My character, Ashe Blackshard, has a very detailed backstory for a reason; he's the main character of a book that I've been writing in my free time. I have yet to name the book, but I'm a little over fifty pages into it. (hand-writen) and I will be posting the original when I get it typed up. ^^ how's that sound?
A peaceful sky. Picture-painted clouds moved placidly in whimsical shapes. Ashe, feeling his summer clothes and long, messy, brown hair dance in the wind, lay holding the back of his head with his hands. As he stared at the free shapes, the silence seemed to create a barrier, echoing thoughts only he could hear. The summer was almost over, and he was enjoying his last taste of solitude before the hectic school year started. Tough before he had been home schooled by his foster father/ headmaster, now he would be attending the private school he already called home. From outside his barrier, he sensed, rather than heard, graceful feet on the turf. It was a sound that tip-toed into his deep silence and echoed in his mind. As he sat up, the top of the inorganic dorms and school buildings peeked menacingly over the edge of the cliff he sat on. Turning around, he saw a girl sitting beneath a nearby tree. Splotches of light filtering down through the leaves gave her otherwise nondescript dress a sort of grandeur. She was endowed with ghost-white hair, and skin to match, it seemed from a distance. Oceanic-blue optics traced with a pencil across a pad resting on her lap. She stopped for a moment, and watched quietly the sea of blue through a fragmented window above, and nibbled on the end of a weathered pencil. She looked to him, in that moment, as some goddess embraced by the light of the heavens. After a moment of watching, he realized he was staring at her; and listening to the soft tune that escaped her lips as she drew. He’d never seen anyone or anything like her before...and for some reason, it engendered a swelling in his lower stomach, one usually associated with infatuation. He blushed suddenly, and attempted to steal his eyes away from her. But it was too late, for she had already noticed his staring. She blinked at him, as if she had no idea he’d been sitting there, then she set her pad and pencil down and pranced lithely over to where he sat. he was standing by the time she got there. Her smile of greeting was so innocent it warmed him. He gave a weak, bewildered wave in response, and smile clumsily. Before he knew it she was staring into his eyes with infinitely gorgeous water droplets. The pools were filled with such mature innocence it confused him. When she was closer to him, he saw her skin was a pale shade of pink.“You’re name’s Ashe, right?” her soft voice drifted around him for a moment before she continued “the boy the Headmaster took in, right? After your parents died?” her curious voice continued. The high voice, coming from a person who was physically a couple inches taller than himself, engrossed him. He nodded, memorized. She smiled again. “Nice to meet you Ashe!” she exclaimed excitedly, “my name’s Elizabeth, Elie for short.” she extended a delicate hand to her new acquaintance. And he took it. “Nice to meet you too.” There was a glimmer in her eye that made him wonder. A shimmering magnet that pulled his gaze from more pleasurable features. His words fumbled”are you...new here?” He managed, averting his gaze. “Yep!” she replied simply. Suddenly her smile flipped upside down. “You’ve got that look...” she sounded disappointed. “The look they always give me. Am I that peculiar?” Ashe nodded absently. “Oooooooh!” the girl spun around so suddenly that Ashe stumbled backward. “why is it that everyone I meet thinks I’m strange...?” she began stomping off as if angry. “Oh, at this rate I’ll never get a boy friend! ....or a husband....oh no! I’ll grow old alone...” her voice trailed off as she ranted to herself. Ashe watched her walk away. He wanted to say ‘wait...it’s not that....’ but his mouth only formed mute sentences. Wow... he thought to himself, that was strange...
