Chapter 6:

Volume 1, Chapter 5: Rio Kiyodera of Nihan

Parable of the Renegades

Hi! Jio Kurenai here!

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Lucas wasted no time in trying to make himself scarce. He sprinted non-stop to reach his house in the nearby residential village without attracting too much attention. He took detours, turned corners on several structures as he traveled through the darkest alleyways 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 all his life, he knew 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, that girl exhibited incredible speed when she cut the Knights of Viola down. Lucas didn't want to take a chance that he had 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'm not hearing any footsteps behind me."

He was not imagining anything. It didn't look like anyone was 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 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'm certain that's plenty of time for someone that fast to search for me!

He turned tail and disappeared once more into the alleyways, trying his best to avoid making any noise by watching out for any trash cans close to the walls or 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, but he was now easy to be caught on sight. Lucas sprinted as fast as he could, not letting his close to depleting stamina slow him down.

A few kilometers after passing Moonlight Shores, Lucas was close to the residential village of Falcon Rock.

The Village itself was built on a small mountain that overlooked the town of Cameron's Feint. Its high altitude allowed the village to have low temperatures even during the day, giving its residents a cool atmosphere and fresh mountain air. With the village up so high, a steep road had to be climbed to get there, but no one considered it a problem...

...Until now.

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 because he felt every second needed to count. His panic rush lead to stumbling and falling to his knees a few times and a series of expletives soon followed.

When a foot stepped on flat ground, Lucas knew he finally reached the top and made it to the village, but there was still no time to celebrate. The street lamps that were easily spotted anywhere in the village were all illuminated. For once, he wished they were turned off at this time.

Lucas passed several houses, running as fast as he could with legs that already felt like jelly until 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 can be described as a flat roof on top of two white cubes, one bigger than the other. A few four-sided pillars that were erected from the ground and attached to the oversized roof, supported the house. A garden covered everything considered part of the house owner'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 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."

Rea, his cool and composed adoptive-mother nonchalantly opened the door and greeted him. "How was dinner and whe--"

Before her question can be completed, Lucas had already closed the door and locked it. He made a mad dash for his room, leaving Rea with a quick "it was good" as his response, followed by a short gust of wind that blew her hair back before making it undulate like a pendulum. She was left facing the front door with slightly wider eyes.

Rea sure wasn't expecting this kind of a response from her adoptive-son. "I better check on him after giving him some time to calm down."

She returned to the living room to sit on a couch and continue reading a magazine about the best 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 to the end of the hallway and into his bedroom, locking its door immediately just like the front.

His room was a standard size fit for a bachelor and colored a simple beige with lights that can be turned on or off by simply clapping twice in quick succession. In the corner farthest away from the door, was a bed of just the right size for one person and a pair of transom windows that can be opened outwards, built into its walls.

A few feet away from the door and attached to the wall was an L-shaped drawer desk that 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 clothes and supplies. Even further to the right was a tall bookshelf, all crammed with combinations of local and foreign comics and animations that were officially translated into his nation's language. Most of them were loaned from Davis.

Lucas didn't bother to turn on the lights. He kicked off his shoes, jumped onto his bed, closed all the windows, laid down on his back and although he was not very religious, he prayed that katana-wielding foreign girl would never find him. He was still drenched in sweat from his short marathon.

Who was she?

Replays of the way the girl slaughtered all the Knights of Viola as she locked-on to the hooded figure played through his thoughts. After many reruns played like an indefinite number of sheep jumping over a fence, Lucas' exhaustion eventually got the better of him and he drifted himself to sleep.

The soft memory foam of his mattress took away the feeling of his tired and aching muscles as he sank into it. He felt the cold breeze of the night blowing gently across his face as the air cycled in a vacuum within the room. He found himself in 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 certain 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 this very moment.

The suspicions alerted him awake and his eyes widened behind his hair bangs, Lucas stared above into the darkness of his room to find a single eye, a glowing sapphire, staring back.

He nervously clapped twice and as the lights came on Lucas found himself greeted by an uninvited guest - the foreign girl from earlier, clung to the ceiling and 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 were the case.

As soon as the lights dimmed, and darkness filled the room once more, save for a small moonbeam that entered through the window, the girl let gravity do its work. She descended with force. The sound of her fall was completely absorbed thanks to landing on Lucas who was still lying in bed, the impact of the fall forced all the air off his lungs.

The girl wasted no time and took advantage of Lucas' flinching, pinning him down with her body as her right hand slowly unsheathed her katana. Lucas heard the weapon emit a hissing noise as it was drawn from its scabbard before the girl brought it close to his throat.

In desperation, Lucas grabbed hold of the hand that wielded it and just barely managed to prevent the blade from slitting him.

A single, amplified heartbeat echoed in Lucas' head. For the duration of a second, the world around him became distorted. He saw everything in black and white and time appeared to freeze.

As his perspective returned to normal, Lucas felt an agonizing pain that almost made him want to scream as the strength in his left arm was getting eaten, bit by bit. This forced him to use his other arm alongside it to keep things in check, only for that arm to gradually lose its strength while suffering in pain too.

"What do you want with m-!" Lucas tried to shout and attract attention from any outsiders as he questioned his attacker, but the girl silenced him before he could finish by putting down pressure on his throat with her left sleeve-covered forearm, dropping her scabbard to the bed in the process.

"You saw me," she hissed before the sound of footsteps from the hallway outside the room caught her attention. 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 found itself plunged into the garden soil outside blade-first.

