Parable of the Renegades
Hi! Jio Kurenai here!
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Knowing that I have readers can make the sun shine for me on a rainy day! With that being said, I hope you enjoy the chapter! Have a great day! ;D
SPECIAL NOTE: As of this point, you've just read the last chapter based on the final version of this novel.
Going forward, the remaining chapters will be from the old beta version as this novel will be getting its official release soon! Look forward to revised chapters, new scenes, and illustrations depicting events! Hope you'll check it out when the time comes! ;)
Lucas wasted no time in trying to make himself scarce. He kicked himself off the ground and sprinted for his house in the suburbs outside town while trying not to attract too much attention. He took detours, turned corners around several structures as he traveled through the darkest alleys of Cameron's Feint like he was going through a maze with no intention of escaping on a linear path.
Thanks to living near the town of Cameron's Feint, he knew most of its layout like the back of his hand. That could be his advantage to throw himself off the foreign girl's radar. While it was not superhuman by any means, the girl exhibited incredible speed when she cut the Knights of Viola down. Lucas didn't want to take a chance that he could outrun something like that, so a diversion from the town to his house was the best option.
Then Lucas noticed something was amiss.
Huh? I don’t hear any footsteps behind me.
He didn’t imagine anything. No one appeared to be chasing him.
Did the girl give up? Even if she did, Lucas chose not to let himself think he was free from danger and pulled out his smartphone just as he got closer to the bus stop.
No... it's still 6:53! Seven minutes before the bus leaves may feel lucky, but I have a terrible feeling that's also plenty of time for someone that fast to search for me!
He turned tail and disappeared once more into the alleys, trying his best to avoid making any noise by watching out for any trash cans close to the walls or any debris that lay clustered in the area.
After climbing over a steel fence, Lucas knew this was the farthest he could stay hidden. Now, he was out of the town and on its outskirts. That meant it was also easy for him to be caught on sight. He refused to let the burning pain in his lungs be a hindrance.
After a kilometer past Moonlight Shores, Lucas arrived closer to the suburbs of Falcon Rock.
Falcon Rock was built on a small mountain that overlooked the town of Cameron's Feint. Its high altitude allowed it to continually stay cold with low temperatures even during the day, granting its residents a cool atmosphere and fresh mountain air. A place like that meant a steep road had to be climbed to get there, but no one considered that to be a problem...
Lucas cursed the fact that he was still too young to drive a car. He painstakingly ran up the steep road with no intention of stopping himself, because he felt every second needed to count. His panic rush had some consequences as he stumbled and fell to his knees a few times along the way.
A series of expletives followed soon enough.
When one of his feet took their first step on flattened ground, Lucas knew he had finally reached the top and made it to the suburbs.
He wasn’t ready to celebrate just yet.
Lucas passed several houses, running as fast as he could with legs that now felt like jelly. Finally, he came to a stop at a two-story modern house made of concrete and marble and went for the front door with the number "610" embedded on it.
Its overall design was a flat roof on top of two white cubes, one bigger than the other. A few four-sided pillars erected from the ground and attached to the oversized roof to support the house. A garden covered everything considered part of the house's property, except the small stone path that led to the front door and the front of the smaller cube, which functioned as a garage.
After a short period of heavy panting while bending down and resting his hands on his knees, Lucas banged a fist on the door as if begging for it to open before something from behind could get dangerously close (which in a way could happen).
"Welcome back, Lucas." Rhea, his calm and composed adoptive-mother nonchalantly opened the door and greeted him. "How was dinner and whe--"
Before her question could be completed, Lucas closed the door and locked it. He made a mad dash for his room, leaving Rhea with a quick "it was good" as his response. His rush whipped a short gust of wind that blew Rhea’s hair back before making it undulate like a pendulum. She was left unmoved, still facing the front door, but with slightly widened eyes.
Rhea sure wasn't expecting that kind of response. "I better check on him after giving him some time to calm down."
She returned to the living room and sat on a couch where she continued reading a magazine detailing the most recommended shops and restaurants to visit in every town of Sarkansas.
