Chapter 19 – Criss-Cross (1)

Criss-Cross – Part 1

      I roll over as I wake up and shake my head while trying to stand up. One thought dominates my mind- I must get to Nina. I don’t know how long I’ve been out, but this is bad! I push myself to stand and shake the confusion from my mind.

      Adrenaline pumps through me, forcing my legs to go faster. I snake my way through the corridors until I arrive at Nina’s lab. I don’t hear any kind of racket. Please don’t let me be too late, I pray as I shove the doors open.

      The lab looks… normal. Every direction I look tells me of its day, with none involving Kay. Just as the adrenaline starts to fade I feel the ground below me shift with a quake. The energy is tangible and singes my tongue. My eyes dart above- the roof. I’ve never been, but I have to hurry.

      The hallways are dark and the shadows seem to lap at my form while I sift through them. I can almost make them out to be laughing at me- I try to clear my mind of the primal fear that pulses through me.

      I shove the door in front of me just in time to witness Kay being dodged. Her attack seemed to miss, yet Nina falls to her knees coughing up a crimson, as illuminated by the moon. Kay twists as she lands and makes another dash towards Nina. Nina looks up with a ferocity that makes my blood run cold.

      A glimmer from Kay’s sleeve catches my eye just as it makes its way to Nina; but Nina rolls toward the side and recovers just in time to shift the wind on the rooftop. A sudden gale of wind rushes at Kay from the side blowing her backward. As Kay recovers, the wind around her explodes into an ensuing inferno of flames. The wisps of the fire lick at Kay’s skin, burning through her. I push myself to dive through the flames, tackling Kay into safety and replacing myself within inferno prison.

      The air immediately escapes my lungs and tears itself free; boiling when it reaches the world outside, shifting itself into a mirage of itself as it dances into the cacophony of its ilk- with disastrous contempt.

      My mind boils, but I perceive the bird with its cruel eyes and smug look. It’s the reason I’m here, about to die for a killer- murdered by a friend’s hand. Nina will feel despair when she finds my corpse.

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      The raven lets out a squawk-like laugh and my mind snaps. I want to kill that f****** bird- so I will. My skin runs cold as my anger consumes me. The hate I feel is all consuming. I don’t know what’s come over me, but I know I will kill that god damn bird for what it’s done.

      I reach my arm out through the flames, Nina’s scream echoing around me. Kay stares in shock as I grasp my hand into itself. The bird squawks and flails as foam seeps out of its beak. Feathers dance around us, stripping the bird naked and mixing with the all-consuming inferno that imprisons me.

      In a rush of my anger, the bird goes still and then, it freezes over. The area around us goes cold and all energy is absorbed out of not only myself, but the inferno around me. Before I know it, I’m on the ground gasping for air. I look up to see an exhausted Rose standing on the rooftop. She’s panting heavily with sweat dripping off of her face. Her arm is tucked over Mimi’s shoulders.

      The size difference would comical in any other situation if it weren’t for the fact that my body feels as if it’s shutting down. Kay doesn’t appear to be in any better shape, but Nina hardly seems affected. With ragged breath, Rose screams at us. “What the hell is going on here?” Her words are harsh but pained.

      Before I can speak, my body instantly starts to warm again. I’m sure of it, Rose must be the Vargar of ice. Kay is instantly on her feet and runs towards the bird- or what remains of it. She picks it up and in a flurry of madness she bashes its ice shell against the floor over and over.

      She wildly smashes it harder and harder until the roof starts to crack. Mimi has to stop her from doing any more damage; but when Mimi tries to recover the bird, Kay screams in a fit and shakes her head over and over while cradling the bird to her chest.

      Tears run unabated from Kay’s brown eyes. The moon is cruel, for even in this state, it makes lite of Kay’s predicament- casting a beauty within her form. The anger in me is gone- replaced with a wonder. She’s mad, within a breakdown of rage and despair, yet the raw emotion she admits is unlike what I have ever seen from her.

      I crawl over to Kay and pull her, forcibly, into my arms. She screams and struggles in my arm causing me physical pain but I dare not loosen my grip. I look up at Nina as she makes to stand. Her usual countenance is replaced with the same serious look I found her with tonight.

      “She can cry all she wants, but she still tried to kill me. Even a Valkyrie won’t get away with this.”

      Shock overtakes me even as Kay goes limp in my arms. “Is that what happened here?” Rose asks.

      “Rose… you should be resting.” I try to protest to her but she waves me off.

      “You stupid children won’t let me,” she admonishes us.

      “Please, Nina, don’t report this to anyone.”

      I plead, but Nina simply stares at me in frustration. She grinds her bottom lip between her teeth to conceal her anger.

      “And why not?!” Her anger oozes out of her.

      “Please…” I beg with all the sincerity I can. Nina let out a breath and her shoulders sag.

      “I swear to the King… Evangeline, don’t make me regret this,” she tosses at me before storming off the roof.

