Scarlet watched Claudia silently, as she pinned a photo to the foam bullseye. “This is Muis.” Claudia put emphasis on each word. Stepping so Scarlet to see, she found herself somewhat humored by the image. On the yellowed image was a rather large, older man. His white hair was pulled back into a ponytail, streaks of black throughout being the only sign left of his younger years. His lips were full, a cocky up-twist upon them but his nose tiny, a pair of tiny round spectacles resting at the tip. It might have been the wrinkles, or the natural slants of his eyes, but he appeared to have no sclera. Two black voids stared into her eyes. Claudia’ finger striking the center of his forehead broke Scarlet from the trance. “This is the spot you want to aim. If you aim at him, you aim to kill. There’s no excuses.” Claudia quickly moved out of the aiming range, “Take a try at it.”
Pulling a knife from her belt, Scarlet shook it gently in her hand. Claudia had surprised her that afternoon with her very own knives. They weren’t new, but in an actable shape being they were an old set of Claudia’s. For sure they were a step up from the rubber and wooden ones she had been using for the past few weeks. Since the King’s revelation about the war nearly three days ago, Claudia and Pals had stepped up the intensity of the human’s training. Not that Scarlet minded all that too much. It kept her mind off of the awkward situation with Renee. Scarlet had been willing to forgive Renee, that was the easy part. The hard part was trying to be as close as they were before it all. Scarlet no longer wish to confine in her friend, and thus had no one. She once again felt alone, more alone than she ever had.
Taking a stance, Scarlet licked her lips and took focus on the photo. Pulling her arm back, she released the knife to the photo, missing his forehead and hitting his second-chin. Spinning she moved further back, and repeated the process. She missed once more, hitting a fat cheek. She moved even further back, and threw her last knife. It hit Muis’s forehead dead center, the impact creating a satisfying thump. “Good, you’re getting better every day. Now get your knifes and do it again. This time, I want a running start. Starting back to front. After that, front to back.” Scarlet nodded as she jogged to retrieve her knives.
“Scar!” Pausing at the door to the training room, Scarlet looked back just in time to see Renee coming over towards her. “You’re going over to Theo’s tomorrow right? For the testing and stuff?” Scarlet briefly nodded her head. “I um, I talked to the King this afternoon and he said if we take Vern with us then we could go to the market tomorrow. I was thinking, we could go, you know after. If you want.” Scarlet could tell that Renee was biting the inside of her cheek, a nervous habit. Scarlet looked away, before looking back and nodding her head. Renee gave a relief smile. “Thanks. I’ll see you in the morning.” Nodding goodbye, Scarlet left the training room.
I had a strange dream last night. I think it was a possible image of the future. Before I really mastered my powers, the best way for me to get an image of what has been or might be was to go to sleep. They’re not common anymore, but I can still get them. In this dream I stood outside, towering cliff covered mountains behind me and rolling hills to my front. What should have been beautiful was over shadowed by the looming fear and tenseness in the air. There was a shutter, and suddenly I was surrounded by a battle. A war.
Looking around, I met a pair of black voids that felt as if they were seeing to my inner core. The man gave a wicked glee, as there was an explosion. The ground around me shook and looking back to where the man’s eyes had moved, I turned just in time to watch pieces of the mountains cliffs fell. The warriors scattered, one dressed in slightly darker armor standing out to me as he helped an injured woman. She hobbled, having clearly hurt her foot and held a hand to her shoulder. His armor was missing a large piece from the chest plate, and his helmet had been abandoned. Turning back to the man, he had raised a bow with an arrow ready to fire. The arrow went flying through the air. I’m not sure who it was meant for, but the man pushed the woman to the ground. He took the hit, falling to the ground. The woman, on only her knees, pulled a knife and sent it towards the man on the horse.
I do not know if it hit him or not. I woke to a cold sweat, my heart racing in my chest. It was the most vivid image I’ve ever gotten in my dreams. Perhaps it’s a sign, that these test I’ve begun with Dr. Deaeque. Or perhaps there is a war greater than the one I face. Unless asked about it, I shall tell no one but you journal.
Scarlet placed her book marker into the journal, closing it. For being blind, Charles had some of the nicest writing Scarlet had ever seen in her whole life. Setting the journal under a pile of papers in her nightstand draw, she closed it and turned her light off. Settling into the covers, she flipped to her side. Yawning, her eyes gently closed.
