Nikki - Liars Go To Death
“You know my dad?” I gasped. My brows arched into a frown. Then I clenched my fist as my heart raced. “How? Even my mom only met him once. And I don’t want to call him my father either. He left us. Without a trace.”
“Yes. I’ve met him once. Stared at him directly. Eye to eye.” The woman softly said. She looked at me with a pitiful glare. As if telling me to just go and die. “I am sure your mother is a special case. Your father loved your mom. And that’s why he shall never meet her again.”
“I don’t get it.” I said. “Why would he leave us?”
“It’s because he loves both of you too much. And that’s why you could only meet him once. It is a rule he made. With your mother as a special exception. But you are not blessed with that cursed exception, boy.” The woman hissed. She looked at me, disgustingly. Her palms started to glow darker. “How I wish I had that kind of exception. To meet your father once and survive. But alas, there are ways to meet him more.”
“How?” I asked. A drop of sweat rolled down my face despite the freezing cold. My hand itched as if the Nyxian Blade was about to appear any second. There was some sort of energy that was slowly being gathered. It made my hand a bit heavier. The same weight as the blade. “I want to meet my father.”
The woman laughed. A cold shudder shot through my shoulders. I stepped back as the woman’s hand burst into dark flames. But I didn’t feel the heat. It was rather cold and deathly. Fear had erupted into my mind. My knees quivered. My arms shook. Then the crazy woman threw a black fireball at me. “Then go meet your father!!”
But the Nyxian Blade summoned itself in my hand. I swung the blade between myself and the fireball. Then the blade itself had caught the flames, and the black fire’s color turned into blazing blue. Heat suddenly radiated in the area. I felt it. It was alive and throbbing. A drum in my chest had marched, and my knees stopped shaking. The chill was suddenly gone.
“Interesting. It looks like your magical prowess is already awake. And that means there will be a sudden change of plans.” The woman smiled. She went from freaky to calm and collected in one quick snap. “We’ll meet again soon. I know your father. If you want to find him, then you have to seek me. This is only a part of my manifestation. I am deep in Death, little boy. I need your help. But you need me as well if you want to meet your father.”
“But how can I go deeper in Death?” I asked.
“I am no Necromancer, little boy.” The woman hissed again. Her eyes were full of murderous glare. “Those scoundrels can only be found in the darkest corners of Teutesus. They are well hidden within Death. And only Necromacanity to survive in its claws.”
“Teutesus?” My brows raised. “Where is that? I don’t think we covered that in Geography.”
“You have to go to Altimeraea. It is one of the southern lands that is governed by separate tribes in the wilderness. Just at the south of Zidania. There is no form of diplomacy there. A savage land if you want to consider it.” The woman said in a matter-of-factly manner. “The Necromancer tribes are hard to be found. Most of them hide in the realm Asphodel. You’re one of them. Only you can find them for me.”
“But how will I find them?” Nikki asked. “I don’t even know how I could go to this Altimeraea place you are speaking of.”
The woman laughed. “You’re a clueless mage. But you can’t be of use to me if you can’t even use your magic properly.”
“How can you be so sure that you can use me just like that?” I retorted.
“You want to see your father so badly.” The woman showed a sly smile. “I could see his fierce determination in your eyes.”
I frowned at her. My icy blue eyes glowed brighter. It was daring her to make a move. The whole place got dimmer. The walls got colder. And I was suddenly covered by a repulsive shroud of dark aura. Strength crept in my muscles. They tensed and turned, making my arms stronger.
“Don’t you dare mock me! If you defy me, then I assure you that I’ll break your mother’s curse!” The woman howled. I teeth clenched at the mention of his mother. My fists tightened. And she saw it. A smile spread across her face. “Know your place, little necromancer.”
“I’ll never be your pawn.” I spat.
“We’ll see about that. I know who you are and the role you will play. Everything will fall according to the prophecy. All beings will bow down to you once you reach your full potential.” The woman said. “You just have to trust me. Let me help you, little boy.”
“Yeah. You’re doing a good job.” I muttered. “Even threatening my mother.”
“Just know your place.” She quipped. “You still don’t know yet how things really work out. You don’t know how the great mages of Altimeraea had affected the upbringing of your civilization here. You have yet a lot to learn, young one.”
“I crave for knowledge.” I admitted. “And I need to know more.”
“And I will gladly give it to you. But I need you to help me.” The woman replied. Her eyes stared at me with hate and contempt. “I want my physical body back. A certain mage had displaced my soul from my body. I could use my powers to go back. But there is a seal on that body. Only a powerful necromancer can undo that.”
