Underground

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

A teenage girl's life is turned upside down when she wakes up one day in an unknown place with no memories. She follows the strange instructions given to her by an unknown person and finds her way to an underground city.

Prologue “I love you.” I whisper sweetly into his ear. “Always.” “I love you too Rhys.” He sighs, leaning in to kiss me. “Never forget me” I answer him with a passionate kiss that could set the forest around us on fire. We break apart, smiling, and sit down in our spot under the trees. This is our place, the place where my father can’t look over him with a disapproving glare and sit in stony silence at the dinner table. This is the place where we can be together, no restrictions, and be passionately in love. But tonight it was different. No stony stares or disapproval. Instead my father seemed shocked to learn his full first name. “So, young man. What do your parents do for a living?” he queries “My mother is dead and my father is a politician.” “A politician named his son such a common name?” “No. My full name is actually very uncommon. I prefer the name you know me by.” “Well what is it?” “You know my name. What more do you need to know?” “Just tell me what it is.” “Fine. It’s…” The memory shatters when we hear a twig crack. We look behind us into the pitch black night searching for its source. When we see him, I tense up. There is no way he could have found our little grove without following us. He has been watching us. I grip my love’s hand and look into his chocolate-brown eyes before reluctantly getting up and walking towards my father. He grabs my arm and drags me off into the forest towards our home as I cast a forlorn glance toward my dearest. The look of sadness in his eyes rips a ragged hole in my heart. My father senses his gaze and pulls me forward into the darkness until the pitch blackness engulfs us and I see no more. The next thing I see is a flame from a lighter and my father’s stern features. “I thought I’d find you here Therese. You lied to me about being alone with him.” “I…I’m sorry dad. I wouldn’t have done it if you hadn’t always been so…so STERN!” My voice squeaks, “I love him.” “Well you won’t for long. Your mother and I have been deciding on this for a long time. He doesn’t deserve you. If this is the only way to prevent you from seeing him, so be it.” He lifts a vial to my gaping mouth and forces it down. My vision starts to blur and blackness lingers around the edges. “This is for your own good. I love you sweetheart.” I hear him say as the darkness finally takes over. “Therese.” Chapter 1. I open my eyes to bright sunlight shining down. I bolt upright and look around. Where am I? I try to remember walking to the park last night but I can’t conjure up the memories. Okay. Was I drunk? I try to remember my parents’ names. My best friend. My pets. Blank. Nothing. My name. What is my name? I don’t know who I am. Frantically, I dig around in all of my pockets searching for a driver’s license, a medical card, a school ID. Something. Instead I find a paper in my pocket with “Therese Michaels” written on the outside. Who is this Therese person? Me? The only thing I’m sure of about myself is that I have bright red hair and striking caribbean blue eyes. I open it up and scour its contents, looking for something about me. It reads, “Hello. Your name is Therese Michaels, Age 16. Follow my instructions exactly as written. You are being watched. There is a reason for this, and you don’t need to know it. First, do not leave the park, instead, go directly to the large boulder by the bench. When you reach it; tap it three times, walk around it clockwise thrice, and again counterclockwise. After this has been completed, reach into your pocket and take the pocketknife in your right hand, slicing your left hand with it. Smear your blood into the earth in front of the boulder and a staircase will appear, descending into the ground. Go down it and follow the river until you can’t anymore. Sincerely, X.M” Who is “X.M”? What does he want with me? Apparently I have no choice in this matter, so I will oblige. I follow the instructions to the “t”, Wincing as I slash open my palm. I’m not very tolerant to pain and I don’t fit into the “masochistic” category when it comes to my personality. As the ground opens, revealing the staircase, I dig around in my pockets for something to staunch the blood flowing from my hand, as well as for a light source. I find a clean handkerchief and a small L.E.D. flashlight, wrapping my hand and lighting my path within a minute. Light fills the huge cavern as I find myself staring down a dark, snaking cave with a river running in it. I hear stone grind against stone as the entrance to the staircase slides closed again, finally sealing with a bang like a gunshot. There’s no going back now. I start my trek down the river absentmindedly. Whoever did this to me is going to have hell to pay, ‘cause they messed up my life. When it feels like I have been walking for hours I hear an eerie noise behind me and I whip my head around. I don’t see anything, so I silently slip the knife in between my pointer and middle fingers, the blade protruding from the crease between my knuckles. Now anything that wants to get me will have a nasty surprise in store for it. To pass the time, I continue trying to remember things. I come to the