Chapter 3:

The Explanation

Beyond The Flowers

“Red—“Bookmark here

“His eyes—“Bookmark here

“We can’t trust him—“Bookmark here

“Betrayer”Bookmark here

“Aiyla—“Bookmark here

“We can’t trust him—“Bookmark here

“Row 6. 4th Grave. Row 6. 4th Grave. Row 6. 4th Grave. Row 6. 4th Grave.”Bookmark here

Leonardo burst his eyes open, quickly sitting up on his bed. He had had a bad dream, but couldn’t seem to remember anything from his dream. Bookmark here

The boy got off his bed, the rest of the boys still asleep. He looked to the bed next to his, Arthur sleeping soundly. He was about to wake him up but hesitated at the sight of him comfortably sleeping. He decided not to. Bookmark here

So, Leonardo proceeded to walk out of the sleeping area and to the lounge, where he found Marceline sitting down on one of the chairs. Bookmark here

“Good morning.”, she greeted him as she noticed him walking towards her.Bookmark here

“You too”, he said, still feeling sleepy.Bookmark here

“Did you sleep well?”, she askedBookmark here

“No”, he quickly answered.Bookmark here

Marceline let out a chuckle, “Was Theo snoring?”Bookmark here

Leonardo nodded his head, smiling at her as he sat down on a chair opposite to her.Bookmark here

The two of them didn’t speak to each-other, not knowing what to say, until finally Leonardo spoke, “You said you didn’t know your last name. What’s that mean?”Bookmark here

“Isn’t it obvious? My parents abandoned me at a young age. I was found on the street somewhere or so Miss Anne tells me.”Bookmark here

Leonardo asked, “Miss Anne?”Bookmark here

Marceline nodded, “She owns this place, takes care of us and stuff. She hasn’t been here for a while though, so Benedict’s usually in charge.”Bookmark here

“There aren’t any other people who work here?”, Leo inquired.Bookmark here

Marceline shook her head, “Hasn’t been since the day I got here. This place isn’t too much of an Orphanage, it’s more like a home. Miss Anne has basically adopted us all, we don’t get put up for adoption or anything like that.”Bookmark here

“What about Mary? She said she was familiar with this place, but she has-, well, had parents.” Leonardo asked.Bookmark here

“She— she didn’t get adopted. She ran away”, Marceline said, looking sad.Bookmark here

“Why? Why would she run away from here?”, Leo askedBookmark here

“She had a quarrel with Miss Anne, and, she wasn’t exactly- mentally stable back then”, Marceline answered.Bookmark here

Leonardo stopped asking questions, nodding his head.Bookmark here

“So—, what about you? It’s perfectly fine if you don’t want to talk about it, but, what exactly happened? Why are you here?”, Marceline asked.Bookmark here

“I don’t know”, he answered.Bookmark here

“What do you mean? It happened when you were there. You should know.”, she said, eager for him to answer.Bookmark here

“I said I don’t know.”, he answered. Bookmark here

Marceline sneered, “Listen. I know you’ve been through a lot. But, we need information. Two boys who experienced a Camellian attack suddenly show up to our home, you can’t possibly expect us not to ask you questions.”Bookmark here

“I don’t know what happened—!”, Leonardo barked.Bookmark here

“Marceline”, a male voice echoed in the lounge. It was Benedict.Bookmark here

Benedict walked up to Marceline, leaning down. He whispered, “Not now. He’s been through a lot, wait a few days.” What he said was inaudible to the other boy.Bookmark here

Marceline nodded, “Sorry”, she said to Leonardo,Bookmark here

Leonardo shook his head, “It’s alright.”Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

Last night, Bookmark here

Leonardo had barely gotten any sleep. He had exited the room, and sat on the stairs outside of the Orphanage. Bookmark here

And he cried.Bookmark here

He cried until he felt like he couldn’t let out any more tears. It had taken the young boy a day to process what had happened to his beloved parents. He had always been close to the both of them, but now they were gone. He blamed himself. Bookmark here

What if I had left at night to go get them? Would they have still been dead? It’s my fault, it’s my fault, it’s my fault, it’s my fault, were the only thoughts going through his head. Bookmark here

After a few hours of staying outside, bawling his eyes out. He got up, absolutely hating himself. What if he hadn’t listened to Arthur? If he had gone for his parents that night, maybe they would’ve been alive today. Bookmark here

He entered the room, his eyes red, it was obvious that he had been crying.Bookmark here

After a while of staring aimlessly at the roof of the room, he fell asleep, waking up only two hours later. Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

It was noon. The children had finished having breakfast and sat together in the lounge. Aiyla obviously sat with Arthur, busy braiding his hair in twin pigtails.Bookmark here