After running past the living room and climbing up the stairs in haste, Lucas dashed through a hallway and confined himself to his bedroom, locking its door immediately just like the front.
His room was a standard size fit for a bachelor. It was colored a dull beige with lights that can be turned on or off by merely clapping twice in quick succession. In a corner, farthest away from the door, was a bed for one person and a pair of transom windows built into the walls.
A few feet away from the door and attached to the wall was an L-shaped drawer desk. It stretched across over half the size of the room. The most prominent objects on top of this desk was a laptop and neat stacks of textbooks and notebooks from school.
To the door's right was a closet, its contents comprising of clothes and supplies. Even further to the right was a tall bookshelf, crammed mostly with manga and lightnovels forcefully loaned from Davis.
Lucas didn't bother to turn on the lights as soon as he locked himself in. He kicked off his socks and shoes, jumped onto his bed, closed all the windows, laid down on his back, and although he wasn’t very religious, he prayed that the katana-wielding foreigner girl would never find him. He was still drenched in sweat from his short marathon.
Who was she?
Replays of the girl slaughtering the Knights of Viola in pursuit of the hooded figure played in his thoughts. After many reruns played like an indefinite number of sheep jumping over a fence, Lucas' exhaustion got the better of him, and he drifted off to sleep.
The memory foam of his mattress relaxed his tired and aching muscles as he sank into it. The breeze of the night blew gently across his face as air cycled in a vacuum within his room. It was a complete ecstasy. All of this was enough to gradually make him forget his problems, his responsibilities, and his anxiety...
...but something wasn't right.
One: Lucas was sure that all the windows were closed when he locked himself in.
And two: that feeling of euphoria came in at a convenient time. It was like someone wanted him to feel at ease right at that very moment.
The suspicions alerted him awake, and his eyes opened wide behind his hair bangs. Lucas stared above into the darkness of his room to find a single eye with an azure glow, staring back.
Nervous, he clapped his hands twice, and as the lights came on, Lucas found himself greeted by an uninvited guest.
The foreign girl from earlier clung to his ceiling with her sight set on him, ready to continue what she started.
Lucas clapped his hands twice again, turning off the lights and hoping this was just a bad dream that would go away in a few seconds.
If only that could happen.
As soon as darkness filled the room, save for a small moonbeam that entered through the window, the girl allowed gravity to do its work.
She descended with force; the sound of her fall completely absorbed thanks to landing on Lucas, who was still lying in bed. The impact forced all the air out of his lungs.
The girl wasted no time and took advantage of Lucas’ vulnerability. She pinned him down with her body as her right hand curled its fingers around an object. A nearby sibilant hiss warned Lucas that the girl was drawing her katana from its scabbard, which lay next to them on the bed. There was no doubt about it. She intended to bring it to his throat and silence him permanently.
Desperate to not get slit, Lucas grabbed hold of the hand that wielded the katana and just barely managed to prevent the blade from cutting him.
A single, amplified heartbeat echoed in Lucas' head. For the duration of a second, the world around him became distorted. His surroundings turned black and white, and time appeared to freeze.
What happened next was truly beyond his comprehension.
For some reason, an agonizing pain surged through Lucas’s body, mostly concentrated on his left hand. It was so excruciating, he almost screamed. Bit by bit, the strength in that arm was getting eaten. This forced him to use his right hand alongside it to keep things in check, only for that part to suffer the same effect, too.
"WHAT DO YOU WA—GHHK!?"
Lucas tried to shout a question to his attacker while hoping it would also attract attention from Rhea or any neighbors that might have heard it, but the girl gagged his throat with a forceful press of her sleeve-covered forearm.
"You saw me," she hissed before her attention was diverted by what seemed to be the sound of footsteps from the hallway outside the room. They started faint, but slowly grew louder. Distracted, the girl shifted her attention to the door.
Taking advantage of the confusion, Lucas used every last ounce of his strength and quickly disarmed the girl of her katana by knocking it off her grip. The sword flew off the window and plunged its sharp tip into the garden soil outside.
