Reduced to nothing
We reached my apartment and I checked for any signs of my father, he was working inside his studio again so I knocked on his door and opened it a little bit; the smell of the paintings soon reached me and filled my nose, some red and yellow. “Dad did you have any dinner?” He looked at me over his shoulder, I couldn’t see the painting because he was covering it with his body and he quickly nodded.
“Yes, darling,” He turned his attention back on his painting “I’m almost done here”
“Ok then…I’ll be out here eating with Vincent” I closed the door after me and walked back into the living room. He was getting all of my food out and he also took his food out and grabbed a fork. I went to pick up my bacon burger and unwrapped it before giving it a huge bite. I think moaned a little when the delicious burger hit my tongue. “This is heaven” Vincent was staring at me with his fork halfway to his mouth, he looked very amused. “What?”
“Nothing” He shook his head and continued eating. I turned on the TV and tried to find something decent to see, Vincent wasn’t really paying attention so I just flipped through the channels until I found some romance movie that didn’t suck so much. We ate in silence for a long time and soon just before midnight he stood up. “I’ll be back by nine” He grabbed his jacket and walked to the door, I nodded and followed him, suppressing a yawn I stretched and smiled at him.
“I’ll probably be still asleep but you are welcome to open the door and just hang out as much as you like” I waved at the living room to emphasize my statement.
“That’s what Eastwood does every day?” Vincent arched an eyebrow.
“Well, he either brings coffee because I’m not a morning person or just joins me and sleeps next to me” I studied his expression really close. He narrowed his eyes at me and crossed his arms over his chest, obviously not happy about this piece of information; I giggled “I’m joking; he just sits down and watches TV until I’m awake”
“Sure” He didn’t seem very convinced and I had to admit if I was him, knowing Evan I wouldn’t be convinced either. “See you tomorrow,” He said and then left. I closed the door and then cleaned up the living room before going to bed. Once I was alone in the large living room I started to think of everything that had been happening today. I was still shocked by what Evan did to Trenton earlier, I was very sure he froze the guy without moving a finger and that scared me a little bit. I started to think about Evan and the possibilities of being the great warrior, the only thing I knew about the great warrior was that he had an ultimate characteristic that made him different from everybody else. What made Evan so different than the rest of the people in Luminaria? What was out there that I didn’t know? I felt like there were small pieces of information left for me to discover in order to make a proper judgment.
I threw away the trash and cleaned up the plates before knocking on my dad’s door one more time before heading to my room. I looked down at my bed and decided I needed a shower before going to sleep. The bathroom was just as big as my bedroom, it had a tub just in the middle of everything and a separate shower on the far end of the room, taking all my clothes off I jumped into the shower and let the warm water run down my body. The other thing bothering me was this strange guardian exchange, I didn’t really want to have a guardian in the first place but it was done and now the king decided it was a good idea to make us trust our lives in some other person. Lana didn’t really know Evan that much in order to have him as her guardian, and I never thought the king would think it would be a good idea to put his precious daughter in hands of a stranger, it didn’t matter who suggested it.
…Unless she was the one to ask him.
I put on the t-shirts my brother left behind when he left, one of the few memories I had of him, and jumped on my bed, the soft material quickly made me feel sleepy and with a bunch of thoughts on my mind, I went to sleep.
His body seemed to be made of pure rock, his golden eyes stared back at me with no emotion, his hand was trying to reach me and the more I tried to grab his hand the further away he was. He was trying to speak to me, his lips were mouthing something but I could barely get the sweet whisper of a voice in the wind. I couldn’t really hear him; I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say.
Another voice coming from behind me spoke and it was saying over and over again.
I woke up feeling dehydrated and completely sweaty. The shirt was sticking to my skin and my breathing was slowing down by the second. What the hell was that? What kind of dream was that? What was happening to me? I took a quick look at the clock and realized it was almost nine, so Vincent would almost be here. There was no way I could go back to sleep anymore so I stood up and walked inside the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth before going downstairs. I took a deep breath.
That was a strange dream.
I walked downstairs; there were no signs of my dad. Where was he going these days? He was already gone when I woke up every day and when I got back he was locked up inside his studio. I made a mental note to myself to ask him if everything was ok. I started to turn on the lights as I made my way to the kitchen, some cereal, and a nice shower would make me feel better definitely. I grabbed a bowl and some milk when I suddenly felt a strong arm wrapping around my stomach and a hand covering my mouth.
