Julia stared at the screen, a black page was shown in front of her eyes and soon a red horizontal line appeared, stretching from the centre to the side, it was shortly followed by letters.
Enter the game.
A simple sentence, almost a cliché. She clicked on it and a new window opened revealing a form to fill with personal data. Without thinking twice over it she started writing the required information down.
Name: Julia R. S.
Address: Whisper's Church College, Raven Court 17W.
Physical conditions: Healthy, athletic.
Preferred weapons: I am not sure, blades I guess. And a bow.
Special powers: Sharpened senses, dreams of the future.
Water weapons allowed in room? No.
Attack while on a bike allowed? No.
Special requirements? No.
Notes: No one.
She pressed enter and waited, a white light flashed across the screen and a question appeared. She quickly read it to herself, 'By proceeding with your application to officially enter the game you agree to that you have carefully read and signed the rules and therefore shall be bound by the terms of the contract from the beginning of the term until the end. Please be reminded that after this point there will be no return'. Julia sighed surely they make it seem far too serious, in the end it's just a game. She was going to press the button without further bothering to check about the rules when a voice sounded in her head. 'I'd advise you to read the rules again before you join'. A slender figure appeared in her mind and her hearth speeded up at the memory of the mysterious girl. With another sight she went back to the previous window and looked up for the rules. Tiredly scanning through the lines, she tried to fix into her mind as much as she could. She was struck by the unusual amount of times that she was reminded that once accepted to play she couldn't refuse to take part into it. Most of the information though was vague and she had still no idea how or where to get weapons, neither she knew how to send a report. She wished she had stopped that girl and asked her to be her mentor. As soon as she reached the end of the longest list of rules she had ever read she signed up for the game. The screen turned black again before shadowy characters appeared on it 'Welcome, we thank you for joining this term's game and we hope you'll enjoy thoroughly. Shortly you will receive further instruction on how to proceed before the start of the game'.
Julia got up from her chair and reached her bag, pulling out her phone. She had almost forgotten that she had to send the link to Elisabeth. With a quick text she told her friend to join as soon as possible and attached the link to the page. Then she went to her kitchen and ate a snack her gaze lost outside of the window. She wondered if the other girl had joined as well. 'Will you stop staring at the landscape and come back to reality, please?' An angered voice came from her right. 'What do you want, Nina?' She asked, a bit pissed at the younger girl. She was a few inches shorter than Julia, yet her high heels made her appear as if she was the same height. 'Just getting my stuff cleaned,' she replied gesturing towards the sink which was full of dirty utensils. Irritation at the thought that she had been prevented from cooking more than once because that constant mess caused the older girl to coldly reply, 'How nice of you, to grant us the favour of removing your dirt from our shared areas every once in a very long while'.
'You are not funny'.
'That wasn't meant to be funny'.
Julia left the room without adding a single word, she wasn't going to waste her time with that irresponsible kid. As she entered her room she checked her phone and saw a few messages from Elisabeth. 'Joined. Honestly, I have no interest in playing, I just wanted to make you shut up. as soon as I am your target you'd better come at me, because I have no intention on keeping playing. Cheers, Lizzie'.
'Great!' she wrote her back. 'I shall see you shortly then, you'd better get ready for it'.
In the next few days Julia's life went on as usual, aside from the fact that she obsessively checked her email every ten minutes or so waiting for an answer. In the end it was during her annual talk given by the president of the student council that she got the reply and she carelessly read it instead of paying attention to what the guy was saying. The tone was friendly but the actual message was far from that, it looked more like she was being told that she had just signed her death.
Dear Julia S.
I am more than pleased to welcome you to our sect of assassins.
As a younger member of our community, I expect you to be respectful towards the more experienced players who have been especially trained by our masters and please be careful not to fall their prey. Don't worry if you have not received any kind of preparation for this as we run a short "pre-sessional" course for all those who want to make experience before the actual game starts, just to make sure they'll last for at least a couple of days before being brutally murdered by some more skilled player.
You are advised to find your own weapons either by getting them from an authorised seller (there are a number of these in town, just look around you for one) or you can choose to submit a special application for your own personalised weapons. Lastly, should you need any more support our team of shadows, I'm sure they'll be more than happy to show you the shortest path to the graveyard.
