Tipping her head to the side, Scarlet would have let out a hum if her body would allow her. Looking at her refection in the small bathroom mirror, she felt a conflict within herself. One side, the side of her that screamed the loudest, told her to remove the strange, foreign clothes from her body- she was never meant to be a fighter; a second, that was loud but nowhere near the first, told her that this was what the King had order and she lived under the King’s laws now- so she would learn to fight by his ruling; lastly, there was a third side, this one was much more quitter than its counter parts but it was the one scared her the most for this one liked the idea- the freedom of her new outfit, learning to fight and becoming something more.
One must chose to always remain calm, no matter what the situation calls for or how dire it may be. For staying calm one will gain both clarity in the mind and mouth- and with that comes inner peace thus creating outward peace. To harbor a fear leads the harboring of anger which thus leads hate and hate can only end in suffering. The High Lord and the Courts wish for the people of Tobus to live in the best, clear state of mind. That is why the following list is constructed clauses made up of things one must avoid at all cost- and the reason for it- and should one fail you might face severe consequences.
For some odd reason or not, the introduction to the Code of Mind and Conduct found itself playing within Scarlet’s mind. Pulling her hair up and back into a bun, the raspy male voice of her sixth year teacher continued on within her mind; reading off each of the clauses on the list. Sticking a hair pin in, she stopped Mr. Nite’s voice in a ponder to herself. She hadn’t thought of school since she finished her final year- her tenth year- nearly two years; and she most defiantly hadn’t thought of her sixth year teacher in easily two times that. Reaching for another hair pin, Mr. Nite’s voice resumed its reading, and this time Scarlet did nothing to stop it.
Opening the door to the small bathroom she had been told to change in, Scarlet stepped out into the spacious training room and walked over to Renee. Renee, who had changed first, sat on small bench by a large rack of different sized blades that could only be assumed to be one for those of on lookers who wished to watch the practice. As she walked over, Renee eyed her once over before letting out a low whistle. “Wow Scar, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in such clothing. I’ve never seen you in pants before… You look… different.”
Suddenly, Scarlet felt extremely self-conscious and found her arms wrapping around her stomach. Renee was right- the form fitting one piece with both leather breast plate and leg armor was like nothing Scarlet had ever worn. Not to even mention the fact that the one piece was that of a shirt and pants- the latter being a clothing Scarlet only rarely ever even looked at let alone wore. There is also the fact of how form fitting the clothing really was, while it allowed her more movement then she ever imaged her body being able to have, it layered her body like a second coat of skin. It was in the bathroom that she realized how thin she truly was, and how utterly disgusted she was with it. Her near protruding ribcage and narrow hips were nothing but a reminder of her hard childhood and her time spent in the Trade. Beauty was found within a flat tummy but rounding curves of a real woman’s body- something Scarlet knew she would be forever haunted by the lack of.
‘You look… nice.’ Scarlet gave a small smile to her friend, while she envied her. Dressed near identical to Scarlet, minus the leather amour for a simple leather vest, Renee’s outfit hugged the soft, near womanly curves of her body.
Envy, is one of the worst emotions. Mr. Nite’s voice filled Scarlet’s mind once more as she took a seat next to her friend. Envy skips over anger and leads straight to hate and suffering. It those who we are closest to, it has been shown, are the ones we are most envious of. While you are encouraged to befriend and love those fellows around you- you must be weary of how close one allows themselves to get to others. For should you get too close, these emotions are sure to bud and bloom.
“Thanks Scar.” Renee returned her smile. Scarlet had to wonder, if Renee ever shared thoughts as her own. Did she blame Scarlet for what happened, or did she blame herself for ignoring the Code- but it was not just she who had, Scarlet was just as much to blame. They had both ignored the teachings of taught in their later school stages lives and chose to allow their sisterly love to bloom. As a result, they sat alone in the brightly lit training room; waiting to break even more of the Code that had been their livelihood for so many years.
The double doors to the room suddenly swung open with a startling bang. The first thing the two girls saw, and what forced the doors to open, was a rather large rolled up mat floating in the air. It was soon reviled that the mat was not floating, but being carried by a slightly petite, blonde bob headed woman. Walking over to a far, barren corner, the woman dropped the mat and with a swift kick it unrolled. Placing her hands on her hips as she over looked her handy time, she nodded once before turning. Spotting Scarlet and Renee, her hands fell as she rushed over to them. Within a few seconds she was in front of them, looking them both over. Scarlet moved to stand, ready to properly introduce herself but the woman held a hand up stopping her. “No, don’t… Let’s see… you,” she looked at Renee, “Must be Renee and you,” she turned to Scarlet, “must be Scarlet. Yes? No? Yes?” Scarlet nodded her head and the woman smiled at her.
