Chapter 1: An Unexpected Visitor
HILLVIEW TOWN, a modest city with an average-sized population with all the usual amenities such as shopping malls, restaurants, parks, beaches, lakes and a transit system. The community was lively and reasonably friendly. At the Northern coast of the Town, stood a high-density condominium called ‘Starz’ Condominium.
One of the residences that lived in the condominium was the Romans Family.
Mrs Rosy Romans, a widower, at the age of forty-three years old who was also a proud mother of three adult children. She had a successful family business that she named as ‘Romanz’ Cake House’; a dream she had fulfilled ever since she was just a little girl.
Mrs Romans has twenty-five years old twin sons, Dean and James Romans; both worked as successful culinary chefs who operated a joint Fine Dining restaurant overseas, while her youngest child and only daughter, Anya Romans, was a Second Year Literature student at the Shield’s University.
IN a small bedroom painted in light olive, was where the youngest of the Romans’ family slumbered. Her soft medium length chestnut hair laid spreadingly on the pillow.
Dawn was slowly approaching as the rains began to pour drizzlingly when the alarm clock on a small desk nearby her bed started to ring loudly at six-fifteen o’clock in the morning.
“Mmmm. Five more minutes,” Anya softly muttered, covering her face with a pillow. Laying next to her on the right, was a small bundled covered with furs with four legs and soft pads. Soft meows echoed the otherwise silent room.
“Mmmm Not now, Casey,” Anya Romans groaned softly, refused to budge from the comfort of her bed. She knew Casey was a faithful yet demanding kitten despite its small physique. If she did not get up on time, no doubt the kitten’s meowing would increase tremendously as it demands to be feed.
Sighed tiredly, Anya decided for once, she would be okay at being yelled at by her cat and buried her face deepened into the pillow, letting out another sigh before her mind took off and drifted back to sleep. In less than five minutes later, something loud crashed came from her closed closet, instantly woke up the youngest Romans.
“W-What! What the hell was that?” Mocha eyes looked at her dark surrounding wildly before her instincts kicked in. Anya grabbed a wooden baton hanging around the bed headboard.
Her overly-protective older brothers had bought her a baseball bat for her eighteenth birthday, insisted she kept it near her bed for safety and just case something unlikely were to happen while they were away studying overseas, five years ago.
Flash-forward to last Spring, Anya had called in her brothers out of the blue to inform them she had used and broken the bat after some guys decided not to stop harassing her best friends in college. Dean, being strict and no-nonsense out of the twins, had been distraught to hear the news and that she involved in a fight. Nonetheless, on her birthday of the same year, he had couriered her a gift: a new baseball bat, with a letter attached, to promise him that she would use it wisely this time.
Inhaled deeply, Anya bravely walked toward the wardrobe, with Casey followed cautiously beside her, rubbing its furs against her legs protectively. Approaching closer to her door, Anya could hear the muffled sound of someone hissing and grunting in the closet.
Red alarms flashed in her mind, Anya quickly dragged a sturdy chair from its place and pinned it against the door before grabbing her smartphone and Casey and hurriedly stumbled out of the bedroom.
Anya rushed toward her mother’s room, at the end of the corridor. Not bothered to knock, she turned the doorknob and rushed in. Putting Casey on the floor, she quickly went to her mother’s side to wake her up.
“Mama,” Trembled hands shook the older woman. “Wake up! Please wake up! There’s someone in my closet!”
As soon as her mother started to move and yawned, Anya pressed on a speed dial number on her phone and waited impatiently for the recipient to pick up.
“Anya? What’s wrong, baby?” Motherly instinct quickly kicked in despite her fatigue. Her daughter rarely showed up in her bedroom unusually this early in the morning.
“There’s someone in my closet!” Anya whispered softly, surprised even herself at how shaken she was at the moment.
Rosy stared blankly at her one and only daughter, waiting for the words she had said to her to register in her brain. Slowly, her facial expression changed from blanked to terrific and in great shock.
“Oh my God! Honey, are you all right? Are you okay? Did they hurt you? Josh! Call Josh right now! Right now!” Rosy got up from the bed and quickly put on a robe as she spoke.
“I’m calling him right now. I’m fine. I locked whoever the damn bastard is in the closet and secured it with my study chair.”
“Hello?” A deep grouchy male voice answered the phone.
