The Deathblow

It was a quiet, peaceful Sunday morning, exactly as it should be. Aqua woke up by the loud and cheerful sound of the singing birds outside, which was also nothing new on a Sunday morning. As always, the first thing she did, was glancing over at her alarm clock that stood on her nightstand. The red numeral said it was only half past eight. Far too early to get up. Since the blue-haired mage didn't want to get up immediately, she turned and closed her eyes again, hoping to fall asleep again. After all, Sundays were the perfect days to sleep longer than normally. Thanks to the hard training scheme Master Eraqus had made, sleeping longer on other days was impossible. The female teen had almost drifted off into another peaceful slumber, when...


This almost inhuman noise ensured that Aqua immediately opened her cerulean eyes again and sat upright in her bed. Her heart pounded in her chest. What was that screaming? Where did that sound come from? The one who had screamed like that appeared to be in severe pain. She decided to investigate it herself. She got up slowly, her feet bare. The ground felt freezing cold beneath her, but she didn't pay any attention to it. Her mind was elsewhere. A bit nervously, scared of what she would encounter, she opened her bedroom door and looked cautiously around the corner, as if she feared that an axe would be thrown to her head immediately. She wasn't scared, she was just extra careful, that was all. After all, this wouldn't be the first time that something strange had happened in this castle.

Immediately, she saw what was going on. A very bad tempered Terra stood in his doorway, his back turned to her. He had a dark brown liquid on his head that matched his hair quite nicely and it slowly dripped down on the carpet. An empty container lay on the floor beside him. The bluenette couldn't help but start laughing, which made Terra turn to her, grumbling things she couldn't hear. The chocolate on his head - Aqua smelled the scent, because she had a very sensitive nose, and her stomach growled at once, because she still hadn't had any breakfast - splashed in all directions in the process, but he didn't seem to notice, or he just chose to ignore it for the time being.

"That... is... low. Even for you," he said in such a low voice that Aqua wondered for a moment if it really was him who had said that.

Aqua raised her eyebrows, surprised. Someone was being a little grumpy today...

"What are you talking about?" she asked.

This time, she wasn't even acting innocent, for she really had no idea what he meant.

"This!" he said angrily as he pointed at his head that was smeared with chocolate. This sudden movement caused more chocolate to spill on the floor. "You just imitated my prank! Have you run out of ideas? Is that why you decided to commit plagiarism? Well, apparently, 'cause otherwise you wouldn't have done this."

Aqua rolled her overly blue eyes. Seeing this as plagiarism was a bit exaggerated. It really wasn't like Terra was the first one in all worlds who had used that prank. She was sure of that. And yet, this was a free country...uh, world, so she could do whatever she wanted, even running around the castle, completely nude.

Okay, I just scared myself with that. Where the heck did that thought come from? It must be because of the lack of sleep. Either that, or I've been hanging around with Terra too much lately.

"Don't be such a drama queen all the time. I haven't committed any plagiarism, simply because I didn't prank you, this time," she spoke in a calm manner that only agravated Terra even more. Of course, she could've known that. "I wish I did, though," she added as an afterthought.

"Oh, so you want to say that I've done this to myself? Or even better, Ven did this, just for the kicks," he said sarcastically.

Aqua shrugged and replied, "Well, it is possible, isn't it? Or you could've done it yourself in your sleep, or something. I don't think that Ven is capable of such a thing, though, even if you really deserved it, and I can't really imagine Master Eraqus doing that, either. And I was sleeping all this time, so there's only one person left."

She gave him a meaningful look.

"GRAAAAH!" Terra snarled, frustrated, and he clenched his teeth, while throwing his arms up in the air in his anger.

The sound of his voice echoed through the long hallway and against the walls, so it sounded like a very unpleasant chorus of Hags that sang some scary song about eating all the sweet children of this planet. Aqua's hairs even stood straight up.

"Would you stop shouting down the hallway, you're waking everyone up!" she said sharply.

