"I'm sorry, your highness." An indescribably petrifying draft entered the room and sent chills up the soldier's spines as the guard in question spoke the last word.
"What do you mean, you're sorry? Where is her body?" The young girl in the chocolate brown dress asked. She shifted around in the throne, making the guards by her side uneasy.
"S-she managed to escape. We think her butler might have carried her body away as soon as she was killed." The soldiers that had been standing by his side now eased over towards the walls, trying to move away from the guardsman in front of the throne.
The new princess stared at the guard with her piercing violet eyes that contrasted with her bright curly ginger hair. "Do you know what I was planning on doing with the body?" She asked in a rather small voice, so it was almost a whisper.
"N-no�?" The guard stated. New guards never understood anything.
"Then how about Zeke here show you?" She said as a young man approached the guard from behind and grabbed his hand.
"Come on, let me give you the 'Grand Tour' of the castle."
"Miko, wake up already! We can't fall asleep!" A quiet voice chimed in my head as I started to become conscious of where I was. "Come on, I need help pulling these books from the shelf." My eyes opened slowly to see a small girl's back who had light aqua hair pulled back into pigtails start to walk off toward another row of bookshelves. I realized I was in the Singer Town Library, working with my friend Cherise and some other girls from our school as a summer job. We don't get paid much, but there isn't much else to do in the summer and a little money was better than none.
"I'm coming, wait up!" I called, grabbing the black metal cart beside me with the books Cherise had already picked up while I was napping. I followed her across the library, all the way to the fiction section. Cherise, who was in front of me, stopped abruptly and began to inspect the numbers on the books upon the shelves, occasionally looking back at the piece of paper in her hand.
"Here it is�" She mumbled to herself as she set the book on the cart and marked the book off the sheet.
"Now we can head back to the nonfiction." She said as she walked around me and headed to the corner in the library. As we passed the children's section, I could see some of the other girls from our class helping with the arts and crafts station. Of course, Cherise was also looking over there. I could tell she was hurrying up so she could go over there- ever since we were little, Cherise had always wanted to be a preschool teacher. She loved playing with little kids. When the nonfiction section came into eyesight, she just sighed and shook her head.
"The History of Demons� The Life and Times of the Kingdom� What kind of nonfiction books are these? I don't even recognize the codes�" Cherise murmured, turning around to me. At the same time, one of the librarians came rushing up behind me and snatched the paper out of Cherise's hand.
"Oh- uhm Miss Taylor wants you two girls to go help with the children, she's having difficulty keeping them under control. I'll take care of the rest of the books." She stammered. I could see on her name tag that her name was Elisa.
Cherise obviously thought nothing about it, smiled, and ran off to the kid section. I followed slowly after her. When I looked back to see where the lady was, she was gone, the cart and all.
"Hey Cherise� Do you know of a librarian named Elisa?" I asked her while we cleaned up the crafts station. Cherise laid the broom she was holding against a bookcase.
"No� but she's probably a new hire, they were requesting a few more people to work with the new openings."
I remember that. At the beginning of the summer, 5 of the librarians strangely quit working without a trace- their resumes on the manager's desk and their offices cleaned out. Ever since then, they've been looking for new librarians. Of course, you can't interview for a full-time job when you're a 9th grader.
I still was trying to figure out where Elisa had disappeared to and where those odd book codes where, but I was sure they were the same place. Maybe I was just trying to make something out of nothing.
I picked up a few scraps and bits of paper that had fallen on the floor and walked to throw them in the trash when I noticed through the bookshelves a small girl sitting towards the section where Cherise and I were before Elisa stopped us. She had long strawberry blonde hair that was almost a cream color and covered the ground around her. Her small white dress and boots made her look like she attended a boot camp, and clashed with her elegant face.
I looked over at Cherise, who had just finished putting up the last table and chairs. "Cherise! Follow me!" I called and began going towards the young girl. She quickly caught up to me.
As we reached the aisle that the girl had been on, I realized no one was here. Cherise looked over at me. "Can we go now?" She asked pessimistically with her hands on her hips.
"Don't you see that?" I questioned, pointing to the open book on the floor where the girl had been sitting. I slowly stepped over to it and picked it off the carpet. I turned to the cover since I was curious, only to find that the title was The Life and Times of the Kingdom.
"Hey, that's the book we were supposed to pick up!" Cherise remarked while she stepped to my right side to view the book better. I flipped back to the page that had been open and read the first paragraph on the page.
