting the twelve. “Come in.” She made way for him to pass and the man happily obliged, stepping into the room while looking around.
“As enthusiastic as always I see. Hmm . . .” The man nodded approvingly as he looked about. “The cleanliness certainly improved. I’m guessing I have no need to hire another person to clean up the mess you make?”
Valeriana’s jaws dropped open. “Huh? What did you say?”
He turned to Valeriana. “I usually hire someone to clean up for the circle. You see, they tend to get messy sometimes. But the servant in charge of this called for a vacation before the start of the new semester and none was able to replace her. I tend to find the Twelve’s dormitories in a very dirty state since then . . . until you came, that is.”
Valeriana glared at the other rankers. “So is this why you made me your slave? Because you had no one to clean for you?”
“That is one of the reasons,” Charles said, fixing his glasses. “However, we were wondering about how long you’ll last so we decided to try you out. It’s killing two birds in one stone. Don’t you think so, too?”
“You’re all horrible!”
Tamara laughed. “Don’t be like that, Valeriana.”
“Well,” she said and crossed her arms stubbornly, frowning. “You better hire another janitor, headmaster, because I am no longer cleaning.”
Headmaster Kylon chuckled before reaching out to pat her on the shoulder. “I see. Then, I shall call for a servant soon enough. No need for worries.”
“Please take a seat. Would you like some tea?” the fourth-ranker offered, beckoning for Kylon to sit on one of the open chairs.
Kylon sat with a sigh. “Ah, yes, please.”
“I’ll brew it right away.” Charles stood up from his seat and stalked towards the kitchen.
“What brought you here, headmaster?” Asked Corvan, setting aside the book he was reading and fully turning his attention to their visitor.
“Pardon me,” he told them. “Was I interrupting anything before I came? You seemed to have been busy a while ago, so I chose not to bother.”
“You were here before?” Elfre asked in chorus with Aneeka.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Keelan inquired, taking the seat on the loveseat opposite to the headmaster and pulling Valeriana down to sit with him. “We could’ve prepared these delicious cookies for you.”
“Ha!” Aneeka scoffed. “Like you would even offer anything that can be called food.”
“I’m willing to share!” he protested.
“I’ll go prepare the cookies, then.” Valeriana stood up and took a few packets of Oreo from the box before proceeding to the kitchen to get a plate. The girl assumed she could prepare the cookies with the tea, if Charles would approve.
The moment she entered the kitchen area, a fine scent wafted under her nose and she instinctively sniffed. She breathed deeply, feeling the calmness set in.
“Do you need anything, Valeriana?” he asked.
“I was just wondering if I can add these cookies to the tea you’re preparing?” she suggested.
“Preferably the tea shouldn’t be that sweet, then,” he said.
“Cool!” she exclaimed, grabbing a dessert plate from a drawer and putting the cookies on them. She carefully arranged the food artistically, admiring her work which she finished later on. “But I love these best with milk,” she said to no one in particular.
“You should’ve said that a while ago.”
She turned to Charles with a sheepish smile. “Sorry.”
It wasn’t more than a few moments later that everything was prepared. Charles and Valeriana came out with the treats and the tray of steaming hot tea. They placed the food on the coffee table circled by the seats where everyone sat before taking their place and relaxing next to the others.
“So what did you come here for, Headmaster?” Valeriana took the liberty of asking, since they seemed to have been immersed in a different topic a while ago.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” he said. “I came here to deliver news to you, Valeriana.”
“I heard you were in no good condition a while ago, so I thought this was the best time.”
He poured himself some tea and took a cookie off the plate. He took a bite and went speechless when the crunch resounded from inside his mouth. They smiled at his reaction.
“This is surely a strange treat, but delicious nonetheless,” he said, throwing the whole thing into his mouth. He chewed, then swallowed. “Oh, right.” He sipped the tea. “This is of utmost importance. You’re meeting the king, Valeriana. Tomorrow, to be more precise.”
“THE KING?” Elfre screamed.
