Chapter Eleven: Blanca

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Blanca was utterly terrified. First, she had been swept away to a strange land, only to discover it was quite possibly the most secluded and terrifying place she had ever been to—and she still wasn't sure what the howling noise was that seemed to echo from everywhere.

Second, she was now being forced to steal one of the most powerful magical objects to exist, otherwise, her family would be brutally slain.

But, she doubted this was the most frightening experience she had ever had. Even with her fragmented memory, there were scars on her shoulders and arms that couldn't have a happy story behind them.

Looking at everyone else in the ballroom, the one woman, Verre, seemed quite at ease, executing a few warm-ups that led Blanca to believe that she was more than skilled at this sort of thing. Blanca had always prided herself on her excellent figure, but it seemed an excellent figure alone wasn't going to get her anywhere when it came to training. She couldn't even practice with her abilities, considering the deadly potency of them.

"Blanca," the wolf-girl called. "Perhaps we can spar together?"

Swallowing nervously, Blanca nodded. Of the four of them who had been captured, Verre and the wolf-girl--Cerise?--seemed the most adept, as if they had done this violent sort of thing before. She would have preferred Aura, who at least seemed slightly nervous herself, but at least it wasn't Verre, who at that moment was summoning glass shards and throwing them expertly into the wall ahead of her.

"I'm Cerise, in case you didn't remember. Judging from your face, I'm guessing fighting isn't something you're accustomed to?" The curly-haired girl smiled softly, though even Blanca could tell it was forced; all lips, no eyes. She couldn't blame her, though. They all were in a strange and new environment. No one knew who to trust, especially Blanca. They were all too confident, too deadly.

Shaking her head slowly, Blanca gestured to her throat. The slight paling of Cerie's features was enough for Blanca to understand that she knew of the deadliness of her breath. This quest, or "heist", as the strange Madame Rose called it, was going to be exceedingly difficult if she could not converse with the others.

"How about we start with some simple warm-ups to get the blood flowing? I'll be certain to go slowly so that you can learn. We're going to need all the help we can get if we're to survive this." Cerise chuckled softly and shrugged.

The speech was such an exceedingly common and motivational one, that Blanca grinned. It seemed public speaking was not Cerise's strong suit, however, it had been Blanca's. Though the days she had been able to speak without fear of being hit--or even now, afraid of killing someone--were like a pleasant dream that was achingly just beyond reach.

Readying herself for the spar, Blanca followed the simple warm-up steps Cerise provided. Stretching arms, bending legs, inhaling, exhaling . . . Blanca had to remain cautious and to not breathe too hard. Normal breathing usually wasn't toxic enough to harm, but she didn't wish to take any chances, not with Lyra's and Rose's lives on the line. As it was, her dress was a nuisance, getting in the way of the physical exercise. She was beginning to understand why the rest all wore trousers.

Cerise balled her hands into fists, the kind expression on her face turning cold. "Ready?"

Blanca gulped, breaking out in a sweat. She was not a warrior; fighting was not her style, not at all. But she needed to make sure Lyra and Rose would remain safe. Nodding slowly, Blanca tensed, clenching her own hands into fists. For once in her life Blanca wished she had lived a healthier life, eating fewer sweets and more vegetables and fruit. She had always been rather fond of her voluptuous built, but she doubted being curvy would help in a situation such as this.

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