This was one of those moments when at first you feel like it isn’t real like it isn’t happening or like it is some type of twisted joke but then the person revealed a long knife that he or she probably got from my kitchen. That’s when I knew this person wasn’t joking. The fear was soon the only thing I could think of, it wouldn’t let me think of what I should do in this kind of situations. My body started to shake and I could feel my hands starting to sweat. The stranger dragged me into the living room I knew that if this person wanted to kill me it would’ve already so that only left one possible thing: Kidnapping.
Was I really going to go down so easily?
I tried to go back to years of training and finally took control of my body. I stepped on his/her foot then bit his/her hand, twirled around the other hand so I could throw the knife away and connected my elbow with his/her stomach, I ran away to the door when he/she bent down in pain, but before I could reach it he/she had a strong grip on my hair. The stranger threw me against the wall and slapped my face really hard. The paintings on the wall fell to the floor with me and he/she just picked me up and threw me against another wall. This person was too tall and too wide to be a girl, I crawled to the door and he grabbed my feet and pulled me back. He sat on me, grabbing my legs with his and he grabbed my arms with just one hand. I started to scream and I felt the tears coming down my cheeks. He had his faced covered so I couldn’t see anything besides some really intense green eyes. The son of a bitch slapped me again and his other hand flew to my neck adding some pressure to it, making it hard for me to breath.
I tried to knock him off with my weight but it was impossible, the hand that was cutting the air suddenly ran down my body, grabbing some really important body parts.
He was feeling me up.
More tears were running down my cheeks as I begged him to stop. He touched my breasts in a not so nice way and moved his hips against mine. It was by far the most disgusting thing I had to go through. I asked him to stop one more time.
“Hey!” A strong voice echoed around the room and as soon as he was on top of me he was off of me. I crawled and turned into a ball next to the open door and cried. I could hear the sound of the fists connecting with bodies and things breaking all over the place, then the loud sound of glass breaking and silence. I sat there just waiting for anything else to happen. The sound of steps walking towards me above the sound of my own voice as I cried, then two feet came into my vision. “Are you ok?” I knew that voice, the strong and raspy voice of the person who saved me. I looked up to find Vincent standing there with a frown on his face, a small cut on his bottom lip and his nose was bleeding.
“You’re bleeding,” I said because I really didn’t want to talk about me.
“It’s nothing,” He said as he bent down in front of me, cleaning the blood coming out of his nose and looking intently into my eyes “Are you ok Maya?”
“I need to go tell somebody,” He said “He escaped through your balcony, we need to catch him”
“Don’t leave me” I cried again and jumped on him. He stood there in shock for a moment and then wrapped his arms awkwardly around me “Please don’t leave me” I begged and the tears soon covered his black t-shirt.
“It’s ok” He whispered as he rubbed my back. I actually found that comforting “I’m here”
I didn’t know how long we stayed like that.
“He broke the glass and jumped down,” Vincent told the other two guards that were checking out my apartment. We still didn’t know the guy that broke in, or what was his deal. I was still hiding behind Vincent like a freaking kitty scared of everything. I didn’t trust anyone, I would imagine every person that walked in with a black mask, trying to see if the idiot would come back. “It’s a big jump from here and I hit him pretty bad”
“We’ll start to look for any wounded person,” The tallest guy said, he had brown hair and his nose was a little twirled to the side. The other guy had black hair and a giant scar crossing his chin. The tall one looked at the other one “Check the hospital, alert everybody”
“Yes sir,” He said and walked out.
“I trust you, James,” Vincent said as he put a hand over mine that was terribly squeezing his arm.
“Leave it to me” He looked at me and made a small bow before leaving. Vincent sighed and ran a hand through his black hair that was now loose. He looked around the room I’m guessing trying to figure out what to do now, building a plan.
My gaze went to the front door to find my father standing there with a bag full of paint; he was wearing his painting clothes and his signature painting hat. Seeing him there, in one piece made me sigh in relief so hard. I had been worried that dude might have done something to him but thanks the soul he had been out getting more paint. I sobbed and ran over to him, embracing him in a giant bear hug I learned from Lana.
“I was so worried about you,” I said as I cried into his shoulder. He dropped the bag and rubbed my back slowly. I took in his scent, a mix of paint and winter. My heart started to slow down for the first time in the past hours.
“What happened?” He asked, and I knew he wasn’t asking me so I kept sobbing into his shoulder, wetting his clothes.
“Someone broke in and tried to hurt Maya” Vincent replied, I didn’t look at him but by his tone, I could tell he was frowning very hard.