She had a dazzling smile, and the normal tell-tale signs of a vampire; pale skin, near white pale blue eyes and a beautiful body. The one thing that threw off her natural beauty, mostly her face, was an ugly slightly jagged, pinkish, scar that ran the length of mid forehead to the near tip of her jaw line; it even dared to go over her eye and eyebrow leaving the latter with a small bald spot. Standing, as she reached a hand out to Scarlet, Scarlet shook it and took a closer look at the vampire. “I’m Claudia, head trainer of the special elite forces- and whole army really.” From the few cut outs on the front of her shirt Scarlet noticed a few more pink lines along Claudia’s skin. The vampire must be covered head to toe in the battle trophies.
“As you guessed, I’m Renee and that is Scarlet.” Releasing Renee’s hand, Claudia looked back at Scarlet. Or looked up, she was one of the shortest vampires Scarlet had ever seen and was lucky to be pushing 5’2 if Scarlet had to guess. “I was so excited and honored when my cousin asked me to train you- I’ve never worked with anyone so powerful before, there are so many possibilities to- wait, wait. I’m getting a head of myself. I’m sorry. Before I go jumping further into the water, I need to know what skills, what level, have you ever been trained in any form of fighting or self-defense?”
Scarlet quickly nodded her head no, but then begun to move her hands. Claudia watched her, an eyebrow rising slightly as she brought her fisted hand into her open palm. “We were discouraged to learn or parts take in any violent situation in Tobus, but there was one time when I… punched a boy in the face.” Claudia shifted her eyes between Scarlet and Renee. “She said all that?”
“And you understood her?”
“Yes.” Claudia ran her eyes over Scarlet as Renee replied and nodded. “I understand now why my cousin wishes to learn this language. It’s incredible… Why did you punch the boy?” Claudia suddenly turned her attention back to Renee, whose face begun to be overcome with color. “I, um, well in fourth year some stupid boy from school… he, well, he called Scarlet…. He called her a weak bastard child… So I punched him in the face, gave him a bloody nose and broke a finger in the process.” A smile light lit Claudia’s eyes, as she folded her arms over her chest. “Understandable… understandable. Well, if you treat this training in the same way you do each other, moving beyond your pacifist beliefs won’t be too hard. Just imagine that everything you’re fighting insulted your best friend and you’ll have no ill feelings towards the thought of fighting.”
“You’re like a gibbon- do you know what that is?” Scarlet looked from where she stood frozen, Claudia had just thrown a knife at her and had it been real it would have stabbed her straight through her pounding heart. Luckily for Scarlet, it was nothing more than hard rubber and paint. In a response to the question, Scarlet shook her head, gathering enough senses to bend down and pick up the fake knife. “Throw it at me. Aim to kill.” Biting her lip, Scarlet weakly threw the knife. It barely made it to the other side of the mat where Claudia stood. She watched in silence as the knife bounced on the mat. “A gibbon is a native, white furred cousin of the apes, creature from the jungles found in my homelands down south. Their bodies are long and angular; prefect for moving through their homes in the trees. They’re the fastest moving tree-livers. Despite their wonderful, powerful forms; they’re extremely gentle and sweet creatures. That is why you’re a gibbon.” Claudia walked over and picked up the knife. “But, when I get finished with you; you will be the slow, sweet looking but toxin seeping Loris. Just wait. Now, try again, only keep both eyes open and feel the swing from your back. Feel the aim in your shoulder blade and you’ll never miss a mark no matter what type of knife.” Claudia tossed the knife at Scarlet, who fumbled but caught the rubber knife.
It had been decided early on by Claudia that Scarlet, with her thin frame, would focus less on hand-on-hand combat and more on distance. Scarlet did not have muscle or the strength to take on anyone up close; she had a better chance of taking down someone from afar- from both a good blade and her own powers. Renee, in the near same physical state as Scarlet, was about twenty feet away getting a training that neared Scarlet’s but focused a bit more on swords rather than knifes. Scarlet paused, watching her friend as she begun to spur at her trainer with a wooden sword. While Claudia was offering support, her main concern was Scarlet and that left Renee with one of the officers Claudia had brought in; though she claimed that in a few days her ’right hand, partner in crime Pals would have returned to the city from some trip she took. Claudia made it clear to them both that Pals would be their second Claudia in training.
