|Welcome to Hellsbane
Author: JoanofArc7777777 PM
"She stared up into the fiery eyes of the seven-foot-tall Lion; literally fiery eyes, because the beast was made entirely of flame. She shouldn't have been surprised really; other freshmen got to face off against Goblins and Baykoks, but of course she would get stuck with Ifrit, Lord of the Blaze. She wished he was Ifrit, Lord of the Candles; it was a FAR less threatening title."Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Adventure - Chapters: 21 - Words: 85,653 - Reviews: 55 - Favs: 17 - Follows: 24 - Updated: 05-06-13 - Published: 11-26-12 - id: 3077708
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Saturday it is! So this is a rather long chapter, and I haven't had much time to edit it so if it's a bit crude forgive me, and feel free to point out mistakes or continuity errors. However, this chapter should clear up a few things, as well as introduce more "oh what's that mean?" situations. Enjoy!
Demon and a Murderer
The words rung in Stella's ears even as Sara practically yelled at Dennis, "She is neither a demon nor a murderer and you know it, Lancer. The official investigation ruled it a rogue attack, why must you stir up trouble?"
"They never found the Nightstalker, Hope, they never found anything really besides a half crazed freshman lost in the woods babbling about her dead roommate. They took Aubrey at her word, no idea why, without question. Why wasn't she harmed I wonder? Why were her hands covered in her roommates blood? Everyone knows Demons don't usually attack their own, so how else do you think she survived by herself during those lost days huh?"
"She was lucky and she's a good hunter, Dennis, give her some credit; she is not a Demon."
Dennis was walking down towards the landing once more, and he threw his hands up in frustration, "You're so bloody naïve, Hope; you know that's a freaking seal of Asmodeus above her eye, and you remember her choosing ceremony just as clear as the rest of us. Her light was red. She's some form of Demon, through and through. Lord only knows why they let her in, but that doesn't mean I have to allow her in my Hall."
"I am right here you know." Aubrey growled.
Dennis sneered at her, "Shut it, Cambion."
The hateful word struck a chord in Stella, and she got over her initial shock, "I don't know what you think she did, Mr. Lancer, but I'd appreciate it if you did not use that word towards my roommate."
Dennis turned to Stella now, eyebrows raised and a smile on his face, "Mr. Lancer…no I don't mind that at all. Estelle Wolf is it not? I remember you caused quite a stir at the ceremony." Stella blushed slightly at the comment, as well as the sudden attention from one of her idols, "Now you say you don't know what your roommate did, which amazes me because as a good Head of my Hall I would have informed all new members of potential threats from their Hallmates." He sent a mocking look towards Sara that went unnoticed by Stella, then continued, "You see, your roommate here is rather dangerous-"
"That is enough Dennis!" Sara's words were low and dangerous, and to Stella's amazement the young man stopped mid-sentence. "Whether it is any of Stella's business or not, it is certainly none of yours, nor is it your place to go spreading gossip about our Hallmate. It is well within your power to ask her to leave, I cannot stop you, but we are here about Stella and the apology she is owed."
A look of annoyance flickered over Dennis's features, but it was quickly transformed into a scoff of triumph as he said, "Well then, Aubrey Troy, you are not welcome here." He had reached their level and had come to stand in front of them, rather haughtily, almost goading Aubrey in the process.
Aubrey bristled in response to his tone, but at a look from Sara she grumbled, "Meet you back home." And quickly left.
Dennis visibly relaxed once she was gone, and Stella realized that, true story or no, he was genuinely afraid of her roommate. Hopefully she would get some answers later on.
Dennis turned to her now, with a smile plastered on his face, "Now, how about you come into our sitting room so we can talk." He led them through an entryway and into a large room with a massive fireplace and dozens of thick furniture. Some Capricorns were milling about, but a look from Dennis sent them away in a hurry. The three of them sat on some couches by the fire, Sara next to Stella and Dennis across from them in a rather imposing armchair. He snapped his fingers and a young boy appeared, "Would you like any drinks? Perhaps some food? We have a few rather skilled chefs on hand."
"Just a water if you please." Sara looked like she felt bad for the young boy who was being made to run errands for them, and who was now looking expectantly at Stella.
