Royal Storm


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Prologue: Kali's Grand Plan appears that I was wrong about you, dear reader. It appears that you actually are one of those very few left in the world that do enjoy a good story. You are probably wondering; “What has happened to the Scale Children and the Heirs since the last time I've read this book?” However, before we can get to that, I must explain something that was happening that they didn't know about; something crucial to the fate of our beloved heroes. It all began in the home realm of Sciana.

Kali, who had since taken the title of ‘High Empress’ ever since she had taken over Sciana, was pacing around the throne room of the King’s Tower anxiously. Once Kali had taken over her cousin’s kingdom, she had made sure to make her palace more to her liking. She had removed all of the royal staff and had replaced them with her loyal Shadow Creatures. She had then replaced all of the tacky décor that her cousin insisted on keeping as part of his rule—“a good King always remembers where he came from” he had always said—and replaced it with artifacts that would strengthen her magic. None of this mattered, though. With her cousin’s little Ronkai brat still alive, all that she had worked hard for was now in jeopardy.

Kali let a deep growl rise from her throat. How could General Skarn have lost against a half-cooked Scale Child? Now she had no choice but to stay away from Araina for half a year. She needed a new plan. She couldn't just stand by and let the Scale Children grow stronger; Kali had to do something.

“Oh, that filthy bat witch!” Kali yelled. “Oh, if I could I would rip her throat out right now, right where she stood!” The dragoness lashed her tail across the wall, ripping a tapestry that had been made to commemorate the Prince’s birth to shreds. She looked at it in envy. Everyone loved Prince Scarlett from the moment her existence had been announced. The Fauna tribe of Ar’yana had even taken the time to weave a tapestry in her likeness from the thread of silkworms, and she wasn't even fully dragon! Kali had been the second in line and the potential heir as Prince until that brat came along. Why did she have the title? Kali deserved it at the very least ten times more than her cousin’s daughter, because she had worked so much harder for it.

The door suddenly opened, a Shadow Creature flying into the room. “High Empress Kali-”

“WHAT!? CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT I AM BUSY AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME!?” Kali snapped back to her servant.

The Shadow Creature flinched. Kali was the only dragon they feared—and for good reason, which you shall find out later. The Shadow Creature dipped its head, signifying its complete and utter loyalty and respect to Kali. “The Great Atnas wishes to speak with you, milady.”

Kali allowed herself to calm down a little. A visit from Atnas was definitely good news. “Tell him that I shall come immediately.”

The Shadow Creature nodded, disappearing into the air. Kali straightened her posture and began to walk down the hallways, her claws clicking against the smooth ivory floors. Kali bowed to no one except for Atnas, for no one else deserved as much respect. He had saved her from the life she once suffered through, being pushed around and slaving away under Ignacius. He had shown her that she could have anything she most desired through him if she did exactly as he said.

Atnas was once great. Legends had been passed down about him through the mouths of Shadow Creatures. He had once been great—so great that he decided he should challenge his brothers, the Eternal Flame and God himself. After an intense and lengthy brawl, Atnas had eventually lost to his brothers, and had been locked away. Without anyone to guide them or to lead them, the Shadow Creatures wreaked even more havoc than they had before. Eventually, the dragons and the humans formed a truce with the Creatures; all the land that the light touched was the land of the sacred people, and the land of shadows belonged to them.

All that changed once Kali had stumbled upon him one afternoon. In exchange for freeing Atnas, he had given Kali control over his entire army of shadows. She had since then become a master in the art of the secret Chaos magic, and become an Eimir: a sorceress of shadow. Being trapped in the Prisoner’s Pit for the last thirty years had greatly improved her skills. She did nothing but train during that time, with Atnas guiding her every step of the way.

Kali shivered as she entered the Royal Library. No matter how cold-hearted she may be, this place had always set her off. It was as if uncountable numbers of eyes were watching you at all times, and when you turned your head to look, you could always see a flash of blackness in the corner of your eye. Some dragons rumored that they were the souls of previous Crown members, while others argued that they were fallen souls from the Eternal Paradise. Either way, they never feel natural.

