The Fledgling Paragon Awakens
As the boy rose from the depths of his own subconscious, he started to sense the world around him. Aaron could feel a silky blanket of warmth encase him. With the comfort came a constraining, constricting agony that wrapped around his torso. The boy hissed as the pain spread throughout his body. Despite the strong hold sleep had on him, Aaron could feel his body tense. The radiating warmth to turn to a sick, feverish heat, which made the pain even harder to bare. Just when Aaron thought it couldn’t get any worse, the familiar soreness appeared in his throat. His windpipe was so sore that it became hard for him to breath properly. The agony continued to escalate until his unconscious had no choice but to release him back to reality.
“My lord, if I may ask...how did these boys get such serious injuries?” Aaron woke just enough to hear a sweet, feminine voice fill his eardrums. He never heard Natsumi speak in such a submissive tone, so it clear it wasn’t her. Though, he could already tell by how mature the pitch was, that the woman was much older than her. At least, in a physical sense. “That’s none of your concern, Nurse Kiriga.” A commanding, yet calm male voice responded. Aaron could sense who it was by the powerful, invisible authority the words held. “Of course, but it would make my report to the administration more accurate if-” The nurse was cut off as swift movement passed the boy. ”There will be no report, understand?" The room was silent, but he could feel the tension in the air.
The stillness was broken as Aaron heard the woman shuffle up to the right side of him. As Nurse Kiriga came closer, the nauseating smell of liquid iron flooded the boy’s senses, inflaming his already sore throat. “He’s extremely malnourished.” The woman’s voice was heavy with concern. A sigh radiated from Aaron’s left as Alex sat next to him. “Yes, I’m aware and I’m sure his ability has done nothing to help him.” There was a pause, perhaps for the nurse to nod in agreement. “Telekinesis...that’s quite a strong and...unpredictable ability for a fledgling, especially one of royalty. That, coupled with the lack blood in his system...I’m surprised he hasn’t collapsed sooner...” “Well...” Alex’s response lacked the same collected nature as before. Rather than calm and confident, he sounded uncertain. “He’s fallen unconscious once before...directly after using his ability and being stabbed with a silver laced timber-”
“Your brother was injured before and you didn’t think to-” Kiriga halted her own rant and suddenly fell silent. “I apologize for my outburst...” Her harsh, angered tone dropped to the timidness from before. “It’s just...there’s never been a fledgling paragon before...this new creature...he should be protected, cared for...the boy should never end up like this.” The atmosphere became heavy, weighed down by the feelings of regret. “You’re right...I should’ve kept a closer eye on him.” More rustling and shuffling of feet, as Kiriga passed something over Aaron’s body to Alex, the smell of blood moved with it.
Aaron awoke fully as the taste of heavy metal filled his mouth. The raven’s eyes opened, orbs as red as the blood Alex held over him. At first, the warm, iron taste was soothing and calmed the throbbing pain in his throat. However, as the red river continued, the ache returned, stronger this time, as the feverish temperature continued to rise. The heat combined with the misery in his throat created a swirling pattern of nausea. The boy turned away, causing Alex to move closer. Aaron turned his head further to end of the pillow as his ebony fell over his eyes. The amber-eyed Romanian frowned at his shift in behavior. “Aaron, come on. You need this. Don’t make me force you.”
The nurse put a hand on Alexandru’s shoulder. “I don’t think his body can process the synthetic blood. Like any other fledgling, I think he needs a fresh source.” She said with a soft, motherly tone. Now that the boy’s eyes were open, he was able to see what she looked like through his bangs. She was tall and slender. Her blonde hair was folded and tied into a high bun and her violet eyes darkened with concern as she peered over Alex. She watched as he offered the cup to Aaron again. Another flash of red and the cup was rocketed across the room with invisible force, shattering on impact with the wall.
The sound was so loud, Natsumi jumped into the boy’s field of view. She tucked her locks of azure hair behind her ear and turned around. The girl was sitting on a chair in the gap between Aaron’s bed and one parallel to him. This bed was also occupied, but Aaron couldn’t tell who from where he was. Alex’s amber eyes locked with hers. He saw the dark bags under her already dark eyes and gave her an apologetic frown. “Sorry to wake you.” He said in a soft voice. Natsumi yawned, stretched her arms over her head, and stood. “It’s fine.” She glanced to blood stained wall and then to the bed of Aaron. A small smile appeared on her face. It was less energetic and motivated than her normal greeting, but her kindness was there nonetheless. “Need some help?”
