Chapter 4 – Alpha (1)

Alpha – Part 1

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     I wake up with a start. The sound of dinnerware being placed on the counter queues me in to someone else being here. But my mind is racing, despite the fog of sleep still be present, or perhaps, because of it. This waking world grants me no solace from my past. “Apologies, I did not mean to awaken you, my Lord Knight,” a girl directs towards me. Even now, I can’t work up the energy to respond to her. Memories brought forth from my nightmare, threaten to consume me. I spent years suffering from what happened to Rachel. The girl picks up a bowl from her tray, and approaches me.

     “This should help you regain your strength quickly,” she says while placing the bowl in my lap, on my legs.

     “Oh, I can feel my legs again,” I say while wiggling my toes out from under the blanket.

     She replies, “Of course, it was a temporary measure to get you under control. Lord Knight or no, you’re stubborn.”

     “Eve.” I reply while looking down at the porridge. I guess it’s some kind of porridge anyways.

     “What?” this girl looks at me with a bewildered look.

     “My name. Well, technically my nickname. I’m Evangeline, but basically, everyone calls me ‘Eve,’ and I’d rather you do the same than call me something strange.”

     “Absolutely not,” she says in a hurry, nearly dropping the glass of some sweet smelling liquid she was offering me. “You are the Grand Lord, Zeroth Knight. To have someone such as I call you so, that’s unheard of.”

     I push the bowl off my lap and onto a stable part of the bed and say, “Uh… right. Well, that title is pretentious as all hell and I’m not touching my food until you call me something more normal.”

     Her eyes flash quickly and I hastily add, “Fine paralyze me, what’s that going to accomplish? I won’t be able to eat if you paralyze too much and I’m not eating on my own unless you do this for me.” I further my point by sliding the bowl a little further from me. She looks at me with a look of utter confusion, as if I just grew a second head.

     “Is it so bad to want something normal in this abnormal situation?” I ask while looking up into her emerald eyes. For the first time, I notice her hair. The bangs are long and wrap around her face to her chin. Progressively her hair gets shorter the further to the back it goes until it all meets in a bun; which is tucked up under a half-hat wrap. More startling is her hair color, unearthly and yellow – not blonde, yellow. “Evangeline-sama,” is all she says while she picks the bowl up and places it back on my lap and adding, “Please eat and recover quickly. The country is on edge without you at your best.”

     I’m aggravated, but I figure that’s the compromise I’ll have to make for the time being, and besides I was hungry as all hell and this food did smell good. I tentatively take a sip and boy, it didn’t just smell good, it tasted wonderful.

     As I place the spoon into the empty bowl I notice her staring at me and blush. “I’m not always such a pig,” I say just before taking a sip of this sweet smelling liquid. I noticed her holding back an obvious chuckle but I couldn’t see a hint of disgust on her face.

     This liquid is as sweet as it smells-  oozing down my throat and tasting divine. After buying myself a moment with the drink I clear my throat before adding, “So, my dedicated doctor, what’s your name?”

     She suddenly finds the space on the wall behind me fascinating as the gears in her head turn. “Ninavin Von Vvesson. Whoever is left just call me Nina.” Her gaze drifts to me almost expectantly with a slight sign of what I can only determine to be… reluctance? Fear?

     “Nina it is. Once again, I’m Evangeline.” I extend my hand to her and she simply stares at it. Odd. You’d think shaking hands would be fairly universal but I suppose not. Honestly even that was going out of favor by the populace of my age; too much potential risk I suppose. As if an idea popped into her head she sucked in a breath. But before she could take action there’s a knock at the door.

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     She shakes her head and stands up to make towards the door with a sway in her hips. Nina opens the door and there’s a brief pause before she lets whoever is therein. In walks an absolutely stunning – can I use that word?- stunning woman. She’d blow most models out of the water. She waltzes in with an entourage of three men and another woman behind her. This main woman stops in front of me and all four behind her, stop perfectly in sync.

     She’s tall for a woman, easily six foot. She peers down at me with eyes so blue as to almost be clear. She’s imposing, terribly so. No one alive could deny this woman has had a lifetime of commanding. She’s used to making others bend the knee. She’s clad in a red outfit with some kind of silver chest piece, silver gauntlets, and shiny, silver greaves.

     A knight; an honest to god knight if there’s ever been one. Embroiled in the chest plate is a dragon with what appears to be the world in its hands. “I am Commander Rodiger. Charlotte Rodiger.” She says while offering some kind of a salute I’ve never seen before, consisting of some kind of arm crossed horizontally over her chest movement. In doing so her hair falls over her shoulders. I find it odd to have such long hair just loosely hanging there while in battle garb. You’d think it would get in the way. I can’t help but notice that her hair is a beautiful emerald green, light enough to be harder to notice in the dark but you know it would shine in the light.

     “Evangeline Sayagawa,” I announced my name. I run my eyes up her and only manage to move them about halfway downwards before I realized that I have been staring for far too long and am entering the realm of creepiness. I force my eyes upwards and meet hers, noticing her watching me with an eyebrow raised. Before either of us can say anything, a voice slices through us.

