Each grain of sand fell slowly as Emyria stared at the hourglass on the teacher’s desk. She was tired of all the lectures, and work that she had to do. Can that sand fall any slower, Emyria wondered as she continued to look over the paper in front of her. The concepts continued to elude her as the teacher droned on about the topics Aystaria had tried to cover the previous night before. As she continued to watch the sand fall, Emyria could hear the teacher call her name.
“Miss Hyteria, care to grace us with your knowledge of our world’s history?”
Emyria stood to her feet as all eyes gazed upon her. The room was silent aside from the sound that only Emyria could hear—the increasingly steady beat of her heart.
“Well Miss Hyteria?”
“Uh, there was a war… some bad stuff happened, and then there was a pit.”
Everyone in the classroom snickered as the teacher slowly made her way over to Emyria. She towered over the room as the sound of her black leather boots were the only noise that rang out through the small room. Standing just over two meters tall, Emyria was forced to stare up at the enticing beauty—yet fearful—gaze of the her teacher, Miss Feldia Her eyes were cloaked in black rings as her red eye pierced deep into Emyria’s mind. She could feel the large soft crow feather brush against her skin as Miss Feldia spoke, her voice a dark chilling reminder that she did not like jokes—nor would tolerate them.
“Do I appear to be laughing, Miss Hyteria?”
“N-No, M-Miss Feldia.”
Emyria could feel her body shaking as she continued to stare into Miss Feldia’s eyes.
“Then tell me, what do you know of our world’s history? Think very carefully before you answer.”
Emyria was silent for a second.
“I-I don’t know… Miss Feldia.”
“You don’t know?”
“Looks like Emyria didn’t study. She’s going to get in trouble,” a girl’s voice mocked from across the classroom.
“Ah. Miss Faldur. Did you just blurt out while I was busy lecturing a student?” Miss Feldia asked as she turned her gaze upon Nolvet Faldur.
Miss Feldia walked over to the desk where Nolvet was sitting.
“You should know by now there is nothing more I hate than being interrupted while educating young minds.”
“I’m sorry, Miss Feldia. It won’t happen again.”
“Again. You notice that you say that word only for your previous statements to return false? I was going to be generous, and allow Miss Hyteria to sit back down. Then I could have explained the history of our world. Instead, I have to spend my time lecturing you. Now, stand up.”
“Please… Miss Feldia…”
“Front of the classroom.”
There was a sadness in Nolvet’s eyes as she made her way to the front of the classroom. Miss Feldia grabbed an odd wood-shape device that looked like a pair of sandals with a small bed of tiny needles covering the sole of the arch, and heel.
“Shoes, and socks, Miss Faldur.”
Emyria continued to remain standing as she watched Nolvet slowly slip off her shoes, followed soon after by her socks. With her feet bare, Nolvet placed her feet in the device, ensuring to stand on the tips of her toes to avoid the pain of the needles. The device had been shaped in a way that a student was unable to move their feet or rest them in any way. Each of the needles were positioned carefully that if a student were to break, the balls, arches, and heels of the feet would be pin pricked by the needles. It was equivalent to laying stepping on a bed of nails, or broken glass.
No one spoke a word as the sat in silence listening to Nolvet’s breathing as she tried to fight through the pain. Miss Feldia continued to peace back, and forth in front of the classroom as each step brought a traumatic fear into the ears of each of the students. The sounds of Nolvet’s breathing became louder as struggled to keep her knees, and legs from shaking. As the final grains of sand filled the bottom of the hourglass, Miss Feldia looked to the students.
“M-Miss Feldia? May we leave?” one of the students asked.
The cold deathly gaze of what appeared to be a flaming red eye struck terror into the heart of the girl that had asked.
“Would you like to join your friend up here dear?”
Shaking her head vigorously, the girl remained quiet as she waited for Miss Feldia to speak.
“Now, Miss Faldur, I suggest you explain our world’s history before either everyone in class gets mad at you, or you end up in a bit of pain.”
“T-This hurts… Miss Feldia…”
It was clear by the tone in Nolvet’s voice that she was weak at the knees, and ready to drop. Moans of anguish continued to befall her speech pattern as she tried to maintain the equanimity of explaining the history of the world.
“The world was created by the two goddesses, Astra and Byfeira. One of light, and the other…”
Emyria watched as Nolvet stopped to catch her breath while her legs shook profusely.
“We don’t know with one hundred percent certainty but we believe that during our time on this world, darkness arose from the depths of the world, and tried to ensure humanity went extinct. Somehow during that time, we fought back the darkness… Miss Feldia… this hurts…”
“Continue, Miss Faldur.”
