Hello everyone, I am goxeris and this is my first attempt at writing a story, so please bear with me and try hard not to murder me in my sleep for eventual mistakes( I am quite sure there are many that I couldn't spot).
Decided to shorten A/Ns and fix the chapter up a bit. Now it should be way better than before. Yay! :D
Thank you, Emily, for the fantastic cover!
I do not own Wizard101 or any character except for my OCs.
Chapter 1- Black Cat
The orphanage's window opened up to the inner courtyard. Hugged by smooth, grey walls, the small field was rather barren, with only a bunch of blades of grass barely peaking out from the soil. A broken bench stood under a single withered tree, whose sickly yellow leaves, moved lazily at the wind's every whim.
The curtains were almost completely shut, but soft rays of light managed to pierce through the tattered cloth anyway, illuminating the dark room beyond them. Standing just behind the curtains and keeping himself hidden from sight, a young boy discreetly spied outside.
He wore a baggy grey t-shirt and baggy black pants, completing the depressing outfit with worn out brown shoes. His black hair could be described as messy and his green eyes were of a pale green color, almost transparent, as if someone had forcibly stolen the light from them long ago. The boy's gaze was fixed on a black cat, which, in the middle of the courtyard, was intent on licking its paw with slow and precise motions. No collar around its neck and rough, unkept fur, gave away the lifestyle of a stray.
Suddenly, the black cat tensed. The unclean paw forgotten on the side as its gaze flickered upwards to stare back at the silent observer. An amused glimmer in its eyes; a silent challenge directed to the boy.
"Shard, what are you doing?"
The boy turned around, surprised by the sudden sound. In his sudden movement, he stepped on a small toy train, lost his balance and fell unceremoniously on the floor with a thud.
"You caught me off-guard, "Shard exclaimed, looking at the newly arrived person in the room.
A girl looked back at him. Her brown hair, cascading gently to her shoulders and her cheeks, sprinkled with light freckles, were puffed in a useless attempt at supressing her laughter.
"It's not my fault you get scared so easily, you know? I merely asked a question," she said, rolling her own pair of green eyes, akin to gems sparkling with vitality.
"I was just… looking at the cat…" Shard answered plainly, waiting for her reaction as he got up from the floor.
"you mean it came back even today?" She asked, seemingly in deep thought for a few seconds. Then, with a few stealthy steps, she made her way to the window to look outside.
Shard approached her, peering above her shoulder and whispering in her ear, "do you see it? There, on the other side of the courtyard, near the wall."
The girl shook her head and frowned. "No, not even a thing. It is the first time that happens to me."
Shard sighed and asked, "you do believe me, right?"
The girl's frown left its place to a smirk. "Of course I do! who do you think you are talking to? I'm not as blind as the others here." After a short pause, she added," It really is weird though. It's usually me the one with the best sight between us."
A shrug of the girl's shoulders and a huff gave away her reluctance at pursuing the subject any further. turning her back to the window, she patted Shard's shoulder and said, "There is no reason to worry. Nothing ever happens, and besides, nobody would believe us if we said that a black cat is stalking you."
Shard nervously gripped the curtain, moving his hand down the rough fabric, "Normally I wouldn't mind it, but this time it's different."
"Why?" The girl asked, gently tilting her head in curiosity.
"Think about it. You can't see it and I can. That is weird by itself. Then it looks at me whenever I look at it, even when I'm hiding. I also feel anxious whenever it's around. It feels like it's waiting for me to do something... I don't feel safe around it."
"I see… well let's go do something then. Lead me to this scary cat and we'll shoo it off in no time," she joked with a warm smile.
"alright… thanks, Emer."
After a couple of minutes, the two children were exiting in the court yard with the excuse of playing outside. They had been especially careful not to reveal their true intentions to the other children at the orphanage. Nobody would have understood their concerns. They would have been called crazy, or if they got lucky, everybody would have thought of it as a game.
The only danger so far had been meeting Ralph, a fifteen years old boy who liked to tease them for everything. Recently he had overheard one of their talks, and since then, he had started calling them freaks. Apparently, having long conversations on imaginary things only they could see, wasn't considered very normal.
Life was harsh for Shard; everyone never seemed to remember his name or being actually interested in befriending him. It was as if he couldn't create a connection with those around him, no matter how hard he tried.
Such instances, also happened at school and Shard had long abandoned the faint hope of getting recognized by his own teachers. Whenever he raised his hand, be it to ask a question, or simply to ask permission to go to the toilet, he was always met with the same, surprised gaze. The teacher would then blink a couple of times, almost as if the boy in front of him was a mirage, and then ask whether Shard was new in class.
Needless to say, Shard quickly got tired of repeating his name over and over again to the exact, same people. He was lonely. Completely alone in a world where nobody could ever come to care for him.