The sound of sliding leather binding against the desk distracted Ashe from his foster-father’s eyes. “I think you’ll be great, Ashe, after all, I was the one who taught you...” he laughed. “I know you’ll grow into a promising young man one day...” the headmaster laughed again as he tried to mimic an old man. “Sorry, sorry, I know this is a big day for you, but I can’t be serious. It’s so great that you’re moving out! They grow up so fast! I picked your room mate specially, so be sure to thank me later. Ashe laughed with the 23-year old man who was supposed to be his father. “Sure thing. Co-ed 15, right? I’ll see you later. Maybe I’ll call.” Ashe left the headmaster’s quarters behind as he headed towards the dormitories. The campus grounds seemed so much larger now that he’d actually have to navigate them on a regular basis. This, Ashe thought, as he sauntered briskly across the courtyard. Before him loomed the obelisk-sized dorm rooms where he’d spend the next five years of his life. There were many residents in the courtyard presently. Some looked at him with contemt, others with pity. But all made the short walk a long one. As Ashe passed the brass fountain in the center of the courtyard, his foot struck the foot of another, causing him to lurch forward. He caught himself before falling, but his books were scattered on the ground. It was evident he’d been tripped. “Oh! I’m terribly sorry.” a smug voice came from behind him. Ashe turned an apathetic gaze. Identifying the aggressor as third year Jeffery Angle. He was the #1 jock and all-around jack-ass. He had straggly blonde hair, combed back smoothly, and an impressively adorned letter jacket. It had everything but the academic letter. Ashe bent down to pick up his books cautiously. He didn’t know what jeff’s beef with him was, but he might try to fight. In which case Ashe didn’t want to leave an opening. “It’s alright.” he replied steadily. “I wouldn’t expect a star sports player to have any control over his feet.” his small jab seemed to hit it’s mark. Jeffery’s foot came down hard on the book Ashe was reaching for. “Wanna try that one again?” his face was livid, as if Ashe had just insulted his mother. “I would appreciate it if you got your foot off my test book.” Ashe replied, watching the foot eagerly. He attempted to pull the book free, but to no avail. “Oh, you know how unpredictable my feet can be.”Jeff’s smug voice issued his foot from the book upwards to his face, in a star soccar kick that would have sent the ball flying. But Ashe saw it coming and pulled back enough to offset the desired momentum, and curtail most of the damage. The foot hit him in the forehead, as opposed to the nose. It was still enough to send him reeling backwards, however. He tumbled backward expertly into a crouch. “That was uncalled for, Jeff.” he said, genialy, rising to his feet. “That’s a matter of opinion, Ashe.” At this point the crowd was growing around them, compelling both to continue. “You....Asshole. What’s you’re problem with me?” Ashe was beginning to lose his cool as a direct result of the crowd stimulating his adrenaline. “Well, ofcourse, you’re the Head master’s little-“ his sentence was interupted by Ashes foot in his face, sending him backwards. “What does that have to do with anything!!?” he asked, as Jeff’s friends began helping him up. “Why you...” Jeff’s anger was evident on his face. “I’ll kill you!!” he hopped up and ran towards Ashe. He was predictable enough for Ashe to dodge his assaults, but it was still tiring. Ashe lured him over to the fountain, then jumped out of the way at the last second, causing Jeff to tumble forward into the water. The splash scattered droplets over the crowd and combatants alike. “You’re all washed up.” Ashe mused, picking up his books. “See you around.” Ashe smiled under his mask of contentment. This school year might just be more interesting than he thought.
The stone structures outside his window mocked him. And so begins my journey, Thought the first year, unpacking his luggage which had been transported to the room for him. Looking over his shoulder, he saw a large trunk upon the bed; so heavy, he feared, that should he sit upon it, the bed on which it sat would cry against him for mercy. His eyes returned to the window. Classes wouldn’t start for a couple of days, giving the students time to “settle in.” He wondered what constituted “settling in” and what other kinds of activities would be taking place in addition. A knock at the door. Ashe thought it might be his room mate. He was in a co-ed dorm, meaning a member from both genders in each room; it was an experience he both anticipated…and shied from nervously. But he kept his cool as best he could. He opened the door slowly. On the other side of the door a tall brown-haired boy with a triumphant face beamed. “That was pretty good.” The boy said. This was obviously a congratulatory visit. “but…” his voice turned suddenly apologetic, “but I don’t want you to think that everyone here is like that.” Ashe looked skeptically at the boy. “I mean…I don’t want your first impression of Campus life to be like that….” Too late, Ashe thought. The boy must have caught the though on his mind. “I just want you to know that we don’t all think that badly about you. There are some good people here, and I for one would be glad to help you out when ever you need it.” A genuine-yet-forced smile sat on the boy’s lips as he extended a hand in abortive welcome, “My name’s Thomas Everhart, Tommy for short.” Ashe smiled back awkwardly. “Don’t think I’m so sensitive, alright?” he said back, shaking the hand that reached for him. “The name’s Ashe Blackshard. And I’m not so quick to judge, though I think I’ll steer clear of a certain Jock for a while.” He explained sagaciously. “Besides, it was fun kicking that bully’s ass.” He grinned triumphantly. “Ha! I