conclusion that my personality is there, just not the memories about my past or anyone I ever came into contact with. So I can remember my favorite color, books, food, and movies, but not my best friends, parents, pets, or any schools I went to. That’s depressing. I wonder how long I’ve been walking. My face and hair are shiny with sweat and I’m starving. “When I get out of here I’m not coming back this way…” I mutter sullenly under my breath. “I’m never, ever coming back here.” Soon I come to a set of heavy-looking steel doors. Flanking them are two guards, one middle aged,the other in his early 20's, both with dark hair and eyes. When I step out of the shadows, however, they both tense up and point their M-16 rifles at me. I hold my hands up and start forward silently, eyes pleading. “Who the hell are you?” The taller one of the two barks. “How did you find us?” Unable to speak, I mutely hold out the note from X.M. The taller guard closes the gap between us and rips it out of my hand. He nods to the other one and orders me to drop my knife. I do. My hands are cuffed behind my back and I find my voice again. “HEY! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” I screech “I’M NOT A CRIMINAL!” The tall one reaches out and slaps me across the face. “Hold your tongue girl.” He orders as the other guard opens the huge doors and I am escorted into the facility. I do. I might as well not make trouble for myself when I’m surrounded by M-16’s. The great doors open and I can see a huge cavern stretching 100 ft. across and about as tall. About every 10 ft. up, metal bridges are strung across the cave from openings in the walls. The river that I followed here continues through the middle of the cavern and some young children are playing in it and jumping off the first bridge. I stand there watching them, confused. Why aren’t their parents here? As I watch, one of them lands wrong in the water and screeches, clutching her arm. The kids just put it in a sling and the girl climbs awkwardly up the ladder to go again. What kind of place is this? The tall guard shoves me forward and I stumble, landing on my knees. When I look up, I see a boy of about 18 standing with a group of teenagers, laughing. They are dressed in what looks like battle gear and they also shoulder guns. The boy’s laugh sounds forced, his eyes look pained. He looks like he wants to be alone. One of the girls says his name and points over our way, laughing at me on my knees. He turns around and meets my eyes. His eyes widen in astonishment that is soon replaced by anger. He turns on his heel and stalks up to the tall guard, who by this point seems to be in charge. “Why.” He growls, “Is she here? What is she doing here? What are you doing with her?” His volume escalates with each question. “Prince Nicolai, this young lady was wandering around the cavern with a knife. We are taking her to your father on the suspicion that she is a spy.” The guard replies calmly. “And must I remind you that everything we do here is for the good of the community and that you have no control over the actions of the military.” “I may not have it directly, but defy me and your position will not be as good as it is now, Calvin. Remember that.” Prince Nicolai warns in a voice like ice. “Take her because you must.” I gasp as the shorter guard grabs my elbow, pulling me forward and on my feet. I look up at the boy and something stirs within me. I have no clue what it is. My gaze is wrenched away as the shorter guard shoves me forward. “Move along girl. Keep moving.” I feel the cold circle of the gun on the small of my back. I move forward slowly, hoping that this guy isn’t too gun happy. “Is the gun really necessary?” I ask, “If I was going to run I would have attempted to escape already. You are making me nervous.” I feel the gun press on by back once in warning, then move away from my back altogether. I look back at the scene by the river once more. The boy looks over at our little trio, disappointed and confused. The guard orders me to look forward. We are almost to a huge, round door in the cave, inlaid with gold and jewels. My eyes widen as I take in the superior craftsmanship. I see two soldiers flanking the door and at the tall guard’s order, they open the door. I am shoved in and I gaze I wonder at the huge cavern. I see that there is easily a large suite in the back with a bedroom, bathroom, and a man’s dressing room. The main part of the space, however, is the huge living room area that we are in. A huge red couch faces a grand fireplace and a wall of bookshelves. Over the fireplace is a magnificent portrait of a handsome middle aged man wearing a crown and a beautiful, younger woman with flowing hair, a crown inlaid with rubies and sapphires, and a radiant smile. In front of them are three children, one of them looks about 16 with a rakish grin. He looks slightly mischievous in this picture, but handsome nonetheless. In the middle is a little girl of about 6 with pretty hair like the mother and the easy smile like the father. On the other side of the girl is the handsome boy from the clearing. He is sitting in front of the woman holding one of her hands. His smile looks half forced again and his eyes are wide, but hard. He looks to be about 14 in this picture. They look like a normal, happy family that just happens to be royalty in this strange world underneath the ground. I hear someone chuckle and