Kali walked to the middle of the library, where a ceremonial circle had been drawn where an entire pile of scrolls had once laid. The dragoness ran her claws along her forearm, causing crimson blood to drip from the wound. The red liquid fell into the cracks of the circle. Kali bowed and began to chant.

“Atnas se vaire, E vorx ka se rentalk. Mesho na beiyo!”

The entire room was then filled with the reek of fear, death and sadness, as dark wisps of shadow began to rise from the circle. They all gathered in the center of the circle and grew into the faint outline of a boy with green eyes and black hair.

“Lord Atnas..." Kali said, bowing even further. “I am so glad that you wish to seek council with me.”

Atnas smiled, his form rippling and changing into that of a pure black dragon that was about twice the size of any regular male. “Oh, my Kali! You look just as beautiful as ever, my dear.”

Kali’s heart fluttered at the compliment. “M-my lord-”

“I can't help but notice that you managed to lose to Prince Scarlett.” He noted, his green eyes narrowing.

She growled. “We should have sent Damio! He would have taken care of them faster! Now I have no choice but to lie in wait.”

Atnas growled back. “Kali, if this is to work, and I am going to make you my wife, when Iwe conquer this realm, then I don't want you sulking around after one failure.” He smirked and ran his shadowy tail underneath her chin. “Now use that beautiful brain of yours. What exactly did you promise to the Diplomat?”

Kali tried to keep her voice from shaking as she spoke. “I promised that I would not harm them for the next six months.”

Atnas smirked. “Well, then. You didn't promise anything about anyone else harming them, did you?”

Kali nodded, smiling as she realized what he was referring to. “You want to try out our new little side projects?”

Atnas laughed, a cruel, gravelly sound that echoed through the library. “Now you're getting it. I have eight of them ready to go. Each one is designed to be the exact opposite of the legendary eight. They're the strongest Shadow Children that I have created.”

Kali purred. “Shall we send them out at once, my lord?”

Atnas placed his snout atop of Kali’s head. “I know you will make me proud, my dearest. Let's not let one setback ruin our plan, shall we?” And with that, Atnas disappeared.

Kali chuckled. There was no way those Scale Children could stand up to her master’s strongest warriors. She had personally watched them tear apart their own limb from limb, without mercy. They were loyal and knew nothing except the urge to kill. They were the perfect weapons.

Kali walked into the main chamber of the castle and called for her messenger, who instantly appeared in front of her. She laughed and spoke to him in an ordering manner.

“Bring out the Lost Souls.”



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Chapter 1: The Girl Named Twyla



The morning was busy. Everybody was scurrying around, collecting their things to pack into suitcases for tonight's journey. I mean, I really had no need to do so, since my group would be staying in New York first, but Hazu had a flight to Kumamoto, Japan. I was helping her pack her things, being the nice roommate that I am.

“Oh! And I'll need sunscreen, too!” Hazu exclaimed, rushing around the room until she found a pink bottle of SPF 50. She threw it in her lime green suitcase. When she popped up, her carnation-pink hair looked like it had just been through a twister. “I also need sunglasses, too!”

“Hazu," I started, giggling. “shouldn't you be a little more worried about, I don't know, actually packing clothes perhaps? You're going to Japan to find an artifact from Sciana, not to frolic around the beaches of Okinawa.” I placed a stack of clothes in her suitcase. “You should also be packing hiking boots. I've heard that Japan is a very mountainous area; you never know when you'll be in for a surprise mountain climb.”

“Oh…right.” Hazu’s cheeks became a light shade of pink that almost looked like her hair. “I can't help it if I'm so excited to go back home! I love Kumamoto! Back where I lived, there were beautiful beaches near the area full of shells and beautiful flowers! It's so breathtaking, Scarlett! You wouldn't believe it!” Her face fell. “I only wish you could come with me to experience it.”

I gave her a comforting smile. “I know. I wish we'd all be traveling together as team Burning Hope, but Kallan said this is the way it has to be.” I walked over to her and hugged the short girl, who only came up to about my chest. “I'm really going to miss you, Hazu.” I said earnestly.

“I'll miss you, too, Ohime-sama.” She returned.

