SOULBOUND

 

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Foreward

Hi there!

Thank you for taking the time to read my story, which is currently a work in progress. Feel free to let me know what you think or if you see any problem areas.

-Amy

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CHAPTER 1: The Cursed Girl

“Off on another trip, mom?” Lily asked. She was sitting down at a table with her head drooped in her arms.

 “I’m sorry, Lily. This is important if we want to keep eating,” her mother replied as she continued to pack her suitcase. “You know that.”

Another early morning departure just like all the rest. I should have known growing up that it wouldn’t change. I don’t blame her though. There was never anything to do in town unless you really liked watching the steam cars roll by. They were neat. Sort of. That’s me by the way. The bored one at the table with the messy black hair.

“Definitely more important than watching your daughter grow up,” the sixteen year old replied.

“Hey, that’s not fair!”

“Yes it is, mom! You disappear for months at a time and I’m left here by myself! I don’t even know what you do on your ‘digs’.”

“What about your friend? What’s her face? Doesn’t she watch you?”

Lily scowled angry at the fact that her mother couldn’t even remember the girl she had grown up with. “Really mom? You can’t remember Ariel?” Ariel had always been there. In a way she was more of a mother than her own had been. Perhaps mother was the wrong word. Sister was more like it. A big sister that had saved her ass quite a few times from trouble.

“Right, Ariel. The girl from low town. There’s something off about her. I don’t like it.” Lily’s mother closed the suitcase and sat it down on the table. On the outside were strange symbols. Each question about it would produce a new tale. It was clear there’d never be a direct answer and Lily stopped asking.

“Yes her. There is nothing wrong with Ariel.”

“Look I don’t want to argue with you right no-”

“You never want to discuss anything! The moment things get uncomfortable for you, you just take your bag and leave!” Lily watched in astonishment as her mother right on queue picked up the suitcase and headed for the door. “Fine. Go. Goodbye. Hope I don’t see you again.”

The door slammed shut leaving the house silent. Lily shook her head and lifted her hand to smack the table in frustration. She paused when she saw her familiar standing on the table watching her. Its shadowy form with big yellow eyes staring up at her.

I wanted her to stay. Just once. Would that have been too much to ask for? Would it have been so bad to just set the suitcase aside and say let’s spend the day together? I can barely remember the last time we actually did spend time as mother and daughter. I think I was maybe five or six. She took me to a festival and played the ring toss until she won me a stuffed lion I so desperately wanted. There was no work, nor worries. Just us having fun. If only I had known that would have been the last time I would have tried harder to remember all the details.

Oh and the little shadow is Kodomo. He’s kind of just been there as for long as I can remember. No one else can see him. I think. I don’t really know what he is, but I just call him my familiar. I’ve told Ariel about him and she doesn’t seem to care. It’s not just him though. I can see a lot of strange things. Shadows and shapes usually but not much more. Probably just crazy, but aren’t we all a little bit?

Lily placed her hand on the table and let her familiar crawl into her palm. There was weight to the creature, but it always threw her off that it never actually felt like anything was there. She let out a sigh and poked what would probably be its stomach with her finger. “At least you always stick around, little guy.” A smile crossed her lips and she slipped the shadow onto her shoulder to sit. “C’mon, let’s go find Ariel. Maybe we’ll go off on another adventure.”

The door to the apartment opened and she was greeted by the sight of her neighbor, Mr. Fred Davis, in his boxers, a bathrobe, and a cup of coffee in his hand. He was too busy looking through the newspaper to realize that anyone was standing nearby. Only when the door shut did he give any notice.

“Ah, Lily. How are you today, young lady?” He tipped his cup into the air and flashed a smile. He was an older man approaching his fifties, but he had taken note of the constant lack of adult figures in the household. When the realization had set in, Mr. Davis had brought it upon himself to keep an eye on the apartment.

“I’m okay. Anything fascinating in the paper, today?” Lily asked.

“Oh let’s see. Well, would you like a fascinating tale of political oversight?” He leaned in and went “hmm”.

Lily put her hand to her cheek as though she were interested. She opened her mouth wide with an enthusiastic smile. “…No,” she bluntly stated.

