My world had always been small but colorful. Dangerous but fun. Poor in money yet rich in memories and happiness.
I grew up wearing a smile on my face all the time in a small town in the province of Isabela back in my home country. I remember a hazy memory of me laughing. My small body running, wobbling with her little fit across uneven ground... headed straight towards the concrete road filled with dangerous cars and tricycles with the speed too fast for them to stop in time if ever, I don't know, a kid in diapers would decide to cross the street.
Good thing is that, I remembered never reaching the concrete road. Bad thing is that, I tripped even before I could do so and hit my head against a rock.
It bled. My head that hit the rock bled. My mom was so shocked seeing her 3 year old baby girl with a bleeding forehead. Our neighbors told her what happened and helped me up.
At first, they were really friendly. Helping my teenage mother get by as she do laundry for the rich people near our small neighborhood as one of our neighbors, Nanay Mahal--- I mean, I guess if you translate it, it would be... Mother Love? But she's more of a grandmother than a mother though... Grandma Love then. She usually watch over me while my mother works.
She was a short older woman, her posture is bad, her skin is wrinkled but she always look over me with a warm smile and she would always play with me. She would always nuzzle her nose on my stomach as I giggled uncontrollably. My memories as a kid was sunshine and rainbows.
I had a perfect life for a kid with low standards. My mom love me and I love her was a feeling abundant in my childhood. So abundant, I forgot why my mom made a sudden decision to leave me to an orphanage.
My memory soon faded easily. I began to wonder why no one wanted to be my friend. Grandma Love always told me my smile could warm anyone up but never had I felt warmth in my whole life. None as warm as the time I was younger than 5.
In a small house in the province, I could feel myself swell up with nostalgia. Of the days where I would stare at the clear sky and thought that the world is beautiful. My laughter would echo as loudly as I race with other kids the same age as mine.
Whether or not they are my friends, I did not care. As a kid, everyone is your friend but... but... I cannot continue my train of thought. Something, something's missing.
It's gone. My head would go fuzzy. The memories would fleet and leave. Then back to the present, I am stuck.
The moment with Moira replace my memories and the voice of my stupid brain commentating. Saying that I had made a friend.
A dreadful shiver crawled up in my spine... Something about having friends is deeply unsettling. It is not a wonderful feeling. I could guess why.
Having friends meant opening up. Trusting others. The last time I trusted anyone is the time I trusted Hana and look where it got me.
I glanced around my current surroundings as if the earthly wealth emitted by the academy's interior mocks me. Teases me about the fact that I am about to make the same mistake with Moira.
What am I thinking? A friend? Pft. No. No friends.
I am going to leave this school soon... er or later and there is no need to get attached.
Dude, I gotta make a mental note on that special detail because I keep forgetting about it the moment I ease up with my new surroundings which is a lot easier for me to do than I originally thought.
I made my way back to my room. Threading the winding hallways, going further away from the deafeningly quiet corridor filled with monster--- er, myths in their own world that I am certainly not invited to be a part of. Not that I want to be.
My feet walked to the direction of the eastern wing of the castle where the dormitories are located.
I wandered my eyes around the hallway as I pass by floor-to-ceiling windows with golden frames. To think, if the purple-colored curtains didn't cover the windows, the whole hallway could be blindingly angelic.
Setting the heavenly sight aside, how should I escape this place? Or, who should I give my 'monster' to?
My thoughts was put to a halt when I noticed movement by the end of the hallway. It was walking towards me, well, the direction would be towards me but not towards me-towards me. Still, it sent my brain into a panic! I am alone in a hallway with a monster--- er, myth walking in my direction.
How do most people do it? In this case, monsters--- myths? You know, walk as if no one is going straight your direction. Do you smile? Do you, do you pretend like they don't exist? If this was a crowded streets in Manila, it would be easy not to take notice of anyone. But, this is an empty hallway with a monst---er, myth charging (an exaggeration) towards me and my ass is being indecisive---
You know what? I'm just gonna pretend to be absolutely engrossed by the bloody red carpeted floor and how each step of my foot feels like I could sink in quicksand. That is a very, very wonderful option.
It was quicker than I thought it would be, might be because I was so tensed I practically dashed passed the mo... myth, but it was over. I didn't get any beating for passing by that myth.
I mean, I really think being alone in a hallway with a student who's given a free pass to torture me wouldn't pass up the opportunity of doing so seeing that I am passing by... Okay, that's a lot of "pass" in one sentence that the word itself doesn't sound like a word anymore!
Going back, I kinda expected me passing... walking pass, argh! Stupid brain! --- I thought my encounter with a myth on the hallway, alone, would result to a few threats but then again, I might just be too full of myself. Still, I am curious as to what the monster--- argh! Myth. What the myth that I just passed by looked like and why it didn't decide to be hostile.
Great! I already have a problem adjusting my brain to refer to monsters as myths as to be polite but now, my brain keeps making excuses for me to think of the word "pass" just to test if it still sounds like a word!
I am confusing myself! My head is clearly not focusing on my surroundings that I didn't notice a head floating near my face.