Terra narrowed his cobalt colored eyes into thin slits and just wanted to say something mean and prickly back that would definitely hurt her feelings, but make himself feel better (before he started to feel guilty about hurting Aqua, that is), when the bathroom door opened with a lot of noise.

"What's- Whoaoh!"

Master Eraqus couldn't finish his sentence, because the next moment he was launched into the air and landed on his stomach on the hard floor. Terra winced. By the looks of it, that just had to hurt... and how. Luckily, he wore his usual clothing and not a towel tied around his waist, otherwise everything would've been quite unpleasant for everyone. Especially when the towel would slip off, because then he would've lost all his dignity.

Their Master got up again in one quick move. It was so smooth that if anyone else had seen him doing that for the first time, his or her mouth would've probably fallen open in astonishment. After all, not all men of his age could move with the same ease as he did. It was a gift, the result of years of hard training. Moreover, it wasn't just a coincidence that he had become a Master. One had to work really hard, day after day after day, to get the well deserved title. Aqua and Terra both knew that by now. Apparently, Masters could still be clumsy enough to trip over their own feet.

The wise man turned to his two oldest students. "Look what you've done! I almost broke my neck because of you two, so you'd better listen. I do not want you to scream down the hall. You're not nine anymore. Ven is still asleep. You do not need to wake him up that way. If I see this kind of behavior from any of you again, the consequences won't be pleasant," he said strictly, and he stepped into the bathroom again, closing the door behind him.

"Too late," said Ven grumpily, just at the same time Terra and Aqua said "Yes, Master," and their sensei had closed the door.

Ven looked sharply at the two teenagers, accusation written in his striking blue eyes. His eyes were still filled with sleep and his blond, messy hair lay flat on his head. Aqua found him looking so cute, and at least three years younger. In one way or another, she had half-expected to see him holding a stuffed teddy bear in his arms, while sucking his thumb. She was therefore only half-disappointed when she saw that she was wrong.

Wow, I really must have a lack of sleep if I was thinking that.

"How great. This was the only day in the week that I could sleep a little longer and then the so called smart grown-ups just had to ruin it for me again," he grumbled. "Oh, and what did you do to your hair? You look like crap. Wait, is that cr-"

"No, of course not!" Terra snapped, his frown once again appearing on his forehead.

"I'm sorry we woke you up, Ven," Aqua said quickly, before Terra would have another mental breakdown in front of them.

"Yeah. That wasn't exactly my fault, because someone-," here, he gave Aqua a murderous look, before he continued, "thought it was a funny idea to put chocolate on top of my bedroom door, so it would fall on my head once I opened the damn' door."

Aqua sighed, getting fed up with the false accussations. "I already told you, I didn't do it! How many times do I have to repeat myself?"

She stepped back into her room and shut the door with a loud 'Bang!' not waiting for the brunet male to answer her question.

Terra frowned and Ven looked at him. "Wow, well done. Looks like you know exactly how to upset a girl and ruin someone's mood at the same time. Now she'll be like this for the rest of the day."

"What? But I didn't do anything!" Terra objected, confused as heck.

"You didn't believe her. That's enough for her to act like that. Add hormones to all that, and you get this result. Don't forget that she's a girl. You have to be more careful around her," Ven said wisely.

Terra gave him a funny look. "Since when did you become such a nerd?"

"Since you two behave like little children with those stupid pranks." Ven answered irritably. After glancing swiftly to his friend's hair, he added, "And I would wash that out of your hair if I were you, before it merges with your hair, 'cause then you'll be having a major problem."

Ven pulled his head back again and closed his bedroom door behind him.

"Before it merges with my hair? What the heck is he talking about? Is that even possible?" Terra wondered out loudly.

In the mean time, Aqua had walked to her closet. She just didn't get it. Why would she lie about something that Terra thought she had done? Which she obviously hadn't. It was probably just another strange trick of him. What the result of that trick was, she didn't know. She didn't really care, either. First she had to wake up. She pulled one of the doors of her closet open, but to her amazement and anger there were only toys stuffed in it, which was very strange, because she didn't even have any toys.