“I don’t blame you. I think I just do this out of habit these days.” Mr. Davis slid the newspaper under his arm and leaned up against the wall. “Heading somewhere?”

“I’m going to go find Ariel.”

“Ah, the red head right?” he asked with Lily nodding in return. “Well. Have fun. Don’t stay out too late.”

The day was young, and the sky clear. Crisp cool morning air had left dew on the grass and flowers that were littered around the apartment complex. Beyond the half wall was the town of Iriyo. A quaint city where maybe a few thousand lived at best. It was  always quiet. So quiet. Boringly quiet. Nothing exciting really ever happened save for a few festivals littered throughout the year.

Lily put her hands on her hips and took a deep breath. Sure there was technically school to go to, but why spend such a beautiful day inside. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted another shadow. As a child they had terrified her to no end, but eventually with a little help from Ariel, she overcame her fear of being outside. The only one that ever seemed to interact with her was Kodomo and he was totally harmless.

Off she went down the street with a stride in her step towards low town. Ironically the part of the city that had been destroyed by a fire was rebuilt nicer than before, while the rest ended up becoming dilapidated which the residents then began calling low town. It wasn’t that bad. There were a few boarded up buildings but the people were nice enough.

It would take her a good half hour to reach low town with steady walking. Not because the city was particularly big, but because the school was right in the middle. She was already in enough trouble with taking personal days off. She didn’t need anyone spotting her actively ditching. School seemed so pointless at times. Sit in a classroom and listen to a teacher yammer on about the mundane. Out here – this is where the real things were. They weren’t in some book.

The back roads were quiet and peaceful. Many of the homes had flower boxes out front and symbols of faith in the windows. Church was another thing she vehemently avoided. Her mother was obsessed with religious artifacts which in turn made Lily fully against being near anything related to it. Still there were people who could wield light and other elements. Nearly all of them followed the teachings of Sionna.

Lily rested her arms on a nearby stone wall and leaned over till she could see her reflection in the water. Her mousey face, messy hair, and brown eyes staring back at her. On her shoulder Kodomo seemed to be turned around looking at something else. A pair of hands grabbed her by the ankles and before she knew it the water was getting closer. Really close. Splash.

Jumping up in the shallow water she spun to see several classmates laughing and joking with each other. “What’s up, frog pad?” the eldest boy mocked. “I see you’re busy trying to skip class again today.”

Ah yes, frog pad. Such a clever play on lily pad. How did they ever come up with it? I guess missing school a lot had its consequences when some of the others decided that they had had enough of me being absent. Yeah…let’s just go with that for now. The big ugly one is Murdough, along with his two sidekicks Pearson, and Teller. Just last names because I didn’t bother to learn their first. I figured that was okay since they got my own wrong regularly.

Lily spat out some water and glared. “Oh shut up.” Her head cocked from side to side looking for her familiar. He was floating downstream unable to swim against the current. “Ah Kodomo!” She sprinted after him as fast as she could in the waist deep water.

“She’s talking to her imaginary friend again. How old are you again?” Teller had a nasty scowl on her face. “Hey. Frog pad. I’m asking you a question.”

Lily’s hands cupped around her shadowy friend and lifted him up. He seemed to give a small bow of appreciation. She nodded her head in return and slid Kodomo back onto her shoulder. “There we go. I’m sorry.” He seemed like a capable little familiar, though she couldn’t bear the thought of losing him.

“She’s really damn crazy, isn’t she?” Teller mumbled to the others. “No wonder she doesn’t have any friends.”

“Ahh, that’s where you’d be wrong.” As if appearing out of thin air, Ariel stood off to the side with her foot up on a bench and a wide smile on her face. She’d look dashing if not for the hair blowing in her face. Quickly she brushed it aside as though nothing had happened. “She has one friend. One very clever and awesome friend.”

Ariel. She’s been the one constant in my life. Growing up without her would have been lonely I think. Very very lonely. But that’s enough sulking. She was a few years older than me and always seemed to have it all together. She was my guiding light if you will.  She made me feel like I could  be more than just a troublemaker. I wanted to be like her. Her looks, her enthusiasm, her fearlessness. Somehow she almost always seemed to step in when I needed it. Almost like a “Lily is at it again” alarm. It’s a little strange now that I think about it. Not that I’m complaining.

