Chapter 17 – Fall What May (2)

Fall What May – Part 2

      The sound of the tome closing reverberates throughout the musty room- signaling the end of a tale, the likes of which I could not have ever imagined. My mind races at a standstill- unable to properly do anything outside of the basic functions to maintain some semblance of life. I feel cold on the inside and yet I burn from fury. What I’ve just read seems absurd, yet it makes sense that it’s something to be kept away from most people. More to the point, this author postulates that Nina is over sixty years old- and this book looks incredibly old itself. What does that make Nina? Then again, she supposedly experimented on herself to gain the power to help protect Arsea. What’s more, she’s obviously had a hand in the… connection the Valkyries share with the Zeroth; but that was long ago, how could that still apply even now?

      With more questions than I had before, I simply lean back in the chair and allow my arms to dangle to my side helplessly. My mind is too exhausted to deal with all of this; I just want to go home. This isn’t my world and these events are outside the scope of what I can handle- should be forced to handle. I simply rest my head on the chair and close my eyes.

      I don’t know how long passed before someone entering the room wakes me from an apparent slumber. I arch my aching neck downward and look to see Kyle showing uncharacteristic hesitation in approaching further into the room.

      “Kyle, it’s fine you can-” I stop and my eyes widen. “-Bartholum…” I whisper.

      Kyle slides his pretty fingers down the spine of the tome and speaks without looking at me, “Ah, that. Noticed, did you?” he gives a sad, small laugh. “My many times over, great-grandfather,” he says, finally raising his eyes to meet mine.

      “That’s…” I let my words hang in the air, but then start over, “How could Nina possibly be so old?” I ask.

      Kyle’s eyebrows raise in surprise, “Nina?” he asks.

      “She was alive for the wars, all of them.”

       He jerks his hand away from the tome as if burned.

      “Wars? I’ve always wondered what he wrote about.”

      “What? Of course that’s what it says. Did you not pay attention at all?” I chide him.

      “Were that I could read it, my Dear,” Kyle replies in his curt way.

      “What do you mean? How can you be the keeper of this thing and not have read it?”

      “Easily enough,” Kyle says while waving his hand over the book and continuing, “To my knowledge, you may be the first to ever successfully read the whole tome.”

      My breath escapes me like I suffered a gut-punch. “What does that mean?”

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      “The magiks on this tome are ancient- sealed by The One King himself some say.” He informs me with such nonchalance, as if I’m the one acting irrationally.

      “That’s absurd. Are you saying this book has been censored for all this time? But the things it talks about! This could literally redefine your entire world’s view! The wars alone-” Kyle cuts me off with a tone much colder than any before.

      “I’ll hear not of it. Perchance that was why it was sealed Eve. Or perhaps not, ‘tis not for me to say. I am the purveyor of the records, not the writer, nor the audience.”

      I’m completely blown away by his dismissing attitude. Does he not realize what this is? The history of his world, locked away from him and everyone else. But Kyle is clearly not going to listen to me, so I ask the most pressing of matters that I think he would actually reply to. “Your ancestor wrote this when he was in his sixties. How long ago was that exactly?”

      Kyle studies my face for a moment before seemingly doing some math as noted by his occasional use of fingers. “By my measure, perhaps three hundred four years ago, give or take a couple decades. The birth records from such a long time ago are difficult to validate.”

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      His words are palpable, physical. I stand up so fast that the chair flies behind me, smashing into the wall. I can only imagine what I look like to Kyle, but my mind is in turmoil.

      Nina is how old? This is complete nonsense. “Excuse me. I have other appointments to attend to.” I tell Kyle while rushing out of the room. I don’t even bother to wait for his reaction- I merely escape as quickly as I can. The final chime of the school echoes throughout the hallways and before I know it I’m at the training center.

      When I move inside I see that I’m alone, good. That’s exactly what I wanted. I grab a practice sword off the rack and start going through the forms Charlie taught me. I quickly lose track of time and before I know it someone is reaching out and grabbing my sword. This startles me so much that I release the sword but the hand doesn’t even budge.“I think that’s enough for today Zero.”

      Charlie’s husky voice echoes through my skull. Panting heavily, I turn to her beautiful blue eyes. “Charlie, did you just arrive?” I ask meekly.

      “Fool. I’ve been here for two hours, Zero.” I gasp in disbelief. “But as I said, it is now time for this to end. It is clear as day that something weighs on you but everyone has their limit. Likewise, if you do not meet the others soon, they’ll riot; and you’ll do worse meeting them in this state.”

      I lower my head in embarrassment. “Sorry for troubling you Charlotte.” She gives me a dubious look and small nod.

      “I won’t ask what troubles you, my Lord, but…” she falters for a moment before continuing with a gentle look in her eyes, “But please feel free to accost me with any woes, were it to suit you.”

      I give a wry smile and go to hug her but stop, giving it a second thought. I’m sweaty as all hell right now. But Charlie sees my hesitation and pulls me into her own hug. I try to give a gentle shove but she refuses to budge. I don’t know if she knows why I was reticent, but she hugs me tight regardless. I drink deep her scent and rest my head on her chest. When I make no move to pull away, Charlie simply holds me for a while. After a few minutes, she reluctantly lets me go and backs away.

      “Charlie, if I went away, would you miss me?”