“I would appreciate it, yes.” Alex said with a relieved sigh as she walked over to the right side of the bed. Aaron, though in a semi-catatonic state, noticed something odd about the way Alex talked to Natsumi versus practically anyone else. His tone was much kinder, stripped of its commanding nature. His words were filled with respect and loyalty. He seemed to genuinely think of them as equals, despite how most of the vampires seemed to treat the blue-haired girl.
Natsumi sat on corner of the bed, opposite Alex. She rolled up her sleeve and bit down on her wrist. “Fledglings are like toddlers. You have to find just the right kind of blood to satisfy them.” She teased as she brought her wrist closer to raven-haired fledgling. His eyes flared again. This time, the boy didn’t resist and he let the liquid flow down his throat without a complaint. Alex frowned, that wasn’t the kind of help he was expecting. “I could’ve done that. You didn’t have to get up.” Natsumi shook her head. “Not a good idea, you’re blood brothers after all.” The paragon’s eyes gave a look of genuine ignorance and confusion. “What does that have to do with anything?” A timid voice chimed in from behind them. “Fledglings are fragile creatures. They can’t process blood from other vampires, especially ones of blood relations. It has little nutritional value and can even be poison to them in some cases.” Alex gave out one, long sigh. “Great.” He turned to Natsumi as a handful of memories flashed through his mind. “I think I may have poisoned my own bother.” She giggled. It was rare for the Romanian to have so much concern. “Relax, she’s just listing the worst case scenario. Besides, he’s a paragon. You guys are indestructible.” Her joking managed to ease some of the stress building up in his chest. Alex was relieved to see her playful nature shine through after several hours of distress.
“You may not have to worry about poison, but that does not mean we can rest easy.” Natsumi and Alexandru turned to face the blonde-haired nurse as the atmosphere dropped to heavier, more serious note. “A fledgling’s body is constantly changing to keep up with itself and its environment. It’s never remains static for a single moment. That cannot be maintained for long and can easily lead to disaster and death. You should be very careful with the next generation of paragon. You may lose him.” Her lavender eyes fell to the bedridden boy. “He’ll make that decision when he’s ready.” Alex’s response was short, but maintained his authority. He followed her gaze down to Aaron. His eyes were closed yet again and his messy bangs fell randomly about his face. The boy seemed to be asleep, but Alex could tell he was awake enough to listen. A sigh escaped Nurse Kiriga’s slender form. “Let’s hope he makes that decision before it’s too late.” She paused to stare at the back of the Alex’s head. “Though, perhaps it shouldn’t be left up to him.” “Aaron is a paragon.” The Romanian’s voice was firm, his position unmovable. “He has that right.” “He’s also human...think about the future of our race...” the woman’s tone became desperate and her voice broke apart at the end.
The angered glare that Alex sent Kiriga caught the words in her throat and she fell silent. Her violet vision dropped to the ground as she attempted to return to her medical duties. The nurse removed the covers and inspected the the bandages around Aaron’s waist. The white cloth was dyed red in a jagged, vertical pattern. However, the color was quite dark, almost brown in color. It seemed the wound had finally healed. Kiriga sighed in relief and began to peel the bandages off of the boy’s pale skin. As soon as the nurse’s small fingers brushed against the tender gash, Aaron hissed and his body shot up into a sitting position. The boy’s eyes open, the color a bright crimson. The expression was one of pure hostility.
The fledgling lunged at Nurse Kiriga. She screamed as hands coiled around her throat. Her lavender eyes slam shut as she waited for a painful death. After a couple seconds of nothing, the nurse opened them again. Natsumi and Alexandru positioned themselves between her and Aaron. The blue-haired girl dug her nails into the boy’s arm to strengthen her grip. Alex wrapped his arms around Aaron’s torso, locking him in place. The two thought this was enough to hold him back, but the young paragon began to test their restraints. ”Aaron, calm down."
The boy released his grip on the nurse as he felt sense return to his system. Pain flashed through Aaron’s temples as the blood drained from his eyes, returning them to their normal hue. Alex and Natsumi shared a sigh as they released the fledgling. “I’m so glad you have that ability. It’s make my job so much easier.” The girl giggled. “I’m not, it hurts like hell.” Aaron responded, rubbing his forehead. “Only when you resist.” The boy turned to glare at the dark-haired Romanian boy, who smiled in response.
Natsumi leaned forward, her bangs falling in front of her face. She gave Aaron a soft smile and bright eyes. “How are you feeling?” The boy thought for a moment, taking in every ache and pain. “Better?” Aaron meant to phrase his response as a confident answer, but it came out as a weak question. The girl giggled and patted his soft, tangled hair with her hand. “I’ll take it.” With that, Natsumi stood and returned to her seat at the bed next to Aaron.
