House Knightlinger seemed to be disliked among Sanctum Academy.
This, Nalin found on the third day of classes from a kind soul that had given him an apple when a group of students had toppled over his tray of food all over the front of his uniform. He didn't catch her name before she'd scurried away, afraid that someone would notice.
Compared to the other three Houses, there were a lack of members, and from Nalin's understanding, four in total belonged to Knightlinger--- including Lord Lulche, Jacinda, and himself.
The top ranked most popular House was Fiery, followed by House Dawn, then House Clarity, and of course, at the end of the list, House Knightlinger.
Nalin was wringing the ends of his sopping wet shirt inside the boy's bathroom, silently minding his own business, when the door bursted open and four guys entered the space rather boisterously. They paused at the sight of him.
"Hey, he's that demon kid that just enrolled a few days ago."
Nalin chuffed at the name, backing up only when all of them enclosed around him with sneering faces and threatening auras. Nalin dropped his hands, frowning deeply. He didn't even get the first word out before a punch was thrown at him and clipped him in the face. He managed to dodge the next flurry of attacks with poised grace the next time around.
All of them weren't really happy about that, but before they could pounce on him yet again, Nalin raised a lip to show his elongated incisor. "I may look harmless, but I am still a demon. Rile me up more and we'll see how you'll like having your limbs ripped from their sockets."
Begrudgingly, all four of them backed away and slowly trickled out, finally leaving Nalin to himself all alone in the bathroom. He released a shaky breath, palming his painful cheek-- his lip had split. Nalin could barely remember the last time he'd been hit like that. He'd been a mere child baring the consequences of stealing a guardsman's baton in the middle of his attack against an innocent woman. Noir had came to his aid then.
Now, he was nowhere to be seen.
His throat began to close up as emotions gradually surfaced, but he quickly cleared it away. Nalin still had the rest of the day ahead of him, he couldn't let himself cry like a baby just because of some bullies.
. . .
Sir Lulche eyed the bruise at the corner of the halfbreed's lip, inwardly frowning at its existence against the boy's otherwise creamy complexion. His nose crinkled. Students who acted with such violence against each other were pests of the academy. "Have you caught up with the rest of your peers?"
Nalin tried to hide the fact that he had jumped at the sudden sound of Sir Lulche's voice piercing through the silence. "Yes, I have."
Sir Lulche seemed pleased with his answer. "How much can you control your black magic?"
Nalin paused in thought. Should he keep to his lie, or should he be truthful this time around? He decided to play it safe in the end. "I can bend the shadows and call forth tendrils of darkness, but to a limit."
Sir Lulche didn't waste a beat. "Show me."
With a bit of hesitation on Nalin's part, he raised his hand and slowly twitched a finger at Sir Lulche's feet. Ever so slowly, small tendrils bled away from his shadow splayed across the floor, curling upwards until they lifted from the ground. He then directed them to the ink-pen, gently picking it up and floating it towards Jacinda, who stood at the door with her arms crossed. She opened her palms and the pen dropped in her hold.
Sir Lulche clicked his tongue, an eyebrow lifted. "That was...okay." Nalin smiled. "If you want to entertain a flock of children." Nalin's smile dropped. Sir Lulche lifted his own hands and without warning, the entire room darkened. Shadows bled up the walls, the ceiling, floor, furniture, until everything Nalin could place his eyes on was made of blackness.
He gasped in fright, stumbling a few steps back. He couldn't even see Sir Lulche or Jacinda---they'd just disappeared. The darkness had swallowed them up whole. Nalin felt himself raise his hands in an attempt to thwart away the shadows, but couldn't see them at all. He tried waving them in front of his face, but the blackness was creeping up his body faster than he could manage. Panic began to rise in his chest as anxiousness overwhelmed him. He felt like he was suffocating ever so slowly, and just when he'd had enough---the darkness bled away all too quickly.
Jacinda was leaning against the door as she had been previously and Sir Lulche lightly sat at the edge of his desk, hands comfortably buried in his pant-pockets. Meanwhile, Nalin was panting, eyes wide in fright and surprise.
"Yes, let it wear off." Sir Lulche mused. "That is what you need to master the next time you see me." He walked around his desk and lowered into his chair, not sparing the halfbreed another look.
Jacinda ushered Nalin through the door, her hand surprisingly gentle-- but firm --on his shoulder. But before she could get the door closed, Nalin whirled on his heel and gave a desperate cry. "Wait!"
Sir Lulche tilted his head, but didn't move anymore than that.
Nalin cleared his throat almost sheepishly, but spoke a lot more clearly. "My friend Nuemoir was taken away along with me. I was imprisoned and he...I still do not know what befell him."
The Keeper remained, silently writing, and Nalin waited anxiously for him to give him some kind of answer. He couldn't bare being ignored again. Noir could be six feet under while Nalin was foolishly still holding onto hope.
The Keeper's eyes shifted up to him this time and the boy's breath caught in his throat.
"I shall see. Begone now."
Nalin and Jacinda were sent down the desolate hall, not a word being exchanged, for Nalin was still too shell-shocked and couldn't even begin to form a syllable. The last time Nalin had felt so helpless like that was when Sir Alpine of House Fiery had nearly burned him alive from the inside out. And now Nalin was expected to do something of the same nature. The problem was not so much of being able to do it, no, bending the darkness came as easily as walking to Nalin. The halfbreed just wasn't too excited about having to elicit what he had just felt to some body else.
"To be blunt, you're a rather sad excuse of a demon, even if you're only half."
Nalin had intended to ignore Jacinda's sudden insult, but her glare practically burning into the side of his face called to his attention. With a sigh, he turned to regard her. "Why do you hate me?"
She scoffed. "Isn't it clear enough? Your kind has massacred the human race for centuries and for some reason you're allowed to reside in the academy as one of us."
Nalin rubbed a hand against the side of his face, internally groaning. "You will judge me based on the poor choices of my ancestors? That's rich, considering that your kind has enslaved your own people to fight wars they had no business in. But I will not judge you because of that. The actions of an entire population does not define an individual as a person."
Silence passed between them, uncomfortable and full of tension. But after a moment, Jacinda finally spoke. "I suppose you're right."
She kept her gaze forward. Nalin didn't notice until now, but they had turned into the hallway of his chambers. The few students who were up lingered in front of their rooms, their whispers raising in intensity upon their approach.
When Jacinda and Nalin stopped just before his door, Jacinda murmured quietly before walking back the way they had come from. "I'm sorry."
YOU ARE READING
BOOK ONE || Don't look at them. Don't speak to them. Do not ever attract their attention. They walk among us, enrapturing us with their enthralling presence and enticing powers. Bewitching smiles and terrifying eyes: they can sense your fear and...