Chapter 3: Two Choices in a Single Moment
Chapter 3: Two Choices, One Moment
look who decided to show up!” Duke shouted to Riy and Nathan who
were jogging up to the school track. As they came to a stop in front
of the man, he gave them a once over, stopping his gaze on Riy and
folded his arms. “Made it in time kid.” Riy scowled.
“I’m not a kid.” He remarked, crossing his arms. Duke burst into laughter and patted the junior on the head.
“I’m just messing with you. Good to have you here.” He said, then turned to Nathan. “Thank you for bringing him along Nathan.” The teen just nodded, a hint of frustration on his face, but he didn’t act on it.
“Sure thing coach. So what’s today look like?” He asked. Duke turned to the track and pointed to the various obstacles scattered about.
“Today’s a bit of an obstacle course, to test reflexes and speed.” He explained, casually glancing to Riy and then back. “Some will definitely excel more than others with this.” Riy looked at the various obstacles in question. Bars to jump, cones to bob and weave around, and there were even boxes to climb over.
“Weird obstacle course.” He stated. Duke chuckled and stroked his chin.
“Well we wanted to do something different this year. Make it interesting!” He responded, turning to the two students while he spoke. “Why don’t you two go get ready. We’ll be starting soon.” Riy and Nathan exchanged nods, and went with a brisk jog to the doors leading into the locker rooms, and as they entered and vanished from sight, Duke put a hand to his head.
“The kid’s acting different today. Something’s bugging him.” He said to himself. Shrugging, he turned back to the track and walked towards it, whistling to himself as he prepared for the coming race.
Nathan wheezed as Riy passed him on the track, quickly climbing the
stack of boxes that were set out for the third time.
“Man you’re getting faster! What have you been doing?” Riy looked back at him and shrugged.
“Nothing. I just work out, and take regular jogs.” He replied quickly, turning back to the course at the top of the boxes.
“Nothing more!” Then he disappeared over them. Nathan let out an exhasperated breath and stopped, resting his hands on his knees while catching his breath.
“Snow, you’re gonna go far. I can tell.”
Riy kept his pace quick but balanced, being careful not to go too fast as to burn himself out. Turning a corner on the track, he passed by the grassy fields next to the track, noticing that it had smelled like it was recently mowed. Refreshing, if a little gag inducing. As he moved, something caught his attention out of the corner of his eye and he briefly looked to his right. He spotted a figure in the distance, holding a clipboard and wearing a hat, looking to be from a restaurant
“Hm?” He murmured, squinting now. Why did that person look familiar? Long hair, blue hair… it was her! The girl who’d been at his house the night before, having rudely left without saying a word. Riy stopped momentarily, contemplating whether it was worth talking to her. Looking to his left, then his right he noticed no one was nearby. He must be really far ahead of the group. Thinking nothing could go wrong, he jogged onto the wet grass and towards the feminine figure.
“...and that’ll be all, thank you.” He heard while approaching the girl. Coming to a stop, he tapped on her on the shoulder.
“Hey!” He whispered. The girl spun around, almost bringing the clipboard to his head, then relaxed upon seeing who it was.
“What are you doing here?” She whispered back. Riy folded his arms.
“I saw you. You were gone when I got up!” He said under his breath. Renne looked put a hand to her head and sighed.
“I’m sorry if it was impolite, but, I didn’t want to get you more involved than you were already. Putting an innocent civilian at risk is wrong.” She said, trying to explain however this only seemed to frustrate the teen.
“I had a big man chase me with a sword, trying to kidnap me.” He retorted, deadpan. “How can I not be more involved?” Renne turned away, narrowing her eyes. Riy shook his head.
“And what’s this? I’m a civilian now?” Renne turned to him, an annoyed look on her face.
“Like it or not, you are just a civilian.” She remarked, then turned away, her voice growing softer. “You have life to focus on.” Riy stopped. Life? Since when was his life worth focusing on?
“What’s there to focus on? Being bullied every day? Hardly something to look forward to.” He stated. Renne turned back to him and folded her arms, giving him a stern look.
“Just stay out of this. Go back to what you were doing, and pretend you never saw me.” She hissed, spinning on her heel and walking away. Riy wanted to make a comeback, but his voice had left him. He just watched her leave the area.
“Hey Snow! What are you doing?” Riy turned to see Nathan jogging up to him, a bewildered look on his face. “Why’re you out here?” Riy shook his head, putting a hand on the muscled teen’s shoulder and walking back towards the track.
“It’s nothing. Let’s finish the race.” Nathan frowned at the low tone of his voice.
“Something happened, I can hear it in your voice.” He muttered to himself, then looked up at the sky, taking note of the incoming grey clouds. It was going to rain soon, he thought to himself. Best to finish the race before it really started coming down.
Duke shouted at the top of his lungs, as his eyes passed over each of
the track students in front of him. Some were panting, others had
rags slung over their shoulders. Nathan had his arms crossed, while
Riy just stood silently.
