If it was humanly possible for her, a small hum would have been escaping Scarlet’s throat. The King had called their lesson quite early, explaining to the two girls that he had a rather important meeting that late morning. Free until her afternoon training, Scarlet wanted to take this chance to explore the grounds of her new home. In the few weeks she had been there, she had yet to go outside beyond her balcony. Turning a corner, she gasped and stumbled back. She had run straight into another being. Catching herself before she could fall on her behind, Scarlet quickly looked up. Her face, already flushing, grew redder as she met glowing, golden eyes. Bringing her hands to her chest, she did her best to mouth the word ‘sorry’ to Theo. She then pointed to her hair, holding a thumbs up. Perhaps a compliment on her new tawny-braids would help the werewolf not be too angry with her. Theo only frowned, moving past Scarlet.
Her heart begun to race. Theo was angry with her, she had gotten a werewolf mad. She had never done anything of the sorts before, so she wasn’t sure what to do or how to fix it. Turning, she watched Theo round a corner, the tail of her dress flicking behind her. Sighing, Scarlet glanced up to the ceiling before starting back on her way.
Scarlet stepped carefully around the hunched over gardener. With eyes glanced down, she avoided his tools, and was able to see him set a little bundle of slowly budding white flowers into a hole. Sensing her eyes, the gardener held up a new bundle towards her. “They’re called Jasmines. Beautiful, aren’t they? The King asked for some to be put in- asked for them by name. Here, have a sniff.” Leaning forward, Scarlet took a small whiff. The scent was near heavenly. Pulling back, she smiled and gave him a thumbs up.
“Scarlet!” Renee came up the path, walking faster than normal. “Finally! The King has summoned us- well you, but you know. Come on.” Not even fully registering what had happen, Scarlet picked up her skirts to run after Renee. Seeing how fast her friend walked when freed from the confinements of a skirt had Scarlet second guessing the idea of pants on a woman. Remembering the past few afternoons, spent training in the second skins with Claudia, her thoughts quickly turned against the idea of pants. She would settle for running in skirts, as she always had.
Catching her friend as she slowed to enter into the kitchen, Scarlet huffed. Claudia’s dream of whipping her into shape was still in the beginning forms. Renee glanced to her friend, the corner of her left mouth lifting in a smirk. “Beat you, again.” Scarlet frowned, and slightly swatted at Renee. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself!” Renee grabbed Scarlet’s hand, leading her through the kitchen. As they exited out into the hall, Scarlet freed her hand.
‘What does the King want to talk about?’
Renee shrugged. “I don’t know, all I know is I was in the middle of planning the memoir of my life when Enaro, one of the Guards for the King, told me he wanted to see us at once.” Scarlet gave Renee a tip of her head. “What?”
‘Memoir of your life?’
“Okay, okay, you got me,” Renee held up her hands in defeat. “I was in the library, trying to see how many books I could balance on my head when I had a pillow between them.” Scarlet’s risen eyebrow was all Renee needed to understand the unspoken question. “I got to seven.” Scarlet smiled at her friend, her chest moving in a silent laugh. Her chest stopped moving as they slowed, stopping in front of the King’s office closed door. Two guards stood in the same spots the last time Scarlet had been here, the day she first met the King. With neither girl saying a word, the guard to their left moved and opened the door.
“Isos?” The King questioned the guard. He bowed, and announced the two humans had arrived. “Send them in, send them in, thank you.” Isos moved aside, allowing the two to cross over the threshold. Scarlet watched the door close behind them, “Your highness.” Renee’s voice had Scarlet spinning back to face the King. Grabbing her skirt, she curtsied. “Scarlet, Renee. Thank you both for coming so soon.” Scarlet’s eyes scanned the room, and grew wide at the sight of a mirco-braids pulled back into a pony tail. Scarlet took a quick step forward, her hands moving so fast that Renee almost didn’t catch it. Alarmed, the King looked to Renee. “Um, she says that if this is about this morning that she didn’t mean to bump into Theo. She was so caught up in her own mind, that she just didn’t see her. She’s sorry.” The King looked at Scarlet, puzzled. As Renee translated for her, the werewolf facing the King stood and turned. “Theo?” The King looked absolutely bewildered.