That was when it struck to her that those were exactly the same toys that she had put in Terra's closet as a prank earlier. "And then he says that I'm imitating him. This makes me wonder what the hell he is doing, then," she said sarcastically.

On second thought, she didn't actually want to know it.

After she had finished showering and towel drying her hair, she walked down the hall to go downstairs for breakfast. It was eerily quiet in the hallway, so everyone was probably in the kitchen already. Or maybe Ven went back to bed to get some more sleep. It was also quite strange that he had woken up from Terra's screaming, because normally, the boy slept through everything. She dared to bet that even two matured elephants wearing a pink tutu, while dancing in his room wouldn't wake him up. Perhaps he had been awake already and he found it more fun to blame Terra. On the other hand, it wasn't that strange that he woke up from the screaming, because it had sounded louder than a gunshot. Also, all the walls in the hallway had a nasty habit of echoeing the sound, so it probably sounded extra hard. Maybe she should ask Ven about it, instead making her own conclusions.

Somehow, she managed to put her right foot in a wrong way on the carpet at that moment, because suddenly, she found that she was lying on her back on the floor, facing the white ceiling. That was when she realized she had slipped and was sliding towards the stairs. She tried to stop at the top of the stairs, but all the steps had disappeared all of a sudden. The stairs seemed more like a slide.

What the hell?

She slid down, screaming at the top of her lungs, and came slowly to a halt at the end of the stairs. The stairs changed quietly back to how they were before. Aqua blinked her eyes, rather dazed. She wondered what exactly had just happened. She had no clue.

Master Eraqus walked hurriedly to her, from the kitchen, followed by a baffled Terra. "Aqua, are you alright?" the man asked, concerned.

She nodded slowly, as if she was afraid that her head would roll off her neck if she moved more than that. "I... think so."

"What happened?" Terra asked, frowning.

"I think I slipped down the stairs... and suddenly it turned into a slide! I slid all the way down. Quite strange, huh?"

Master Eraqus and Terra exchanged a quick glance and then looked at her as if she had grown a second head. Terra's frown was replaced by an expression of sheer disbelief. Master Eraqus's face was less easy to read, but it was still clearly visible that he was wondering if she was telling the truth.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" she asked slowly, fearing for the worst.

"Aqua, do you realize what you just said, right? Are you sure you didn't accidentally bump your head somewhere when you fell off those stairs?" Terra asked, derisively.

Aqua clenched her shaking hands into fists. "Why don't you ever believe me? Why would I lie about such a thing?" she asked angrily.

"How am I supposed to know? Maybe it's a girl thing I wouldn't understand, anyway."

The female teen glared daggers at him, before she looked at her teacher for some support, it didn't matter in what form, but even that seemed to be in vain. She just knew it the second he opened his mouth. It was written in his eyes.

"Aqua, I have to say that in all the years that I've lived here in this castle, a staircase has never changed into a slide. Perhaps you need some more rest and a little less hard to train, even if the Master Qualification Exam will be in a few weeks," said their Master thoughtfully. "Your health is more important than any test in the world."

She simply couldn't believe this. The house, no, the staircase, seemed to have turned against her and no one believed her. What the heck was going on here?

Her train of thoughts was suddenly interrupted by another voice. "Apparently, you people just can't help but scream through the castle when someone else is still trying to get some sleep," muttered a pretty annoyed Ven, standing on the top of the stairs.

Everyone now turned his attention to him. This time, his usual spiky hair was back again and he seemed to be fourteen again.

"Hey Ven, walk down the stairs," said Terra suddenly.

Aqua knew immediately that he wanted to check if her story was true or not. Well, they would all see it for themselves now. She did quite feel sorry for poor Ven, though, hoping that he wouldn't get hurt too much from falling off the stairs.

"I was just planning on doing that, so don't command me," Ven exclaimed irritably. "What are you, my dad?"

"Sorry. I had forgotten that you're not such a morning person."