As of late, the last Queen and King have since passed on after a successful assassination attempt. Their daughter, Celeste Satara, is the only living successor and has been Queen for going on 4 years. Recent riots have tried to disrupt the peaceful era, but all have been brought down and proven unsuccessful under the new leadership.
Above it were three portraits- two were side by side, and looked older, like a husband and wife- the third was of a young adult, probably about 20, with long pitch-black hair that had a small silver crown on top of it. She was wearing a dress which started at her shoulders that was red with purple frill. Her face was dark, and the black lipstick and mascara didn't make it brighter. In the caption it read:
Charisma and Nathanial Satara at the top; Daughter Celeste Satara at the bottom
"I guess we should bring it to the front desk, since someone was requesting it." I said and promptly closed it.
"Yeah, I guess." I handed the book over to her, where she proceeded to flip through it as we walked to the front of the library. When we reached the desk, Mrs. Ryan was sorting through newly turned in books. Cherise laid the book on the counter which caught her attention.
"May I help you two?" She asked sweetly as she pushed her small glasses up on her nose.
"While we were picking up books, we missed this one." Cherise handed the book over and Mrs. Ryan grabbed the list and checked it.
"I'm sorry, but it seems the person who ordered this book has already checked it out. She must have come in already and finished it." Mrs. Ryan replied.
I glanced over to Cherise. "It must have been that girl I saw. She probably checked out the other book, too." I said in a hushed tone. I turned by attention back to Mrs. Ryan. "Thank you for the help."
By the time we went towards the back to get a soda from the drink machines, I noticed it was already time to leave, so we decided to stop by the diner in town and get drinks there. Cherise and I clocked out and headed towards the ice cream shop.
The gentle breeze ruffled my purple hair and my bow in the sudden cool air. I couldn't wait for fall to come around to get rid of this summer heat. A pair of birds flew overhead, providing just a second of shade. The sudden blasts of wind were a relief as we stepped closer and closer to the diner at the town square. Lucky for us, the library was relatively close to it.
Out town was small and quiet, with only about 15,000 people here. It was mostly a place for older people to retire at, as the down town district had pretty much anything you would ever need in walking distance. Some people here didn't have cars, since they're unnecessary when you live in such close quarters to everything. The local high school barely had 1,500 students on the campus at all times. Singer was just a regular blip on the map.
But still, I love it here. Cherise, my best friend since I was 8, and I lived just a short walking distance from the down town area, so we walked together to the library on days like these. Cherise is more of a quiet person who keeps to herself mostly. She's a nice person, but she does act rather cold towards people she isn't familiar with. When she was little, her father went into debt due to gambling so her mother left. Up until she was 8, Cherise moved around every few months with her mother. She finally found a stable job here, and finally settled down.
Cherise is mire if a modest person, and a girly-girl; she likes dressy clothes and her favorite color is pink. In the summer she keeps her light blue hair up in ponytails, but when the weather gets colder she puts her hair down.
I, on the other hand, don't care too much on appearances. Since it was one of those steaming hot summer days, I hadn't even bothered caring about what I put on that morning- I had just thrown on a red shirt and shoes and white skirt with short black socks, which were my favorite colors. My hair had my signature white bow in it, a gift from my dad a couple of years ago.
I lived alone with my dad, and like Cherise, my parents were divorced. We had been a perfect family, up until my 9th birthday. They started arguing whenever they could, but I knew one thing was for sure- my Mom had started it. My Dad was the more sensible, work-things-out person in the relationship, and tried his hardest to avoid a divorce for my sake. But, my Mom wouldn't stop. She wanted out of the family, and when the time came, the court gave my Dad full custody over me with a week of visiting during the holidays. Sometimes it seems like she doesn't even want to see me for that week, as she's always a day or so late.
But, I'm happy with my Dad and my quiet life in a quiet town.
Stepping through the door of the diner is always like walking into a time machine. Everything was decorated in a 70's fashion, from the tiles to even the outfits the waitresses wore. Old record albums hung from the ceiling and a modernized jukebox was on the wall opposite of the door.
Chris, the waiter that works about every other day, was behind the counter cleaning a spot on the counter. "What'll it be today, ladies? The usual?" He asked, looking up with a smirk as he set the empty glasses down.