“Long day it’ll be, yeah?” He heard Nathan say to him. The youth just shrugged, keeping his attention on the track coach. Duke held up a clipboard and grinned.
“So surprise surprise, Riy you finished first. Eleven minutes and eighteen seconds.” He stated, earning gasps and grumbles from the crowd. “Nathan was second, with fifteen minutes and fourty two seconds.” More grumbles. Nathan just smirked with authority and looked to the other members of the track team, who were whispering amongst themselves.
“Wonder how the others did.” Riy muttered to himself. Nathan shrugged.
“Who knows. Hey! Just feel good! You did good!” He said to the teen. Riy again, just shrugged the comment off and focused on Duke. Nathan scowled. Something was definitely bothering the boy, and he was going to find out what it was.
Later that day, after school had got out for the students, Riy walked around the track, his arms folded behind his head and his eyes staring up at the sky.
“That girl, if she thinks she’ll keep me from following her, she’s wrong.” He said to himself. He passed one stack of boxes that had been moved to the side, out of the way of others who wanted to just run the track.
“Hey Veilheart!” The voice of his coach made him turn around, surprised to see him outside. It was beginning to rain, and he knew that the man was no fan of wet weather.
“Yes, coach?” He replied. Duke had a pen in his mouth as the teen walked over to him, and he raised a brow.
“What’s keepin’ you out here in this unruly weather?” He inquired. Riy shrugged, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
“Nothing, I guess. Just clearing my head.” He answered. Duke slung a bag of supplies over his shoulder and leaned sideways.
“Well, if you’ve got some time, would you mind helping me getting this stuff moved back to the locker room?” He requested. Riy widened his eyes briefly in surprise, but gained some composure and nodded.
“I can do that.” He replied quickly. Duke laughed, dropping the pen from his mouth and becoming momentarily disgruntled. He reached down and picked it up, placing in his pocket before facing the youth.
“Well that’s good! Alright then, you can start by moving these boxes.”
Of course, what started out as moving boxes into a small storage room, turned into cleaning up the locker room by sweeping the floor, washing the surfaces of the lockers, and even picking up trash. Riy didn’t really mind deep down, as it gave him something to do.
He was just finishing up wiping down the top of the last locker, humming a song to himself. As he patted down the metallic surface one last time, he sighed with content, and put the grey rag down. He turned around and decided to give the room a once over.
The walls used to have graffiti on all sides of the room, now it was a nice shiny white color. The floors were a checkerboard yellow and white, with a football pattern alternating every other tile. The lockers were aligned in neat rows, and black in color, with benches sitting in front of each set. To his left, Riy saw the now clean shower stalls where the swim team came after a long day, and then further down the left side of the room he saw a set of bathroom stalls, and a nice clean set of sinks.
“Well, that’s that. I guess.” He said to himself, and then nodded. Yes, it looked just like it should. The track team, as well as other sports teams would always come in here and disregard the hard work one took to keep it clean, sometimes tracking mud and grass along the floor. Not today. He turned to the red supply bag Duke had given him and started putting the cleaning supplies away, when he heard footsteps, and froze.
“So this is what you’ve been doing all day.” The voice was female, and familiar. It was her again. He slowly turned around and saw her, Renne, standing near one of the lockers in her outfit from the day before. Seeing the look on his face, the girl stepped forwards and offered a hand, which made Riy jerk backwards.
“What do you want?” The tone in his voice surprised her, but Renne relaxed her shoulders and folded her hands in front of her.
“After that spat today, I talked to Alistor. He, thinks that I was maybe wrong in how I handled the situation.” She said calmly. Riy frowned.
“Is that why you’re here? Cause you were ‘wrong’?” He asked hesitantely. Renne shook her head and looked around the locker room.
“No. I wanted to apologize, but I also wanted to say something else.” She went on, slowly approaching Riy. “I wanted to say why I didn’t want you following us.” Riy scoffed and turned away.
“Well forget it. Doesn’t matter why.” He spat. Renne scowled and crossed her arms.
“I get that you’re frustrated, but you need to understand! Who I am causes people to get hurt!” She almost shouted. Riy was a little surprised by this remark, slowly turning around to face the girl as she sighed and lowered her shoulders. “You offered a place to stay, and I wanted to thank you by keeping you safe.” Riy let out a frustrated groan and sat on the locker behind him.
“From what? You’re killer assassin sword maniac? I told you, it’s hardly different from what I go through here.” He responded. Renne curled her lip, a concerned expression was growing on her face as she folded her arms and tapped her foot.
“My world, Arlaum, is not a place for normal people from this world.” She shot back. Riy widened his eyes, having an exaggerated grin on his face and pointed to his hair.
“I’m not normal! Far from it! I don’t belong here!” He shouted. Renne slowly stepped back, closing her eyes, breathing out.
“What are you saying?” She asked softly. Riy calmed down a bit, putting a hand on the locker next to him.
“I want to go with you.” His response was a little surprising, though she was somewhat expecting it, and opened her mouth to respond.
“You’re crazy, you know.” She said. Riy laughed softly.
