• Chapter Three
    “You said the pain would go away!” A male voice yelled in a world of black. He was standing in the middle of a dark road, covered in black clothing that covered all of his skin. All the buildings were different shades of black. It was a dark and frankly scary world to be in. You heard no sounds. The daily sounds of vehicles driving were now gone. You heard no birds chirping or children laughing. All you could hear was the loud voices of anger, even if they weren’t meant to be angry. That was the way of the Dark Arts. You must be angry at someone or something to be consumed in Dark Magic.
    “Answer me!” The voice yelled again. He looked around at all the buildings around him, yet heard no response. His eyes were covered with a black blind fold. The only thing you could see on his face was his button nose and his frowning mouth. His mouth pursed as he began to yell again. “Hush!” Someone called out, this time, a female. The male looked around, even though he could not see a thing. “Who’s there?” The male called out in a paranoid anger. “Hush!” The female repeated. Her voice was coming closer.
    Before the male could say another word, someone was holding his shoulders. “You must find her!” The female voice yelled in disparity. “Find who?” The male boomed. “You must find...” The female was cut off. Something started to drag her away. “Don’t fall to deep! It’ll consume you and you’ll never be able to be free!” The female yelled, but her voice seemed distant. The male, confused on all terms, fell to his knees. “Why am I still hurting?” He scorned the skies. “Tell me, tell me now!” He scolded and scolded. Soon, rain was pattering on his face, and then it poured. The male, for the first time in a long time, heard the rain falling. “I…I can hear it.” The male whispered. He gasped. He could whisper. How was this possible in such a horrible world? The male undid his blind fold to see the rain illuminate the road before him. IN delight, he stood up and let the rain pour down on him.
    Finally, he was saved. Or, was he? “Stop that, stop that right now!” A male yelled as he ran closer. “You shall not be rejoicing, Aven.” The man barked. “That’s my name? I had forgotten…” The boy said in a remorse tone. “Enough of that follow me.” The man barked as he took the boy by his arm. “What if I don’t want this anymore?” Aven asked. “It’s too late to change your mind. You’re too far deep now. You’ll begin to trust us soon enough, don’t worry.”
    “What about that girl?” Aven asked the man who was dragging him. “What girl?” “The girl who told me not to fall in too deep, what did she mean?” Aven was now fully thinking for himself again. “Don’t worry about her, she didn’t belong here.” The man answered. “Why am I still hurting?” “Shut up! You must train to not hurt!” “I’ve trained all my life!” Aven yelled at the man. His anger was coming back. “You need to train harder! You must be consumed by the dark!” The man said as he shook Aven’s arm. “Fine, fine, whatever you say! Train me, help me!” Aven pleaded. The man kept tugging on him. “I am trying to, Aven.” The voice murmured. Aven could hardly hear him. Aven suddenly felt his whole body pulsating.
    Aven became dizzy with each step. His body became slowly more immobile, and eventually he could not move his legs any more. He fell to his knees and held his chest in pain. He could hardly see the man who had been dragging him. “What is happening?” Aven said, though his voice seemed distant. “You’re being consumed by your own anger…” The man barely whispered. Aven couldn’t see nor breathe at this point. Black wisps of magic was coming from the ground beneath him, dragging him down. Aven couldn’t speak anymore. He threw his hands up, hoping the nearby man would help him, but he didn’t. Aven was left to struggle for his own life against the dark. No one was there to guide him. No light would be at the end of his tunnel.
    Darkness, that’s all Aven would see. “Aven,” A strong voice called out to him. He could hear it clearly, but he could not respond. He felt himself sinking farther and farther down, as if he were sinking in water. He felt useless and angry not being able to move or breath. “Aven,” The voice called again, this time louder. Aven tried to respond but couldn’t. It was hopeless; he’d never be able to. “Aven,” The voice repeated, this time booming and shaking. Aven grew with anger but still could not respond. “Aven,” The voice said a final time, their voice causing a mass eruption in Aven. Aven jumped up and yelled on top of his lungs, calling out a name. “Kaitlynn,” Aven kept yelling over and over again. Someone was shaking Aven violently. “Wake up!” The person yelled as they shook him. Aven opened his eyes as he jumped up out of breath. He saw a figure standing over him in dark robes, just like the ones he was wearing. “You had a nightmare.” Someone explained as they helped him off the ground. “Why…Why am I in the middle of the road?” Aven asked puzzled. The person shook their head. “You don’t remember, do you?” The being didn’t wait for a response. “You almost died. You were battling the darkness. You almost didn’t make it.” Aven walked around aimlessly. So it wasn’t a dream.