      This seems to catch her off guard because she stammers for a moment before telling me that she obviously would. I shake my head, “Not because I’m the Zeroth, but because I’m me.” Charlie stares at me long and hard before opening her mouth to speak, but then seems to think better of it and closes her mouth.

      She scans the room for a moment then locks eyes with me and asks, “May I impose?”

      I give her a confused nod and before I know what’s happening, she’s sliding her hand under my chin, and lifting my head up, matching her lips to my own. The feeling is divine and I stand on my tiptoes to put more force into the kiss. In all too short of time, she breaks it.

      When I open my eyes, I see her cheeks colored with a small red. Charlie clears her throat and straightens her back before saying, “I am under no obligation to do what I just did Zero; nor am I one who is adept at understanding, or explaining emotions. I have been raised since the day I was born to be a warrior- for I would one day take over my father’s post,” she says matter-of-factly before shifting weight onto her other leg and continuing, “So I’d rather just be honest and tell you, that I don’t know what it is you’re wanting, or otherwise hoping I’ll say because ultimately, I don’t know what to say- the words do not come to me. But that was my first kiss Zero and I gave it to you, despite your situation with the others, and despite my position of Commander. I do hope it gets across whatever it is that you seek.”

      I can’t help but laugh at this- and a long, deep laugh at that. Charlie stares on at me with a wry smile writ across her face. Before long, I’m trying to catch my breath and wiping the tears from my eyes while I attempt to get myself under control. I meet Charlie’s gaze and tell her just how much I needed that.

      She has no idea just how much she’s helped me; and since words are not her forte, I reach up and yank her down to meet her lips with mine. It takes a moment for her to return the sentiment, probably from confusion. But before long she’s kissing me deeply. She’s so gentle and inexperience that it ignites something inside of me and to her protest, I slide my tongue into her mouth.

      From an outside perception, I’m sure this looks ridiculous. She towers over me and could easily force me to do whatever it is she wanted; but instead, her knees buckle and she’s able to give only the weakest of protests while trying to push me away. My body starts to heat up and I force myself to break our connection.

      Charlie is panting hard with lips covered in a sheen of our deed, and eyes glazed over in apparent lust.

      “W-what was that for?”

      I shrug and tell her, “Perhaps words aren’t my forte either. Hopefully, that elicits just how thankful I am to have you in my life.” Her face tightens and I continue, “Charlie,” only to be met with her face relaxing some as she gives me a small chiding for calling her that.

      Before long, she ushers me out of the room and tells me that I can’t dally any later, the others will be waiting. It’s only with my insistence that she escorts me to the station, that I comply. Usually, Charlie would be the first to perform such a duty, but she’s very obviously wanting to be alone with her thoughts right now. I decide that teasing her like this wasn’t so bad once in awhile. Perhaps I spoke too soon, however.

      When we arrive at the station the girls are quite obviously pissed. “Decided to keep the Zeroth to yourself for the day Charlotte?” Rose asks with apparent displeasure. Charlie doesn’t even try to fight back, taking the blame instead. When I go to open my mouth, Charlie is quicker.

      “Quite. You’ll have to forgive me. We were just so involved that the time passed by. Mayhap you’ll forgive our Lord for his tardiness yes?” Charlie says with words dripping of insinuation and sarcasm.

      Kay takes a step right up to Charlie in the blink of an eye and stares up at her. “Yes?” is all Charlie says in response. I can’t imagine having the courage that she does. Kay is always giving off a subtle aura of murder, but with the look she’s giving Charlie, “murder” is at the forefront, hardly subtle, and possibly all too real.

      Before I can say anything Charlie once again speaks up, “Are you upset, my dear Kay? You, who skulks off during your dinners with Zero- and even during the slumber of nights?”

      Charlie’s voice is cold and provoking. But what she’s said seems to make Kay falter for a moment because she takes a step back. But as she takes another step forward, Mimi is found to be between them.

      She speaks out uncharacteristically, “Yes yes, you can measure genitals later alright? But the train is departing soon, and you both make such good points.”

      I’m completely floored by what I just heard, and it seems I’m not the only one. “Such language!” Rose says with a scoff. This seems to relax Charlie because she lets out a laugh. In turn, Kay backs away from her, expressionless as ever. I’ll have to thank Mimi for this later. She may have saved the streets from being filled with a battle none of us are prepared for. Mimi turns to me

      “You’re here and in good shape Zero, yes? Then all is well.” She says before turning to Rose and Mimi, “Zero is allowed time with her… friends,” her tone is just as insinuating as Charlie’s words before. She turns to Charlie and thanks her for her deeds. The train lets out a blow of its horn signaling its imminent departure. A bird flies overhead and I move to give Charlie a hug.

      When I turn to the others, they’re already at the train, discussing something in heated, but low voices. When I arrive Rose gives me her hand and helps me onto the train cart as Kay pushes her way off the train and onto the road.

      “Kay what are you-?” I ask but the train starts moving. In a panic, I grab the side of the train and watch as Kay disappears behind some buildings. Charlie is following her with her eyes, but seems to sense me and turns around to give me a goodbye wave. I weakly return her wave and am pulled further inside by Rose and Mimi.

      “Guys, what the hell?” I ask only to be met with a shrug from Mimi and Rose giving me some kind of “Hmm?” sound. In a huff, I don’t take my usual window seat but instead, I take another seat away from both of them. This seems to put them off, but they ultimately let me pout alone. I hate this so much- so many secrets around me.

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