Remember the Name

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Chapter 4

“I wouldn’t do that, if I were you.” Kelly said from the rock she had chosen to sit on.

Allister was currently securing Elisa with metal cuffs which closed all the energy vessels in her hand. Usually in order to transform one’s energy into a physical shape one would need to concentrate that flow into one’s wrists because of the heartbeat. Of course, one could project their energy elsewhere, but the process would be painstakingly slow and the consequences would be detrimental to one’s health. Three of the Greats, however – the Gails, the Carlings and the Walkers – could focus energy into every part of their body. Therefore, the repercussions to their mental and physical condition were quite few. The Krafts, however, were an entirely different story.

“How are your eyes?” Allister asked, ignoring Kelly’s condescending tone. The boy sat next to her in triumph once he had completely immobilized their captive.

“They’re fine.” Kelly answered matter-of-factly.

Allister growled. He glared at her as he spat, “Stop bullshitting me.”

Kelly’s face remained the same. Allister rarely cursed. She resisted the urge to smirk. She could not believe that after all these years and everything they had gone through he still had the stupidity to ask about her condition. Both of them knew the truth. Kelly should have died long ago.

“I’m holding on.” Kelly said suddenly, making Allister sigh.

“Onto what?” Allister questioned. All he received for an answer was a soft humming of a song only the Krafts knew.

“That song again, huh?” He muttered, while withdrawing his hand. He had meant to touch her, give her some sort of comfort. However, with a sardonic internal smile Allister reached the same conclusion again – the path a Kraft chose to walk on was meant to be walked alone. Whatever Kelly was experiencing he had no place and no right to intervene or criticize her. As much as Allister cared about her, he would rather she had died long ago. At least then both his and her pain would have ended.

“Stop feeling guilty.” Kelly uttered, shocking Allister. He squeezed his eyes shut and spewed a few curses with a hushed voice. Kelly merely smirked and looked at him, two golden spheres dancing in her eyes. Allister did not look at her in return. Kelly did not force him. She simply laughed merrily.

A sudden coughing fit, followed by a moan disrupted their tranquility. Allister unsheathed his sword, while Kelly deactivated her eyes of darkness. The two walked toward Elisa. Her wrists were bound behind a tree. Her upper torso was secured with tight ropes which only gave her enough room to breathe normally. Her hair was tousled yet even now, when darkness had fallen, the fire still managed to cast a golden hue upon it. Elisa’s eyes were soon blazing as well. She had enough fury licking at her insides to fuel an entire army.

“What are your plans?” She asked, although she already knew what type of answer she would receive.

“Don’t worry.” Allister said with a small smile as he stepped forward, trying to pacify her. Elisa merely spat in his direction. Allister jumped back with a growl, while Kelly chuckled.

“I think she still remembers you.” Kelly said, making Elisa’s eyes widen.

The two girls looked at each other. The dark eyes were dancing with amusement, while the blue ones were shimmering with fear and confusion.

“You were three when you met him. Your dear grandmother had decided to hold a small gathering to celebrate the fact that she was reelected.” Kelly explained.

Elisa had very faint memories of that night. She remembered how happy she had been that her family would not be forced to move from the palace. Her grandmother could live in it only if she continued to rule the country. She had somehow managed to achieve another victory. Then Elisa had not known that technically there had been other opponents. In reality, the victor had been chosen before the election process had even commenced.

The only thing worth remembering from that night was how a boy with distinctive blue eyes had voiced his disapproval of the people’s choice for their new ruler. He had been quickly escorted from the main room and taken outside. Since then Elisa had never seen him up close again.

“That was you?” Elisa whispered, making Allister roll his eyes, “You were the one that had the audacity to question my grandmother’s right to rule this country again.”

After a moment of silence Elisa looked up. Her eyes were void of emotion.

“How old were you?” She whispered, while she stared at the shadows the fire was casting.

“I was nine, soon-to-be ten.” Allister answered.

“How did you manage to figure it out?” Elisa asked, making Allister frown.

