No one was calm after hearing the bells. They expected such a reaction, of course, but at the same time, it made the reality of the situation that much harder to accept. People were running out in the street, children were wailing, and the students were running around in chaos to get their teams set up.
Teams were also set up in ranking order, and as she was least in rank, it so happened that she didn’t have a team at all. So, as everyone ran off to find their partners, she simply pulled her pistols out and checked to see if they were ready to go.
Weapons they chose were actually weapons that they bonded with upon seeing them. No one else bonded with her dual pistols, simply because they were older than most weapons and didn’t seem to do much damage. Her heart yearned for those things, as she knew how it felt to be unwanted better than anyone else did and they became her weapons.
She called them “Angels’ Wings”, because they had ornaments attached to them and resembled angel wings, and she’d been training with them since she first started at the Academy. They had magic bullets; and because of that, there wasn't the need to replace ammunition while battling.
Her first instincts
were to run to the castle so she could make sure everyone there was all right;
but of course, that’s what everyone wanted to do, and it was exactly what they
couldn’t afford to do. Everyone in their town knew combat skills, so they would
have to defend themselves. As younger fighters, only they could go head on
against those things.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw senior Leo run past the room with the rest of his group- Squad A- following close after. His group of fighters were brilliant in all sense of the word, and along with Squad B and a few other groups; they would always be the first to that went into action.
Of course, it wasn’t as if they had a choice; everyone had to fight in order to save themselves.
No one had bothered looking back at her to ask her if she’d be okay, or to invite her to join their group. She knew that they all believed that being with her would only drag everyone else down, and it left her thinking of how cruel people tended to be towards those that weren’t “of use” to them. She was upset at the way she was treated, but as she walked to one of the chests of emergency supplies and opened it to pull out one of the survival packs, she realized that that treatment was what she had to live with. At first, she had thought about joining all of the fighters to help them protect their town, but since they reminded her about how weak and useless she was, she decided that it wasn’t worth it.
Instead, she was going to find that box; and she would destroy anyone that got in her way.
It wasn’t as if she was in search of the box for its power. Charlotte wouldn’t need that power, and she wouldn’t want it either. She did want to keep herself alive, however, and just knowing she had a reason to keep fighting was enough to do so.
The town would be fine, as well as the people in it. They had built an underground town in case they ever decided to come after them. While people ran around as distractions for the combat specialists and trainers, the castles would let everyone in and lead them to the underground.
The citizens weren’t so sure if they would be fool them, but the town decided not to take any chances; they were going to save whomever they could. That’s why she didn’t look back when she started towards the forests.
She knew it was dangerous to go off on her own, but it wasn’t as if anyone was going to go with her and try to back her up, and no one would believe her story either. She was on her own again, and she would be just fine on her own.
She moved along the walls of the buildings, hoping that people wouldn’t think she was up to anything suspicious. She had walked into an alleyway, and as she was looking to see if she could get past the alleyway, she ended up bumping into another student. She turned back to see Amber, who was scowling at her. Amber was another skilled fighter who belonged to Squad C, which often teamed up with Squad A. All of the warriors were present in their group and looking utterly annoyed by her presence.
“What are you doing here?” Amber scoffed, pulling her back into the alley with a warning tone, “Stay here where you’ll be out of everyone’s way.”
Charlotte yanked her arm back and walked back to the mouth of the alleyway. “This is Code Red, everyone who has a weapon fights.”
“We don’t need you here.” Bryn was a very skilled fighter, though he was outspoken and tended to get on her nerves. She didn’t know many of the members of either group, though her eyes did dart over to senior Leo for a brief moment.
Leo had been a friend of hers since childhood, and had raised her like his own little sister, even protecting her from bullying until he decided to lead Squad A. When she had told him of her crush on him, he’d been sincerely sorry that he didn’t return her feelings, but they hadn’t had many interactions since that.
“Let me talk to her.” Leo announced, and with hesitant glances, the rest of the group had walked off to do their own duties.
She looked at senior Leo for another moment and turned around to walk away, but his hand clasped onto her arm, pulling her to a halt.
“What are you doing out here? You know it’ll be dangerous.”
“There’s something out there, calling out to me.” Leo knew her best, but she knew he was overprotective and wouldn’t let her go no matter what she said to him.
“What are you talking about?” Leo’s eyebrows furrowed, and a moment later, he shook his head. “There’s nothing out there important enough for you to risk your life. You aren’t strong enough to face those creatures.”
That hurt, and he knew it did. She had always looked up to senior Leo because he was kinder to her and encouraged her to do her best despite her obvious disadvantage in skill. To hear him, of all people, saying those things, made her heart feel like it was breaking in half.
“There is something out there, and I won’t be able to rest until I find it.” She answered back shortly, pulling her arm out of his reach and turning back to the road.