"Yep!" I said as I started to shift through my purse for the correct change. "One cherry-limeade and pina colada* coming up!" He said as he grabbed two Styrofoam cups from under the counter and headed towards the drink machines. We went to the cash register, where I handed over three dollars to the lady. Chris came over and gave our drinks to Cherise as I put the extra change back in my purse. Once we had the straws in our drinks, we braced for the heat that awaited us outside.
On days like this after our shifts were over at the library, we usually hung out with other girls that go to our school or go to the small pond behind out houses. It was in a discrete place in the wooded section in our backyards, but it was too far back to really tell whose property it was on. Because of the water and shaded area, it was a great spot for reading a book or just hanging out during a hot day.
The trees back there are so tall and old, it's like you're entering another dimension. The sunlight streams in through the leaves on the branches in limited amounts, casting a magical appearance to the place, especially when it hits the clear water. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can see animals come to drink the water, like deer or rabbits.
But today there was a woman kneeling at the edge of the pond with her fingers by the side of it, rippling the water. I thought Cherise and I were the only ones who knew about this place. Yet the weirdest part about it wasn't that she was here- it was her appearance.
She had short cut blue hair that framed around her face and a blue jumpsuit that stopped half-way down her thigh, and on her back she had a pair of deep blue wings that almost hid her body from sight. At the same time we tried to take a few steps back, but one of us stepped on a branch, making the woman look up at us.
"Oh. I was wondering when you'd show up, or if I'd have to hunt you down in public." She said, her voice as icy as her dark blue eyes. "You'd think that when all the prison cells full that the princess would be happy, but no, she wants as many young soldiers as she can get." I noticed her right hand immediately- instead of fingernails, she had some sort of weird claws that were skin color and looked like they just extended from her fingers. She started to walk closer to us, but we just stepped back.
All of a sudden, she started running towards us, her arm raised like she was going to attack. I closed my eyes when she got a couple feet from in front of me, since that was about the only thing I could do. I was scared stiff, and only my eyelids remained responsive. And then, silence.
When I opened my eyes, I saw a girl standing in front of us holding a scythe, defending us from the woman. The girl had long black hair and just like the other girl, she had wings, except hers looked more like bat wings. She fought the woman off, though after a minute they were starting to get tired.
"So� the dead princess finally arises�" The woman said as she raised her hand and was about to attack. Suddenly, another girl with wings appeared behind her and wrapped her arms around the woman's arm.
"Come on, Trianna needs you back now!" She said, holding the woman back.
"But the princess-"
"She's really urgent, and I don't want you to make her made sis!" The younger girl responded to the woman who was apparently her sister.
"Fine!" She snapped and shook her sister off of her arm. "Next time you won't be so fortunate, princess."
And then they were gone.
I had seen the girl in front of us some where� but I couldn't figure out where. I just kept gazing at her trying to figure out where I knew her from while we sat on a rock and what all the stuff she was telling us meant. So far I understood none of it. I didn't understand all the talk about monsters and princesses and rebelions. When Celeste, as she had told us that was her name, was done explaining, there was a definite silence for a couple of minutes.
"So� there are demons in the world, and monsters?" Cherise asked, breaking the ice that had set.
"Yes." The girl who I could now see was a young woman replied. "I'm a demon, and so where the two girls you just saw."
"But they called you princess, didn't they?" I remembered.
"That's because I'm the Queen of all demons- well, I used to be, until a couple of days ago, when a girl named Trianna started a siege on my castle. Now I'm stuck in the human world�" Her voice trailed off as she looked into the distance. "My servant Joshua should be looking for me, though."
"You're the girl from the book at the library then!" Cherise pointed out. Now the fact that is was in the nonfiction section made more sense.
"Yes�" She stared off again before looking back at the lake. Suddenly, her eyes lit up and turn her head back to us. "Is Rosemarie Academy nearby?" She questioned.
Cherise and I exchanged glances. "We've never heard of that school." I said.
"Oh, of course you haven't. Most humans don't know about the schools for special kids. The Academy should be close to here, though�" Celeste said, standing up to look around.
I stood up beside her. "What do you mean by 'special kids'?" I asked.
Celeste turned back to look at me. "The person who attacked you was a special type of demon- a succubus. She was sent here to capture you two. For some reason, Trianna wants to make a child army�" She had her hand on her chin and started to pace around.
"But what do you mean by 'special kids'? We're not special! We live in a small town that nobody knows about! How are we special?" Cherise asked, standing up beside me, persistent as always.
