The Rise of Heroes Book 1: The Academy of Hidden Secrets

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Chapter Twenty-Six

Rashika’s breath hitched with raw disbelief the moment this girl’s words spilled from her lips.

Is that girl really her demon side?

It seemed almost impossible but then again, everything she discovered so far seemed impossible was the truth. So could the statement this girl claim was also part of the truth?

“H-How do I know you’re...Me?” She finally asked with the courage she could muster. “How can I tell if you’re not an allusion Hellioh made?!” She hoped that her questions will cause the girl to get a little shaken up, however she saw the opposite.

The girl chuckled in delight, her hand suddenly met Rashika’s chin. “I can assure you that I’m not some allusion. I am you but I have a different name; Ashika, which means ‘one without sorrow.’ Our mother left us with Ormr, our father. Everybody in the Myth World loathed us for being part demon and dragon. The only time we made friends was only for a few moments before those cowardly griffins and serpent cried for their parents to rescue them from us.” Her hand slowly released its hold on Rashika’s chin, as Ashika continued. “Still think I’m some allusion?”

Rashika didn’t say a word, her mind was trying to see if there was any logical explanation for what she was seeing. However, given the correct facts, she didn’t see any other way, but her mind suddenly clicked in realization. “You say our mother left us, but you are so mistaken! She was murdered by Headmistress Olema! So what you say about mom isn’t true!”

“But how do you know if those Soul Books were telling the truth?” Ashika interrogated, as she started to walk around Rashika, the clicking sounds of her heels echoing through the area. “You don’t know if it’s some way to sugar coat what was really true about mom. Maybe those Soul Books were fake so you’ll see what you wanted to see, but of course, you wouldn’t know, you’re too naive.”

“Really, and I suppose the next thing you’re going to say is that you’re much stronger than me?” Rashika growled, her eyes never getting off the movements Ashika was making.

Ashika stopped her walking around in circles routine, looked at Rashika with an impressed look on her face. “Well aren’t you so smart. Of course, I’m stronger than you if I wasn’t then why would I be talking to you? All I had to do was to keep all my anger and hatred towards those who resented me bottled up inside me and when they had their final straw, I release that anger!”

A sudden dark aura surrounded Ashika, she smiled at the delight of the darkness that appeared around her. “With all the anger released, I went from this!” her arms gestured towards Rashika and then to herself. “To this bad girl! Yes, that’s right, all you have to do is do the same thing I did!”

Rashika took several steps back, away from Ashika, who already sensed her fear that was beginning to arise. “Now don’t be that way, you out of all people know what true pain is like. All those days hearing those adults whisper among themselves saying how much better the worlds will be without you. How happy your father would be without you. You know what I’m talking about, don’t act so tough.”

“Dream all you want to but I will not bottle up any anger or hatred towards them, not now, not ever! So you can forget about coming to the real world because that’s not going to happen!”

Ashika only laughed at the defiance Rashika shot back with, only to lean close to her ear and whisper in darkness. “But it’ll happen whether you want to or not. You can keep telling yourself that this will never happen but eventually, it will, very soon. Then you’ll see if your friends really are your friends if they don’t run away from you since you’ll look like me, a monster.”

“JUST SHUT UP!! YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MY FRIENDS YOU LYING ALLUSION!” Rashika punched Ashika’s face, causing a visible bruise but it rapidly regenerated itself, leaving no sign that it was touched! It was as if she was built to handle any pain that was inflicted on her.

“Ah it’s just so amusing seeing you trying to convince yourself that this fate won’t happen, besides it’s not everyday you get to see yourself in the possible future.” Ashika’s hand soon ventured in her dress pocket, slowly pulling out the same key Hellioh took away from Rashika! She saw the tensed look on Rashika’s face as she laughed once again. “Ahaha, you didn’t know that the key Hellioh has was a fake? Well surprise!”

She then tossed the metal object to Rashika, who caught it, but looked back at her with bewilderment. “Oh don’t bother talking I already know what you’re going to say,” Ashika then mimicked Rashika’s voice, “‘Why did you give the key if you want me to turn into you?’” She switched back to her original dark voice. “Ha! Easy, because I want to see you and your so called friends faces when you fail miserably trying to save everyone from the Sun Gang!”