“The Camellia are a group of revolutionists, their specific goal is unknown to mankind, but we know that they target adults”, Benedict suddenly said, looking at Arthur and Leonardo with a serious look on his face. Bookmark here

“They don’t attack people between the age of their birth to twenty and pregnant women. However, there have been cases where they have murdered children who retaliate against them in cold blood. Whether they don’t attack children because they feel sympathetic or whether they have a certain goal doesn’t matter. They’re evil.”, Benedict continued.Bookmark here

“Why are you telling us this?”, Leonardo asked.Bookmark here

Benedict disregarded his question, continuing. “Their blood red eyes enhance their strength, agility and intelligence. They’re strongest during winter nights. Hence, the name Camellia, since the red Camellia flower blooms during the winter. Confirmed by eye witnesses, it’s said that victims have froth bubble up in their mouths, but no injuries. The reason for this is unknown as none have currently seen a Camellian murder someone with their own eyes. A weakness to their powers are yet to be found. They can change their eye colour, or so it’s said, so there is no way to differentiate them from normal human beings as of now.”Bookmark here

Leonardo felt shivers up his spine, an image of his parents dead bodies flashing through his head. He went pale. Bookmark here

“And so, we’re going to get rid of them. I’m explaining this to you because we want you to join us, Arthur, Leo”, Benedict declared.Bookmark here

Leonardo froze, he had already thought of his answer. Bookmark here

“I’ll join you.”, Leonardo gritted his teeth, feeling nothing but hatred for the so-called Camellia.Bookmark here

Arthur, however, hesitated. He didn’t want to join them, not at all, it was too dangerous, he thought. But, after hearing Leonardos answer, he also agreed, “…Me too—“Bookmark here

Benedict grinned, pleased with the two boys’ answers, “Well then— Training starts in a week.”Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

“Why’d you say yes, Arthur?”, Leonardo asked the other boy, with obvious concern. The two boys were sitting outside together on the stairs. The orphanage was isolated, two forests on either side of it, with an empty road in front. Bookmark here

“I want to be with you”, the boy answered.Bookmark here

“It’ll be dangerous”, said Leonardo.Bookmark here

Arthur nodded, “I know”Bookmark here

Leonardo sighed, “You don’t have to join for me”Bookmark here

Arthur spoke, “They hurt Mr and Mrs Francis, it’s not just for you, Leo”Bookmark here

“Alright then”, Leonardo said. Leonardo sounded hurt. Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

While Arthur and Leonardo were having their conversation outside, Aiden confronted Benedict inside. Bookmark here

“Are you sure about them? I mean, Leonardo looks fine, but Arthur doesn’t look too capable. He looks rather weak, it would only slow us down”, Aiden said.Bookmark here

Benedict chuckled, looking at the concerned boy, “Don’t worry, he’ll be fine. We have Aiyla with us as well, she’s young but she’s also proved herself. Arthur can do it as well.” Bookmark here

Aiden sighed, “Alright. How long do we have anyways?”Bookmark here

“Two years at the most”, Benedict responded.Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

Arthur and Leonardo got off the stairs at the sound of horses galloping. Two familiar faces came riding their way, it was Jade and Adam, along with someone else. They stopped at the sight of Leo and Arthur, Adam giving them a soft smile as he walked towards them. Jade, however, didn’t look too pleased. The other person who came riding with them was a tall male, he looked older than Jade and Adam, maybe in his mid-twenties, he had a few hairs on his chin and brown hair, tied in a ponytail. His ponytail reached a bit below his shoulders. Pale ivory skin and dark green eyes. He walked behind Jade and Adam. Bookmark here

“Good afternoon.”, said Adam.Bookmark here

“Good afternoon”, Leonardo respondedBookmark here

The other male looked down at Leo and Arthur, giving them a crooked grin as he spoke, “Name’s Javier Pierre. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”Bookmark here

“Likewise—“, Leonardo responded, “—I’m Leonardo, he’s Arthur.”Bookmark here

Javier nodded.Bookmark here

“Let’s head inside”, said Adam. Bookmark here

The five of them walked inside, where Benedict and Aiden were sitting down together, talking about something which looked like it was important. They paused as they saw the five of them enter the lounge. Bookmark here

“Sir! Adam, Jade!”, Benedict said, looking excited for some reason, “It’s been a while”Bookmark here

Aiden looked at them, waving awkwardly.Bookmark here

The man named Javier greeted them and sat down on one the chairs, “So, Anne’ll be back soon?”, he asked.Bookmark here

Benedict nodded his head, “She will. I received a letter from her yesterday, she said she will be arriving in a few days or so.”Bookmark here

Javier looked pleased, “Where’d she go?”Bookmark here

“Business trip, she said. I’m not too sure either.”, Benedict replied.Bookmark here

