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Chapter 10: Introduce Us

“How are you doing today?” Julian carefully asks me when I arrive. “How was your March break?”

“I’m doing pretty good,” I greet him and turn to everyone else. “I’m going to skip practice today; I want to spend some time with Cerberus.” I turn back to Julian, “How was your March break?”

“Interesting?” He stares at the desk like he’s thinking back on something. He looks back to me and smiles, “Want to hangout with me after school today? You can bring Cerberus.”

“Yeah sure,” I shrug. “What do you mean by interesting?”

“Well apparently a whole new race of people has been discovered,” My friends and I look at each other. “They’re called Sahrians and according to the news they’ve existed alongside us and we never knew.” My friends and I try to hide our panic, this isn’t good. Sahrians isn’t a race, but if we’ve been discovered then that means someone must’ve found their way into Sahri.

I look to my friends, “Maybe we should look into that.” I fake smile, “ It sounds really interesting.”

“You two go hangout,” Anne suggests. “We’ll look into it for you.”

“I’m sure it’s all fake anyways,” Julian dismisses it. “It is the news after all.”

“Yeah, you’re absolutely right,” Hakai agrees.

Class starts and Julian turns and whispers to me, “Want to come by my place?” He asks. “I’m sure that Cerberus will love my poodle, Rose.”

“Are you suggesting we make them breed?” I question him.

“No, Rose is like a million years old,” He chuckles. “But she does love other dogs, especially puppies. I bet they’ll get along really well.”

I shrug, “Alright, your place it is.” It won’t be much longer until Cerberus will be too big for humans anyways. “I wonder what your room looks like, dirty clothes everywhere, posters of cars and girls, guitars, and dirty cups lining the entire room?”

He laughs, “Don’t forget about holes punched into the walls.”

“Maybe you two should talk about this later,” Waldo speaks over us.

“Sorry,” We say in unison.

The rest of the class is really boring, it sounds like Waldo could really use a nap. The pinky bitches won’t stop whispering and I assume that it’s about me. Every few seconds I think I hear something that I can understand but then it just becomes muffled in my memory.

Class finally ends and we all stop outside of the doors, “Come over later tonight,” I say to Anne and everyone else. “Good luck, with the research.”

We say our goodbyes and Julian pats me on the shoulder, “Where do you want to meet after you get your Cerberus?”

I take a second to think about the quickest route, “Do you mind waiting here for me? It should only take me like ten or fifteen minutes.”

He nods and takes a seat on a bench, “I shall await your return.”

I laugh at his stupid response and run down the street and make my way down an ally. Away from any vision and light. I check my surroundings, I’m really anxious, I’m not used to leaving without my friends. I do another check of the surroundings and finally get the guts to teleport out.

I’m right outside of the pet hotel and Anne hands me my leash, “Be careful.” She warns me, “He’s growing really quickly.”

“See you later,” I hug her goodbye and pick-up Cerberus into my arms. I teleport us back to nearby the school where I’m still out of sight. I cradle Cerberus as I run back into the open street, doing my best to ignore all of the eyes beaming towards me. It feels like all of the attention is burning a whole inside of me, it feels like everyone knows I don’t belong here, like everyone knows I teleported here. I start to slow down a bit, maybe everyone is staring at me because I was running down a street with a dog in my arms. It is also possible that everyone is staring at me because of how cute Cerberus is. Yeah, that makes sense, I’m just overthinking everything.

I catch up to Julian who’s watching as I carry Cerberus and frantically overthink everything, “Wow, he’s gotten big!”

“He’s supposed to become a huge dog,” I smile and put down Cerberus. Huge is an understatement. Cerberus barrels over to Julian and tries to jump up into his arms. “He’s going to face a lot of growth spurts.”

Julian struggles to pick up the heavy puppy, “I called my butler, he should be arriving any minute.”

“How rich are you exactly?” I ask him. I bet he has the wealth of a Sahrian.