I guess I better back up a little bit. To those of you who don't already know, my name is Scarlett Seraphina Rosetta Drakani Nilakanta Liora Kaida. I am the Prince of a country that nobody knows exists in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean called Sciana. My father, King Ignacius, is a dragon and my mother is a human. I am a mix of the two races known as a Scale Child.

I didn't know about my lineage until the day I was attacked by a Shadow Creature at the nightclub that I had worked at, Shadow Strike. I fell into a coma and soon after, I found out that I wasn't the only member of dragon  royalty. Sciana has four leaders; the Peacekeeper, The Captain, the King—my dad—and the Oracle. Their kids are all friends of mine: Cleric Kallan, Knight Talia, and Peacekeeper Luc.

In addition to being the Prince of Sciana, I am also the first being with dragon blood in over 2,000 years to have been born with the ability to use all eight types of magic, which is oddly enough called the power of Dragon Soul. I have been trained in the basics of Fire, Water, Sky, Earth, Darkness, Mind, Life and Body magic.

And if that isn't enough, there’s a whole prophecy about me saving Sciana from my father’s cousin, Kali, who wants me dead. In fact, about two months ago, she came to Eternal and threatened to kill me and my friends by the end of the week if we didn't find and defeat one of her minions that she had placed in the school by the end of the week. The traitor happened to take the form of a boy that I had befriended who went by the name of Madoc O’Brien. Once I had removed the Shadow Creature that was inhabiting his body, I found out that he had actually been a she named Madia Ochoa. Luckily, once we had helped her out, she's been doing a lot better.

Now, my seven best friends are getting split into two groups so we can all revisit our hometowns all over the world to find some legendary artifacts that will help us in our fight against Kali to take back Sciana. For me, that means a twenty-minute walk to my foster mother’s apartment on Drake Street, but for my roommate Hazu, that means a twenty hour flight to her deceased parent’s house in Kumamoto, Japan.

Hazuki Omori, or ‘Hazu’ as my friends and I call her, is my roommate and one of the seven best friends I mentioned earlier. Hazu is a master in the Element of Life magic, using the attribute of Flora. This means she has her own way with plants. She can communicate with them and bend them to her will. Normally, Hazu is a shy girl, preferring to keep to herself. There's another side to her, outgoing, spontaneous and bubbly. This side of her is brought out by the Shadow Creature that resides within her body, Kage, who has an unhealthy obsession with another one of my friends.

“Come on!” I said, tying my hair back into a ponytail. “Let's go! We don't want to be late for our meeting at Drake Cakes! It's almost 2:00. We're cutting it pretty close, don't you think?”

“You can go ahead.” Hazu said. “I just want to tend to the plants quick and then I'll catch up with you.”

I gave her a curious look. “Are you sure about that?”

She nodded. “Yeah, just go ahead.”

I sighed in mock defeat. “Okay, Hazu. If you're absolutely sure, then I'll leave.” I walked out of the dorm and slipped on a pair of sneakers as I exited. As I started walking down the halls that were outside of the dorms, I saw a door open with a purple-haired girl stepping out and adjusting her glasses. Madia! I giggled and ran over to her.

“Hey, Mad!” I greeted her.

She gave me a shy smile in reply. “Hey, Scarlett.”

“You're on your way to Drake Cakes, right?”

“Yeah. I mean, you did invite me and all.” She replied.

You remember that Madia that I mentioned earlier? Yeah, this is the same one, just in case you were curious. Normally, she’s really energetic and upbeat, but it seems that ever since the attack, when the two of us are alone together, it seems to be really awkward; I’ve always wondered why. I placed my hand on her shoulder and gave her a warm smile.

“Do you mind if I walk with you?” I asked her.

She shook her head. “No, go right ahead. It's a free hallway, after all.”

We walked side by side in silence for a bit. I decided that I, as per usual, would have to be the one that started up the conversation. “So, you ready to see the place where I grew up?”

She shrugged. “I mean, if it's nicer than where I grew up, then I guess I don't mind.”

I laughed. “You'll like Tracy. She's my foster mother. She's really fun and sweet. She's one of those people who always makes you feel at home.”