Ven rolled his striking blue eyes and ran down the stairs. One could read the great surprise and annoyance from Aqua's face, and Terra's joy, when nothing strange happened (well, the cocky little smirk said it all). The stairs were still the same and they didn't change into a giant slide. Ven was down within a few seconds, still in one piece. Aqua's mouth fell open. Of course the stairs only had to change into a slide when she was walking on them.

"There, you see? There's absolutely nothing wrong with the stairs. But you on the other hand..."

Terra glanced meaningfully at Aqua, who looked devastated.

"I won't ask again what's going on between you two, 'cause I honestly don't care at this time of the day. I'm gonna have some breakfast, 'cause I'm starving," Ven said.

He walked into the kitchen and Master Eraqus followed suit. Terra and Aqua were left alone in the hallway. The first reached out to help Aqua with standing on her feet again, but she didn't take his help and scrambled to her feet by herself. She didn't need help from a traitor.

Terra snorted, rolling his eyes. "Suit yourself."

He also went into the kitchen. Aqua watched his retreating back. She could feel that this would be another of those long, boring and useless days. Aqua decided to listen to her empty and growling stomach and went to the kitchen too, taking seat next to Terra, on the opposite of Master Eraqus. She went for ignoring everyone around the table in order to remain calm. Losing your temper this early in the morning never proved to be such a good thing, anyway. Fortunately for her, nothing unusual happened during breakfast. At one point, Aqua even dared to look at other things instead of just quietly staring into her bowl of cereal. She was greatly rewarded for that, for suddenly, Ven spit a jet of orange juice right in Terra's face. She felt how her lips curled up into a small smile and tried to hide it before Terra would notice. Fortunately for Terra it wasn't hot tea, because that would've been rather unpleasant for him. And it would have left its mark, too.

Ven walked over to the sink and started to drink a glass of water, while Terra took a white napkin from the table and slowly wiped his face clean. His eyes were fixated all that time on the youngest inhabitant of the castle. Aqua didn't know if it was the lighting in the kitchen, but Terra's eyes suddenly seemed to have changed from color. The beautiful, cobalt blue seemed to have disappeared and a dark, orange-ish color had taken its place. It scared her to no end, because she had never seen this yellowish color before and it didn't fit him at all. He looked truly evil.

"Ven, may I ask what that was for?" he asked as calm and quietly as he could muster, when his face was clean again.

Aqua knew that his hands were shaking under the table, though.

"I'd like to ask you the same. Why did you put hot chili pepper in my drink? What if I had been alergic to pepper and you didn't know?" Ven asked angrily. "You could've killed me!"

Terra raised a thin and dark eyebrow, giving the younger boy a flat look. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me!"

"No, I mean, what makes you so sure that I-" he began again, but Ven interrupted him in mid sentence.

"Because, Terra, you're the only one here who's familiar with and known for putting things in a person's food and drinking. Dye, pepper, you name it. That's why."

"I already told you, I didn't do it!"

This time Terra had raised his voice slightly, a sign that he began to get annoyed with Ven's accusation.

"Now you finally know how I feel," Aqua muttered.

Terra looked sharply at her, but said nothing. But then, "Aqua, did you-"

"If you didn't do it, can you prove that you're innocent?" Ven asked, interrupting Terra once again.

The young teenager probably already knew what the answer to that question was going to be and his suspicions had been right; Terra stayed quiet.


Apparently, Terra didn't know what to say.

"Yup, just like I thought," muttered Ven triumphantly.

He grinned at his little victory.

Terra, who appeared to lose his temper at this point, got up from his chair and seemed to want to attack Ven. "Why you little-"

"Enough!" thundered the voice of their sensei.

Immediately it was dead quiet in the kitchen, the tension lingering in the air, almost as thick and visible as the smoke of a cigarette. Their Master rarely raised his voice like that, so now he had to be very angry at them. Terra sat down again, albeit quite slowly. Aqua saw that he had clenched his hands into fists and that for some reason, he was trembling. Could it be because the Master's loud voice had almost given him a heart-attack, or...

