Chance - No One Ever Listens
“We need to talk about this, damn it.” Ven urged before Rei. His boyish face was gone from the frown on his face. “Listen to us! We are already being given a huge advantage. It would be completely foolish not to consider this at all!”
All of us were there. Morsus sat beside me as I silently stared at the buildup of tension in the room. The blonde teen’s hand was shaking behind him, but Rei seemed to be very firm in his decision.
“We will not ask help from the Council until we have set our facts straight. A random blabber of information from Chance would not be enough to convince them. I don’t think even the Knights will support.” Rei shot back. Ven was holding himself together, which I never thought I would see. “Even if that information came from Israfil, we don’t even know why my brother would know those things. Where would he have known that?”
His question was our question, too. Israfil suddenly became a mystery.
“I have no idea as well.” Ven admitted. Then he took a quick look at me as if it was my fault. I just frowned back in retaliation. “But everything fits. And everything makes sense!”
“It’s all theoretical.” Morsus suddenly intervened. The red-headed boy had a headstrong personality that even Rei took note of immediately. “But I would be willing to bet everything on this theory. If we don’t act now, then the casualties would be too severe.”
“And if we’re wrong?” Rei asked gravely. “That also has consequences.”
“We can’t go wrong on this!” Ven objected further. His voice shook as he tried to stand up to Rei. “This is the only place that they would attack. It’s not a city, and help will take time to move in. It’s the perfect spot to attack.”
“According to some intel from the Council, Teios Kyr is planning to attack the capital.” Rei reiterated. He sat down and brood over the possibilities. I was not sure if it was all for show or if he was really thinking about it. “I will be needed there. So will Nisroc and the others. Even Morsus might be deported back to Solus Magus.”
“What about forming an independent team?” I suddenly asked. All of them looked at me simultaneously. “Rei will take the lead. Everyone else wouldn’t be part of the Knights. I need to be protected because Israfil has crucial information. He has every excuse to be here.”
“That might work.” Rei hummed thoughtfully. “I can pull out Evron, Nisroc, and Chrystal. It will be a four-man team I can request. That’s a good call, Chance.”
“Thanks.” I chirped.
“The problem is if they attack another place here on Earth. That wouldn’t look pretty.” Ven stated grimly. I hated the fact that he was right. “I’ve observed different cultures of your world, and there are a lot of places that could have bigger casualties. That’s why I’m not fully convinced yet.”
“I don’t want to sound heartless, but Chance is a higher priority. It’s still a possibility that we cannot rule out.” Rei said firmly. He stood back up and removed the rug form below, which revealed the ritual circle for a portal. “We can check the damages afterward, but in the meantime, I’ll request for a team. The goal is to protect Chance. We’ll have to find a safe place.”
“No!” I jumped from my chair. Everyone seemed unsurprised by my violent reaction. “There is absolutely no way that I’ll hide someplace safe. It was clear they had no intention of killing me.”
“Yet, they have all the intentions of capturing you alive.” Rei argued back. I knew it was true and bit my lip. “You guys said it yourselves. Teios Kyr was secretly big in the shadows. They only made it look like that it was a small rebellion. We have yet to verify how big they really are. And that means we don’t know what’s up their sleeve.”
“I won’t let you hide me!” I roared back at him. My body almost moved on its own to walk up to him. “I’m ready to fight!”
“He’s right, Chance.” Morsus stated. I glared at him quickly, but the little boy was unfazed. He knew he could beat me if he really wanted to. “Your battle capacity isn’t exactly with flying colors. You’re a liability to the team if you tag along.”
“Shut up!” I shot back at him. “I had a win against you!”
“Fine.” The boy sighed. “But it was a one-sided battle. Your fighting style was easy to read once the enemy gets used to it. And you’re too reliant on Israfil’s battle instincts. You need to think about your own. You’re still too weak, Chance.”
“Then let’s settle the final score outside, you little punk!” I went on. But the boy just looked amused in his seat. Rei just observing our banter while Ven just gawked at us. “Let’s see if I really am weak!”
“Bring it on, Valentine.” The little boy taunted. He also stood up from his seat and released his avroi. I retaliated with my own and shot my energy everywhere. I could see from my peripheral vision that the frames and painting son the wall started to tremble. “It’s gonna be a lot easier to defend Israfil if you’re locked up somewhere safe. Let the adults handle protecting the town.”