clear their throat quietly. I realize that I have taken several steps forward to gaze at the picture. Calvin grabs me by the arm suddenly and pulls me back. I hear a quiet, kind voice chastise him. “Now, now Calvin. She isn’t hurting anything. Let the child go please.” Calvin lets my arm go but protests. “But she was wandering around the gates with a knife, My Lord. She could be here to assassinate you! She could be spying for the enemy.” “Yes…” the quiet voice responds scathingly, “She looks like such a killer to me. I’m shaking in my boots at the sight of her. We will be fine. Leave us now.” He dismisses them with a slight wave of his hand. I turn and look at the strange voice coming from behind me, surprised to see the man from the painting. He shoots me a wry look from the couch, smiles, and motions that I should sit in the slightly less grand easy chair on the other side of a small table. I sit gingerly on the precious fabric, running my hands over the soft velvet lovingly. “You like the furniture? It is made from the finest material in the world, worthy of any overworld king, don’t you think? This couch was made in India and the heavy wooden table is from the old czar’s palace in Russia. They all owed me favors. We took care of some nasty ice demons in Russia and water demons in India. “D..demons?” I stutter, “There are no such things…” “Ah but there are, my dear. You just haven’t been trained to see them yet. You have the power, you know. It radiates off of you. I have never seen anyone with this amount of power who hasn’t seen a demon.” “Ha. Okay. I’m insane aren’t I. You are a figment of my imagination and this is all some padded cell. Awesome.” “Oh no, I assure you my dear, I am fully real and you do have this power. Now, please show me how you came to find us down here…” I reluctantly show him the note and watch his eyes widen in shock as he reads the letter. “Someone told you how to find us? But how? No one but our own know how to find this place.” “Well, I’m not one of you, that’s for sure.” I reply dryly. “So I’m guessing that whoever wrote me that note is. It didn’t seem like anyone down there wanted me here.” I twist a strand of my fiery hair around my finger and my blue eyes sparkle with tears. My hand is throbbing and I have a headache. “I just don’t know what to do. I don’t belong here.” “Do you dye your hair that color?” The king asked quietly. “I’m assuming not. Like I said, I don’t remember. I don’t remember anything.” I rub my hands together and wince as I hit my own wound. “Oh how rude of me!” The king exclaimed. “Your hand must hurt. May I see it?” “Um…why?” I ask while reluctantly showing him my wounded hand. “What are you going to do?” He calmly pulls out a thin knife the size of a letter opener. “Our blood has healing properties. All I need to do is squeeze a drop or two of my blood into your wound and you will be better in no time.” He pokes his thumb with the knife and squeezes a drop into my aching hand. The pain immediately dissipates and I smile at him. “Thank you.” I say glancing back over at the painting on the wall. “Who is the younger boy in the painting?” “Ah my dear, that is my youngest son and middle child, Nicolai. The girl in the middle is my youngest, Aria, and the other boy is my eldest, Dante, the heir to the throne. He is 20 now. My wife Maxandria died when Aria was 8. It crushed Nicolai.” “I’m sorry. Is that why his smile looked so forced back there in the clearing?” “Partially. He has lost so many people that were dear to him. You see, he lost his mother, and a couple of weeks ago, his girlfriend from the overworld went missing. He searched everywhere but the whole family was gone.” My heart sinks a bit. I don’t even know him, but I am strangely attracted to him. He loves someone else. “I understand what it’s like to lose someone. I lost myself and everyone. It tends to make people more guarded.” I say. “Did you ever meet her?” “No, I don’t traditionally meet the objects of my sons’ affections until after two years. The two year mark was coming up soon, I believe. Nicolai was distraught. He had never met someone like her before. I believe that he truly loved her.” “It sure sounds like it.” My stomach growls loudly and my face heats up in embarrassment. “Oh dear! How rude I am today!” He rings a bell and a servant comes to the table. “You must be hungry.” He whispers a few words to the valet and dismisses him. “There. Food is on its way. Do you have any more questions?” “Millions. I just don’t know where to start.” “How about I tell you more about what this kingdom is. I’m sure you are confused by that. Plus, it should keep you busy while you eat.” He smiles gently. “How does that sound, my dear?” “It sounds good to me.” Just then, the valet comes in bearing covered plates that smell strangely like cheeseburgers and fries. Those two things definitely do not go together in my mind. He sets the plates down in front of me and whips the covers off with a flourish, takes a deep bow first to the king, and then to me, and backs out of the room. I look down at the plates and surprisingly, it is all of my favorite foods, A cheeseburger, waffle fries, steak, and a larger than life chocolate shake. I clear my throat. “Um…is this all for me, sir?” The king chuckles softly, “Yes, my dear, this is all for you. I ate before we started our conversation and I will have supper with my son after we are done