“Care to elaborate?” Allister offered, not realizing that the way they were conversing was abnormal for a captor and captive. Kelly merely smirked. She adored such scenes of so-called abnormality when in reality this was what should be happening. Elisa seemed to be disapproving or at the very least having doubts about her grandmother’s reign which had lasted for nearly two decades. It was frightening to think that if something was not done, this would probably continue for another decade.

After all, before Effa, the one to rule this country was also a Carling. With a sardonic smile Kelly noted that the Carlings had played their cards perfectly. While the Krafts were split into two because of ideals and were battling inside their own familia, the Carlings and the Gails had sided. Even though a Carling was the ruler, it was obvious that the Gails were not left empty-handed. After the Carlings, they were the wealthiest and happiest familia.

Kelly had not heard part of the conversation between Allister and Elisa. She decided that it did not matter what either of them said. She could care less about the politics in this country. Before she died she had but one goal left – to avenge her family’s death.

“I can hardly imagine what you went through.” Elisa confessed, making Kelly’s ears perk up. She glared. Those innocent blue eyes were far too dangerous especially when they looked at you while they were glistening. Kelly cursed. Allister had fallen into her trap. During Kelly’s musings, Allister had gone too close to Elisa. He was now at the perfect angle for the girl to spit a metallic needle right into his throat. It would not be enough for her to escape. However, it would be enough to show both of them that Elisa was a force to be reckoned with.

Damn Carlings and their wretched pride!’ Kelly thought as she raced forward just in time. Her hands covered Allister’s neck just as the needle was sent flying. Before the boy could so much as widen his eyes Kelly knocked him out. His body went slack against her. Elisa was hyperventilating while Kelly dragged Allister’s body to a tree that was far enough from Elisa. She could not risk it. Despite the fact that he was a pain in the ass, Kelly still cared for him.

Kelly checked Allister’s pulse. She noted with relief that it was normal. Then she looked at the needle that had pierced her skin. She winced slightly at the projectile. It seemed another small bruise had been made. Kelly pulled it out as she turned around. While she was walking toward Elisa, she started twirling the needle with her fingers. She had two meters before she reached Elisa when suddenly more needles followed. Kelly used the one in her hand to deflect the first and then threw herself behind a tree. The bark was soon covered in poisoned needles. Its leaves immediately fell to the ground.

“Interesting.” Kelly commented as she ducked behind another tree. She debated whether she should use her eyes of darkness and get this over with quickly or prolong it enough to see what Elisa was capable of.

Kelly followed her intuition for the first time in a long time. She used her trump card and managed to get a good look of Elisa’s condition. Her eyes widened. Just as Kelly raced from one tree to the next Elisa conjured a dagger with her legs and aimed it at Kelly. However, it was not meant for her. Elisa smirked when the dagger ‘missed’ Kelly and headed straight for Allister. Kelly cursed and immediately span around. She was in front of Allister in the blink of an eye and blocked the dagger with her hands. It sliced through them, but did not reach further. Kelly cried out, while Elisa screeched, “Are you insane?! Why didn’t you deflect it?!”

Kelly was breathing heavily. Sweat had started pouring from her forehead and falling down her face. Her golden spheres were spinning rapidly – a sign something was definitely wrong either with Kelly’s body or her mind.

Poison, Kelly thought as she panted, how convenient…

“No blue jay can cause this much damage.” Kelly uttered as she wretched one of her arms free and cried out once more. She then pulled the blade out of her other palm and watched the blood ooze from the newly acquired wounds. She grinned as she looked at Elisa and asked, “What game are you playing, princess?”

Elisa shuddered at the hatred that the simple title was said in. She shook her head and tried to clear her mind. Those eyes were doing something to her, she was certain. However, there was no way Elisa could find out. There was very little known about the Krafts, even though the higher positions of the military were mostly occupied by them. Their eyes of darkness were a formidable weapon. It was actually what made the Krafts so dangerous. No one knew exactly what each pair of eyes was capable of. Every time it was different. However, almost all eyes had one trick in common – they could make you see illusions. Some of them were so strong, that once you fell captive to their swirling golden hue, you could never escape it.

