Davi flipped the page of her fashion magazine disinterestedly, eyes
narrowed in annoyance. It had been nearly half an hour since she'd awoken
in the infirmary, after which she had changed into a pair of oversized,
striped pajamas with pants that were too long and only allowed her toes to
peek out, and a short-sleeved, button up shirt. Her old clothes were
destroyed, blood-soaked. A nurse, insisting her temperature needed to be
taken, had shoved a thermometer down her throat, only adding to her
The door to the wide, open room swung out, revealing a tall, slim, blond
boy and a slightly shorter redhead, who nearly trotted in as if he was on
his way to something much more pleasant.
A doctor that Thomas seemed to be well acquainted with met them at the door
and uneasily admitted them, unnerved by the dreamy, vacant expression Red
had once more taken on. Even when spoken to it did not falter, his voice
Davi had been waiting for them. Seated on the edge of the cot, thermometer
tucked under her tongue, she looked up from her magazine at their
appearance, grimaced, shut the booklet, and grumbled incomprehensibly while
trying not to let her lips part.
Red glided over to the cot across from her and sat down, slumping over and
treating her with that same blank, almost doll-like smile he had given her
when she'd come to his dorm.
Thomas and the doctor came over together, both looking rather stern and
professional, as though Thomas had some sort of control of the situation
and the doctor had a cure. While the pale student began to voice Red's
apologies to Davi, the doctor took the thermometer from her mouth and
observed the temperature it presented.
Thus free to speak, Davi interrupted Thomas' elaborate speech and snapped,
"If he's so sorry, why doesn't he tell me himself?!" Her voice was hoarse,
throat still raw from coughing up a little blood. She'd never forget the
sickening taste of the coppery fluid.
"Sorry," murmured Red in a whimsical voice, head tilting to the side as his
eyes remained unfocused, smile eerily unchanging.
"He gets like this," Thomas explained matter-of-factly, "after he has such
an experience. Whenever he gets really sick, like he did today, or even
last night, he sort of...retreats off into his mind. It's his way of
retaining his sanity."
Davi's eyes narrowed. Her long, black hair tumbled over her shoulders in
messy waves, curling at the ends and over her gray eyes, and one fist
tightened in the sheets of the cot. "He's NOT sane. I thought he was ok -
I thought we could be friends. But then he ATTACKED me!"
At the sudden outburst, Red's eyes widened and his facial cast altered and
slipped into something totally different, something almost terrified. "I
didn't attack you though," he insisted in such a childish, awe-filled voice
that all present were taken back. "I was trying to protect you! If you'd
come any closer you would've been hurt and touching me when that happens is
only harmful for the both of us! Tell her, Thomas, tell her it's not good
to touch me."
"No," agreed Thomas. "He is not to be touched when he's out of control.
It's best to let him wear himself out."
"And I wouldn't want to attack you, Davi," the teen with auburn hair
continued, his green eyes widening. "You brought me my homework and you're
my friend. You're the only person I trust besides Thomas. Did you see how
she made it stop, Thomas?"
Davi was, if anything, frightened by Red's comments. His friend? They'd
only met two days before, and all meetings had been brief and not too
friendly. "What's he talking about, Thomas?" she demanded.
"Well, a fit like that usually lasts for hours with him," he said in a
voice that hinted he was catching on to something, coming to a realization.
"As soon as you ran out there, the rain began to purify. There must be
something about you that makes him calm down quicker than I've ever gotten
The doctor seemed interested in this as well. "Are you insinuating she has
some sort of affect on his talent? That she can help to harness it?"
"Perhaps in a different environment, she could even tame it."
"Are you sure about this, Thomas?"
"Does anyone know Red better than me?"
The doctor was silent a moment. "Perhaps a transfer to Eden's household?"
"Yes, I think he would flourish there. But I suggest the move is made
immediately - you've seen the damage he can inflict. If he is made to stay
here, other students may be put in danger. Do you think you can pull some
"For my favorite nephew? Of course."