The fledgling sat up as far as he could without inflaming the gash in his torso and followed her movements with his now crystal eyes. In the bed was a boy with bright, almost bleach blonde hair. His bangs were messy and tangled. The color was dulled by dirt and blood. His pure azure eyes were closed and his already pale skin was grey, practically lifeless. The boy’s right arm was attached to an iv drip, which was filled with a red substance. Aaron’s nose quickly identified it as blood. Curiously, the smell was almost certainly human.
The sight sent shock through the fledgling’s system. He’d never seen Tarje in such a vulnerable state before. Though, he hadn’t know him for very long, he didn’t seem like a person that could ever been knocked down...much less knocked out. Aaron looked from the blonde-haired boy to the teal-tinted girl looming over him. He tried to think back to the night before, to what happened to the exemplar. However, he find his memory blurry and full of holes. A characteristic that seemed to be getting more common with him. It was like his memory was slowly degenerating. Aaron shook his raven bangs out of his face, as if that would somehow help.
“What happened to him?” All conscious eyes turned to the freshman, as if he asked something shocking or unusual. “You don’t remember?” A voice radiated from the left as Alex place a hand on his shoulder. Azure eyes locked with amber orbs, as if Aaron could somehow see his memories playing in the spiraling hue. “Not as much as I should.” “Has this been a frequent issue for you?” The group panned to the nurse, who was all but forgotten at the back of the room. “My memory’s definitely been a little spotty lately, blurry at best. Why?” Nurse Kiriga’s eyes fell to the floor in silent contemplation. “I’m just wondering...” when her vision rose again, she met the confused face of Aaron. She then turned and saw the stern expression of Alex. Remembering the disagreement they had minutes before, her nerves got the better of her and she turned to leave. “Anyway...let me know when he wakes up.” Kiriga gestured to the sleeping boy before she walked out the door.
Utterly confused, Aaron turned to Alex, whose vision fell to the back of the girl’s bluish bangs. Natsumi ran her fingers through the blonde’s hair, carefully unknotting it. “It was my fault...we’re supposed to be a team and yet, I couldn’t help when he needed me the most..” There was a pause, as everyone in the room processed what she said. “...How many times...do I have to tell you...to stop saying that...” A low pitched, slightly grumpy voice echoed throughout the room as Tarje turned his head to her, his blue eyes barely open. His expression could be classified as comforting. Though, Aaron could still see a glimpse of his signature glare. “We both know you can’t outrun a seraph. What done is done. So, stop beating yourself up over this.” Tarje’s voice was much louder, angrier. Natsumi’s smile faded and her eyes portrayed a similar annoyance. “They could’ve killed you, I think that’s something I’m allowed to be concerned about.” The blonde laughed, “killed? Please, she wasn’t that strong.” The girl’s glare deepened. “You shouldn’t underestimate them.” “As someone who has way more experience with them, I’d say you’re way overestimating them.”
While the two were arguing, Aaron stood, with the help of Alex, and was now surveying the verbal battle from above. He couldn’t tell if they were serious or just joking around. “Not that seeing you two bicker isn’t entertaining, but I have a question.” He sat down on a chair next to the blue-haired girl. “What exactly are these angels? Or seraphs? Whatever they’re called.” Natsumi and Tarje silenced themselves and looked at each other. The blonde tried to prop himself up against the backboard, which, due to the pain that shot through his chest and upper back, was unsuccessful. He had no choice but to accept help from the teal girl as she hoisted him up as gently as she could. When Tarje was level with Aaron, their eyes locked, he sighed. “Seraphim are a race of seemingly divine beings. Though, they don’t look much different than us, other than the blue eyes and the freakishly large wings.” Aaron nodded. “That was my next question, what’s with the eye thing? It seemed like all of them had the same color. It was kinda creepy.”
“Angels, or seraphim as their official name implies, are creatures that are born what they call a ‘divine soul’.” Natsumi was the one to answer the question. “Still not sure what that means to be honest, but I do know that, unlike us, angels can’t be created. One can only be born an angel. Everything about them are physically similar. Hair color, wingspan, and body build all varies, but the one characteristic they all share without exception is blue eyes.” The raven-haired freshman raised his eyebrows and glanced his blue eyes at the girl, the same color she was describing. “Why such a specific trait?” Natsumi shrugged, “it has something to do with that divine soul I was talking about. I’m not too well versed in seraph anatomy.” Aaron locked eyes with Tarje. Both shared a similar azure hue. Though, Tarje’s was slightly darker. “What about us?” He gestured between him and the blonde. “Just because we have blue eyes, doesn’t mean we’re angels.” Tarje responded with a glare of annoyance. Apparently, that was the only expression he was comfortable sharing. Natsumi smiled. “The eyes are definitely a way to identify a seraph, but blue eyes aren’t exclusive to them. So, It’s more of just a way to narrow down a search.” The freshman nodded. “I see.”