     “What can we do for you Commander Rodiger?” Nina asks with some ice to her voice and adds, “If you don’t recall the Lord Zeroth Knight is resting after suffering the Transcendence and needs more rest. She shouldn’t even be out of bed right now.” She says with some restrained annoyance as she glances at me. “So please make it quick.”

     Miss Rodiger turns a deathly stare of daggers at Nina and spits out, “You allow your maids to talk to her betters so?” She furrows her brow and continues as a sign of recognition passes over her, “Ah, Ninavin. Of course you’d be here. Even you have some use.” She turns back to me and my frown. I don’t like the arrogance this woman exudes, and she’s pissing me off.

     “What do you want Charlotte?” I notice the eyes of every person in the rooms go wide besides the person in question.

     “Clever girl. Call someone in a position of power by their first name to show a lack of respect and thereby placing yourself in the dominant position,” she says cooly with a sardonic smile on her lips, “But I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage my Lord Zeroth Knight.” She continues arrogantly, “Were I to do the same, my own men here would be honor-bound to slay me where I stand. After all, I am nothing within the light of the Zeroth.” With that addition, it’s my turn to go wide-eyed. My jaw drops and before I can pick it off the floor Charlotte continues, “But I’ll take peace in the mission I’ve been placed in charge of.”

     I notice her hand slacks over the hilt of her sword and my pulse begins to drum loudly in my ears. “What mission?” Nina asks.

     Without looking at Nina, Charlotte continues to stare at me and answers the question. “Grand Lord, Zeroth Knight is hereby summoned to the arena to face First Knight, Fennis Haslothun in battle over a dispute of honor.” No sooner had she completed her sentence than Nina was standing between the two of us. With her back towards me, I couldn’t see her face, but I could guess the look on it. She seemed like such a loving girl who would despise violence and pain.

     I imagine a look of panic on her face as she near-screams, “No! Absolutely not! The Lord Knight is in no position to fight anyone. She’s only just came to and had her first meal. Look at her.” She gestures behind her to me, “She’s barely standing.”

     Charlotte’s mouth twists in a cruel smile of delight. She wasn’t kidding about being happy about my situation. You can practically see her cooing over how horrible I must look.

     But let’s back up for a moment. “Did you just say you intend to have me fight in an arena?” I could hear the panic in my own voice as it rises an octave.. But I push on as I moved to Nina’s side. “Like some kind of old fantasy? Are you kidding me right now? And as Nina said, I’m about to fall over just talking to you. I’m in no shape to -”

     “Nina?” Disgust drips with Charlotte’s words.

     She turns her head with a jerk and glares at Nina. “The Lord Zeroth Knight addresses you so?”

     Thwack. A sound I’m not familiar with hits me before my brain registers what just happened. Nina is practically on the floor before my body is able to move. “What the f*** was that for?” I shout.

     I storm up to Charlotte with my fist clenched. I can’t believe I just saw someone hit someone else. What the hell is this s***? “How dare you?!” As I bring my fist up I feel Nina’s hand pulling it down.

     “My Commander,” she says while standing and steadying herself. “My patient is in no condition to fight anyone, let alone the First Knight himself. I’m sorry but you’ll have to relay to your masters that such a thing is impossible currently.” I notice it just in time this time to catch Nina as she falls over from Charlotte’s backhand.

     “You need to train your bitches better Zero. Well, for however long you remain the Zeroth.”

     She signals to her guards with a nod and they start making their way to me. Once one is on either side of me with my arms in a tight hold Charlotte continues, “This is a direct order from the Master. You have no say- either of you. We shall continue to the arena presently.”

     I stumble forward as the two men on either side of me practically drag me out of the room, despite Nina’s complaints. The walk across the wooden floor is more taxing than I would have imagined. I couldn’t notice as well as before, but my muscles have definitely weakened from so much bed rest. This can’t end well. As to why I’m calmly analyzing this? I don’t know. I don’t know anything right now. I’m drug outside to the bright sunlight. I have to squint from the pain it causes me. I can’t help but give in to the urge to shut my eyes, and look down.

     I can only imagine how this must look to those we silently pass. No one speaks but I can imagine. This… “Zeroth Knight” seems important to these people. And here I am being escorted – dragged really, through the cobblestone streets with my head hung low in apparent guilt. When I realize this, I force my head high. I’ve been a lot of things in life, but never a disappointment. Well… that’s how I’ve tried to live at any rate… Rachel would probably disagree with me. That’s what matters most to me.

     Perhaps that’s an influence from Grandpa, to feel such guilt over things deemed not to be my fault. Because I know, deep inside, that it was my fault. That day could have gone so many directions, and I made all the wrong choices.

     I scan the guards holding me. They’re nondescript looking if I’m going to be honest. One with a “real world” color of red and the other with auburn hair with peppered gray despite his apparent young age. They’re dressed in some kind of leather skin jerkins with a long sword at their sides. The woman and other man are behind me and I can’t see them, so I let my eyes wander to the surroundings.

     There’s a lot of people, with it seemingly being some time at midday. Most of them are in various kinds of old-world clothing such as… tunics? I think they’re called. Their hair tends to be normal in shade. We pass what appears to be an inn with a sign hanging over it that I can’t read. I catch a glimpse inside and see a rowdy group of men and women having a good time; lucky them.

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