here. I have some things to talk to him about. Eat, child, and I will tell you a little bit about our community down here.” I dig in hungrily. The food is absolutely exquisite. Much better than the average fast food place. “This whole cavern structure was discovered by our ancestors in Civil War times when a certain few troops from the north and the south decided that they no longer wanted to fight over the issue of slavery. They met up with some freed slaves, and one of them was an old shaman. The shaman was able to do magic on the men and their families because of the way the soldiers had joined together despite being on different sides. He made everyone in the group able to heal injuries by combining blood. He also taught them how to see and fight demons. Some of the other soldiers from the south caught wind of this, causing the newly formed community to go underground. We have been here ever since.” I swallow hard before replying. “Wow. That’s an interesting turn of events. I have never heard history that way before.” “Yes, that is for a reason. You see, if the whole world knew about demons, they would live in constant fear, and some would probably cross over and become allies with the evil ones. It would be very bad for the human community if they had our knowledge and power.” “I see. But why wouldn’t you share the healing power? That could save millions of lives.” “People aren’t built with the capacity to give away their blood to heal others. Our blood is stronger than the blood of a normal human being, so it takes less of it to heal. If we spread this power to the humans, the power would become diluted and millions would die trying to save others. It would be more of a curse than a blessing. We heal humans when they get hurt by demons, but they don’t remember it and their blood doesn’t take on any special qualities.” “So you heal some humans, but not everyone?” “We simply do not have the masses of people enough to heal everyone in the world. We heal people who have been cursed or possessed by the demons. Those cases are the most serious and dangerous, even worse than cancer. People who have been cursed or hurt by demons have this black aura around them. Demons have a shimmery purple and black aura. This is how we see them. Once we sense their aura, we can see the being. But you will learn more about demons in training. For now, since you are done eating, I will have Markita escort you to a chamber. Calvin and Marcus will escort you back here in the morning to break your fast with me. I will continue to ponder the question of who wrote you that note.” “Okay. I guess I am feeling tired.” I say looking at my hair and face in a mirror on the wall. “Plus I guess I need a bath as well. You know, you guys should really look into cleaning that entrance a little bit. It’s not the most hospitable.” He chuckles a little and replies in a humorous tone. “Well, we couldn’t have it look like a ladies’ tea party or all the mortals would flock like vultures. Don’t worry, we have other ways of getting in and out of here.” His casual remark about the tea party makes me laugh. He really is the nicest person I have met down here. Everyone else makes me think that this really is more of a military compound instead of a city with families and children. I wonder who my parents are and why they wanted me to come down here in the first place. They must have known how militarily focused it is. The king clears his throat softly and I break out of my funk. “Oh. Sorry, Your Highness.” I say. “This is all still a little overwhelming, if you know what I mean.” “I understand completely, my dear. I shall summon Markita straight away so you can get some sleep.” He rings a little bell and sends a servant to get Markita. A few minutes later, she hesitantly knocks on the door. “Come in!” Says the king quickly. “Meet Therese. She is our guest for now. Please show her to the guest sleeping spaces for tonight.” I look her over quickly and decide that I don’t really like her. I quickly chastise myself before I hear her reply to the king. “Yes, your Majesty.” She calmly replies, giving a short bow and beckoning for me to follow her. “Therese!” The king calls to me when we are almost out of the door. “Sleep well, my dear. We will speak more in the morning.” “Alright.” I reply, kind of scared to leave his warm presence and be back in the military compound mindset. “Goodnight, Your Highness.” I see his warm smile for a split second before the heavy door closes once again and I am back in the main cavern. I turn to Markita and extend my hand in greeting. “Hello, I’m Therese. Thanks for showing me around. I would get completely lost without someone.” She looks down at my hand, scowls, and takes a few steps forward. I drop my hand and catch up to her quickly, “You are extremely lucky, outsider.” She says. “Nick didn’t think you would last 10 minutes, let alone two hours. But the king will come to his senses sooner or later and you will be punished for your crimes.” “Crimes? I haven’t done anything.” “Stop lying. We all know that you have bewitched the king and that you are a spy. We don’t tolerate spies here. You might as well run back to where you came from.” “I am not a spy! I don’t know who the hell you think you are but you better stay the hell out of my business.” She grabs my collar and lifts me up “I can’t wait to see you get pushed off the highest bridge when the king