“Okay, okay, that was better!” Claudia scooped up the rubber knife again. “But like I said before, feel it your shoulder, you know what?” Claudia skulked over to her, sliding behind her. “Take the knife,” She held it out, and Scarlet took it, “Get into the stance.” Scarlet stepped back on her right food, finding balance, she placed the knife in her dominate hand. “Now, bring your shoulder back, and your wrist up- remember the closer your target, the tighter you bring it back. If your target is long range- no wrist bending. Keep it straight and keep the blade from going too much.” Scarlet adjusted her grip on the knife, and then felt Claudia’s fingers over her own. “No, no, not so tight, little Gibbon. The knife needs to be an extension of your arm, it should slip from your hand like a wet pebble or as if it was coated in butter. Now take aim at the target, from where you stand it’s a middle distance. So lift and twist your wrist just slightly, now, on my say” Claudia took two steps back, never taking her eyes off of Scarlet. “Now.” Rolling her lips, and holding her breath, Scarlet brought the knife forward and closed her eyes when she felt the handle leave her hand. After a few seconds of no noise she slowly opened her eyes. Claudia had moved to the target, a small smile on her face. While the knife was far from the bulls-eye, the rubber knife just barely cleared the bottom the foam target hanging from the wall. “And it only took twenty seven tries little Gibbon! Again.” With that, Claudia grabbed the rubber knife and holding it out brought it back to Scarlet.
By the time their practice had ended a few hours later, leaving on a relaxing yet still intense warm down, Scarlet was prepared for a warm shower, a relaxing dinner and then bed. But as she and Renee left the basement, Claudia and her officer staying behind in the training room, the two girls were greeted by Vern.
“Good evening miss Scarlet, miss Renee. Cain asked me to relay a verbal invite to you both; he asks that you both invite him and Queen Dolra to dinner tonight.” Scarlet looked to Renee. The King was supposed to be at dinner the night before, yet he never showed up. Was tonight to be a repeat? As if sensing the wariness, Vern gave them smile that could blind the sun, “There shall be a special guest who is looking forward to meeting you, miss Scarlet.” Scarlet gave a small smile and a response. “Um, we’d be honored to join the King and his guest tonight. What time should we expect to be called on?”
“Dinner is at seven, in the main dining room and it can never hurt to be a few minutes early.” Scarlet nodded, giving him a small smile. Their eyes met, and as they did, her morning argument came creeping back into her thoughts. A small blush crept onto her cheeks, and she found herself fumbling a goodbye before rushing away.
Vern’s smile fell as he and Renee watched Scarlet rush away. He turned back to Renee, “Is- she okay?” Renee’s wide green eyes looked up at him and she smiled. “Yeah, yeah, she’s fine; just tired, the training Claudia started with us is; we’re not use to it. We’ll be fine, we’ll adjust…” She nodded her head, unsure of what to say. Vern understood her jumbled up explanation and nodded in return. “Um, I’m going to go, I need to shower before dinner- will I see you there?”
“Oh, no, no. I have plans and it’s not really a dinner I’d fit into.” Renee bit the inside of her cheek and nodded her head. “Oh, really, okay, if I can ask, why wouldn’t you fit in?”
“Despite my outward being, and centuries of servitude to his highness; stiff back chaired, seven course meals aren’t my forte. Outside of work, I prefer a worn pair of pants, an oil stained shirt and my cycle.”
“You drive a motorcycle?”
“I own them, buy them and fix them up and then resale; why do you ride?” Renee’s face colored slightly at that. “Oh, no, I um, I’ve only ever looked at them. It was a luxury in Tobus that my family couldn’t afford. I’m going to go now.” Biting down harder on her inner cheek, Renee rushed down the hall in the same manner Scarlet had just moments before.