“Interesting.” Kelly repeated.

Elisa’s eyes widened. The blood had stopped oozing. The wounds were starting to coat. The skin was covering the red patches. What kind of monster had Elisa stumbled upon?!

“W-what is?” Elisa chanced to ask. After all, it was better than cowering in fear and being on the brink of your sanity.

“You.” Kelly responded as she stepped closer and closer to Elisa until she was standing in front of the shocked girl. Kelly chuckled as she knelt in front of her and added, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“No offense, but I find that hard to believe.” Elisa replied, making Kelly chuckle. Elisa’s shaking increased. Those golden circles coupled with the sinister look made her heart escalate to a dangerous rate.

“Stop it.” Elisa whispered.

“Don’t worry, Elisa. I am not going to hurt you.” Kelly repeated, her tone different. The icy edge was gone. It was serene, comforting even. Elisa’s eyes widened as her mind blackened. Everything around her drowned in darkness.

Rose petals were falling around an enormous old oak. Elisa’s eyelids fluttered open just as a few more rose petals coloured her simple long-sleeved blue dress. Her eyes widened. She stood up abruptly and looked around. Under the tree there was white sand. In the space where its branches and leaves stopped protruding and beyond there was nothing. No sound could be heard.

“Stop panicking. You’re giving me a headache.” Someone suddenly said.

Elisa whirled around, “You!”

Kelly chuckled, resting one hand on her hip and pointing at herself, “Me?”

Elisa glared at the mocking tone. “Where are we and why am I wearing this?”

“Don’t you remember, princess?” Kelly questioned, using a saccharine tone that was driving Elisa insane with irritation.

“I’m afraid I don’t. Care to enlighten me, Fowler?” Elisa quipped, earning herself quite the fright when Kelly raced forward, grabbed her by the throat and raised her from the ground. Elisa’s choking sounds died when Kelly’s golden spheres started spinning and the Kraft seethed “Do not ever compare me to those ruthless killers.”

Elisa nodded her head weakly before Kelly unceremoniously dropped her on the ground. Kelly then turned around and explained, “This is when I first saw you. I was walking toward the palace to meet our ruler and be prepped for my first solo mission. You see, my case was special. This was why your grandmother had taken such interest in me. You were seven at the time. I was barely twelve.”

“I still don’t understand where this is going. I barely remember one third of the people I meet. Why are you telling me this?” Elisa questioned before Kelly answered, “Just watch.”

She then disappeared. Elisa frowned before a swing appeared behind her. The rain of rose petals continued. However, the darkness was soon replaced with the all too familiar backyard. It was full of trees and freshly cut grass. Elisa always liked to play in it. It was early spring. The cherry blossoms were blooming.

A small blond-haired girl was running happily, chasing butterflies. Elisa smiled faintly and winced when her little self soon tripped. She smiled when her little version started laughing. Little Elisa soon reached the paved paths which led to the castle. The girl stopped in wonder when two figures in dark cloaks passed by her. She could not see their faces. What she noticed was the preteen walking behind them. Her mouth fell open once she noticed the scars on the girl’s face. There was one beginning from her jaw and going all the way to her nose. Her upper and lower lips were severely cut.

Once those resolute dark eyes landed on her they were first surprised before warmth settled in them and the preteen’s features immediately softened. Little Elisa smiled when the preteen moved her index and middle finger toward her forehead and then lifted them higher, pointing the outer side of the preteen’s palm toward Elisa. The girl mirrored the gesture, making the preteen chuckle.

“Then it meant hello.” Kelly suddenly explained, startling Elisa.

Before Elisa could distract herself from the memory that was being played before her eyes the light was dimmed. Elisa noticed how the preteen’s eyes widened, before her expression hardened and she raced toward the little girl. An arrow dug itself in the preteen’s upper arm when she landed in front of little Elisa. The preteen cried out and landed on the ground in a heap of limbs. The dark cloaks immediately flashed toward the intruder and soon he was caught and executed.

Soon the flashback ended.

“You took the hit for me.” Elisa whispered before she turned toward Kelly who had just appeared.