There was a short silence in the room as Tarje’s eyes fell to the bedspread wrapped around him and eventually back to Aaron. “Aaron.” The raven’s vision, which had dropped to the floor rose at the mention of his name. “Yeah?” The blonde seemed to get an unusual wave of skittishness as he quickly glanced off to the side. “While we’re on the topic of seraphs, I wanted to say...” The rush of emotions passed and he regained the confidence to look the boy in the eyes. “Thank you, for saving me. If you hadn’t done what you did...I might’ve been in much worse condition.” The blonde turned to Natsumi, embarrassed that he conceded her point. Aaron titled his head as his eyes swirled with confusion. He tried his best to regain the memories he lost from the night before, the events were clearly important to Tarje. However, he came up with nothing. He rubbed the back of his neck and laughed from embarrassment. “Well, I must’ve done something pretty important for you to be praising me for it.” The humbleness vanished from the the blonde’s eyes, replaced by shock.
“You mean, you still don’t remember anything?” Aaron turned to Alex, who sat by his side. “I don’t know why I would, it’s only been a couple minutes.” The dark-haired Romanian boy put a hand to his chin as he thought for a moment. The raven could practically see the light bulb brighten his amber eyes. “Let me try something.” He said with an oddly excitable tone. “Ok?” Aaron was more than a little put off by the sudden change in demeanor. As he stared into the oceans of amber, he saw them glow with a fiery crimson. The boy could feel the aura around Alex change, from a calm cloud to a storm of overwhelming command. He looked back at Aaron and said one word. The only word he needed to say. ”Remember.”
The room around Aaron dissipated and he found himself back in the clearing. He saw himself in the paragon’s arms, barely conscious, with Natsumi by his side. Tarje, a few feet away from the group turned to them, his back momentarily facing the two remaining seraphs. The boy saw the black-haired angel, who he believed was named Sawyer, rush towards the blonde boy. There was a blur of black and silver as she connected her weapon with Tarje. Aaron felt the most potent dread fill his system as he saw the boy fall to the ground, as if in slow motion. A cry of anger escaped his younger self as he called on his power. Aaron tried to see what happened next, but the scene collapsed around him, leaving him in a deep, empty void.
Then, something else flashed through his mind. It was faint and only lasted a few seconds, but it was there nonetheless. A scene played out before him, this time in first person. He saw a girl, no older than six, falling in front of him. Her ponytail of brown hair whipped passed her faced and her hazel eyes displayed the purest fear he’d ever seen. He saw his hand reach out to grab hers, but she was too far and was falling too quickly. A forest of treetops came rapidly approaching them as they both plummeted off of a mountainous cavern wall. Aaron could feel his stomach churn as he saw this unravel. Just when the dread became too much for him to bare, he somehow shot towards the girl and grabbed her hand. The thought of death flooded his mind as the ground came closer and closer. The boy had no choice but to watch the end. However, the end never came as their descent came to a halt and they hovered in the air. What happened? What stopped their fall? Was this a dream or suppressed memory? Aaron had so many questions and he only got more as he turned to the girl in his arms. Hazel eyes and brown hair tied in a ponytail. The boy’s eyes widened.
Silence fell upon the trio as they watched Aaron’s crimson eyes glaze over. They waited for several minutes for him awaken once again. After the fifth minute, they knew something was wrong. “Aaron?” Natsumi gently shook the raven-haired boy. There was no response and the boy remained rigid, unmovable. She shook him again, harder this time, as she dug her nails into his pale skin. The pain seemed to knock Aaron back into reality as his eyes returned to their original hue. “Emilia?” Aaron muttered, half-consciously. Natsumi, Tarje, and Alex eyes shared the same expression of confusion. The boy then hissed and his hand rubbed the aching from his right arm. The blue-tinted girl frowned in suspicion. It was not his shoulder, the one she pierced with her nails, that hurt. It was the inside of his lower arm, specifically where the tattoo of the winged sword was displayed.
