The Last Queen

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Chapter Nine

I ran like my life depended on it.

My heart was pounding like thunder in my ears, my breath came out in small spurts and my lungs were on fire begging me to halt to a stop. I didn’t know the reason behind my sudden rush but I had the feeling that I was being chased, and it was nothing like the movies where the stars looked heroic and in command of the situation. Reality was far from that, because in my case running meant saving my own skin, trying not to get murdered by whoever -or whatever- was following me. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw something resembling a hooded figure making its way towards me and out of panic I clenched my sweaty fists tightly and swung them foreword in hope of running even faster before it could catch me. I made a fast turn in the first alley that met me in hopes of losing my pursuer for a bit and I kept running, looking for a place to hide, but I soon came to a stop once I reached a dead end.

I cursed myself for my bad luck and turned around to face whoever was on my tail. I was breathing loudly and the feeling of utter terror consumed me, but I was not going down without a fight.

“Show yourself!” I yelled at the darkness, hoping nobody would come out and this would all be a nightmare. But what I saw next sent shivers down my spine. Cloaked figures hovering just above the ground surrounded me from every direction, their screeches piercing the silence of the night. I had only heard about these creatures before, they were a cautionary tale every mystic had to hear several times to keep us in check. But seeing them here, breathing down my neck, was sickening. I quickly glanced around me, assessing the situation, and I realized that if I were to escape, I needed to fight. Just as I willed it, fire blazed all around me, surrounding me like a protective wall from hell, and I smiled as magic burned through my veins. The feeling was like nothing else I had ever experienced and I relished in the power it provided me. I felt strong and in control as the fire around me expanded, incinerating the closest figure that stood in its way. The shadow like creatures screeched even louder and retreated slightly, seemingly taken aback by the fire I managed to summon. Unfortunately, the feeling didn’t last long. The sound of high heels against the stone ground soon reached my ears and the shadows made way for something, or rather someone to come through. The feeling of recognition took over me and even though I couldn’t see the face under the cloak in front of me, I seemed to know exactly who it was.

Manete.”

One word.

All it took was one word, a carefully cast spell, and my powers vanished.

My limbs felt numb, out of my control and as hard and long as I tried, I couldn’t move.

“How could you?” I yelled, shock, betrayal and fear coursed through my veins like fire as my hands and feet remained paralyzed. She pushed her cloak back, reaching for something in the folds of her dress. It shimmered under the moon light as she pulled it out, and my eyes widened in shock when I recognized the symbols that were hovering around the blade.

She took a few steps forward, closing in the distance between us and cackled, that loud, familiar, obnoxious laugh that I despised, and twirled the knife between her fingers. The shadowy figures surrounded us in anticipation, their twisted features reflecting their dark souls, and sneered. A soft whimper escaped my lips as she held the knife firmly in her hands, and with one swift move she plunged it in my chest.

“Are you ready for your last first day of classes?” Rose beamed at me from behind the counter as she poured herself a second cup of coffee. She was the first one of us to get up, seemingly excited to start her senior year.

“It’s too early for you to be this chipper Rose. Tone it down a bit.” Kira came down the stairs, her blue hair sticking out in every direction.

“I wish I could be half as excited as you are Rose. Instead all I feel is stress, terror and more stress. You know I changed my shirt twice so far? I keep sweating through my clothes.” I fanned down my armpits, praying this lace black top wouldn’t expose my nervousness.

“I’m sorry about your heavy precipitation Lilith; you should stick with black clothes for the next few days. But you should know, I’m not excited about classes. If anything, I am a mess. I have been dreading this day since the beginning of summer vacation and now that it’s finally here, I feel like I’m losing my mind. This year could make or break us and I’m not equipped to deal with this kind of stress. I might seem like I am cool and collected but I am not!” Rose was hyperventilating, her hands shaking as she took another sip of her black coffee.

“Alright, I think that’s enough caffeine for you.” I reached out and grabbed the mug out of her hands.

“I never thought I’d say this, but I actually prefer chipper Rose.” Kira took a bite out of her bagel.