“Josh! What took you so damn long to answer? No. Sorry, I’ll get straight to the point — there’s a burglar in my wardrobe! I’m fine, in Ma’s room now. I’ve locked whoever it is in the wardrobe and secured it with my chair. Come here as fast as you can. Please?”
“I’ll be there in a minute. Meanwhile, I want you and your mother to go and wait outside. This is an order, you hear?”
“Noted. Thanks, Josh,” Anya hung up the phone and notified her mother Josh’s firm instruction.
THE two Romans women along with their kitten in a carriage, waited outside of the front door of their apartment, as per instructed by Josh, holding on a mug of hot coffee to keep themselves warm from the cold morning shower.
Within ten minutes later, a dashing young man in his late twenties, sporting a retro hairstyle and dressed smartly, came rushing toward them. Behind him were two men dressed in police officers.
“Anya! Rose! Are you all right?”
Rosy looked up and offered a small smile. “We’re fine, dear. Though, I feel my blood pressure increasing this morning.”
Josh signalled the two policemen to go in. He then turned to face with the ladies again.
“Rose, I’ll take you to the clinic later. Stay here,” He said sternly before entered the apartment cautiously.
Once again, the Romans women were forced to wait outside again, their neighbours who were about to head out to work, looked surprised to see the commotion going on outside.
Anya groaned internally before briefly told them what happened. While she was in the midst of explaining the situation to the neighbours, all the sudden, they heard a loud shout coming from inside of the house, followed by struggles.
“Unhand me! I am innocent! I would never dare to harm nor have I ever wanted to do anything indecent to a fair young maiden!”
“Save your explanation in court. Pervert,” said one of the policemen as they dragged the burglar out of the apartment.
Soft brown eyes widened in surprise as they met with glaring mocha eyes. Eyes that filled in with so much joy and loved, it was unlike anything Anya had imagined what a burglar would look like, scary and perverse. Next to his eyes was his features — smooth, sun-kissed tanned skin complexions that looked best on him and made any girls drooled, along with his tall and slender muscular frame.
Although her heart was beating faster than the usual at the incredible sight of the burglar, what caught her attention the most was the weird clothing he wore that looked something from Medieval Era.
Aya didn’t say anything but kept on glaring at the burglar as he was being taken away by the policemen. Not long afterwards, Josh came out with a piece of cigarette on his mouth, shaking his head.
“Unbelievable. First thing in the morning too. Hell, I haven’t even had my morning coffee yet.”
“Sorry, Josh,” Anya smiled apologetically. “Thanks for coming.”
“Not at all,” Josh lightened up the cigarette and heaved a long sigh.
“Perhaps you would like to have a cup of coffee before you leave, Josh? I’ll make my special coffee,” Offered Rosy with a motherly smile.
“Thanks for the offer, Rose, but next time, perhaps. I should probably hurry up and check on how the guys are dealing with that pervert at the station. By the way Anya, as of now, I’m afraid I’ll need to disclose your room for further investigations for the time being. You may take your clothes and belongings, but do not touch anything in the closet. Understood?”
“Damn it,” Groaning lowly, Anya picked Case’s carriage and brought it inside to the warmth of her home.
Watching her only daughter groaned and muttering words under her breath, Rosy smiled wearily and shook her head.
“You want me to drop you off at the clinic, Rose?”
“No thanks, dearie. I’ll be fine.”
“You sure? Well, okay then. Just call me if you need anything.”
“Yes, Rosy nodded reassuringly. “Thank you so much for coming, Josh,” With a final goodbye, she gently closed the door and locked it.
Sighed heavily, Rosy looked at the clock hanging on the walls.
“Anya sweetie, it’s already seven forty-five. You’re gonna be late for class if you don’t hurry up.”
AFTER a quick shower and dressed in a simple three-quartered sleeves blouse with small pink floral patterns and black jeans, Anya stared at her reflection at the mirror while applying daily moisturiser and beauty cream.
Earlier on, she had spent fifteen minutes to gather her stuff into a small box and put it on a King sized bed of James’ bedroom which she had decided was the best room to sleep in a while her room was being set as off-limits.
Out of the twins, Anya was closest to James, who took on the paternal roles of raising her after their father died in a traffic accident when she was ten. Dean would help out at the bakery with their mum while James stayed at home and took care of her until she was old enough to take care of herself.
It was at that time, the twins had developed their interest in culinary arts. What started as duties turned to deep passions that both decided to pursue it professionally when they graduated high school.