"What is all this sudden nonsense? You act like you're enemies. I don't want to see more of this kind of childish behavior. As you all know, the Master Qualification Exam will start in a few weeks, and you still seem to think that you're little children. Terra-" Terra's head jerked up. He looked at his master and averted his gaze again, not being able to look into those dark pools. "I do not want to notice again that you raise your voice if there is no reason for it, nor do I want to hear that you put something in someone else's drink again. It seems that you're not improving from it yourself, either, because your teeth are colored red."

Terra was clearly shocked by this revelation, seeing as his eyes widened in surprise. It seemed to him that it wasn't a good idea to tell Master Eraqus that he really hadn't put anything in Ven's drink. Master Eraqus would become even angrier and even now he looked like he wanted to bite his head off.

"Yes, Master."

"Good. Then let's continue eating."

They continued with breakfast in silence. Terra took the time to check his teeth into his spoon, because he had no mirror at hand. Duh, why would he need a mirror, he always looked good. His teacher was right, though. His teeth were bright red, as if they were bleeding. But if they had bled, Master Eraqus would've seen that and told him. Besides, he would've tasted the blood, but now, he still didn't taste anything.

He began to grind his teeth. It was very clear what was going on here. Someone tried to denigrate him in front of the rest of the castle and he had a feeling, no, he even knew for sure who it was. After all, who else could it be if he wasn't the one who had done this? So Aqua had sunk to a lower level? Well, this time he wouldn't play along. He would show everyone how things really were and he would start with it right after breakfast, but he would make sure that he didn't hurt Aqua's feelings in the process, for he didn't want for her to be sad because of something he did. Wait... why in the world was he still trying not to hurt her feelings when she was being this mean to him? Love really sucked.

Wait, did I really just... Oh no. Have I really fallen in love with Aqua? This could make things a lot harder for me.

"Oh Ven, could you pass me the butter, please?" Aqua asked.

Terra's attention snapped back to what was happening in the kitchen.

"Yup." Ven reached for the butter and then handed it to Aqua, who took it thankfully out of his hands. "Here you are."

"Thanks, Ven!" Aqua said, smiling sweetly at the youngest Keybearer.

"No problemo, Aquo," Ven assured her, and he gave her a quick wink.

Aqua started to laugh. Terra almost wanted to roll his eyes at that. Aquo? Seriously? Oh puh-lease! If he didn't know any better, he would think that Ven was flirting with Aqua. Tch, like he could be of any match for her. Aqua obviously wasn't interested in such immature guys with such a high-pitched voice. She probably liked the older guys who actually used their brains instead of their so-called 'cuteness.' Someone like him for example. Not that he cared about that, or anything... Oh, who was he kidding?

Suddenly, Aqua got up from her seat. Her chair clapped backwards and fell to the ground, clattering. She began to scratch her arms and legs at top speed, like a madwoman, as if she would be rewarded if she did it this fast. Terra was quick enough to figure out what exactly was wrong with her, since he had experienced it himself; itching powder. It had to be that. Terra glanced around. Since there was only a can of orange juice on the table, he decided to use that to help her. He picked it up and flung the contents of the can at Aqua.


Aqua uttered a high-pitched cry when the liquid made contact with her skin, as she stepped back awkwardly. Her eyes went wide open and she looked at Terra in a way that made both Terra and Ven shiver. Her blue hair was sticking on her face. She literally began to shake with rage.

"Aqua? Are you okay?" Terra asked, seeming completely oblivious to the murderous look in Aqua's cerulean eyes.

That was the last straw for her. He wouldn't escape from this that easily. She picked up her half-full glass of orange juice and flung it swiftly in Terra's face, who also uttered a cry of surprise, albeit not as high-pitched as Aqua had done.

Ven gasped, softly but still audibly, realizing with a start that from this point a new war would start between his two best friends. "Quick, get all the knives off table!" Ven whispered to Master Eraqus, as his heartbeat increased.

This was not good...

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