She was running.
Chased by a creature that threatened to consume her.
She ran as fast as she could, screaming for help, only to realize that there was nothing but darkness all around her.
Her legs gave out as she ran out of strength, the monster opened its jaws to swallow her whole. Suddenly, a wall of light rushed forth from behind her, destroying the monster and shattering the darkness.
“It’s alright. Everything is okay.” A voice coiled around her. Like a warm blanket in the coldness of night, it warmed and comforted her—protected her.
She turned around, and in front of her was a familiar boy. A gentle smile on his face, with an outstretched arm.
She extended her own shaking hand, and reached for the hand.
Celene woke up. It was just another dream.
Ever since the incident, she had been having nightmares. Although each nightmare was different, they always ended the same way. A bright light, and the same boy extending his hand out to her. As soon as she reach her own hand out to grab his, she would instantly wake up with tears flowing down her cheeks.
It has already been nine days since the attack, and the incident had traumatized her to the point where she refused to step outside of the house. Her parents had constantly asked her what was wrong, but she did not know how to explain it.
Her memories of the attack was real. The pain was definitely real. The four boys who attacked her were also very real. The only questions that troubled her was: how did she get out of there, and how come there was no pain or injuries. It was something she couldn’t explain. Everything pointed back to the mysterious boy who saved her.
She got up out of bed. Slipping out of her nightgown, she put on something more appropriate. She went to the washroom—to wash her face and comb her hair, before going downstairs for breakfast.
Like many of the houses in the Dryva district, the Valnur house is two stories tall. There were eleven rooms upstairs, and five rooms downstairs—where the helps live. Also located on the first floor, are: a meeting room for business, the kitchen in the southern corner of the house, and a large living area for entertaining guests and relaxing. There was even a small backyard with a garden.
As Celene descended the stairs, she could hear her father talking to someone.
“…es, the same attack in the shopping district.” A man spoke.
Celene stopped in her track, and quietly listened.
“And they’ve found who did it?” Joral Valnur, her father asked.
“… I hate to say it, but those boys deserved what they got for what they did to my son.” Joral spoke, his voice unsympathetic.
“It looks like the trial is in a couple days on the 34th. It is to be a public trial. Should I make time for you to go?” the man asked.
“Hmm…. No. I may do something unforgivable if I see those thugs again. If someone has given them a thrashing, then I thank those who did it. I say, let them all kill each other so that better people may live in peace.” Joral replied, indifferent about the trial.
“Yes, master Joral.” The man replied.
“That aside, have you found a suitable teacher for…”
Celene’s mind drifted off from the new topic. She was trying to piece together what she just heard. ‘An attack? Surely it can’t be the same one…’ she thought to herself.
“D-Daddy, what were you and Linus talking about?” she meekly asked her father at breakfast.
“Hm? What did you hear?” Her father looked at her quizzically.
“I… I heard you guys talking e-earlier. I was just c-curious.” She answered.
“It is nothing for you to worry about dear.” Her father replied, as he somberly looked towards the broken young man sitting on a nearby chair—being spoon fed by his mother.
“… Okay…” She obediently complied.
After Breakfast, she went to look for Linus—the head servant.
“Little Celene, what is it?” Linus asked with a smile, as she called out to him in the garden.
Linus was a greying old man—even older than her father, and has been with the Valnur house ever since her father was a boy. Though he treats her father formally as the head of the house, he treated Naran and her casually and often played with them. Both she and her brother loved him dearly.
“U-uncle Linus… I-… I have something to ask.” She wasn’t sure how she would go about this.
“What is it?” Linus lowered his right eyebrows curiously, trying to get a reaction out of the girl.
“Can… can you tell me what you and daddy were talking about this morning?” she requested.
“Hmm… about getting you a home teacher because you won’t go to school?” Linus asked.
“N-no. I think it was about something that… that h-happened in the shopping district.” She barely managed to answer coherently.
“Ah, that.” Celene could see Linus knew what she was talking about. “Just some ruffians attacking each other. You shouldn’t worry about it little one.” Linus told her, as he patted her head.
“P-please?” she asked, her eyes begging for the answer.