“I don’t need to be protected!” I pressed on. The boy was barely intimidated as I released more of my avroi. My mark throbbed slightly. The dark energy from the mysterious being leaked. “I can fight like everyone here! And I will protect my friends and family no matter what!”
“If you’re not gonna shut up, then you’ll need protection from me.” Morsus provoked even further. He raised his palm, and a spark of lightning appeared on the top of his fingers. “I won’t hold myself back this time.”
“Calm down!” Rei erupted. His avroi shot everywhere and overpowered ours in a split second. A powerful chill ran down my spine as he showcased his ability to produce tension. Morsus backed down immediately before I followed. “If you two don’t shake your hands this instant, I’ll lock you both up. And I am not your fathers, but I will not tolerate any immature actions. Do you understand?”
His voice was firm and strong. Morsus and I fell silent and ashamed of what we showed him. The boy just glared at Rei with daggers.
“I said, do you understand?” Rei amped up the tension, and I quickly felt the gravity around us get more cumbersome. My knees buckled, and even Ven sensed it, too. “I can’t hear you!”
“Yes, sir.” Morsus and I barked together. I took a deep breath as Rei eased out his magic upon us. The trembling of the ground stopped. I couldn’t help but wonder if our neighbors felt that, too.
“Good. I will consult and think about your suggestion, Chance.” Rei said as he started to cast the spell. “But as for now, you’re on probation, and your assigned guardians will be protecting you. Don’t mess it up, or else I will lock you somewhere in Altimeraea. Do you understand?”
I just nodded hesitantly. The man vanished in a snap of a finger and warped into the other world. A sensation inside my stomach stirred as I remembered the awful nauseating feeling whenever I would go there. My barf almost rose up to my throat at the thought of it.
Morsus extended a hand beside me, and I shook it.
“Are we good?” He asked. “Sorry for losing it.”
“I’m sorry, too.” I said softly. Ven just left us and went to get something to eat like nothing happened.” I just want to protect my friends. And I will do it. They matter to me. I don’t want to be a coward. Please understand.”
“And I want to protect Israfil no matter what. He’s important to me, too.” The boy pointed out. His blue eyes were unwavering. His loyalty was severe. “Please understand that, as well.”
“I think I need to go home and think about this.” I muttered.
“No. Let’s spar back in that hidden place.” Morsus suggested with a goofy smile. He was often a serious kid. A goofy smile was the last thing I expected from him. “If we want you protecting your friends, then we need you to get stronger. Right?”
I almost teared up from his suggestion. We let Ven know, and he agreed. I was given another stone to telepathically communicate with him just in case. The blonde guy was a very chill person, and I felt terrible every time I would take it upon him. He was loyal to the very end.
That afternoon, I went all out. Morsus was a formidable opponent to beat. My first win was simply a surprise. But I never won again. The little boy was a beast when it comes to fighting. He was very versatile because he had a lot of spells that he could use anytime.
Even after going for another round with my mark activated, he still had the upper hand. I knew it became a bit more challenging, but Morsus was smart and very observant of my movements. He used every advantage that he had. The boy knew that he was nimble and small, that’s why he went for a lot of movements. But the first thing I noticed was that he swiftly burns up his avroi.
That was when I saw how efficient his usage of his spells was. Each attack or combination was well calculated and not used carelessly. Most of them were used in movements. Then there was also a lack of defense magic. That was the next thing I noticed. Instead of defending himself head-on, he’d rather avoid incoming attacks to utilize the environment.
However, the lack of avroi can easily be solved by his mark. It was capable of releasing massive amounts of energy at his disposal. But the fact that he didn’t use it meant I was not yet challenging enough. The little boy barely broke a sweat after our matches. He was definitely a monster made for battle. Rune Mages were indeed powerful, and encountering one could be a problem in the future.
Throughout the matches, I got a better grasp of the ability given by the mysterious mark on my hand. The physical ability was a huge boost, and I was able to get more vigorous bursts of attacks. The downside is what Ven warned me before called a ‘burn out.’ Morsus also warned me of this. It was the elemental mage’s weakness since the natural element invades the body in incremental amounts. At some point, the body will exhaust itself, and the user will get a hard time controlling his or her muscles.