Ashika yawned, walking away from Rashika into a swirling white and black vortex that appeared the moment she snapped her fingers. “Before I disappear into the dimension of absolutely nothing until you summon me...Enjoy some visions of me happily killing everyone after your team loses against your opponents! Until we meet again Rashika!” She stepped in the vortex, disappearing without a trace but the echoes of her evil laughter tormenting the insides of Rashika until the whiteness were filled with the visions Ashika promised!

Rashika’s eyes first witnessed Ashika’s transformation to the dark side after losing a battle that seemed to have taken place in the near future, witnessing her first kill be her friends, all at once! She saw Ashika’s weapon to be some sort of huge sword with spikes covering the blade that can penetrate through three bodies at least! She watched her friends begged her for mercy until their eyes became pale and they stopped moving, nothing but their blood decorating the sword’s blade and spikes! Their bodies left lifeless and losing every ounce of blood as they were tossed aside as if they were objects that had no significance in her life

“No...This can’t be...There’s no way I’ll..” Rashika felt her breathing cease to help her cover her fear. She witnessed more visions of Ashika killing everybody as slowly and agonizing as she could, listening to the cries of the victims! Each one hitting the ground, covering it more with stains of red while the Sun Gang cheered her on to continue the slaughtering!

She saw Ashika’s claws slice across Zeliha’s chest as she screamed in horror until she dropped down to the ground dead! Thuggort was too frightened out of his wits to even move before Ashika grabbed him from his neck as he kicked his legs to try to free himself but he was failing! Rashika watched her dark side keep a tight grip around Thuggort’s neck as his breathing ceased until she heard a loud CRACK!

Thuggort’s eyes closed in an instant as Ashika tossed him to where his sister’s bodies laid, as she laughed insanely!

“STOOOOOOOOOOOP!!!!” Rashika finally shrieked, her eyes were closed with tears streaming down across her face as her hands covered her ears to stop listening to agonizing cries of the people Ashika was killing! Her breathing suddenly became uneven, soon it quickened! She could feel her lungs getting tight, kicking the air out from coming in! Her right hand instantly removed itself from covering her right ear and landed itself on top of her chest!

“It’s not true, it’s not true, it’s not true,” She anxiously repeated to herself, trying to convince herself but was failing. “It’s not true, it’s not true!

“IT’S NOT TRUE!” She shrieked in anguish as her voice echoed throughout the area, if she was in any area, to begin with.

Her chest was burning on the inside, as for her heart, it felt like as if someone’s hand reached in, squishing, and then turning it to rip it out with a combination of needles getting planted into it! She could hear her breathing getting faster, the sensation of air was gone while her lungs seemed to be getting tighter after every breath!

The more this state she was in got worse, the more petrifying the visions became for her, and no one was here to save her from this! She couldn’t believe how useless she was being right now! She felt like dead weight and if she couldn’t even handle this then how can she handle the future battles she might face!?

Her eyes opened once more as they were flooded by images of Ashika taking another life from a person! The victim was crying for her to stop but Ashika’s ears seemed to be deaf as she penetrates her sword through the person’s chest and once he was dead, she tossed him aside to a pile of lifeless bodies. She got a better look at the dead victim, only to recognize the man to be her father! Ashika had slaughter her very own father! The person who didn’t do any wrong, ended up getting murdered by the monster in front of him!

Rashika found herself on her knees, screaming for the visions to stop, pleading for those vision to be false but nothing seemed to be convincing since she was alone! Her vision became fuzzy but not enough to get knocked out, her eyes still saw the gory images of the innocent getting killed. She could feel her heart almost explode, her positive thoughts of this not being true was fading away in the wind.

Her head bowed down in defeat, her lips ready to say the words of defeat to satisfy Ashika until she felt a soft gentle hand rest on top of her shoulder! Rashika flinched from the sudden contact, her head lifted up while tears were still coming down from her eyes until she gasped in another kind of disbelief. The kind that would make you joyous but only if what you’re seeing is true.

The visions somehow vanished into thin air, and right above her was a woman with loose long dark hair, she was dressed in a nice long white dress as for her eyes, they looked exactly someone Rashika have seen. The women helped Rashika up as she caressed the teen’s cheek as she hummed a sweet melody, like a mother comforting her child who woke from a scary nightmare. The Demon Eyes and the same beauty her father claimed that Rashika owned, this woman was familiar but she wasn’t going to let this be another vision Ashika has left.

“GO AWAY!” She shouted, shoving the woman away from her, “You’re just some fake allusion here to make me feel more worse than I am!”