Seeing her pleading, Linus gave up.
“Hmmm… You didn’t hear it from me okay?” Linus told her, a smile on his face.
“Uhn!” She nodded.
“You remember the mean boys who attacked your brother Naran?” Linus questioned. Celene nodded. “Someone attacked them in the shopping district a while ago.” Linus added.
“D-did they find who did it?” Celene asked, trying to hide her involvement.
“They did. I was telling your father this morning that they have found the one responsible.” Linus answered, looking at her curiously. “Why are you so interested in this unsavory topic?” Linus inquired.
“Ah… um… no reason. Thanks Linus.” She lied, quickly running away before Linus started asking questions.
She did not know what happened to the boys, but she had a feeling she knew who the “attacker” was. She remembered the young boy who brought her home, and frequently appears in her dreams.
‘What did he do? What if he’s in trouble?’ she was afraid for the young boy. She had no idea how he got her out of the situation, but if such a thing did happen to the four boys, then there was no way the attacker was going to get away. She prayed for the boy to be innocent.
Two days went by, and more details of the trial came to light. Her fears came true. The perpetrator was not another group of malicious boys, but a single person, a boy. Also that the trial would be overseen by mages of the Mystiks guild.
‘That boy…a mage…’ She thought about the boy that always appears in her dream.
Her insides warred against each other. A part of her wishes to go to his side, to save him as he had done so for her. Another part gripped her tightly, whispering words of pain and fear into her. She remembered the single instance that it took to show her how terrible the outside world could be.
The fear won. She didn’t dare to step outside.
As the day of the trial approaches, she grew anxious. Her feelings in turmoil, the fear inside her preyed on her trauma, rendering her unable to speak out about what truly happened to anyone.
She feared for the injustice that the trial would bring about. She screamed at herself to be strong, willed herself to be strong, but nothing worked.
She was dreaming again. This time too, she was standing in total darkness. She closed her eyes, waiting.
She waited for the inevitable monstrosity that would come after her. She waited for the light that would undoubtedly save her. For the soothing voice that would reassure her that everything was fine. For the single fleeting smile that always brought her comfort.
She stood in total darkness… nothing happened. No monster, no running, no fear, no voice, no smile, no hand that reached out for her to wake her up.
A deep sadness seeped into her. She curled up and cried in the darkness.
Waking up, Celene was tearing up as usual. Feeling around, her pillow was soaked—she had been crying even in her sleep. The emotion she felt in the dream was still there, tugging at her.
The strange dream cycled through her mind during breakfast. The truth inside of her begged to be freed—to be given voice.
“D-daddy.” She spoke up at the table.
“What is it?”
“Ca-can we go watch the trial today?” she asked, in a low voice.
“No.” Joral promptly refused, without another word or reason.
“No! Celene, we will not go and gawk at the misfortunes of other people.” Her father quickly interrupted her.
“Why do you think I had your brother’s trial a private one? Those boys deserved whatever they got. Same goes for the one who attacked them. We do not need to watch such theatrics.” Joral Valnur spoke, dominating the atmosphere.
… The family ate in silence after the exclamation.
It was nearing afternoon, and the trial would be starting soon.
“Did you see him?” one of the maid asked.
“I did. I can’t believe a young boy like that did such a thing. Wish I could have stayed and watched.” Another replied, as they made their way to the kitchen.
Celene heard as the maids who went out for morning shopping came back. It was time to either choose to do something, or wallow in her own regret if something bad happens to the boy.
She mustered up her courage, and spoke to her father.
“D-Daddy… I…I want to go watch the trial.” Celene told to her father. They were both sitting in the living area.
She had made up her mind. No matter how scared she was, she would do what needed to be done. She would go help the boy.
“Celene. No. I will not hear any more of this.” Joral spoke with irritation in his voice.
“We-we have to go. Daddy, please.” She begged.
“CELENE! What is wrong with you?!” Joral shouted at his daughter.
“What is happening to you two?” His wife came into the living area.
“Mayley! Maybe you can help get this idea of going to watch the trial out of her head!” Joral replied.
Her mother looked at her.
“What is going on honey?” Mayley asked softly.