“You’re that chick that’s always hanging around her, yeah?” Pearson, the youngest of the three, spoke up. “They’re both bonkers.”

Ariel tilted her head to the side. “Oh that’s not very nice, is it? We just met, you and I. I could be fantastic and you’d never know.” She stepped forward from her perch with a bound in her step. “But you three wouldn’t give me that chance, now would you! No no. Too quick to go for an easy laugh!”

“Hey back off lady,” Murdough tried to calm the situation, “We were just having a bit of fun is all. Lily is our pal.”

“Really? I didn’t know.” Ariel tapped her chin then looked to Lily who was still standing dumbfounded in the stream. “Lily, you hear that? These guys are your friends, eh?”

“Huh? What? Oh right. Yeah. We’re pals for sure,” the waterlogged girl replied with a sarcastic tone.

“See? We told you so.” Murdough folded his arms triumphantly. “We’re just trying to make sure she stays in school is all.”

“I’m sure.” Ariel had an evil glint in her eye. She wasn’t the most physically imposing, but somehow her presence could make others cower before her. She grabbed the boy by his collar and got face to face with him. “I think you owe my soggy friend an apology, yeah?”

Murdough froze in terror. His eyes wider than saucers and his hands trembled at his sides. “W-W-What are you?” he barely sputtered out.

“Me? I’m your worst nightmare,” Ariel grinned, clearly having fun. “Go on then. Have at it. Let’s hear an apology.”

“I-I’m sorry! I’m sorry! P-Please let me go.”

Without realizing Ariel had dragged him towards the edge of the stream. “Okay.” Her grip released on the collar and with a bump of her hips sent the bully tumbling over the edge followed by a splash. She brushed her hands together and put her hands on her hips in the same way Lily always would attempt to emulate.

“Let’s get out of he-ahh,” Teller shouted only to have the back of her shirt grabbed and soon found herself in the water leaving only Pearson behind.

“Whoopsie. I slipped. How about you then?” Ariel took a step towards the last boy and he scrambled like prey running for its life. The other two in the water shouted and made their own mad dashes to escape the menace tormenting them. “Bye bye,” she waved. Meanwhile Lily just watched in awe as her friend dispatched her three classmates with ease.

Like I said, Ariel has saved my ass more than once. I’m not sure the methods she always uses are the nicest, but I’ve sort of just learned to go with it. It’s not like she’s really ever seriously harmed anyone. She just scares them a little with the occasional mess being made. Or she just repeats what was done to me. You know, that whole eye for an eye thing.

The red-headed woman stepped onto the stone ledge and with a quick wave to Lily, then she too plunged into the water.

“Why did you get in too?” Lily questioned.

“Why not? You seemed comfortable in here. But, my little petal,” Ariel slushed her way through the cool water until she was right next to Lily, “Why are you not in school?”

Lily glanced off to the side with her face turning red. She hadn’t expected her to ask the same question the bullies did. “Because it’s boring. I don’t want to be there. No one likes me anyways.”

“Oh don’t be such a downer! You learn all sorts of fascinating things I can’t show you! I wish I could have afforded school!” Ariel put her arms around Lily for a hug. “Did your mom leave again?”

Lily returned the hug. She was forcing herself not to cry. She told herself a long time ago that she wouldn’t cry over it anymore. “…Yeah.”

“I’m sorry.”

“This is stupid,” Lily pushed away, “She’s stupid. A big stupid face who couldn’t give a shit about me. Chasing religious crap for who knows what.”

“Well we can’t all be as awesome as me, yeah? C’mon, I’ll treat you to something nice after you leave class if you go. Ice cream maybe? And then we’ll go sightseeing.” Ariel tempted and held out her tattooed hand. On each palm was what looked like a tribal symbol that wrapped around onto her wrist. Both biceps then had a similar tattoo. She had told Lily they just looked cool, but sometimes they seemed as though they held a deeper meaning.

