VIII: A Foreign Place

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Sanctum Academy 

Land of Iyatora 

Nalin felt this immense weight of heaviness fall upon him as his heart beat faltered for a moment. He questioned why he was in the academy of the gifted, but the answer occurred to him soon enough. They were to make him a weapon. A slave. Nothing but a mindless doll to carry out the wishes of the Emperor. Of course they had sent this vixen of a Keeper down to his cell to weaken his resolve.

Nalin's worst nightmare that he feared would befall Noir was happening to him. The alarming sensations of panic churned like molten lava ready to explode from an awakened volcano.

The female Keeper named Calyx began, "You have a name, no?"

The quiet swirled around and Nalin took a moment to gather his composure before raising his gaze to meet the hers. He swallowed down the humongous lump lodged in his throat. "Yes, my name is Nalin."

A shadow of gratitude took on her features. Confusion was guaranteed to be present on Nalin's face, in which the female Keeper cared to almost immediately. "This may be troublesome to you, your position is understood. Give it time, I am sure it will come to you soon enough."

Nalin's breath hitched just as her eyes flashed a smoldering shade of silver. "It seems that the Emperor intends to make you into a student of our academy. I have no qualms against demons in particular, but he is sacrificing his good image to give you a chance."

Nalin didn't know what to say, so he did what he was best at doing: he remained silent.

The boy tried to minimize the trembling that took over his body, but it was useless as all the Keepers eyes inspected him so intensely that he feared he would break. Nothing shone on Miss Calyx's face, that gaze of hers never once wavering from the boy's. His palms were slick with sweat, so much that he could probably slide out of the chains around his wrists if he wanted to. He couldn't find it within himself to speak, but he did yelp when the bite of flame licked down his spine.

"You have a voice, do you not?" The familiar sound of Sir Alpine's growling bled into Nalin's ear drums as he came up behind him suddenly. "I do not see why this halfbreed would be of any use to us. He is nothing but a lost cause, begging to be skinned alive for his lies."

Nalin grimaced at the harsh heat slowly singed him from the inside out. Miss Calyx clicked her tongue, a whole new emotion washing over her features so drastically that it left Nalin silent in puzzlement. The female Keeper's eyes turned cold and hard, in sync with the sudden change of atmosphere.

"Sir Alpine, you must understand that if you misplace a single strand of hair upon this boy's head, the Emperor will take it upon himself to deliver your punishments for going against his judgement."

Tension rained down like a heavy storm, Nalin could practically see the dark clouds forming from the ceiling as well as the lightning flashing between both Keeper's. To say the boy was uncomfortable was an understatement. This ordeal went on for a few tense moments before she finally spoke.

"Forgive Sir Alpine's rash behavior. As I was saying, the academy welcomes you. You'll be sent to the sleeping chambers when this conversation reaches its end. Your living arrangements will be organized by the time you arrive."

Nalin jaw locked with tension. "You will take me in?"

Miss Calyx fixed the boy with a thought-provoking look, but it was Sir Lulche who answered sharply. "Our academy teaches the gifted, and only the gifted. It acts as a sanctuary to those who can manipulate the gift of magic. In another situation, you would have been burned at the stake for the tainted blood that runs through your veins. For reasons only the Emperor knows, your safety will be guaranteed, the Emperor's name is under yours as protection after all. I apologize for how this has turned out for you, however, your right to returning to your village was abolished the moment you murdered a guardsman."

Nalin was left speechless. 

The doors opened and heavy footsteps issued behind him. 

In a rush, he choked out, "The boy that was with me! What about him?"

But before he could be answered, he was being dragged out.

. . .

The journey from the room of Keepers to the sleeping chambers was a lengthy combination of winding passageways, spiral staircases, large courtyards, and an odd room where the guardsman had to use a small weird device connected to his breast-plaque in order to open the door.

Nonetheless, the boy was not discouraged in the least bit because the tour of the academy's interior blew him away. He's never seen anything like it, such a beautiful stronghold that housed the magic-users and its teachers.

It was a few minutes later when they finally entered a particularly long hallway, where tall oak doors lined from both sides, each equally separated by numbered plaques.

The lengthy walkway was completely empty and dimly lit, the faint light sources illuminating out from the candle-light fixtures along the walls.

All of a sudden, the guardsman abruptly stopped, causing Nalin to stumble before nearly slamming against his back. They had come to a stop at a doorway, identical to the others lined up around it.

"This is where you will be staying." the guardsman said, his gray eyes flashing. "Get settled in. Do not leave the room until told otherwise."

With that, he turned on his heel and simply walked away. Nalin stared after his retreating form until he turned out of sight, leaving the boy all alone in the hallway. Sighing heavily, Nalin entered his new living space.

It was much smaller than he'd anticipated. The far side of the wall consisted of a huge window and dark curtains that momentarily shielded the outside world, where a dainty nightstand perched right underneath. A small, depressingly vacant bed took to the space off the left side of the room, opposite it, a tall dresser beside a single door that Nalin assumed to be an attached bathing chamber.

Overall, the room was dark, immaculate, and like the hallway, a single candle set the room softly aglow from the night stand.

With a frown, Nalin crept to the window. He swept the curtain aside, revealing the beginnings of a rain storm outside and that night had fallen at last.

Nalin was all alone. And he didn't know if Noir was okay.

He slid himself onto the bed, unexpectedly sinking down a few inches against the soft mattress. Leaning back within the recessed walls, he curled up and hugged his knees to his chest, staring at the door from across.

He did not know why the Emperor had fought to keep him here, much less let the halfbreed join the ranks of his gifted magic users. The thought of breaking out was very tempting, but Nalin had to locate Noir before he did, less they decided to off him in response to Nalin's resistance.

For now, Nalin would have to play student. 

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