While the twins continued with the family business, Anya decided she found herself fascinated with books and literature, a passion she shared with her late father who was an Author for Children’s Books.
During her high school’s years, Anya participated in a school’s writing essay competition. Her submitted work, entitled ‘Everyday Life at The Bakery Cafe’, made her won first place in the competition and seriously considered to pursue her dreams as a novelist.
ANYA sighed in relief after making sure she had all that she needed for today’s class. Checking herself in the mirror again, she made sure she looked decent enough for school before grabbing her bag on the floor.
Kissing Casey on the forehead and petting her softly, Anya smiled affectionately at the kitty and whispered softly, “Bye, my darling. I’ll be home soon before you even know it.”
Anya walked out of James’ bedroom and just about to head to the living room when she stopped, turned left at the corridor to her room to fetch something she has forgotten to pack earlier.
Anya sneered at the yellow tape at the entrance of her own bedroom. The light from the sunlight shone through the curtains of her room, not too dark nor entirely bright either. Carefully stepped into the room, she pushed the curtains to the side so that the sunlight would come in.
Casey meowed at the door before rubbing her Mistress’s legs. Anya smiled, pulling the kitty in her arms.
“Sorry, babe. We can’t use or sleep in our room for the time being. Hey, don’t look at me like that. Blame that innocently stupid-perverted-bastard who was in the closet this morning. I’m just going to get something, so you just stay outside, okay?” Gently, she pushed the kitten to the door and closed it.
No time to waste, Anya began her search for the one thing she was here for — her assignment papers which she needed to submit today!
Aha! Found it. Grinning to herself for the small victory, Anya took the assignment papers that were lying on a messy desk filled with books, notes and documents. Nodded to herself, Anya was just about to make her way to the door when something caught her eyes.
Laying on the floor, was a small leather pouch.
Frowned deeply, Anya walked toward it and bend on one knee and ready to pick up the pouch when something fell out of the pouch — a golden ring.
Anya stared at the ring until it stopped rolling on the floor. As she was about to pick it up, there were a few knocks on her bedroom door.
“Honey? What are you doing? Didn’t Josh tell you not to come in? What’s that?” Rosy pointed out at the pouch.
Anya quickly scooped the ring on the floor and put it back into the pouch. “I came here to take my assignment on the desk when I saw this pouch. The burglar must have left it behind.”
“Leave it, dear. Josh and his team will come in later and investigate the room. You mustn’t touch any of the evidence.”
“I know,” Anya got up to her feet and walked toward her mother and kissed her on the cheeks before saying her goodbyes.
“Oh honey, Josh said to inform you to head down to the station after classes are over. He needs you to testify about this morning.”
“Sure,” Anya nodded. “See ya!”
“STOP! Please stop hurting him!”
A young woman watched helplessly as a group of gang-members laughed loudly as their leader punched someone in his stomach, blood burst from the latter’s mouth and spilled on the ground.
“Steve!” The young woman cried out, desperately. Her rich emerald eyes grew widened when one of the gang kicked the man named Steve’s stomach, causing the weaker man to spit more blood and dropped on his knees.
“Hah! This weakling’s a piece of meat who can’t even protect his woman! How the fuck could get a scrawny guy like you to be with such a fine looking babe, huh?!”
“Max, leave him alone! He’s much of a better man than you’ll ever be!”
Max instantly stopped his bullying. He turned his head slowly to face the woman who had just insulted his manhood.
What did you say?”
“You heard me! Acting all tough and badass when all you ever know is fighting against the weak! You’re not a man. You’re just a little boy throwing tantrums when he doesn’t get his way!”
“Emma!” Steve shouted, painfully holding onto his bruised ribs. His raven hair stuck on his damp forehead. He had fair-skinned and ocean-blue eyes that glared sharply at Max.
Steve got up on his feet, shakenly when one of the gang-members knocked him down again using his heels.
“You’ll regret saying those words to me, babe,” Max smirked wildly, holding one of Emma’s arms in a tight grip as she struggled and pulled her closer to him. I’ll make sure you’ll be begging for mercy when I’m done with –”
Max’s words were abruptly cut by something hard flown and landed on his cheeks – a coffee tin can.
“Haven’t you jackasses learned your lesson already? Stop harassing my friends!”
“Fuck! It’s Romans!”