“Do you really think that’s going to work on me every time?” Lily stared into Ariel’s piercing blue eyes. She scrunched her face disgruntledly as she toiled with the temptation. “Okay! Fine! Just this one last time. You hear me?”

I always said that. It always worked on me.

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CHAPTER 2: Until the Bell Tolls

Lily stood at the front entrance of the school building. Class would be starting soon and students were all heading in. They were all dressed uniformly with a white shirt, then skirts for girls and pants for boys. She was wearing no such thing. After all she had left the apartment with having no intention of being here today. She could get away with wearing regular clothing. Maybe. Probably not.

One of the teachers was out front. Mr. Salindor. He knew Lily well and not for the best of reasons. There was that time in chemistry when she exploded the lab by trying exactly what he had told the class not to do. Then there was the other few times of sleeping in class, not doing any homework, and one particular time she had accidentally spilled acid on his desk while asking a question. It ate right through an entire stack of term papers.

She put her hand on the side of her face in hopes it’d shield her from his gaze as she strode past him. A foot past the old teacher and she heard a throat being cleared.

“Ahem. Ms. Cala.” His arms were folded and there was a look of disdain permanently plastered on his face. Lily froze and clenched her fist at her side. She was cursing Ariel under her breath for making her go today. “Do you just get a kick out of showing up however you please? Think somehow the rules don’t apply to you.”

Lily spun with a strained smile on her face. “Yep, you got me. I love it. Can’t you tell? This is what I wake up for in the morning.”

Looking back I was a bit of an ass to my teachers. I probably could have tried a bit harder. School was sort of a slow train wreck for me. It started with the other kids picking on me for seeing things. I had a couple friends, but even the teachers seemed a bit weirded out by me. I guess people take notice when you talk to an invisible shadow sitting on your desk. After that everything I did suffered and I only really felt free when I was elsewhere. I dont want to talk about this anymore.

“Office. Now.” The teacher pointed down the hall. Several that stopped to watch the display shook their heads.

“I’ll think about it.” Lily turned to head down to her class. Mr. Salindor grabbed her by the arm and pulled her towards the office. “W-Wait. I was actually going. You don’t have to drag me there!”

“Uh huh. Do you know how many times I’ve heard that from you? Let’s go, Lily.” Giving up on her resistance, she soon found herself in the main office. “Get her a damn uniform, and get her to class. I’d send her home, though somehow I doubt she’d return,” he explained to the clerk who was busy typing away on a typewriter.

Lily made a face and stuck her tongue out as his back as he left. She folded her arms and slumped down in her seat. A small part of her wanted to just play along and try harder. It’d be easier that way. But she just couldn’t quite bring herself to do it. The typewriter dinged, and then a few moments after a fresh set of clothes were deposited in her lap. The clerk sighed then returned to her work. She knew Lily all too well.

She turned to her familiar with a frown on her face, “Be glad you never have to do this,” she whispered. Kodomo tilted his head as though it were trying to understand her. He pointed one of his stubby arms at the uniform. “Yeah, yeah. I’m going. I don’t need this from you too. I saved you earlier.”

After changing Lily held up one of the ends of her skirt. It was so unbecoming of her to be in one of these things. Well, here went nothing. There was probably homework due of some kind. She deposited her clothes in her locker then made her way to class which was already well underway. A spiritual attunement class of some kind. Most schools had such classes in order to seek out those that could possibly wield the energies of the world.

The lesson was already well underway when she entered. The teacher looked up and adjusted her thick glasses to see who it was. Madame Kalough was a strange person with curly dirty blonde hair and a pointed nose. Through the view of her lenses her eyes appeared large.

“You’re late, Ms. Cala,” she sheepishly said in a relaxed tone.

“I know that.” Lily mumbled. The entire class was staring at her. She wanted to shrivel up. She definitely lacked Ariel’s perpetual confidence.

“Well, better here than not. Go take a seat. Today is hands on lessons!”