“Mommy… *sniff* we have to go help him.” She replied, sniffling, as she wiped away the single tear that was making its way down her cheek.
“Honey…” Mayley gave her daughter a hug. “What is wrong?”
“He… *sob* He saved me. They were hurting me, and the boy- *sobbing*” she tried to explain, but tears came out instead.
Joral’s eyes widened at what his daughter just said. “Who? Who was hurting you?!” He shouted angrily. Not at his daughter, but at the unknown assailants.
In her mother’s embrace, Celene slowly calmed down.
“T-the boys- *sniff* the boys who hurt big brother Naran. *sniff*” She replied, still sniffling. Mayley looked to her husband in confusion.
Anger swelled in Joral.
Mayley gently embraced her daughter. “It’s okay honey. Tell us what happened.” She gently persuaded.
Celene recounted what she could remember from that day to her parents. She recalled the pain, her dream, the child, how he had walked her home. She explained why she had been so oppose to going outside, why she was in such a state. The only thing she couldn’t explain to them: was how she and the boy got away, or why the pain disappeared.
Joral angrily got up and walked off after hearing the explanation.
“Joral?” Mayley called to her husband. She could see the anger in his eyes.
Shortly after, two large men came into the Valnur house. They brought Naran out of his room, and the Valnur family got into a carriage and left for the trial.
Reaching the community building, they headed towards the main hall where the trial was in progress. Approaching the door, they could hear loud chattering coming from inside.
Celene opened the door. The audience turned to look at them.
As the Valnur family entered the room, the audience could see the young man that was being carried by two men. They automatically assumed another victim had appeared. Without waiting, the audience made way for the new victim to get to the front.
Celene strolled forward, she knew what she had to do. Behind her were the two men who carried her brother. Bringing up the rear, were her parents.
“Celene?” The young boy standing at the podium turned and spoke her name. He looked exactly like the boy in her dreams. The only difference now, was that his face had a look of confusion.
“H-hello Kaidus.” She answered him. Trying to give him the same smile she always saw in her dreams. It was strange to remember his name so clearly.
“I apologize for the intrusion, but this is of the utmost importance.” Joral Valnur spoke, bowing towards the judges.
The judges looked at the newcomers. The young boy and this young girl that just came in, seem to know each other.
‘This is the girl.’ all the judges thought in their minds.
“And what is so important that you had to barge in on an official trial?” One of the judge calmly asked. It was all in the name of propriety. They could guess exactly what he was there for.
“It has come to my attention that, there is more to this trial than what was previously expected.” Joral spoke, trying to ease his position into the trial.
“Would this be about the harm that befell your daughter?” The same male judge asked.
“Y-Yes sir.” Joral replied. He was surprised that the trial had already progressed so far, and that they even knew about it.
“Excellent timing. We were just touching onto the very topic.” The judge spoke to Joral affably.
Joral looked at the judges, and then turned to look at those around him. The parents of the four boys were sitting up straight, and their faces looked a shade lighter upon catching his eyes. He looked at the boy sitting with them, cowering between his parents.
Turning to the other side, he saw the other family. A man and a woman with a daughter on her lap. He looked to where Celene is standing, and spotted the one who saved her. A young boy, almost a full head shorter than his daughter. He stood at the podium calmly.
As if noticing his gaze, the boy turned and caught his eyes. The child had dark black eyes that looked to tear right through his very being. Joral quickly turned back to look back at the judges, afraid of what he would see in those eyes.
“Well then, this really changes everything.” The female judge in the middle spoke. “I would like to hear what the girl has to say before taking this case any further.” She spoke out loud.
“Agreed.” All the other judges consented.
“How old are you, and what is your name?” The judge asked.
“I- I’m 11. My name is C-Celene Valnur” Celene answered.
“Can you tell us what happened on the 20th of Hiso, Celene Valnur?” The female judge spoke kindly, trying not to scare the girl.
“Y-yes.” Celene replied. She had come for a reason. It was too late to be scared now.
The whole hall listened in silence as the young girl recalled her horrific tale as she fell into tears.