Javier nodded, “Where’s Aiyla?”Bookmark here

Benedict pointed to the stairs leading to the second floor.Bookmark here

Javier nodded as he proceeded to walk up the stairs Benedict had pointed to.Bookmark here

Aiden decided to leave as well, entering the boys’ sleeping area.Bookmark here

Jade followed Javier upstairs. Bookmark here

Adam walked up to Benedict, whispering, “Did you talk to the boys?”,Bookmark here

Benedict nodded.Bookmark here

Adam looked at Leo and Arthur, giving them a dolorous smile.Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

Aiden and Tyler were polar opposites. Yet, they sat together, ate together, slept together, and barely spent any time apart. They were twins, so this seemed inevitable. Bookmark here

The two boys were sitting together on the same bed, close to the window in the boys’ dormitory, talking. Bookmark here

“Do you like them? Leonardo and Arthur, I mean”, Tyler askedBookmark here

Aiden opened his mouth to talk, but stopped himself. He didn’t seem to have an answer.Bookmark here

Tyler gave the other boy a smile, “Arthur reminds me of you.”Bookmark here

“How so?”, Aiden inquired.Bookmark here

“His behaviour. When he arrived, it reminded me of the first time we came here. You had the same look on your face. You were barely able to hold in your tears either”, Tyler put his hand on Aidens shoulder, seemingly trying to comfort him.Bookmark here

A smile formed on Aiden’s face, “Thanks.”Bookmark here

“What for?”, Tyler asked, letting go of Aiden’s shoulder.Bookmark here

Aiden didn’t respond.Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

It had been five days since the attack on Festern and the news was spreading across the entire country. Fleur and Lyna walked into the boys’ dormitory where everybody else was sitting too, except for Adam, Jade, Javier, Mary and Benedict, the four of them were outside, waiting.Bookmark here

Fleur had a newspaper in her hand and a grin on her face. Bookmark here

She looked down, beginning to read it, “Festern, a small village situated next to Durnic, has been invaded. Was it the Camellia? King Ubel Pentra has yet to make an announcement.” Bookmark here

Lyna rolled her eyes, grabbing the newspaper from Fleur and taking a look at it herself, “God, that man is useless.”Bookmark here

“Well, one thing’s for sure—“, Benedict began to say but was interrupted at the sound of Mary barging into the room, “We caught one”, the girl said.Bookmark here

Everybody paused, looking at her with a tint of confusion in their faces.Bookmark here

The girl shook her head, “I— I mean Miss Anne did, she’s here.”Bookmark here

Everybody besides Leonardo and Arthur quickly stood up, eager to meet the popular Miss Anne Leonardo and Arthur kept hearing about. Leonardo and Arthur got up soon after the others did, exiting the room where they saw Adam, Javier, Jade, Benedict and the tall ginger haired woman by the name of Anne. She was slim and her wavy hair flowed down all the way to her waist. Bookmark here

“When I left I only had nine children—“, Anne smiled, “—now I’ve got two more.”Bookmark here

“Good- good afternoon!”, Leonardo exclaimed.Bookmark here

Anne chuckled at his nervousness. She didn’t look old, maybe in her mid-thirties, she then looked over to Arthur, her expression changing. She had a more soft look on her face.Bookmark here

“What did you mean, Mary?”, Aiden suddenly said, completely ignoring Miss Anne’s arrival. He looked agitated, eager to find out the answer to his question. Bookmark here

Mary nervously looked over to Anne. Bookmark here

Anne nodded at her, “A Camellian is what I caught”, she said, her smile remained on her face.Bookmark here

Everybody froze.Bookmark here

“Bring it in”, she said to Javier.Bookmark here

Javier nodded, walking outside. Bookmark here

When he came back inside, he was dragging a blonde haired girl with him. The girl had shackles on both her arms and legs, with a gag in her mouth, the girl was looking down so none of them could really clearly see her face. Bookmark here

Leonardo was horrified, That’s a Camellian?! But, she looks normal…, the boy thought.Bookmark here

Javier yanked her head up.Bookmark here

The blonde haired girl’s red eyes glistened in the room. They looked deadly but at the same time, harmless. She had a sad, tired expression on her face and looked young. Very young. Bookmark here

Leonardo looked towards Arthur. Arthur’s mouth was agape, he looked absolutely petrified as if he…recognised the girl.Bookmark here

“What? What’s wrong?”, Leonardo asked, looking at Arthur’s scared face.Bookmark here

“That’s— my sist—“, Arthur stuttered but before he could finish, the entrance to the Orphanage banged open and in entered three tall hooded figures. The only thing visible of their faces was their blood, red eyes. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.