like you. I think we’ll get along nicely.” Tommy patted Ashe on the shoulder in a brotherly manner, “so do you know who your Roommate is yet?” “nope, guess I’ll find out later though.” Ashe replied nonchalantly. He remembered that his ‘father’ had selected his Roommate for him, so he wasn’t sure what to expect, but he wouldn’t sound spoiled. “I don’t think I’ll have an issue, though.” “A girl’s a girl, right…?” Tommy replied wryly. “yeah.” Ashe said sarcastically. The conversation was stale. “hey!!” A familiar voice, like an angel of mercy, poured down the hall bouncing boisterously. Tommy looked down the corridor with a sort of abortive freight. “hello, Tom!” the girl’s voice said again, Whatcha doing outside my dorm…?” she walked into Ashe’s field of view, and Ashe instantly knew who it was standing there. The girl from the day before, the weird one. That meant that the weird girl was his Roommate. ‘father’ had pulled an insidious trick again. Ashe smiled at the thought of punching Serion in the face. Ashe blinked twice as he stared at his new roommate, bantering to Tommy. He felt a sudden building in his chest. What was it about this girl that ailed him so…? Dumb question. The girl shifted her beautiful blue spotlights on Ashe next. “Hello, Ashie, are you my roommate…?” her voice rose and fell as he followed it like a lost puppy. He shook the feeling and concentrated on…well, concentrating. He nodded slowly, face apathetic, but heart beating-racing-deplorably. “Yay!!” She exclaimed, “This’ll be fun! Oh! Sorry, about what I said yesterday. I hope I didn’t scare you. I’m known for saying useless things.” “no-no not at all.” Ashe maintained his cool barely, struggling to answer in a timely fashion. It was difficult for him to pay attention to the words the voice was making. “I think you scared Tommy, though.” he said, noting Tommy’s prudent escape. “Oh, he’s a ninja like that. Just appears and disappears whenever; you get used to it.” she replied, nonchalant. “so…you two know each other…?” Ashe asked a little too late. She didn’t seem to notice. “We went to the same school until last year, when he came here; he’s always been a grade above me and the others. We hang out with the same group, so we kept in touch.” She replied knowledgably. “I see…” Ashe closed the door behind her. He sighed deeply and turned to the girl, who looked, almost expectantly, in his direction. Her eyes were like swirling pools of mystery, Like a memory he just couldn’t place. With her giggle, he realized his mouth was parted slightly, like he was spacing out, which he was. He shook his head frantically, “it’s nothing, just thinking…” his heart raced silently, but he didn’t let it reach his face. He stuffed sweaty hands in his pockets. “what about…?” she leaned expectantly towards him. “nothing.” was Ashe’s simple reply. Silence. Ashe started unpacking his clothes again, and the beating was aggravating. He tried not to let it get to him. He heard behind him, the sound of latches flipping open, and ruffling of clothes. Not looking at her wasn’t cutting it. “are you mad at me…?” Elie’s voice drifted over his shoulder. He stuffed a pair of pants into a drawer. “huh?” He feigned being deep in thought. “oh, no, of course not. We’ve just met.” Ashe replied coherently, trying to sound incredulous. He turned around, remaining composed, and leaned back to shut the drawer. “just-” “thinking’?” “Yeah.” caught me… Silence. Elie chuckled a bit. “you’ve never lived with a girl before, have you…?” Her tone was almost a mocking one. Causing him to jerk his head dejectedly aside. “nope.” was his simple reply. “that’s funny.” She laughed. Her voice - it stung his heart somehow. A vice. Squeezing. Squeezing… A welcomed pain. His stomach lurched. Damn, he thought, what’s with her…? He shook his head frustrated, and stalked to the door. “gotta go get some--fresh air. Maybe tour the campus…be back later.” he replied to mute questions, hurrying the last part a little. The door closed. Hard. Outside the light danced gaily from leaf to leaf, making the courtyard appear to flutter in the breeze and shine up welcomingly at him. Many students enjoyed the nice weather down there; free from the harsh storms he was bearing. As he was bending over the courtyard, the door opened behind him. “sorry about that.” her voice seemed strangely…Taught. She was next to him now, looking the same way and the same scenery. Her eyes were like open books…in another language. The ocean pools turned to him again, throwing him off guard. “you okay…?” her beautiful smile distracted him. “h-huh…? Oh! Yeah, yeah, I’m fine…” he shook his head violently, looking away, “got in a bit of a fight earlier…” he spoke honestly, running a finger under his nose. “Aww…”he felt her hand patting his head. He flushed and pulled away instinctively. “I’m fine, really. It’s no big deal.” He tried not to look her directly in the face. “it’s just…” Another surge of honesty… “I haven’t been around people that much; I’ve been home schooled by the Headmaster ever since he took me in…” Her eyes softened looking at him; like everything that could be said by him was prematurely understood. He couldn’t keep from looking, peering, into the abyss. Her sympathetic face seemed familiar, like he’d seen it before somewhere…before they’d met. It was like waking from a dream, and not remembering anything about it, except a solitary vision -a single picture- to keep the mind guessing. The feeling frustrated him. She seemed to catch the notion. “something the matter.” either she was being seductive…or his mind made it seem so. “huh?” He shrugged. “suddenly she span around, her white hair fanning for a moment like a butterfly that almost flew. “bye!” and she loped off happily. For some reason…it felt final. “so…spontaneous…” ashe Whispered to himself. This had been a weird day.
