• As the night wore on, Irueku met the rest of
    my family, who were not completely shocked at
    his sudden appearance. They must have known
    about him and the Shiko realm for a long time.
    Irueku was allowed to stay in Nick’s room- of
    course they couldn’t allow him to stay in my room
    even when he demanded that he should stay by
    my side in case of a sudden emergency. Finally,
    after a large amount of arguing and frustration,
    he finally decided that I should be safe in this
    realm and he would be able to respond quickly
    even when he was next door.
    He wouldn’t leave my side, though, until ‘it
    was absolutely necessary’. He even was in the
    corner of the room while I brushed my teeth. I
    managed to push him out, though, for the couple
    of minutes necessary to change into my pajamas.
    When I opened the door, I finally realized
    that he had brought nothing with him. “Don’t you
    need some clothes to change into?”
    “That is not necessary.”
    I smiled. “Come on, Irueku. I’ll grab some
    clothes for you while your clothes are being
    He grumbled, but said, “Thank you for your
    hospitality, Miss Carmen.”
    “No problem.”
    I caught my dad coming up the stairs and
    asked if Irueku could borrow some of his clothes
    in the meantime. Although Irueku was only a few
    years older than me, he was too big to fit in my
    brothers’ clothing. My brother were shorter and
    lankier than his tall and muscular frame. Only my
    father’s clothes could suffice.
    “Sure,” he mumbled, then went through his
    drawers and found a t-shirt and a pair of pants.
    As Irueku changed, I started to pack. When
    he came out in his new clothes, he said quietly,
    “There will be no need to pack very many things,
    Miss Carmen. There won’t be much use for
    clothes; you will be required to where Shikoroni
    clothing. As for other items, I’d ask that you bring
    only required essentials. Technology is different in
    our world, it would cause great distress and
    disapproval if you bring new knowledge into our
    realm. Books and pictures are okay, though.”
    I sighed. “Okay.” As I started to unpack, I
    heard Irueku come over to me and felt his hand on
    my shoulder.
    “This will be incredibly difficult, Carmen. It
    is very hard to leave the life that you had known
    for so many years. Believe me,” he looked away,
    “I take it from experience. Make the best of your
    last day, Carmen. It may be a long time until you
    can return.”
    I smiled. “Finally.”
    He looked at me confused.
    “You finally called me Carmen.
    He laughed.
    “I missed you a lot when you left. I guess this
    means that we’ll be together for quite a while
    now. I’m thankful.”
    He hugged me. “I missed you, too. I’ll never
    let go, now.”
    I laughed.
    After a brief moment, I heard someone clear
    his throat at the door. Embarrassed, I turned
    around and saw my father leaning on the frame,
    arms crossed and eyes closed.
    “I need to talk to you, Irueku. It’s…
    important business.”
    Irueku nodded and started to leave, but
    stopped and said, “Goodnight, Miss Carmen. I’ll
    see you in the morning.”
    “Goodnight,” I whispered, but it was already
    too late; he was out the door.
    I climbed into bed and although it had been
    an incredibly long day, it took me a long time to
    go to sleep. I watched the stars and moon from the
    window next to my bed. As I drifted to sleep I
    thought of how I might never see this sky again.

    Sunrise came and my dreams disappeared. I
    was taking a shower when I heard a noise outside.
    It wasn’t unusual to hear noises in the morning,
    though. Peter must have been awake.
    When I finished my shower, I brushed my
    teeth like I usually did. Then, I stepped outside
    and started to my room with a towel wrapped
    around me when I bumped into a large person.
    I jumped back, but when I heard the voice, I
    relaxed. “Good morning, Carmen.”
    It came back to me in a flash of yesterday’s
    events. I must have been tired; how could I forget
    something like that?
    Irueku was fully clothed in old jeans and a
    muscle shirt. He also held objects in each of
    his hands.
    “What are those?” I asked bewildered.
    “Oh, these?” he held up the objects so I
    could see them in the darkness. I inspected
    them carefully; trying to make out what they
    were, then leapt back with a yelp.
    “Weapons?!” I asked incredulously.
    In his right hand, he held a long sword in
    it’s sheath. It looked very old, maybe even
    antique. In the other hand, there was a lengthy
    dagger. It looked incredibly menacing and so
    sharp, I was afraid one touch would slice me to
    “Yes. I usually carry weapons with me, but
    I didn’t on this mission; your father provided
    them for me,” he said with a smile.
    “My father? He’s had weapons all these years
    that I didn’t know about?”
    “Of course he had to hide them from
    everyone. What would you do if you found
    weapons in your dad’s possession?” he said and
    I thought it over. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.
    But… why?”
    “Why do you have weapons right now? It’s
    not as if I’m about to be attacked!” I laughed.
    But he looked serious when he said, “You
    never can know for sure.”