Before anyone could say anything else, the door cracked open for a moment before being thrown open. “Just move- he knows I’m coming. Fate be on my side!” Everyone turned to face the voice. Standing at the threshold, giving the stink eye to Isos, was Theo. She stood there in all her glory, red dreads pulled into a bun. Scarlet felt her head get light, as the blood rushed from her head. If Theo had not changed her hair, then who had she run into this morning?
“Theo, welcome.” The King smiled. Theo closed the door and bowed. “Sire, thank you for inviting me. Oh look!” Theo rose, and smiled at the sight of Scarlet, “The mute human and her translator are here! It is lovely to see you after our interesting evening the other night.” Scarlet blushed, and the Theo look-a-like cleared her throat. Theo straightened her back, turning to her look-a-like. “Oh look, it’s my long lost sister.” As the realization settled over her, Scarlet wanted to slap a hand to her forehead. Of course, the only logical explanation to a Theo look-a-like was if they were related!
“Scarlet, Renee, this is Palsea Deaeque. Pals, this is Scarlet Solomon and Renee Ragon.” Palsea moved from where she stood, moving closer to the three. Meeting Theo half way, the two hugged. “Pals, welcome back. How was your trip?”
“Thank you, it was fine. I got to relax on the rocky shore, and think about everything that lied await here for me.” Theo rolled her eyes. “You can’t just say for once, my trip was lovely? Or thanks for asking sister, it was good.” A small frown formed on Palsea’s sapphire lips. “No, I can’t.” Taking a step away from her sister, Palsea turned her attention to the two humans. “Hello, I am Palsea. Many of those who I tolerate call me Pals, you may call me Pals.” Scarlet nodded and Renee mumbled out a thank you. “Why don’t we all take a seat?”
There were only two seats across from the King. Both Theo and Pals insisted that the two girls take the seats and they would stand to the side. As the King talked, informing them of Pals joining their trainings four times a week, Scarlet casted a glance to the sisters. The more she looked, the more she realized that the two were not in fact identical. Minus the most obvious sign, being their different hair colors and styles, each one had little features marking her. Theo had a beauty mark just under her right nostril, while Pals had a scar running flat from her temple across her cheek. She had also learned, after the King stepped out for a moment and Pals caught Scarlet staring at her shoes, that Pals never worse heels. Theo refused to be seen without them. Pals claimed it was unpractical. Theo called the dresses Pals always wore unpractical. Pals argued that the two front slits, which went all the way up to her belt, gave her freedom of movement while keeping the appearance of a lady. Theo scoffed, pointing out that her skirt was useless and she wore leggings underneath. Pals grabbed her sister’s arm, lifting it. She said Theo’s sleeveless shirt was useless when she wore sleeves almost meeting her shoulders- with fingerless, leather gloves. Theo called Pals’s shoulder armor ugly. Pals rolled her eyes, calling Theo out for acting plain childish. It was when Theo called Pals’s color of lip paint ugly that the conversation was lost. Scarlet noticed, watching the twin werewolves, that Pals remained unsteadily calm. She would only raise an eyebrow every now or then. Theo, though, was the complete opposite of her sister. Her body remained leaning against the wall but her face showed her every emotion.
As the two bickered, both demanding the other take something back; Scarlet glanced to Renee.
‘Is this what it’s like to have a sibling?’ Renee gave a small chuckle, crossing her arms over her chest. “Oh yeah, all the time.” Sadness filled Renee’s eyes, and she casted them away from Scarlet. Sensing her sadness, Scarlet reached a hand out. Unfolding Renee’s arms, Scarlet grasped her hand in one of her own. Renee gave a small, grateful smile but didn’t turn her eyes back to her friend.
The two sisters finally drew the battle when the King returned and the meeting went on.
“That’s just a brief brush of what you two will learn. You’ll get a better explanation from Pals this afternoon. Do you have anything to add before I release you?”
