Aria and the Seven Artifacts
May decided that the best course of action for dealing with Aria’s little drama would be to ignore it entirely. Once she arrived at school, she kept her head down and focused on her work. When the bells would ring to dismiss her from class, she wasted no time in scooping up her things and running off.
She was almost cornered during lunch, but she was miraculously saved by some popular girls running into Aria and practically dragging her away to chat her up. While a part of her was a little jealous that the devil girl was popular enough to get to hang out with the ‘in crowd’, it worked out for May’s plan of avoiding conflict.
Just like yesterday, her last class dragged on and on. No matter how many times her eyes fell to the clock above the door, time ceased to move. She wondered at one point if the clock was just broken and wasn’t showing the time for some reason. Her only solace was that Aria didn’t have this class with her, so she could relax a bit.
After what felt like an eternity, the bell finally rung out to end the day. A weight that she hadn’t noticed manifesting within her was lifted. However, that relief was replaced with annoyance when she noticed Aria by the door, probably preparing to ambush her. Fed up with the whole ordeal, she picked up her things and sprinted out the door and past the girl before she could be stopped.
The weekend went by quickly and peacefully, with most of it spent with her brother and his friend before they left to return on Sunday night. She complained about Aria to them, but kept the part about her demon origin to herself. While they could sympathize with her, they couldn’t provide much advice other than to avoid Aria as much as possible.
May found herself sitting next to Aria that Monday morning in Home room. She ignored the demon girl and took out her English homework to look at. ‘Don’t look at her,’ she reminded herself. ‘It’s none of my concern. She’s wasting her time with me.’
She felt something hit her in the head and turned her head to glare at Aria. But the other girl only smiled and pointed to the ground, where a paper was crushed into a ball and now resting on the floor. She picked it up and uncrumpled it.
Pretty please, don’t ignore me and help me out.
The paper was unceremoniously crumpled back into a ball and tossed into the trash can by the teacher’s desk. From the corner of her vision, Aria looked horrified.
These little notes continued throughout the day, each one pleading for her to help. The more she asked, the less that she felt inclined to assist her at all. When lunch period rolled around, she wasn’t fast enough to avoid the new note thrown at her head. But reading this one made her pause.
If you don’t at least talk to me, I’m going to cause a scene.
Clearly this wasn’t going to go away on its own. May sighed and turned to look at Aria, who stared at her expectantly. “Fine. We’ll talk at the park bench after school. But that’s it.” She spun around to walk away, but not before adding, “And stop with the notes. I’m going to have a bump on my head if you keep that up.”
She heard the girl snicker at that. “Fine, fine. I’ll stop chucking notes at you. But I look forward to meeting up!” Aria walked past May and practically skipped out of the classroom. A headache was already beginning to form at the prospect of talking to her again.
Randolph carried his lunch tray to an empty corner of a table and sat down. The kids sitting on the other side merely glanced at him before continuing with their conversation. He wasn’t feeling all that hungry, so he picked at his helping of chicken fritters.
As of testing it yesterday, it appeared that the watch was capable of pausing time for up to four hours. When time had forcibly restarted, he had been lucky enough that he was only reading through his notes. There would be no help for him if he was ever caught with the answers in his hands. But even the threat of being caught couldn’t stop him.
The best part about the watch was that no one seemed to know what happened in that frozen time. At most, a couple of people complained about the class feeling way too long, but nothing that would raise suspicion.
‘This watch is broken,’ he thought giddily to himself. ‘Sucks that it doesn’t last longer, but who cares? I can do almost anything with this!’
Why did it have to stop at fixing his grades? He could also use that extra time to slack off, play games while no one was any the wiser. Maybe he could even leave the house after curfew.
In the back of his mind, he knew that he could commit actual crimes and never be caught. But he dismissed that thought. As tempting as it was, he still had morals. Cheating was the most morally deviant thing he was willing to do at this time.
From the left, he noticed a girl skipping down the cafeteria to a table to his left and plopping down in a chair with some other girls. He recognized her as the new girl that joined his biology class recently, but he had never really struck up a conversation with her. While she seemed friendly enough, there was something off about her that put him off from trying to talk to her. Purple hair wasn’t exactly common, even for high schoolers who wanted to try a different look.
He ended up staring at her too long, because she suddenly turned her head to meet his gaze. The florescent lights of the cafeteria made her eyes appear almost red to him. She kept eye contact for at least a minute before her confused expression vanished. She flashed him a smile and waved before turning back to her food.
Randolph released the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and slumped over the table in front of him. His appetite was instantly gone. That off feeling he was getting from her was only growing by the minute.
