It's been two weeks since Sol left and two more will mean it's Saku, but until then, I was starting to get a little worried. Normally she would have come and checked in with me at least once during those two weeks, but she hasn't this time.
I knew something was wrong when Troy came by. He came in looking around. "Hey, what's wrong?" I asked him. "What are you looking for?"
"I'm seeing if Sol is around here. Jade said that she left to do some more training and I thought she would have come back by now."
"You mean she's not with you?"
"She's not with you either?"
We both realized that something was wrong. "Okay, she would have told someone, right?"
"She told Jade."
"The new King. She said that Sol left early to go somewhere by train."
"Did she say where?" I asked. He shook his head. "Okay, then when do you last remember seeing her?"
"At Jade's house. We had just eaten lunch and were about to leave when she bolted out spouting about furthering herself. Then Jade said that she had told her beforehand about it."
I crossed my arms. That didn't make sense. Either Sol had gone crazy or Troy was lying to me, or… "Did she say anything strange while she was around Jade?"
"She…said something about her eyes, that they were an unusual color, but…" he trailed off, knocking on his head to try and remember.
No, they couldn't possibly still be alive. "What color? Troy, this is important. What color did Sol say her eyes were?"
"She said that…oh! She said they were a bright violet color. But her eyes weren't. They were definitely a hazel color."
I sighed. "Oh no…not one of them…"
"One of who?"
I popped into the house. "Nova get out here. Bianca, you're in charge of the town while I'm gone."
Nova joined us. "What's wrong?"
"Sol's been captured by a Charmer. They can only be seen by people with pure souls, whether it be pure good or pure evil, or people with unusually strong souls. To them, they have unusually bright or vibrantly colored eyes."
"What do they do?"
"They charm people. When they say something, to those who see their eyes, it becomes the truth, even if all evidence points in the opposite direction. In short; they're the perfect liars."
"So you're saying that she lied to me about Sol, and I just believed it."
I nodded. "She may have even twisted your memories and altered your perception of reality. Because of that I want you to stay in the back. Whatever you do, don't look at her."
"Sora," Nova said. "If she charms people, what will stop her from charming you?"
"Well, it's kind of like Bianca's power, where she can control people using their souls. Charmers' powers don't work on pure souls but they also don't work on people with stronger souls then their own. This forced them to be born with strong souls to make it easier for their powers to work and for them to survive."
They both nodded, understanding what I meant. We headed for the train, arriving at her doorstep in three days. Troy stopped me before I could knock. "Wait, there's something I have to tell you."
"First, do you know who the Successor is?"
I frowned. "She's a mockery, messing with the balance of life and death. She takes a corpse that has no soul and plants one in, preferably one with similar qualities to the previous one. The body is brought back to life with all of its memories intact although its personality might be different because of the altered soul," I explained. "She wasn't put to work by this new King, was she?"
"She probably brought back the one person you don't want to see; the Phoenix."
"…Actually, that might be good. She might be less of a prick now," I said as I knocked on the door. It opened revealing the flaming devil herself. Her eyes showed slight fear and slight anger though she didn't show any other emotion. "Welcome back to the land of the living."
"Taryn, who is it?!" a female voice called from an office area further in. When she didn't answer, the female in question came up to the door. "Who're you?" she put on a fake smile and shook my hand. Her eyes were very bright and extremely vibrant, showing her prowess and potential as a Charmer.
"I'm Sora, a fellow King, and these are my friends. I have a student who was last seen in your house, so if you wouldn't mind. I'd like to have a look around."
"Oh, sorry, but now's a bad time Can you come back later?"
Nova and Troy bowed their heads and turned around, caught by her powers. I pulled them back. "Okay, let me be a little more blunt, Charmer. You kidnapped my student and friend. I want her back and if you don't, or if you try and resist, then I'm going to snap your neck."
She stepped back, looking ready to run. "Taryn, get him!"
I dodged out of the way of her fire and saw Jade flee. "Nova, Troy, distract her!"
I tackled her down and pursued Jade. I almost lost her in the endless hallways, but soon was hot on her heels. I cut her off at a dead end. "You've got nowhere to run, Charmer, no one to hide behind."
"Who do you think you are, attacking a King?!"
"I don't care who the hell you are! You could be the god of the universe and I would still be ready to gut you if you hurt my friends!" I yelled. I held Hikari up to her throat. "Now, take me to Sol or I'll gut you now and cut this entire building to pieces until I find her."
She tightened her jaw and started walking. She led me down more hallways, and more of them, and more of them, until she led me to a door.
When she did, I saw a torture room, one similar to those in the Gray Mage's house and yes, I've had a full tour of his house don't judge me.
I saw a machine sucking the energy from Sol. "Turn it off," she obeyed. "Free her."
When she did, Sol crumpled onto the ground. She had several bruises and gashes on her arms and face and one of her arms looked broken. Her shirt and pants were ripped and revealed more cuts and bruises. I clenched my fist.
"You know, if you hadn't hurt her this badly, I might have been more lenient with your punishment."
"What are you going to do?" Jade backed up to a corner. "You can't hurt me or you'll be-"
"Shut your mouth! You don't have the right to speak anymore."
"But I'm a King. No one will run this territory if you kill me."
"I don't care about this territory and I don't care about you being the King of it, but if you can't rule without lying and using your powers for your own gain, then you don't deserve to have those powers!"
"S-Sora…don't k-kill…her…" Sol choked out.
"Tch, I won't kill her," I said as I grabbed her around the neck. I raised my blade and plunged it into her eye socket and then the other. Her screams filled the room, her blood oozing onto my sleeve. "I'm just getting rid of her greatest asset."
I dropped her and kneeled next to Sol. "I can't see!" Jade cried. "I can't see! I can't see!"