Davi didn't question the new and sudden transfer - these sort of things
happened all the time at Dancing Swords Academy. However, two things had
sparked her interest. One - Thomas was the nephew of the top doctor hired
to care for the students? Two - She was going to Eden's household. At the
Academy, this told her one thing only. Eden was a person who lived
somewhere on the edge of campus, and she also owned a house. Now, if she
owned a house, this meant she also had roommates, for no one was privileged
enough to have a whole house to themselves, and these roommates were her
But what was the team about? What did they do to earn their keep? And how
old were they, exactly?
Davi finished folding the dress shirt of her last uniform and laid it in
her suitcase, next turning to her casual clothes that she wore on the
weekends. Those were easily dealt with, packed away quickly and
carelessly. Then, with a sigh, she closed the front of her suitcase and
snapped it shut, smiling.
Moving was a big break. No more dorm life, no more homework, and no more
classes on campus! If anything this would be her schoolwork, taming Red.
Plus, she'd most likely learn whatever trade Eden and her crew were working
Lugging her heavy bags out into the hall and around the corner, she found
to her surprise that Red and Thomas were already standing patiently by the
elevator, waiting for the doors to slide open with suitcases weighing
heavily on their hands. She burst into a tripping run to catch the
elevator as well, calling out their names as she went.
Both boys slowly rotated their heads around to look dully upon her, neither
seeming pleased with her appearance. Red appeared to be in an especially
foul mood, scowling and glaring and eventually looking back to Thomas with
an agitated expression.
She stumbled just before them, tipped forward, flailed, and fell flat onto
her face. No one laughed save herself, and she quickly picked herself and
her bags up, hurrying in behind them as the doors slid open to admit the
trio into the elevator.
"So," she managed to say while drawing in a deep breath, running a hand
through her now messy hair, "any idea what we'll be doing when we get to
Thomas shifted uncomfortably in the cramped space and pressed the button
that would take them to the ground floor. "Learning the trade," he said
Red yawned, covering his mouth with a hand as his fingers curved to attain
a claw-like position.
"What's the trade?" Davi asked, still adamant about making conversation.
After all, Thomas and Red were going to be her new partners, it seemed, and
she wanted to be friends. She was quite sure they were great people once
they warmed up and got more personal.
Davi dropped her bag numbly as her fingers lost all strength, just like the
rest of her body. "Assassination?! I'm just going to help Red, right?! I
don't have to do that, do I?!"
"Honestly, Davi, someone has to take care of the Academy's enemies." Red
turned to face her, smirking. "And do you seriously think you can help me?
No one can help me - I'm dying and there's no good reason why. Therefore,
you can't stop it, and you definitely can't control it."
"It's just a story we told my uncle to get us into Eden's team," Thomas
continued for Red, who had turned and lost interest in explanations. "I
admit, it was a spur of the moment thing, but everything just fell right
into place, didn't it? No one can even begin to hope to counsel Red - his
power ebbs and rises unpredictably and the most we can hope to do is
Davi gulped down a lump in her throat, shakily whispering, "So it was a
Red stepped out into the hall as the doors pushed back with a shrill
'ding'. His luggage dragged behind him, muffling his voice as he replied,
"Yes, but don't worry about it. You should be thankful we're taking you
along for the ride. It'll be much better where we're going."
Thomas was at his heels, directing them towards a waiting vehicle as he
enthusiastically said, "You won't even believe the difference!"
"This Eden..." Davi had been having second thoughts since the elevator,
but they all came flying at her full force when she glimpsed at the
spacious looking two-story house from the end of the driveway, where the
car had dropped them off. "Is she - I mean, will she mind us being sent
Thomas laughed softly, as if she had just told a joke only slightly
amusing. "Eden is a he, not a she. And no, he probably was a few people
short anyhow. From what I've heard he's very ambitious, and if you don't
show your obedience immediately, he'll feel the need to break you in. So
don't give him any trouble."