“Ow, ow, ow, ow…”
A sudden gasp left Nolvet’s mouth as she dropped for only a berif second. In that moment, a sharp pain shot up through the soles of her feet, forcing her to stand on the tips of her toes.
“After humanity drove back the darkness, a large wall was built around The Pit to keep the creatures of the night in the abyss below.”
“And who is it that keeps the darkness at bay?”
“The Light Bearers. They guard the wall, and keep the eight towers lit during the night. Miss Feldia, please! Make it stop.”
Emyria felt sorry for Nolvet as she watched Miss Feldia grab her with one hand by the shirt collar, and sat her down on top of the desk. A small drip of blood fell from Nolvet’s bare feet, and onto the wooden floor. Grabbing a small bottle of white liquid, Miss Feldia poured it onto Nolvet’s feet, and grabbed a single roll of bandages. After unrolling a fair amount, and ripping off a section, Miss Feldia wrapped the bandages around the ball of Nolvet’s foot tightly—slowly working up the arch, and up to the ankle before tying it off at the end. Once she was finished with the other one, Miss Feldia looked to the rest of the students.
“All of you are free to leave now.”
Emyria made her way for the exit as she tried not to stare into either Miss Feldia’s eyes or Nolvet’s eyes. She quickly made her way down the school hallway as she looked out of one of the nearby windows. The sun was just still out, and high above the city—looking down over it like the eye of a bird. Guess I should get home, last thing I need is that tutor on my case too, Emyria thought as she made her way out to the courtyard. Before she could even reach the main gate, the sound of Nolvet’s voice rang through her ears.
Turning around at the sound of shoes clacking against the paved stone, Emyria was caught off guard as she felt the sting of an open palm smack against her cheek. As she looked up to see Nolvet’s face, she could see that she was furious. Even though her legs looked like they were about to give way, Nolvet appeared determined to say what she had to say.
“You are so selfish!”
“Me?! Nolvet, you brought that on yourself.”
“You think you’re so much better than me, don’t you?”
Another slap to the face forced Emyria to snap. Without taking the time to take another slap to the face, Emyria quickly used the full force of her fist to land into Nolvet’s left eye. In a flash, Emyria pounced on top of Nolvet, and continued to pound her bare knuckles into the cheek bones. With each punch Emyria continued until Nolvet had managed to grab her wrist, and flip her over. Emyria soon found herself catching a left hook to the eye that blindsided her for a moment. As Nolvet reeled back to swing another punch, with haste Emyria pushed Nolvet off of her, and onto the ground.
Before Emyria could follow up with a strike, the sound of a chilling voice stopped not only her, but even Nolvet where they were—almost as if they were frozen in time. Emyria turned to where the voice was, and feel the hair stand on the back of her neck from what she saw. Sitting calmly on a nearby bench was Miss Feldia, one left crossed over the other like noble. Her fingers were interlocked together as she rested her chain on the tops of her hands—smiling in a cheerful, but creepy way that would have given children nightmares.
“You two know you shouldn’t be fighting on school grounds.”
Without thinking, both Emyria, and Nolvet rushed to their feet, and made a break for the main gate. Neither of them could speak as they continued run past the main gate, and down the block. Emyria continued to down the street until she realized that she had escape the clutches of Miss Feldia.
“She is way too scary,” Emyria said aloud as she tried to catch her breath.
After taking a second to compose herself, she realized that Nolvet was nowhere to be found. I guess she must have split off from me, Emyria thought as she looked around the location where she was at. Taking note of various shops, she knew exactly where she was thanks to the many hours she had spent just exploring the city. Once she had a clear understanding of her bearings, she made her way southeast. Moving down the streets, and through the various alleyways, she managed to make her way home as the sun was nearing the setting horizon west. As she entered into the foyer, Emyria stood frozen at the sight of what she was seeing before her eyes. Miss Feldia, along with Aystaria, Emyria’s parents, and Reina were all gathered in the anteroom. Their eyes all glared at Emyria which brought a chill down her spine.
“Miss Feldia, what are you doing here?”
“That’s an interesting question. What am I doing here?”
“Here to congratulate me for my contribution to the classroom?”
“Miss Feldia has informed us of what transpired today. You hit a student, and failed to do the responsible thing,” Emyria’s father said in an overbearing tone.
“But she attacked me!”
“Don’t talk back to your father. Even if she hit you first, as a Hyteria you are not to ordinate yourself to the level of a commoner. Reina!”
“Yes, Lady Hyteria?”
“Take our daughter to her room, and ensure she stays there.”
“Of course, Lady Hyteria.”
Emyria knew there was no auguring with her parents. Without putting up a fight, she followed Reina back to her room, and laid down on the bed.
“Would you care to vent, Lady Hyteria?” Reina asked as she sat down at the foot of the bed.