The faces of the audience went from curious, to disbelief as they heard the young girl’s story. Their shock at the young boy’s brutal attack—against the four older boys—turned into shocks of revulsion at what the four boys had done.
After the girl’s story,
“Were you all aware of this?” The head judge asked the parents of the so called, “victims”. Staring at them closely.
The parents were speechless. The boy sitting with them had not told them everything. None of their sons who are currently recovering had even mentioned a word about attacking a young girl. For her to be the younger sister of the boy their sons maimed two turns ago, what other excuses were there that would help their case?
“I cannot believe such a tale!” A woman finally spoke—the mother of one of the boys. “Look at her! She looks perfectly healthy! They are obviously working together in this!” she cried out.
“You call my daughter a liar after what your sons did to mine?!” Joral couldn’t stand it anymore. He had sat through enough of their fabrications during his son’s private trial.
“My son already paid for what he did to yours! Is this your ploy to get back at our sons?!” The woman angrily shouted back.
“MY SON IS NOW A CRIPPLE!” Joral roared, pointing to his son Naran.
The new information sounded through the hall. The audience watched in contempt, as the parents of the boys attempted to defend their son’s actions.
“ENOUGH!” The judge shouted. “Clearly there an issue between all of you! There will be no more of this, or none of you will be able to talk!” admonishing the two who were yelling.
“Young lady. You said the pain disappeared, and you fell asleep?” Another judge picked up the questions.
“Y-yes. When I woke up, I was all alone with K-Kaidus. He walked me home.” She answered. It was strange to call the boy by his name.
“The pain in your body was gone. Do you have any idea how?” the judge asked.
“I… I don’t know…” Celene replied to the question that’s been mystifying her.
“Hmmm… Their stories do collaborate with each other. There … magic… that … for…” The judges were talking to each other quietly. People started chattering again as the judges took their time discussing.
Troyle and Adalina sat quietly in their seats. Both of them were bewildered by what had just been exposed.
Kaidus never ceases to amaze. Firs it was his uncanny abilities from such a young age, then his unusual demeanor, and now, healing magic. They could do nothing but sit there proudly, as their son stood up for what was right—even if he had gone overboard.
“Quiet in the audience!” the head judge finally spoke. “We have come to a consensus.”
“I thought we would get another chance to defend our sons?!” another man cried out, rising from his seat.
“I believe you have all spoken enough. Lying to the Mystiks guild is a serious offense. Be glad that we believe you all to not know, about the assault on this young girl.” The head judge reprimanded the man.
“We have made up our minds.” She threw her voice around the room, infused with mana. “In the case of young Kaidus, as a mage, for the crimes of brutally attacking three non-mages with magic, he is to be exiled. For-”
Before the judge could finish, the room fell into pandemonium. The audience was crying out against the ruling.
“NOOO!!!” A cry sheared through the noise.
Adalina broke down and cried. Troyle sat stoically, trying to comfort his wife. Inside of him, a torrent of emotion attempted to force their way out.
Everyone—except for the parents of the four kids—were questioning the severity of the punishment.
Kaidus stood silently. As calm and collected as ever. As if accepting his punishment.
“QUIET!” Another judge yelled out. “THE RULING IS NOT FINISHED!”
The disturbance quickly died out. The room held their breath and waited. Only thing that could be heard was the judge speaking, and the sound of Adalina sobbing in the background.
“As I was saying, for the brutality of attacking three non-mages with magic, he is to be exiled. BUT! For saving this young girl, for fighting back in self-defense, for being the only side to have told the truth. He is to be acquitted! We have determined that this incident is due to self-defense, and the compulsion to protect this girl!” the judge spoke, gesturing to Celene.
The hall breathed a sigh of relief. Adalina was recovering, and was now looking up at the judge.
“AFTER ALL HE’S DONE?!” the parents who were silent in the uproar were now voicing their opinions. “He just goes free!?”
“Are your sons crippled with broken arms and legs?” The judge asked, looking at the broken young man being supported by two men. “If they are not, consider yourselves very lucky, and let this be a lesson for them.” She added.
“This farce of a trial has wasted enough of everyone’s time. I am officially calling this trial to a close.” The head judge ruled.