“And you think I am that necromancer?” I asked.
“Don’t underestimate yourself. The glow of your eyes had already shown me your potential. The sword you hold is of great power.” She explained. There was factual certainty to her voice. I knew she was telling the truth. “If a weak mage wields it, then it will simply suck him dry of his magical aura. But your aura is compatible with it. It is tame only to its rightful owner.”
“Okay.” I said. My stomach churned at the sound of my agreement with her. “So, you’ll give me my dad. And I’ll give you your body back.”
“Precisely. Wait for a few more days, and I’ll give you guidance into how you could maximize your powers more. Use it wisely. You are playing with the realm of Death, little boy.” The woman warned. “Make a mistake, and it will claim you permanently.”
I gulped down hard. “The Lordling of Death sounds good.”
“It’s not that funny anymore if you’re dead. It will take a while for me to find another necromancer as powerful as you.” Her eyes narrowed, and she stretched out her hand. She was obviously expecting a handshake from me. Then I grabbed her hand. It was as cold as ice. I winced from the intense temperature. Her hand was sucking me dry of warmth. It was slowly devouring me of life. “Do you pledge your allegiance to me?”
“Yes, master.” I muttered. My mouth said it automatically. I found it irresistible. An allegiance with a powerful mage sounded good. Then I covered my mouth with my free hand.
“And that’s your mission. You need to learn more about your powers. Use all the help you can get.” And with that, the woman burst into black flames. She disintegrated completely. Even her presence was gone. There was no cold feeling she radiated. There was no one else but me in Asphodel.
“Okay. There aren’t many Necromancers on Facebook.” I muttered.
I then inhaled deeply. I wondered how I was summoned back in Asphodel in an instant. It scared me. My nose scrunched from frustration. It took longer for the dark walls to brighten up. The cold feeling slithered away more slowly. And my skin took a while before it warmed up. What if it was an enemy that was waiting for him on the other side, I thought. I needed to be careful next time.
“Hey, Nikki.” Phineas called. His eyes pierced through. It was probing on me again. Trying to see if there was a minor change in my appearance. It darted from top to bottom. Then back to my mismatched eyes. “Where on earth did you go? I thought we were supposed to go to the cafeteria. Then suddenly, off you went. Again. It’s almost time. We can’t be late for Mr. Evan’s class.”
“S-sorry.” I stammered. Otis was behind Phineas. He had this worried look on his face. His blue eyes were full of concern and worry. Then I realized I was gone for a while again. The whole of his break time was consumed. “I had to go to the clinic.”
“Are you feeling okay?” Otis spoke. “You could have asked Phineas to bring you to the clinic.”
“I really had to go badly.” I lied further. But I knew that Phineas was picking it up. He was smart like that. And he will ask questions sooner. “You know I don’t like you guys worrying about me.”
“Well. You did a great job.” Phineas muttered.
“Sorry.” I apologized. “I won’t do it again. I promise.”
“You and your promises.” Otis chuckled. “I’ll never get tired of hearing that.”
“Hey. I am serious about my promises!” I pouted.
“Yeah, right.” Phineas smiled. “Let’s just go to class.”
The rest of the day darted off really fast. I barely noticed how quick I was hopping from class to class. I would pass by Phineas or Otis from time to time. Mr. Cain’s class was still weird and enigmatic. Of course, Phineas was there and seemed to enjoy it. His comments were crude and sarcastic. But there was some hint of something else in them. I glared at him. Trying to figure out what some of his comments meant.
Mr. Cain’s voice would always be calm and collected. His face wouldn’t give out any clue of the things he wanted to say. But I felt it. There was power in his words. Especially with the way of how he would describe the gods from Greek Mythology. The way he said it was so full of enthusiasm like he wanted the students to believe those stories. At the same time, he was a bit consistent with the tone of his voice. It was like telling them how imprudent they are.
English class was his last class for the day as well. As soon as the bell rang, my eyes darted off to Phineas, who was just beside me. We knew it was time for us to go to the library. The day before wasn’t so fortunate. But they can’t delay it further. We needed to know the story that was Miss Schwartz. Phineas nodded, and the two of us left the classroom.
As soon as they stepped out of the classroom, we saw Otis approaching us with a broad smile on his face. He was almost skipping in delight. A bright mood for a sunny day. Otis was animated as usual.