He smirks, “Just wait till you see my house.” His butler arrives in a limo and is wearing probably the third most expensive suit I’ve ever seen. If he were to be a Sahrian then he’d probably be on the less wealthy side of the population. His limo is nice for a human, after all their tech isn’t as far along as the Sahrians. So, you can’t blame them for not having all of the best and newest tech and designs on the market. What happened to me? I used to never even notice the wealth difference between myself and others? I should go on a money and bragging cleanse. Spend thirty days living with only the basic necessities and don’t even think about or listen to what others say about their wealth and money. That way I won’t be so stuck up, I hate the way I’ve been referencing the less wealthy people, I really need to do this cleanse. A TV turns on in the limo and Julian puts on some anime, the loud, female Japanese voices pierce my ears. I wish I took the multiple languages class; I can barely even understand what they’re saying, and I would rather actually watch what they’re doing instead of looking at subtitles the entire time.

Julian notices me struggling and presses a few buttons, “Here, I’ll switch it over to dubbed.”

I smile, “Thank you.” He switches the language and somehow the female voices are even higher.

“My princess,” A deep male voice, inside of the bulky body of a knight says with fright. He kneels in front of a tiny girl sitting in a throne next to a sparkly king and a ravishing queen. “There has been a breach, I’ve come to escort you to safety.” The king and the queen gasp in fright, the queen takes her daughters hand and runs to the knight’s side.

The king stands up and grabs a battle axe, “Take them to safety.” The king orders in a righteous voice as the knight rushes off with his family. “I will protect my kingdom, my people.”

The little girl reaches behind the knight in an attempt to grab her father. She screams, “Dad! No!” Tears pour out of her eyes as they leave the scene.

Already I have so many questions, like what episode is this? Do we know these characters already? What’s going on?

I look over to Julian, he looks completely interested in what’s going on. There must’ve recently been a huge plot twist or something. I tap him on the shoulder, “Can you catch me up?”

Julian snaps back into reality and pauses the episode, “Right, you have no clue what’s going on, I take you back to episode one.” As he goes back all of the episodes, I see that we were watching episode three-hundred-ninety-five.

“How many episodes are there?” I ask him as he puts on episode one.

“Over five-thousand, I think,” he answers me. “The company wanted to animate the entire show first and then put it up for streaming. Risky move, but so far they’ve made triple of what they’ve spent, and no one has finished it yet.”

“When did it come out?” I ask, watching an intro in a high-pitched girly voice.

“Around Christmas time,” he says. “Apparently the first one hundred people to finish it and answer all of their questions correctly will be given two million dollars each.”

“I can’t help but get the feeling that your family is involved with it somehow,” I suspiciously squint at him.

He smirks, “My mom and I helped with some of the animating whenever one of the animators got sick or injured. We also paid a sum of money to help keep the business running.”

“So, like the stock market?” I assume. “Also, you animated an anime!”

He laughs at my scream, “Yeah a little bit, the CEO of the company is like family.” The intro starts to conclude. “She saved Rose when she was just a few weeks old, we recently got a new guard dog that was still in training and it tried to eat Rose.” He starts, “So she saw what was going on when she was taking her dogs for a walk and she threw the big dog over her shoulder and carried the Rose to our front door. She also ordered her dogs to protect Rose while she brought the guard dog to our kennel keeper.”

“She sounds badass!” I squeal. I try to imagine what she must look like, huge biceps, only wearing muscle shirts, every part of her body is covered in muscles.

He smiles, “Yeah, we invited her in for dinner after she explained the situation. Her and my mom immediately became best friends, now they help each other with everything and hangout almost everyday.”

“So, does that mean I’ll get the chance to meet her?” I ask excitedly.

He shakes his head, “Since the new anime has been released, she has been sending all of her animators on a paid vacation and now it’s her turn to take some time off.” He looks up at the TV as the episode starts. “I think she’s somewhere in Bora Bora with her family, I’ve been going over to her place everyday to water her plants for her.”

I sigh, “Sometimes it’s like you’re not even human.” He blushes and I turn my attention to the episode.

