Demonic 1: Intertwined Fates
( <> )
The new Cadents stood alongside their Masters in astonishment. The same thing ran across their minds:
After the toil of classes, tests, endless exercises, SPY training, learning to master their various skills (to a certain extent) the reality of it took time to sink in.
A familiar annoyed voice broke into the silence. "There's something that's bothering me." Craig was trying to remain calm whilst saying the words but a hint of smugness underlined them.
It reminded Hope of Paul when he had been Craig's age. Actually, he still acted haughty. Paul continued to pester her and annoy her whenever he was given a chance. It had been her determination to not give Paul any reason to bully her that had let her overcome much of her hardships.
James tried to hide a smile as he imagined what Craig wanted. He had a fleeting hunch. "Yes?"
"Is it possible for some team members to be transferred?"
An angry grunt sounded from Paul's direction.
James was, in fact, surprised. He had expected Craig to be more blunt and straightforward. Maybe he had inherited some diplomacy from his parents. It was possible. Minister Maloon of the King's Court was famous for his "beating around the bush." "Transferred?"
Craig nodded. "Some Masters don't have any Cadents at all and some have over ten. I don't think it's fair to let one Master take that much responsibility."
James raised an eye. Diplomacy, definitely. "Masters such as...?" He gestured with his hands.
"Well, Master Paul has over fifteen Cadents -- all of whom are very strong -- while Miss Hope has two. It wouldn't be too much of a burden for her to have just one more..."
James nodded thoughtfully. It wouldn't be a burden; the only problem was that Hope hadn't even wanted one Cadent at first. It had taken convincing by the King himself that she had picked Cadents. Hope was more than capable of twenty Cadent if she was willing enough. She didn't trust herself too much these days. She had picked Blaze and Glacia after months of consideration and observation. Would she be willing to take in another Cadent? "That is up to Hope to decide."
Hope knew all Craig wanted was to be in a quality team, with more time with the master. Paul was always ambitious, wanting more than the average Master. Craig, being a new Cadent, would probably be working more by himself than with Paul. She decided she would give Craig a chance.
It was fair enough; thinking back, she really didn't have any excuse for not taking in any Cadents before Blaze and Glacia. As a Master, it was her duty. She admitted it was her old fear of losing the people close to her, but that was years ago. Surely she had changed. Surely she can stop her own fear.
James caught a look at Hope. She nodded very slightly, her flawless face devoid of emotion.
Hope cleared her throat. All eyes flicked to her with interest. She spoke only to Craig, feeling apprehension creep up along her spine, giving her shivers. "I'll take you in, Craig... on one condition."
Craig shrugged off the hint that the condition would be a difficult one to fulfill. "What is it?" he queried politely.
Hope took a deep breath as she pondered this. Why had she added in that one condition? "You have to..." She looked around for inspiration. Blaze wasn't looking at her; he was glaring murderously at Craig. It gave her an idea. "You have to defeat Blaze during the Team Cadents' Competition in a month."
Craig swallowed nervously. The Team Cadents' Competition was fierce as it wasn't only the new Cadents, but all current ones as well. He glanced in Blaze's direction. Of course he could beat him. He had done it numerous times before in the Academy. It was just... why did he look all of a sudden intimidating? The dark charcoal black hair and that annoyingly pale face... He crossed his arms in a determined way. "It's already done."
Blaze snorted, earning himself a scornful look from Craig as well as a disapproving one from his Master. He ducked his head in embarrassment. It was his first day as an official Cadent and he was already tarnishing Hope's reputation.
James stepped in, feeling the tension of the atmosphere. "Alright, then it's decided?"
Both Blaze and Craig nodded once -- the signal for "understood".
"Cadents Blaze and Craig are to fight during the Team Cadents' Competition," James announced, looking concernedly at Hope. Did she have a plan? As far as he knew, it was Craig who had been the bully and Blaze the victim. Was she planning on letting Craig into Team Blissed? Or was she trying switch the two boys' roles? "Meeting adjourned."
( <> )
Hope led the way to their cabin. It was customary for teams to live as one in an assigned cabin. Hope had intentionally chosen one in seclusion for two reasons: secrecy and protection. Not protection necessarily from enemies but to protect the citizens of Citria as well as fellow Cadents. Was she really doing the right thing? Why hadn't she let Jerome take Blaze and Icila take Glacia? The two had gladly let her take the two students when she had asked them but she had secretly been hoping that they would refuse. She was all-Elemental after all. Jerome was a FIRE warrior while Icila was an ICE mage.