I tried to push forward as much as possible. Still, even Morsus noticed my movements’ sudden slowness during the last match. It was the first time I felt the burn out creeping in my body. Even my ability to breathe slowed down. The boy warned me right away, not to over-exert myself. It can be fatal to a mage. He said that not even the mark can save me from that.
We decided to take a break. The next day, we went for it again. An attack was about to come, and I would not allow myself incapable of protecting my friends. My movement got faster and faster each round. Thanks to the advance dark element magic spells, I was able to propel myself faster with gravity. I tried to imitate Morsus’ fighting style. Since I played soccer with Jaden before, my legs were naturally strong for my age. I took advantage of it and pulled off attacks that execute movement speed. Morsus grimaced as he took note of my quick progress.
He mentioned that the secret was to keep observing the enemy. Every enemy had a fighting style, and every fighting style had a weakness I could exploit. In Morsus’ case, it was his lack of defense. He was still faster than me, but I could slow him down whenever he was within my range.
All my focus was on that two-day training. I didn’t even get to send a message to my friends. Getting better in battle was all that had driven me. Thanks to this quick training, I improved heavily on summoning blades. Then I made them my primary method of attack and defense. The dark element’s ability to seal movements was also handy, but elevating gravity was a more sensible approach. Energy constructs out of pure solidified shadows were also a plus in defending myself, but Morsus was too fast. He could attack me while I try to conjure the most basic shapes.
Out of our 5 matches that day, I won one of them but just barely. It was a trick I used in soccer before. An effective feint. I created a ball of energy with two layers then I kicked it towards Morsus. The outer layer made the ball weightless, which caught him off guard since it went much faster than he anticipated. But that thin layer would easily consume itself as it traveled through the air. Underneath that was the other gravity magic that could pull anything into its core.
Since I was pretty accurate with my kicks, Morsus went right into its range. He was pulled towards it, canceling his next spell. Then I used my ability to move fast to close in. Thanks to the mark’s extra physical boosts, it was pretty instantaneous. I felt like an actual ninja. But I didn’t anticipate that I would be going too fast, and I crash-landed on the little boy.
Technically, it was not really a win. But the boy grudgingly gave me the point for the round because I could catch him off guard. He told me what my weak points were, like my unnecessary movements. Just because I had a massive load of avroi didn’t mean I was stronger. Efficiency was still the more beneficial skill. My reflexes were above an average person’s, but it was not yet enough to be a major decisive factor in battle. I was still reliant upon Israfil’s battle instincts on that one.
All in all, he was proud to say that I had indeed improved in my two-day crash course. The next thing I knew was I was dozing on my own bed. My body was a wreck, and I could barely move. When I got home, Celine looked at me funny then shrugged it off. I noticed how she had that thin layer of avroi, but I couldn’t be too sure. There was no way she could use it.
Then the following Monday, I was excited to see my friends in school. The campus grounds suddenly gave me feelings of solace and peace. My life outside of it was a tremendous and awful disaster. I never would have foreseen that I would be in some sort of hunt for some inter-dimensional maniac.
As soon as I saw Jaden, I ran up to him, but he ignored me completely. My hand was raised for a high five, but he just walked by without even looking. I was just dumbfounded. When the rest of the gang showed up, Caitlyn looked upset. Dylan looked disappointed. And Anya simply looked worried.
“You’re either one of the best con artists I have ever seen or one of the worst friends anyone can have.” Caitlyn grumbled. Her glaring eyes were intense, and I felt the utter disgust in her voice. “Which one are you, Valentine?”
“Wait, what’s going on?” I asked. Anya flinched from her spot, and Dylan just shook his head. It was surprising that she threw the accusation right away. “I don’t get it. Why are you all looking at me that way?”
“Now that’s just screwed up.” Caitlyn muttered with an indignant tone. She had to stop herself from pinching my ear. “Have you forgotten you dimwit?”
“Forgotten what? I asked again.
“Oh boy.” Dylan sighed. Anya just covered her face. Caitlyn was flustered at that point. “Now that’s what I call a complete jerk move.”
Then it dawned on me. It was Jaden’s birthday the other day, and we were supposed to eat somewhere outside. I slowly reached for my phone and checked my inbox. It was full of invoices and messages coming from all of them, except Jaden. I didn’t even remember at all.