We left the house and walked together to the main building where our classes would be starting in fifteen minutes. I tried my best to breathe, to calm my nerves and begin my day with optimism, but that was hard to do after that horrid nightmare I had to endure last night. It was the same as always, but different. It was longer than usual, with new details coming into play. I couldn’t for the life of me remember the face of the girl who seemed to menace my sleep every night, so I tried not to dwell too much on my fictional terror when I would be facing real ones very soon. My first class of the day was history, which was a subject I usually enjoyed, but I figured we wouldn’t be interested in the human history after all. I would have felt better if the girls were in my class but fate had a twisted sense of humor and to my utter dismay, the only classes I shared with Kira and Rose were magic and martial arts. Embarrassing myself in front of my only friends seemed inevitable this semester.

“Good luck!” Kira’s voice brought me back to reality and I smiled, pretending to have heard whatever they were talking about when I spaced out. “Don’t worry; history with Mrs. Petrova is a breeze. She likes to talk and gets lost in her mind a lot. She shouldn’t be a problem.”

“We’ll see you at lunch!” Rose waved enthusiastically and grabbed Kira’s arm. I waved back and watched as they headed for their respective classes.

Half way through my first lesson I realized Kira was right about our history teacher. Mrs. Petrova was a friendly old lady who started her lesson by telling us that we should throw our text books away because what we need to know won’t be written on a piece of paper. She then proceeded to explain all about the treaty that was ‘the best thing our race had ever done.’ By the end of her class I seemed to relax a little, and the lessons that followed made me think that I might like this school after all. I had no problems with chemistry and English as they were no different from what I have been learning for the past two years, except of course for the revelation in English class that Edgar Allan Poe was a mystic. I didn’t see that one coming. According to Mr. Hathaway, some mystics have been blending in with the human race for centuries, and some were very successful.

Before I knew it the bell rang and it was time for lunch. I made my way to the cafeteria, feeling relieved that I was done with half of my lessons for today and everything seemed to be going smoothly. I noticed that Kyle was in my Chemistry class and I smiled as I recalled our brief interaction in the lab. It was a bit odd since I thought most of my classes would be with the fire mystics only but I guess since it wasn’t an element related subject the rules didn’t apply. He was sitting behind me, noticeably bummed that he wasn’t my lab partner, but otherwise charming as usual as he slid me a note saying he wants to see me again. I chuckled as I passed him the note back with a clever “you’re seeing me right now” scribbled neatly on the back. He smirked, clearly amused by my answer and put the note in his pocket.

“Lilith!” I looked up as I entered the cafeteria to see both Kira and Rose waving at me. I pushed my way through the masses of hungry mystics, ignoring the weird looks and low whispers that seemed to follow me around. I finally understood the reason behind the attention everyone was giving me but my novelty was bound to wear off sooner or later, I just had to be patient.

This was the first time I ever went into the cafeteria and by now I shouldn’t be surprised by how clean and well decorated it was seeing how everything about Lixierra seemed to ooze of class and elegance, but I couldn’t help but admire the crystal chandeliers and the exquisite mahogany tables. The food was beautifully displayed at the centre of the room, surrounded by smiling teenagers eager to dive in. I was almost at the table, excited to see my roommates and tell them about my day, when I suddenly bumped into someone. Catherine seemed to appear out of nowhere, and as my shoulder collided with hers, her plate fell on the floor, milkshake splattering everywhere.

“Hey watch it dumbass!” She snarled, her icy blue eyes throwing daggers at me.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there.” I apologized, hating the sudden attention we got from everyone around us.

“You expect me to believe that? You didn’t see me? Bitch please, you can’t miss me.” She gestured her arm around, pointing at her body. It was no news to me, and apparently to everyone around, that Catherine was arrogant, but her behavior still took me by surprise. I was at loss for words, not only did she come out of nowhere, but she had the audacity to call me a bitch after I had apologized for something we were both equally responsible for. I opened my mouth to tell her that there wasn’t much to miss, - which would have been an obvious lie considering she was wearing a tight red miniskirt and a sheer black top- but Kira beat me to the punch.

“I would take a step back if I were you Blondie, that vein in your forehead is about to pop off.”