“What?” My father grabbed my shoulders, pushed me back a little and looked at me intently with his green eyes “What did he do to you?”
“He just threw me against the walls,” I said. “Nothing serious”
“I think she should see a doctor” Vincent suggested.
“No!” I quickly exclaimed. The last thing I wanted was to go see some random doctor. I didn’t want anyone to touch me.
“Maya” My father was about to try to convince me but I made up my mind.
“No!” I crossed my arms over my chest because I felt cold all of a sudden “I don’t want anybody to touch me”
They stood silent.
“Ok then,” My dad said and he grabbed his bag “Let me put this on the studio” I nodded and he caressed my cheek one more time before walking to his studio.
“Maya” I felt Vincent’s presence behind me and I closed my eyes, I didn’t want to talk about this, I didn’t want to feel weak if he hadn’t come in when he did I didn’t know where I’d be right now. Vincent grabbed my arms and made me turn around slowly “Did he…did he hurt you somewhere we can’t see?”
Well yeah…my pride and my mind were pretty much messed up.
“Maya,” He said again “Did he touch you?”
“Of course he touched me, Vincent, he has to touch me to be able to throw me against a wall” I played my clever card to see if he would just leave it alone.
“No…I mean yeah he did touch me but he didn’t get too far” I looked down at my bare feet. “I’m fine…you got here on time”
I heard him let out his breath.
“I think you should go change then,” He said and that’s when I realized I was still wearing my brother’s t-shirt and that t-shirt only. I felt the stupid heat rush to my cheeks, I jumped on him wearing only this and the other guards saw me wearing this as well. Without giving it a second thought I ran to my room and looked for something appropriate to wear.
Walking back downstairs I saw Lana and Evan standing there looking around. Lana was the first to see me and she rushed over to me and hugged me.
“I was so worried about you when I heard” I hugged her back for a while. When we pulled back Evan walked over to me and embraced me as well, I buried my head on his neck and I felt I was about to cry again, I pulled away before I did. I saw Lana wiping away her tears and Vincent rubbed her back.
“I’m fine,” I said. “There’s nothing to worry about”
“But it looks very ugly” She mentioned as she looked around at all the broken furniture and other broken stuff. “Are you sure you don’t want to see a doctor”
“It’s nothing” I looked around as well “Vincent did most of this when he kicked the guy’s ass” She smiled at Vincent and playfully punched his arm, he smiled back at her.
“You’re not safe here,” Evan said.
“I’m sure it’s ok” I waved it off because I didn’t want Lana to start worrying about this.
“Maya, that person is still walking around this castle, that person probably lives here” I know where he was coming from but what else was I supposed to do.
“I know” I crossed my arms and arched a brow “What can I do?”
“Find another apartment”
“He’ll find me either way”
“I don’t want anyone to be worrying about this” I gave him a look so he would understand he needed to drop this conversation for everybody’s sake. The last thing I wanted was to have all that attention on me. Evan stared at me for a while and when he finally got my point he just groaned and walked around the room.
“What are you going to do now?” Lana looked at me. I shrugged.
“There’s nothing else I can do” Except for hoping the guy wouldn’t come back. “They’re going to replace my balcony doors later today; I guess I’ll double check before I walk into a room”
“I’ll stay with you until they catch him” Vincent said with an expressionless face, I tried not to show it but that made me feel a whole lot better “Or until your birthday…whichever comes first”
“You think it’ll take them that long to catch him?” Lana asked.
“Not really but we never know” He had this warm sparkle every time he looked down at her. I was feeling a little envious now.
“I wanna murder that person” Evan said as he studied the balcony. He looked very tense and upset. After what I saw him do to Trenton I had no doubt he was definitely serious about that statement, I didn’t know how that made me feel.
“Well now that I see you’re ok” Lana said as she gave me a weird smile “I’ll be leaving…I have piano lessons”
She gave me a quick hug and looked at Evan like waiting for him to say goodbye as well. I could tell he didn’t want to leave, it seemed like an eternity since the last time I saw him and I also didn’t want him to leave just yet. He wrapped his arms around me again and kissed the top of my head. “Be safe”
He then let me go and walked behind Lana. I looked back at Vincent and the atmosphere around us felt so awkward again. He sighed.
“So breakfast?” He looked down at his feet “I think it’s a good idea to be gone when they come to replace the doors”
“Ok” I shrugged.