Madia chuckled lightly. “My mom was the daughter of Miyana, a city in Skazari. She was supposed to marry a chieftain’s son from Texanu, but she fell for my dad instead. He was always making jokes, and making my mom laugh, and she really loved that. They were each other’s entire world. My mother was going to give up her dragon heritage to raise me with my dad in her human form, giving up her longer life as well, but her father caught her and trapped her on Sciana, forcing her to marry her husband. My dad always told me that I look a lot like her and have her protective nature.”

I nodded. “Your mom sounds nice.”

Madia smiled wistfully. “I can still remember the way she would play lullabies on her violin to help me fall asleep.” Her eyes began to tear up.

I smiled and placed my hand back on her shoulder. “You don't need to keep talking about her if you don't want to.”

Madia gave me a grateful smile. “Thanks, Scarlett.” Her face fell. “After all of the things I did, I don't deserve your friendship.”

I laughed. “Hey, you didn't do anything. It was all Skarn’s fault, remember?” I pointed out. “You don't need to be apologizing for something that you didn't do. I refuse to accept it.”

Madia nodded. “Yeah, I know, but I can't help but feel regret for what happened during those times.”

“And I would only imagine it to be natural.” I said, continuing to walk down the hall. “But you need to let that go. That chapter of your life is behind you. Don't worry about it.”

Madia nervously adjusted her glasses. “Yeah, I guess you're right. Thanks, Scarlett.”

I nodded. “Sure thing. Any time.”

I heard a scream of frustration down the hallway. I looked to see a girl with bobbed blue hair down the hall. She seemed to be shorter than most high schoolers, with a lost look on her face.

Madia laughed. “New student, huh?”

I nodded. “That's what it seems like.” I laughed. “Why don't I go talk to her quick? You can go meet up with everybody at Drake Cakes. I'll catch up with you guys later.”

Madia cocked her head and placed her hands on her hips. “Are you sure about that, boss?”

I nodded. “Absolutely.”

She chuckled and crossed her arms. “Helping out lost little freshies…you're definitely going to make a great King someday, girl.” She lightly punched my shoulder before walking off. “Take care, okay?”

“Thanks, Mad.” I walked down the hall and looked at the girl. She was staring angrily at a tablet in her hands and yelling at the piece of technology.

“Yes! I know that I've arrived at Eternal Academy! I'm asking you where my dorm is!”

“I'm sorry, but I don't know where you put your Midol.” The voice assistant apologized in a droning voice.

The girl growled. “First off, it was a rhetorical question! Secondly, you're a worthless piece of crap!”

“Don't talk about yourself like that.” The automated voice said.

The girl screamed and threw her tablet across the hall. Luckily, I was able to catch it with a pool of shadow before it hit the ground.

“Don't take out your frustration out on the technology.” I warned her, laughing. “That must have been worth quite a bit. You don't want all that money to go down the drain, do you?”

The girl looked at me curiously. “Did you just use Darkness magic?”

I nodded. “That I sure did.”

She narrowed her eyes. “But you look more like a Fire-type user. Could you be a hybrid? Do you use the King’s magic?”

I shook my head. “Well, no and partially yes. My name is Scarlett Kaida. I'm King Ignacius’ daughter.”

Her eyes widened. “You mean the Prince of Sciana? The one that uses Dragon Soul magic? That Scarlett Kaida?”

I spread my hands for emphasis. “The one and only.” I affirmed.

She smiled. “Wow! I can't believe it! I heard all about how you totally defeated that traitor minion of Kali’s! What was his name…oh, yeah! Madoc O’Brien!”

I silently thanked myself that I had sent Madia away. If she had heard this, she still might have felt guilty about that whole scenario.

I nervously chuckled. “Well, then. Exactly how many people know about that?”

“It went viral in the Scale Child communities online!” She exclaimed, practically jumping up and down. “You're a legend!”

I looked her in the eyes, my curiosity reeling. “Hey, I don't think I caught your name.”

“Oh! It's Twyla Winters.” She answered, saluting and tipping the newsboy cap she was wearing.

“Twyla?” I asked. “That's a unique name.”

She laughed. “My mom was going to name me Tyler until she found out I was a girl. She decided to call me Twyla instead.”