finally breaks out of your little enchantment. You see, we’re really good at catching little white mice down here. You’re screwed.” She sets me down and I lunge towards her, ready to argue. She reaches out and slaps me across the face. “Watch yourself, squeak. You were just about to mess with the wrong person there.” “For the last time! I’m not a spy!” “We’ll see, squeak. We’ll see.” She starts walking again at a faster pace, leaving me in the dust. I follow her at a distance because of the tension level. We finally get to a series of small doors set into a rock wall and I assume that this is where I will be staying for tonight. She opens the door and shoves me inside. “Food and drink will come if you have need by pushing the little blue button on your nightstand. Extra clothes are in the drawers. If you have a problem, the red button on the nightstand will alert someone and somebody will come to your rescue.” She mutters reluctantly, breaking the silence. “I’ll see you at your execution then, Squeak.” She turns on her heel, slams the door behind her, and I watch her stalk away from the window. I shudder at her last words to me and turn away from the window. I quickly shower and find some clothes before sinking onto the bed. Burying my head into the pillow, I quickly fall asleep, embracing the darkness overpower me. Chapter 2 Prince Nicolai’s image swims in my vision. I know him from somewhere. But where? His face starts to speak to me. “Therese, Therese, Therese. You know where we met.” He says in a scathing tone. “But you can’t remember. You didn’t remember me. You said you would always remember me!” he cries out in apparent torment. In an instant, the tortured look in his eyes is replaced with the steely cold anger that he displayed in the cavern. “You lied to me.” His voice is cold and hard as ice. “I don’t forgive liars.” He begins to laugh cruelly, turning to Markita and kissing her passionately. “Goodbye Therese.” He says violently. “See you in Hell.” I look down at my feet and see the edge of the highest bridge. I feel someone’s hands turn me around and I find myself looking into the cruel face of Markita. “I told you so, squeak.” She smirks. She reaches her hands out toward me and I find myself plummeting towards the dark current below. I start to cry out... BANG, BANG, BANG! I’m startled out of my nightmare by the sound of someone knocking on my door. Disgruntled, I force myself out of bed and make my way to the door. I open it to find Calvin, hand poised to bang once again, with the shorter guard from yesterday. “Good morning miss.” The shorter guard says cordially. “If I remember correctly, we never had a proper introduction. I’m---“ “Is this REALLY necessary Marcus? We’re wasting time!” Calvin interrupts impatiently. “I’m Marcus, miss. Seeing as we are going to be showing you around as your personal guards for a while, we need to get to know each other.” He smiles warmly. “And this here is Calvin, the loudmouth. You’ll get used to him. Eventually.” A small smile creeps to my lips. I can’t help but like the warm disposition that Marcus has when not holding an M-16 to a person’s back. I wonder why he got involved with the military when he is such a kind person. I see Calvin lose his professional persona for a split second as he playfully elbows Marcus in the side. He catches my stare and quickly is the image of professionalism. “Now, if you’re ready, miss, we shall escort you to the King’s chamber once again.” Calvin’s voice booms. “Ready as I’ll ever be.” I reply. Calvin holds open the door for me while Marcus waits for me to step out the door so he can walk beside me. I wonder why they couldn’t have escorted me yesterday… “How was your first night here, Miss?” Marcus asks lightly. “Not the best sleep I have ever had.” I mutter, remembering the vivid nightmares that haunted me all night long. Even the memory of the makes me shudder. Nick said that I was supposed to have remembered him. Why? I have never even seen the guy before yesterday. And if what Markita told me he said is true, then why should I have this vague attraction to him. He seems like such a jerk. And he was rude to Calvin when they brought me in. And he is friends with Markita, whom I have definitely decided that I hate. There is nothing about him that strikes me as kind, except for that initial look of astonishment when he saw me in the cavern. “Um…Miss?” Marcus asks hesitantly, “Are you all right? “What? Oh. Ahem. Yes, I’m fine. Still just a bit overwhelmed.” I answer quickly. “Alright then, let’s be off! We shouldn’t keep the king waiting!” Marcus exclaims. Calvin and Marcus lead me back to the king’s chamber the same way that Markita brought me yesterday. I am starting to recognize some of the pathways and markings on the path. Maybe it all won’t seem so daunting soon. We finally reach the king’s chamber and the door swings open. I find myself staring into the chocolate brown eyes of Prince Nicolai. His eyes widen and he looks away hurriedly. “Um. Calvin, I have to apologize to you. I was in shock yesterday and seeing her here was a surprise. I fully understand why you had to do what you had to do and I will not undermine your authority again.” He mutters quickly. “I accept your apology, Prince Nicolai. But we mustn’t dawdle any longer, for this young lady is late to see your father.” “Then I shan’t keep you any longer.” The prince replies formally. “Good day.” We