Books sat piled high on a large, dark oak table. The names on the spines of the books were faded, old. There was a slight smell of dust and ancient ink and old paper that assailed my nostrils as Shiki, Kitsaia and I sat at said table among the towers of books. I had two different books spread in front of me, opened to certain pages. Pieces of paper stuck out of both books, marking pages for later reference. "What's the advantage of wind?" I asked. We were actually doing something worthwhile: Speaking of elements in magic.
"You can blow back the enemy's attacks, change the way the wind blows so you catch their scent instead, and you can knock the enemy back themselves," Kitsaia answered quickly, slamming a book shut and sliding it across the table before grabbing the top one from the stack nearest her and opening it. Her blond hair was pulled into a pony tail today, her light blue dress not tied all the way so it wasn’t as tight as it should have been.
"Meanwhile, the disadvantage is that you can summon too big of a wind and thereby destroy something you didn't mean to destroy," Shiki added, flipping lazily through a newer looking book. His feet were propped up on the table, his raven black hair falling into his emerald eyes. I quickly flicked to a marked page in the smaller of my two books.
"Good, good," I said, scanning the pages I had opened to. "Shiki--get your feet off the table! Now, how about earth?"
"Control plants, create earth quakes, the whole shebang," Shiki answered, closing his book and tossing it to the center of the table before grabbing another from underneath his chair. He opened it underneath the table top.
"Put the pop up book away," Kitsaia ordered, still flipping through her book Shiki jumped and looked at his little sister, wondering how she had known it was a pop up. He slammed it shut. How did I know all of this? Because I know my siblings. I've memorized the way they act; their actions. I know when something's up. "The disadvantages of it, however, are much the same as wind's disadvantages. But, you cannot attack from distances of miles away, like you can with wind."
"Can we talk about something different?" Shiki interjected before I could ask another question. I sighed and nodded, causing both Shiki and Kitsaia to smile. "What's the ultimate element?"
"You both know that there's no ultimate element!" Shiki and Kitsaia both grinned.I was touchy when it came to such subjects. Actually, 'touchy' wouldn't be an accurate word--more like anal. "It's impossible! No one element can be stronger than another! There are checks and balances!"
"We mean theoretically," the blond female explained in a soothing voice.
"Well, then .if you mean theoretically, I guess it would be, umm," I was at a loss for words as I tried to think. Even theoretically, there was no ultimate element.
"If there were an ultimate element," a new voice said from behind my chair. We all jerked slightly and turned around. "-then it would have to be darkness."
"Rorin!" Kitsaia shouted, greeting our cousin. He was towering over the back of my chair, an amused look on his face. With his bright red hair and dark green eyes, he was hard to mistake. His bushy redish orange and black tail twitched slightly at the volume of Kitsaia’s voice.
Shiki and I shared at look at our cousins words. It reminded the both of us of our conversation in the forest last moon. "Hello Rorin," we said in unison. Yes, we're creepy twins like that. Deal with it.
"Twins, Kitsaia," Rorin said in greeting. He stepped forward slightly and pushed me to the far side of my chair before sitting down in the same chair. It was a snug fit, but made manageable by my small size.
"Why is it you say that darkness would be the ultimate element if there was one?" Shiki asked, removing his feet from the table and leaning forward slightly. I glared at Rorin for moving me.
"Simply because it is within darkness that all things are born, and within darkness that we find our true purpose," he answered vaguely. Kitsaia closed her book quietly and looked at Rorin in slight wonder.
"Oh," I said simply, reaching forward and closing my own books. I decided to change the conversation quickly before word of my fit got out during their conversation. "Where have you been, cousin?"
Rorin smiled faintly, causing the scar on the side of his face to contort, making him look like a mad man. "I've been out, working." My siblings and I shared a look. We didn't know what their cousin did for a living, but we could easily tell that it was not pleasant. The last time he had been out working, he had been rushed to the castle by a group of people in masks, beaten and bleeding to death.
"Ah," was my response.