A gentle wind wisped stray pieces of Scarlet’s hair. It had been pulled back into a high ponytail, yet she remained in her night gown. She looked at the surround area, confused to where she might be. She scanned the mountains in front of her, and turned to meet large hills that seemed to roll to the horizon. She turned back to the mountains, looking for nothing yet everything. The sound of a battle cry coming from behind her, had her turning. If she could have screamed, she would have. Muis ran towards her, sword in the air. She was frozen, her feet rooted from the fear. The distance between then shrunk and as he swung his sword towards her; Scarlet lifted her hands in defense. Closing her eyes, she prepared for the pain.
None ever came. In fact, when she reopened her eyes, she no long stood in the field. She laid on the wooden planks of a dimly lit study. Slowly sitting up, she tensed at the hunched over shadow sitting at the desk. “Who goes there?” The figure turned, and Scarlet scooted back, hitting a couch. Looking normal enough with short, cropped curls and skin darker than the night; the man’s eyes were what put fear in Scarlet. Where normally rested the cornea he had nothing but spots that looked as if they had been colored with a grey pencil. His eyes scanned over Scarlet. “Oh, it’s just you. Well, please, take a seat.” He motioned to the couch that was jammed into her back. Shaking, she barely lifted herself up to the couch. The man turned back to his desk. “I was starting to wonder if you were ever going to show up.” Scarlet frowned, realizing that she was in dream. “Well,” the man turned back to her, this time a writing quill in hand, “Aren’t you going to speak?” The frown grew deeper on Scarlet’s face. Pointing to her throat, she made an X. “You can’t speak?” She shook her head yes. “Have you ever tried?” Scarlet shook her head once more, getting more annoyed with the man by the second. He twisted his head slightly, “Well have you tried in the last two minutes?” She shook her head no. “Well then try.” Scarlet looked at the man like he was crazy. “Now.” He mumbled something to himself, glancing away. Taking a deep breath, Scarlet prepared for what was to come.
“How?” Her eyes popped open, her hands flying to her mouth. “I spoke!” A small shrill escaped her lips. “I spoke! But, but, how, how is this even possible?” The man smiled, revealing that both of his upper canines were missing. “How is anything possible Scarlet?”
“How do you know my name? Who are you?” The man crossed his legs, placing his quill on the table. “I’m sorry, I skipped over the introductions. How rude of me. I am Charles Seafra Miner, please to meet you.” Scarlet held a waving hand out, “Wait, wait, wait. Charles Seafra Miner, so Charles S. Miner?” Charles nodded his head, giving another smile as he leaned back in his chair. “You’re, you’re him?” He nodded his head again, “The one and only. Well, I was named after my father but I’m the only Blessed Charles.” Scarlet shook her head, glancing around the room. “How is this possible- how can you see me? You’re supposed to be blind.”
“That’s the great thing Scarlet, here the boundaries of mortality hold no rulings here. Here we are free of any deformity.” Charles stood and came to sit next to Scarlet. “Where is here?” She looked from him to the windowless study once more. “I’m afraid I can’t even answer that question. We are nowhere, yet everywhere. It’s all a part of our journey.”
“Yes, Blessed ones, we intertwine. I’m not sure how it really works. But being I was the Blessed human before you, it is my duty to speak to you.” Scarlet was confuse. “Your duty? I don’t understand.” Charles adjusted himself, turning more towards her. “Well, let’s see if I can explain it another way. The Blessed before me was Florence Avery. She lived four hundred years before my mortal time. She was deaf yet she could read the mind of any person of her choice. I was talking a walk one afternoon, when a vision of her appeared in my head and then I was transported to the most beautiful place. I say that because it was the first and only time I ever saw in my life. Just like you and I, she informed me of who she was.”
“This is still all so confusing. I don’t understand any of this. Just tell me how I got, and why, I’m here.”
“Well, think about it Scarlet. How are you able to control things with your mind, how could I see the future or Florence read minds? Why is our world filled with creatures that some other worlds believe to only be fables or myths?” His colorless eyes searched her, and he leaned in. “Magic.” Scarlet could conclude that his explanation made sense. It was the most logical one. “Okay, but it’s still hard to accept.” Charles nodded, leaning back into the couch. “I know, I felt the same way when Florence came to me.”
“So why am I here? Are you going to tell me something or what?”
“You’re here because your Calling Time is upon you.”
“My Calling Time?”
“Yes, you see, the world and everything around us; is living. It has us all set down a natural course. Then, as if sensing the coming danger that threatens to destroy it, we come along.”
“Wait, are you telling me why I exist? Why I am Blessed?” Charles nodded, as the tears welded up in Scarlet’s eyes. “Please go on.”