    Aven looked all around him. Everything was dark. Black sky, black road, gray buildings, his dream was a reality. He really was consumed by the dark. He really was stuck in this for life. Aven grinned devilishly. “Carmen,” Aven asked the person, who was now identified as a woman to Aven. “Yes, Aven,” “Come closer, will you?” Aven beckoned without looking at the woman. Carmen walked closer to Aven. Aven was facing one of the gray buildings as he felt a tiny raindrop hit his cheek. “Do you believe in destiny?” Aven asked her. Carmen didn’t answer. “I asked you a question.” Aven barked. Carmen jumped. “Oh! Uh, sure I do. Why do you ask?” She answered quickly, wrapping her hands around her arms. Aven laughed deeply. “What’s so funny?” Carmen became more nervous. Aven turned around and looked at Carmen. His eyes were as dark as the sky was. He smiled as he slowly walked closer to Carmen. Carmen shook her head as she slowly backed up.
    “Aven, what are you doing?!” Carmen yelled at him. Aven put his finger to his lips and hushed her. “Ah-ah; wouldn’t want to cause a scene, would you?” Carmen shook her head. “That’s what I thought. Now come here.” Aven beckoned as he gestured his finger to a spot in front of him. Carmen mindlessly walked back to Aven. Aven held his arms spread out, waiting for Carmen to be lured into his trap. Carmen walked into his arms and embraced him. Aven wrapped his arms around Carmen and embraced her back, only to take a knife she had hidden in her robe’s pocket. He jumped backwards and played with the small knife in his hands. Carmen looked at the knife and gasped. “I…I wasn’t going to hurt you, Aven!” Carmen pleaded, falling to her knees. Aven shook his head.
    “I’m tired of your lies!” He yelled as he backhanded her across the face. Carmen fell to the ground in tears. Aven hovered over Carmen. He kneeled down to look at her face easily. “All of you are trying to kill me and I won’t take it anymore.” Aven whispered in Carmen’s ear. “I will rule this world, and I will help the queen. Long live Eya.” Aven clenched Carmen’s knife again. Carmen closed her eyes and pleaded. Aven didn’t heed any of her words. With one quick motion, Aven had cut Carmen’s throat, hitting a major artery.
    “Don’t tell me you didn’t expect this,” Aven scoffed as he threw the knife down next to Carmen. Carmen was squirming and trying to stop her bleeding. There was no use. No one was around to help her and she could not scream. Aven clapped his hands together as if trying to pat away dirt and walked towards the grand castle off in the distance.
    “Eya will need me, I know it.”
    Carmen continued to struggle. It was no use, trying to survive. Aven planned on killing her all along; how could she be so oblivious? Carmen’s mind was flooding with recent memories. Who was Aven calling? Who was Kaitlynn? Why did Aven really think he needs to help Eya? Why did he think the organization was out to kill him? Was he more powerful than they had expected? Carmen found the strength to wrap her fingers around the knife Aven had thrown. She started to scratch the road, hoping to be able to leave deep enough scratches to give a message. It was her only chance to warn the organization, it was the only way she could communicate.
    Hours later, Carmen’s body was found. When she was found, she still had the knife in her now limp right hand. Her left hand was covering her throat. Reyes, the head of the organization, removed her hand from her throat to see a ghastly gash. He picked up the knife to see blood stains all over the blade. “Did she kill herself, sir?” Another member of the organization asked. The man shook his head. “No, Carmen didn’t kill herself, but someone did.” Reyes looked around Carmen’s body. “Are those scratches in the road?” The member asked. Reyes looked to where the member was pointing. “Probably scuffs from boots or something, Jeska.” Reyes shrugged and continued to examine Carmen’s body. “No, sir, they make letters! I think it’s a message.” Jeska shouted, and then quieted herself. Reyes stood up and looked closely at the scratches Jeska had pointed out.
