*sighs* I think this is the third version of Playing with Fire. Hopefully, this would be my last rewrite... I'll try my best~! :3 BTW, everything for this chapter will be in Third Person's POV. Really loud in the background, I swear. Alarms going off (on purpose), the barking of my family's dogs, the fireworks, the whistles... HAPPY NEW YEAR! :D
Since this isn't fanfiction, I will not put the disclaimer thing anymore. :):
Before the Storm
"Stay here, Coco," a cloaked woman instructed her horse, getting off. She tied the reins to an old tree, and clutching the side of her stomach with one hand, and the other hand on a pocket, she slowly left.
Her destination was a small isolated, peaceful house. But at the same time, the house also served as a shop.
After a few moments, she reached the small house. She stopped in front of the door and looked behind her. No blood trail, she thought. It seems to have stopped. She looked down at her sloppily bandaged wound, and then sighed. Without knocking, she opened the door and entered.
"How may I help you?" asked a man upon hearing the sound of the bell chime, but he didn't bother to face the woman.
"Alessandro." The woman said in a cold voice, glaring at the back of the middle-aged man.
Upon hearing the woman's voice, he turned around, eyes wide. "P-P-"
"Good that you still remember me,"
"Why wouldn't I?" Alessandro replied in a shaky voice, doing his best to choose his words carefully. "Y-You're"—he gulped—"wanted."
The woman smiled coldly, taking a few steps forward. "Then, I guess it would be a crime to help a wanted person?"
"Yes or no?"
Alessandro thought for a few moments, and then took a shaky breath. "F-F-Fine. Because your family has helped me a lot of times... So h-how may I...?"
The woman propped her elbows on the wooden counter and said, "Two things. First, I have this injury. I know you have the skill, experience, and equipment to heal it."
"I'll tell you only after you heal my wound."
Knowing he couldn't argue, Alessandro gave in. "Fine. Can I see it?"
After ten minutes or so, the woman was now recovered. "Thank you," she said in a relieved tone. "That wound was just too awful. Yes, it wasn't deep, but it was rather annoying."
"Now, what's the other thing?"
"You hurry things too much, friend." The woman said peacefully. But after seeing the man's face, she sighed. She put a hand inside her pants' pocket, and retrieved a small, black pouch. She carefully placed it on the counter. "Open it."
Alessandro did as what he was told. And after seeing the content, he began to shake again. "T-This is... Isn't this...? W-Why?" He muttered in disbelief, looking at the item, then at the woman, then back at the item.
The item was small ring made up of smooth emerald and gold metal. To a mere human, the value of the simple ring might be lost on them, but to mages, it's value was priceless and one of a kind.
"A-Am I supposed to keep this?"
"Why do you think I showed you the ring? Be careful with it." The woman stood up and turned to leave. "See you."
The woman stopped and turned to face her friend. She squinted her cat-like green eyes at him in disdain. Alessandro cringed as he heard the faint sound of snakes hissing.
"W-What'll happen when they find out the ring is no longer in your possession? What will I do?"
"I don't know. It's up to you. Good bye and take care."
Alessia sighed and looked up at the blue sky. She chuckled and went to her horse. "Hey, let's get out of here,"
The horse neighed and trotted to the forest. Slowly, Coco picked up speed.
Alessandro, Alessia thought, only three things will happen once they find out you are holding the ring. You will stay loyal to me and escape, taking the ring with you... Or you will stay loyal and die trying to protect the ring... Or... you will betray me. You decide what you want to do.
Alessandro heard the voices before they broke down the door.
"Alessandro Rossi," a gruff man's voice roared, "WHERE ARE YOU?"
Alessandro just stood there, feet glued to the floor. And just like in Alessia's visit, he was shaking with fear.
"Capo," a soft voice that belonged to a young girl replied, "please make your voice softer. The man's just there."
"Shut up, you underling! You have no right to order me around!" The loud man roared again. The man had short, spiky light brown hair and a murderous look in his small black eyes. He wore a long black coat with gold buttons and stitched in the upper left side of the coat was a skull with two wands protruding from the sides, black pants, and black boots. He was holding a tall, gleaming, dangerous-looking sword in his gloved right hand.