The oak and darkness were back, but the swing remained. It was swinging on its own, creating a disturbingly dismal sound. Kelly went to the swing and soon the dismal sound intensified. Elisa cringed.

“Did I ever thank you?” She questioned as she looked at the armoured girl. The only body part Elisa could see was the girl’s face. Elisa noted the scars on her face were different.

“No, you were never given the chance. A few guards escorted you to your room and I was sent immediately to the physician. The arrow was not poisoned. The idiot had made a poor attempt at assassinating the youngest heir to the throne. However, I was still promoted from a Red Cardinal to a Roadrunner.”

“Oh….A late congratulations then.” Elisa offered, noting with surprise that Kelly had been part of the army. Exactly what had happened to the girl in the next years of her life to make her end up a rebel? Judging by her skills, Kelly had easily made it all the way to a Crow.

The army’s hierarchy was quite confusing even to those who were in it. The positions remained the same. However, there was not an official age in which one could be promoted. Everything was decided depending on your skills and more often than not which familia you were part of. The Blue Jays were the lowest branch. You became one once you made it through the hell years of the military academy. Children entered it when they were either seven or eight and graduated when they were twelve, thirteen or fourteen. One could remain a Blue Jay for their entire life. The position was not one that garnered a specific reaction from people. However, it still demanded particular skills from the people in order to be carried with pride.

Blue Jays were usually fearless, truthful and talkative. They were responsible for not so dangerous tasks such as rebuilding a certain area after a natural disaster, carrying scrolls, parchments or any type of information which was not strictly confidential. They were usually paired with a Red Cardinal.

Red Cardinals symbolized beauty, vibrancy and nobility. Usually these people were a lot fewer than the Blue Jays. The glamour and sleaziness one needed in order to become a Red Cardinal was not worth it in Elisa’s eyes. It was true that the pay was higher and the missions they took were of greater importance, though usually they only guarded lower branch members of the nobility. The corruption in their division, however, was of the highest rate. In order to become and remain a Red Cardinal for more than a few years you needed connections.

Higher than them were the Roadrunners. They were Elisa’s favourites. Roadrunners represented the military’s best when it came to agility and quick reflexes. The Roadrunners’ roles in missions constantly shifted, depending on the situation. The positions they occupied were only temporary, ranging from merely delivering messages around the country to conducting espionage during war. However, the latter was carried out only in dire situations.

Teams of Roadrunners usually had a Kingfisher as a leader. Kingfishers symbolized dignity and speed. They were closest to the queen out of all the other military members aside from the Owls. While Ows offered the Queen guidance when it was needed and assisted her in ruling the country, Kinfishers were the ones to either collect taxes or give punishments when the law was not observed, for example. Although the Owls held greater power, the Kingfishers were formidable in their own way. The Owls may have always done the strategic thinking and were behind the different plans. However, the Kingfishers were the ones to implement them.

At the highest branch the Black Hawks were perched. Their members dealt with the toughest, most undesired and detested missions. They had three subdivisions – the Crows, the Eagles and the Tanagers. The Crows were masters of illusions. They were responsible for killings that needed to be carried out quietly and unnoticeably. The Eagles were best for espionage and conducting efficient yet slightly messier assassinations. The Tanagers had been disbanded a few years ago when the war ended. Their members were kept in secret and were gathered together only when the country needed them most. Tanagers represented war and bloodshed.

“Why did you save me?” Elisa asked.

“It was my duty. I was supposed to become your guardian one day.” Kelly explained.

“Oh…You must’ve been quite gifted, becoming a Roadrunner when you were twelve.” Elisa replied, making Kelly chuckle and those golden hues swirl for a second before disappearing.

“They’re beautiful.” Elisa whispered, flustering when Kelly’s chuckles increased and those golden rings returned for a longer period of time.

“Thank you. You can look at them closely. Trust me. I will not do anything to you.” Kelly responded as she locked gazes with Elisa, noting the lack of worry and fear in the girl’s eyes. She smirked. They were conversing so casually. It was hard to imagine that a Carling and a Kraft could last this long without killing each other. After all, they were supposed to be mortal enemies. Suddenly a memory flashed through Kelly’s mind.