Lucas tried to shove his attacker off the bed, but as the girl fell to the floor, she grabbed onto Lucas' shoulders and dragged him down with her.

A struggle on the ground ensued. The floor lightly trembled as Lucas and the girl wrestled while rolling with each other all over the floor. Grunting, Lucas was only growing increasingly frustrated in his attempt to fight back while the girl remained calm and silent as she dealt with him.

What appeared to be a mutual struggle at first turned out to be a one-sided display of dominance. Every few seconds, the fight would take a short break, and every time that happened, the girl ended up on top of an exhausted Lucas in an advantageous position. He had no choice but to face the fact that the girl was actually controlling the action in every round. And that was not the only concern in Lucas' mind. For some reason, a strange and excruciating pain was inflicted upon him every time he touched her hand. He had no idea how this was happening.

"Is this your first time?" The girl taunted as she straddled a panting Lucas on his hips while holding him down by his shoulders. A smile meant to mock her opponent rose to her face. "You probably know nothing about fighting on the ground if it is this easy to pin you."

Lucas found the girl's choice of words to be interesting in a strange way. That and the suggestive position they were in led to a bit of redness creeping into his face and his heart pumping faster; he was almost frighteningly certain that the girl was going to violate what was left of his innocence. She, on the other hand, didn't display the same flustered signs.

Their moment was interrupted by the sound of knocking that occurred on the other side of the door.

"Lucas?" Rea checked. "I'm about to leave for my one-week seminar in the nearby town. Is everything all right?"

"Everything is fine. You can count on me to take responsibility."

Having recognized the voice she heard, a slight smile crossed Rea's lips.

"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?"

"Thank you."

Rea 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 sound of the front door slamming shut made itself heard.

Lucas did nothing because he was too busy staring in shock. As the girl restrained and silenced him with a forearm forced on his throat, she had her neck pinched between her thumb and index finger, and she talked... exactly like Lucas.

"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 refrain from pinching her neck, reverting her voice to its natural, soothing, but also unsettling pitch.

"Now, no one can interrupt us -- AAAHNN!!!"

She let off an interesting moan in pain as Lucas got her off him with a quick right hook aimed at her ribs. Although Lucas wasn't the type of person who would be fine with hitting girls, he had to make an exception. This one was out to take his life!

The unexpected shrill interested him for a moment but he managed to get over it upon remembering the situation he was in. Lucas made a break for the door, intending to call Rea back and alert her. However, the girl had no intention of making him or his voice come out.

Just as Lucas was about to reach the doorknob, the girl pounced on him from behind. Lucas felt a pair of delicate arms snaking around his neck and locking themselves tight as a pair 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, forcing him to stumble a few steps backward before he toppled over.

The fight was taken to the ground again as the girl tightened her hold and tried to cut the flow of oxygen in Lucas' windpipe, while her legs squeezed his waist and restricted his capacity to breathe.

Gasping for air as he felt himself getting close to blacking out, Lucas struggled to find a way to escape. As his time was 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 then pushed himself and his attacker toward the door by kicking himself off the desk as hard as he could.

The collision on the girl's head that occurred afterward dazed her and Lucas was able to pry himself free from her deadly embrace.

Just as he had his hand on the doorknob, the girl recovered before Lucas could turn it. She grabbed hold of the extended limb by the forearm, securing it painfully while pulling Lucas down once more to the ground where her shapely legs coiled around him again - this time they entangled his throat in the shape of a triangle with the intention to choke him out.

Lucas had a free arm, but it could do little to 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 days’ worth of rest and preparation before the Battle Royale. On the day itself, Lucas focused more on defense and attacked only when the opportunity presented itself. This time, he believed that sprinting non-stop, climbing a steep road and barely having any time 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 her curiosity. She reached out and lifted the thick and wavy hair bangs that were covering Lucas' eyes - only to recoil in surprise and accidentally release her hold after doing so.


Out of reflex, she blurted in her foreign tongue but repeated her comment in English after feeling like she was ignored.

"Your eyes are not normal!"

"So... you saw it..." Lucas coughed while trying to stand back up and catch his breath. "I have no idea what makes my eyes like this. They just seem to randomly change between the colors brown and... white."

His bangs having been lifted slightly, Lucas glared at the girl - with a pair of colorless eyes. Their features like the iris, sclera, and pupil were ghostly, barely resembling a normal pair of eyes and more similar to resembling valuable pearls.

"I have no idea why you would want to kill me just because I saw you, but that was an accident, okay? If you want no one seeing you, I can just pretend this never happened," Lucas assured the girl.

"Hmm... I think you might be an interesting one," the girl commented as she slowly got up. Her eye narrowed as she studied Lucas all over but mainly focused on his eyes. "Tell me your name, and I will leave."

The floor creaked as she backed away and slowly headed toward the window while 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."

"Ah, in your nation, you say your given name first before your family name, right?"

At a slow and steady pace, the girl bowed without breaking eye contact. Her hands were lowered and joined together in front of her body as she introduced herself.

"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 as she turned toward the source.

"...And Thorne-san..." she chirped.

"Thorne...san?" Lucas parroted with surprise.

"...I will leave... but I did not say I will leave by myself."

Rio retrieved her katana's scabbard from the bed then suddenly spun around and dashed toward Lucas, the hollowed case firmly in hand. Lucas had no time to react to the last thing he saw, which was Rio's scabbard heading straight for the spot between his eyes.

A precise strike was the last thing he felt before his vision went black.

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