"Um, same for me I guess." She said, not really knowing what to ask for.
Dennis raised his eyebrows, "Really, I must insist you try some of our chefs crab dip, it's the best I've ever had."
Sara protested, "No really we're quite fine with just-"
"Oh, and bring out some chocolate covered strawberries as well would you? I saw Chef Wilson making them this morning." Dennis had completely ignored Sara's objections and talked straight to the boy, who nodded and ran off. He turned back to them with a smile once more, "What's the good of visiting Capricorn Hall if you won't even sample our food? We have three full-time chefs who work round-the-clock. Now, what were you here for again?"
Sara was getting frustrated now, Stella could tell by her clenched fists. "You owed my Hallmate an apology." She muttered through gritted teeth.
"Ah yes." Dennis turned to Stella with a somber face, "I, on behalf of my Hallmates, would like to formally apologize to you for their utter misconduct and deplorable treatment of you, a fellow student. I can see that you are already well on your way to a full recovery, and I would like to assure you that there will be punishment for those who harmed you. Capricorn house would also like to offer you 200 in gold bits as compensation." He took out a small pouch that jostled with the noise of coins and placed it in the table. "Of course, we do hope that this resolves the issue and it is not mentioned to the faculty? It would be a shame to cause a more of an uproar than is needed."
Stella reached happily for the bag, but stopped midway when an uneasy thought crossed her mind, "Wait…are you paying me to stay quiet?"
Dennis looked mildly insulted, "Of course not! We truly feel terrible about what happened, and would like to give you small token of our apology. We are simply hoping that this puts the issue to rest, no need to drag it out longer. Besides, 200 bits can hardly be considered a bribe, it's practically pocket change."
200 bits was not "Pocket change" to Stella, and she suddenly felt silly for not trusting Dennis; such a great Hunter and fighter had to be an honest person. He must just misunderstand the situation with Aubrey, that's all.
The boy had returned, balancing a tray with their waters, crab dip, and chocolate covered strawberries. He placed them on the table between them before once more taking his leave. Stella grabbed a small piece of bread that was with the dip, and dug in. She sighed happily; Dennis was right, it tasted amazing.
"Now, Stella-I may call you that, right?" Stella nodded, her mouth full, and he continued, "While I have you here I would like to take this opportunity to ask you something that has had me curious since the ceremony. Why did you choose the old way? Even when offered a place in the most superior of all Hall's at no cost to yourself?"
Stella swallowed and cleared her throat a bit before answering. She felt Sara's eyes on her, and got the feeling that this question wasn't as innocent as it seemed. "Well, I always looked forward to the choosing ceremony and frankly the Hall selection was what I was most excited to witness and be a part of. You can only imagine my disappointment when I realized it was no longer based on a ceremony, but rather status. So when I got the opportunity to choose my own Hall, I chose to be chosen the right way."
"But surely you must regret that decision now that you see the difference between Capricorn and Leo."
Stella shook her head, "Not at all; Capricorn is impressive, no doubt about it, but I just feel a connection with Leo that I sadly think the other students are denied. Everyone is being forced to fit in places where, well, they may not belong." Stella sneaked a look at Sara, who nodded in approval and gave a small smile.
Dennis, however, did not approve, "Well that's a very pretty way to think about it, but the fact is that way of selecting houses is outdated. Students are far more comfortable when they are with those in the same social standing as them. I mean, imagine how uncomfortable a young boy who, say, lives on the outskirts of the city in a small one room home would be rooming with the rich son of a politician. The inferiority complex would certainly hinder his studies. So really this new system has the best interests of the student at heart."
The small boy came back in, whispering into Dennis's ear. He stood up, followed by Sara and Stella. "I apologize but I must cut this meeting short as something's come up. Please feel free to take the strawberries with you, I'm sure there will be more than enough for the few Hallmates you have. Phillip here will see you out. " He turned to leave, but stopped himself, "Oh and Miss Wolf, I still feel terrible about what happened, so feel free to stop by sometime; we have a nice little gathering every weekend, and you're welcome to join." He winked at her, and by the time she recovered from the shock of an invitation from her celebrity crush, he had left the room
They left the strawberries, Sara claiming that Leo Hall was "Not so poor as to accept handouts from cocky bastards." But Stella grabbed one anyways, for the walk back.