    Reyes’ eyes opened wide when he finished reading the message. “What does it say, sir?” Jeska asked him. Reyes looked at Jeska, looked at Carmen, and then the message again. “It…it says Aven did this.” Reyes choked. Jeska shook her head. “Aven’s too new; he wouldn’t have the heart to kill someone yet, would he?” Jeska asked. Reyes shook his head. “Not usually. He must’ve had prior training. Why would he kill one of his own though?” Reyes scratched his head as he tried to think. Reyes looked around. “There’s nothing to tell us where Aven went…We’re at a dead end.” Reyes rubbed the bridge of his nose. Jeska shook her head as she looked down on the road. “Eya,” Jeska whispered. “What did you say?” Reyes barked. “I said ‘Eya,’ sir! He probably went to see the queen!” Jeska jumped up and down as if someone had just told her she had won a grand prize. “Don’t be so quick, Jeska. Why would Aven want the queen for?” “Maybe to gain her trust, if I were a cold blooded killer, I’d want to be allies with the highest form of authority, too.” Jeska explained. Reyes nodded.
    “You’ve got a point. But we’re banished from there; we can’t send anyone to retrieve him.” Reyes sighed deeply. “Then we will lure him here.” Jeska exclaimed and began to jump again. “A war of some type, us against the queen’s army, we could take her!” Jeska tried to motivate Reyes. He kept shaking his head. “Sir, we’ve got to try! We don’t have any choice.” Jeska explained as she walked closer to her leader. Reyes looked up at Jeska. “Fine,” He gave in. “But you are the head of training them. They must be ready to use their magic, they must be able to withstand many casualties, and you must prepare them.” Reyes ordered. Jeska saluted her leader and nodded briefly. “I can do that, sir!” She said eagerly. She ran back into the organization’s building to get started.
    Reyes knelt down by Carmen after Jeska had left. “I should’ve come out here instead of sending you,” He said in remorse. He picked up Carmen’s right hand and kissed it. “I’m sorry,” was all he said before he stood back up, saluted his deceased love, and walked back into the cold, gray building. Rain hit the ground and Carmen, washing her blood away from the road and her body.
    Aven was finally to the castle. He was stopped at the gate by two guards. “State your name, boy.” One of them said in a deep voice and a foreign accent. “Aven,” Aven simply stated. “You’re from that organization down the hill, you’re not allowed here.” The other guard said in a higher, but manly, voice. “Oh, but I’m not here to cause trouble, boys.” Aven said as he slid his hands into his robe pockets. “You’re not, are you?” The first guard repeated. “No, not at all, I am here to report a crime.” Aven said with heavy body language. He spelt the word ‘crime’ in the air in a bright orange glow. The guards looked at it and winced. “Magic’s grand, isn’t it?” Aven yawned as he continued to spell. “You see, General Reyes,” He said as he began to spell the man’s name. “He killed one of our members, Lieutenant Carmen.” He spelled her name as well. “All I am here to do is report it.” Aven said. The guards were studying the words Aven wrote carefully. Aven blew them away with a sudden quick breath.
    “Listen, boys, can I go speak to the queen or not?” Aven asked as he shoved his hands back into his pockets again. The guards nodded and opened the gate for him without another word. The castle grounds were very run down. Brown, dry vines were growing up the walls and towers. Bushed grew over the once nice sidewalk to the front doors. The windows were cracked and the doors were slightly off their hinges. The stone the castle walls were made with were cracking and look like they could tumble any minute. The roof looked unstable, almost as if it were about to slide off the castle. Aven reached the front door finally and gingerly rapped on it. It creaked open to show a run-down foyer. The carpet was frayed and shaggy. The wallpaper was peeling and the paintings were ruined. Thick smoke hung in the air, there must’ve been a lot of smokers in the castle. Aven walked up to a man who was quietly standing against the wall. “Excuse me, how do I get to the queen?” Aven asked the man. The man looked Aven up and down and rolled his eyes. “The queen is busy.” The man retorted. “Oh, that’s a shame.” Aven said as he took a hand out of his pocket. He started to trace shapes and letters in the air with magic again. “You see, I’m here to report a crime.” Aven, again, went into his long speech as he did to the guards. The man had been mesmerized like the guards had been. “So, may I see the queen now?” Aven asked. The man nodded and pointed down the hall to a grand door at the end. “That is her court. She is almost always in there.” The man whispered. Aven blew the words he traced away and causally walked down the hallway, shoving his hand back into his pocket.