Blaze was incredibly hot-headed. His power wasn't kid's play either. Although most Elemental Cadents by the time they had graduated their powers were strictly beginners -- meaning that they had the basic idea of controlling their powers, Hope could already see the strength of Blaze's. Their powers themselves were miniature from what they could be nurtured to be. Both Blaze and Glacia had incredible potential as Elemental fighters. Their powers were already outstandingly strong.
Glacia's biggest obstacle in training was going to be her personality. She was very quiet and rarely asked for help, as far as she knew from her teachers. Although most Ice mages at her level were, she was still very young. Her powers could implode instead of exploding, resulting in her possible death. At the very least, Glacia would lose all her powers. She was hoping that Glacia could open up to at least her. She could help her out.
Hope had chosen Blaze for another more urgent reason and one closer to home. She shuddered to even think about it. It would be hard to tell him as well. Having one would have any person shunned. He could very well be banished from Citria for having it. She practiced in her head the words she would have to say. Blaze, you're a... a... Dem- She bit her lit. She couldn't say it.
"Uh... Master? Hope?" Blaze's voice jerked her out of her reverie.
Hope looked around, dazed. "Y-Yeah?"
"Why did you choose me?"
The question was meant for her only. Glacia was tagging behind, aware of Blaze's tense mood. Hope didn't answer. There were quite a few reasons for that. "Choose you? As in as a Cadent?" she questioned lightly.
"...Yeah..." he answered reluctantly.
She frowned. Was Blaze also anti-social? He hadn't seemed that way before. "I chose you as a Cadent because I had no choice otherwise."
He frowned as well. "You had to choose me?" He suddenly turned cold. "You mean, no one else would take me and you took me in at the last moment?"
Hope shook her head. "That's not what I meant. I was... forced to choose Cadents." What was she doing? Hadn't she planned on telling him of his true identity? Why was she backing out?
Blaze made a face. "Forced? So you didn't want to choose Cadents in the first place?"
Hope nodded. Why am I telling him the truth? I'm supposed to say that it's my duty as a Master! she thought.
Blaze stopped in his tracks. "Then why did you choose me?" he asked coldly.
Hope winced. She hadn't meant to sound like she hadn't wanted him as a Cadent. "I chose you because... because..."
He waited impatiently, tapping his foot on the ground. The sound was muffled by leaves. Glacia suddenly ran into Blaze.
"Sorry!" she apologized quickly.
Blaze shrugged. "I'm waiting, master." He said master as if it were a dirty word.
"Because you have a Demon!" she blurted out. Her two Cadents simultaneously drew breaths.
It was as if the whole world had stopped in its rotation around the sun. It was as if the solar system had stopped moving at all. Time was frozen.
"Ha... Ha..." Blaze laughed uneasily. It was apparently not the answer he'd been expecting. A Demon? He had a... It didn't even make sense. How could he -- simple, hot-headed Blaze Outer -- have a Demon? Was Hope crazy? Were all the rumors about her being the strongest Master for centuries false? He'd have to flee the country! He'd have run. All because of Hope.
What if he really did have a Demon? What if what Hope said was true?
"Blaze," Hope said gently, putting as many soothing tones as she could into her voice as she can.
"Wha--" He looked around madly.
She placed a hand on his shoulder. "It's okay. I'll help you master your De-Demon." She gulped.
Blaze regained some dignity. "How?" he asked her frostily. "You don't know what it's like. I'm going have to leave Citria. I'm going to have to leave the only place I can call home! My grandfather had a Demon, my mother told me. She had to constantly move around because of that. Every time people found out he had a Demon, they'd chase him out."
Hope nodded as if she'd been expecting something of the sort. "Your grandfather had a Demon. You do, too."
"What? It's not a gene that's passed down or anything! It's a Demon for crying out loud!"
Glacia looked on from the side, listening intently from Hope to Blaze. Could it be true? Did her old classmate and new teammate, as well as fellow Cadent, have a Demon? It seemed true enough. Glacia felt herself shrinking back in horror. Blaze had sat next to her a couple times, both of them being loners of the class. He had shared his lunch with her before. Did he really have a Demon? Disgust overwhelmed her. Demons were enemies of Citria, they had tried to take over their nation. Did that mean that Blaze was her enemy now?