Confused, and a bit torn, Ashe retreated to the dorm. Standing in silence he began to examine it. It was a little larger than a hotel room, one bathroom, two beds, a closet, two adjacent dresser drawers, and a desk. Exhausted, he wavered over to the bed to the right. And plopped down on his back. It wasn’t as soft as his old bed, but oh, well, high school was supposed to be tough, right…?
The next few days were slower to pass then would be expected. Tommy volunteered to show the freshmen; Ashe and Elie; around the campus. It went well; Ashe strode on the opposite side of Tommy from Elie, Trying not to excite the already Irregular beat of his heart. He went through both of their schedules together and, to Ashe's great dismay, Found shared classes between them. The building was huge, Ashe noted, Five stories high, with a basement. Of course he'd known its size, but this was his first time walking alone (relatively) within it. It both excited, and scared him a little. Excited to finally be alone, Scared because he had some idea what the throbbing was, and couldn't tell what effect it'd have on his living conditions here. During the next few days he found immeasurable time for drawing, his favorite pastime, and did many Studies of the courtyard. Flowers arranged beautifully in concrete isles and platforms, giving the stone floor a maze-like appearance. During the dusk he had a pastel sunset setting outside his down, which luckily viewed a gorgeous sunset scene. He simply had to capture it before school dragged his schedule down. Fortunately, he thought, his talents went majorly undiscovered (save for the occasional passerby.) Until the last day before Class started. He was perched on a bench in the courtyard, gesturing a couple making out about forty feet away, when he felt a brisk breeze ruffle his ponytail. "That's really Good!!" A voice, carried by the wind it seemed, Caused him to lurch forward, scattering his pad and pencil. He turned sharply to see Elie, in a crouching position, perched lithely on the back of the bench. Either he'd been really in to that couple -impossible- or she'd come out of nowhere. The unequivocally strange girl spoke then, "what strange subject matter, though." she half-laughed as she gracefully leapt down to where the paper lay. She looked fleetingly from the pad to the couple, who at this point felt the two were disturbing their peace. Ashe immediately snatched the page from the book and tore it to shreds, letting the unintelligible shards flutter like butterfly wings to the concrete. "Simply passing time." He lied dejectedly. "simply curious." Elie corrected. Ashe reached down to pick up his pencil. "hardly." He said smugly, trying to ignore the pangs in his chest, and wiping his face to hide the embarrassment. Elie chucked cutely. Ashe's stomach lurched. "you're funny, Ashie." Ashe frowned at the nick-name. He sighed; the ocean depths had him locked. Again. Then a thought; a remnant of an unanswered question to change the subject. His mind tackled it, "Hey! so...where you been lately? I haven't seen you much the last couple of days." The question had an unplanned note of panic in it. She hesitated, her face remained happy, but the pools rippled with slight apprehensiveness. "Family." she said simply after a moment. It sounded fishy; too simple an answer to think about. Regardless, he felt it too troublesome to pursue. "oh." he said, nodding understandingly. "does that mean you missed me...?" she blurted with boisterous excitement. Or maybe it was accusation... Caught again. "Maybe a little." "Yay!" She bounded forward unexpectedly and threw her arms around him playfully. "we're Friends, aren't we!?" He was glad her head was over his shoulder, so she couldn't see him flush beat red. when she finally let go of him, he blamed the red on suffocation. She apologized. "yo!!!" Saved by the Tommy. "What've you guys been up to?" He walked up to them, faster than usual, waving as if they'd been apart for months. "Drawing." Ashe raised his hand. "Family." There was a slight suggestion in her voice, and Tommy gave her a look Ashe couldn't read. "what have you been doing?" Ashe asked him, some skepticism escaping his thoughts. 