Valeriana’s eyes bulged from their sockets. The others were shocked as well.
The Earth-born gasped. “Why?!”
“The king is interested in meeting you,” he answered. “You can take it up to Lord Aeron should you have questions.”
“Lord Aeron? Seriously? What’s up with that old man?” She growled. “Does he plan on giving me a heart attack?”
“I, myself, do not know what goes inside his head,” headmaster replied. “But I think it is partially because of Seraphina’s request.”
“Ah,” she thought back to the lady knight’s promise. “I see. She won’t be coming?”
“I’m afraid not. Seraphina is preoccupied with a few things,” Kylon said.
“This is . . . unexpected.” Tamara laughed and doubled over. “Larkov! Valeriana! Meeting the king! This is going to be epic!”
“It’s not funny.” Valeriana sighed. “This is bound to turn out bad. What got into Lord Aeron in the first place?”
“Can we come, Headmaster?” Tamara inquired.
“I doubt I can allow you to,” he answered.
The headmaster then turned to Valeriana. “So prepare yourself,” he told her. “After classes tomorrow, we will immediately head to the royal palace.”
She jumped out of her seat. “That SOON?”
“Relax,” he said, chuckling. “But try to get yourself to look presentable before so. Preferably, dress in something formal.”
“Where the heck am I—”
“I can lend you some of my clothes!” Genevieve exclaimed.
“Your clothes probably won’t fit her.” Tamara said, knowing Genevieve possessed a smaller frame compared to Valeriana. “I’ll lend you some of mine since we’re somewhat the same size instead.”
Eyes lifted as a flurry of curiosity, shock, and confusion pulled on their faces all at once. Needless to say, the look on the other eleven’s faces were filled with astonishment—eyes wide and mouth hanging open. No one could bring themselves to believe that someone like Tamara—with her unfeminine way of behaving and uncouth attitude—would have clothes with skirts.
“What?” She raised a brow at them, crossing both her arms and legs. “Just because I’m like this doesn’t mean I lack the proper wardrobe of a woman.”
“Are you serious?”
“Even though I don’t like it, my father insists on sending me those stupid things. As if I wear them anyway.”
“Pretty typical of him.” Charles scoffed.
Tamara’s cheerful face faltered for a mere second before immediately disappearing, as if it never came at all. Valeriana sensed the sudden shift in the atmosphere and squirmed uncomfortably in her seat, looking between the two in confusion.
“I don’t like wearing those things anyway. They’re really hard to move in,” she commented. “You can have them all if you like.”
“Huh? Uh . . . no.” Valeriana shook her head. “Just letting me borrow one is fine.”
“Well, suit yourself. But you’re welcome to take away a few if you so wish. I need some space in my wardrobe so I can put in some of my other clothes that I can use,” she said.
“Yeah. Sure. Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.”
Tamara shrugged before leaning back on her chair and relaxing, both hands folded against the back of her neck. She yawned loudly and muttered something incoherent before closing her eyes and deciding it would be nice to fall asleep on the sofa in the middle of a conversation with the headmaster.
“Pardon me.” Charles stood up and collected the tray with the tea. “I’ll go fetch some more tea.”
“But that one’s still full,” Keelan said.
“A cold one will not do,” he argued.
“But that’s still warm.”
“It needs more sugar.”
“But the sugar’s right here,” Keelan argued again.
“I’ll just go get some more. These don’t seem sufficient enough.”
He was answered by silence, but eyes followed him as he disappeared into the kitchen. The confusion and curiosity was heavier more than ever. The creases on Valeriana’s forehead have become so deep the Grand Canyon would probably lose its title.
“Anyhow,” the Headmaster stood up with a deep sigh. “I’ll be going now. Tea was great, everyone. I’ll see you soon, Valeriana.” He head out towards the door.
As soon as he disappeared, Valeriana eyed the snoring Tamara and knew that she was just acting. They were all aware she was wide awake and was faking her sleep. Still, they remained silent, knowing whatever bothered the both of them was something they shouldn’t discuss about with the current situation at hand.