Lucas shoved his attacker off the bed, but as the girl fell to the floor, she grabbed onto Lucas' shoulders and dragged him down with her.
After a reckless landing, a struggle ensued as Lucas and the girl wrestled while rolling all over the lightly trembling floor. Grunting, Lucas grew increasingly frustrated in his attempt to fight back. The girl, on the other hand, remained calm and silent.
What appeared to be a mutual struggle at first turned out to be a one-sided display of dominance.
Every few seconds, the fighting took a pause, and every time that happened, the girl found herself on top of an exhausted Lucas in an advantageous position. He didn’t want to admit it, but his female adversary controlled the action in every round.
And that was not the only concern Lucas had in mind. For some reason, a strange and excruciating pain surged through him every time he touched her hands. He had no idea how or why this was happening, but this strange pain wasn’t felt whenever he grabbed her clothes like the sleeves of her kimono.
"Is this your first time?" The girl asked as she held down a panting Lucas by his shoulders while straddling him over his hips. A slight smile meant to mock her opponent rose to her face. "You probably know nothing about ground fighting if I can pin you this easily."
The girl's interesting choice of words left Lucas aroused, something he nearly called himself crazy for. That, and the suggestive position they were in, led to a bit of redness creeping into his face. The girl, however, didn't display the same flustered signs.
“Please, I don’t want to hurt to you,” Lucas rasped, his chest rising and falling with every breath he tried to take.
When the girl didn’t listen, Lucas arched his back and forced himself to rise, only for the girl to grunt and wrestle him down until his resistance subsided. Then she leaned closer, lowering herself until her alluring face was all Lucas could see. Her wavy side bangs fell and tickled his face.
She snickered. “Try saying that again if you ever get on top of me.”
Lucas’ heart rate spiked higher. It frightened him to think the girl was probably going to violate what was left of his innocence. He couldn’t allow that to happen. Never again.
With a rise of one arm backed with all the strength he could give it, Lucas pushed the girl by her shoulder and threw her off him, but she reacted by snaking her arms around his and used the momentum of the push to spiral them for one more grappling contest.
The result was no different than before.
“Pinned you, again~,” the girl taunted, bearing the smile of a kitten on her soft lips.
To her disappointment, it didn’t last long as they were interrupted by a few knocks on the other side of the door.
"Lucas?" Rhea checked. "I'm about to leave for my one-week seminar in the nearby town. Is everything all right?"
No answer came from the room for a moment. Rhea began to worry and reached a hand for the door’s knob when a voice stopped her.
"Everything is fine. You can count on me to take responsibility."
Having recognized the voice she heard, a slight smile crossed Rhea's lips as she refrained from opening the door.
"I'm glad to hear that. I'll be sure to get you something like maybe a souvenir or some local delicacies when I return, alright?"
Rhea left, her footsteps growing fainter as she ventured farther into the hallway before going down the stairs. No noise erupted from Lucas' room until the front door slammed shut.
Lucas was too busy staring at what transpired to do anything. As the girl restrained and silenced him with a forearm forced against his throat, she spoke while pinching a part of her neck between her thumb and index finger.
It allowed her to talk in an unusual pitch.
"You... can copy... my voice!?" The words barely escaped from the real Lucas' mouth.
"One of my many techniques," the girl replied as she allowed her two fingers to release her neck. Her voice reverted to its natural pitch, soothing but also antagonizing. "Now, no one can interrupt us -- AAAHNN!!!"
When a quick right hook to her ribs forced the girl off him, Lucas wasn’t expecting her to moan from the pain. He wasn't the type of person who’d be okay with hitting girls, but he had to make an exception this time. This one was out to take his life!
Now freed, Lucas made a break for the door to call Rhea back and alert her. However, the girl had no intention of letting him or his voice come out.
Just as Lucas was about to reach the doorknob, the girl pounced him from behind. A pair of delicate arms snaked around his neck and locked themselves tight while a couple of toned legs wrapped themselves around his waist. With a quick jerk, the girl threw her weight (not that she was heavy) in the opposite direction Lucas intended to go. It forced him to stumble a few steps backward before he lost balance and toppled over.