Vincent, my father and I were sitting on a bench near the cafeteria just eating breakfast and I could see my father was really trying hard to make me feel better. He was telling some childhood stories that were more embarrassing than anything else. Vincent was biting on his sandwich as he heard my father talk and talk about everything I used to do.
“She then jumped into the dividing river when she was about five” My father said and he had a small smile playing on his lips “I had to jump to save her and when I finally pulled her out she looked like a poor soaked cat” They both looked at me with a smile.
“I’m glad you guys have fun at my expense” I rolled my eyes and ate the last of my pancakes. “And just so you know I didn’t jump, Hayden pushed me”
“You never told us that” My father was surprised to hear this piece of information and I smiled.
“I’m not a snitch dad” I rolled my eyes again.
“Your brother was always a handful” He shook his head like he couldn’t believe it “He used to say that you were some kind of fairy”
“Why?” Vincent asked. I couldn’t believe he was actually interested in my father’s stories.
“Because she wasn’t with us one day and then puff…there she was” He gave me a warm smile “So tiny and beautiful and rare…your mother couldn’t believe our good luck” This is why I loved this man so much, any other person would never see me as good luck.
“She used to tell me I was her shooting star’s wish” I remembered, she used to brush back my hair before I went to sleep and smile to me like everything was going to be ok. Her smile was everything.
“You were” He got lost in his thoughts, maybe thinking about my mom. I looked at Vincent.
“How was your mom Vincent?” I asked. Surprisingly he smiled.
“She was the most beautiful creature I ever saw” I looked at him curious because it was the first time I ever heard him talking openly about something in his life. My father also eyed him curious.
“That sounds like you really loved her”
“I still do” He said as he looked down at his hands. I had to smile at that, there was this whole new Vincent inside that cold exterior. “We all loved her very much”
“I heard she was murdered by a Myyt” I turned to face my father very surprised, he knew way more than I did and this guy was my guardian.
“It took her soul…my father searched for that Myyt for months, I guess he didn’t want to give up on her” That made me feel so much respect for that man, looking for a Myyt wasn’t easy, and to look for the exact same Myyt to recover the soul of the one you love…yeah that was brave “After a while it became obvious he wouldn’t find it and that she was pretty much gone, so…”
He didn’t have to finish that sentence for me to understand what came after that. The Myyt took her soul, leaving her body intact, she was breathing and her heart was beating but she wasn’t there anymore. They had to sacrifice her.
“How old were you?” My father asked.
“About eight years old” He replied. My heart felt so hard for that little boy that adored his mother and had to let her go at such a young age. I mean yeah, I lost my mother too, but she was with me until a couple of months ago. This woman didn’t see him grow up. “My brother and I weren’t allowed to go to her funeral back in Lockwood. He was just a baby then so I guess he doesn’t really remember, but I do”
Wait did he say Lockwood? That place where we went to visit the museum.
“Was you mother from Lockwood?” My father had this gift to ask all those questions I wanted to ask but didn’t have the courage to.
“Yeah” Vincent shrugged “I still visit her family from time to time…her Aris family”
So his mother was Aris, which completely shocked me, relationships between Aris and Horos weren’t very common since most Horos thought they were better than every Aris on this land. It wasn’t impossible but very rare. I’m guessing him and his brother took after his father, just like Eric. Vincent looked at me and I smiled at him, I was the last person to judge anyone by their race, if anything I fully understand what it is to be discriminated for who you are, or in my case for who I’m not.
“Ok kids what do you want to do now?” My father asked as he looked at both of us.
“Well, it’s funny you ask” I said. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought since we left the apartment this morning. “I wanted to ask you to train me” I looked at Vincent and he lifted an eyebrow.
“What?” They both said at the same time.
“I want you to train me” I said “Like extracurricular training…I’ll pay you I don’t care” Vincent frowned.
“I don’t want your money”
“Then what do you want? I’ll find it” I said. I didn’t like the feeling of being reduced to nothing on the ground, I didn’t like how weak I felt in that moment or how easy it was for that guy to take me down, I was supposed to be training to be a guardian, some random guy shouldn’t be able to bring me down so easily.
“Why do you want to do this?” He asked me. I felt his eyes studying me, trying to figure me out.
“Because I don’t like the feeling of being helpless and reduced to a victim” I said “I’m going to be a guardian soon but it’s obvious I’m missing something when some random dude breaks into my house and just brings me down…if you hadn’t been there I would probably be dead or worse”
They both just stood there staring at me.