“I do actually,” Theo stepped forward, though the question was directed at her sister. “When can the lovely Scarlet come to visit me?” The King frowned. “Theo, we’ve already-”
“Oh but sire, we haven’t. You said you would think about it.” The King’s eyes turned deadly towards the werewolf. Her eyes only sparked in the challenge. “The answer is still No, Theo.” Theo gave a large smile, showing off slightly pointed teeth. “Why don’t we ask Scarlet? She is free after all.” During this whole exchange, the grip Scarlet had on Renee’s hand had gotten so tight that her finger tips were going cold. “Ask Scarlet what?” The vampire and werewolf turned to face Renee at the same time, breaking their staring match. “Theo wants to run test on Scarlet it.” Renee gasped, not from the news, no she gasped from the pain in her hand as Scarlet’s grip somehow got tighter. “Not on her, just her blood and DNA in the form of body hair! You make me sound so evil sire.”
“Maybe because you are!” Renee stood, pulling her hand from Scarlet’s grip. The King and the twins both turned their attention to her. “How dare you think you can experiment on Scarlet as if she was no better than dirt! She is a living being as you or I!” Theo narrowed her eyes, the sudden sense of fear filling Scarlet’s chest. “It’s called ethics, but I’m guessing a little human from that joke of a nation Tobus wouldn’t know that. Your High Lord is too busy keeping you all stupid and poor! I may be a scientist but I have my morals.” Renee scoffed, “yes, your morals that right you to cut open and study Scarlet. Just like her mother feared!”
“That is enough!” The King’s cold voice shook everyone to the core. But even his command could not calm the fire roaring within Renee. “And you! You revealed Scarlet to those dogs, after you would promise you would protect her! You’re no better than the thugs who kidnapped us!” Theo bared her teeth, flashing sharpened canines. Pals reached for her sister, placing a tight grip on her upper fore arm. The King’s face remained calm but the stylus in his hand broke. “Renee, I do believe your service is no longer needed for the day. Scarlet can write anything she needs to express.” Renee shook her head, pushing out her chest to give her tiny body height amongst the giants in the room. “No, I won’t. I told you with my dying breath-” A loud clash suddenly silenced the office. Everyone looked to the sight of the sound. Two shattered glasses were sprinkled on the ground, Scarlet’s skirt brushing them. She apologized for breaking them, licking her lips and looking to Renee to translate. In fact, the King and the werewolves looked to Renee.
Taking a calming breath, Renee brushed her hair behind her ears. “Scarlet is sorry for breaking the glasses,” Relaxing slightly, Scarlet went on. “But we, as in the three of us, were fighting so much. She tried to get our attention but nothing was working.” Renee took a quick breath, almost struggling to keep up with her. “If we would allow her, Scarlet would like to speak.” Pals pulled Theo back and the King sat back down. Renee lowered back down into her seat, as Scarlet stepped over the glass pieces. “What exactly, do you want with Scarlet? And, please no big words, she is just from Tobus- the country of stupid and poor.” Theo’s cheeks flushed slightly. As many, she was one who often later regretted what she said in the heat of anger. “I apologize, for what I said. When in battle, I go for what I know will hurt. I hope you will not hold that against me, Scarlet.” Theo shook her arm from her sister’s grip and stepped forward. “I’m not asking to lay you on a table so that I may cut you open. I seeks some vitals of blood, some strands of hair, skin cells- which is just a scrap of skin from your arm. That is what I would be doing my test on. In return, we could learn so much; about how Blessed come to be. If there’s a connection between the lines of your kind.”
“She wants to know how you would connect her to the others, the ones before her.”
“The last Blessed human came hundreds of years before my time, I will not lie to you. I have not personally studied him, or the ones before him but other scientist have. Scientist in my family and I have access to their research.”
“If your ancestors were not able to find out much, what would be different now?” Theo gave a small smile, moving around the chairs towards Scarlet. “Technology. In just my two hundred and twenty years I’ve seen the world transformed. Our advancements in science have opened doors my ancestors could only dream of! With your help, we could be on our way to a wonderful, new horizon.” Bending down to one knee, Theo rested right at her chest level. “Please Scarlet, you could be missing link. The one that makes thousands of years of research worth it.” Theo’s hands surrounded one of Scarlet’s, the darkness enveloping the light. Pulling her hand away, Scarlet responded. “Give her until tomorrow, she will inform the King of her decision before their lesson. May we be excused?”