walk back into the main room where I saw the king yesterday, and he already has a plate of food waiting for me at the table. I make a short bow and he motions for me to sit in the same chair as yesterday. “I presume that you slept well? How was Markita to you? I just could not spare Calvin and Marcus last night to escort you, as I had to speak with them regarding your arrival at our fair city.” “I must say that it wasn’t the best sleep I have ever had, and Markita wasn’t the most welcoming.” The king’s features, usually so bright and friendly, now show deep lines of concern. Then, as soon as the worrisome look appeared, it was gone. “Never mind her. She is fiercely loyal to our kingdom and doesn’t like that I didn’t execute you on sight.” At my look of concern, he quickly begins to reassure me. “It was out of the question, my dear girl. It is not our practice to commit murder. Markita is just a bit extreme.” I’m starting to wonder how extreme she might just be. Being loyal and wanting to kill someone on sight are two very different things. “Please, eat up! I have already broken my fast with Nicolai this morning. Has he welcomed you yet?” “No, he hasn’t. He has actually been quite distant.” “Ah well, we shall see if he will soften up as time passes. He has had to become strong in order to survive.” I dig in to my delicious breakfast before asking another question. “I understand completely. But I have one question. Why do you always take meals with him and not either of your other children? Where is Dante? Aria?” “Aria is in training to become a healer. While she still has royal blood, she isn’t permitted to take meals apart from the other healers unless it is a special occasion or emergency. Nicolai has finished the minor hunter training, therefore he can dine with me.” “And Dante?” “Ah. Yes. Dante. He is off on a special mission to gather information on a particularly large settlement of demons in Russia. Thank God they aren’t settled anywhere near humans.” “Yes, that could be bad. So what kind of training did he need to receive to be able to go on that mission?” “The same training as Nicolai is receiving now. He had to pass the minor and secondary hunter training, the minor and secondary soldier training, and the minor battle wounds healing course.” “Wow. That’s a lot. How long has Nicolai been working on his training?” “Nicolai has been working since age 8 on all of his military training. He started with the minor soldier training, the same as all soldiers and hunters do. All of the hunters need to take the minor soldier training, then usually they split off into separate trainings.” That explains the military mindset that these people have. Half of them take soldier classes and the other half are healers and housekeeping sorts. This place is crazy focused on demon hunting. “So why have both of your sons taken both of the levels of training?” I ask. “They both are very ambitious. They want to be the best at everything. So, Dante is a fully qualified soldier and hunter, as well as a minor healer. Nicolai has completed the full soldier training, the minor hunter and healer training, and is almost done with the secondary hunter training.” I take another delicious bite. “Have you found out anything on why I might be here?” The king gives me a sly smirk. “Yes, I believe I have.” The food turns to ash in my mouth. Even though the food is better than I have ever had, it suddenly has no appeal for me. My eyes bore holes into the king’s and my desire must be blatantly showing on my face. The king takes a deep breath before continuing. “I may have found your father. I have people currently attempting to locate and communicate with him.” My Father? Seriously? My own father sent me here? Erased all my memories? I shake my head to clear it. I turn my attention back to the King. “I am going to tell you a story. It happened many years ago and it may be the reason you are here today.” He explains quietly, pushing a rugged looking picture toward me on the desk. It showed a young man with bright red hair and a beautiful brunette with the brightest caribbean-colored eyes. The king clears his throat softly before beginning. “There was a man, about twenty-five years ago now. He was 15 years old, and a prodigy. The best hunter I had ever seen. He somehow completed all of his hunter courses before the age of thirteen and went out at least once a month to help with a raid. He was third in line for the title of Grand Hunter, which is like a general. When he was 18, He met someone…” He pointed to the dark-haired woman in the picture. “Rebekah. A sweet little thing fresh outta highschool. He started seeing her every chance he got. Went on one raid in the two months after he met her. And to top it off, his head just wasn’t in it. The boy was in love. He kept it hidden for two years before anyone found out. And he had another secret. He was taking college classes. He wanted to go into accounting. I thought nothing of it, since he was still helping the community from the outside. He participated in a few raids here and there, but he was mostly a stakeout for us. Then, skip ahead two years and I find him here in my chambers, sitting just where you are. He told me that he couldn’t live a double life anymore. He was going aboveground to marry Rebekah. I gave him permission to tell her about us if he ever had a child he wanted to send to us. I was sad to see him