"And you won't be able to for the rest of your life, not without a miracle," I picked up Sol. She had passed out. "Taryn will get the police onto you for lying your way to becoming a King, so you can enjoy a long prison life as well."
I returned to the entrance. "You can't do this to me! You can't!" I heard her screams from all the way out here. Nova and Troy were kneeling next to an unconscious Taryn.
"Leave her be, she's no threat to us," Troy nodded and took Sol from my arms. "We can take her back to our home. She can recover there."
I woke up feeling the soft cushion of my bed underneath me. I wanted to go back to sleep until I was recovered, but I couldn't. Sora had bandaged my wounds and put my arm in a cast. I felt eyes on me and when I opened mine, I saw Sora at the edge of the bed.
He smiled comfortingly, which frightened me even more because he never did that. "Hey there, you okay?" he asked. I frowned. "I'll take that as a no. Well, you're not in danger anymore, so that's good. Do you need anything?"
I shook my head.
"Okay, well, Troy wanted to speak to you about something when you woke up, so I'll let him in now, I guess."
I tensed. I wasn't sure I wanted to see him. He abandoned me. He didn't question Jade when she lied to him and he didn't come looking for me. He walked in and held my hand. "Hey, are you okay? I'm so sorry about Jade, I didn't know…" he trailed off.
"You didn't even go looking for me…" I whispered.
"I couldn't, and if I could, I would have. Promise."
"But you abandoned me. You left me there with the Phoenix and Jade. You left me to die!" I raised my voice. "I can't trust you anymore, not without proof!"
"Proof of what?"
"Proof that you care about me still."
He leaned closer and pressed his lips to mine. My eyes widened before he pulled away. "…Is that enough proof?" he asked softly. I nodded. He grinned. "Caught you by surprise, didn't I? Do you trust me now?"
I nodded slowly and slipped my legs onto the floor. "Help me up…" I moaned as an aching pain formed in my ribs. He helped me stand and walk to the entrance room. I saw that it was nighttime. Sora and Nova were sitting and talking, but their attention immediately switched to me when I sat across from them.
"You well enough to walk already?" Nova asked.
"Not easily. How long was I in that room?"
"Which room, yours or-"
"The other one."
Troy spoke up. "I left two weeks before we found you."
"And you left me four before Saku and it's two weeks now. Your arm probably won't be usable until after the event, so you should probably stay here until it does."
I sighed and nodded. "Where are Bianca and Azura?"
"Bianca is meditating and Azura is in her room."
"Why is she in there?"
"She always goes in there after sunset," Nova explained. "She doesn't let anyone in and doesn't come out until dawn."
"She won't tell. So long as she doesn't hurt anyone, it's not my business," Sora replied. "Are you hungry?"
I nodded and he left only to return with a plate full of food, which I happily accepted.
"Now if you don't mind me asking, what did Jade do to you in that room?"
"She…She sucked my life away."
"And? That wouldn't give you those wounds."
"She had the Phoenix beat me every day. Then she would dunk my head in water to satisfy her sick sense of humor and then let the machine run overnight only to repeat again the next day."
"Why do you ask?"
"In case the press comes by looking for you, I'll speak on your behalf."
"You think I can't handle some publicity?"
"I think you don't want to and you need to rest as much as possible so you can resume your training and your commitments."
I was silent.
"By the way, what's Saku?" Troy asked. "It seems like a big event."
"Saku means to bloom, and it signifies the coming of summer. You've probably noticed the gardens full of dead cherry blossoms. They bloom instantly on the midnight of Saku, almost like magic. They stay like that until Hōkai which means to decay or to die. That event signifies the coming of fall and winter."
"And this is in two weeks?"
"Yes and this town will be very busy in those two weeks. Tourists come from all around to watch so all the hotels will be rented out. The streets will be filled with people every day, especially around lunchtime."
"And what if something bad happens on Saku?"
"It won't. Any form of evil or anger is gotten rid of, and any people who become angry or untrustworthy are discarded from the town."
A knock came at the door, a furious one. "Sora, I need in, now," Destin's voice came through. Nova opened the door. "Listen, come with me."
The two disappeared into Sora's room.
One Destin and I were in private, he began talking. "Listen, Sora, I've been getting bad dreams lately."
"I think something catastrophic will happen on Saku. I need you to call it off this year and get rid of all these people."
"Destin, extra precautions are made for this event. Nothing bad will happen. I've been doing this for five years and nothing bad has happened. Besides, I'm not ruining this for Sol; this might be her only chance of seeing it."
"This isn't about your student!" he raised his voice, but not too much. "This is about the safety of the people you care about and the people vacationing in this town."
"Destin, I'm not calling it off," I insisted. "If anything get close to this town that looks bad, then I'll get rid of it personally. I just need you to have faith in me."
He stepped back, now frustrated. "…If anything happens to either of my children, then I will personally end you and your dream!" he growled before leaving and slamming the door behind him.
So, I'll admit, I was experimenting with Troy's affection for Sol. I've had them be together for some time now, and plus I left it ambiguous as to how much time they spent with each other. I didn't want to focus on them actually falling in love, I wanted it to be almost transparent. You know when you've been friends with someone for a really long time, and then you two just decide to go out? No? Well that's kind of how I wanted this to come off. Whether it worked or not is up to you guys.
Anyway, I was going to just have Jade arrested, but then I realized htat she could just talk her way out, so I decided to have Sora be all renegade and pretty much gouge her eyes out. A bit dark, I know, but sometimes that's what you have to do, be a bit dark to get things done quickly and effectively. I'm not saying that this was the only course of action, but it was definitely the quickest for Sora.
Anyway, I'm curious to see what you think of the lovey-dovey stuff now that you've heard my explanation, so please leave a review and I hope you're all looking forward to Saku!