Then a miracle happened, or rather bumped into him at the orphanage. Emer had just moved in from somewhere else. He never had the courage to ask where she was from, and she never told him. After a few days it was clear that she actually managed to remember his name, and after that, many others eventually did too.
She was quite clever at school, had a big tolerance for others and would try to keep up a cheery mood wherever she went, making people instantly want to talk to her. It was as if some of her brilliance had somehow rubbed onto him just by hanging out with her, and Shard felt quite happy about it. At least he didn't have to remind the caretaker to prepare food for him every day.
Finally they arrived in the middle of the courtyard. Cold gusts of wind blowed directly on Shard's face, giving him a freezing welcome. At first he would have gone outside without putting anything heavy on, but now he was glad for Emer's insistence in bringing a coat.
They walked in straight line towards the black cat who just continued on with its staring contest. Once they thought they were close enough, Shard greeted it nervously, ignoring the strong sense of urgency that told him to run away as fast as possible.
"Hello," he said.
The cat didn't flinch. It just looked at him more intensely.
"So… it is there right?" Emer asked, looking aimlessly in front of herself.
"Yes," Shard replied. He made a step forward and was surprised to see the cat react. It stood up on its four paws and purred loudly, approaching them with its innocent cat face.
Shard didn't move, hoping that the animal would try to make friendly contact of its own accord, although, for some reason, he thought that it could have been more likely that the creature would have tried to murder them for interrupting whatever it was doing.
Fear rose in his gut and blood froze in his veins. Why was he afraid of a cat?
The cat stopped purring and eventually ignored them, moving slowly towards the tree at the centre of the yard. It stopped in its tracks, turning towards them once again only to meow.
Shard felt his fear decreasing as the cat walked away. He had no idea why he suddenly was afraid of a stray cat, but he wanted to know the reason of its presence there.
"It's moving towards the tree," he informed Emer as he, mustering all his courage, gave chase to the animal.
Emer nodded, straightened up in determination, and stared stared at the plant as if it was a task of the utmost importance.
While Shard slowly shortened the distance between himself and the cat, he decided to try and touch it. He was fully aware that it was a stupid thing to do, but the animal wouldn't let him be. It was possible that the black cat would have haunted him for the rest of his life if he didn't do something about it.
The cat moved slowly towards the tree, purring louder and louder. Shard walked after it without uttering a word and arriving at the tree base just instants before the black cat disappeared behind the trunk. Turning around the tree, in hopes of intercepting the animal, Shard found himself staring at the empty ground.
"it disappeared!" he exclaimed turning to Emer for further instructions.
"I see… well hopefully it won't come back," she told him, not hiding a sigh of relief.
Shard Stared at the tree for a few seconds with a thoughtful expression painted on his face. "It shouldn't be possible. Where did it go? It certainly didn't climb up and there are no hiding places around here."
"Well, I guess you'll become a detective once you grow up. Right now you have the same expression of that guy who was on TV last night," Emer said. Then, she winked and added," If you somehow manage to find a corpse, tell me so I run away as fast as I can, okay?"
"I guess there is no use in staying here," admitted Shard more to himself than to Emer.
"Yes, yes, why don't we go back inside where is warm and couches exist? I am freezing to death right now." Emer's proposal didn't seem one that admitted arguing in any shape or form. She didn't even wait for Shard to agree with her and started walking straight towards the door.
"But you are wearing a heavy winter coat… and it's not even autumn yet! we are still on the first of September!" Shard complained, chasing after her.
"Freeeeeziiiiing!" was the only answer he ever got.
Fragment of a Wish
"So, will you finally give up and succumb to my evil army of impending doom?" Emer asked, looking to her friend with an air of superiority.
"Maybe I still have a way to avoid that…" Shard answered, looking at a wide map with many troops standing on top, most of which were of a shocking pink color, perfect for world domination.
"If you were thinking of moving your tank in the sandwich kingdom, I already predicted it. Sorry I won," explained the girl with a wide grin.
Shard looked at his blue troops and noticed that she was actually right.
"Okay I lost… not that it could have gone in any other way. Anyhow, please stop naming countries with weird names! It doesn't even resemble a sandwich to begin with!".
"Oh don't be annoying. It's fun," she told him, taking her tanks out of the so called 'Ice Cream Republic'.
Shard couldn't help but feel that something was off. Emer looked very serious as she put the pieces back in the box .
"you know… it was a nice match we had this time," she blurted out.
Shard put his own army back where it belonged and asked, "Is there something wrong?"
"well… I guess there is no way I can hide it anymore… I won't be staying here for long," she said, making long pauses as if to choose the right words.
"Oh," Shard said, shocked by the sudden revelation.
"Yes, oh indeed," replied Emer.
Shard felt as if a heavy building just crashed on top of him. She was the only friend that he had been able to make in years. Actually she had been his only friend in his whole life! Once she was gone, he would be left alone again.