    I sighed. “Okay. If you really want them, then
    I guess they’re fine. I don’t have time for this,
    anyways. I’ve got to get ready for school.”
    I went to my room and Irueku waited outside
    my doorway as I got dressed and ready to go. He
    followed me when I went downstairs and joined
    Peter at the table for breakfast.
    “Would you like something?” I asked Irueku.
    He seemed to consider it for a brief moment.
    “Yes, I would, if you don’t mind; I haven’t
    had cereal since I was 7.”
    I laughed. “It isn’t that amazing.”
    “Even so, I miss the taste,” he said, smiling.
    Peter sighed and left to get dressed.
    “So… what are your plans for today?” I
    asked, uncomfortable with the silence.
    He frowned. “I’m going to walk you to
    school, first. Other than that- that’s my little
    I stopped eating. “You’re going to walk me to
    school? With those out in the open?!” I pointed at
    the weapons he had placed on the table next to
    He laughed. “Of course not, Carmen. I have a
    feeling the locals around here wouldn’t like such
    weapons in their area.”
    “What will you do with them, then, if you’re
    not bringing them with you?” I asked, curious. I
    took a swig of orange juice and a bite of cereal.
    He frowned. “I never said I wasn’t bringing
    them with me. Just not out in the open.”
    “-It’s very easy to conceal weapons in this
    day and age. All I need is a strap to place the
    dagger around my ankle and a map case to slide
    the sword into. Just strap it to my back and I look
    just like a regular tourist,” he held up a long tube
    with a strap and a sheath of sorts for the dagger.
    I smiled. “Clever, very clever. I’ve got to give
    you props for that idea.”
    He stared, wide-eyed. “Give me props? Why
    would I need props?”
    I sighed. “I guess they don’t have that saying
    where you’re from.”
    “Not where I’m from; where we’re from. You
    were born there and are a true Shikoroni just like
    I frowned, but was interrupted by Peter, who
    asked, “Are you guys ready to go yet? It’s time to
    Irueku smiled kindly and said, “We are
    indeed ready to go. Any time you want to leave.”
    His eyes shifted from Irueku, then me, and
    finally back to Irueku. He sighed and said, “Let’s
    go, then,” as he left the doorway into the hall.
    I washed the bowls and quickly grabbed my
    backpack. “Come on, Irueku! Can’t be late!”
    I heard him chuckle behind me as he
    followed me out the door. All the snow had been
    washed away by the storm last night and left me
    feeling gloomy. About halfway there, I realized
    something I had forgotten to ask Irueku last night.
    “Hey, Irueku?”
    “Hm?” He kept his ominous eyes facing
    straight ahead.
    “I forgot to ask you: How come I had so
    much good luck yesterday? Was it because of
    what happened last night?”
    He was silent for a moment, then he stopped
    walking. “You had… good luck yesterday?”
    I stopped and faced him. He had a strange
    and distant expression and although it was minor,
    a tingle of fear ran down my spine. “Yes. A lot of
    good luck.”
    He looked down at me and the fear grew. His
    eyes were cold and pierced right through me. I
    forced my eyes away, but when I looked back, his
    eyes were closed. He started to walk again and
    passed me. “That’s… interesting.”
    I followed closely. “What’s interesting? What
    aren’t you telling me, Irueku?”
    He sighed. “Leave it.”
    I wasn’t satisfied. “What is it? Is it
    He seemed annoyed when he answered,
    “Leave it!”
    “You can tell me anything, Irueku. Just tell
    me already!”
    He turned and faced me. His powerful glare
    penetrated my heart and sent a chill that sank all
    the way to my bones. His eyes seemed to paralyze
    me. Never in my life had I feared anything more
    than those few moments of Irueku’s deathly glare.
    I was trembling like a leaf when he said in the
    most menacing voice I had ever heard, “Leave it
    me, Carmen!”
    As I stared into his eyes, I sank to the ground.
    Only later did I realize that I had started crying. I
    remained there, unable to move until he turned
    around and the connection of anger and pure
    hatred was torn. I buried my face in my hands and
    sobbed. I cried until I felt a firm hand on my
    shoulder and I looked up into the same yellow
    eyes, only this time, they were gentle and
    “I’m so, so sorry, Carmen. I was way out of
    like that. I will repay my sin in time. Please
    forgive the terrible wrong I did.”
    I stared into his eyes in wonder. How could
    they be so calm and gentle right now when
    minutes ago, they had been burning like the pits of
    hell? But his eyes reassured me and I nodded. He
    helped me to my feet; I was still a little shaken,
    but I managed to pull myself together and catch
    up to Peter far ahead of us.
    I continued a long stream of conversation
    with Peter, not once looking back at Irueku who
    was following silently behind us.
    About three quarters away from the school, I
    heard Peter sigh. Looking up, I saw the person I
    least wanted to see. Amanda Riles was once again
    just a few meters away from us, but there was I
    slight difference today. She was glaring at me.