“What is it, anyway?” Leo asked, heaving a sigh as he walked up to her. He put both hands on her shoulders, and turned her to look up at him.
“Last night I had a dream about a velvet box. I don’t know why, but I feel like it was calling me.” The words came out without her thinking about them, and for a moment, senior Leo’s facial features froze, and he shook his head again rapidly.
“You must’ve been imagining things.” Leo’s fingers were shaking on her shoulders, as was his voice when he spoke.
“Leo, hurry. We have an enemy approaching.” That was senior Ariel’s voice calling. Senior Ariel was only a couple of years older than she was, though his skills surpassed hers by far; no wonder he was part of Squad A.
Senior Leo’s gaze snapped over to Ariel before he turned back to her and took deep breaths to calm himself, “I can’t let you go looking for that box, Charlotte, it’s far more dangerous than you could imagine.”
“What do you mean?” She couldn’t help but ask, pulling his shaking fingers off her. He in turn squeezed her fingers in a motion that said he wouldn’t let her go, “What do you know about the box that I don’t?”
He would have spoken, had it not been for senior Bryn, who came back and clasped a hand on senior Leo’s shoulder, “We have to get going. We’ll send one of the back-up troop members with her.”
She couldn’t listen to them any longer. They didn’t seem to understand how desperately she wanted to get to that box. At least, that’s what it looked like as she looked back to senior Leo, just hoping he wouldn’t send her back.
He glanced down at her and then let go of another heavy sigh, “Alright, you can go.” Senior Bryn took in a sharp breath, and he would have protested, but Leo held a hand up to stop him, “Just be careful, the outside world isn’t anything like what you’re used to.”
Gratefully, she squeezed senior Leo’s free hand and let go of him; and then she was on her way to the box. She didn’t glance back at Leo as she ran, but she knew that one day she’d have to go back and thank him repeatedly for letting her go through with her plan.
That would be only if she could make it back alive.
However, she didn’t want to make the situation seem any darker than it was as she ran for the cover of the forests. There were blasts, screams, blood splatters, and dead bodies littering the path as she ran, but she didn’t want to think about any of them. She didn’t want to imagine anyone losing their lives- but it was inevitable and she knew it.
Still, she didn’t want to think of it, and cleared her mind as she entered the forests. She didn’t know much about the landscape, but she just knew there would be a cave nearby. The only problem was that the forests were full of them.
She came to a stop as soon as she heard footsteps that obviously weren’t human. Along with the footsteps, she could hear the hissing of whatever creature was walking over to her, and in a slight panic, she drew her dual pistols and aimed for the direction in which the sounds were coming from.
Without thinking much of it, she shot twice in that direction and ran in the opposite direction, further into the forests. It was dangerous to run into it when the creature could call in reinforcements, but she kept going because she was terrified enough to do so.
Of course, panicking in a situation like this would never be a great idea, and she learned that when she tripped over some tree’s root and landed flat on her face, groaning at the pain of the impact before she threw a glance over her shoulder.
The creature, whatever it was, was following her, and it was close enough for her to hear its hiss. She knew she hadn’t killed it with only two shots, so she wasn’t too surprised when she knew it was coming after her again. What did alert her, however, was that it was no longer alone. There were several footsteps now, and she quickly got back onto her feet, her pistols aimed at whatever they were.
She shot again, and kept shooting repeatedly and rapidly in her panic. She didn’t want whatever they were to get closer to her, but it seemed like that was another hopeless dream as she backed up against a tree and they walked into her view. There were three of those things; large creatures that had reptilian long bodies, thick elephant ankles, beady red eyes, fangs, and spotted cheetah-like fur covering their entire frames.
She pulled the pistols’ triggers and shot at them rapidly. Even if she couldn’t kill them, and knew she couldn’t kill them, she could at least do her best to slow them down until she had the opportunity to run away.
The one she had sensed earlier and shot was the closest to her and swung at her head. Had she not ducked in time, Charlotte probably would have lost her entire head. She shot at its head in return and sighed in relief when its head exploded and blood splattered everywhere.
That sight was both relieving and disgusting, and she had to stop herself from hurling as she focused on the other two creatures, who were certainly surprised that one of their lives had been lost when fighting a measly human like herself.
While they were distracted with the dead body of their brethren, she turned and ran once more. She never expected herself to be able to kill one of those things, and she was hoping she wouldn’t have to do that again for a long time. As she ran, she couldn’t help but fear falling on her face again, because she knew that was what got her the first time.
However, of course, thinking negatively ended up being the downfall of her, as she hadn’t seen the little cliff ahead of her as she ran. When she did see it, however, it was too late; and she rolled down the side of the cliff, banging her head into several things on the way to a pool of water.
She must have lost consciousness from the rough traveling, because the next thing she knew, she was in the place of her dreams.
She had found the cave without even meaning to.