“We were created to protect the natural balance of things, to take on and destroy whatever threatens to ruin it. When it’s our time to do so, that is called our Calling Time.”
“So I am set to go head on with Muis?”
“I cannot answer that, the future is never fully set. But the war that Muis will create is your Calling Time.”
“So what happens afterwards? Do I lose my power? Do I die?”
“No, you were born Blessed and shall remain so until you die. And, honestly you can die at any time Scarlet. We are not created just to serve our purpose and then return to the beyond. We are still granted a full life if we can survive.”
“How did you die?”
“Disease. There was a horrible disease spreading through the world during my time. It was called the Blind plague, ironically. It was silent, swift and deadly. It could kill a human child in two days, a grown human man in five. I was living with the mother of Dr. Sweeney-Gardiner K. Deaeque. He was the lead researcher in finding a cure for it. I allowed him to take some of my blood, once he found out I was Blessed. It turns out because of my blindness I lacked a key area if my brain and that effected my overall DNA. And when tested against the plague,” The realization washed over Scarlet’s face like a wave. “Your blood was the antidote. I learned about the Red plague in school, they said they found the cure through someone’s blood. A Blessed human too, but they never mentioned a name.”
Charles nodded. “Yes, I know. I asked Dr. Deaeque to omit my name. If I was to be a hero, I wished to remain a nameless one. They drained my body while my heart still beat,” Charles casted his eyes away from Scarlet. “I can still see the tubs draining me. Feel death’s noose slowly get tighter upon me. I’ll never forget the last words I ever heard. They were from Dr. Deaeque’s mother. ‘You did good, Charlie, thank you.’ She said. ‘Thank you for saving the world.’ And then nothing.” Charles opened his eyes, looking back at Scarlet. She wiped away the few stray tears that had fallen from her face. Suddenly, the mantle clock struck three. They both looked to it. “Oh no, time is almost up.” Charles turned back to Scarlet. “Scarlet, before our time together is over, there is one more thing I must share with you. But what I share cannot be ever spoken aloud.”
“Why?” Charles shrugged at her. “It’s just the rule. It’s about us, about Blessed humans. Have you noticed a pattern in them, anything?” Scarlet thought hard, but the sudden rush of time made her thoughts jumble together in her head, so she shook her head no. “The reason you lack a voice, is because you are Blessed. I was blind; Florence was deaf; the Blessed before her, Miles, lack a memory and the first Blessed human, Nora, was crippled. She could not walk. We are chosen to be Blessed and because we are given a gift we must give something back in return. It’s not our choice and we have no control over it; it’s just how it works.”
“Can I ask you a question?” Butterflies filled Scarlet’s stomach. “Of course.” Charles bent his head to try to make eye contact. “You wrote, in your journal, that you had no one to trust. How did you recover from that?” Charles sat back, nodding his head slightly. “I started the journal. You see, my dearest and nearest friends were dying. They were cousins and were the only family I felt I had throughout most of my life. I was so close to one that if I held any real sexual attraction to any being- it would have been him. The cousin I was closer to lived slightly longer than the other, and upon his death bed I confessed I was losing the last person I fully trusted in the world. So he told me to start a journal… I still remember hearing the last breath he ever took. It was forever haunting.”
“So, do you believe I should start a journal?”
“Yes. Because even the people we trust the most, can turn. When you can trust no one, then you can only trust yourself.” Suddenly, the ground begun to shake. Scarlet, out of habit, scooted closer to Charles. “What’s going on?” Charles scanned the ceiling, as pieces fell from it. “Our time should not be up!” He screamed to no one, but the shaking got worse. He looked back to Scarlet. “I’m sorry Scarlet, our time together is up. It was my great honor to get to be your guide. Remember, to get you must first give. That is the key to any life. To get, you must give!”
“Thank you.” Embracing him in a hug, Scarlet closed her eyes as the world around her fell to pieces.
There was a soft melody playing on the radio, filling the car cabin. Scarlet kept her gaze to the window, not truly looking at anything. “You’re nervous.” Scarlet turned to Pals, confused. “You have bags under your eyes from a bad night’s rest, you put your hair in a bun but it fell apart before I came for you and those shoes.” She pointed to her green flats. “Do not go with that shade of grey. Your fashion is normally on acceptable terms as is your hair.” Scarlet touched her hair self-consciously. “Do not worry, if it wasn’t me, no one would notice any real difference. But I take pride in noticing things, and fashion.” Pals would glance over, but not fully look at Scarlet. She kept her eyes to the road, which Scarlet was grateful for. Pals was the one driving. “If you do not wish to do this, you don’t have to. My little sister can be a bully when she chooses. Despite the ethics she swore to up hold.” Scarlet shook her head, and turned back to the window.