“That's cool.” I said. “So, what brings you to this corner of the establishment?”

“Oh!” Twyla exclaimed. “I'm looking for my dorm. You see, I'm going to be starting the seventh grade in the fall. My mom sent me here for the summer because she had a whole bunch of business trips and wouldn't be able to take care of me.”

“Well, if you're looking for the middle school campus, you're a bit off track.” I informed her. “Did you see that football field on the way over here?”

She nodded. “It was kind of hard to miss it.”

“Okay, what you want to do is continue going in that direction until you find a diamond-covered path with floating lights and friendly animals. There will be a white doe there. Don't worry, she's really friendly, like the rest of them. Tell her that you want to find the middle school dorms and she'll take you there.”

Twyla’s eyes widened. “Wow! Really?”

I nodded. “Yeah. Her name’s Shika.” I said. “She gets fed sugar cubes and gets pet a lot for the students so she decides to give back.”

Twyla nodded. “Thanks for the advice!”

And with that, she ran off and was gone. What a sweet girl. Something felt a bit off about her, though. I had been restless ever since Kali’s attack about a month and a half ago. I was probably just on edge or something. With that, I decided my best decision was to start heading back to Drake Cakes.

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Chapter 2: One Last Reunion



I felt a sense of accomplishment as I finished packing my bag. This was definitely going to be enough got my trip back to Kumamoto. Breathing a sigh of relief, I picked my suitcase off of my bed, set it on the ground, and began rolling it along with me. If I was honest, I had mixed feelings about going back home. I mean, on one hand, I had so many good memories from Japan, and there were so many things from my youth that I was excited to see again, but there was something bothering me. I'd be traveling with Kallan.

Now, don't get me wrong; I really like Kallan and all, but it was Kage I was truly afraid of. Ever since that incident when she had figured out that Luc and Scarlett were a couple and had already accepted each other as mates, Kage had been spending all her time trying to think of ways to legitimately kill her. As weird as it sounds, it was actually a relief that Scarlett wasn’t coming with me. If she had been, she would be in a lot more danger and I couldn’t guarantee her safety.

Despite that, I guess it would still be nice to go with Kallan if Kage didn’t decide to release her shadowy wrath upon her. I mean, Kallan was so nice to everybody, and she had such a happy and contagious attitude that was just refreshing to be around. She was also super fit and could beat any boy at any sport, giving her the nickname “The Sonic Wave” on campus. She was so pretty and outgoing and amazing; everything that I wasn’t. She was everything that I wish I could be. I guess that’s why I fell so hard for her.

Stop thinking about her! Kage’s voice echoed in my head. We’re only focused on my happy ending, got it? We need to win over Luc by any means necessary.

“Look, Kage, it’s not like you have anything to worry about.” I muttered, playing with the morning glories growing around my wrist that I had worn as an accessory. “Kallan is so popular, she could have literally anyone she wants. Why would she pick me anyways? I’m literally a nobody.”

Don’t belittle yourself like that, Hazuki. She said, allowing a hint of what I would have otherwise sworn was sympathy. You’re pretty, talented, skilled in Flora magic, and most of all, adorable. Don’t you see? This is why you are the perfect host for my plan in securing Lucian’s affections. That is why my plan should be foolproof! But when we have that wretched harlot of a Prince batting those eyelashes and tricking Lukie-poo into falling in love with her, then we have a problem. She needs to be taken care of and disposed. It’s all for the sake of true love.

“Well, if you’re that confident that Luc will like your personality, why don’t we just create you your own body, then?” I suggested. “That way, you wouldn’t just be hiding behind me as a facade. You could get Luc to know the real you instead of just you through me.”

I could hear Kage’s snort. Yeah, when that happens, I would definitely leave your body, but I just don’t see how it would work, Hazuki. It is no more than wishful thinking, and you know that for a fact.

I sighed. “You know, you’re not all bad, Kage.” I said, adjusting my grip on the handle of my suitcase. “You always help me focus in class and on my homework, especially in Sciana’s history.”

Because I’ve literally lived through half of it. Kage snapped. Besides, a good education will lead the way to supporting Luc and any future kids you might have with him.

