Demonic 1: Intertwined Fates
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"Why are you here?" a familiar voice asked into the eerily silent calm. It was both welcome and unwelcome. "You are no longer of any relation to me. Why?"
She wondered the same thing. Why? She vacillated upon answering. "I... I'm just... Please, just..."
The person in front of her held up a hand. She closed her mouth. "Now," the conversant voice spoke again. "Go away. You are no longer anything to me. I shall forget your very existence. You... If I see you here ever again, I'll kill you."
It wasn't the threat that frightened her. It was the serious and honesty in the statement. She believed her words.
"Go. Now. Before I change my mind."
She ran away without a backwards glance.
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Hope Blissia sat up straighter in her chair, putting her thoughts back into order and turning her attention to more mundane and ordinary things. She turned to the open window letting in sunlight and a light breeze through. Outside, she could see rolling hills and the great Academy building. It put her at ease... mostly.
Hope checked the clock again. She couldn't be late. It was nearly two o'clock in the afternoon. She had received a notice that the Selection Ceremony for the new Cadents would be taking place at 2:30.
Hope stacked the papers on her desk into a neat pile and set them down. She drummed surface of the wood quickly with the tips of her fingers. The sound came out staccato and gave evidence to the uneasiness building in her mind. She stood up nervously and breathed in and held it. She concentrated on holding her breath in as long as she could.
This was the first year for her as a Master to pick her students. She had seen some potential within some of the students, and now she was to pick them and train them to become the next generation of warriors defending Citria, the nation Hope lived in. Training Cadents, students who had graduated the Academy, was always a necessity of utmost importance. Sometimes, Masters were even considered to be above the king himself. But not often. The last time that a king had been literally thrown aside and the people had turned to the Masters for help had been almost a century ago--when the dark Demons had reigned.
Demons had always appeared with their opposites. All Demons were of two natures--dark and light. There was always been an even number of dark and light Demons; that was how the Balance had worked. Harmony.
But there had been no harmony when most of the light Demons had been exterminated along with their hosts. When the dark Demons had overrun the light ones and they had been defeated, the dark had turned their destructive attention to the humans.
And the King had been powerless to stop them. It had been Master Ricome who had been the one to stop the dark Demons from ruling the world. He had died in the process. It was Jona Triflee, the king during that time, who had taken the credit as the being who had saved Citria.
Hope donned a light jacket, though the day was warm, and made her way outside. She strolled lazily through the green fields that lined the way to the Academy. Why Jesse was making her do this, she didn't know.
"It's going to be me, count on it!" a loud voice declared. There was a round of applause. Hope went closer to the voices and she saw some students from the Academy in a circle. There was a boy in the middle who seemed to be the voice who had spoken first.
"Doubt it," a softer voice, but with even more conviction than the first, stated.
Blaze. Hope smiled. A potential student, she thought to herself. She scanned the crowd once more. She saw another latent student among them. Glacia, an Ice Elemental. She was afraid to use her powers but Hope knew the secret power that lay hidden and unused within her. The Ice power that she possessed was superior to any she had ever seen. If Hope nurtured it right, then Glacia could well become the strongest Ice-mage that Citria had ever seen.
Hope swept her long hazelnut hair out of her eyes and focused on the two fifteen-year-old boys. There was a rigid atmosphere between the two of them. There was a sudden flash of movement imperceptible to the human eye. Blaze winced.
"Just keep your opinions to yourself." The boy with blond hair narrowed his eyes, his mouth curving into a satisfied smirk. Both his hands were in his pockets. It was almost impossible to know that he had thrown a punch. Hope noted that one hand was curled in his pocket. It was that which had given away the fact that he had punched Blaze.
Hope knew well the move the boy had maneuvered. It was one she had used quite a lot during her Academy years (though she didn't resort to such tactics anymore) and also one she had had to suffer through for years. It was impossible to discern who had thrown the punch--which was the point of the move. The blond-haired boy hadn't executed the move properly. The speed had to be at least two times faster and stronger. He also hadn't uncurled his finger quickly enough.
The reason why she considered the move to be a cowardly move was because it was designed for people who were afraid of attacking outright. It was like kicking someone in the face and then contradicting the fact that they had done it; it was despicable.
It almost made Hope despise the boy. She didn't respond because she wanted to see how Blaze would react.