A little boy is crying with bruises on his face, “Mommy!” Three bigger boys laugh and kick him to the ground. This art style is so pleasing to look at.

A pretty little girl comes running to the boy and pushes the three others away, “Leave him alone!” The girl orders. Finally, a girl with a normal voice.

“Whatever,” one of the boys says and turns to walk away. He looks over his shoulder and mumbles, “Weak spoiled little boy, getting protection from the princess all the time.”

“I’m not weak!” The boy cried. Choking and squeaking through his words.

The three boys lose interest and leave, the girl kneels next to the boy and wipes some blood off of his face, “I believe you, and someday I know that you will prove it to the rest of the kingdom.”

A loud shuffling comes from the background and the boy shoos the girl’s hand away, “Yeah well, what do you know? You’re just a girl, a prissy princess!”

A large group of knights point their spears toward the boy and a mother comes rushing over to her daughter, “Elizabeth! I’m so glad that you’re alright!” The mother picks up her daughter and the princess looks longingly at the boy. “I told you to avoid that peasant, he doesn’t understand or even appreciate you.” The queen points to the boy and orders the men, “Take him back home and tell his parents about what has happened here!”

I already know how this story is going to go, though there are a bunch of different paths that can go after all of this. I think I have the general gist of everything.

“Don’t assume anything just yet,” Julian says to me, like he’s reading my mind. “There’s plot twists and huge events going on almost every three episodes.”

“Don’t you think that so many plot twists will piss people off?” I assume.

“Surprisingly, it hasn’t,” he shakes his head. “I guess that the story writers knew exactly what they were doing.”

Julian’s butler opens up a window that separates the driver seat and the backseats, “Mr. Barder, we will be arriving in two minutes,” his butler spoke and closed the window.

“I guess that maybe you and I should watch the series as our little date show,” Julian flirted. He turns off the TV and fixes his hair in a mirror.

I laugh, “Sure, sounds fun.”

“You and my mother are going to get along so well,” he mentions.

We ride up a long driveway with a billion-dollar mansion at the end of a roundabout. It looks like it could pass as a castle. It may even be nearly half the size of my training center! Though it’s nowhere near the size of my school. I really need to do that cleanse. I can see nearly two hundred windows just on the front of the house, imagine if they had to pay a window tax. It looks like it has around five or six floors, the colours of the walls are white and creamy white, and I can see bits of vines for decor.

The butler helps me out of the limo and Julian leads me up the steps, imagine having to get the mail everyday. This driveway is longer than most runs that athletes do. The butler opens the door and a white old shaky dog with a bright pink bow on her head slowly shakes her way over to us. Cerberus is looking at her like she’s already dead.

Julian carefully picks her up and shows her to me, “This is Rose.”

I go wide-eyed, “You really weren’t joking about her being a million years old.” Cerberus crouches up to her and sniffs her, she licks his nose and he runs behind me from the shock.

“Now that’s just rude,” A loud, female voice yells from inside the mansion. I hear heels clicking their way over to us, “First you insult Rose then you make your friend stand outside, I thought I raised you better than that.”

“Well look at her,” Julian turns and holds Rose up to the woman. I look over Julian’s shoulder to get a better look at, what I assume is his mother. She has short brown hair with a single braid on the left side, bright gray eyes and she’s wearing a businesswoman pant suit. I feel like I should ask her about the budget or the latest stocks. She reaches out her recently manicured hand to me, I make sure to reach further than her nails, so I don’t ruin them. “Mom, this is Lexus Deathchill and her puppy, Cerberus.”

She smiles sweetly and says, “Nice to meet you, my name is Veronica Barder.” She gestures us inside and shuts the door behind us. She inspects me up and down, “By the way, I love your outfit, where did you get it?”

I don’t know why I’m panicking so much, it’s just a simple question. Where did I get my outfit? I answer questions like this all the time. Wait, no I don’t! I cover my panic with a smile and say, “It’s from a company run by the family of one of my friends, it’s tailored to me.”