It really was delicious.
Dennis walked into a back room of Capricorn where a large oak desk awaited him. It was his desk, his study in fact, but his chair was currently occupied. A tall, slim young woman sat poised within his large armchair, with an air about her that was not altogether welcoming. She had long, jet black hair and dark, cold eyes that were nonetheless seductive. She was striking, but courting her would be like courting a viper. Behind her stood a young man who appeared a bit older than her, with her same jet black hair trimmed neatly above his ears. His face was not cold so much as emotionless; as Dennis entered he was greeted with calculating eyes and a nod.
Dennis nodded and turned his attention to the girl, "Cousin Vera, what a surprise to see you here since I don't recall you being at the choosing ceremony."
The young woman waved her slim hand, as if brushing away an annoyance. "I had pressing matters to attend to; besides, there's no way I wouldn't get in, and I would end up here anyways. I just decided that stupid ceremony wasn't worth my time; but I heard that even without me there you got quite the lightshow?"
Dennis nodded, "Yes, a pretty blonde girl who was chosen for Leo. Her light may have shone brighter even than, pardon me for saying, your own brothers."
The boy behind Vera said nothing, only scowled slightly at the comment. Vera turned to him, then back to Dennis, "Indeed? That's quite interesting, but should also not be possible; no family is more powerful than ours, unless…well you must have seen it wrong. I heard my father offered her a spot here but she declined, any idea why?"
"I was actually just meeting with her; she says she loved the idea of it, the tradition."
Vera leaned back, letting out a short laugh, "Ha, she sounds like a fool to me; turning down the best Hall on campus for some stupid ceremony. And she gets placed in Leo! Now that's bad luck, but I guess it's what you get when you look a gift horse in the mouth."
Dennis nodded, "I agree completely…So, any news from your father?"
The tall woman stood, rolling her eyes as she moved to sit on the desk itself, playing with one of Dennis's letter openers. "He says to keep an eye on her, learn what we can, blah blah blah; I think it's really bugging him that he has no idea where she sprung from. He probably thinks she might pose some sort of threat. I haven't met her yet, but" she threw the letter opener, driving it into the door with a thud, "She doesn't sound like she'd be much of a problem in my opinion. Besides her, well, he didn't have much to say; he won't have a lot for us to do first semester, that's for sure."
Dennis thought for a second, "You could be right, she seems harmless enough; it's just…all that power. It'll be interesting to see how she'll do in the Arena. Actually," and he turned to the boy, "Nicholai, you still run the portal set-up for training correct? Any way you could set that up so we can test her, see how good she is?"
The boy shrugged, "I'll talk to my father about it; the danger to her life may either persuade or dissuade him. Either way, they don't face their first demon until a few weeks in."
"That's fine, by then maybe we'll have a better understanding of what exactly she is."
"I know exactly what she is" Vera said, meandering towards the window and looking out at the passing students. "She's a wild-card, and unknown; and while she may not be a threat, the last thing we need right now is a mystery."
Dennis and the Nicholai looked at each other, silently agreeing with Vera.
Stella was trouble.
When Aubrey had been kicked out of Capricorn Hall she left in a foul mood, storming back to Leo hall. Once inside she grabbed her sword from her room, belted it to her side, tied her hair up, and burst into Andrew's room down the hall.
"Grab your sword, Grant, we're sparring."
The large young man looked up startled from where he had been writing something at his desk. "Something eating at you Troy?"
"Yes, there is, so come on." She was tapping her foot impatiently now, ready to lay into the only student in Leo hall, besides Sara or Vince, who was able to properly fight with her.
Garrett had been laying on his bed reading a letter when she came in, and now he sat up, "You two are fighting? Can I watch?" the tall boy asked eagerly.
Andrew looked at Aubrey while belting his sword, and she shrugged, "I don't care if we have an audience, so long as you hurry the heck up."
He finished and she sighed, striding out of the room with a muttered, "Well, it's about time."