“Oh crap.” I gawked at them. All of them just stared at me like I was the biggest idiot in school. Maybe, I really were. “No wonder why he’s pissed. Shit! I completely forgot about his birthday!”
“Just on what planet were you staying?” Dylan remarked. Then he showed me his phone. Followed by the two girls. “We sent you loads of messages. We had a surprise for him, remember? How on earth did you not check your phone for two days?”
“I dunno. I was in a different dimension, I guess?” I said half-jokingly. They would not believe it anyway. So I immediately left them and ran up to Jaden. “I gotta go and say sorry!”
“That’s a lot of making up to do!” Dylan called out as I ran. “Good luck!”
Just in time, I saw him putting his skateboard away inside his locker. I knew that he saw me from his peripheral vision but ignored me altogether. The last thing I had to do was forget his most important day of the year. And as childish as it sounds, Jaden was astonishingly touchy about his birthday.
“Hey!” I called out to him. But he just shrugged it off and took out some of his books from his locker. His eyes were cold. My best friend looked like a different person so suddenly. “I’m sorry, Jaden. There’s just so much going on. But that’s not an excuse! That was my bad!”
“It’s okay.” He chirped softly. My heart ached at the tone of his voice. He was using his puppy powers on me, and it stabbed me deeply. “I know there are other more important things in your life right now. I can understand that.”
“No! That’s not what I meant!” I shrieked.
Then he finally looked at me. He even closed his locker door louder than he should have. His blue eyes were angry and intense. I’d never seen him acted that way before. “Then what do you really mean?”
“I…I have…No, wait!” I stammered. Jaden looked perplexed. I bit my tongue. I almost told him my secret. And if it got out, everything was for nothing. Then again, maybe it won’t be for nothing. “I’ll explain all of it later!”
“Whatever, Chance.” He muttered. Then walked past me and purposely bumped me on the shoulder. “I’m just not in the mood right now. So, stay away from me. What you did really sucks.”
“Let me make it up to you! Please! Jaden!” I pleaded and grabbed him by the shoulder. He just pushed me away, and some of the students noticed it. But my best friend just walked away. “I’m so sorry.”
He left me hanging in the hallway. I checked the time, and the bell was about to ring any minute. There was nothing I could do that very moment. Jaden was pissed, and I’ve really hit a painful spot.
“Crap.” I hissed under my breath.
The whole day was agonizingly slow. Even a few of our classmates asked me what was going on because Jaden didn’t sit beside me. He was aloof and just stared at the window. I hated myself for not being attentive. And I hated him for acting like a kid. But Jaden was Jaden. He acted like a child most of the time. I should’ve expected something like that. His noodle brain got the best of him.
During Recess, the gang was nowhere to be found. They were not even in the cafeteria. And that had me worried. Suddenly, Ven popped up. He was supposed to be with Jaden and me in the next class.
“What’s going on?” He asked.
“It was Jaden’s birthday.” I sighed annoyingly. Ven just had to ask about the elephant in the room. But I couldn’t blame him. He didn’t know. “We were busy in Jeonnan, and I totally forgot about it.”
“What’s a birthday?” The blonde boy asked curiously.
“Huh? You don’t know what a birthday is?” I exclaimed. But when I looked at Ven, it seemed like a genuine question for him. He looked deliriously curious. “It’s the day of the year when you were born. You don’t have that in Altimeraea?”
“No.” He replied softly. There was obviously something on his mind, but I knew he was not going to say it. “We know which day we were born in, but we treat it like any other day. Why is it a big deal for Jaden?”
“It’s not really for me to say. He had a bad birthday before. And he’s always driven to make his birthdays as happy as possible.” I responded. Then my mind was filled with Jaden’s past birthdays. We were almost done in Elementary, and he yet he still dared to throw a huge birthday bash in his house. All of the kids in our class were invited. “I’m just a huge jerk for letting it out of my head.”
“He’ll eventually get over it.” Ven replied coldly. Then he bumped my shoulder with his fist. “What’s important is you’re protecting him. And he doesn’t know it. He doesn’t have to, at least.”
“Well, you do have a point.” I groaned. It was surprising that Ven brought up protecting my friends. Then I looked at him straight in the face. “Do you think that Rei will allow me to fight alongside you guys?”