The young girl cringed in response. She had long beautiful blonde hair that was tied in a tight, high ponytail and a scar on her left eye. Just like her comrade, she wore the same coat, but it had a fur hood and was unbuttoned, revealing her white, long-sleeved blouse, black dress pants, and brown boots.
"Y-You are..." Alessandro stuttered nervously. They're here already! And the ring... it's not in a safe place. How will I...?
"For quite a few years, our organization has been trying to hunt down the Poisonous Murderer," the girl started, "but it seems that a few months ago, she gave you the ring. In short, we want the ring."
"W-W-What ring?" Alessandro lied.
"Shut your mouth and stop lying, you little scum!"
"I really don't know about s-such thing…" Alessandro tried again.
"The Anello Futuro! We're talking about the-"
"Maestro Adolfo!" A group of men shouted together, running towards Alessandro's house/shop. "Sorry we're late! You and Aria were just so fast-"
"Or maybe you trashes are just slow," Adolfo hissed.
"It seems like Alessandro here doesn't want to cooperate," Aria informed the late comrades. "Is it alright if you search this place for the ring?"
The men nodded and scattered to look for the ring.
"Wait! No!" Alessandro turned around to run after two men who entered a room. "Hah!" He froze again and stared at the floating pieces of wood that were surrounding him, their sharp ends aiming at his legs and stomach. "H-How...?" He looked to his side and saw that his fallen door had missing pieces of wood.
"Stay still. I might kill you," Aria instructed.
"Heh. You say you have no idea what ring we're talking about, idiot? How come you're trying to stop them?" Adolfo challenged.
Alessandro stayed silent. In his mind, he was thinking of ways to escape the enemies and how to bring the ring with him. But everything he thought of, he knew they were useless.
"Capo!" A man emerged from one of the room, a small black pouch in his hand. "I found it!"
That fast? "Where did you see it?" Adolfo demanded.
"It was just on a table—it wasn't even inside this pouch! I put it back in,"
"I can't believe that Poisonous Murderer trusts you, Rossi. The Anello Futuro is a valuable thing… and yet, it's just lying on top of a table!"
"I was cleaning it!" Alessandro explained.
"Whatever. Let's go; we've got what we want."
Aria snapped her fingers, and the floating wood pieces fell on the floor.
T-They're not going to kill me…?
"Are we still going to burn this place, Capo?" A man asked.
"Yeah. This man in useless anyways!" Adolfo barked a laugh.
Adolfo fell to his knees, shame—or was it anger?—burning in his chest. I'm not useless! I-I'll prove to you why Alessia trusted me! He took out a dagger that was strapped to his belt, hidden by his winter coat. That dagger had been strapped to his belt, ever since Alessia gave him the ring.
"Give the ring back!" He cried and ran outside, dagger in hand.
Aria turned around and snapped her fingers. Suddenly, Alessandro felt a shot of pain across his chest, and fell on the cold, snow-covered ground. The girl's lips curved into a little grin.
"I like it when people find out that the weapons they use will kill them in the end."
"Y-You…" Alessandro groaned, staring at his enemies. "You p-people of Black Spell… H-Hah… Heartless… A-Anello… Futuro… Give it b-back…!"
"People like you are really useless in combat!" snarled Adolfo. "Why don't you heal yourself first before you try and pick a fight with us, useless Healer? But with that kind of wound, I doubt you'll be able to use your magic! Let's go."
Aria nodded her head and lowered her raised arm, the bloody dagger falling beside its blood-stained owner.
"And why on earth do you think I'll help you?" demanded a man.
"Why are people hesitant in helping people like me?" Alessia sighed.
"Because people like you are killers! Murderers! We're scared because…"
"People like me might kill you after helping?"
The man glared at Alessia.
"I'm just asking for help. Why would I kill-"
"Look, I don't even know what you're asking help for! Why don't you just-"
"I want you to build something," Alessia interrupted John.
"Build what?" An evil machine to take over the world?
"Aha! Wait—a school?" John pondered for a moment and stared at Alessia, trying to figure out if she was lying or not. She looked honest. "A school for evil?"