They set up in the backyard, two logs marking the limits; if one of them passed a log then they lost that round.
Aubrey turned to Garrett, who was relaxing on a nearby bench he had brushed the snow off of. "Since you're here you can ref, if one of us gets hit, or if we pass the log, call it."
Garrett nodded and leaned forwards in anticipation.
Aubrey drew her sword and held it in her left hand, point towards the ground; she hadn't brought her shield, so the only protection she had were the small armored plates on the shoulders of her jacket. Now that her sword was drawn, Garrett could see some inscriptions on the blade, as well as the fact that the steel appeared to be blued. It was a gorgeous weapon, that much was certain.
Andrew had also drawn his sword, the falchion he had let Garrett see earlier. Andrew had told him it's name was Steadfast; it had served a great many foot-soldiers during the dark ages, against both man and monster.
The two faced each other and a calm settled around them, an alert stillness where they both studied the other, searching for the slightest indication of an attack. It was an interesting pair; Grant was massive, towering over the lean Aubrey who was not altogether small herself. She had a low stance, balanced and relaxed, while Andrew seemed tense, holding the blade with both hands. Garrett was interesting to see if the thick snow would impact their speed, but if they were as good as they appeared he doubted it.
Suddenly Aubrey lunged forwards with her blade, spraying snow and ready to skewer Andrew had he not parried to his right, meeting her sword with the clash of steel, and countered with a cut towards Aubreys left shoulder. She stepped backwards and successfully blocked the downwards slice with the crux between her blade and crosspiece, twisting her blade so that both pointed at the ground then quickly raising her blade in a diagonal slice across Andrews midsection. He jumped back but Aubrey lunged forwards once more with a downwards slash and he jumped back once more, passing the log.
"Log!" Garrett called out, assuming that would stop them. It did, and Andrew looked at the log to his right and sighed.
"One round to you Troy, again?"
She grinned devilishly at the massive young man, brushing a few strands of hair from her face, "You know I won't turn down an opportunity to beat you, Grant, bring it on."
They faced off again for another go.
The walk back to Leo was short and silent for Sara and Stella, both deep in their own thoughts as they approached the building. As they got closer Stella heard the distinctive noise of metal-on-metal and looked at Sara, who was thoughtfully glancing towards the back of the building.
"It could be Aubrey, let's check it out."
They did, rounding the corner of the Hall and witnessing the end of round three as Andrew stopped his blade mere inches from Aubrey's neck, smugly muttering, "Point".
Aubrey huffed, "I still have two rounds on you, Andrew. I win."
He crossed his massive forearms as he regarded her, "I'm not sure, willing to test that in a three out of five go?"
Aubrey rolled her eyes, "Fine, ugh, if you wanted me to beat you that badly you should have just said so."
Andrew chuckled as they faced off for a fourth round, both panting and sweating now.
Sara and Stella navigated carefully around the match and came to sit next to Garrett, who was still watching in awe. He greeted Stella as she sat beside him, "Hey Stell, you enjoy the tour?"
He didn't look at her, but she didn't blame him; the whirlwind of clashing blades captivated her as well. "Yeah I did, honestly I love this place already. So how long have they been going at it?"
"This is their fourth round, Aubrey won the first two. They're both brilliant though; she's quick and strong with that sword of hers, and her being a leftie probably throws Andrew off. He's got power though, and the maneuverability he sacrifices by using both hands is made up for in the extra control and momentum it gives him. Aubrey sometimes uses two hands, which makes me think hers might be a Bastard sword, Hand-and-a-half."
The thing about Garrett was, he could analyze the hell out of any situation. It wasn't even on account of his telekinetic tendencies; he was simply a brilliant tactician. Stella had stopped being a challenge for him in Chess when they were five, but she could still beat him when they sparred with sticks. The reason for that, though, was that while Garrett was analytical and could read situations as well as he could people, Stella was instinctual, and oftentimes it seemed almost as if her body moved for her, pulling stunts that logically made no sense.
"So do they have an issue with each other or something?" Stella asked, turning to Sara; it hadn't been all that long since Aubrey had left, so Stella found it hard to believe she had had a disagreement that required a violent resolution.