“Do you ever think of anything besides him?” I asked out of curiosity.

I’m not even going to answer that. You should know the answer to that question by now.

I continued my journey down the hallways in silence without saying another word to Kage. I knew that there was a specific reason that she had such an infatuation with Luc, but she had never really gone into much detail other than her telling me that she would tell me about it later, and then never get around to telling me. The two of us may have shared bodies, but that didn’t necessarily mean we could read each other’s minds. It was comparable to having a roommate. You only know as much about them as they’re willing to tell you.

Kage has been with me for about three years now, ever since I took her from Adrian’s body. I don’t know why she hasn’t been fighting much for control over my body lately, but my best guess was that she actually meant what she said about wanting to take down Kali. If her former mistress was dead, then there wouldn’t be a threat to Luc anymore.

Once I got to Drake Cakes, I pulled out a syringe from my pocket and stuck the needle into my arm, taking another injection for good measure. I didn’t want Kage killing Scarlett. That couldn’t happen. I absolutely would not allow it. I sighed and pushed open the door after wrapping the syringe in a small plastic bag and throwing it away. It didn’t take long to find all of my friends sitting around a table and chatting amongst themselves. I smiled and walked over, setting my suitcase down and taking a seat between Jian and Scarlett. Today’s chatter was buzzing with excitement about our upcoming trip.

“Man, I can’t wait to go back to Scotland!” Kallan chirped, her aquamarine-colored eyes shining with joy. “It’s so scenic there! It’s literally like something straight from a fairytale!”

“Well, that scenery won’t top the cuisine back in China. Two words: bean dumplings. Talking about comfort food.” Jian said, rubbing his stomach.

“Oh, you wanna talk about great cuisine?” Luc challenged, rolling up his sleeves. “Do you forget where I come from? France! You know, it’s kind of a well-known hotspot for five-star cuisine. Over there, we talk about food like Americans talk about the weather.”

“At least all you two are only worrying about food. I mean, let’s talk about where you were raised!” Talia exclaimed, pounding her fist on the table. “I had to be perfect at literally everything! I had only the highest standards and never had any free time! I bet you losers wouldn’t survive a day in the Stalin household.”

Madia stood up. “Is that a challenge, amiga? I have enough fabulousity coursing through these veins to meet all of those standards of perfection! I mean, look at me! In fact, I would be able to beat you, Kali and our very own Scarlett combined with just the wave of my pinky finger!”

Scarlett chuckled, crossing her arms. “Oh, really, Madia? Do you really think you could take on me, the Prince of Sciana, and nonetheless a user of Dragon Soul magic? I’d like to see you try!”

“Ooh, look who’s full of themselves now!” Madia jested.

Adrian gasped, his eyes widening in childish excitement. “Are you two about to have a grand duel to define the ages, just like the jousting competition between Olaf the Great and James the Red at Rene-Con 2015?”

Kallan laughed, her wavy blonde hair bouncing as she did so. “No, Adrian. They don’t roleplay like you do. Even if they did duel, it would be very much real and more graphic, and I believe that the two of them are more than mature enough to avoid causing a scene.”

As the conversation continued, my focus rarely wavered from Kallan. She was so happy and pretty…if only she could be mine. Even if Kage didn’t forbid me from being with her, there was nothing particularly special about me. I was too shy to say anything to her these days, and anything that I did try to say came out disastrous and awkward. Besides, I wasn’t pretty, strong, brave, or really anything. I was Nothing special, just regular old Hazu.

“So what about you, Hazu?”

I was immediately brought back to reality when I heard Kallan’s voice. She looked at me with those beautiful shining blue eyes that were full of expectation. I swallowed down the lump that was forming in the back of my throat. I began to speak, my stutter becoming very prominent. “U-um…I-I’m sorry, w-w-what did you s-say?”

Kallan giggled. “Going back to Japan. Won’t that be fun, revisiting the place where you grew up? Like, is there anything in particular that you’re excited to revisit?”

I nodded. Kumamoto held a lot of good memories for me. There was definitely something that I was looking forward to seeing again.

