Prologue

Lethe

A few years ago, I tried to kill myself. It is difficult, but I admit it. But the thing is, when you fail at something as simple suicide, everything moves on. The people around you won't allow you the time for a second try. They can't risk letting you at your precious second attempt. So you live. You might not want to, but its the only choice you've got.

When I turned twenty-one, I made a choice. I decided to attend a little school called Darach Academy, which trains wannabe Assassins and Soul-reapers. Hell, I figured that if I couldn't manage to kill myself, I could at least learn how to kill someone else. The school was built at the center of the city of Torstein, at the point where the two different districts meet.

Maybe I should explain about those. The first district, the one that I'm from, is called the Underworld District. The name comes from the name of Hades' realm in the old Greek myths because, well, its the only place where the dead can walk among the living without causing alarm. Honestly, most of the inhabitants are the souls of the dead, or Soul-reapers. Very few of us are actually living people, whether you count the Soul-reapers or not.

The second district is the Wonderland District. But, that place isn't anything more cheerful than its neighbor. Most Assassins live there, or come from there, mostly because they don't want to risk seeing the people they've killed in the next district over. It used to be called something else, but with all of the dead roaming the Underworld District, the land became poisoned. So, for an Assassin, it became Wonderland.

Now, I'm not saying that only Assassins live in Wonderland, and only Soul-reapers can live in the Underworld. There's no rule that says that. My dad lived in the Underworld District all of his life and he was an Assassin, before he had two kids and quite to become a teacher at Darach Academy. Alternatively, you don't have to be from either district to attend the academy and become either an Assassin, or a Soul-reaper. You could be from the normal world, and have the same aspirations. Not that such a thing would be considered normal, but it does happen more often than one would think. They just have to accept that Wonderland and the Underworld actually exist, though not as some stories say that they do.

Back to Darach Academy. There's no strict schedule of classes that you have to take. Meaning, there's nothing like a real training regimen or anything like that. Its more like a normal community college, in a way. Yes, there are some classes that you need to take to graduate, but other than that, you can take any number of the electives to pass the time and broaden the horizon of your mind. Or, you could focus on different styles of fighting, if that's what you're into. But if you want a "cover" it helps to have the skills to back it up. Or, at least that's the general idea.

Across the street from the physical Darach Academy, but still on the property, are the student apartments. Essentially, if you're a student you can choose to live at home and make a hellish commute, or you can simply live "on campus" and walk across the street. Obviously, I suggested that we live in the apartments while attending the academy.

Loki

"Well, at least we're all in the same building." Lethe said, using her usual cheerful falsetto. Even though we're related, its pretty much impossible to miss how attractive my cousin and sister are. I mean, there's always some guy gawking at least at one of them, and they've always been popular.

Lethe, being my cousin, is actually a natural blond, like her mom, but she dyes her hair a bright purple with black streaks that catches light in a fascinating way when left in natural loose curls. You'd think, with her dad being a teacher, that he'd kill her for dying her hair such a natural color, but he adores her. Besides, she's twenty-one, so he can't say no, even if he wanted to. But anyway. Her hair is brightly colored, but her eyes are more like the color of gemstones; an emerald green that might appear dark until the light hits her eyes. Honestly, they stand out more with her hair dyed. She usually only wears her black, since her and my sister, Sable, have an affinity for Gothic style clothing. For instance, today Lethe was wearing a short skirt layered with lace with straps hanging down on all sides, paired with a simple corset that laced up in the front and back, knee-high combat boots, and a long military-styled jacket.

"Yeah, but our brothers are on different floors from us." That was Sable. She was wearing a satin corset a little similar to Lethe's, but it only laced up in the back and had a delicate ruffle on the bottom hem. She layered a short skirt over a longer one that would have dragged on the ground if she weren't wearing high heels. Her long straight hair gradually darkened to a point that the tips were black, and since her looks were opposite from Lethe's, in a way, her eyes were a startling bright blue. -Almost cobalt, but maybe a shade or two lighter.

"With my luck," Lethe's older brother, Caspian, began. He and I never wore anything as interesting as our sisters, and most days that meant that he wore jeans and a plain dress shirt. "My room will be right below yours." He ran a hand through his dark brown hair, "I'll never sleep." He finished, earning a glare from his sister.

"Fuck you, bro'." Lethe snapped. Caspian's gray-blue eyes widened slightly, most likely because his sister rarely swears, though she no longer minds if the rest of us do.

"Play nice, you two." Sable sighed, before shooting me an amused look. "We'll try not to make too much noise, Casp'."

"Don't make promises I won't follow through on!" Lethe snipped, before rolling her eyes and skipping up the stairs. Her and Sable would be sharing an apartment on the second floor of "Building B" of the student apartments across the street from Darach Academy. Caspian and I didn't know who our roommates were, but he was on the first floor, and I was on the fourth.

"We'll meet back here in an hour." Sable reminded us, before following after Lethe. Caspian and I exchanged nods, before going our separate ways.

It seemed to take far too long to climb three flights of stairs, but I eventually found my way to my new home and unlocked the door.

"Hello?" I called out, as I stepped inside the apartment, noting that not all of the cardboard boxes piled by the entryway were mine. I hoped that the others were my roommate's, and that they weren't there by mistake. The apartment didn't have much aside from the fully equipped kitchen off to my right, and a couch with a coffee table in the living area. As I moved to the left, towards the bedrooms, I caught a glimpse of my messy black hair in a mirror that hung on one of the walls. "You here?" I asked, finally noticing that one of the doors stood open.

A young man stepped out, wearing a perfectly tailored suit that oddly worked with his handsome and unshaven face. There was an attempt made on his dark brown, almost black, hair to smooth it back, but it was just long enough that it didn't lay flay on his head and stuck straight up in some places. His light brown eyes met mine with a fair amount of skepticism.

"Oh, hey." he greeted, "Are you my roommate, or do I have to kill you?" He paused, then smiled, revealing his joke. We exchanged a firm handshake.

"I'm Loki." I introduced myself, trying not to think about how under-dressed I was feeling in my jeans, T-shirt, and a leather jacket. I didn't want to think about how normal I must have looked in front of him, even though our hair and eye colors were more or less the same.

He nodded, "Fawkes." He seemed to breathe in confidence from the air. Or maybe he was just cocky. I couldn't tell.

"Cool..."