“Of course, Kira to the rescue. Don’t you ever get tired of being the saint of lost causes? It’s kind of pathetic.” Catherine turned slowly to face Kira, seeming to forget all about me for a brief moment.

“Don’t you ever get tired of being a basic bitch? It’s outdated and predictable. I know there isn’t much in that bubble head of yours but I bet you can find something else to waste your time on other than annoying the living shit out of everyone.”

“Give it a rest princess, my problem is not with you.” Catherine spat out her words and turned back around. “My problem is with this peasant. You’ve been here for five minutes and you’re already walking like you own this place. Newsflash bitch, just because you look like a queen doesn’t mean you ARE one.”

“If I didn’t know any better Catherine, I’d say you were threatened by me.” I said, smiling at her innocently. Deep down, I was freaking out. Public confrontations were number one on my ‘to avoid’ list but I wasn’t going to let her or anyone else know that I was scared. And there was something about Catherine that made my blood boil every time I saw her, so I put on a brave face and continued: “What’s the matter sweetie? Are you jealous because you are no longer the center of the universe? It must hurt your shaky self esteem now that the school stopped talking about you every single second of every single day. You might be fooling everyone around you, but I know the truth. I know”, I said as I pointed my index finger at her, “that deep down under all that bitchy attitude and foul mannerisms you’re just a little girl scared that no one will like her.” I took a few steps forward and jammed my finger into her chest. “You might have clawed your way to the top by being an all around awful human being, but you should steer clear from me. I’m not here to take any of your bullshit, you got that? So stay the hell away from me.”

“Why you little…” Catherine’s face darkened, a look of pure hatred was plastered on her features, and she raised her hand in the air. She snarled as she brought her arm down, no doubt aiming for my cheek, when someone grabbed her hand from behind. Chase stood there, his handsome face clouded by confusion and anger and I held my breath as I took him in. Time stood still when we made eye contact and I felt my heart flutter in my chest. I didn’t know why but every time I saw him it was like I lost control over my own body and my limbs refused to cooperate. That moment ended abruptly however, as he looked away from me, and my heart sank when he pulled Catherine away from us and let out a loud angry ‘let’s go.’

“That was AH-MAZING!” Rose squealed as Kira and I sat down. “I never knew you had it in you Lilith. You totally melted the ice queen!”

“You should do that more often, I was getting tired of being the only one to talk down to that creature.” Kira nudged my shoulder playfully.

“You never told me why you hate her so much. Did she do something to you?” I asked.

“You mean other than being totally obnoxious and boringly predictable?” Kira rolled her eyes and sighed. “Two years ago, Catherine was a nobody. Chase was happy with Aline; they were the perfect picture of a happy couple. Then Aline… died and suddenly Catherine was all over Chase. We all knew she was insanely jealous of Aline and wanted everything that belonged to her, so going after Chase was totally unsurprising. And I guess after being invisible for such a long time and finally tasting popularity, she wasn’t going to let that slip away, so she turned into the horrid person you see today.”

“That’s kind of sad.” I whispered.

“Don’t feel sorry for her.” Rose said. “Even before she became popular she was mean and revolting. She’s just not afraid to show it now that she is on top of the food chain.”

The final bell rang and I left my last class of the day feeling totally drained. After lunch the day seemed to take a turn for the worse. Unlike my morning lessons, my afternoon classes were all about magic and as they progressed I realized that I was beginning to lose that spark of confidence that came with my second element. I was not even close to being on the same level as my classmates, in fact I was almost just a human girl compared to them. I sighed deeply and quickened my steps. I just couldn’t wait to be home, to take a quick shower, change into my comfy pajamas and sleep all of my tension away.

As I approached the fountain, a piercing scream tore through me like a great shard of glass, making my whole body shiver and my pulse quicken in the process. My blood ran cold as more screams of wild panic and hysteria followed the previous one, filling the once silent evening with terror and before I knew it I found myself running towards the origin of the sounds. I had no clue as to what I’d do when I got there, just that I had to get there and fast.