Anya glared sharply at each one of the gang members with her hands on her hips. Sweats were rolling on her cheeks and dripping off from her chin, but she didn’t care. Her soul felt like it was on fire when she arrived at the University’s gates only to find some assholes were bulling her friends again.
The incident this morning didn’t help the situation either.
“Well, well… Look who finally shows up,” Max got up to his feet again and spat another broken tooth — his fifth of the week.
Anya narrowed her eyes. “I’d thought I told you to stay away not to come anywhere near us again. Seems like I need to teach you all a lesson in Knuckletown,” clenching her knuckles as she prepared for a fight.
Max spat again, and another tooth fell off. He glared dangerously at the petite woman who looked like she’s ready to tear the place apart.
“Later, bitch,” Max gave a rude gesture to them before leaving with his gang, like nothing happened. He released all of his rages to an innocent dustbin nearby, kicking it so hard it flew to the opposite side of the wall and even shouted obscenities to anyone who dared to also look at him.
Anya sighed, shaking her head.
“Honestly. I could never understand those guys,” Anya sighed while shaking her head. “You two all right?”
“By all right, do you mean, not getting punched in the face? Then yes, I’m okay,” Stephan ‘Steve’ Aarons spoke in a raspy voice, as he got up to his feet with the help of his girlfriend. He picked up his dirty glasses, cleaned it up then put it back on.
“Thanks, Anya,” Steve smiled brightly at his longtime childhood friend. “Things could have gotten much worse if you didn’t jump in.”
“Eh, don’t mention it,” Anya shrugged, shaking off some dirt on her shoulder. Tilted her head to her two friends, she said, “So, class?”
THE Shield University is famously known for their many educational achievements and with reasonable tuition fees. They are among the top five selected universities in the country. Within the university, there was a group famously known as the ‘Cripple Trio’.
Stephan ‘Steve’ Aarons came from a very wealthy background and the sole heir of a well known I.T Company. Though very wealthy, his family was very down-to-earth and humble people. Stephan’s parents, Mr and Mrs Aarons, preferred to send their only one and heir to public schools for his educations. They wanted Stephan to experience the other side of society. On weekends, the Aarons family would serve charity works at their own charity house for the less than fortunes people.
Though Stephen was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he has a fragile body that had been the subject of bullying in schools, which led Anya to self-appointed herself to become his personal bodyguard from middle school all the way to high school.
When both were in their first year of high school, they met with Emma Greens — a shy newly transferred student who just returned to her childhood home after spending years living overseas due to her father’s constant travels for business.
ANYA slumped heavily on the table as soon as she took a seat at the lecture hall. Letting out a sigh, she felt her stomach growling loudly and decided to check on the clock.
Damn. Not even ten o’clock and Anya was already starving. Turned to her left, she was just about to have a chat with Emma but stopped when she noticed the latter was chatting animatedly with her boyfriend.
Decided to leave the couple alone, Anya took out her phone and texted her mother to let her know that she arrived at school safely and that she beat Max’s gang again — something that Rosy did not approve whenever she reported back what happened at school.
In less than a minute, she received a short reply:
‘Okay, dear. Have fun at school! :)’
Keeping her phone away, Anya waited impatiently for the lecturer to arrive and for the class to start.
As time moved in slow pace, one by one of her classmates entered the lecture room, which the trio, greeted them with a smile and good morning. After ten minutes of anxiously waiting and it seemed no more students were entering the hall, it was then when Anya realised just how empty the lecture room was, compared to the usual.
Have they entered the wrong lecture hall? No way! Anya checked her schedule twice this morning. She was very sure their first period of the day would be English Literature
While busily scrambled through her program when all the sudden, Anya heard soft gasps came from Emma and a few of her female classmates.
Looking up, she was surprised to see instead Mr Hayes, an old grumpy, white-haired ‘wizard’ with menacing-eyes, it was someone none of them knew walked in with confidence steps.
The man was tall and handsomely good looking in his late-twenties. He has unusually silver-grey hair in slightly long bobbed hair, parted at the right side of his face, and the rest hang behind his left ear. He wore long black pants, six buttons double breasted tailcoat and oddly enough, a white laboratory coat.
Dark mocha eyes scanned the faces of all five students gawked stunningly before him. A grin suddenly appeared across his lips. When he spoke, everyone immediately shivered at the tone of his deep husky voice.