The King nodded his head. “Yes, have a good afternoon Scarlet.” Standing, Scarlet curtsied and moved around Theo. She still rested on her knee. “Renee, stay.” Renee, who had begun to rise, returned back down. The door open, and closed. Scarlet was gone. Theo slowly stood, “Sit, Theo.” At the King’s command she sat. “You two… What can I say? Isos!” The door to the office opened. “Sire?”
“Send for a maid, there was an accident with some glasses.” Isos bowed his head, and left the room. “She had to break glasses. You two should be ashamed. I don’t care if you two despise each other to the center core, do not allow it to happen again. Whatever Scarlet choses tomorrow is the final word.”
“As I would stand by my best friend’s choice, no matter my own opinion.” Theo casted a glance at Renee, before sitting up straighter. “As would I. She is a Blessed human, but she is still a free human. She has her rights.”
“Very good, you both are dismissed. Pals, I still have some matters to discuss with you.” The King glanced up to the wall clock. “Claudia will be here soon. She is eager to see you and we can all…” The King looked to Renee, “talk.” Renee gave a small head nod, standing.
Scarlet kept her skirts tight in her right hand, a folder in her left, as she rushed through the halls. Rounding the last corner, she dropped the fabric and slowed to a walk. Pushing her body into the door, Scarlet entered into the library. Closing the door, she opened the folder. Another thing she had asked for, and had gotten thanks to the kindness of Vern, was some way to find her way around the room of books. Amazingly, within a few hours, Vern had given her a folder filled with pages. The directory listed off the main sections of each book genres, subgenre, what level they were on and where. Flipping through the pages, she settled on history of science section. It was as good as a starting place as anything else.
Strolling along the history section on the second floor, Scarlet ran her fingers over the spines of the books. Any book she thought would help, she pulled and marked its place. So far she had three, two journals written by a Deaeque and the third a basic written over all of the past thousand years of scientific discovery. Sitting herself on the ground, Scarlet begun to look through what she had picked. The three books wielded nothing. They were indeed filled with knowledge, but not the knowledge she sought. Returning the books to their rightful place, she moved on. Scarlet continued to browse the shelves, repeating the process, until she reached the end of the section. A corner. Huffing, Scarlet frowned. She had learned much, but nothing gave her the knowledge of whether trusting the Deaeque twins should be done. If she should allow herself to be tested on. Glancing down, she noticed a rather beautiful book spine.
Of course all of the books were beautiful to Scarlet. Growing up the only books she saw were tattered and old, so to hold one that didn’t feel like it was going to fall apart- it was beautiful. There was something about the one that had caught her eye. It was in no different of size or color than the rest, but it seemed to sing out to her. Reaching out, she curled her fingers around the book. Pulling, only the top half would move. Suddenly there was loud shutter that had Scarlet jumping back from the books. With a gasp, she watched as the bookcase magically slid back just a hair of an inch. Grabbing the railing, Scarlet casted a glance down towards the door. When no one came rushing in, she turned back to the bookshelf. Stepping closer, she held a hand out, gently pushing against the shelf. As it swung in, Scarlet realized that it was only a small section of the shelf that actually moved. It opened to a dark tunnel. For her it was a perfect size, but for anyone larger they would be forced to bend down.
Should she go in, or should she not. Scarlet knew she should not, yet when she spotted a stray lantern on a small table a few feet away; she ran to get it. Twisting the nob for the gas, she ran the spark starter until a flame was lit. Returning to the tunnel, she took a shaky breath and entered in. Holding the lantern out, Scarlet kept herself closed away from the somewhat clean walls. The tunnel soon ended, Scarlet only walking thirty or forty feet in. Instead of being a dead end, or going to some long corridor, it emptied out into a large space. Lifting her only source of light up and around, it bounced off of nothing. Turning, Scarlet searched the left, and then right wall nearest to her. Finding a small switch, she flipped it and stared in wonder. The room was not large, but it was made of stone. The lights along the wall made her lantern useless, so she cut the gas to the flame. Looking around, the room was a library within a library. A full wall of bookcases just higher than her head were filled, and the rest of the room was filled with a small couch, a few chairs, and two coffee tables. Setting the lantern down, Scarlet moved to the bookcase. These books, unlike the ones in the main library, were much less grand looking. They were gruff, and more personally published than professionally. The spines were nameless, and held no claim to who might have written them. Pulling out a smaller black leather book, Scarlet flipped open the cover.