I froze in my place when I reached the source of the screams, staring widely at the chaos in front of me. My pulse picked up its rhythm even more, to the point I could hear it beating in my ears, blocking out all the other sounds except the breath that started raggedly moving in and out of my mouth. I couldn’t believe my eyes, I didn’t want to anyway. It seemed like my worst nightmare was coming to life. The scene was terrifying. My mind was sent reeling, unable to comprehended or process the scene that unraveled before me. Did such things even exist or was my mind playing tricks on me?

Hooded figures that resembled black smoke kept appearing out of thin air and attacking whoever was in their way. They were nearly floating in the air as their bodies hovered slightly over the ground, screeching like banshees at the students. Those unknown things seemed intangible, as if you could walk through them like horrifying ghosts and get swallowed down by the darkness that they emitted. I wasn’t the only one who looked taken aback and scared of those things, every student was, but at least some of them were fast enough to register what was going on and took an immediate action by either running away or fighting them off with their powers. I, however, just stood there, paralyzed. For a moment, my brain shut off and the only thing I could focus on was the beauty of the four elements as they clashed with the darkness.

Soon enough, teachers and council members stormed into the quad, their faces a bouquet of different emotions as they took in what was happening. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Mr. Blackthorn with two other teachers I didn’t recognize. He seemed to be barking orders at them before they nodded and stormed off, heading for the gates. Soon after that I saw him jump into action. He ran towards a group of freshman who stood there in horror much like mine, staring helplessly as the unknown attackers surrounded them from every direction. He lifted his hands up, twirling them around like a deadly dance, and vines of every shape and size burst through the ground and whipped forward. They seemed to take the shadows by surprise because they screeched louder as the vines lashed through them. The contact of elemental magic made with whatever those things were created a blinding golden light that, coupled with a deafening noise, appeared to take everyone by surprise. He was quickly joined by a group of other teachers, among them was Mrs. Petrova. I astoundingly remarked that for a tiny old lady, my history teacher was a relentless fighter, and she was a fire mystic as well. A few moves of her petite wrinkled hands split the ground around her in two, sending shock waves through the whole island. As she raised her arms upward, magma ascended from the depths of hell following her every move, engulfing the attackers in a hot wave of unbearable pain.

Not too far away I spotted the girls. They were fighting off those creatures along with other seniors I recognized from my classes and some council members. They looked absolutely majestic as they fought, like goddesses of war bringing down a havoc of pain on the unwanted guests of the academy.

While the teachers and council members appeared to be chanting some sort of spells, blocking the shadows from advancing on school ground and controlling their movement, the girls seemed to rely on their basic elemental magic. Kira summoned her water that rose high and bold out of her palms, and with a whip of her hands, Rose gathered cold air around it, freezing Kira’s water into ice daggers which they both sent flying directly into the shadows, piercing their smoky exterior and disintegrating them at the spot. Right next to them stood Chase, fire emitting out of one hand while the other summoned huge rocks from all around him. He then clasped his hands together and in one swift move the rocks merged with the fire and flew towards the closest shadows. The ground shook again and I turned around to see Kyle, bent down on the dirt. He seemed to be hitting the ground with his fist and with every punch a crack appeared and the ground opened up. The shadows hovered slightly above the cracks; seemingly mocking Kyle for his useless attempts, but soon after vines climbed up the hollows and swirled around the shadows, pulling them down as they screeched in horror. That gold light appeared each time one of the shadows was struck and the noise was unbearable. But the shadows weren’t the only ones taking fatal blows. I stared in horror as the lifeless bodies of young students fell to the ground when the hooded figures retaliated, flying through them like the ghosts of doom. With each screech I felt the blood in my veins freeze so I closed my eyes and wished for this to just be another one of my night terrors. Unfortunately the universe was not in the mood to cooperate. I was paralyzed with fear despite the loud voice in my head screaming at me to do something; run, hide, fight, anything. I was completely helpless. Even when one of the shadow like creatures spotted me and immediately rushed towards me, I didn’t dare to move nor call for help, I just stared at it wide eyed waiting for it to deliver the fatal blow.

“LILITH” Was the last thing I heard before the blackness surrounded me and a gush of unbearable pain jolted throughout my body.

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