Safe behind the closed door of her sitting room, Scarlet could finally feel the flames in her cheeks dying away. Opening her eyes, they casted down to a notepad and a bell; waiting on her small coffee table. Gliding, she bent down and picked up the two items. Closing her eyes, she held the bell up and rung it. It wasn’t the bell she grew up with, but it sounded just like it. For a few moments, as she enclosed herself into the darkness, she allowed herself to relish in the sweet memories the sound brought. Opening her eyes, the memories were gone almost at once and she was left with nothing but an ache in her chest. Taking another breath, with her newest items in her arms, she went into her bedroom.
Move along Scarlet. Forget about your life in Tobus. That life is dead.
Placing the items on her desk, Scarlet found her way to one of the chairs by her window. Taking another deep breath, she glanced over at the clock on her nightstand. It was five ten. She weighed her options, debating on whether to take a well-deserved nap or a well-deserved long pre-dinner bath. Standing, she pulled at the side strings of her leather breast plate. Stripping off her second skin, she walked into her bathroom. Turning the faucets on the tube, she plugged it once the water reached the perfect temperature. She mixed in her cocktail of bath items into the water, bath salts, jasmine oil and a round ball of fizzle soap, and climbed in once the tub was full. Sinking into the warm blanket, Scarlet’s body relaxed. She could feel the sweat floating from her body, as the bubbly fizzles surrounded her.
Scarlet stayed in the bath until her fingers were swollen and wrinkly. Climbing out, she used to towels to wrap both her body and her hair. In a slight, wet-feet against cold floors, waddle she made her way to her closet. Scarlet begun to pop her lip, making a small and obnoxious noise, as she browsed her closet searching for the right outfit.
What to wear, what to wear? Keep it simple, she pulled out the corner of a beautiful and in her mind somewhat gaudy lime green gown, because most of this isn’t you. Pants, beads, silk fabric, and whatever this is. She pulled out something that looked like a blanket, but wanted to be a shawl of some sort with a hole in the middle. It only confused Scarlet and she put it back. This isn’t me… none of this is me- of course it’s not. Scarlet you idiot, of course it’s not the old you but it’s the new you. So, just accept it already. Why can’t I accept it? Biting her bottom lip, she finally settled on a peach gown that wasn’t as gaudy as the lime green dress, but it wasn’t something she would have worn in Tobus. But as she was coming to accept, she wasn’t in Tobus anymore.
Adjusting the fabric of her dress where it bunched under her green belt, Scarlet made her way back to her bathroom. Removing the towel on her head, she picked up her brush and begun to move it through her hair. Brushing it all over to one side, she sat her brush down and begun to twist her hair into an easy but intricate looking braid. Tying off the end with a dark, small, ribbon; she then twisted it up into a bun and stuck in a few hair pins. Satisfied with her work, she took a step back, examining herself in the mirror. The thoughts of the perfect bodies Claudia and Queen Dolra entered her mind and even Renee’s body- though not as perfect as that of a vampire it was still something more than what Scarlet had.
Renee slid into Scarlet’s room at 6:45 right on the dot. Scarlet was sitting in the chair by the window, flipping through a book of nature photos. Renee strolled over to towards Scarlet, smelling fresh of a shower, her sleeveless, button up, collared blouse’s tail blowing out behind her. “Ouh, Scar, I like you in that color. It gives your skin a… glow.” Renee sat down across from her, slipping off her boots before folding her legs under herself and smiled. “Whatcha reading?” Scarlet smiled, holding up the book and showed the cover of the book to Renee. She read the cover and then nodded at her, in both approval and impression. “I think you should mark your place, cause dinner is in ten and when Vern said it wouldn’t hurt to be early- he meant that we need to be early.” Scarlet nodded, standing. Walking over to her desk, she ripped a piece of paper from her notebook and placed it into the pages of the book. As she did that, behind her, Renee unfolded her legs, placing her feet back into her boots. Standing, she strolled over to the door, waiting with her hand on the handle as Scarlet came over. Linking their arms together, the two left the room.
Just as the two came into the main entry way, a servant, dressed in a plain grey dress, opened the front door. A thick accented ‘thank you’ came floating through the door way, right before the owner of the voice. Scarlet’s step faltered as she froze. The creature that stopped short of the door was like nothing Scarlet had ever seen. She stood tall, not just in the sense of her perfectly straighten back and heels, but that her height without the stiletto boots was easily 6’2; add in the heels and she stood 6’5 or 6’6 easily. She had copper skin, like that of wiring, and hair that was not the natural, washed out red, but bright, artificial red twisted into dreadlocks. With her hair pulled back into a simple pony tail, it made her facial features seem even sharper. The one item that stood out the most to Scarlet, were the eyes. The color of a fresh gold nugget, they held a natural glow to them- reviling her werewolf blood to the human.