    “Black, you,” then a word I have sworn not to
    say, “what’d you do to me yesterday?” She
    stepped up to my face.
    I backed up. “I-I don’t know what you’re
    talking about.”
    She grabbed the front of my jacked with both
    hands and shook me hard as she spat, “Of course
    you know what I mean! What the,” another word I
    can’t say, “did you do to me yesterday! Tell me!”
    “I didn’t do anything! I swear!”
    She sneered and pulled back her fist. “I guess
    I’ll have to pound it out of you!”
    I cringed in fear, waiting for what seemed
    like years for pain to erupt on my face, but it
    never came. I heard a loud gasp and opened my
    eyes as I felt her hand leave my jacket. My vision
    was blocked by a large body and was confused
    until I realized it was Irueku.
    I peeked around him and saw Amanda
    gasping on the other side of the street. She was
    sitting upright, holding her throat. As she spat out
    blood, I saw Irueku trembling. I almost touched
    him to try to comfort him when I realized he
    wasn’t trembling from fear. They were tremors of
    His voice was as harsh and sharp as before
    when he said, “I will never allow you to hurt
    Carmen! Whoever wishes for that outcome shall
    face my wrath!”
    Wide-eyed, Amanda quickly got to her feet
    and ran as fast as she could in the other direction
    to get away from Irueku’s vicious intent.
    I was afraid to touch him until he finally said,
    “It’s alright now, Carmen, the enemy has
    I sighed. “Thanks, Irueku.”
    He turned around and hugged me until Peter
    had had enough and forced us along.
    When we reached the school, I asked, “So,
    Irueku. Are you going back home now?”
    I turned around to find no one there. I looked
    around for him, but he was nowhere to be seen.
    Hm, I guess he already left.
    We went inside and went to our classes
    before the bell could ring.
    Spanish went as usual, with my teacher
    yelling at everyone, including me, and give out
    detentions galore.
    Pre-Calculus was the same, as well, and I
    missed every question.
    In Chemistry, I had the worst partner and had
    to do all of the lab by myself so we got in trouble
    for not finishing.
    As for P.E., I definitely got my fair share of
    tripping over myself in basketball and had
    plenty of teasing and laughing for it.
    I was so happing going into lunch, Peter was
    “What happened now? Did you actually save
    the planet from a stray comet this time?”
    I laughed. “No. Actually, I’ve had rotten luck
    so far today.”
    His eyebrows rose. “And you’re happy about
    I smiled.
    He sighed and said, “You are definitely the
    weirdest person I know.”
    I just laughed.
    My day continued in that manor until I got to
    I was day dreaming about how yesterday
    went and I still couldn’t accept that all that
    happened in just one day. One day was all it took
    to shift my views of the world. One day and
    everything was changed. And in less than one day,
    I may never see this world again.
    I looked around the room.
    I most likely will never see this room again. I
    may never see this school again. Or this town.
    It was too much for me comprehend.
    I had decided to not say farewell to my
    friends so that I could see them at their best for
    the last time, not sorry and sulky about my
    leaving. I knew I would regret it later and my
    friends would be angry I didn’t tell them, but I
    just couldn’t say goodbye possibly forever when
    I, myself, couldn’t accept it in the first place.
    But I had to do this. I couldn’t just leave the
    world of the Shikoroni in the hands of the
    Konmeru Tribe. People were being hurt and I
    could help them. I couldn’t live with myself if I
    knew that I could do something for them and stay
    in my own simple life.
    I sighed. What have I gotten myself into? But my thoughts were interrupted by a
    familiar, soft voice. “Uh, may I see Carmen for a
    I looked up and smiled. In the doorway stood
    Derek. I jumped up and followed him out before
    Mrs. Floude could say a word.
    I shut the door to the classroom and faced
    Derek. “What’s this about?”
    He smiled. “I had to come over and talk to
    There was something in his eyes that made
    my smile fade. “What’s wrong?”
    He chuckled. “Come here.”
    I frowned. His eyes were growing more and
    more different as I looked into them. I shook my
    He smiled wider. “Come here, Carmen.”
    I backed away and shook my head harder as I
    realized what the look in his eyes were. Anger.
    He stepped forward and said through
    clenched teeth, “Carmen, come here right now!”
    When I shook my head once more, he sighed
    and pulled out a long device. Was that what I
    thought it was? Yes. It was a concealed sword!
    I turned and ran as fast as I could. I heard him
    follow behind and yell, “Be a good girl, Carmen,
    and let me kill you!” He laughed maniacally.
    I screamed as I passed by classes, but it was
    as if they heard and saw nothing.
    “It’s no use! I used a Silencing Charm on
    them! They can’t hear or see you at all! You’re
    I could feel tears streaming down my face as I
    ran down the stairs. “No! I’ll never be yours!”