Sara shook her head, "Not at all, most likely Aubrey needed to blow off some steam, and Andrew is her favorite sparring partner. They're pretty close actually."
"Are they, like, a 'thing'?" Stella asked hesitantly.
The small young woman stifled a laugh once she processed what Stella had said, glancing at the two aggressive students, "Aubrey and Andrew! Good Lord no! Stella, let's just say there's as much a chance of Andrew dating Aubrey as there is a typhoon hitting Hellsbane."
Stella wondered why that was; both students were incredibly attractive after all. Then again, some friendships were best staying just that, friendships.
With a flick of her wrist while Andrews blade was in the crux of her crosspiece, Aubrey sent the falchion flying and in an instant had the point of her blade an inch above Andrews heart. They were both breathing heavily, creating white puffs of air every time they exhaled, and every breath Andrew took pushed the point of the blade lightly into his massive chest.
"Three to one, Andrew, I think I win." Aubrey said breathlessly, but with a smile on her face as she slowly lowered her blade.
Andrew playfully bowed to her, "I am humbled before your skill, Miss Troy."
She swatted at him as he laughed and went to pick up his fallen blade, then she turned to her now-larger audience. "So how was the rest of that pleasant meeting with Dennis?" She asked, with only a hint of bitterness.
Sara looked at her with a hint of pity, "It was incredibly boring, and we left soon after. I only hope he keeps his word and actually punishes those boys."
Aubrey scoffed as she sheathed her blade, "Now that's a laugh, a Capricorn who keeps his word."
Sara sighed as she stood up, "I know, but unfortunately for all intents and purposes the matter is settled."
Aubrey glanced at Stella, "Is that ok with you Wolf? You fine with it?"
Stella looked innocently up at the two of them, "Well yeah, personally I think Mr. Lancer will keep his word."
The two older girls exchanged a look that did not go unnoticed by Garrett, who was silently watching the exchange. Aubrey scratched the back of her head awkwardly, she was not one to corrupt an innocent with her cynicism just yet, but she knew soon enough Stella would be just as jaded as she. "I hope you're right, then." She said simply, closing the discussion. She then went over to talk to Andrew as he headed back inside, and Sara followed behind them.
Stella got up, turning to Garrett, "Let me guess; you've been sleeping all day."
He stood too as they walked back inside, looking indignant, "Did not! I woke up around two hours ago and read a little."
Stella smirked, "So…you slept until noon?"
Garrett blushed, "Hey now, I stayed up late last night getting to know my roommate. We talked about the Academy, classes, you know. Have you gotten to know Aubrey?"
Thinking about it, Aubrey really hadn't talked with her that much; at least not about herself. It hadn't bothered Stella until the meeting earlier with Dennis. It was obvious to her that there was something that certainly needed discussing, and as much as Stella wanted to acknowledge Aubrey's right to privacy, she was incredibly curious about something that, it seemed, everyone else already knew.
"Stella?" Garrett asked, and Stella realized she hadn't answered his question.
"Oh, yeah; a little bit I guess, she's not all that open with personal information I suppose."
"I mean that's understandable; there are things I don't want anyone to know yet, and as much as Andrew and I talked, I still don't know why he's in this house of rejects."
Stella groaned, "Oh come on don't call it that, we're just…different, is all." They walked through the backdoor and into the kitchen, where Katrina was busy making what smelled like pasta. She was whistling a cheery tune which sounded vaguely like "The ant's go marching" and didn't notice them come in; Stella sped through the kitchen before the catchy tune got stuck in her head.
"You excited for equipment distribution tomorrow?" She asked as they came into the entry hall.
Garrett nodded, "Yeah, I'm really excited to see what weapon I get issued, seems like they still go about that the old-fashioned way."
Stella nodded, "Yeah but that's only because the rich families keep heirlooms, they don't have to return them to the armory."
Garrett shrugged, "Eh, still there are some pretty famous blades in there."
As they reached the top of the stairs Stella saw the door to her room closed, and decided she didn't want to wait.
"Hey I'll see you later ok? I need to talk with Aubrey."
Garrett nodded and headed to his room, while Stella warily opened hers.