“So I’ve been told.” He replied. Renne raised a brow, then grew a soft smile, and got to her feet.
“If that’s how you feel, that there’s no stopping you, then come with us.” Now Riy was surprised by the girl’s response. He wasn’t expecting the answer so quickly, or in that manner. Seeing his bewilderment, Renne stepped forwards to the teen and extended a hand.
“If you can understand where we will go is dangerous, then I won’t stop you from coming with us.” She said. Riy started to reach out, then stopped briefly, thinking to himself. A quiet moment passed, before the white haired teen took the blue haired girl’s hand.
“That’s fine with me.” He agreed. Renne pulled the boy to his feet, and nodded.
“Right then. Let’s be going.” Her sentence stopped short by the loud banging of a locker, bringing the two’s attention to one along the right wall. They could see the bulging of the locker, and both grew tense. In an instant, the door shot off its hinges, soaring over their shoulders and smacking the floor behind them. At the same time, a large man shouted, stretching his arms out and stepping out.
“Ahhhhh!” Was his first word. He rubbed his shoulder, then flexed it. “Those things are tiny. So pathetic. Humans have such sad storage.” Riy stepped back in concern. It was the same man from the other day, with the same sword at his side. Renne curled her hand at her side and clenched her jaw at the sight of him.
“You must be the one following me.” She stated. The man, in response, looked to them with a crooked grin and stepped forwards with arms extended to either side.
“Why yes. You are Princess Renne Araa, aren’t you? I’ve been looking all over for you.” He said while reaching for his sword, pushing the two teens back towards the showers. Riy swallowed hard, feeling his heart beating quickly. The assassin took a few more steps forwards, unsheathing his weapon, and charged forwards with a yell.
“Move!” Renne shouted, to which Riy complied. They jumped to the side as the assassin’s sword hit the ground. The junior student rolled to his feet and began frantically looking around, for anything that could be used to defend himself. The benches weren’t built into the ground, but he doubted they would be useful against a real blade.
He moved backwards to avoid being cut by the assassin’s sword again, and froze at the look in the man’s eyes. Cold, maniacal, as if all emotion was void. Riy ran to the right side of the room as the man gave chase, keeping up with the track student. He slashed down, missing the boy as he dove forwards and rolled to his feet again. Renne grabbed hold of the teens arm, pulling him back.
"Careful!" She whispered in his ear. Noticing that the assassin wasn't letting up, Renne grimaced. "We need to get out of here. Now." Their pursuer grinned and brought the sword back against his neck.
"You have caused me so much trouble. There's no way I'm letting you go now." He said. The man brought the sword over his head, widened his grin, and-
"Duck!" As if on instinct, but Riy and Renne dropped to the ground, and heard a loud smack sound, followed by the sound of metal clanging against the tiles. Then silence. THen footsteps. Heart still pounding, Riy slowly raised his eyes from the ground and turned around, and felt his jaw drop.
"Nathan? The hell are you doing here?" He said. The muscled teen smirked while Renne slowly got to her feet and brushed off dust that'd gathered on her skirt.
"I swung by your house to see if you wanted to grab a bite." He started to say, and noticed the assassin sprawled out on the ground nearby. "When you weren't there, I called the coach. He said you'd be here if anywhere." Stepping forwards, he offered a hand to Riy who took it.
"Uh, thanks. I guess." He uttered. Nathan nodded, turning his attention to the assassin who was now groaning, slowly starting to move again.
"I overheard everything." He stated as the man started to get to his feet. "You go on now. Go do what you need to do." Riy widened his eyes in shock.
"W-Wait a minute! What are you going to do?" He shouted. Nathan cocked a grin and flexed his shoulders.
"I've always wanted to see how far I could go." He replied. Riy started to say something, but Renne placed a hand on the teen's shoulder and nodded firmly.
"Come on." She said. Riy held firm, reluctant to move. As the assassin picked his sword up off the ground, he sported an annoyed look while placing his weapon against his shoulder.
"Go on Snow! Go have an adventure!" Nathan shouted, tightening his fist in anticipation. Riy opened his mouth again, but Renne placed both hands on the boy's shoulders and turned him towards the exit.
"Let's go! Now!" She shouted. The assassin responded by charging Nathan, who moved to the side, avoiding being cut as the man's blade hit the lockers. He then reached down and lifted up the bench nearby, bringing it in front of him as a shield and blocked a sword strike. The senior looked over his shoulder and nodded.
"You look after this kid, okay?" He said. Renne nodded, wrapping a hand around Riy's wrist.
"I will." She replied, and then broke into a dash towards the exit, dragging Riy in tow.
"H-Hey! You're gonna rip my arm off!" He protested. Renne yanked the door open and pushed the young boy outside, glancing over at Nathan who offered a wave. With a final sigh, the girl moved outside and slammed the door behind her, not bothering to listen to the sounds she heard afterwards.
A few more seconds passed, and then silence filled the area. No sounds at all, just the absence of all sounds amidst a chaotic moment gone somber.