Greeaatt.” Lily slumped in her seat by the window and stared outwards from the second story. There were several shadows moving about through the streets. Occasionally one of the steam cars would pass through them. She wondered if they noticed any of it. Just what were they? Spirits? Demons? Ghosts? She turned her attention back to the lesson at hand. Another one of the students had just finished giving a demonstration and was taking their place.

“And so we see class that the spirit channels emanate out from our core! It’s fascinating really.” Madame Kalough was pointing to a diagram she had made on the blackboard. It showed a half circle inside of another with several lines coming out of it. She was always very excited to show what she thought was fascinating. “By just keeping the simplest of beliefs that we hold dear were able to access these channels. The possibilities exist in all of us! Some are simply more attuned than others. I’ll show you! Lily! Lily, dear.”

Lily looked around the room to make sure Kalough wasn’t calling on anyone else. What was she supposed to do? She had failed every other time throughout school. “Me?”

“Yes you! Come here, dear. Don’t be shy, now. I know you have a strong head on those shoulders.” Lily pulled Kodomo onto her shoulder and trudged to the front of the class. Half of the students looked as though their eyes were going to roll into their heads out of boredom. Only Teller in the back seemed ready to pounce on her incoming failure. “That a girl.”

Lily’s face was red with embarrassment. Nothing was going to come of this. She was pretty sure the teachers simply tried to get her to participant more in the hope that she would suddenly see the light and become a stellar student.

“Now then! The simplest of our applications is creating light. A light to guide the way of many! It is from this point that all our other skills begin to flourish no matter how simple or complex,” Madame Kalough explained while she prepared herself. “Place your hand out like so. That’s it! Now focus as we’ve been discussing.”

“Lily hasn’t been here for the last four days! And she was late today!” Teller indicated in a haughty voice. “She can’t do any of this.”

“Settle down, Alora. That’s quite all right whether it comes now or never. What matters is giving it a try,” The teacher silenced the girl.

Can’t do any of this?! Just who did that twerp think she was? Lily scrunched her face up and focused on concentrating. Concentrating on what? Perhaps she should have paid more attention. She didn’t care. Not really. But she wasn’t about to let Teller have the last laugh. Not after getting dumped in the stream and called frog pad.

Madame Kalough adjusted her glasses while she gave a closer look to Lily’s hand. “Ah yes. Good stance. Feel it in your chest. Deep in your core. Surely you must have things that you hold dear and close. All it takes is but a spark! Use that, flow it outwards as though you were sending it downstream.”

“Uh okay then.” Lily scrunched her face in concentration. Something she held dear? Well there was Ariel. Or would Kodomo be better? Both. Definitely both. And…

And then I did it perfectly and everyone in the class was impressed. Oooh ahhh. Thats how it wentor not. Im afraid to say I never really excelled at much. But this one time I did manage to surprise myself, but not in the way I had hoped for. No, this was definitely something I wanted to keep a secret to myself.

Lily could feel it, a tiny tug of something at her fingertips. Was this always what everyone was going on about? For but a split second she saw it. A tiny black spark that jumped from one finger to the next. Black? she thought to herself. No one else had seen it, but she was sure it had been there. Her heart was pounding in her chest at the implications if anyone ever found out.

Very rarely people could produce black spirit. Those people tended to disappear once word got out. They were said to have been tainted souls. Tainted by what she wasn’t sure, but whatever it was couldn’t be good. There was no way right? Sure she wasn’t exactly a good person, but did that mean she was going to be condemned?

“Lily? Lily?” Madame Kalough waved her bejeweled hand in front of Lily’s face to snap her back to the actual reality of the classroom. “Dear. You can take a seat now.”

“Yeah. Okay.” Lily was white as a ghost. Back at her desk she had Kodomo crawl into her hands and stared at him. If she really did produce black spirit, did her ability to see these shadows have anything to do with it? Her familiar was her friend. Not some evil thing she was connected with. The familiar reached its hand up and tapped her on the forehead for reassurance. Sometimes Lily was almost sure that Kodomo was in tune with her body.

***

Ariel lazily sat against one of the walls of the school building with a book in hand. She was waiting for Lily to finish with her classes so she could continue the day. It’s not like she had much else to do. On the cover was a picture of a flower losing a petal. An erotic novel of some kind about a young woman discovering love for the first time.