“Okay. Time to stalk!” Otis chirped happily. He flashed his usual grin at us, who just smiled back at him. It was typically Otis.
“Stop being a creep, Otis.” I elbowed my friend.
“Hey!” Otis protested.
“Let’s just go to the library, guys.” Phineas said. “We don’t have all day.”
Otis and I just nodded in agreement, so we walked towards the library. Phineas had started to wonder what they would uncover about Miss Schwartz. I, on the other hand, was more interested in the girl. She was an unrested spirit. I was so sure of it. The girl and the mysterious woman in robes gave out the same vibes. But I was still frustrated that I had agreed to help the mysterious woman. Her murderous glare was able to control me in some way. She was a powerful mage, after all.
The three of us opened the door to the library. Inside was so silent. Dozens of bookshelves tower over us. Hundreds of books were neatly placed on each one. Most of the shelves were made of mahogany. It needed to be sturdy and withstand the age. There were probably thousands of books inside the library altogether.
As they approached the main desk, I noticed the students inside transfixed on what they are doing. There were also a set of computers on one side where some students were typing down things. Most likely, their projects. I could also see the dust on some of the bookshelves. Some sections were barely visited.
Phineas automatically approached the librarian and informed her that they will be checking out the archives section. He quickly got approval. The librarian escorted us to the farthest section in the library on the second floor. We were silent. Dare not utter any clue what we were supposed to investigate.
We entered another room, which was filled with another set of bookshelves. But instead of books, old newspapers were laid out on each bookshelf. It was the collection of the school newspaper. On the other side of the room was a door that leads to their main office. We gave a smile to the librarian who left them silently.
“So, where do we start?” Otis asked.
“Over there.” Phineas looked around and pointed out on the other side of the room. “This part contains their latest works. Those probably have the oldest news there. Miss Schwartz died almost ten years ago.”
The three of us walked towards the end of the room. But something was different. Phineas was the first one who took notice of it. The shelves on that part of the room didn’t contain a single paper. Otis and I were thinking the same thing. There were pockets of dust that was in the shape of the newspaper.
“Someone obviously took the newspaper.” Otis muttered.
“We can see that. There isn’t much dust yet on the missing spaces. They might have just taken it recently.” I said. “But why? Did anyone know that we were going to look for it?”
“I wonder if some of the other students took an interest in it as well. What do you think?” Phineas crossed his arms. It made me wonder more about Miss Schwartz’s case. Indeed, there must have been something interesting in that paper. “With Mr. Cain blurting it out so blatantly, then I am sure that others will take an interest in it as well.”
“But they can’t take those out of this room.” Otis said. Phineas and I stared at him with awe on their faces. The other boy looked back, looking confused. “What?!”
“Wow. He thinks!” Phineas laughed. “But, you’re right.”
“Only a teacher can take them out.” Nikki said. “And there’s only one teacher we have right now who used the name Miss Schwartz so suddenly.”
“Mr. Cain Evans.” Phineas replied. He suddenly had this dark stare, which made me noticed. It was getting more personal for Phineas. “There’s no point in staying here. Let’s go home. We can ask him about the newspaper tomorrow.”
“Or we can ask the librarian if someone took the newspaper.” Nikki suggested.
“You’re right.” Otis agreed. “Can we go now? This place is giving me the creeps.”
Phineas nodded, and the three of us went back to the librarian.
“Hey, Miss Cruz, did someone took the old newspapers from the archive?” Phineas asked. He said it so casually. As if he had a close relationship with the librarian. “I think someone took them.”
“So, that’s what you are going to look for.” The frail old librarian smiled. The number of wrinkles on her face doubled from her attempt. “The new teacher said he was interested in looking at it. I heard Miss Schwartz’s name so often these days. What’s going on?”
“Didn’t you know that Mr. Kelly was murdered?” Otis asked.
“I do. Maybe that’s why he was interested in it.” Miss Cruz replied. “It was some heartbreaking news. There was no way someone would murder him. Funny, though. It was the same with Miss Schwartz.”
“What do you know about Miss Schwartz’s murder?” Phineas asked. His eyes narrowed. The interest in his eyes was so obvious. “That’s why we were looking for that old newspaper.”
“Oh. About that, huh?” The librarian put a finger on her chin, trying to remember hard. “That was a really complicated story. I can’t remember all the details.”
“Can you give us a few details, at least?” Phineas pressed on.
“As far as I can remember, she was murdered along with a girl named Arianne.” The woman said. I felt my heart jumped at the mention of Arianne’s name. “Both of them were murdered in cold blood ten years ago. They were drained of blood.”