"You see I am sort of going to a new school. They have dormitories there so I won't stay here," she continued to talk, every word sounding like an apology.
"I see… but why so suddenly?" Shard asked desperately avoiding eye contact .
"I sort of won a scholarship for… natural talent, in… art?"she hesitated, as if unsure herself.
"But you drew weird blobs all throughout the year," stated Shard plainly.
"Oh well… you know… that kind of art is very popular these days."
There was something that she wasn't telling him, but Shard decided to avoid putting pressure on her.
"Congratulations. I am happy for you," he said, telling a half truth, "so, when are you leaving?" He asked, expecting at least a couple of days.
"Tomorrow," she answered, her expression akin to that of a dog ready to be yelled at, complete with big puppy eyes.
Shard really appreciated that his friend's merits were acknowledged, but on the other hand, he was also sad at the news, and felt betrayed by her hiding it until now.
He decided to do just like she always did in similar situations in order to lighten the mood, and with a grin he said, "so… do you want to do a rematch? I must win at least once before you leave!"
She blinked her eyes at the sudden change of mood, and then, taking out one of her loyal pink tanks she answered, "not in a million years!"
Fragment of a Wish
In the end, Shard didn't win. Emer's luck and seemingly random decisions made her an impossibly strong opponent. He enjoyed it a lot though and could accept it as his last memory of her. Things were bound to be harder for him after his friend left.
Shard lied on his bed, wide awake. The other three boys in the room were snoring loudly. Two of them had caught a cold after they had unsuccesfully tried to pull off a prank on another boy.
They had thrown cold water out of a window as he passed. According to eye witnesses, the prank backfired because the boy didn't pass under that particular window, and one of the two boys was too impatient to wait for him. He went to call him, thus walking under the window himself. His partner's betrayal was bound to happen.
The victim then sought revenge and used another bucket full of water to punish his former partner. That was what Shard had come to understand anyways.
The full picture could have actually been extremely convoluted, with many hidden truths and plot twists, making it look like crime fiction. It might have also been an obvious hint of a great conspiracy that touched hidden truths of cosmic proportions, but fortunately, Shard wasn't involved and couldn't care less about it.
His only problem now was that not only did he have to bear with the natural snorer beside him, but the other two were helping as sidekicks in an all out concert. He got up, frustrated by the unending noise and looked at the clock. It was barely visible in the darkness, enlightened by a weak ray of light, which filtrated through the almost closed curtains. It showed that it was a quarter to midnight.
Great I won't be able to sleep this night, he thought, aware that the noise wouldn't decrease any time soon.
All of a sudden he felt a sudden chill that ran down his spine. He instantly got up and walked as silently as possible to the window, drawing open the curtains by a few centimeters just to look outside. The black cat stood in the middle of the courtyard, watching. He felt anger rise in his body. Why does it have to happen to me?
As silently as possible he put his clothes on, led by the impelling desire of getting rid of that ominous presence. Just as he walked out of the room and down the stairs to the kitchen he couldn't help but ask himself where did his fear go. On any normal day, he would have just hidden somewhere and hoped for the night to be over quickly, but this time, he felt pulled outside as if by an external force.
The door leading to the courtyard was wide open and he passed through it thinking that it was weird. It was always locked during the night. Not even once it had been forgotten wide open like this. He dashed towards the old bench and the tree, tolerating the cold air that engulfed him in an unpleasant hug.
The cat stood near the tree, purring happily. Shard came closer, almost close enough to touch it. He didn't manage to do it. As soon as he lifted his shaky hand, the cat moved behind the tree, exactly as it did earlier that morning.
Shard chased it quickly and gasped at the sight of the trunk. There was a big hole in it, big enough for him to enter. The darkness inside of it was mesmerizing.
Something moved in the dark and Shard reached out to touch it without thinking. It was as if he couldn't help but obey despite his entire being protesting against the action. He felt a huge force akin to a large vortex pulling him inside and the next thing he knew, was that he was floating in pitch-black shadows.
The hole from which he came couldn't be found anywhere. Looking more closely in the distance, he could spot bright shining lights similar to stars. The darkness all around was pressing harder and harder on his body making it difficult to think. He tried to scream but no sound came out of his lungs. He tried to move but his body wouldn't respond. He tried to breath but failed.
For the first time in his life he experienced the horrible feeling of looking at Death itself, and the fear of Death looking back at him waving happily with a toothy grin.
Then he saw a light. It shone brighter than all the others and was moving quickly towards him. It could have also been possible the other way round and it was him who was moving towards it. A few seconds later, he found himself crashing into the light and falling, falling in its brightness and losing consciousness in the process.
It was one minute past midnight. A new day had just begun.
So, what do you think so far? I had lots of fun writing it and I can't stop thinking on the many ways all of it could go. I hope you had fun too and that I didn't bore you to death.
:D hopeful smiley face for good measure