"Ay, putangina!" I screamed.
Pretty sure you will too when you find glowing red eyes and a pale white face hovering only inches to your face with fangs dangling out of a stupid grin.
My hands found its way to my chest, clutching the fabric of my clothes tight. My ears are ringing from the beat of my heart and my chest just tensed up with my breathe being stolen in the most unromantic of ways... not saying that I am finding the whole set-up romantic nor do I mean that I have fallen for the floating head who scared me but if this is what romance feels like, I'll gladly stir away from it forever.
The head then chuckled, gradually becoming less pale than its original complexion. The fangs did not disappear but when the eyes opened, I was again staring at familiar blue eyes and knife-like jawline. He turned his body to face me and I consciously stepped back.
"We meet again, Ms. Luwalhati, was it?" Even with the accent, he managed to not pronounce my last name in gibberish.
"Oh! Polite Blood Sucker," I managed a fake enthusiastic tone, "nice of you to scare me again."
He smiled then bowed so I kinda awkwardly bowed with him, "my apologies. You were so amusing, dashing pass me, and I couldn't help myself."
"Okay?" I have no idea how to respond to that, I just wanna end this conversation with this vampire and possibly get back to planning on going away. "Great convo. Gotta go though. Bye!"
Did... did I just rhymed?!
I screamed, kill me, in my head. My face heated up in the most unromantic way again. Through embarrassment.
It's been a whole night without me eating anything at all! About 2 days now since Hana dragged me into this academy filled with monsters that looked like humans. The ghouls though, looked like college students whenever the exams are nearing except they look like that all the time, then I was told that there are night shift students and they are not human looking. Moira told me all of I need to know to survive the academy.
I heard a knock on my room's door. I opened up looking like I'm renting my hair for birds to live in, greeting Moira by the door. She looks like she could slay having my entire look on.
"Oh, I forgot to tell you something," Moira said, swallowing a marshmallow and puncturing another in one of her fangs, "Ms. Hana told me she wouldn't be attending class tomorrow but she will be leaving something to do for the class---" she said this in absolute gibberish being there's a marshmallow stuck in her fangs but oddly enough, I could understand the gist of it. "Now, after class, she told me you have to go to the Auditorium just below the castle for Inferno practice."
My eyebrows scrunched hearing that word again. It seems to make a certain polite blood sucker turn into a jerk blood sucker. A blood jerk... er, not continuing that train of thought.
"What's an inferno practice?" I asked.
We were sitting by the hallway of the dormitories just casually chatting. You'd think a vampire in the student council would be a bit more strict seeing vampires are broody in the films and series but Moira's a total chill.
"You mean, you didn't know about the prophecy?" Moira asked.
I sarcastically replied, "No, I have. Kaya nga--- That's why I am asking." I caught myself in the middle of my words.
I forgot I am not in the Philippines anymore. Talking to my Filipino friends, laughing so loudly like nobody else is around--- What am I saying? I never had friends. That might almost seem impossible being that my country's citizen are, in my opinion, the friendliest people in the world but it's true. I never had any friends at all.
I was deemed as the cursed child. Left by her mother on an orphanage that mysteriously got burned the very night she was left there. Well, it didn't actually burned but something strange did happen and I would mostly convince my brain that the orphanage did burn when I was a kid.
Yet, I know for a fact that that was only a lie that I told my 9 year-old me to believe in. The truth though is something I have forgotten long ago.
I could just remember the dread of what happened that night. Something traumatic that might've made me come up with an entirely fake memory.
The cursed child that kills everyone she ever gets close with. The cursed child who... has nowhere to go back to--- These days, I've been thinking about leaving this place, where I am headed was not on my mind. Home? Yeah, right. I got no home. Even so, any place is better than this. That's the one thing that I am sure about.
I think I'm slowly formulating a plan! Nice.
Let's look on the bright side! I've got myself a dang plan!
"Feeling sarcastic, aren't we?" Moira raised an eyebrow, commenting.
"Tala Luwalhati the smartass, nice to meet you." I replied trying to hide the fact that I felt shitty remembering my past--- which I do not feel now.
I feel absolutely happy! Just fine and peachy.
Moira didn't notice. At least, that's what I want to believe. If she did notice, she didn't asked about it and let me have my privacy. She continued with her explanation.
"A prophecy was given to our kind since times of old. Obviously older than the principal herself and even this school. The prophecy was not shared to just anyone. It has to be someone connected to the prophecy. It's guarded by the oracle, the current oracle is the Principal, herself. It is not just a mere riddle to warn us of the future but a promise that one day, we will finally get out of the darkness of the night. Then, and only then, will we truly acquire the title of 'monsters'. A lighthouse. Bringer of omens, both good and bad."
"Wait, how old is the Principal?" I asked 'cause that's the only thing I understand. The other things she said confused me.
Though, I feel like I should dread the fact that a prophecy would suddenly let monsters out of the shadows, which was not the case. I did not feel anything but then again, how can I? I don't understand shit about the prophecy nor did it enlightened me about the Inferno.