Pals pulled to the curb of the street, and turned the car off. Scarlet’s eyes were gazing up at the rather tiny building in front of her. “Pals leaned over, looking up. “It might not look like much but this is only Theo’s personal lab. It’s where she started. The one in her home and the University are much grander in scale, but she likes to remain near her roots.” Pals climbed out of the car, mumbling something as she did. Scarlet scrambled to follow after, choking herself as she attempted to climb out of the car while still buckled in. Releasing the latch, she stumbled from the car. She barely made it to the edge of the stone walkway when the door opened. Theo filled the entrance, removing a pair of goggles from her eyes. “Right on time, as per normal. Thank you Pals.” Pals moved over, allowing Scarlet to walk to the doorway alone. “Of course, now I’m off, I have another appointment I must be getting to.” Theo waved as Pals got back into her car and drove off. Scarlet stood beside her, silent. “What she meant is that she has a date with Rony. Come now,” Pushing off of the door frame, Theo pulled Scarlet inside. “We have work to do!” Once more stumbling over her feet, Scarlet was pulled into the building.
“Come, come now.” Theo pulled Scarlet up a twisting set of metal stairs, not giving her a chance to even glance at the bottom floor. “This is my lab. It’s tiny, but it’s where I do some of my most secretive work. My University lab is grand but too public, and to keep all my research in my home is just foolish.” Scarlet’s eyes roamed over the multiple tables, all filled with a range of different things. “Sit.” The werewolf all but pushed her straight into a swirling chair. “Where to start?” Theo picked up a clipboard, mumbling to herself. “Where to start? So many places, so, so many places. Ah!” She sat the clipboard down and picked up a small glass container. Inside it contained a tiny cotton swab. “A swab of some saliva, and then some blood, a nail clipping, a few strands of hair-” The werewolf gasped, “Oh- and, and, a urine sample! How did I miss that?” She quickly flipped a few pages on her clipboard, and scribbled on one. “Okay, back to business. Open your mouth wide.”
The door to Theo’s slammed open, Pals stepping over the threshold as it did. Scarlet sat her cup of tea down, resting it in her lap as Pals singled in on Theo. Theo stood, a cookie in her hand. “Palsea! I wasn’t expecting you back here until tonight. How was lunch?” Pals closed the door, nearing her sister. “It was fine, until this.” She stuck out her left hand, and on her finger was one of the largest rings Scarlet had ever seen. Theo smiled, jumping up and down; the cookie in her hand flying into the air. “Eiiee! You said yes! You said yes!” Theo grabbed her sister’s hand, examining the ring. “Of course I said yes.” Pals pulled her hand back, “Then Rony tells me the wedding is in two weeks. Two weeks. He has been planning the whole thing secretly for months!” Theo squealed once more, “I know! Isn’t it great?” Pals took a seat, pouring herself a cup of tea. “I do not know. A wedding is meant to be planned by the bride and yet all I get is my wedding party and the dresses.” Theo rolled her eyes. “Oh please Pals. You hate any sort of planning that isn’t fashion or war related. I think Ron-a-Rony did great.” Pals took a sip of tea, having poured herself a cup. “You are correct there.”
“So does this mean you’re asking me to be in your party?” Theo grabbed another cookie, placing the whole thing in her mouth. “Yes, you both actually.” Theo’s body suddenly heaved forward, and pieces of cookie came flying from her mouth. She beat her chest, coughing. Scarlet quickly stood, hitting the table and slipping her tea. Fisting her hand, she gave the best whack she could muster to Theo’s back. Swallowing the cookie, Theo stopped coughing and thanked Scarlet. “You want Scarlet in your party? Why?” Pals took another sip of tea. “Because quite frankly I sometimes find myself enjoying her company more than I even enjoy yours or Rony’s.” Theo protested, but Pals ignored her. She instead turned to Scarlet, who had sat back down. “So Scarlet, will you be in my wedding party?” Scarlet refused, using basic signs to communicate to Pals that she didn’t like her picture taken. “Your face shall be cover, Rony and I simply adore masquerades. It’s the best party theme. Please be in my wedding.” Just as Scarlet was about to agree, feeling extremely grateful towards Pals, someone knocked on the door. Theo stood, two cookies in hand, and opened the door. “I’m here for Scarlet.” Theo stepped aside, allowing Renee to enter into the lab. Theo’s eyes scanned Renee as she did.