“This is just suffocating. One would think my parents would be proud that I decided to defend myself. If I was apart of a military family, they would be praising me for defending the family name.”
“Perhaps you can see it from their point of view.”
“What’s there to see? I was attacked first, and was right to defend myself.”
“Not everything is as black, and white in this world, even if all of us would like to believe that.”
“This isn’t something as complicated as mathematics though either something is right or it’s wrong.”
Reina sighed as she stood up.
“As you say, Lady Hyteria. I would advise you to stay in your room while I go, and handle cleaning the bathrooms.”
Without another word, Reina left the room as Emyria sighed. Maybe I should just run away, technically, I am old enough to join military, Emyria thought as she looked out the window. The sun was just starting to set below the horizon as the rays slowly faded into oblivion. Sitting up off the bed, Emyria decided to change into her usual causal clothes, and decided to make her way out of her room. The hallways felt like an errie darkness with the only lights at each of the intersecting junctures. Moving silently through the shadows like an assassin, Emyria made her way down the hallway until she started to hear the sounds of voices. As she moved in the direction of the voices, they became louder until she was able to make out the two voices that were conversing with each other.
The two voices were coming from Aystaria’s room. Why is Miss Feldia talking with Aystaria, Emyria wondered as she crept up to the slightly open doorway—taking note that a candle was lit within the room. Emyria carefully peered into the room, and noticed that both of them were sitting at a small wooden table with two small cups of tea.
“So, they don’t know?” Aystaria asked.
“No. The secret is still safe. Nothing more than a shadow, if I can speak ironically for a moment.”
Aystaria giggled as she set her cup down.
“I see. And what about… her?”
“She’s not ready. Best to wait.”
Miss Feldia placed her cup down on the plate.
“I do wish we could see who is stronger, you or me.”
Aystaria giggled as she smiled with confidence. There was a since of pride in her tone, but also respect.
“Perhaps another time, I’d hate to ruin this home.”
“Right then, shall we?”
As if out of nowhere, Emyria felt someone push her into Aystaria’s bedroom, and onto the floor. Looking up at the two faces of staring at her, Emyria knew she was in trouble.
“Well, Miss Hyteria, seems you wondered into here by mistake,” Miss Feldia said with a bone chilling smile.
“So I have… I should probably just see myself out.”
“It’s no matter, I was just about to leave anyways,” Miss Feldia said as she stood to her feet.
“A pleasure speaking with you, Feldia.”
Miss Feldia made her way for the exit as she looked down at Emyria.
“See you in class tomorrow, Miss Hyteria.”
Emyria could feel her her heart stop for a second at the words that Miss Feldia spoke, as if she was going to be publicly humiliated in front of the whole class. Once Miss Feldia had left the room, Emyria turned to see Aystaria still calmly sipping her tea.
“Would you care for some tea, Emyria?”
“I would rather know why you, and my teacher are such good friends.”
“That should be obvious. As fellow educators, we have an understanding.”
Emyria sat down in the chair across from Aystaria. Most of the table plates were empty with only a few crumbs. After Aystaria placed her cup down on the plate, she smiled her usual cheerful smile that always took Emyria by surprise.
“I got something for you.”
Aystaria stood up, and made her way over to the nightstand, and grabbed the package on it. After placing it on the table, Aystaria sat back down as she stared at Emyria with a happy expression—like that of a child waiting for their mom to accept their gift. She bought me a gift, Emyria thought as she looked at the wrapped object in front of her. Pulling off the wrapping bow that held the paper in place, it all fell down perfectly revealing the treat before Emyria’s eyes.
A simple spherical solid block of bread covered in a rich chocolate sauce sat in front of Emyria. She bought me Schokoladenbrot. I love it, Emyria thought as she grabbed the knife nearby. Cutting into the bread at the mid-point, she cut the single piece into two. Taking one slice in hand, Emyria handed it to Aystaria.
“I bought it for you, go ahead, and eat it.”
“Fine, but you can’t say I didn’t try to offer you any.”
Aystaria simply smiled as she watched Emyria dig into the bread, finishing the slice after three full bites before moving onto the next slice. She is just like a child, Aystaria thought as she finished off the rest of her tea. Once Emyria had finished the last of her bread, she leaned back in the chair with a euphoric expression on her face.
“So, your teacher told me what happened.”
“I bet she just told you that I hit that girl.”
“Actually, she told me she saw everything. Now, while neither her, nor I can make a public statement regarding our personal opinions, we both agree that you did no wrong.”
“Wait, really? Miss Feldia doesn’t strike me as the kind of person that cares.”
“You would be surprised. She is quite benevolent.”
“Benevolent. It means kind or sympathetic.”