“Maya” He started “You do know he was probably a fully trained guardian…you don’t stand a chance against an experienced guardian”
“If it’s so easy for a person to bring me down then what makes you think a Myyt won’t be able to do the same”
He had no words.
“Exactly” I said.
“Well then…Let’s train you”
We walked to the gym on the school section, apparently Vincent was allowed to be there even when school was over, my father followed us and sat on a bench as we changed into training clothes and came back outside. I didn’t know why I felt nervous all of a sudden. It was just Vincent; I had been training with him for a long time so I don’t see why my heart should be beating so fast.
“So where should we start?” He asked me. I frowned because wasn’t he supposed to know that.
“I was going to ask you that?”
“You’re the one who was attacked, you were the one to see where it all went wrong” He shrugged “You actually do pretty well in my class, even against bigger people you defend yourself, you still have a year left so I need you to tell me what is it that you want to learn”
I thought about it for a while.
“Well, he grabbed me from behind but I managed to escape” I looked over at where my father was looking at us and lowered my voice “It was when he got me down that things went downhill…I couldn’t get him off of me”
Vincent frowned and nodded as he analyzed the situation.
“Ok” He said and soon I went from being on my feet to being on the ground and having him on top of me. He looked down at me with his intense green eyes and when he spoke again his voice was raspier than usual. “What did he do exactly? I mean when he had you against the floor like this”
“Well he grabbed both of my writs with one hand and…” I eyed my father before continuing “And he tried to strangle me with the other” That’s all he needed to know, Vincent narrowed his eyes at me like he knew there was more to the story. Nobody needed to know.
“Ok” He grabbed my wrists with his left hand and put his right hand against my neck “In these cases what you need to do is knock him off with your hip”
“I tried but he was way too heavy”
“Then you didn’t try the right way” He brushed back a string of my hair “Fold your legs” I did as he said “Ok then what you need to do is push your hip to the side as hard as you can”
Vincent was equally heavy so of course I didn’t manage to push him off.
“Come on Maya” He arched an eyebrow “You would be dead by now”
“I know that!”
“Then how come you were crying begging him to stop when I got there, if he was strangling you then you wouldn’t be able to do such thing”
He was walking down a dangerous path.
“Vincent” I warned him. He sighed and then he got off me and pulled me back up.
“Let’s start with something easier” I could definitely agree with that “When you fall, fold your legs so the attacker can’t get on top of you”
I nodded. We tried the position once so he would show exactly the right way to do it.
“When he gets closer then kick him and get back up” He grabbed my legs “It’s important than even when you fall you don’t stay there…as you very well know if Myyts or anybody get a good hold of you on the floor then you’re done”
“Let’s try this then” He said “Try to block me as much as you can”
We got into position and he started to throw easy punches at me that I could block, then we started to step it up, he was getting more aggressive and fast, I knew he was really fast but damn. I blocked punch after punch with a lot of effort I might say. Suddenly he stopped.
“What are you doing?” He asked me with his eyes wide open.
“Uhh…Blocking like you said” Wasn’t it obvious?
“Where did you learn that move?” He was very surprised and that’s when I realized I was blocking him using his same style. I blushed a little.
“I umm…I kinda learned it from you” I said as I shrugged.
“I never taught that to anybody” He crossed his arms over his chest.
“You don’t have to…I see you when you do it” I shrugged again “You do it often and I get the feeling you don’t really notice when you do it”
“I don’t” He scratched the back of his head and then there it was…awkward moment between us, I was kinda getting used to these moments which was weird because how can you get used to awkward moments. “Let’s move on” He said.
We practiced for a while and even my father stepped in a couple of times to give his opinion, sometimes I completely forgot he used to be a guardian, that he actually trained to be one, he left it because he wanted to be with my mother but otherwise he would still be a guardian right now. The 10th time I ended on my back on the ground with Vincent on top of me I decided I had enough for the day.
“I’m so tired and my back hurts, let’s continue tomorrow” I told him and he sat on me while also staring at me.
“Are you sure you want to keep doing this?”
“Ok then” He stood up and pulled me up once again “It’s obvious you need to develop some strength, we will make a plan to get you there” That actually sounded like a good plan.
“You know that involves exercises” He crossed his arms over his chest like he always did and leaned his head to the side. I groaned because I didn’t want to do that but I guess I order for me to become stronger I needed to do it.
“Fine” I said and he smiled at me and looked over at my father.
“Let’s go get something for lunch”