The woman’s eyes widen in shock but she relaxed, shaking her head, continuing to hum the melody, running her soft palm to the spot where Rashika’s heart was in her chest. She then asked in a calm gentle voice as soft as clouds, “Do I look like a mother who would want to hurt her own child, Rashika?”

Rashika’s breath hitched, wondering if her mind was playing tricks on her or if this was really who she thinks it is. As impossible as it seemed, despite everything she heard, her voice was trapped in the mists of her throat before she croaked;

“M-Mom?”

The woman nodded as her fingers soon went through Rashika’s hair, rubbing it gently while continuing to hum the melody. Rashika felt a flame of defense kick in, warning her that this woman who looked like her mother is an impostor ready to kill her!

She slapped those warm hand away as she backed away, her hands making a fist impending to throw a punch if this imposter got any closer. “Stay back! You may look like my mother but you’re just Ashika in disguise ready for the right moment to appear to crush my hopes!”

However, the woman only walked forward her firm and yet warm hands held Rashika’s tight as rock hands. Rashika’s began to struggle from the hold, assuming that this must be some move to take her down! The imposter looked at the teen’s eyes before reassuring the girl with a warm smile.

“If I was Ashika then why am I not saying words that could hurt you? You are Rashika, my daughter, not a monster people keep saying you are. I died trying to do what’s right, trying to keep you out of the hands of the Sun Gang.”

“Then prove it! Prove that you’re Olivia!” Rashika demanded, getting angry at how good an actress Ashika is at impersonating the woman she never knew.

“Those bombs you have on your belt were made by the strongest volcanic rocks I could find in the Dark and Myth World. With a little help from your father, my original bombs now turned out to be very useful and limitless like the ones you have...In fact you know that they once belonged to me. Not to mention that your father told me when I had you in my belly that you’ll be the strongest dragon ever,” The woman explained. “The original Team Hero, yeah I was a member of them. Freeing slaves, making wrong to right, that was life until very last dying breath.”

Rashika looked at the woman in shock, the fact the secret of her bombs were only amongst her father and herself! In fact, no one knew, even she didn’t know the secret of these bombs and would probably never figure it out if her father hadn’t told her. Not to mention that her father did say that he had once claimed that she would be strong before she was born! Ashika didn’t know any of that, at least she hoped that she didn’t know! Rashika felt confident that the demon doesn’t from her own dragon instincts, and dragon instincts are never wrong.

Her tears of anger were soon replaced with tears of joy, her breathing was soon back to normal. She felt the urge to hug the woman she longed to meet in person in hopes that she didn’t hate her like what people told her, but she afraid of the fact being correct, despite what she saw in the Soul Books with her friends.

Apparently, Olivia could see her daughter’s intentions, letting out a warm smiled as her arms slowly wrapped around her child’s body, bring her close. Rashika found herself shaking in shock at the sudden contact but with little hesitation, her arms found their way to wrapping them around her mother as well. For some reason, Rashika felt a sudden joy fill her heart that not even her father could make, even if he was with her for the past fourteen years.

She could feel her tears continued to flow down her cheek, soon feeling her mother’s hand wipe those tears smoothly away. Rashika could feel the warmness in her mother’s hands, never wanting this feeling to end, even if this might be some allusion she didn’t want to let go.

“Look at you,” Olivia finally broke the silence, getting a better look of Rashika, her eyes getting glassy as well. “You look so beautiful Rashika, not to mention strong. I knew you would be a wonderful special girl, not some nasty villain everyone expects. You’re just right.”

Rashika felt more tears coming down, she held on to her mother more, afraid that they’ll be separated. “You have no idea mom.....You had no idea how long I waited, how long I had hoped to hear you say this...I never wanted to believe that you abandoned me and dad just because I wasn’t what you wanted..”

“Aww baby, don’t cry. You’re everything of what I wanted you to be, and soon much more. I don’t care if you’re a demon, a dragon, or even a nymph. You are my daughter,” her mother then stroked Rashika’s hair once more, wiping her tears off again. “I love you no matter what people say, no matter who you are, or who you decide to be.”

“So did you really die because Headmistress Olema didn’t want you and Heather to continue your plans to free the slaves? Or was that some allusion the Soul Books did to throw us off?” Rashika wiped the rest of tears herself, ready to hear the answer from the actual member of the previous Team Hero.

“That part is true but I think those Soul Books left a very important fact out,” Olivia answered. “For instance, I assume you didn’t see the moments when Team Hero was actually friends with Olema.”