Property of Charles S. Miner
I was told to start this journal by someone very close to me, after all who would expect a blind man to write? This is the only safe haven I have. The only place where I can fully confess and kill the witness with no consequences. With as wild as a life I have lived, it’s what I need. Guess that’s what I get for being Blessed.
The journal fell out of Scarlet’s hand and landed on the ground. Gasping, she fell to her knees and opened the journal once more. She reread the page, her lips quivering. Placing the book on the coffee table, Scarlet grabbed another book. Flipping the brown cover open, she read the ownership; A Copy of the Journal of the Study and Finding of Florence Avery Conducted By Dr. Sweeney-Gardiner R. Deaeque the Third. Scarlet leaned over and landed on her hip; holding the book to her chest. She couldn’t believe it. Scarlet’s glassed eyes scanned over the books once more. She had found it, she found the information that would give her the knowledge to make the right choice.
Pulling the bookcase-door open, Scarlet stuck her head out. Seeing that the library was as she had left it, minus the light of the day, Scarlet stepped out. The bookcase behind her closed with solid thud, and she started towards the nearest stairway. She held her lantern in one hand, and Charles’s journal in the other. Exiting the library, she started back towards her bedroom. Her heart beat fast, as she was sure her secret would be discovered. She rounded a corner, entering another hall way, counting in her head how many more she had left. “Scar!” She froze, half way down the hall, and turned. “There you are! We get one afternoon off and you go missing!” Renee jogged towards Scarlet, slowing as she reached her. “Where were you?” Scarlet held up the journal, opened it quickly and closing it just as fast.
‘I was reading, in the library and I fell sleep.’
“Oh, I looked in there. I must have missed you.” Scarlet nodded and took a few steps, “You missed dinner, do you want to head to the kitchen together and see if we can get Ariana to warm some food up?” Scarlet shook her head no, motioning that she was going to bed. “Oh, okay. Goodnight.” Scarlet nodded her head, and rushed away.
Once in her room, Scarlet hid the journal under her pillow while she changed, and only took it out once she was snuggled under her covers. She could only stare at it, and run her hand over it’s cover. After finding the case studies, Scarlet hunched over each one, learning. There were at least three Blessed humans before her; Charles, Florence and Miles. They were like her. They had all been studied on. They learned barely anything about why they were Blessed, but they had learned something. Or so the case studies showed. She had been so engrossed in the journals she lost track of time, and didn’t read any more of Charles’s journal. Wiping away a stray tear, Scarlet opened the journal.
So what shall I tell you first? What secret to I dare write down, in full trust of you and hope it not be found? I get visions, which is my Blessing. I can chose to see the past, and I can try to tell the future. My parents always believed that I was Blessed from birth, though I don’t remember my first vision happening until I was four or five. Some days I miss them, I guess that shall be my first secret to you. A grown man, missing his ma and pa. How can I not? They were too young, and did nothing to deserve the burdens that I weighed. They were killed, many years ago. Sometime, when the sun is high and shines on my face; I can hear their voices. Without any drawings from my Blessing, I can hear my ma humming or my father’s boots stomping. Every person has a certain step- did you know that? People who see, they don’t notice it. How can they? It takes great focus and energy to listen to how one walks. Why do all that when you can turn and just look with your eyes? My eyes are useless. My second secret, journal, is where I live. I hail from the south, so I hide in the north. The manor is large, with many rooms. It rest on a large plot of land, surrounded- I’m told- by hills on the front and mountains in the back. The owner, a werewolf, lives alone. Her only son is grown and live in the nearby city, but he visits. My only fear, he is a scientist. My third fear, journal, is that I make a mistake. I slip and reveal myself. One mistake could get me killed.
Scarlet slowly closed the journal. Unsure of where to hide the journal, she placed it back under her pillow. Turning her light off, she slipped deeper under the covers. She was numb. Reading Charles’s journal was an experience. The feelings filling her were new, and strange. Common for most everyone, but never for herself. Because for the first time in her life, Scarlet didn’t feel alone.