      I push Kay away from me to study her. But her eyes are glazed over in an out-of-focused stare at the bird. Its icy tomb is impeccably smooth and no longer even cold to the touch. I try to call for her but she won’t recognize me. I’m forced to pick up Kay while she rocks back and forth with the bird in her arms.

      “I’m sorry Rose, I wish I could help you back downstairs…” She shrugs and leans more weight onto Mimi. Mimi grimaces but otherwise doesn’t seem to mind. Together we make our way downstairs.

      Rose is asleep the second we make it to a nurses bed. But it takes longer for me to put Kay to bed. She refuses to let go of the bird. So before long, I’m forced to wrap her up with it in tow. An hour or more passes before her eyes close and the rhythm of her breath changes. I sneak out of the nurses’ office only to find Mimi sitting in a chair, legs tucked under her, reading.

      She looks up at me and with a toothy grin, gives me a wave. “Hell of a day huh?” She pokes at me as I take a seat next to her.

      I give her a small smile before asking what she’s doing up. She merely holds up her book that reads, On Truths. After making sure my eyes flick across the book’s title, Mimi speaks up, “It’s a book debunking a lot of myths. For instance-” she sets the book down away from us and then snuggles up to me before continuing, “There aren’t only the four basic elements. Apparently, there’s lost magiks still known to some, including the Outlanders.”

      I wrap my arm around Mimi’s shoulders and let her go on and on about her book. A lot of what she talks about is incredibly interesting, if known to me from the book about Nina, yet before I know it, I’ve drifted off asleep.

      The chirping of morning birds stirs me awake. My body is sore from falling asleep in a chair. I look around and see that my awakening is a lonesome one. I stretch as I get up and let out a yawn. I blush quickly at my brazen show but there’s no one around to judge me. I open up the door to the rooms silently and peek in. I notice immediately, that Kay was the only occupant of a bed. I move over to her as quietly as I can as to not wake her. She seems to be sleeping peacefully, still holding on to what is now basically a bird encased in an amber of ice.

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      I gently lay my hand on her head. It’s coarse and in need of a washing. Yet it’s warm and brings to mind the images I have of Kay playing with Vol. I wish I could help her. But for now, that seems outside of my reach. After gently petting her, I make my way out of the room in search of the others. I decide the cafeteria is a safe bet; and sure enough, I find several people there.

      Mimi is at a table, in deep conversation with Rose across from her. Gableal stands at the door as I enter. He gives me a nod of recognition but says nothing more.

      “What brings you here Gabe?”

      A small grimace crosses his lips as he brings a massive hand to his neck. “As it looks your Lordship. You people keep getting into trouble. I’m just making sure you can fill yourselves up with a hearty breakfast in peace in.”

      I can’t help but think Gabe here is less honest than that. He’s just out of earshot of the low hum of conversation but just close enough to listen in if voices are raised. I give him a nod and my thanks.

      My boots echo around the cafeteria as I make my way to the table. Rose gives me a smile and Mimi, a tiny wave. I approach Rose’s side of the table before stopping with my hand on my hips. She looks up at me with a rare show of bashfulness.

      “Good morning my Lord,” she says without meeting my eyes. I run my fingers over her cheek and up to her forehead. She isn’t running hot at least.

      “I-I’m fine Zero,” she says reluctantly while gently pulling my hand down.

      She keeps hold of my hand and brings it to her lips, gently pecking it several times before letting it go. That was… “Cute…” Mimi says across from us. But I have to agree. Uncharacteristically cute even. Rose drops her head with a blush. Her beautiful white hair is frazzled but still tight in its ponytail.

      I reach down and pick it up. I wrap it around me as I take the seat next to her. Her expression seems confused and hard to settle. “So.” I say while running my hand over her hair. “Care to enlighten me about yesterday? Perhaps even today.”

      Her and Mimi trade a knowing look. “Which part, my Lord?” Mimi asks for Rose. I keep my eyes on Rose and reply, “From the top.”

      “I did my duty in keeping you safe,” she says.

      “And I appreciate it, but how? And what is going on with Kay? Neither of you seemed very surprised,” I inquire the table. They both stay silent so I continue, “Both of you knew what it is she was doing didn’t you?” Rose weakly shakes her head.

      “I’m still not sure of the specifics as you seem to be…” she says.

      “Though we’ve always known it was probably something she shouldn’t be doing…” Mimi follows up.

      The bell for breakfast chimes and people start to flood in. I can never just have time to talk to people can I? I reluctantly push Rose back into her seat when she tries to stand up.

      I get everyone’s food and bring it to the tables.

      “Such servitude is unbecoming of your status my Lord,” Gabe says as he takes a seat across from me, a seat empty between him and Mimi. “That so?” I ask.

      He gives a nod, his voice reverberates throughout the area as he explains how privileged the others should feel to have me do anything for them. He discusses the formal way I should behave and how the others show “know their places.”

      Being unable to listen to his vitriol any longer, I excuse myself from the table. I decide now’s as good as ever to look for Nina.

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