'Friends' was the simple reply. "I'm not your room mate." He continued smiling wryly. "you don't need to keep tabs on me." Awkward silence. Elie jumped now, Like she'd forgotten something important. "Tom, hey, you should check this out!" She dutifully delivered Ashe's stolen Sketch book into the waiting hands of Tommy. His eyes lit up as he skimmed through the pages. and there might have been a comprehensiveness that was subdued. "wooooow..." He whistled. "I've never met an artist before. This is really good stuff!" Ashe couldn't help but beam at the compliment. "Heeeeeey!" Elie's face looked pouty. "what about me? and Amy? and ...and..." she listed more names that Ashe didn't recognize the users of. Tommy's laugh was hard. "whoops. must have slipped my mind." Ashe suddenly felt like the third wheel. Watching the two mingle in a childhood friend sort of way. He sighed, picking up the other supplies he'd dropped earlier. When he rose to leave, Tommy was there, holding the sketchbook like a lost tome of an ancient society. More accolades. suddenly, though, Ashe didn't want to hear it. "Thanks" he recited, "It's reaching dusk; I’m going to go. I need to finish my Pastel today." He smiled genially, and walked away, wishing he had a childhood friend to goof off with. It was a disconcerting feeling.
The first morning of school came wringing its sleeves. Sheets of saltless tears cascaded down the windows at the south side. Just above Ashe's bed. He roused a little early, consequently, but Elie continued to sleep, and rightly so, for she'd stayed up later than she should have. Sitting in bed, waiting for the dreary haze to fade, He found himself watching the slow rise and fall of her chest under the covers. Working hardest against both trances, he compelled himself to take a shower, to “wash the sleep away.” as Serion would say. The water snaking down his chest felt good, and he stood swaying incomprehensively for a time, And then reluctantly reached for the soap. Mission "wash the sleep away" proved abortive, and Ashe stumbled out of the bathroom yawning and dripping from the waist up. He was shirtless, his lightly muscled chest and shoulders supported a towel that sopped his hair. He hadn't yet put his hair up yet, and it fell in dark streaks to somewhere between his shoulder blades. It was in this state that Elie saw him, as she rose groggily from incoherence. "morning." he said apathetically, through a veil of soaked hair. Her optic seas brightened up; He could feel her scanning him. He sighed, shaking droplets from his hair to the floor. "sorry, I'll put a shirt on." She didn't reply, simply continued to look at him, with sleep-deprived surprise. "what?" He laughed at his repetition of her words. "You've never lived with a guy before, have you?" "not my age." she admitted shyly. That could mean one of two things. He assumed she meant father, or brother. "well, regardless, it's your turn." he motioned to the bathroom. She picked up the clock beside her bed. "I'll make it quick." "yeah." Ashe waited for his hair to half-dry into messy ringlets that shook when he moved, then put a shirt on and got ready for school. though it tickled his face, he deliberately waited for Elie to come out before putting his hair into a pony tail. He wanted her to see how feminine it looked down, for some reason. when she came out, she eyed him just as before, and he liked the attention of those blue orbs, though his stomach screamed silently in response, it was a welcomed pain. She was dressed in a light white dress that framed her exceedingly thin waist, but fell loosely from her hips to just below her knees. looking out the window in the door, she noted the rain and reached into the closet for her umbrella. Ashe didn't have one, but she said they could share. Ashe put his hair up and dawned his burden; he saw Elie only had a bag that crossed her body with a thick strap. He wondered if it'd hold everything. "Well, Let's go." She caught him staring again. He nodded, slightly embarrassed. "yeah."