The three of us fell silent. I had a hint about the girl, but Phineas and Otis didn’t. And the two victims were drained of blood. No wonder Arianne was so pale and deathly when I saw her. It made sense. I looked at my friends, who stared blankly at Miss Cruz. Her neatly tied silvery-white hair had shown she was old enough to have met those two victims. She was our librarian as far as we could remember.
“I guess we’ll go now.” Phineas finally said. He was contented. And seeing Miss Cruz’s glassy eyes, he knew he couldn’t push the topic further. He was the first one who left, and the two of us just followed after him.
“Why are creepy libraries always accompanied by creepy librarians?” Otis asked sheepishly.
Phineas and I just shrugged him off. Then they walked towards the bus. The ride home was just like the day before. Silence filled us. Pulled in our own train of thoughts. Phineas took notice of the murder of Miss Schwartz. Drained of blood. It was weird and mysterious. I wanted to know more about Arianne. I want to go to Asphodel and find her. But I need to learn first how I could prolong my stay there. That realm might suddenly claim me as its own resident.
The bus stopped in front of my house. We waved goodbye as I hopped off the vehicle.
I walked across their lawn and opened the front door. There was a black car in front of our house. There was no way it was ours. I shrugged it off and went inside. I took a deep breath and called loudly, “Mooom!!”
“Yes, baby?” My mom’s voice called out. It was gentle and warm. Just as how I would always remember it. Her voice would always soothe me. Especially if I’m feeling really down. “I’m in the kitchen. Do you want a sandwich?”
“Yes, please.” I entered the kitchen. It was just on the other side of the wall behind our living room. I looked at my mom, who fixed me a sandwich. The dishes were still in the sink and were unclean. My mom was still dressed up casually. “And stop calling me baby.”
“You’ll always be my baby.” Mom smiled. But I saw someone else in the kitchen. It was a woman who was probably the same age as my mom. The two of them were sitting on the table. She had long dark hair and sky blue eyes. Her face was friendly, and she had this bright kind of stare. She smiled at me, which caused me to smile back. “Sorry. I forgot to tell you we have a visitor today.”
“It’s okay.” I replied. “No biggie.”
“Ellie, I could only assume he is the son you told me about.” The woman spoke. Her voice had a hint of confusion in her words. Her brows raised, and she knew she was right. “I would really love to know more about him, but I have to go. Chance and Celine would be waiting for me at home. I do hope your boy could meet my son as well. They are probably the same age.”
“Yeah. I would love that too.” Mom replied. She handed me a peanut butter sandwich. Then looked at the woman. There was concern in her eyes. It was a bit intense. As if an invisible message was being passed between the two of them. “You take care on your way, okay?”
“Sure.” The woman smiled. As soon as she passed by beside me, she held my face and had a shock for an expression. “Oh my, what happened to your eye? “
“It’s a genetic mutation.” I muttered. Then smiled as brightly as I could so the woman would shrug it off. “No worries. I’ve been like this since I was born.”
“Oh. Okay. I thought one of your eyes was blind.” The woman sighed in relief. “The two of you had that kind of intense gray eyes like my husband and my children. Anyway, off I go then.”
“Who was that?” I asked as soon as I heard our front door shut close.
“That’s Diane. She was my college roommate back then.” My mother smiled as she started to wash the dishes. “We haven’t seen each other for a really long time. I just bumped her at the mall and found out she just lives at Saintsville.”
But I really took note of the confusion on Diane’s face. And I had a hint why. I was physically different from my mom. I have dark, unkempt, and wavy hair, while my mom had long locks of golden blonde. I was heterochromic. Which was the center of attention in most cases. But at least my gray eye had the same shade as my mom’s pair of gray. I had a paler skin complexion from his mom. It looked so sickly from being too light. On the other hand, my mom’s complexion was more natural and toned lightly. She was still pretty despite almost reaching her fortieth birthday. In short, I looked nothing like my mother. And it hurt me. For not being able to look a bit like my own blood. There were even a few times some of our family friends would assume that I was just adopted by my mother. Tough luck.
“Mom?” I spoke. My tone of voice was full of shame. It quivered as the sound I made effortlessly traveled inside the room. “Can you tell me more about dad?”
“Your father’s name is Stan.” She began. Her voice was very gentle. Not a hint of resentment. Not even an ounce of it. “And he was the greatest man I have ever known.”