As the trial ended, chattering about the verdict began.
As soon as the chattering began and the judges were rising from their chairs, a man charged Kaidus.
Kalwun Heldeins was not happy with the ruling. Using the opportunity of the shift at the trial’s end, he faked getting up to leave, then rushed towards the young boy—who had devastated his son and was now going to be released without any charges.
Before he could reach the boy,
“MMMMM!!!!!” He sounded off angrily, as his body refused to move.
Those in the front turned to look at the oddly postured man.
“Exactly what were you trying to do? Mister Heldeins?” One of the judge had seen the movement, and had quickly bound the man with an immobilization spell.
“MMMM!!!” he cried out, as guards stepped in between him and the child.
“You are deplorable.” the judge said, as he released the binding and canceled the silencing spell.
“I refuse to accept this!” Kalwun exclaimed, his mouth finally able to talk. “This is obviously a ploy against our sons!” He shouted again, denying the testaments of two kids.
“Your son cripples a boy, and now that he’s hurt, you want revenge?” the judge asked.
“I- This whole trial was a joke! You all arbitrary decide the ruling without giving a single thought into the fact of the matter! There is still no proof that our sons attacked the girl!”
“Is that what this is about? Proof?” The judge asked. “What about that boy? Is he not proof enough for this situation?” she pointed to Naran.
“These are two very different issues!” Kalwun shouted back angrily.
“Really? The way I see it, they are very similar. If this boy had not stepped in, who’s to say the same thing wouldn’t have happened to the girl?” The judge was nearing the end of her patience.
“But that is not the case! I refuse to take the words of a little girl, and call it proof to absolve the heinous crimes committed against my son!”
“Hah… Mister Heldeins… what is required for you to accept the judgement?” the judge sighed. This problem needed to be nipped in the bud before it bloomed into something horrible.
“I require proof! If he truly knows healing magic, allow everyone here to witness it!” Kalwun demanded.
“If that is all you require, I will oblige.” a childish voice came through from behind the guards. The guards moved, and Kalwun saw the boy staring back at him. A calm and apathetic face, unfazed by his demands.
Without looking away from him, the boy brought his hand forth and smashed his wrist into a corner of the podium. Bones shattered, and his hand twisted irregularly, drooping parallel to his forearm.
Those at the front gasped in shock. They were unprepared for the display.
“NOO!!” Adalina yelped, her hands quickly covered her mouth to suppress the screams.
The judges watched, astounded at the young child who: without hesitation, broke his own wrist with only so much as a grimace. Their eyes widen in surprise at the indescribable phenomenon occurring before them.
In seconds, the dangling hand twisted itself up again as the shattered bones fused back together, and the fingers started moving again. The boy made a show of a fist, and stretched each finger to show that his hand had healed.
‘A monster!’ Kalwun thought in his mind. The proof was in front of him, yet a part of him would not allow this boy to walk free. “You claim to have healed that girl! Heal someone!” He shouted, grasping at straws, hoping the child would fail in the endeavor.
“Enough of your sophisms Heldeins!” someone from the audience called out.
“Break your own hand for the boy to heal!” another fed up spectator yelled.
Kaidus was already sickened by the man in front of him. Hasen was not helping by relentlessly asking for permission to disembowel the man.
The only thing keeping the man safe from Hasen right now: was Kaidus’s iron will that kept the entity in check. A single slip-up of consent, and Hasen would burst forth, severing the man in two before consuming all that he is.
“I have conceded to your demands, and now you want to change the rules?” Kaidus asked, glaring at the unreasonable man.
“It was your own claims!” The man retorted.
“Your exact words were: ‘If he truly knows healing magic, allow everyone here to witness it’. Did I not just do so?” Kaidus calmly asked, still glaring at the man.
“That does not demonstrate your ability to heal others!” the man spouted. He knew that healing magic was pretty much an impossibility, but here, he was spouting about not just healing magic, but healing others as if it was some common magic.
“Very well.” Kaidus replied. There was no other way to appease people like this.
‘What better way, then to experience it first hand?’ he thought to himself.
“GYAAAAHH!!!!!!” The man screamed out in pain.