“I wouldn’t even allow you.” The blonde boy replied dryly.
“Huh? Why?” I asked. I was surprised by his answer.
“You’ll just be in the way.” Ven pointed out. That hurt me, especially after a mage like Morsus commending my improvement. “It’s all over once you’re captured by the enemy. The only reason you’re not heavily protected is that the Council is uncertain if you’re actually useful to the enemy.”
“I don’t think I should be left out. All this training will go to waste if I couldn’t use it to protect them. After what happened with Jaden, I couldn’t bring myself to accept how powerless I was!” I argued. I gritted my teeth, but Ven barely listened. “I know I can still help. If I am really that important, why have they not taken me yet?”
“That is really a tough question, Chance. We could only assume their moves for now.” Ven admitted. I was willing to say any argument to make my case stronger and convince him that I needed to be there. “But the only possible reason I could think of is that they’re waiting for you to awaken Israfil.”
Then the bell rang.
“We should go.” Ven stated and stood up from his chair.
“Please!” I tried to make an appeal to him. But the blonde boy walked past me. He wouldn’t really want an argument because I was easily agitated when my friends’ lives were on the line. “Just consider it.”
But Ven looked determined to hide me. Although he saw me as a friend, I knew that his greater interest was Israfil. I wanted to protect Jaden. Ven wanted to protect Israfil. He was the last person who would side with me. And when I saw my drive to protect Jaden at all costs, I couldn’t blame him anymore.
Morsus was my only hope.
The rest of the day went on. Ven played along, but I never attempted to bring up the same topic that he shut me down with. The gang was playing tag with me, and I was it. Getting near me was like a curse because they didn’t want to trigger Jaden. I knew they were mad at me, too.
After the last class, I went to look for Jaden right away. The hallway was filled with noisy students. I just positioned myself far enough to see him coming just in case he wanted to run away from me again. But Jaden didn’t come. I gave up after a few minutes and took my stuff back into my locker.
I dialed his number on my phone, but he didn’t answer. It was to be expected of him. He was really making it a big deal. But it was still my fault. Even if I knew that I was trying to protect him. Hopefully, I will really be there when the attacks come because I couldn’t entrust him to Rei and the others. It was going to be chaotic, and I couldn’t bear the thought of potential casualties.
People dead. Because of me.
I shivered at the thought and focused on trying to contact Jaden. After a few more tries, I gave up and decided to just leave a voicemail. I wasn’t too hopeful, but it was the only choice at that very moment. [Hey, I’ll be passing by at your house later. Let’s talk. Please.]
With that done, I left the school. But as soon as I got out of the main gate, I saw someone familiar. My stomach churned at the sight of this person. And it was someone I really didn’t like seeing. He always seemed to be the bringer of either bad news or worse news. Turned out I was right.
Rei was on the other side of the road. He looked like he was busy brooding there for hours. Waiting for me to come out. After what just happened, he was the last person I wanted to see. The guy just had the nerve to ruin everything his hands would work on. It was crazy.
“Chance.” The man approached carefully. He knew that I was hostile against him. And I had every reason to. “Thank you for your information. It was a huge asset to our plans.”
His voice had this tension and rigidity. I shrugged it off and kept walking towards my house’ direction. The man followed closely behind me. He was wearing the usual dark palette of colors, almost like a modern ninja.
“Why does it sound like bad news?” I pointed out.
“Because you were right.” Rei confirmed. I gulped instinctively. My blood left my face and went down the drain. “Teios Kyr plans to attack the Black Daze event one week from now.”
I froze in my tracks. Rei stopped, too.
“Shit.” I muttered under my breath. But I didn’t turn around to face him.
“I’ll be assembling a small team to defend your town. Then I’ll try again to ask for support from the Council. Keep the stone with you at all times. I’ll let you know once we can all meet to think about the plan.” Rei instructed. “And don’t do anything stupid while you wait.”
“P-Please.” I stammered. His presence became more pronounced that some of my hair stood up. I couldn’t look him in the face. It was a cowardly way of asking for consideration. “Let me be a part of the team! I can fight!”
“We’ll discuss that for some other time.” It was all his reply.
“I wouldn’t let that happen!” I quickly turned around, but he was gone. The first thing on my mind was my family and friends. There was no way they would believe me that an attack would come from a different dimension. In their mind, it was utterly impossible.