Alessia let out a bitter laugh, and John heard snakes hissing. "No. It's a school just like the ones we have here in this world. The only difference is that it's a school for mages."
"Are you going to teach those mages evil magic, De Luca?" John hissed.
Once again, Alessia shook her head no and laughed. "I find you interesting. Most people just call me by the title they gave to me… or by my first name. And they choose their words carefully when they're speaking to me. You're different."
Ignoring what the woman said, he asked curiously, "What is… the school's name?"
"Mage Academy," Alessia replied simply.
"An uncreative name," John snorted.
"What if it's uncreative? All that matters I've thought of such an idea. I'm the first one to think of it, you know."
"Or maybe others have already thought of that idea, but just didn't push through with it,"
"Why? Have you thought of the same thing?"
John glared at Alessia again and said, "Besides, even if I do help you, will other mages be willing to attend your school if they find out you are the headmistress? And what about the employees?"
"Who said that I'll be the headmistress? It can be you. I'll work behind the curtains. So, will you build the school for me?" Alessia replied.
John opened and closed his mouth, too surprised to say anything. Finally, he found his voice. "Not a chance."
"Your family is ashamed of you… your parents are both mages, but you don't have any magic flowing in you—a rare case indeed! And your siblings tease you and bully you with their magic, don't they?" Alessia paused, waiting for a reaction. When she got none, she continued, "Do you even have wizard friends-"
"Do you?" John snapped, anger rising.
Alessia raised an eyebrow and responded in a cold voice: "I used to."
There was silence for several minutes, until she continued, "If… you do something that will benefit our world, people won't look down on you anymore, John. Most mages won't think that you're a useless little-"
"I've built lots of other things!" John growled, not knowing why he said that.
"Yes, I know that. But did that make your family proud?" Alessia waited for an answer.
Finally, John mumbled something unclear. But Alessia heard it and smiled.
"E-Eloise Ashford... you really love to kill, don't you?" Alessia asked, releasing a dark aura.
"Heh. Even if I wasn't sadistic, I'd still have to kill him. It's in the laws." The woman named Eloise replied, eyeing the body of John Miller—Mage Aacdemy's now dead headmaster.
"I don't care what that law says!" Alessia screamed. "Why would you kill an honest man who helped young mages?"
"Honest? Really? He helped you. And you, my dear Poisonous Murderer, are a criminal." Eloise stated, a wicked light in her crystal blue eyes.
Never in her life had Eloise ever felt so triumphant. After all, she was the one who led the capture of Alessia De Luca. And maybe a few minutes from now, Alessia De Luca, a mage who is despised by probably everyone in the mage's society, will be executed.
Hiii...! Just the thought of killing someone made Eloise's skin prickle with excitement. Licking her lips, she examined her prisoner.
Alessia's usually neat, wavy, waist-length red hair was now sticking out in all places and chin-length. Her green eyes that used to show coldness and mischievousness were dull and showed fear—something you never see in the mage's eyes. Her body was bruised and cut, her clothes tattered. And the worst was that her hands were tied using anti-magic chains. And let's not forget her two poisonous pet snakes, which she usually used as weapons, were now locked in an electrifying cage a few feet behind their owner.
Eloise walked to Alessia and grinned cheerfully, cocking her head. "You'll be with your friend soon," she said after seeing Alessia looking sadly at John's dead body, "after we question you. But don't worry, I'll make the questioning quick—I'm also excited for you to unite with Mr. Miller once again."
"You... YOU SHUT UP!" Alessia screamed, and like a wild dog, she tried to bite Eloise, but Eloise merely stepped back.
Eloise calmly patted her long blonde hair that was tied in the back and grinned again. "Why-"
"ASHFORD!" An old man bellowed. "The Magic's Council did not come just to see a ridiculous exchange between you and the Poisonous Murderer! On with the questioning!"
Eloise's eyes widened. "O-Of course, Master Zarus! I apologize...!"
Upon seeing Eloise change of attitude, Alessia forced a weak smile. "Scared of the old man, aren't you?"
"B-Be quiet, you! He is one of the oldest members of the Magic's Council—an Elder! His... His requests are to be respected and carried out." Eloise hissed, hoping the entire council couldn't hear her. But she doubted it.