"Did you know the founder of the clan?" Shiki asked, seemingly out of the blue. We all stared at him. That had been an incredibly random question for him to ask.
"Um, no. He was dead before I was born," Rorin answered. "Why do you want to know?"
"I merely wished to know what our grandfather was like." Our supposed dynasty was in the early stages, our mother only being the second queen of the demon race. "Why don't you ask your mother?" We froze.
"Because she's too busy," Kitsaia said after a moment.
"Yes, we don't wish to disturb her," I added. Rorin smiled knowingly. He opened his mouth to say something, and then looked over his shoulder and looked back in hesitation.
"We'll talk later," he said before standing and bowing. "I must go." He straightened and turned on his heel, going deeper into the maze of bookshelves that constructed the library. We stared after him, confused.
"What are you three looking at?" a female voice asked us. We froze entirely; even our breathing stopped. "Hello?" I turned my head slightly to see our aunt, Haeso, standing just behind Shiki. Her amber colored hair was scraped into a messy braid, traveling down her spine and ending at her waist. Her orange eyed gaze was looking to where Rorin had disappeared to.
"Nothing, Auntie. Just a hybrid cub that lost its mother," I answered deftly, hiding a smirk as Haeso glared at me, pale pink tail's twitching.
"You don't humor me, Princess," Haeso told me. I was the only one who remembered what secrets Haeso had to hide. "Anyways, I need the three of you to come with me."
"Goddess, don't erase our memories again!" Kitsaia wailed. Shiki lunged across the table and clamped his hand over our blond sister's mouth, silencing her. No one was to know that they remembered anything, especially those close to the queen. A frown tugged at Haeso's pale lips.
"You remember?" she asked. "You all remember?"
"Bits and pieces of it," I answered for my siblings as Shiki continued to try and silence Kitsaia. "What we don't remember is why she had you do that, or who the founder of our clan was."
Haeso frowned fully and sat on the table top, smoothing out her skirts as she did so. "I am forbidden to tell you anything pertaining as to why Her Majesty had me do that. As to the founder of our clan," she paused slightly. "Well, the founder of our clan was fair, just, and a total goofball."
"What else was there about him?" I pressed. There was certain things Shiki and I had to know about him--mostly me. I didn't want to be a ruler like my mother. Kitsaia had calmed and was taking deep breaths. Shiki and I both knew that it was all for show. "What was his name? His element? What did he look like?"
Haeso's delicate eyebrows scrunched together. "My father's name stared with an 'r' . He looked like Shiki does, but with topaz eyes. As to his element- " Haeso's eyebrows straightened and she stood- "you'll have to find for yourself. Now, however, it is time for your combat practice."
Haeso had refused to give us any time to change into more appropriate clothing for combat practice. She wasn't going to change out of her dress, either. Kitsaia was looking around avidly for a way to get out of it as we walked through the many stone hallways towards the door that would lead to the practice fields.
I was dreading having to fight in the dress that I was wearing. Goddess knows what would happen--I'd most likely return to the castle in naught but a cloak. It would most likely be ruined if I were to be paired with Alistair or Illyana again.
Speaking of my shadow of a body guard, I looked over my shoulder. Illyana crept through the shadows, cowl on her cape up and covering her face. I couldn’t see her blue eyes, nor her pink hair. All I was was a five and a half foot shadow following me. I turned my head to look where I was walking.
"Who are we going to be paired up with this time, Haeso?" Shiki asked the question that was on all three of our minds. I knew that he didn't want to fight merely because he was lazy. I and our little sister however, didn't wish to train because they both knew that if I got cut it would end in disaster for the both of us.
If I were to be cut, I would either bleed out or lose much blood and have to have another transfusion. My platelet count in my blood was low, and my injuries would bleed longer than most. If someone got a paper cut, it would only bleed for a few seconds, a minute a most. However, if I got a paper cut it could bleed for minutes at a time. If I got cut and Kitsaia were to smell the blood, Kitsaia would most likely attack me for it.