Okay so I dont actually know what she was reading since I wasnt there. But thats totally something she would do. Probably. Dont always take my word for it. Im just going off all the minor details I have.

A lewd expression sat upon her face as she turned the next page. She was practically drooling at this point. Her head snapped to the side as she felt a tingle on the air. Something had happened and she was sure it had come from Lily. Disappointed that she needed to go investigate, she carefully placed her bookmark in the page and slid the book away.

“What have you done now, Lily?” Up on her feet she leaned side to side to stretch then put her hands high into the air until she felt a pop in her back. “That’s better.” With little effort she climbed her way to the top of the school wall and meandered along with her hands in her coat pockets. She was whistling the tune she always had. Where did it come from again? A radio station or some such.

Ariel reached the outside of where Lily’s classroom was and tilted her head trying to see through the glare on the window. She wiggled around on the wall until she could see in. There she was sitting in her seat staring out the window as per usual.

“Oh Lily, you could at least pretend to pay attention. Let’s see…” After catching sight of Kodomo the familiar turned to face her. Ariel nodded a few times as though he were communicating with her. “Ah that’s how it is, is it? I hope they didn’t notice.” The next thing she knew was Lily was facing the window as well with her middle finger presented and a scowl on her face. Clearly she was pissed that she was stuck in a classroom.

“Lily! What do you think you’re doing?” Madame Kalough came rushing over and grabbed her by the hand which still had her finger in the upright position. “Let’s go to the office young lady.”

“Noo! Wait. Ahh.” Lily was pulled from her seat and quickly left the view of the classroom. Damnit Ariel!

Ariel had a smile on her face. “Serves you right.” She wiggled her fingers, “Byee.” Still if she did feel a tiny spark of black spirit, there could be problems in the future. That girl always had to go and make things complicated. She needed to go talk to someone about what she should do at the moment. He’d have some ideas.

Down from the wall she hopped and pulled her book from its pocket. She could walk and read at the same time. The story was too good to put down. The same lewd expression from before donned her face as she crossed the road giving no pause to the cars honking at her.

The edges of town were always more quiet. It was peaceful here. She’d often bring Lily when they weren’t busy with other things. There’d be the sound of chimes, birds, the rustling of leaves. On a warm summer day under blue skies there was nothing better than sitting under the shade of a cherry tree and reading a good book. Or in Lily’s case, listening to music. She wasn’t much of a book worm.

Ariel put her hand against the markings on the tree. A + L. Frends Foriver. They weren’t the best at spelling as five and eight year olds. She enjoyed reminiscing about the past. It was almost like yesterday that she had carved that with her old pocket knife. Lily had been so bright and open. The realities of growing up skewed that. This wasn’t what she had come here for, however. Ariel’s quarry lay farther beyond near an old abandoned church. She pulled her book back out to continue reading as she walked.

“No! You silly girl. He doesn’t love you like that! Don’t do it!” she shouted at the pages. “Don’t you dare kiss him! He’s just using you. You’ve already found someone else who loves you for you!” Ariel paused to furiously read through the next few pages. “Thank you! Sheesh.”

She paused in front of the church. On the front was a statue of Sionna in a meditative position. The wings on the back had broken off and part of the face had been destroyed in the fire that ravaged the town. The inside still had the ever so faint scent of burnt wood. She kind of liked it in a way. It reminded her of camping out.

The stained glass adorning the windows had all but shattered save for a single pane that showed the sun rising over the land. A stream of light shown down through it onto the floor where there was a large elaborate symbol. The same exact one that was on the palms of her hands.

“I hate this part.” Ariel took her pocket knife and flipped the blade out. She twirled it around then jammed the tip into the center of her palm. With clenched teeth she closed her fist tightly and held it out above the symbol on the floor. “Hey. Old man.”

***

Lily clutched her rumbling stomach and lay half sprawled out over an empty cafeteria table. She had spent the last half hour being chewed out by the principal for her class conduct. It didn’t help when she talked back and told him it was no big deal. At the moment, though, she was hungry. Her pockets were empty save for her portable jukebox and headphones. Around her the rest of the fourth year students were chowing down. Many of them had small wooden boxes filled with rice and other goodies.