"Ha!" he shouted back. "I bet on my life that Hope isn't going to choose you!" Hope was glad that Blaze hadn't been aggravated by the punch. She frowned when she heard her name called. What were they arguing about? She tapped on a shoulder of a tall boy who just shrugged her off with a disgruntled sound.
Her frown creased deeper as she refocused her attention on the other boy. It was Craig Maloon--one of Paul's chosen students. She should have known. Ever since her days at the Academy, Paul had seen fit to mock her because of her almost non-existent powers. It wasn't entirely his fault, she had to admit, thinking back. She had been incredibly weak back then and she couldn't help but thank him silently. She would never tell him that out loud but she thought it was enough that she knew her true feelings. She was grateful to him, though she didn't exactly approve of his methods, that he had-in a way-built the Hope she was now. And all thanks to bullying.
Hope had noticed that Craig always seemed to pick on Blaze. He was definitely the kind of person Paul had been, and she could only hope that he would mellow out as Paul had. Somewhat.
There was a quick blur of motion and Blaze crumpled to the ground. Hope gave a slight gasp as blood trickled out the corner of his mouth. He jumped up and swung at Craig. Hope already knew it was a wasted effort. Paul was a fighter--a combatant. He would surely choose the same type of fighting style in his Cadents. And as Hope had known he would, Craig ducked under his punch and did a neat sweep, knocking Blaze to the ground again.
Hope decided to step in then. She walked forward and asked in a clear voice, "We're all being nice and friendly, aren't we?" Her words seemed to jolt a quite a few of them. Blaze stood up shakily--in rage rather than in fear--and glared fiercely at Craig. He looked maliciously back but turned an innocent smile towards Hope.
"Yes, Miss Hope," he said, granting her all the respect due to a Master of her rank. "We're just playing around."
"I see," Hope replied, smiled tightly at him. She would have seen through his lie even if she hadn't witnessed the scene from moments ago. "And as friends, I hope?"
"Exactly." Craig smiled at her, but she saw the thin beads of sweat form on his forehead.
"Well, the Ceremony is about to begin," Hope told them. There were a few whose faces fell. She knew for a fact that at least a quarter of them hadn't passed the final tests to graduate the Academy. "You'll want to get going."
"But it doesn't start for another forty-five minutes..."
"It's been switched to 2:30 p.m.," Hope answered him. He nodded nervously and Craig smirked. She thought she heard a rude word from him. Pretending she hadn't heard anything, Hope waved them off with a smile on her face. She sighed.
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James Prescott waited with increasing annoyance for the huge crowd of graduating Cadents to be seated. Their parents were equally rambunctious as their children, waiting anxiously for their chosen Master. If they had been chosen, that is.
It was always a subject of interest, the Selection Ceremony. So many Cadents finished -- or thought they did -- their final year at the Academy and proudly walked the way to the Academy's auditorium, to be told that they hadn't made the qualifications for a proper Cadent.
Out of the hundreds of Academy students, only a handful were chosen -- varying on the Masters' choices. There was no set limit -- maximum or minimum -- for Masters to choose their Cadents. Although it was very important for Citria to have more Cadents and more Masters, it wasn't a simple matter. Some Masters might not choose any Cadents due to their own personal reasons while others may have ten or more.
It was usually Hope's team -- Blissed -- that drew stares. It had been untouched for so long... It had been a coveted team by many -- although almost a taboo at first -- for it was the team led by Hope Blissia herself. She had been the one who had killed Jomed. It had been she who had vanquished the evil Vuldon from Citria. She was the greatest hero of the century.
James leaned forward into the microphone in front of him and said lightly, "And please be seated, ladies and gentlemen of Citria."
Simultaneously, the whole crowd of students, current Cadents, and parents sat down at once. The murmurs and chatters died down quickly.
James finally had the chance to speak. "Citrians," he began. "Who are we as a whole? Are we just a people who live within a nation?" He shook his head slightly. "We are Citria. We make up Citria. But so do the millions of people who inhabit the country. It isn't just the people who live within a country, but what we do as a nation.
"I am here before you to thank you -- the parents of our Cadents and students -- for letting your child become one of the many warriors in Citria. Although not all of them will make it to the Masters' ranks, I am sure their many achievements in the future will have a great impact on the community nonetheless.