Aubrey was lying down on her bed, staring up at the ceiling. She didn't acknowledge when Stella came in, so Stella stood for a few seconds before starting.
"Aubrey look I-"
"You want to know what Dennis was talking about right?"
Aubrey still stared up at the ceiling, but when Stella silently nodded she sat up, swinging her legs so they touched the floor as her fists gripped the edge of the bed, "Fine, I guess it's better you hear it from me than someone else anyways. You might want to sit down."
Stella complied, pulling her desk chair out so it faced Aubrey, and Aubrey began to speak.
"As you know I'm demon-marked, and Dennis was correct when he pointed out that this particular demon mark is the Seal of Asmodeus. He's one of the seven Princes of Hell, and an incredibly powerful demon who presides over the sin of lust. Now I'm sure you are aware that demon-marks appear on either the offspring of demons, or the offspring of demons under the command of the one who bestowed the mark. Children of Hell Princes…they can hardly be distinguished from demons themselves, so I've decided that I'm probably the child of an incubus of some sort, and Asmodeus claimed me at my birth. Honestly there's no way of knowing for sure since my mother is dead. All-in-all, though, everyone basically knows I'm half lust-demon marked by the king of lechers. You following?"
Stella nodded, so Aubrey continued, "That's why I landed in our pretty little Hall here. Now last year I was roomed with a Sophomore named Jade. She was North African of some kind, never spoke much of it, but either way we were fast friends. She was a mentor to me, showed me the ropes, and basically I might have gone crazy last year were it not for her. Now as I told you we go on paired hunts, not far from campus so usually there aren't very many demons lurking about."
Aubrey paused, and her eyes grew sad as her memories took control, "We had strayed a bit too far, and it was our second night out. I was supposed to have the rear covered but, well, we were both very tired. We were walking along and I noticed something strange about the tree I was passing. Had I been alert I would have realized it immediately…but I was just so tired it took me a few seconds to realize what was wrong about that tree trunk."
Stella thought back to what Dennis had mentioned earlier, and suddenly remembered a passage from a demonology book she read years ago. "Legs so thick and tall they are mistaken for tree trunks, it is a disguise used to keep the prey unaware. The face, however, makes no attempt to blend; for usually by the time it is seen, the one who sees it is doomed. Antlers rise high above an elongated face from which two razor-sharp teeth protrude, as well as a large nose with which it can smell prey for miles."
Stella muttered the name of the creature, as soon as she realized what it was. "Nightstalker." A creature which haunts the nightmares of hunters young and old.
Aubrey nodded, "Yes, a Nightstalker. As soon as I realized I turned to warn Jade but…it was too late."
Aubrey shut her eyes, her mind involuntarily going back to that hunt, that scene.
She turned quickly, hand on her sword as she drew a breath to call out the danger. But that breath was quickly let out in a scream as Aubrey came face-to-bloody-face with the monster, whose mouth dripped red over the lifeless body of her former roommate. She didn't think, the fear took over and she ran. She ran and ran until she collapsed from exhaustion.
"I ran away, ran until I couldn't anymore and I passed out under a tree. The next day I retraced my steps to find Jade's body but…there was barely enough to bury. I retrieved her sword but, well, the ordeal had made me a bit crazy, and I didn't remember how to get back. I wandered around for days, until finally a patrol picked me up. I told them what happened, but they never found the body. They believed me but…well you saw it today; quite a few people have their doubts."
Stella nodded, now everything made sense. Of course someone who thought Aubrey was some sort of Demon would think her able to murder her roommate. Stella knew better, of course, but one thing that Dennis had said tickled the back of her mind.
Nightstalkers were known for being much faster than hunters, so how had Aubrey gotten away? And more importantly, how had she not been attacked while she was on her own for so long?
After all Dennis was right, demons don't attack their own.
But they're drawn to Nephilim like flies to honey.
Ammendment: If I get five helpful reviews or more, I WILL Update Wednesday. :D
So, intruiged yet? Are you? huh? or are you bored because if you're bored please tell me what parts bore you, by reviewing! yay! If I get a lot of (helpful) reviews I might update earlier...just saying.
Also, thanks SO MUCH to those who have already reviewed, I love and appreciate you all.