“Why don’t you tell us about it?” Kallan asked, flashing that trademark friendly grin.

I folded my hands in my lap. “W-Well, the house where I grew up in w-was really close to this place called Suizenji. In that city of the prefecture of K-Kumamoto, there’s this place that was really special to me. It’s a garden, a-and it’s like t-the most beautiful place I can t-think of. There is a bridge that spreads across this crystal clear lake, and the most beautiful greenery that I have ever seen in my life. Even if there aren’t really any flowers that grow there, the trees and shrubs there are still pretty. It’s definitely worth it to go there sometime in your life if you haven’t already planned on it.” I smiled to myself and started nervously playing with my braid. “I mean, I know it’s kind of dumb-”

“That sounds amazing, Hazu!” Scarlett said, her jaw hanging wide open in awe.

Kallan giggled. “Wow! You’ll have to take us there when we go to Japan. It definitely sounds like it will be worth it.”

“Easy for you to say, Kallan.” Talia complained, rubbing her nose. “I have pollen allergies. My sinuses will be in hell.”

“Come on, Tal,” Madia started, spreading her hands. “even I have to admit that that garden sounds pretty amazing.”

“Don’t mind her, Hazu.” Jian said, kicking his combat boots up onto the table and leaning back in his chair. “You know as well as I do that her sole purpose in life is to kill the mood.”

Everyone laughed while Talia shot them all dirty glares. I allowed myself to giggle just a little bit. I didn’t want to make Talia too mad. She was absolutely terrifying whenever she got angry,

What’s there to be afraid of? You know that she’s all talk and no action when it comes to her friends. Kage pointed out.

That still didn’t change that she was scary, though. If she did really feel like hurting someone, Talia definitely had the muscle and the training to do so. I knew that Talia would never hurt any of us, but there was still something about her that made me feel uncomfortable. Maybe it had something to do with her piercing gray eyes that seemed to stare into your soul. Or maybe it was how she never seemed to be happy. Whatever the reason, Talia was the one person that I had trouble actually calling a friend.

The chatter amongst my friends continued, but half the time I was too anxious to join in. I was too busy watching the minutes slowly tick by on the clock, my time to go home drawing ever nearer.

I felt my phone buzz in my pocket. I picked it up to see that Lavender and Ruby had sent me a picture over Snapchat. It was the two of them making hearts with their hands. The caption read: “Hope u have a good trip!!!” with about seven different emojis next to it.

I let out a sigh. I was going to miss those guys. It would kind of suck not having my best friends with me on this trip. I’d miss Ruby’s energy and Lavender’s cautiousness. I’d miss their support, and the way the two of them could so easily make me laugh. I stuffed my phone back in my pocket and let out another sigh. I’d get back to them later. I didn’t want to seem disrespectful to the rest of my team if I was always buried in my phone.

I couldn’t help but feel kind of left out as I saw the rest of my friends talking to each other so easily. Sometimes I felt like such an outsider. The rest of them seemed to know each other so well, whereas I was no more than a fish out of water in any kind of socialization. Sometimes I wondered why I was even part of this group. What was so special about me in the first place? Nothing. I was just a girl who liked plants more than people.

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Chapter 3: Flashbacks, Family and False Facts

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Chapter 4: Scarlett's Demons

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Chapter 5: A Flower Needs Water

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Chapter 6: The Future of The Fortune Teller

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Chapter 7: Another Fiery Redhead

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Chapter 8: The King's First Daughter

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Chapter 9: Made To Be Flawless

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Chapter 10: A Reason To Live

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Chapter 11: The Fears and Flavors of Nostalgia

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Chapter 12: Trial and Error

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Chapter 13: More Precious Than Silver

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Chapter 14: The Face of The Threat

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Chapter 15: In Every Shadow There Is Light

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Chapter 16: Shockingly Sexy

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Chapter 17: Old Scars And New Pain

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Chapter 18: Bombing Sky High

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Chapter 19: The Angel's Will

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Chapter 20: A Knightly Mother

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Chapter 21: Fatherly Anxieties

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Chapter 22: Baby Fix

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Chapter 23: Scarlett Suffering

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Chapter 24: The Legacy of Lies

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