go. About a year after he left, I got a marriage announcement. Another year later, an announcement of a child. Then, nothing. until now.” I listen with wide eyes. The story of my parents. “What was his name?” I ask, just to see if it really was my father who chose to send me down here. “Xavier. Xavier Michaels.” X.M. It is my father. It all fits. The timeline, the hair and eye color, the name. But why? I start working up the courage to ask. “Why would they do this to me?” I implore. “What did I do wrong? Do you know any more?” “I do, but I am not at liberty to discuss that bit of it. There is probably a reason that your father chose to take away your memories and I would like to see how many of them resurface on their own. In the meantime, I will continue to try and contact your father with questions for him.” Not at liberty to discuss it? Seriously? This is my memory loss. My past that was stolen. “Why are you not at liberty to discuss my past?” I can’t disguise the anger in my tone. I am infuriated. “Unfortunately, you are not the only person affected by this. There are others involved and I need to see how this plays out. I’m sorry that I can’t say more, Therese. It isn’t at all fair to you. This is the way it must be.” He explains kindly, not reacting to my anger. “I understand that you are angry, and rightfully so. But you must trust me in this.” Whatever. Let the old man keep his secrets. I just hope that my memory starts coming back soon because I am sick of the amnesia thing. “Well what am I supposed to do then?” I ask impatiently, “Am I supposed to just sit around stuffing myself while I wait for memories to pop into my head or my father to respond?” “No, no, no. Just the opposite. I have made arrangements for you to begin training with our best private trainer, Diane. She is only a few years older than yourself, but she has completed all the required trainings and she is one of the best. This is the only way that you won’t be in a class with children ten years younger than you.” “So I am definitely staying here? I can’t go back home?” “You could choose that, I suppose. But we would have to find your home first, and find the reason why your father would send you to us in the first place. So you might as well learn how to defend yourself while you are here, because it seems there is a good chance that you will stay here permanently.” He has a good point, but I am in too bad of a mood to admit it. So, when he asks me if I am ready to start, I shrug and tell him that it doesn’t matter to me. Right now, I could care less. All I really want are my memories back. Thanks a TON Dad. Look where you got me now. Since I am finished with my breakfast, the King instructs Marcus to escort me to my private training session. We venture out into the main cavern, then go the opposite direction than the way we came. After meandering down a larger tunnel, we come to a series of small doors at the end of the tunnel. Marcus guides me towards the farthest door to the left and opens it, revealing a smaller, darker cave than the one that we just left. “Diane?” he calls out. “Are you in here? Therese is here for her first session.” A shadow moves and a light appears in the darkness. She is holding a lantern. “Yes. I am here. Just practicing adjusting my eyes to the darkness. You never know when you will have to see a demon in the pitch blackness.” I stare at her blankly, my eyes wide in amazement. This girl is stunning. Her silky, blonde hair is cut just above the shoulders. She has a stunning figure and you can tell that she is strong, not just slim. The most beautiful things are her eyes. They are an odd mixture of slate and a sapphire blue and they sparkle with playfulness. It takes me a minute to gather myself together. I extend my hand in greeting. Diane grips it firmly and welcomes me. It is good to know that I have someone else here that I can immediately trust. “As you might have noticed, my name is Diane. I am 18 years old. Don’t let my age fool you, I’m rough. I can teach you what you need to know in a way that is best for you in a rather fast time frame. You will be exempt from the written portions of the course, we are just going to focus on the practical parts of it. Today will be easy, I am just going to go more in-depth as to what it is we actually do. How does that sound?” “Um. Good I guess. This is all still overwhelming.” “Well, this should be easy. We are just going to have a nice conversation. Feel free to ask any questions as needed.” The training session is very helpful. Diane explains that the reason we can see demons is because of our special blood with healing properties. We are able to fight them using special weapons. I don’t really understand the weapons yet, but Diane tells me that we will have time for that later. Our job is to protect the humans from demons. And the demons aren’t always the satanic types that we always hear about. More often than not, they're are no possessions involved, just curses and severe wounds. They are more like the nightmarish monsters that children think they see outside the window. It is a lot to try and wrap my head around. When the hour session is over, Diane opens the door and escorts me to the end of the hall where Marcus is waiting. “Therese, thanks for the awesome chat today. I will see you tomorrow, same time, same place. Since today is Wednesday, I will see you two more times this week. Have