“Then why not just say that?”
A smug look fell across Aystaria’s face as she stood to her feet.
“The more information one has, the more powerful they are.”
“Pretty sure strength and power trump all the intelligence in the world.”
“Care for me to prove you wrong there?” Aystaria said with a cocky smile.
Emyria stood up as the two of them faced each other.
“Now, punch me.”
Reeling back her right arm, Emyria let her punch fly straight for Aystaria’s face. With little movement, and effort, Aystaria tilted her head to the left as she continued to maintain her cheerful smile.
“You see? Thinking you need to use power makes your attacks slower, and easy to predict.”
Aystaria placed one arm around Emyria’s waist, and one finger at a point on her neck.
“With just my index finger I can bring you down.”
In that moment, Emyria felt her whole body collapse as Aystaria supported her with her arm. The pain was hard for Emyria to imagine, a feeling of something that was, but wasn’t there. She couldn’t feel anything in her body around her arms or legs. It was as if those targeted point were being shut off like a river of water being blocked. Emyria tried to open her mouth only to learn that she was unable to open speak at all.
“And that’s just one point on your body I hit with my index finger. Still think power, and strength are everything?”
Aystaria removed her finger, and placed Emyria gently on her bed.
“H… How did you do that?”
“Understanding the human body, math, science, and other things that others take for granted.”
“Can you teach me to fight like that?”
“Only if you promise to apply yourself in school.”
“I can agree to that.”
Aystaria lit a new candle as Lyis gathered up the plates, and cleaned off the small table. The sounds of the cups clacking against the plates was a soothing sound that Lyis had grown to enjoy as he grew up cleaning at the young age of six. Unlike most boys his age, Lyis had been born under the Hyteria household with her older sister, Reina. Unlike other boys his age, Lyis was always attracted to cute things. His parents, and even sister were unsure as to why he was in love with cute things but they didn’t stop him from wearing whatever he wanted. Before long, Lyis was the first male servant to become a maid under the Hyteria house.
He learned how to clean, and cook meals for Emyria as the two of them were close in age to each other—along with his older sister. Once they had both passed the age of sixteen, they were entrusted with the workload required of all maids. Cooking the meals for the Hyteria family, cleaning the various washrooms, maintaining the interior of the manor, and other daily whims of the noble family. Lyis quickly came to enjoy the life of a maid, as well as uniform that all of them wore.
Lyis loved his work, and enjoyed serving others, and while he enjoyed serving the Hyteria family, he felt even happier to serve Aystaria. While the Hyteria family did treat all their servants well—at least those that did work as instructed—some members knew exactly what would happen if they fail the duties that they were given. Even thought Lyis, and Reina had never been through or seen the punishments the lord, and lady of the manor had done, their parents constantly reminded them to do the best job that they could, and work extra hard to serve the Hyteria family.
As Lyis continued to clean up the table, Aystaira appeared beside him.
“Would you like some help?” Aystaria asked with a cheerful smile.
“T-Thank you, but I can’t let a guest clean up.”
“It’s fine. I don’t mind, besides, I enjoy helping.”
Aystaria took some of the plates in hand, and placed them on one of the trays. Once all the plates, and cups were removed from the table, Aystaria took one of the plates in one hand, and grabbed a lantern with the other. After securing the lantern with a strap around her neck, she made her way for the door as Lyis followed behind with two plates in hand. As the two of them walked down the dim-lit hallways, Lyis couldn’t help, but wonder something about Aystaria that he had taken notice of.
“Aystaria, I’m sorry if this is too weird of a question, but… are you afraid of the dark?”
Aystaria didn’t speak as she rounded the corner, and reached the well-lit kitchen.
“Don’t be silly, Lyis. Only little kids are afraid of the dark,” Aystaria said as she smiled.
“Y-Yeah, you’re right.”
“Besides, I was using the latern for the both of us. Those hallways are rather dark. Wouldn’t want to trip with all these plates now, would we?”
“You’re right. Sorry for that odd question, Aystaria. Not that I’d judge you for anything. If I’m being honest, I have a hard time sleeping at night.”
“Kids bullied me a lot, and I just…”
As Lyis struggled to spit the words out, Aystaria could visibly see his body shaking.
“It’s all right, there is no need to say anymore. Don’t live in the past, live for the future,” the cheerful smile of Aystaria’s face made Lyis blush heavily.
“Thank you… Aystaria.”
“Anyways, good night, Lyis.”
Aystaria made her way back to her room, and placed the lantern on her nightstand as she laid down on her bed. Tomorrow, I’ll teach Emyria the way of the blade. Yet, should I even past on this knowledge I have? No, I said I would, and I have to keep my word, Aystaria thought as she closed her eyes.