Celeste had a strained face, as if she was trying to figure out how to say it. "Well� There aren't just monsters and demons in the world. Sometimes humans are born with special 'gifts' and have certain abilities that normal humans don't have. They're usually classified under different names- vampires, succubi, and so on. You too are most likely witches, which are more common, but can be more powerful near an energy source. Why do you think you're the only two who know about this pond?"
I just stared at her, blinking my eyes. "�Because it's so far out of the way?" I guessed.
"Normal humans can't see it. Have you ever seen the bottom of the pond?" She asked, folding her arms.
Now that I thought about, we never had. The pond was about the size of a school building and was as clear as tap water, but we knew it was too deep to try swimming towards the middle of it, so we had never attempted it. I shook my head.
"There's a crystal at the bottom of the pond, and I can bet you there are more ponds around here that have crystals in them as well." She said, pointing to the center of it. "When witches are exposed to crystals for long amounts of time, they become more powerful. It's no question why Trianna wanted the areas around the ponds searched. Of course, now there's only one place where you'll be safe." Celeste looked down and shook her head. "It won't be easy getting in, especially since I can't help much�"
"Where is it? Why will it be hard getting there?" Cherise questioned.
"Getting there is the easy part- it's probably just a few miles away from here. Getting in will be the hard part without my help. See, normal humans can't see me. I'm dead." She started to fiddle her fingers nervously as she met our gaze.
She looked alive, though. I mean, she wasn't transparent or anything, like you'd expect a ghost to look like. She looked solid. Her long black hair interwove with itself with the light breezes and her skirt would flow with the wind. She almost appeared human, besides the wings, tail and pointed ears.
Celeste could see our obvious confusion, and decided to clear it up a bit. "Demons are the closest you can get to being truly immortal. They can only be killed when their bodies are chopped into pieces and burnt. Sometimes when a demon slips into unconsciousness when attacked, they're unable to return to their bodies, which is what happened to me� But if we find Joshua, then he should have my body!" She said a little more optimistically. "But first, we have to get you two enrolled!" She put her hands on our shoulders and turned us around and then pushed us as we walked away from the pond.
Just like this morning, we went through the doors to the library. I didn't really know where she was taking us, but I was sure this academy place wasn't in the library.
"Okay, go up the staircase to the second floor." Celeste whispered in my ear. We followed her instructions and went up to the second floor. Cherise and I had been up here on many occasions- this is where the library had special events, like a movie night or anything else when they needed a big area that you could talk in a normal voice in.
"Now look on the bottom of the light switch right beside you." She said, pointing to it.
For some reason, there was a number on the bottom of the light switch that I've never seen before. "It says� 5768."
"Good, now we go back downstairs!" Celeste said. By the time I looked back at her, she was already half-way to the staircase. I just sighed and followed her lead blindly.
Celeste was quiet for a couple of minutes, so we just assumed it would be best to follow her now and ask questions later. She was skipping around for some reason, and would stop to look at things every so often, as if she'd never been inside a library before. I could see though that she was headed towards the nonfiction section where the young girl had been sitting.
"It's right around here somewhere�" She muttered to herself as she looked around the rows of books. "Aha! Here it is!" And just like that, Celeste was off again.
Cherise was lagging behind, and Celeste was running off and almost out of eyesight. I decided to just let Cherise catch up on her own, since I doubted Celeste would stop to see if we were behind her. But, I didn't have far to walk- she was stopped in front of a door in the very corner of the library that I'd never seen before. As I walked up to her side, I noticed that there was some type of keypad on it. She entered in the 4 digits and the door creaked open. By that time Cherise was right behind me. We entered cautiously.
The room was rather tiny; almost the size of a janitor's closest. The only thing in it was a petite table that sat in the middle of it. On the back of the table standing up was a sign that read: CONGRATS ON MAKING IT THIS FAR! THAT SHOWS YOU MIGHT HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO ENROLL INTO ROSEMARIE ACADEMY! WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU THIS SCHOOL YEAR!
Beside the sign were a few pamphlets that had a picture of a school that said Rosemarie Academy- The Best of the East. Celeste stepped forward, picked two up, and handed them to us.
"You'll only be safe here. Go home, pack up, tell your parents if you must, and then go to where it says at the right time." She said. "School begins in a couple of days, so you'd better get ready."