"Requests?" Alessia snorted. "More like commands."
"You little..." Eloise stepped closer to slap the mage, but Alessia head-butted her first. "Oof!" The blonde gasped as Alessia's head made contact with her stomach.
"These chains can prevent me from using magic, but who said I can't attack you without magic?" Alessia asked, copying Eloise signature innocent grin.
"Want to die soon-"
"Ashford!" Zarus impatiently bellowed again. "It's either we dismiss this meeting or we shall continue it... without your help!"
Eloise was stunned to silence. No one spoke to her like that. Not even-
"Didn't expect that, Eloise?" Alessia muttered. "If you had the Anello Futuro, maybe it could have showed you a bit of what's going to happen today. Speaking of the ring, did you know there's a war coming with the Black Spell? You know... the organization that stole the Anello Futuro?"
Everyone in the room seemed to stop breathing.
"A… war?" Eloise repeated, unsure if she heard right.
"A lie!" Zarus thundered. "What she is saying is a lie! It is just part of her plan so we will spare her with the 'knowledge' she has on the upcoming war."
A few murmured and nodded in agreement. But majority still looked worried.
"How come you think I'm lying? And why did all of you look surprised when I announced about the war? A month ago, I sent a friend of mine to warn all of you about Black Spell's plans. So how come—Oh, that's right. I remember now." Alessia said with a hint of sarcasm. "You killed him just because he was a friend!"
"Silence!" Eloise growled. "Master Zarus… What are we going to do?"
"Don't just ask Zarus, Eloise," another woman in her mid-forties said sternly. "He is not the only member of the Magic's Council."
"Luce is correct," a man agreed, "we have different opinions on the situation. I suggest we listen to each opinion and-"
Upon hearing the words, the mages in the room started shouting.
"Io dico andiamo avanti con prova di Alessia De Luca!"
"Hindi! Dapat... "
"Tutte le vostre idee sonostupido!"
"I-I…" Eloise watched in utter confusion as the more powerful mages started to argue on what actions to take.
"My, my," a young girl sighed, watching the chaos with a smile on her face. "What a nice way to entertain me. But the entertainment's too loud." She tapped her teacup with the back of her spoon, and slowly, the ground began to shake.
"Keep calm, everyone!" ordered Luce, turning to the pink haired girl that caused the tremor. "What is it, Ia?"
The tremor stopped. "I... believe in what the Poisonous Murderer is saying... is true."
"Ia! It is not the time to be joking!" Zarus growled.
"Heehh~!" Her lips curved into another grin, but it quickly set into a firm, straight line. "I'm not joking."
The youngest member of the Magic's council stared at Zarus with her brownish-red eyes. "I guess I can prove it… Remember when we sent a number of my powerful henchmen to infiltrate one of the bases of Black Spell in Florence just a few weeks ago?"
The mages nodded. The result wasn't quite nice.
Ia closed her eyes as if she was seeing her henchmen get killed all over again. "Yes. It didn't go successful. Most of them were eliminated there in the base. But…"
"But…?" Eloise's eyes widened in suspense.
"Two days ago, I received a… shall we say, present that was delivered to my room—a large box. And when I opened it, I saw the dead body of one my henchmen. I was in the middle of wondering why they would send me the body when I noticed the blood on his body still seemed fresh and he wasn't rotting like he's supposed to. After removing the body from the box, I realized that someone wrote a message on the side with his blood." The girl paused for a moment, to give the other gagging mages a chance to recover.
"'More dead people will start appearing. Very soon.' At first I thought it meant they would send me more bodies in a box, but after hearing Alessia's claim…"
"Why didn't you tell us that immediately about the message?" Luce demanded.
"Just as what I said, I thought the message meant they will be sending more dead bodies to me," Ia shrugged, then tugged her side pigtailed-hair.
Eloise slolwy nodded her head, deep in thought. "I must say that the experience you had was quite... interesting, however"—she took a deep breath and then exhaled—"I don't think that we should base the truthfulness of the Poisonous Murderer's on what you just retold us, Miss Ia." She glanced at Ia, watching her raise an eyebrow but say nothing. "While it could be the work of the Black Spell, it could also be not. And if it was their work, how could you be really sure? For all I know, they could be talking about something else. Something that isn't a war, perhaps?"