    He laughed again. “It didn’t seem that way
    last night!”
    I was furious. “You traitor! How could you
    use me like that, you vicious monster!”
    For once he was silent.
    “Why do you want to kill me so suddenly?
    You could have killed me long ago!”
    He laughed. “You weren’t of age yet! Kaiko
    Konmeru wanted to keep you alive until you
    became of age and took on your powers. Now I
    can kill you like I’ve always wanted!”
    I gasped. “Konmeru?! So that’s why you
    want to kill me!”
    “Of course, stupid girl!”
    I was near the end of the hallway when I
    realized I had made a fatal mistake. There was
    only a dead end this way with a window and
    some lockers. Even worse; as I reached the end I
    tripped and scrambled to stand up, but was pushed
    back down. The breath was knocked out of me
    and I started to scream until I felt something cold
    and sharp pressed against the back of my neck.
    “It’s too late to do anything now, Mersili.
    Your time on Earth is over!”
    I buried my face into my arms as tears welled
    up in my eyes. This was the end of the line. I only
    had 16 years of living. Wasn’t I supposed to save
    the Shikoroni world from people like Derek?
    Wasn’t I supposed to lead them to peace with
    humans? Was my life going to go to waste only a
    day after I found the truth? No, all of it was a lie.
    All of it. This wasn’t how it was supposed to end.
    It can’t end like this! Please! Somebody help me!
    That’s when I heard a shatter from above and
    a loud thump on the floor in front of me.
    “Get your filthy hands off Carmen, Suko!”
    I looked up and was happier than ever before
    to see Irueku standing with his sword clenched
    tight in both hands. He was glaring at Derek- or
    Suko, I guess- so hard, it would have paralyzed a
    normal human.
    I heard Suko’s breath catch and felt the tip of
    the sword draw away from my neck.
    “Guardian of Shadows? Why are you of all
    people here?”
    Irueku’s eyes narrowed. “I was summoned
    last night as the guide of Carmen Mersili. I never
    expected the tribe of Darkness would come after
    her right after her Stage of Reincarnation just
    started. I was naïve to allow her to leave my side,”
    he looked down at me and his eyes softened. “Are
    you alright Carmen?”
    I tried to talk but the words wouldn’t come
    out so I just nodded.
    He nodded and made a gesture for me to
    come over and join him. I scrambled forward and
    stood behind him, taking deep breathes to calm
    myself. Finally, I looked back at Suko.
    He was sneering, but the look of anger had
    faded from his eyes and was replaced by genuine
    fear. Slowly backing away, he said, “You won’t
    get away with this!”
    Irueku laughed. “You just try and stop me!”
    Suko turned and ran as fast as he could down
    the hall, tail between his legs, as Irueku laughed
    even harder.
    I heard screams erupt from nearby classrooms
    as people realized that there was a strange man
    running through the halls waving around a
    dangerous-looking sword. The spell must have
    been broken when Irueku arrived.
    “We have to leave,” said Irueku after he
    stopped laughing. “We have to leave now!”
    When I hesitated, he picked me up in his
    arms and jumped out the window. I was about to
    scream when I realized that we were on the third
    story until I noticed that we weren’t moving
    anymore. We had jumped onto a large tree limb.
    “Where are we going?”
    “To your house. We have to get to Shiko
    before the Tribe of Darkness can come after us.
    Do you remember the vortex you created last
    night? The one I came out of?”
    I nodded.
    “You’ll have to create another one,” and we
    were off, speeding like a bullet up the street. We
    were back at my house in less than five minutes.
    When we got inside, my father rushed us.
    “What happened?”
    Irueku set me down. “No time to explain. The
    Tribe of Darkness will be here in a couple of
    We went upstairs and grabbed our small bags
    we had packed last night. I was herded to the attic
    where Irueku asked for my book of magic.
    “I need to find the proper spell for this
    situation,” he explained as he flipped through the
    pages. I filled my father in on most of the details
    until Irueku handed back the book on the right
    page. “Top right. Read it out loud.”
    I scanned it quickly, then read:
    “Rise portal to the other world,
    To where we want to go,
    Let us leave and go beyond,
    To the magic world Shiko.”
    In less than a second, a large vortex appeared
    at the center of the room, as it had last night.
    There was a crash downstairs and my father
    moved to go protect my mother, but Irueku held
    him back. “I have a Protection Spell set on
    everyone in your family. It will be strong enough
    to fend until the threat is gone.”
    I looked uncertain, but was pushed towards
    the portal.
    “You must leave, Carmen. Take the front,
    Raven. I’ll take the rear.”
    My father nodded and walked through the
    portal and into the world of darkness.
    The banging drew closer, but I hesitated.
    “Go Carmen! There is no more time left to
    spare!” And with that, I was pushed into the