The fight was retaken to the ground as the girl tightened her submission hold and tried to cut the flow of blood and oxygen in Lucas' neck. Her legs worked in tandem and squeezed his waist harder, gradually trying to crush his ribs and restrict his capacity to breathe.
Gasping for air as he got closer to blacking out, Lucas struggled to find a way to escape. When his time came close to running out, he realized he and his attacker were in-between the door and the L-shaped desk that covered more than half the size of the room. He kicked his feet off the base of the desk and catapulted himself and his attacker toward the door.
The girl's head collided with the door and knocked her unconscious, allowing Lucas to pry himself free from her deadly embrace. While taking heavy breaths to make up for the time he spent getting choked, he raised an arm toward the door.
Just as his hand reached the doorknob, the girl sprang back to life before Lucas could turn it. She grabbed hold of the extended limb by the forearm and secured it painfully while dragging Lucas down once more to the floor. Her shapely legs coiled around him again - this time, they formed a triangle around his throat and clamped down intending to choke him out.
Lucas had a free arm, but it was of little to no help as most of his strength had already left him. Sure, he knew he was able to fight for twenty-seven hours straight before, but that was thanks to having several day’s worth of rest and preparation before the Battle Royal. On the day itself, Lucas focused more on defense and attacked only when the opportunity presented itself. This time, he believed that his lack of rest after the grievous fighting, sprinting non-stop, climbing a steep road, and inability to catch a break before getting attacked, all played a role in his exhaustion on such short notice.
As she held on and continued to squeeze, the girl took an opportunity to satisfy a curiosity that came ever since she first laid an eye on the boy. She reached out and lifted the thick and wavy hair bangs that were covering Lucas' eyes - only to recoil in surprise and accidentally release him from her hold after doing so.
「Anta no me tte sa... Sore wa futsuu janai ze!」
Out of reflex, she blurted in her foreign tongue but repeated it in English after getting struck by a feeling of ignorance.
"…Your eyes are not normal."
"So you saw it." Lucas coughed as he tried to stand back up and catch his breath. "I have no idea what makes my eyes do this. They just seem to randomly change between the colors brown and... white."
With his bangs lifted slightly, Lucas glared at the girl with a pair of what were now colorless eyes. Their features like the iris, sclera, and pupil were ghostly, barely resembling an ordinary pair of eyes and looking more like valuable pearls that could reflect light.
"I have no idea why you’d want to kill me just because I saw you, but that was an accident, okay? If you insist, I can just pretend this never happened," Lucas assured the girl and hoped she would take his word.
"Hmm... you might be an interesting one," the girl commented as she slowly rose to her feet. Her eye narrowed as she studied Lucas all over but mainly focused on his eyes. "Tell me your name if you want me to leave."
The floor creaked as she backed away and slowly headed toward the window, remaining proactive in case Lucas were to attempt something suspicious.
"That's out of nowhere," Lucas said with a shrug. "But if it will make you leave, my name is Lucas. Lucas Thorne."
"In your nation, you say your given name first before your family name, right?"
Lowering her hands and joining them together in front of her body, the girl bowed at a slow and steady pace without breaking eye contact.
"It is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Rio." She placed a hand on her chest as she spoke her name. "Rio Kiyodera. Age 15. My blood type is AB. And I am from the Eastern nation of Nihan."
That's a long-winded introduction.
Lucas looked on in awe as the moonbeam from his window bathed Rio in its light, giving a silhouette of her slender figure and illuminating her pale skin.
"And Thorne-san..." she chirped, turning away from him.
"Thorne...san?" Lucas parroted with surprise.
"...I will leave... but I am not leaving, alone."
After snatching something off the bed, Rio spun on a heel and dashed toward Lucas, her scabbard firmly in hand. He had no time to react as Rio thrusted the hollow sword case straight for the spot between his eyes.
A precise strike was what he felt last before his vision went black.