Kitsaia wasn't mine and Shiki's sister by blood. She was our sister by adoption, and no one really knew what she was. She wasn't a demon, like we were, but something else. She had the looks of an elf, but her skin was far to pale. She also had the looks and habits of a vampire, but she loved the sunlight and wasn't affected in the least by it.
"I'm not sure yet. I only know that Lennana will be paired Sir Alistair again-at his request." I muttered something very un-lady like under my breath and picked up the skirts my snow white dress as I walked faster. I was going to kick Sir Alistair in a very unfortunate place. "Calm down, Lennana. I don't understand why you despise him so much."
I began to grind my teeth together. "Last we fought, he called me short!" Kitsaia giggled; Shiki laughed and Haeso raised an eyebrow the short princess.
"He called you short, so you despise him?" she asked. I nodded vigorously. I was walking ahead of the group.
"Precisely! He must understand that I am not short!"
"Yes! You're just faerie sized!" Kitsaia shouted. I stopped in my tracks and turned to face my sister. My eyebrow was twitching and Shiki erupted into more laughter at his little sister's words. Haeso giggled a bit, and then regained her composure.
"Come along now. Let's not fight until we re out upon the fields!" Haeso said, quickly walking to get ahead of me. "We'd hate to have the staff clean the blood off of the floor." Shiki followed his aunt, still laughing. Kitsaia followed him, laughing about faeries. I huffed and followed last.
I hate faeries.
The practice fields lay just outside the walls of the castle. Knights and squires were practicing on the trampled grass, along with archers and magic casters. The practice grounds themselves were surrounded by a wooden fence that people were leaning against, resting or watching the others practice.
The three royalties followed their aunt out to the practice field. Those practicing and those resting or watching bowed as they passed. It was fairly sunny outside today, and it showed the auburn highlights in Shiki's hair, as well as the white ones in Kitsaia's. From a distance, Lennana looked to have a marshmallow on her head, charred to points at the top.
That was how Alistair knew that they were coming. He saw the short, walking, charred marshmallow in a white dress and grinned. Lady Haeso was bringing Princess Lennana to fight with him. He vaguely wondered how Lady Haeso had gotten Lennana to agree to fight him again, especially after the last incident. He hadn't meant to call her short; it just slipped out in the heat of the moment.
He watched as Lennana detached herself from the group and began to make her way towards him. It was a shame that her dress was so white, because it was going to be unrecognizable by the time he was done with her today. "Greetings, Princess Lennana," he said with a grin, sweeping into a bow. Alistair was the youngest knight of the demon queen's force by far, but he was one of the more experienced despite his age. He also happened to be the head of the castle guard.
"Sir Alistair." I acknowledged him with a bow of my head. He righted himself, and then pushed his dark brown hair out of his light blue eyes. He was tall, but he wasn’t muscled like most other knights. I mean, he wasn’t a giant, hulking thing, but he was lean. It amazed quite a few people how such a small, scrawny looking demon could be in charge of the castle guard and the Queen’s armies.
"I see you chose to wear a dress today," he commented as he looked me up and down. Illyana came up behind me, silent as a shadow, and handed me a sheathed short sword before bowing to Alistair and going to sit on the fence. "Although white looks marvelous on you, I must say that your maids made the wrong choice on how to dress you today."
I ground my teeth, resisting the urge to kick him in the shins, or anywhere else for that matter. I would be civil, as I had promised her aunt. At least, I would try and be civil. "Unfortunately, Lady Haeso would not allow us to change."
Alistair laughed shortly. "You should always know how to fight in whatever conditions, so you should practice as such." He smiled. "Even if you are short and will most likely never have to be in a fight, considering their attacks could never hit one as short as you."
My aura darkened slightly as I glared at the knight. Without a word, I drew the short sword out of its sheath. I knew that I would most likely get tangled up in my skirts and lose the match. When fighting with Alistair, I knew I would have to be creative. The last time we had practiced together, he had nearly cut off my arm and I hadn't been able to land a single hit on him.