The rain clawed at the umbrella restlessly, like a dog who wants in. Their attempts at conversation were thwarted by the torrent. The walk to the school building wasn't a long one, but the silence made it drag. Instinctively, he opened the door for her, and she thanked him curtly. It wasn't until they were in the building that Ashe remembered they had their first class together. That would suck. The School was crowded with students. Some were wringing out their sleeves, and cursing their luck, others were fiddling with their lockers impatiently. Not many seemed happy to be here. Ashe wasn't exactly sure why, but Schooled kids seemed to hate it more than Home-schooled did. He'd seen this many people in one place many a time, but had never been really part of the crowd, and now that he was, he somewhat wanted out already. Their first class was Arithmetic. Ashe had forgotten the teacher's name, and was too lazy to look at his schedule. So, he waited until they arrived to see it written on the board. Taurus it said. whatever. The first day was always icebreakers and group work, he'd remembered Tommy saying, But at least there wasn't any work to do. Besides staying sane, Ashe mentally corrected. And Sanity did seem to come into play a lot; he couldn't keep his eyes or his mind off of Elie the whole time. It was an intoxicatingly abhorrent feeling. When class ended, in fact, He lit out like he was actually interested in his next class. The day progressed with the same sort of over-all scene. He had her in his 3rd and 8th classes as well. so they were the ones he was dreading. They ate lunch in their 4th class here, so they didn't have to wait long, but the collective rush to get to the lunch room was intense regardless. He almost didn't want to get in line. Sighing, he followed the mob slowly creeping down the hall. Suddenly, he collided into the person in front of him; barking an apology, he looked frantically around. The air was stagnant with eerie silence, and he seemed to be surrounded by statues. Framed in mid-sentence, some of them, and colorless too. With a quick glance at himself he affirmed the fact that he alone was colorful; he was like a cartoon stuck in an old western. Then he froze, horrified. Up ahead, turning the corner was a huge shadow of a thing. It was jet black, and staticy, like the glitched image of a T.V. without a signal, but the eyes seemed to glance in your soul. It was Humanoid-though it bent to skim clear of the ceiling. It was looking for something...or someone. Its eyes lit up as it spotted him. He let out a stifled breath, realizing he'd been holding it in. His eyes were locked onto its own, which seemed to shift with the staticy form. Within moments it seemed to overtake him. He was swimming in a blank sea, wading through a mist of darkness. His mind raced, but his body relaxed-almost as if in a deep sleep...He was strangely numb. Then, almost as soon as it had begun, a bright light pervaded his attention, and pulled him from the pit of incoherence. When he lowered his arms, which he found he'd raised in defense, he was bustled into moving with the mass of students. And he was swept downstream to the cafeteria.
Ashe progressed through the lunch line in a lull; his head swimming with questions and no one to answer them. It seemed like a dream now, a very frightening dream. He was lost in a new darkness, now, a void without rational explanation. Yikes. He picked solemnly at his generic-most likely soy-cheeseburger, his stomach still dragging in his feet. His heart soon joined the party. "Amy!!" A familiar voice accompanied the drop. He turned to bravely face the sound; the angel of his nightmares. Elie was boisterously acknowledging a friend of hers at a nearby table. The friend was tall looking, with long blond hair bound in a braid over one shoulder. Her hands were furnished by many rings. From simple loops to knotted hearts and exotic-looking animal heads; each band was alarmingly unique. As she moved, he saw she wore necklaces, too, of quite a fitful similarity. Her clothes were elegant, as if she expected to be swept away by a prince at any given moment. Her eyes seemed deep and knowledgeable, while glazed over with teenage fancy; and her face held a childish charm, yet maintained her adolescent deviousness. Suddenly, Elie spun her spontaneous eyes to him and motioned exaggeratedly for him to come. Reluctantly, he rose, and left any hope of lunch behind him. "This is my room mate, Ashe." She introduced him to the girl. "and this is Amilia; my beeeeeest friend." Amilia smiled warmly, but in the wake of the smile was a protective; unspoken; threat. He cringed at the notion. "Nice to meet you." was Amilia's genial reply. "Amy," Elie broke the ensuing silence with a voice like we'd been friends for years. "Ashe's an artist, too." She smiled