"A few centuries, give or take an additional decades," Moira looked to the ceiling as if searching her brain for the answers, "about 570-ish years old? I think she's the 13th Principal we ever had."
"And the school?" I added, not really sure how to prolong the conversation.
We both started yawning and I laughed making Moira join me. We were both laughing and yawning at the same time which sounded like a blow-dryer possessed by a demon while laughing maniacally.
"We should probably head off to bed," I yawned.
Moira yawned as well, "Agreed."
"Stop," I yawned mid-sentence, "that."
"No," she yawned as well, "you stop."
We decided to not look at each other yawning and headed back inside our own rooms.
Breakfast in the hallway wasn't easy. Moira wasn't there to help me get food. I still get the same reaction as yesterday but thankfully I didn't received the same prank while lining up for the food.
I waited a bit before lining up just to make sure that it didn't happen though.
As I reached the front of the line, I being the last to, only one food was left. A sad sandwich. To be honest, it looked delectable but you can't expect to satisfy a Filipino or an Asian with just a puny bread with some vegetable dressing?
Where is the rice? A decent ulam?
I took the sandwich and politely thanked the cafeteria lady who scowled at me. I don't know what type of monster it was. She had a gray complexion with rough looking texture of skin. Her plain green blouse looked lovely against her thick arms and plump body. Her hair was tied in a bun but even that looked stiff like it's made of rocks. If I could guess, she'd be made of stone but I haven't heard of monsters made of stone.
On my way to room 730, I was taking a bite at my so-called breakfast while remembering that Hana won't be attending class and I need to find the auditorium beneath the castle.
As I entered the room, a weird coldness enveloped my body until I cannot feel anything nor see anything.
"Wha--- huh?" I could barely hear my voice.
The darkness blanketed my whole vision and I was stuck inside a closely familiar place as the one me and Hana entered just to get to this school. The difference is that, inside that void, I could feel the ground. I know that it's a place covered with darkness but it's still a place. With soil to walk on.
But this void, this void is empty. I felt like floating but I don't feel any air to breathe and it's freaking me out! I know I should calm down--- Scratch that. I do not know how to calm down! I just know that I can't breathe.
"Help!" I croaked and flailed around the void.
My supply of air is thinning. I don't know if my vision is getting darker or not because everything is dark but I could see the darkness getting fuzzier. That's not a good thing right?
Due to the lack of air, I started hearing voices. Giggling somewhere near yet the sound felt like an echo. Great. My stupid brain is stupider because of lack of oxygen---
"That's enough," a voice boomed. Am I in heaven? That was fast. Not that I'm complaining.
Was it just me or did I pee my pants again?
The darkness receded. A bright, white light blinded me but that's not the worse part, I no longer felt like floating because I instantly fell flat on the floor, groaning. My eyes adjusting as I see black blobs in front of me. Crowding me.
"I didn't know angels are black blobs," I muttered, "am I a black blob as well?"
A blue blob suddenly cut through the black blobs and stood in front of me. It assisted me to stand while the other blobs murmur at its action.
A black blob asked in disbelief, "are you kidding, Azure?"
Azure? Huh, the Blue blob got a nice name. Except the blue blob suddenly transformed into a male myth, that or my vision started to adjust. Blue blob was saying something. Can't hear though, my ears are slightly clogged up from moment to moment.
He had a light brown hair tied in a ponytail, it was very long that at first I mistook him for a girl. He was wearing a skater-girl skirt with a plain blouse. He looks like a girl but I couldn't mistook that Adam's apple for anything but a guy's... it could be that he's a she. I wouldn't know, maybe he just likes to dress like that. This is America after all.
The other black blobs turned out to be my classmates in Necromancy. No surprise that they plotted my death but it's just been three days! Too early to kill me. These myths are fast.
Azure ignored the protest of our classmates and checked up on me. Inspecting by breathing and my arms apparently. I squinted at his concern.
"I'm fine," I muttered coldly. Dashed passed him and sat on my seat. The one at the further back.
A witch scoffed, "see? Humans are ungrateful. You wasted your time."
"I don't think she's just a human, Cass," Azure stated. "If she is, why is she here then?"
Cass couldn't answer and humph in annoyance. I didn't bother looking at what the others are doing. From the corner of my eyes, I could make out some figures in their own seats doing the task given by Hana. Those could possibly the ones who didn't bother to prank me.
The ones who did bothered to, are crowding around Azure, who is the only blue among the blacks.
I, on the other hand, is among the students who bothered wearing uniforms.
"But I don't think she's a witch either," Azure continued, his gaze heading straight to my direction. Our eyes met and I was the first to avert. "I can't sense any dark magic on her. She isn't sworn yet."
"Whatever she is, she don't belong here." Cass emphasized.
I couldn't agree more. If only Cass hadn't attempted my death, I would've thought she was a cool myth. Just like Moira.
Minutes passed, the class was about to end. Thankfully, no one, other than Cass' group attempted my death and I lived to see another day.
Everyone finished what they were doing, taking their bags and exiting the room. Probably to head to their next class. I waited for them to leave before I did.
Now, a new dilemma begins.
Where is the Auditorium?