    Aven looked at the walls as he walked down the hallway. The paintings were all of people, but something was odd about them. All of the portraits featured people in pain, inflicting pain, or screaming. To the normal person, they’d be quite gruesome and terrifying. But, to Aven, they amused him. He passed a painting of someone being hung in front of the entire town. Aven cackled at the thought and rapped on the grand door.
    The doors opened and Aven walked through. He walked up to the throne, with grace, and kneeled before the queen. “You’re Majesty,” Aven requested for permission to speak. The queen was dressed very elegantly and stood out from her castle very much. Her dress trailed down the stairs to the thrown in a gray train. The dress itself was a dark grey with lighter gray sequins. Her black hair was thrown up into a messy looking, yet elegant, bun type style. She wore a dark red lipstick upon her lips. A dark eye shadow was applied to her upper eye lids. She looked dark and evil, but yet….inviting. “Stand up, boy.” The queen barked in a surprisingly high tone. She had a very strong, old English accent. Aven stood.
    “My, your royalty, you are mighty elegant.” Aven said in an attempt to flatter the one he must manipulate the most. “Thank you, but, boy, what is your name?” The queen asked. “I am Aven. I’m originally from that organization down across the hill, but I left their cruel acts.” Aven lied through his teeth. The queen looked puzzled. “What are you here for? State your business.” She barked at him. “Oh, ma’am, you need not worry about me. I am only here to report a crime!” Aven told her casually, as if he were telling her the weather or something. “A crime, what do you mean a crime?” the queen asked, she was now enticed.
    “You see, the general of the organization, General Reyes, has committed a murder.” Aven blatantly lied. The queen gave Aven a peculiar look. “Whom did he murder?” she asked Aven. “He murdered one of our, or shall I say, his own. His own love, Lieutenant Carmen, that’s who he murdered.” Aven shook his head as if it disgusted him. The queen shook her head as well. “The only killing around here should be from my authority! Not some bum general!” The queen was enraged. “He kicked me out the minute I told him I thought he was a monster and should own up to what he did, your royalty.” Aven tried to sound choked up. The queen beckoned Aven to come closer. “Boy, will you stand trial against this man? Will you serve as a witness in court?” The queen asked him. Aven nodded. “If that’s what it takes to bring this to justice, then yes, ma’am,” Aven agreed.
    “Good,” The queen smiled at Aven. As soon as she turned to her trusted guard she frowned. “Send our army to retrieve the General! I want him alive!” The queen barked. The guard sped out of the room and ran down the halls, calling for the royal army. “There may be a war starting soon, boy. You best train up.” The queen explained. Aven nodded and bowed again before leaving. A guard showed him to the room he would be staying in, it was right below the queen’s bedroom. “Thank you, sir.” Aven said as he flicked a coin over to the guard. “Did you just tip me?” the guard asked. Aven waved his hand out. “Do you not want my money?” “Have a good night, sir.” The guard said before he scurried out the door with his newly earned coin.
    Aven looked around his newly acquired room. The walls were covered in a rich red color. The furniture was all done in a dark red wood that complimented the walls very nicely. The floor was wood as well, but a lighter wood than the furniture was. Inside the room sat a good sized bed right underneath the south window. A desk was in the corner adjacent to the bed with a comfy but fancy looking chair sitting in front of said desk. There was a very large bookshelf that took up the entire left wall. Books were pouring out from each cubby, all filled to the brim. Aven plunked down on the bed and laughed to himself.
    “They believe me, how foolish.” Aven whispered as he gazed at the ceiling. He got up and walked towards the window, fidgeting with his cloak as he did so. He gazed down to the courtyard to see the royal army lined up in three lines. Each line had at least fifteen soldiers. Aven was pleased with himself; he had ruined Hatherwell for all its worth. He knew, and hoped, that he soon would take the throne.