The town was really going to be attacked. I couldn’t believe it. The image of my friends entered my mind. My hand turned into a fist, and I made my mind. I will protect my friends no matter what!
I braced myself and left for Jaden’s house.
As soon as I got on the front door, I knocked and waited. It was Trish who answered the door. Her eyebrows were raised, and she didn’t look too happy when she saw me.
“Well, hello there, Judas.” She greeted haughtily. Her blue eyes were just as intense as her son’s that morning. “Who are you going to betray this time? How many pieces of silver do you need?”
“Huh?” I exclaimed. But she looked even more insulted by my reactions. “No! It’s not like that, Mrs. Jenkins. I know I broke a big promise with him. I just want to say I’m sorry! He’s still my best friend.”
“Sometimes, I just couldn’t understand you, boys. I’m sure you have plenty of good reason why you weren’t able to come.” Trish commented. Then she stood out of the way to let me in. “He’s upstairs and still upset. If you can do something about that, please do so. I can’t have him sulking all day.”
“Thank you, Trish.” I said. Then I went to Jaden’s room.
I gave it a soft knock, but there was no response. Slowly, I opened the door and peeked inside. Jaden was busy playing something on his phone. He saw me get inside and just ignored my presence.
“Hey.” I greeted. “I said I was going to pass by.”
“I couldn’t believe mom even allowed you inside. She said friends like you shouldn’t be welcome here anymore.” He rebutted harshly. I secretly winced at that statement. “There’s really nothing to talk about.”
“Please, don’t be absurd!” I exclaimed.
“You don’t want me being absurd? Give me a satisfying reason why you were not there.” My best friend demanded. He put down his phone and sat on the edge of his bed. We look at each other face to face. Silence loomed into the room. “See? I didn’t hear any reason.”
“Just let me make it up to you! Maybe we can spend the whole day next week at the Black Daze! I’ll ask Uncle Chase for one more X-VIP Pass. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind since your birthday just passed by.” I suggested. That broke his frown. I knew he was tempted to forgive me right away. “Maybe we could take a photo with the band we’re waiting for. Or maybe we check that K-Pop group coming with them! Please?”
“I hate you!” He held back his laughter. Jaden was already smiling because I knew he couldn’t turn down an impressive bribe like that. A backstage pass in a world level concert was everyone’s dream. “How could I not turn that down?”
“I have no idea.” I admitted. Then I couldn’t help but smile at the mischief of my thoughts. “Maybe if you can be a bigger jerk, then I could just give it to Trevor instead.”
“You wouldn’t! How dare you!” He shot back and stood up from his bed. Then Jaden lunged at me and tackled me on the floor. It made a loud thud, but I’m sure Trish wouldn’t mind. She would have known it was some sort of good news. A loud thud coming from the second floor definitely didn’t come from a sulking boy. “Come here, you dimwit!”
“Wait! Stop!” I shrieked as he tried to tickle me and pin me down. It was then I noticed that I was hardly stronger than before. If I really wanted to, I could snap his arm in two. I had to hold back and pretend that I was losing. We laughed and rolled on his bedroom floor like a couple of little kids. “Damn it! Stop! I’m going to pee!”
Eventually, Jaden stopped. He pulled me up, and we both sat by the foot of his huge bed. The intensity of his eyes was gone. It suddenly turned into the best birthday present ever. Thankfully, Uncle Chase spoiled me rotten. I was optimistic that he couldn’t turn me down.
“Sorry for acting like a kid.” Jaden apologized genuinely, then slap me lightly by the shoulder. “But admit it. We can both be jerks.
“I know. Sorry for forgetting your birthday.” I stated softly. “There were just things I needed to deal with. And I’m sorry I never told you about it.”
“No problem.” He replied with a cheerful tone. Jaden couldn’t keep down his excitement. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to sleep that night. “You are entitled to your own privacy. You introverts work better that way. That’s something I’ll never understand.”
Then we both went silent.
“Jaden, I need to tell you something.” I suddenly said.
“What is it?” He asked.
I braced myself and summoned a blade from my shadows before him.
Then I turned my head to look at his expression. I really expected him to be thrilled. I wanted him to see that I would be there to protect him. To be excited. But all I saw was fear in his face.