Alistair smiled at me. He drew his own sword, it being two and a half hands long, and relaxed completely. "You first, Princess." I narrowed my eyes at him. I didn't want to have to move, and my aunt had restricted the use of magic during these matches. I had no way to attack him if I didn't want to move because, if I did, I knew I would wind up on the ground entangled in my skirts and Alistair would go in for the kill.
Frowning, I slipped off my slippers and lunged at the knight, who simply brought up his blade and defended himself half heartedly. There was no power behind my lunge. "Where's your normal enthusiasm?" Alistair asked, dropping down and sweeping with his leg towards mine, hoping to knock me down. I, seeing what was about to happen, hopped up into the air, causing Alistair to miss.
"It died when you were knighted," I responded icily, landing back on the ground. In truth, I was really just trying not to get entagled in my skirts. Alistair pushed up on the ground with his hands, popping back into a standing position like a jack in the box. He laughed at my answer as he slashed at me. I bent back and his blade narrowly missed my chest. However, Ithen fell onto my back on the ground from the weight of not only my skirts, but also her momentum.
Alistair flicked his wrist halfway through his blades path, directing it towards my throat. I had no time to move as the tip of the sword landed at the hollow of my throat. "Dead, " he stated, flicking his blade away from my throat and sheathing it. "Come now princess, that was pitiful. You should have moved when you had the chance!" He bent slightly and offered me his hand.
I batted it away with my own clawed hand and rolled onto my stomach. I then placed my hands on the ground and pushed myself up and stood from there. My whitedress was coated in a fine layer of dust. I then bent and retrieved my short sword, which I had lost when I fell. "I would have moved, Sir Alistair, but I am wearing a dress. If I had moved my legs would have become entangled in the skirts. I have enough trouble balancing without that, thank you very much."
Alistair frowned at this information. "Then maybe you should wear shorter skirts," he suggested. I looked at him strangely.
"What do you mean?" I asked, part of me dreading the answer. Alistair looked to the fence where Illyana was perched. He then looked back to the princess.
"Are you comfortable with your body guard touching you?"
"I suppose," I said slowly. I was not sure where this conversation was going to go. Alistair smiled and looked over his shoulder at Illyana.
"Sir, would you care to come aid me?" he asked. I had to hold back a laugh as Illyana nodded and slipped from the fence. Not many knew the true identity of my guard, seeing as she always wore her hooded cloak. "I need you to trim her skirts to a reasonable length, if you would be so kind." Illyana bobbed a quick bow and headed to me. I made a noise in anger.
Shiki and Kitsaia were covered in bruises from their own spars. Kitsaia's baby blue dress was ripped at the hem from where she had stepped on it, and Shiki didn't have a single spot on his clothing. They were headed over to where Alistair was sparring with their elder sister. They couldn't help but stare slightly at the sight that met them.
Illyana stood on the fence, surveying the scene before her. Alistair was on the ground, Lennana standing above him, his own sword in her hands and pointing at his neck. Her once white dress was unrecognizable and the hem of it was chopped all the way up to her knees, showing off pale white calves. Alistair had a slash on his cheek, while Lennana bore not a single cut. The wide sleeves of her dress were ripped in random places; her white hair now looked to be white brown.
Kitsaia burst into gales of laughter. My dress was ravaged, and Sir Alistair had been beaten by a girl. How delightful. She clapped in joy. "Wonderful job, sister!" she shouted in glee as Haeso came up behind her. She took one look at the scene and shook her head in wonder. How I had managed to bring a knight down while I was wearing a dress obviously eluded her.
"What did you do to your dress?" Shiki asked me, smirking. It didn't matter to him how I had managed to take Alistair down or get his sword, let alone wield it. All that really mattered was what I had done to her dress. "It's destroyed."
Kitsaia elbowed her brother in the ribs, smiling. "I think it suits her--fairy sized!" I and Alistair looked towards the small group. I was glaring. Fairies wore their dresses cut to their knees. I shook my head and looked back at Sir Alistair-I would hurt my sister later. I moved my hands, and then dropped the weapon I held to the ground a safe distance away my opponent.
I held out one of my small dainty hands. "Need some help?"