Taking a look around the room, her eyes settled on the two girls as she removed her fingerless gloves; handing them to the servant. Tipping her head to the side, she looked as if she was going to come over to the two frozen humans but before she could a voice calling out behind them stopped her. She looked up and smiled. “Theo, you’re early. I thought for once I might actually beat you!” Moving towards the stairs, the werewolf, Theo, bowed as she reached the bottom steps. “Sire, I’m always early- you’ll never beat me on that.” The King’s foot found the last step as his hand found Theo’s. It was then the King noticed Scarlet and Renee. Releasing Theo’s hand it went to move it to her back, “So tell me now, which one is she?” His hand paused in midair as Theo turned and pointed at Scarlet and Renee. “And how did you figure one of those two is she?” Theo gave the King a look that balanced on the border of ‘really?’ and question. “Because, that peach gown, that adorable egg-shell top; the colors don’t fit the servant colors. They’re too bright.” The King chuckled, placing his hand on Theo’s lower back as he led her over to the girls. The action itself wasn’t meant to be any more than a good will jester and the King would have aimed higher if he could reach.
“Theo, may I introduce you to Renee Ragon” Renee bowed as the King waved a hand towards her, but Theo instated on reaching out and shaking her hand “and Scarlet Soloman.” Not making the same mistake as her friend, Scarlet held her hand out for Theo. “Scarlet, Renee; this is Theodora Deaeque, one of Voirol’s leading scientist and engineers… and one of my closest friends.”
“Please, call me Theo, everyone does and I’ll be the first one to tell you that Theodora and Deaeque are both mouthfuls. Well, except for the mute one, clearly you don’t speak and I just stuck my foot in my mouth. I’m sorry.” Scarlet nodded her head once, giving her introduction in the only way she knew how to. “Scarlet says it’s okay, it’s a pleasure to meet you, and I agree with her.” Theo had watched Scarlet’s signing like a child with a new toy. Without saying a word, she reached out for Scarlet’s hand. When she grabbed it, pulling her forward an inch, Scarlet both jumped and froze all at once. Bring her small pale hand into her large, dark hand; Theo brought it up to her nose. Still frozen, Scarlet watched with wide eyes as she felt the werewolf’s deep intake on her hand. Opening her eyes, Theo examined Scarlet, “So strange, you look no different than any other human, you smell no different than any other human; yet you could destroy the world!” Scarlet felt the blood drain from her face, and blinked rapidly as her head begun to spin.
“Theo!” With the call of her name, Theo was pulled from whatever trance she had been put in and released Scarlet’s hand. Taking a few steps back, she held her hands up in a peaceful manner. “I’m sorry, again. I’m not always myself when I get excited; and no words can explain how excited I am to meet you, Scarlet.” Scarlet went from all blood loss to her face, to the blood rushing to the top of her skin in a blush. She was sure she would be lost to a faint at any moment. Pointing a finger at Theo, Scarlet then spelt out O-K-A-Y. “You’re okay.” Scarlet looked at the King, impressed that he had remember the alphabet so quickly. Seeing her face, the King gave a small smile, “I remembered the O and K from our lesson today and figured the rest out. What you said earlier, on the other hand, went straight over my head.” Scarlet relaxed.
“You will soon, sire. Scarlet has faith.”
“It’s barely two minutes pass seven and yet it seems as if dinner has already started without me.” The small group turned, and watched as Queen Dolra floated down the stairs; her baby-blue gown hugging her curves and pooling at her feet. Stopping at the bottom of the stairs, she gave a tight smile towards Theo, “Theodora.” Theo gave a flat, closed lip smile towards the Queen as she bowed, “Your highness.”
“It’s been a while, Theodora, hasn’t it?”
“It has, I trust your highness is faring well?”
“Wonderfully, and yourself?”
The conversation had nothing to with Scarlet and yet she found herself fighting the urge to recoil back. It was too neat, too tight; without being in the room with the two no more than two minutes both of the humans knew that the vampire queen and the werewolf scientist clearly did not get along. It was also within those few moments that Scarlet realized how much this dinner would surpass the night’s prior. She was dreading it.