“Hey Scar, you um, ready to go?” Scarlet nodded her head, standing. “Scarlet, you did not answer me. Will you?” Scarlet nodded her head, yes, giving Pals a small smile. “Will you what?” The werewolf and Scarlet looked at Renee. “I am getting married,” Pals stood, sitting her tea cup down, “and Scarlet has agreed to be in my wedding party.” The shock was clear on Renee’s face. “Oh, well, um, congratulations.”
“Because of your… history with my sister, I cannot ask the same of you. But I would hope to see you in the crowd, so that you might ease Scarlet’s burden of communication.” Renee gave a small smile and nodded her head. “Of course, thank you for the invitation.” Pals gave a single nod. “Very good, I must get home to contact my parents and then the fabric shop. I have much to do in two weeks. Good day.”
Later, after saying her farewells to Theo, Scarlet found herself in the back seat with Renee. Vern sat in the front, driving the two. The whole cab was rather silent. “So you’re going to be in Pals’ wedding?” Scarlet glanced over to Renee, nodding. “That was, really nice of her.” Scarlet nodded her head a little harder, trying to imply the sarcasm she felt. “We’re different Scarlet, it’s as simple as that. I apologized and I’m going to work on not forcing my view point on you. It’s all I can do.” Scarlet nodded her head. ‘I know, I understand.’
Scarlet was fascinated by both the market place and the amount of money she had to spend there. Though she did not expect much, if anything, from the King for her service to him- he paid her rather handsomely. And the market place. Oh the market place was like nothing she had ever seen in her life. It was large, roaming out into endless blocks of street carts and shops all just for goods. Every place was unique, offering its own stock of items. It amazed Scarlet. Growing up in their town in Tobus, there was one market place for both food and goods. It was small, maybe two blocks at the largest. It was all so overwhelming and Scarlet loved it. She found herself eagerly dashing from each place to the next, star struck. At one point, she even forgot about how upset she was with Renee. Until they entered into a book shop. Sitting upon it’s own pedestal was a tan leather journal. Charles’s words echoed in Scarlet’s mind. When you trust no one, you can only trust yourself. As much as Scarlet loved Renee, and she claimed of attempting to change, she was having a hard time believing she would ever fully trust her again. So Scarlet bought the journal when Renee wasn’t looking and hid it among her other bags.
The next shop they went to was a fabric shop, which also tailored custom dresses. There were bulks of fabric stack upon each other; from the floor to the ceiling. Scarlet thought of her mother, and for the first time- she didn’t feel any pain. Instead, she heard two familiar voices in the far corner of the shop. Making her way through the aisles, Renee following behind her, Scarlet paused and smiled. “I literally just held up that color!” Pals shook her head, remaining calm in the face of storm Theo. “No, you showed me mint, this is mint-green.” Theo threw her hands in the air. “Mint, mint-green, they are literally all the same shades!”
“They are not-oh Scarlet, Renee. Hello. It is wonderful you are here. Scarlet I need you.” Pals moved away from her sister, holding a piece of fabric up to Scarlet. “Look? You see? It complements your skin, it compliments Scarlet and it’ll compliment Claudia. That horrid, mint isn’t your shade and it would wash Scarlet and Claudia both out. Thank you both, I’m leaving now.” Pals left, going down the nearest aisle without a glance back to her sister. “Pals? Palsea! Come back! Don’t leave me!” Theo went rushing after her sister. Scarlet looked from the werewolf to Renee.
‘What just happened?’
Renee shook her head, looking down to the pile of multiple shades of green. “I do not know.” Spotting a rather pretty looking green silk, Scarlet bent down to pick it up. Holding it up, Renee commented on it’s beauty and the two went back to shopping.
Journal Entry Number One
I was told by a dear friend that I should start a journal. I have lost the ability to fully trust anyone ever again. I had only one person left with me. I love the person still, but their views differ from my own on many manners and subjects. When you trust no one, you can only trust yourself. These are words for any Blessed to live by. My name is Scarlet, and I am Blessed. I did not choice my fate, it was thrust upon me. I have no voice, I never have nor ever will. To get, you must first give. If there is anything positive that comes from my Blessing, it has to be the satisfaction of knowing I am as I am because the world needs me. Without me the world as it is known would end forever. I am to save it. I fear, and this is the first of many, that I just might lose my life in the process. Surly it would be worth it, wouldn’t it?