"No." Ia said firmly. "I am sure it was them, and yes, while you do have a point, what if it is a war? But if it's not a war, then what is it? Are the Black Spell people telling us that they'll slowly kill us of, one by one until we all lose our temper and cause the war ourselves? Is that what you're saying?"
"What shall we do, then?" Eloise asked after minutes of silence, addressing the members of the Magic's Council.
The members—Zarus, Luce, Ia, and three more men—started discussing. However, Ia refused to participate and just intently watched her fellow council members discuss.
"Eloise, we shall put Alessia's trial on hold. But after the war—if there is one—we shall continue with it. For the mean time, we will be discussing our plans for all of this True or not, we should be prepared."
"I understand." Eloise muttered, bowing respectfully. She turned to Alessia and whispered, "You're lucky... But the time will come." She stood straight and turned to the guards silently watching in the corners. "Bring her and her cursed snakes back to her cell!"
Ignoring the cries of help of the prisoners, Eloise ran to the direction of the prisoner's cell that mattered the most.
"Poisonous Murderer!" Eloise shouted as she reached the cell. She eyed the mage in surprise when Alessia just sat on the stoned floor calmly, ignoring the flames that was surrounding them.
"You call this prepared?" Alessia asked, her eyes closed. "Why are you even here?"
"I'm here to save you, idiot!"
"What about the other prisoners?"
"I sent the guards to save them,"
"Why are you saving me?"
Eloise rolled her eyes. "You might prove yourself quite useful in the war,"
"Oh really?" Alessia opened her right eye.
"Y-Yes. We need help, badly. We weren't expecting the Black Spell to be so powerful and plenty. Even Ia Guilford is having a hard time with them. And she's the most powerful member of the council and an Elemental!"
"I see… But I'm not sure if I want to help you right now."
"I don't want to help mages who'll execute me after this war ends—if all of you survive, that is."
"Well, if we die, it would also mean you'll die too!" Eloise shot back.
"I'll see what I can do," Eloise promised immediately, regret in her chest. She didn't want to make a deal with the devil, but she had to.
She hurriedly unlocked Alessia's cell. After the metal door swung open, she stepped inside. Eloise knelt down beside the other mage as she gripped the chains, and then muttered something. The chains glowed faintly and turned to dust. A split second later, the small door of the cage of Alessia's snakes burst open. Her pets cautiously slithered out, hissing happily.
Alessia gripped the stone wall for support as she slowly stood up, wobbling. She lifted her head slowly, her bright green eyes showcasing its usual mischievousness, and her mouth was curled in her usual sly grin.
"I'm back, so let's start the real game, shall we?"
Me: Please review or Squalo here, from KHR, will scream into your ears as Adolfo starts throwing some insults at you!
Squalo: VOIII! You, woman! How come this Adolfo guy's copying my "VOOII"?
Adolfo: Shut up, you damn weakling!
Me: Adolfo, don't you dare insult the strategy captain of Varia.
Adolfo: VARIA? WHAT THE HECK IS VARIA?
Squalo: VOII! You're an Italian and you do not know the elite assasination squad of the Vongola?
Adolfo: Vongola? Doesn't that mean-
Me: Don't mind him, Squalo- senpai. He's supposed to be dead. Along with the other characters in this chapter.
Squalo: The good guys lost? The Black Spell won? And in the process this guy died?
Me: Nope. How can you survive more than five hundred years?
Adolfo: Don't be stupid! We can survive that long with the-
Me: DON'T SPOIL THEM!
Ah, I just couldn't help it! If you guys are wondering what I mean, it's Adolfo saying "VOII!" For KHR fans out there, you know where I got that from. For non- fans, there's this character (yes, Squalo) who has this thing for saying "VOII!" which is the Italian for "you." And should I also say where I got Adolfo's attitude from and the Black Spell thing? Hiii~! Obvious that I'm currently addicted to KHR, right?
I also wanted to say how in some point, I typed "Alfredo" rather than "Adolfo." O.o I'm pretty sure I wasn't hungry, though.