Davi struggled to keep up with the two boys as they trudged on ahead,
leaving her to scurry along behind with all her heavy bags dragging along
the cement of the curving driveway. Up ahead, in front of the house, was a
rather large fountain in the center of a grassy patch of yard. The closer
they got, the more detail she picked up on. It was a rather long driveway.
Sitting on the edge of the fountain appeared to be a young man, though she
couldn't make much out about him, and on the porch were three other
figures. From what she could see, one was female. And, when they finally
drew only a few yards away, it became apparent that another person, a boy,
was lying on his back in the grass.
What unnerved her most was the way the young man sitting on the fountain
stared at the boy in the grass, as if he wanted to leap forward and pounce
on him, as if he wanted to wrap his fingers around his throat and choke the
life from the child.
She glimpsed into his keen, golden eyes and saw them flash and radiate with
hatred and interest, like a bird of prey observing a field mouse. Her mind
picked up on a few thoughts.
"The boy is symbolic of all that is impure in this household. His sins
coat the walls and make them black as coal - coal is to charcoal as that is
the color of his hair. Charcoal and burnt like a dead ember and dead amber
is the color of his eyes and his eyes are lifeless and so should be his
body. His blood should coat the walls and I will make him suffer...
Davi shook her head and cleared away the insanity of the man's voice as his
thoughts drifted off and she blocked him from her mind. "I don't like this
already," she mumbled, petrified with fear and trying not to let anyone
One of the figures stepped down from the darkened porch and into the
blinding sunlight. It was a man, perhaps in his early thirties, with
thick, dusky brown hair that was cut short and spiked up, a few strands
flopping over his lime green eyes carelessly. His long, tan face looked
grim as he squared broad shoulders and began to walk towards them.
Davi, looking for something other than the intimidating man to focus her
attention on, diverted her eyes and realized that in the back yard she
could see waves crashing upon sand. They had a beach in the backyard! She
had not heard nor smelled it before due to her paranoia.
"I'm Eden," the man said as he stooped to pick up Davi's bags and swung
back up, pale green orbs scanning the group. "You must be the three new
recruits. Which one of you is Red?"
Red answered, "I am. Why?"
Eden ignored the question. "So you must be Davi," he said, nodding at her,
and then to Thomas, "and you are Thomas. Let's get you settled in."
The boy who had been lying in the grass sat up, brushed the dirt off his
clothes, and looked inquisitively at the newcomers. He couldn't have been
more than fourteen, a little younger than himself, Red decided as he paused
to watch the kid.
Eden noticed his interest and swung around, frowning. "Guess I should
introduce everyone. That's Dutch right there."
The slender boy waved, his eyes lifeless just as the other man had thought,
Davi noticed. However, there was a smile on his round, pale face - his
ashy black hair hung shaggily about his face, framing it. "Hi," he called
"And there is Ivory."
Ivory, the man sitting on the edge of the fountain, was tall and lean and
although strong in appearance, obviously weak in the sanity department. He
did not smile, but rather let his full lips part to reveal straight, white
teeth in something of a snarl, a grimace, whilst his golden eyes shone in
his boyish, alabaster-skinned face. Platinum blond hair, a little longer
and unkempt, fell across his forehead, and he raised a long-fingered hand
to push it aside.
"Ah, and over there..." Eden nodded towards the porch, where another man
and a woman were standing. "That's Bree and his sister Bonnie."
The pair were obviously twins, both dark-skinned and with black hair. They
even smiled alike, crooked and genuine.
Eden stepped up onto the porch and bade them to follow once more, leading
them into the house. Red was last in line, shuffling along behind Davi.
He pushed and jostled his way past her into the doorway, anxious to get a
look at the house, but never got the chance to, for that was when the
bloodcurdling scream erupted from outside, when Bree and Bonnie cried out
in alarm and there were the sounds of an obvious struggle. And before he
could move out of the way, he caught one glimpse of Eden spinning around,
face tight with anger, and then, quite roughly, he was shoved to the ground
by the older man and trampled as Eden flew out the door.