wide, "Maybe he could join..." Amilia's incredulous gaze put a stopper in Elie's incorrigible mouth. Having all brought their sketch books to lunch along with them, the three-yes three-shared books, accomplishments, and other such art talk. The unification engendered by the common skill seemed to always form such groups. Nevertheless, Ashe was surprised by this turn of events; he had no idea how many artists he would meet at this school. He was starting to enjoy himself when something one of them said made his mind jump back to the hallway. The lunch bell rang while they were discussing art, and had to rush to their next class. Ashe quickly realized that he and Amilia shared the same 5th class. They laughed at the irony of it. In class, He sat next to her, not knowing anyone else in the room. There were more icebreakers to get the class started off. Instead of paying attention, Ashe spoke aside to Amilia, who seemed likewise involved. "just wondering..." He began, "Is there a reason you wear so many rings?" "Yeah, well...I guess I just like rings." she said as if she'd never thought about it before. "this one my dad got for me...and this one Elie bought me for my birthday. And this one..." She began naming them off like this. He could tell she didn't care much about the activity either. Finally she pulled a small, thin band off of her thumb. "...And this is my magic ring." the chucked at the name; an inside joke he didn't get. He cocked his head. "yup." She continued, sobering. "It's funny, at least once a week It just falls off. I looked everywhere for it to start off with, but I never found it. It just...turns up. So I stop looking for it, and just wait for it to show up. It's funny, it's like it just wanders off and comes back...like a lost puppy." this time He joined in on the muffled laughter. it was kind of amusing. The mention of Magic made Ashe think of the huge shadow. He debated telling Amilia, but decided against it. She'd just think he was crazy. The memory now commenced to taunt him, so he did what any obsessive artist would do in his situation: he drew. He traced nothing angrily, but as he concentrated, his memory began to manifest itself with new purpose onto his pad. The stone cold statues in his picture stood oblivious of the monster above. Looking at it now, it seemed kind of silly to believe in something like that. But it was too real... Staring at him with desolate eyes. Staring eyes. Starving eyes.... He dropped the pencil absently. "watcha drawing...?" Amilia's voice accompanied his pencil to the desk. there was an element of surprise in it; and in her eyes. Maybe even worry. "nothing." Ashe replied, instinctively snatching his pencil. Amilia's eyes traced him skeptically. "what...?" he asked finally. "Nothing." She repeated after a time. He sensed the word had two meanings. She picked up the page, interested. "Did you just think this up? it's pretty scary isn't it?" You have no idea. "Yeah, it is." Ashe replied, almost under his breath. "A night mare?" "Something like that." "You should show this to Elie." "Really?" "Yeah, she likes this sort of thing." "Huh. I thought of her as more of the happy-go-lucky, cutesy type." "some people like an...amalgam of things." The conversation turned brittle and cracked. Ashe went back to drawing, after retrieving his sketch book. He hoped it would take his mind off of it, but it didn't. He sighed, Amilia was drawing too, but she looked so blissful, whereas he was tense as a fully-stretched rubber band. Just then the bell rang; the students flocked to the door to leave. He picked up his things, preoccupied, and shuffled out the door; always the last to leave. His heavy mind pulled his eyes to the ground as he walked. As his eyes traced the lines between the tiles, he saw something familiar lying on the ground. Bending down to pick it up, he saw it was a simple, thin ring. The magic ring. He looked around, but Amilia wasn't anywhere to be seen.
The week passed uneventfully similar. The rain stopped, classes began seriously, and there was no other sightings of the strange shadow. When he didn't have his nose in a text book, or his eyes burning in heaven, he turned it over in his mind, wondering, sometimes, if he'd ever really seen it. Then came Friday night, creeping upon him and then shouting "Hey, Ashe!" The voice of reason, Elie. "Wanna come meet some of my friends tonight?" Ashe sighed, blowing long brown strands from his face and looking up from his book. "but that's a bit short notice isn't it?" "Yeah...sorry about that, but...you've got nothing better to do." Her intoxicating gaze dizzied him. "you can come, right?" "where are we going?" Ashe sighed in defeat. "Yay!!" "I didn't say I was-" she grabbed his arm forcefully and tugged him towards the door to their dorm. "Hey!! at least let me grab my sketchbook!!"