"Specific graduates chosen by Masters will pass, and those who aren't will have to return to the Academy for further training. Do not fret if your child does not pass this year -- there's always the next. Encourage them for they are the next generation of our kind. Stand by them. Help them to succeed.
"Thank you." There was a huge round of applause, probably just because of the sheer number of people in the crowd. James waited patiently, and silence fell once more. "A student, chosen by her classmates, will come up front and give a speech about her experience in the Academy. Erika West, come up here, please!"
A tall girl with shoulder length blonde hair stood up and made her way towards the front. James moved to the side for her. She started to speak. "Classmates, and future Cadents, today is the day we finally graduate. After so long, and all the hours of studying and endless exercises, we finally take the next step in our lives and become Cadents.
"The life of a Cadent or Master can be rewarding but most often they aren't. All the toil and work put into it can cost us our lives. But we must purge forward. We must take the next step and the next. That's what makes Cadents or Masters so remarkable -- their ability to go on.
"I ask you: if you were Master Ricome who died so long ago" -- she and all of the others in the auditorium bowed their heads in reverence -- "in order to bring peace, would you be willing to give your life for the greater good? For the others who don't even know you?
"That is what makes a Cadent or a Master. The choice between easy and right. The choice between hard and wrong. Our choices will make Citria the powerful nation it has been for millenniums." Erika bowed. Thunderous applause sounded from all corners of the spacious room.
James stepped back onto stage and grabbed the microphone. "Now, I will announce those who have graduated." He beckoned behind him and his assistant brought forward the diplomas.
The atmosphere became serious.
James said, "I will announce the graduates by teams.
"First, Team Elementalis, led by Lori Halser. Gloria Shefflan, Jane Tyna, Zarnai Plotrome, and Jason Bartoli." Four students, with silly grins on their faces, got up and made their way up to the stage. They received their diplomas gratefully. Lori motioned to them and they went to her.
"Team Flamor, led by Jerome Truss. Violet Fierca, Susan Furies, and Liam Firslash." The three students got up and walked to the stage where James gave out the diplomas.
After twelve teams had received their diplomas, James had to stop for breath. A groan sounded from the audience as they thought that the Selection was already over. "We have two teams left," he croaked into the microphone.
"Team -- ahem -- Killer, led by Paul Warren. Craig Maloon, Niklas Jonson, Julia Harman, and Grace Mayfeld." They stood up and walked up to the stage and also received their diplomas. Craig took his a little bitterly.
Blaze watched from the crowd with nervous hands. He hadn't been picked yet. He saw on the stage only three more Masters: Carmen Forett, Maos Nai, and Hope Blissia. He had serious doubts that Hope had picked Cadents this year. It had been already seven years since she had become a Master, and she had never picked a single one. Carmen Forett was known for being kind but she was an Earth elemental. Being a Fire type and also being an opposing element to hers, he was unlikely to be in her team. Maos Nai was known for being the toughest, hardest, and strictest Master. Most of the Cadents he chose moved onto the higher ranks sooner or later.
When it came down to it, he didn't think it likely that he would be chosen. He looked around and saw his classmate, Glacia. He had always known she was there but didn't really know her that well. She had helped him out one time a month ago when he had been picked on by Craig. She looked over at him and he gave her a tentative smile. She returned a feeble one back.
"Yes, and our final team is Team Blissed." James waited again. The words sunk in like honey.
Did he say Team Blissed?
The one led by Hope Blissia?
She's never taken a single Cadent since she became a Master!
This must mean... Roger! I think she chose you!
James held up a hand to stop the talk. "As you know, Hope Blissia is the leader of Team Blissed and this is her first year as a Master. She has selected the following students: Glacia Blix and Blaze Outer." Dumbfounded, both Blaze and Glacia started up to the stage. They received their credentials with shaking hands. When they had reached Hope, she regarded at them with a small grin on her lips.
"Congratulations," she said. "You graduated."
"Thanks," Glacia finally whispered.
The large crowd was talking again, and none too quietly. Over the noise, James shouted into the microphone, "This Selection Ceremony is adjorned." The majority of the crowd assembled departed the auditorium.
He went over to the back where the teams were amassed. He smiled at them. "Congratulations," he said genially, "Cadents."