The silent keeper
Assassin's Recruit Department
'Julia? Julia…are you paying attention?'
'Eh? What?' She looked up only to see that the dark-haired guy sitting next to her was staring at her with a disapproving expression. 'What's so important that you'd miss the famous President's random speech?'
'Oh, you see I just joined the Assassin's…I was checking my email'.
'Oh yeah, fair enough then. Actually I have heard that Liam has joined as well'.
'Really? I wasn't expecting it'.
'Yeah, so how are you going to kill people?'
'I don't know, I still don't have weapons,' she replied confused by the question. 'Why do you ask?'
'I myself still don't have clear ideas about how to play, though I signed up as well'.
'Wow! It's going to be really funny then'.
'Yeah, it definitely is,' he rose from the chair adding, 'Good luck then'.
'You too, Kush'. And he left her to her thoughts. More people more fun then. She concluded to herself.
When she got back to her room she found a red envelope right before the door, she opened it rather unceremoniously and stared at the single sentence on it.
If you want weapons, ring the bell thrice and I shall appear. There was no hint at who the sender was, though Julia doubted she was in danger as the game had not started yet. Following the instructions she picked the small object inside the folded papers and rang it. 'So you might be interested in obtaining weapons?' a girl's voice reached her ears before she caught sight of her. She wasn't much taller than her, her skin white and her hair brown. Hidden behind thick glasses two yellowish eyes glowed in excitement. 'Yeah, I think I'll need them,' Julia replied with a smile, though her whole being was being taken over by fear. 'May I ask how did you materialise into my room?' this just doesn't make sense.
'That's a silly question to ask to a shadow, you know'.
'Yet, it looks like magic'.
'Well, of course all kinds of creatures are allowed to take part in this game, not only humans. It's almost expected that those who look over the regular development of the fights will be supernatural beings'.
'Wait, what did you just say?' Excitement mixed with disbelief marked her tone.
'Oh dear, did you join without knowing?'
'How was I supposed to know what sort of creatures would roam on earth. Honestly, had I not known that my door was locked and that you couldn't possibly have entered so quickly unless you were already inside, which I doubt, then you must have some sort of power. I'm not convinced, though I tend to adapt to unplanned changes quite quickly'.
'Do you even know what this game is about?'
'Of course I do, we are supposed to kill each other'.
A wide smile appeared on the girl's face, 'And how are you going to kill your targets?'
'I had imagined you'd get me some weapons'.
'Oh yes, I read your file, you specified blades and bow in your preferred choices'. She moved to the side of the bed and paced a bag, appeared out of nowhere, on it. To Julia's shook she exctacted a long sabre from it, handing it to her. Then she took out a short knife and finally a bow with actual arrows. The poor girl stared at the weapons in her hands and carefully removed the knife from the sheath. With a surprised look she took notice that t was real and just to make sure of it she run a finger on the perfectly smooth blade causing it to bleed. 'Careful with that, I wouldn't want you to ruin the blade'.
Yeah, that's right. One should touch the blade of a sword with bare hands lest it will be ruined by the skin's fats. 'Why are those things real?' her evident shook transpired from her words.
'Why, didn't you say you knew about the game? How do you think you are going to kill people then?'
'But…but I thought, I assumed…it was for fun…'
'It is for fun, what else could be funnier than seeing a living being slowly dying in a pool of his own blood?'
Julia stared at her with her mouth wide open. 'This wasn't specified in the rules'.
'I think the rules are very clear, though if you have any queries about them you should contact the administration service'.
'I don't want to play, I'm not a murderer,' she firmly stated handing back the weapons.
'Too bad, you cannot retire,' the other one said refusing to take the blades. 'If you don't kill then you'll get killed, you know that don't you? Even if you escape the person targeting you, if you don't kill your targets then you'll become "food" for all the other players'. She checked her watch and then with a gasp added, 'My God it's so late, I really need to go. Good luck!'
'Wait!' Julia called but the girl had already disappeared. What do I do now? This is a dangerous game, maybe I should leave the town…why didn't they specify t on the website? She asked herself knowing that the answer was quite obvious. 'Of course who would ever join a game of killing for real?' then her face went pale and she mumbled 'Murderous assassins with a thirst for blood. Then I'm going to die'. And she slowly sank down next to her bed, her mind too distressed to form coherent thoughts.