“You were?” Rashika suddenly felt a beckon of surprise at the sudden information she received.

“Indeed we were, you could say we were acting one happy family even though we’re not the actual flesh in blood kind of family,” Olivia explained with a small smile, her right hand stretched to reveal visions of the previous Team Hero having fun training with a younger version of Olema! “Olema and I, we were the ones who had the closest bond out of everyone, exactly like sisters. We told each other secrets we wouldn’t dare to tell anyone, but sadly I had to keep that one secret you know about.”

“But if you guys were friends back then, why would Olema suddenly capture you, threaten you, and then kill you? Was she suddenly offended that she discovered that you hid that one secret from her?”

Olivia sighed sadly, the visions disappeared once Rashika finished asking her questions. “That was part of the reason...But the other reason why she turned on me and Heather was because of the sudden thirst of power and control her parents introduced her to. Her parents were previous Sun Gang members, so they gave her the assignment to prove herself worthy of the family name.”

“And that assignment was to find those missing slaves from the academy and put an end to those who were part of their escape. Wasn’t it?” Rashika guessed, getting a good feeling that this could be the possible theory.

“I was more than certain that you have my instincts of making good and correct theories,” Olivia chuckled a little, then went back to her story. “Yes, that was exactly the assignment, so she would interrogate every graduate student who was in the school during that time and with not enough information, her interrogations became tenser. To the point of threatening two of my teammates to turn me and Heather into our deaths.” She looked down at Rashika, who was not just surprised but felt very informed about everything.

“So the regular Sun Gang glory and family honor getting into Olema’s head to the point that killing her own friends,” Rashika concluded, the anger she didn’t realize she had inside her had vanished, and replaced with new confidence. “All the more reason to stop the Sun Gang and their plans to control our worlds by using fear to control people. Using their differences to have others see the bad instead of the good!”

“Do you have a plan Rashika?” Her mother smiled, remembering that thinking mode that her daughter possessed from her father.

“Yes!” Rashika pulled out one of the bombs from her belts. “My friends and I will have to finish fixing that machine, then find a way to get everyone to see what the Sun Gang have really done to the innocent who are really doing the right thing! If Olema tried to get in our way, we won’t let her win without a fight! We won’t let that small chance of changing the world for the real better good pass by just because she and the Sun Gang threatens us!”

“Now that’s the plan I longed to hear from you,” Olivia clapped her hands, then held Rashika’s hands softly. Rashika smiled at her mother until she saw her fading away into gold dust!

“No, wait!” Rashika quickly held on to her mother’s hands tightly, fearing for what will happen. “Don’t go yet, I just met you in person! Please stay a little longer!”

“You can’t change what has happened Rashika,” Olivia advised, her voice suddenly turning into an echo. “I’m dead, and there’s nothing neither of us could have done to change the fact. Use one of your bombs to get yourself out of here. But remember this, the dead’s spirit can visit their loved ones but they only get four visits per person.”

“Then I’ll only get to see you three more times?” Rashika looked down sadly, then looked back up after a second. “When can I see you again?”

“Well, I suppose I’ll visit you when you need me the most in situations kinda like the one you had a while ago.” Half of Olivia disappeared into silver dust as the rest of her embraced Rashika one last time, the girl returning the same hug. “Just remember that I love you, no matter who you are. I’ll see you soon, my daughter.”

With that Rashika felt one single tear fall from her eye, and another tear fell on her head. She looked up, seeing her mother getting teared up at this moment as well; now she knew where she got her emotional side from. Before long, her mother was gone, leaving a trail of golden dust scatter around the area. Took a moment for her to get out of her emotional trance, she looked at the small bomb she had in her hand then her eyes narrowed to the empty space over at her left. Without hesitation, she threw the bomb towards the direction she was looking at, activating the fire!

While the bomb was counting down the last ten seconds, Rashika realized that the key Ashika gave her was still in her pocket, but this time the rust was starting to disappear from the metal. The bomb was soon down to five seconds.

Five…

When she returns to wherever she got herself and Eathelyn into, she’ll have to keep some secrets of her own.

Four…

Of course, she knew she was totally going to tell her team about her small reunion with her mother, but privately.

Three…

Rashika placed the key back in her pocket, tapping the smooth surface, ready to go back to face the enemies who are planning to harm the innocent.

Two…

“Mom...One last thing I forgot to tell you..”

One…

“I love you too.”

All Rashika could see was a blast of flames, smoke and even more blinding light that consumed her.

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