a good day!” Diane pats me on the shoulder lightly before leaning down to whisper in my ear. “Don’t let Markita get to you. No one here will let her hurt you. You are strong. You will be fine.” “Thanks.” I whisper back, my voice tiny. “I’m glad I met you. I need a friend down here.” “And you have one in me. Do not worry.” I smile up at her before following Marcus back to my room. I look at him in confusion. “Why are we here?” “We are here so you can wash up if you wish, or change clothes. It is almost time for lunch and we will be dining with the others in the dining cave today. You will still eat with the King tonight, but you must understand that your meals with him will become fewer and farther between, for he wants you to make friends and get accustomed to the place.” I gulp. The King is a flower in a field of cacti. Just the thought of not being sheltered by the king anymore makes me slightly sick to my stomach. “Don’t worry, Miss. I will be right by you. Nothing will happen. I promise.” Marcus says, trying to comfort me in vain. “I’m fine. I’m fine. I can do this.” I mutter. I wash up and follow Marcus back to the main cavern and up three levels. As we enter the dining cave, eyes wander up from plates of food, conversations stop, and stares are directed at me. I try to look as small as possible as I follow Marcus to a nearly empty table. Only one person sits there, Prince Nicolai. Awesome. I take my seat across from the Prince and wait while Marcus goes to get us food. Nick looks up in response to the scraping of the chair, sees me, and quickly looks down into his food. He refuses to make eye contact. I look down into my lap. The air is stuffy with awkwardness. I hear another chair scrape and look up, thinking that it is Marcus, but I find myself staring into the hostile eyes of Markita. “So, you’re not dead yet. Quite an accomplishment. Apparently you still have the king under your spell. It won’t be long now before he realizes that you are a spy and you are executed. Aren’t I right, Nick?” She mocks. In the blink of an eye, Nick scoots his chair out and stands up loudly as the room goes quiet. His face reminds me of my dream, when he was heartbroken. “No, Kita.” He replies back to her. “You are not right.” His face turning stony as he begins to glare at her. He stops and turns his gaze to me. “I’m sorry. So sorry.” Turning away from me, he mutters “I’m not hungry anymore.” Nick storms out as Marcus comes back with the food, leaving Markita sitting there with an astonished expression on her face. She glares at me, scooches her chair out noisily, and follows suit. Everybody in the room is still staring at me and the table. Marcus looks from me to the previously occupied chairs. Vaguely, I hear his voice yell out to the room, my heart pounding so loudly in my ears that I can hardly hear him. “Go back to your meals, everyone! There is nothing to gawk at here!” Chapter 3 The room slowly fills with conversation again as Marcus sets down our food. I ignore his questions and scarf down my food as quickly as possible, trying to keep my head low and get out of here. Finally, Marcus and I are both finished eating. He leads me out of the dining cave and back to my room. “Normally, you would go back to training after lunch, but we don't want to overwhelm you by throwing you right into the full routine. I will be back in a few hours to retrieve you for dinner with the king. There are bookshelves and writing utensils if you would like to use them.\" He explains. \"Um. Thanks.\" Lame. My head is still reeling from the event at lunch today. For the first time since I got here, all I want is to be alone. Yes, there are nice people here. But a lot of them are at the very most cold and distant, with the worst being downright evil and malicious toward me. “Marcus, I’m fine. You probably have better things to do. Go.” I say. “Um, ok. I will be back in a few hours.” He reluctantly says. I watch the door close behind him and sigh in relief. I’m finally alone. I don’t need to worry about Markita or Nicolai. I am finally able to just be my own person for a few hours. With that thought, I scan the bookshelf for an interesting novel. Nothing. Nada. There are a bunch of books on demon hunting and war tactics, as well as a history book about the community. I guess I might as well read one of them so I can get a head start on my lessons. Chapter 1: The Real History Of the Civil War The beginning of the Civil war was a highly controversial and bloody affair. It whittled out those who refused to take a side, as well as those who could see the truth for what it was. Demons were to blame for the rash and unnecessary actions of so many men who participated in the war. But, unknown to the common man, there were people who could see past the race and the controversy to see the horror underneath. These people were usually slaves that came from one family line, the line of Maurayan. The members of this family could heal the wounds of others who.... I can't do this. I can't sit here and read about this. This whole place is already messing with my dreams. I think about taking a nap before I remember last night's dream. Sleeping is out of the question. I don't dare go outside of the room, who knows where Markita ran off to. God, what has my life come to. I hate here. Everyone hates me.


Submitted: November 16, 2014

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