On the top of her head she could feel Kodomo poking her to get her attention. She sat upwards and was taken aback by the sight of a boy sitting across from her. It was Drake from her class. What was his angle? What did he want?

“Hi Lily,” his voice cheery.

“What do you want?” she asked suspicious of him. Usually when people came over to her at lunch they had some kind of bone to pick with her.

“I just thought you looked hungry.” He pushed his food forward along with an extra set of chopsticks.

“You’re-You’re giving me food?” Lily sat dumbfounded. “What’s the catch?”

“No catch. I just thought you looked like you could use a little something.” Drake pointed towards the food and then picked up a pair of his own chopsticks to dig in. “Go on.”

“Uh. Thank you.” Her cheeks were bright red. She picked up her first ball of rice still suspicious of the whole ordeal. She expected at any moment for a prank to be pulled or find something disgusting when she bit into it. No, instead it was just a rice ball with a bit of seaweed paper wrapped around the bottom which gave it a salty flavor. Her eyes lit up. It was delicious.

“You like it?” Drake inquisitively followed up.

Lily looked up as she stuffed another rice ball into her mouth. “It’sh good.” Her mouth was full.

“Can I ask why you always sit by yourself?”

Lily stopped mid-bite and stared up at him. He couldn’t tell? “Everyone here thinksh I’m crazy.”

“I think you’re okay. A little strange may-Hey hey I said I’d share. Don’t eat all of it.” He pulled his lunch away.

“Shorry.” Lily finished what she was eating then gently set her chopsticks down. Her face had a look of embarrassment that she was trying to hide behind a smile. She wasn’t used to sharing with anyone but Ariel. Ariel was a bit more forceful with keeping her share and most of Lily’s. If she wanted enough she had to be greedy about it.

“That’s okay,” his tone was annoyed. “Anyway. I thought I’d just invite you to sit at our table in the future. If you wanted.”

Lily narrowed her eyes. “Are you sure?”

“I wouldn’t have asked otherwise,” Drake reaffirmed.

“I’ll think about it.” Lily stared at the boy as he ate. Her face probably could have resembled a tomato by this point.

Drake picked up his box of food after finishing and prepared to head out to the yard. “Alright then. See you tomorrow, Lily.”

Not everything that happened was bad. I mean it cant be terrible all the time. I think I would have snapped. Sometimes thered be good things dangled in front of me too. I might have just had issues with keeping hold of those good things and saynot taking advantage of them for my own selfish gains among other things. Hence why I said I had friends when I was younger.

After a rousing class of history where Lily had to explain she didn’t do the project it was time for chemistry with Mr. Salindor. He was still eyeing her after their altercation during the morning. She figured she should lay low by tuning everything out. Into her ear went one of her headphones and she cranked her music just enough so that the sound wouldn’t reach anyone nearby.

Music was a way out and she just let it take over her mind. She didn’t have to think about anything. All she had to do was listen to the words, although she didn’t quite understand them. A lot of the music was imported into the country from several of the bigger nearby nations. It still sounded nice.

Lily barely noticed while the rest of the class prepared to mix chemicals. She was too busy rolling Kodomo around on the desk by her finger. If anyone was looking on it might have just looked as though she were just moving alone with the beat in her headphones. It wasn’t much of a secret that she played music during class.

The bell rang bringing school to an end. Lily recollected her clothes and went outside where Ariel was waiting. She took note of a bandage around her hand.

“What happened to your hand?”

“Your rude gesture earlier wounded me,” Ariel exaggerated.

“Shut up.”

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CHAPTER 3: Crystalline Stars

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CHAPTER 4: Sundial

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CHAPTER 5: Manifestation Edict

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CHAPTER 6: Toils and Troubles

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CHAPTER 7: Investigative Informatative

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CHAPTER 8: Reprise

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CHAPTER 9: Sleight of Hand

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CHAPTER 10: Cat and Mouse

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CHAPTER 11: Under the Dancing of Light

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CHAPTER 12: Whispered Imaginings

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