“Those spells you cast,” She said while Elisa was busy observing how those golden hues were spinning and the infinities in them kept increasing. Soon they disappeared, making Elisa frown, “they are quite fearsome. A Carling only uses them when they are in danger. However, executing them so perfectly would require control only a Gail is capable of and we both know that Carlings have the worst energy control from all familias.”

Elisa smiled sheepishly before she replied, “So you figured it out, huh?”

“You’re a half-blood.” Kelly said more to herself than to Elisa before she closed her eyes and smirked, “And to think that your grandmother has no reason to abhor your existence when you represent everything she is fighting against. Tell me, how did you manage to survive this long?”

“She has no other granddaughter. Effa’s daughter could not bear children and my father had to take drastic measures or rather this is how they explained it to her. If you ask me, both mother and father cannot stand each other so much that they both decided to have lovers, but remain married. My biological mother died after giving birth to me. However, I inherited her perfect energy control.” Elisa explained, making Kelly eye her with an amused expression.

“That is not the only ability you have inherited though. Your energy can heal, can’t it?” Kelly responded, making Elisa’s eyes widen before the girl choked out, “W-what gave you that idea?”

“Back in the academy you were ready to heal the boy that assaulted you.” Kelly said, scrutinizing Elisa. Elisa turned her head to the side, asking, “So what if I am capable of healing people? My grandmother and parents would never accept it.” She then turned her glistening eyes to Kelly and choked, “I cannot practice it freely. It is my one true gift. The only thing that connects me with my mom and I have been prohibited from using it.”

She then started crying and kneeled to the ground, hugging herself as though that would comfort her. Kelly continued swinging, remaining unperturbed by Elisa’s display of emotions. She did not know the girl personally. However, back when they were young she had observed her. Elisa had learnt the hard way that keeping your emotions in check was vital when you were the granddaughter of Effa Carling and had her as a teacher.

“Quit it, brat. I am not going to fall for it like Allister.” Kelly uttered icily, golden hues swirling back to life and shooting Elisa with such contempt the golden-haired girl shuddered.

Elisa rubbed her eyes dry and smirked, “Can’t blame me for utilizing every skill I have.”

Kelly rolled her eyes, eyes of darkness fading away, before she agreed, “You have a point there, princess.”

This time the title was said in such an amused tone Elisa’s mind backtracked. Just what type of person was she talking to? Who was the real Kelly? What exactly did she feel toward Elisa and the other Carlings? What was she planning to do with Elisa?

“Will you fucking stop brooding?” Kelly growled, “You’re giving me a migraine.”

Elisa’s eyes widened. Her thought process short circuited.

“That’s better. Now, please, one question at a time. We will enough time to go through all of them before lover boy wakes up.” Kelly instructed, making Elisa chuckle at Allister’s nickname.

“Lover boy?” Elisa questioned.

Kelly rolled her eyes, “He falls for everything female that walks by him. Move on.”

Elisa frowned at the order. It was said with such determination and coldness that made it hard for anyone to object.

“What are you going to do with me? What are your plans regarding this…abduction operation.” Elisa asked.

“We are merely waiting for Effa to send someone after you. Our goal is to negotiate. Our objective is not to hurt either of you, but merely try and change the way she rules this country.” Kelly explained.

“How come you are being so casual about this?” Elisa questioned confusion and apprehension evident by the way she bit her bottom lip.

“We do not wish to hurt anyone. I do not want to kill more people than needed.” Kelly whispered the final part, her eyes void of any emotion whatsoever. They were so hallow, inhuman even.

Elisa shuddered. “What happened to you?” She whispered.

“I am a Kraft. I think it is self-explanatory.” Kelly uttered before the world they were in started evaporating.

“Enough chit-chat. Time to head out or lover boy will throw a fit.” Kelly explained when Elisa looked questioningly at her. The heir merely nodded before she followed Kelly. This time an enormous light blinded Elisa before everything blackened once more.

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