“That’s so cool!” Veronica smiles so perfectly that it becomes kind of creepy. There’s not a single flaw in her teeth, they’re all perfect and white. “What’s it called?”

Shit, that’s what she originally asked, why didn’t I answer it sooner? I continue to smile and say, “Floated Renaissance.”

Julian looks amazed, “Which one owns it?”

“Anne,” I answer. His jaw drops, he has no clue exactly how rich my friends and I are. Samuel’s family runs a training camp, Anne’s family runs a fashion company, Lukas’s family runs a worldwide water park, Shi and Hakai are demons so money isn’t a problem for them, and my family… How is my family so rich? I’m guessing that my parents must’ve gotten paid really well since they were a nurse and a field medic, but even so there’s no way they were paid that well. Did my family run a company and I don’t know about it?

I look up at Veronica and see that her jaw is also dropped, “Floated Renaissance?” Her face floods with joy, “That’s the leading fashion brand for the last few hundred years!” She looks so happy, “Only a select few models are even approved to model with their outfits!” Veronica starts to fangirl and squeal.

Julian takes my hand and leads me away from his over energized mother, “I had no clue Anne was so rich, what about the rest of your friends?”

“The rest of them aren’t as big of a deal,” I dismiss it. “Samuel’s family runs a training camp and Lukas’s family runs a few water parks.”

“What about Shi and Hakai?” He asks. “What about you?”

I don’t know a good excuse for Shi and Hakai, wait, he doesn’t know that they’re also rich. I shrug, “Shi and Hakai aren’t really rich, just average.” He looks at me waiting for me to tell him about my family, then his eyes go wide.

“I’m so sorry,” he says solemnly. “I forgot.”

I nod, “It’s fine.” I guess I could give him something to run with, “I do however run my own little gym, nothing special though. I don’t really get visitors.”

“Well maybe my mother can give your gym a little shout out,” He offers.

Shit, I didn’t think that through. I shake my head, “It’s fine, I like the silence and being able to train alone.”

He accepts that reason and leads me down a hallway, I start to pay attention to the design and decor around me. There are little weird shapes and pottery things on top of modern, white cylinders. In the eye of an artist, these would probably be worth several millions of dollars each. If they were to sell this stuff, they would probably be able to solve thousands of world problems. The paintings on the wall look so old, I notice one called ‘The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh.’ It looks like it’s thousands of years old, the building is designed in a modern style, yet the decor looks like it should be burned to cook food for the modern artists. Cerberus almost pees on one of the stands holding a sculpture but Rose yips at him and I pull him away.

Julian stops in front of a modern looking door that also has an anime poster on it, compared to the rest of the doors in the hallways, his door sticks out the most. He opens it and leads me inside, “This is my room.”

I step inside and let go of Cerberus’s leash, letting him jump onto Julian’s double king-sized bed and spin around like a tornado. He has a desk on one side of the room with twelve monitors and a LED filled keyboard and mouse. He has a ten-meter-long bookshelf next to it. There’s a door to a modern looking bathroom that looks like it has a closet inside, with a bathroom inside of that closet and a closet inside of that bathroom. There’s also a walk-in closet on the other side of the room. He has a ten-foot-long curved TV in the center of his room. I check out his bookshelf while he plays with Cerberus and Rose on his bed. There are little plastic anime characters, manga, video games, several filled sketchbooks, and a few education books, like textbooks that the school hands out. I look at his walls, there’s posters everywhere, no surprise there. I turn to him, gesture to his bookshelf and walls and say, “Have you ever heard of this crazy thing called reality?”

He smiles and shakes his head, “That’s too boring, I like my imagination much more.” He gets up and drags me over to his bed. I lay down, Cerberus cuddles up to me and Julian turns on his giant TV. It’s so big that you physically have to turn your head to see the entire episode. He turns on the anime that we were watching and hands me some snacks from a stash hidden somewhere around his bed. “After a few episodes I’ll give you a little more of a tour.”

I smile and wrap my arms around a giant, fuzzy pillow, “I’m having a lot of fun so far.”

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