Once again, World History seemed to never end. It helped delay her meeting with Aria, but it was still beginning to irk her. There was only so much she could absorb about the Hundred Years War before her eyes glossed over with disinterest. Her eyes kept glaring up at the clock over the door, but the minute hand refused to move even an inch.
The hand wasn’t moving at all.
In fact, the room was too quiet.
She tried to turn her head but was shocked to find that her body wouldn’t respond. The same happened with her hands, arms, legs, and feet. Panic began to creep in.
She was still able to move her eyes, for some reason. This quelled some of her fears for the time being. She looked from left to right, looking for any signs of life. The teacher sat in his desk, reading a binder. But he wasn’t moving either. A boy that sat in front of her was turned to his right-side neighbor, frozen in conversation.
Unbidden, Aria’s warning resounded in her head.
These things can really screw with people if they’re not found! They can turn your little town into a literal Hell!
It was hard to believe that there were evil items that could bend the rules of the world like this. But there was no refuting the evidence before her. She needed to tell Aria as soon as possible. Something that had the power to stop time had no business being here!
“I’ll help you.”
“Whoa, that was quick!” Aria looked surprised as May plopped down onto the bench, arms crossed tightly over her chest. They had returned to the bench once the bell finally rang out. Having been stuck with her own thoughts for God knows how long, May didn’t need any further convincing. She appeared to have been the only one to know something was wrong, as everyone else acted like they usually did. She apparently looked a bit panicked, but the teacher mistakenly assumed that she was bothered by something in their textbook.
Aria laughed and sat down on the other end of the bench, leaving a few inches between the two of them. She kicked her feet out in front of her. “I suppose you felt bad for this weak demon.”
“Don’t misunderstand me.” May’s arms fell to her sides. She then began wringing her hands on her lap. “I don’t really want to get involved in this.”
“Yeah. Sorry about that.” The demon stopped kicking her feet. Her voice was surprisingly quiet. “Like I said, I don’t have anyone else to help me. And the sooner I round these artifacts, the sooner I’ll get out of your hair.”
A gust of wind blew through the park, bringing the smell of burning charcoal from a grill. The sounds of kids playing resounded from a distance. The two girls sat in silence for a moment. May looked at Aria from the corner of her eye.
Besides the weird hair color, red eyes, and short stature, Aria looked like a normal girl. No one would deduce that she was a demon unless she had the tail and horns, and maybe not even then. She was obnoxious, at least to May, but she didn’t seem to be as bad as the demons she had seen in stories and movies.
“How many are there?”
If seven was all there was, this couldn’t be that long of a commitment.
“And how long have you been looking for them?”
“Uh…” Aria paused. She looked down at the ground, her face slightly flushed from embarrassment. “It’s been a couple of months now.”
“I see.” The red haired girl sat back in her seat and stared ahead. “I guess there’s only so much you can do alone. But the sooner these are out of here, the better.”
“Yeah.” She went back to kicking her feet, some of her good mood returning. She hummed a tune to herself before stopping, as if something just occurred to her. “What made you change your mind? No offense, but you seem like one of those stubborn types.”
She didn’t have it in her to take offense to that remark. “I think one of them is here. Something that freezes people and time itself. And it seems to be happening during my last class.”
Aria visibly paled. “Time, huh? Of course it’s the watch I get to deal with first.” Upon seeing May’s confusion, she went into more detail.
The watch was an artifact tied to the sin of sloth. The only thing it was capable of doing was stopping time for a short period of time, and the drawback was the 24 hour cool down period. But for the little it could do, it could do it well. The effects were instant and covered a large area.
Since it only happened at a very specific time of the day, it was easy to deduce that it was a student that was using the watch. But there was not much else to go off of.
“It’s not someone in that class. No one was moving there.” She noticed that the sun was beginning to set, so she stood up, with Aria following suit. “I don’t know exactly what I can do, but I’ll do my best.”
“That’s all I can ask for.” Aria flashed a smile and held out her hand. “It’s a pleasure working with you, miss… ah…” And just like that, the smile was gone.
She really thought she was going to work with someone when she didn’t know their name? “It’s May.”
“Right! Pleasure working with you, May!” She laughed, trying to play off her little slip up.It was easy to call her out on her mistake, but May didn’t feel like it was worth it. “Then I’ll be going. I’ll see you.” The two girls parted ways, with Aria heading to where May could only presume was her temporary home. She quietly walked the ten minutes back to her house, lost in her thoughts. She hoped that they could get this done as quickly as possible.