“Are you ok?” She asked. Aaron nodded, “yeah, it’s just my arm.” Natsumi looked closely at the design as the raven unknotted his inflamed muscles. She briefly glanced up at the Romanian boy. His bright, golden eyes were fixated with the swirling pattern of ink that bled into the boy’s skin. From his harsh glare, she was certain he recognized the symbol. Though, it was not clear whether he could remember why he recognized it. The girl’s vision returned to Aaron. “Can I ask you something?” He seemed confused as to why she felt the need to ask permission, but he nodded. She pointed to his arm. “Where did you find that design? Does it have some sort of meaning?” Aaron shrugged. “To be honest, I have no idea. My mom got it for me when I was a kid. I don’t remember getting it, so I must’ve been pretty young.” The freshman was faced with three disbelieving glares, Tarje’s being the strongest. “You’re saying your mom gave you a tattoo when you were too young to remember it?”
“Yeah...” The boy paused, glancing back at this arm. “The weird thing is that my mom has always had a severe paranoia when it comes to people, so I couldn’t imagine her going into town to get it done. She wouldn’t talk to anyone if she could avoid it and actually moved us to the mountains to escape the crowds. She wouldn’t let Aubrie or I to having any friends, because I think she feared the parents. The only reason why I met Emi is because we were neighbors.” Aaron paused his tangent to think. “Actually, now that I think about it, I’m not even sure why she let me come here. She’s homeschooled me since forever. I don’t know why she suddenly changed her mind...” His azure orbs raised to meet Tarje’s glare. “None of that made any sense.” The freshman shrugged. “That’s my mother for you. Long story short, I don’t why I have this or when I even got it. So, if you want answers, ask my mom.”
Natsumi sighed, she was hoping for more information than that. Her disappointed gaze move to Alex. She expected the same expression to be displayed on his stoic face. However, he didn’t seem to be paying attention. His face was down, amber eyes fixated with his phone screen as a notification popped up. The girl leaned in close enough to read the text. It was from a contact labeled Anya. ′Father’s in town. Be careful with the new recruit. I think he has his eyes on him.′ Natsumi could sense his heart sink to the floor as his eyes swirled and the oceans of fear and dread crashed together. The blue-haired girl placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. Concern flooded her system as she felt his entire body shiver. It it was small, but noticeable. Aaron seemed to realize something was wrong as he turned to Alex, brow furrowed. “Everything alright?” He asked. The Romanian boy took a deep breath before standing. His gaze panned down to the raven-haired boy. “We should go. Classes are out for the day and Emilia will be looking for you.” Aaron nodded and followed his movements. Alex then turned to Natsumi, who gave him a suspicious glare at the sudden change in subject. However, she said nothing and stood as well.
The trio turned to leave, Natsumi in the lead and Aaron trailing behind. However, the boy was stopped completely at the mention of his name. “Aaron.” He glanced back at Tarje. “A word.” Aaron turned back to Natsumi and Aaron, who were waiting at the end of the hallway. The raven-haired boy sighed and sat back in his seat. His crystal blue eyes locked with the blonde’s dead glare. “What are you going to do now?” He saw the confusion forming in the freshman’s eyes and went to elaborate. “Now that you’ve been discovered.” He paused. “Now that you’re being hunted. You can’t just hide and forget like you used to. You have to make a decision. Are you a human or a vampire?” Aaron caught on to the subtle message in his voice and sighed. His azure eyes dropped to the ground. “I guess I have no choice, do I?” Tarje shook his dirty, blood stained locks. “It’s always the right of the paragon to choose their destiny.” Aaron felt something form in the pit of his stomach. It felt like a bag of bricks had been placed on top of him.
After a minute of silence, he rose his eyes to meet the exemplar. “If I accept this paragon thing...what will happen?” Tarje’s response was immediate. His voice strong, yet comforting in some backwards way. “Nat and I are sworn to protect all members of the throne, and I can tell you right now Alex won’t let you out of his sight after the events of last night. Nothing will happen to you, Aaron.” “But Natsumi told me there were responsibilities to the throne, ones that would be hard for me to accept.” Tarje sighed a slowly lowered himself back onto the bed frame. “I wouldn’t worry about that for right now. You’re still young. Besides, Alex is next in line anyway.” He rolled away from Aaron and closed his eyes. The boy stood there in silence for a moment, trying his best to process the information he was given. The weight on his shoulders only grew with each moment of uncertainty. He felt like he was a child, lost and confused in a world that made no sense at all. Aaron took a few deep breaths, trying to keep his wits about him. His mind was swirling, rolling away like an angry current, but he couldn’t let it leave. A few slow exhales to clear his racing thoughts, and the raven-haired paragon turned to leave the hospital room.