“Good morning, class. My name is Abel Fox. Due to personal issues, Mr Hayes will no longer be teaching at the university. I will be taking over all of his classes, mainly in Literature Studies. You may refer to me as Mr Fox.”
The class kept silence as Mr Fox opened the Attendant List.
“I was being informed by the English Department’s Head of Faculty that most of your classmates are not here due to an ongoing competition out of the university, correct?” Dark mocha eyes landed on Anya.
“What is your name?”
“Anya. Anya Romans, Sir.”
“Miss Romans, was it? What a lovely name. Now then, starting today henceforth, I will nominate you as the class monitor. I believe there shouldn’t be any problems with this arrangement. Unless you do have any objections?”
One girl lifted her hand. “We do have a class monitor, Sir. His name is Ethan Carter.”
“Ah. Well then, is Mr Carter here with us today?”
“No, sir. He participates in the competition with the rest,” The girl replied meekly.
“Very good. Miss Romans, while Mr Carter is away, would you mind being a substitute leader for my class today?”
“If you said so, sir,” Anya shrugged.
“Good,” With that being said, Mr Fox closed the attendant list without finished calling out the name of the rest. “As there are only five of you in class today, I see no point of me continuing the lectures today. Yes, Mr Aarons?”
“Sir,” Steve raised his hand. “Mr Heyes has given us an assignment a week before. We were supposed to submit it by today. I just thought you would know...”
“Ah, yes. Thank you for the reminder. Miss Romans, if you would be as kind to gather the assigned papers and bring them over to me by the end of the class today,” he kept his gaze on her like a preying hawk.
Anya mutely nodded and looked away uncomfortably, pushing a few strained hairs behind her ears.
What the hell was his problem?
“As I have said before, I will not be teaching you a new lecture topic today. However, I would like for you to do something for me. Think of it as part of an assignment, if you will,” Mr Fox walked over to the blackboard. Using yellow chalk, he started to write down one word across the board.
“Excalibell? Is that a name of a place or person?”
“I’m glad you asked, Miss Greens,” Putting down the chalk, Mr Fox turned to face them. “Before I answer your question, let me ask all of you this: How many of you believe in fairy tales?”
Nobody lifted their hands.
Raised an eyebrow, Mr Fox proceeded by walking closer. “So none of them truly believe the existence of tooth fairy, unicorn and such?” His simple question brought snorts from the class.
“Maybe when we were little and stupid,” One of the students, Beth Ambers, snickered.
“I see. What about you Miss Romans, do you believe in fairy tales?”
“Miss Romans, everyone here knows, your late father, Adam Romans, was a well-known children author who wrote plenty of fairy tales stories that sounded very realistic.”
“Yes, well... Not believing in fairy tales does not mean I dislike it. Fairy tales are great and all when you’re younger and still naive about the outside world. Reality is just not like that. I like a bit of realism in it.”
“Interesting. Well, I think you ought to love to hear stories about Excalibell. Of course, you would know better,” Mr Fox’s sharp tone at the end of the sentences caught Anya by surprise.
Her heart was pumping wildly on her chest as the silence of the room thickened. Common sense and every fibre of her body told her to dash out of place and get far away from the man who was making her feeling very uncomfortable the moment he stepped into the room.
As if she was being hypnotised, Anya snapped out of it and blinked her eyes rapidly. Heart still pumping loudly, she looked around the class, she was all alone.
Before she knew it, Anya was already up from her seat with eyes wide opened.
“Emma? Steve? Angela? W-Where-”
“There’s no point of calling out their names. You’re alone now, Miss Romans,” said Mr Fox, who no longer bore long silver-greyish hair and was replaced by a short and slightly parted black hair.
“What are you? What have you done to my friends? Answer me!”
Amber eyes glared emotionlessly and darkly at the young woman when sudden, a small grin escaped his lips.
“My, my. So many questions shooting out from that little mouth,” In a blink of an eye, Anya was pushed to the wall.
Anya struggled to break free from the firm grip he had around her neck.
“Where is the Heir of Excalibell?”Aidan whispered coldly, bringing his face closer and tightened his grip on her neck.
“The... Heir?” Anya gasped chokingly.
“Answer the question, Miss Romans.”
“I... don’t know what you’re...talking about... What... Heir?” Anya’s face turned blue.
Aidan did not loosen his grip. “Very well. It seems I have no other choice but to use that method. So be it.”
“What are you-”
The next thing Anya felt was a sharp pain hit her stomach before her world blacked out.