Of course not! She reprimanded herself for having such thoughts in the first place. Blaze was now her teammate. She would stick by him. If she started shunning him, then it was obvious that he would be shunned by many others as well.
"Bl-Blaze?" she asked tentatively. Blaze looked sharply at her. Was that anger in his eyes? It frightened her. "You don't have to leave Citria... We won't let you be chased out!"
Hope smiled at her. She turned back to Blaze. "Exactly what she said. You're a team member of Team Blissed now."
Team Blissed. It had a nice ring to it. Blaze nodded with uncertainty.
"Now," Hope said, pleased that she had gotten over the touchy topic. "Let's get to the training grounds before it gets any later, shall we?"
When they had finally arrived at their little cabin, Hope instructed her Cadents to set their things down and immediately meet her in the training grounds in five minutes. She hurried off inside the cabin.
Glacia and Blaze proceeded to put their things away.
"Don't worry too much," Glacia told him while taking off her thick fleece coat and replacing it with the thinner training jacket. She shivered. It was only cold now; it would be warmer soon. "I'm sure it'll work out for the best."
Blaze gave her a weak smile. "Thanks." He looked around quickly and put his hands over hers.
She jumped back. "What?"
He blew lightly on their enveloped hands. A thin wisp of flame shot down, surrounding their hands in a quick blaze of heat. Her hands were toasty warm in his. When he let go, the warmth disappeared.
"No prob," he grunted as he heaved her bag over his shoulder as well as his own.
"It's okay," she told him. "I'll carry it."
"I'm just going to put them inside." Before she could say anything else, Blaze had already left. She stood there shivering.
She realized something. I'm not cold! She stopped shivering immediately. What the--
"Glacia!" Hope called. She was already at the training grounds. She hurried over. "It's important for Cadents to be on time," she reprimanded her gently.
Glacia ducked her head. It was one of the most basic things of being a Cadent. Being tardy as a Cadent could cost a person their life. "Sorry."
"Now, just because Blaze has a Demon, I'm not going to subject you to the same fate."
Glacia wondered what she meant.
"You are an Ice-Mage," Hope told her.
The ice part she already knew about. But... An Ice Mage? Not an Ice Warrior? "What's a..."
"There are two types of Ice-Elementals, and this only applies to Ice-types: Ice-Mage and Ice-Warrior. The latter is more about fighting while the first focuses on countering the enemy's attacks as well as offence. Although there are many warriors, there are very few mages. I've only known three Ice Mages, and one of them is Icila Whinte."
Icila Whinte was one of the most reknown Ice-Elementals in Citria and also a respected Master. "Then why aren't I in her team?"
Hope shrugged. "I chose you first. The attacks most mages use are the same, with the suffixes: -ara, and -aga. For ice, they are Blizzard, Blizzara, and Blizzaga. Though they are simple, they are also the most useful. Let me demonstrate."
Hope closed her eyes and reached for her Ice power with her mind. She gathered up a little snowball of ice energy and let it out, thinking, Blizzard!
The little clearing suddenly filled with millions of little ice crystals. They glittered like diamonds. Glacia reached out her hand to touch one and winced. A long, shallow cut appeared on the palm of her hand. The crystals were more dangerous than she would've thought. There was a drawn out shattering sound. The ice crystals split into two, and then three. Glacia could barely see now.
Hope moved her hand across the air, shifting all the crystals one way. They followed her hand, clashing with one another. They combined together, forming one big ice crystal. Hope made a fist and then let go. The crystals exploded, flinging themselves at a tree.
Glacia didn't know exactly what happened but the tree looked like it had been poked full of holes. The leaves had a transparent coat of ice on them. She stood there in awe. "How..."
"I will teach you," Hope promised, her gaze full of honesty. "I will teach you Blizzara and Blizzaga and Sheer Cold and Final Frost."
Glacia was at a loss for words.
"Hope." Blaze arrived at least fifteen minutes late. His hair was disheveled; it looked like he had thrown on his training gear without properly looking in a mirror. A look of revulsion was on his face. It was easy to guess why.
"Blaze," Hope replied kindly, not at all surprised by his reaction. "You're late. Hurry, please." She motioned him closer. She turned to Glacia and gave her quick instructions. "I will teach you all those moves but the technique is yours. You have to attempt it first."
Glacia nodded. She walked away, finding a spot for herself next to a big tree.
"You have a Demon," she whispered quietly, making sure only Blaze could hear. Hope readied herself. "I have one, too."