he ran to keep up with her, and soon they were walking through the parking lot. Up ahead, a van waited. A few teens, some older than himself, surrounded it, talking boisterously. As they walked up Elie greeted them loudly, "This is my friend, Ashe!!" She smiled in his direction, "He's an artist, too!!" Ashe blinked once. "Are all of you artists?!" "Except me." Tommy's head jutted out from the driver's side window. And suddenly his earlier sarcastic comment made sense. Leaning on the side of the van was Amilia, looking as contradictory as she had before. The last person there he didn't recognize. she was sitting against the back of the van, speaking to the others over her shoulder. She was a couple inches shorter than him; a nice improvement considering the other three were all taller. Compelling hazel eyes shown under her brow, and her hair was died a deep violet hue. It fanned out at the base of her neck in a funny way. She walked over to him instantly and looked him in the face. It looked almost as if she was concentrating really hard on a quiz as she stared up at him. Finally, she opened her mouth, and with all the eloquence of a woopy cushion said "are you gay?" The question knocked him off balance. he could hear hysterical laughter from all those present "well....?" her face showed no signs of it being a joke. When he finally shook his head, she hung hers, and returned to her previous perch. "This is Xepher." Elie said laughing, "She likes guys..." "...Who like other guys.” Xepher jumped in, as if on queue. Ashe blinked with uneasiness. "Elie..." he started, regarding the girl with the elegant clothes, the boy who was always too excited, the girl who seemed uncontrollably obsessed with homosexual males, and Elie herself. he sighed to himself, "You're friends are really..." "Weird?" Tommy's mug shot made another appearance. "Normal is a cycle on a washing machine." "Yeah..." Ashe laughed uncomfortably. "so... when are we leaving...?" "We're still waiting for angel." Amilia replied for the first time this evening. "Angel?" "Angelica." Tommy recited her full name. "She'll be here soon." He looked toward the setting sun. The door slammed as Xepher shuffled in beside Tommy. Then a loud "BOO!!!" erupted from behind him. The sound sent him toppling forward. "sorry..." He spun around to see the girl dressed in dark black cloak. "your peripheral vision simply sucked so much...I couldn't help myself." her laugh was almost maniacal. He looked around for Elie and saw that she was staring frightened through raised arms at the girl. The girl was even shorter then Xepher was, and a huge hood hid her face. Only burning red eyes escaped from under the blackness. "Okay, Angel." Tommy's voice beckoned. "'sun's down." Angel simply responded by flinging back the hood; exposing a small, childish face framed by long blond Bangs. The hair behind was short, messy, and black. Her skin was pale and her mocking smile was devilish. It both soothed and unnerved him a little. "Hiding from the sun...?" Ashe jested awkwardly, "are you some kind of -" "Vampire?" Angel stared with a mocking pride at him, finishing, but not answering the question. She walked past him and boarded the van, followed by Elie and Amilia. Ashe was the last on board; slightly shocked and not a little confused. Elie sat at the back with Angel. Amilia was across the Isle from Ashe, and Tommy and Xepher took the front seats, due to some hidden law of Seniority. Ashe clutched his sketchbook tightly to his chest, sighing, and replied sheepishly when the rhetorical "are we ready?" Question was raised. Cycle on a washing machine..., Ashe pondered wordlessly, Well this cycle would be hard to get used to.
It was Quite a talkative ride. The van was small enough that vicinity didn't matter in conversing with one another, Elie whispered things to Angle in the back who, in turn, laughed in menacing delight. Ashe assumed it was girl-talk and didn't try to eavesdrop. "so where are we going, again?" Ashe whispered non-chalantly, even though he hadn't been told in the first place. No reply. was it a secret? Obviously, or so their continued banter displayed. Suddenly Elie's head appeared over his shoulder. He jumped spaztastically into the window. Her face was so close, he hoped she couldn't hear the sound of his heart beating...erratically. "what was that?" he almost missed her question. The words floated for a minute between his ears before he fully grasped them. "I asked..." His words were slow...weary. "Where we're going..." "Oh? Oh, well out to eat, of course." she laughed an angel's laughed as if it was the simplest thing in the world; as if these kids were just your ordinary teens. Her face looked worried when he frowned and shied away. "what's wrong?" "nothing." He lied, gasping for air. She retreated to the back seat after a worried "okay." He saw Tommy, out of the corner of his eye, looking knowingly at him in the rear-view mirror. It made him feel spot-lighted; watched. The conversations continued with little or no Ashe involvement. He simply stared out the window, watching the shadowy buildings pass by at regular intervals. He hoped no one would know what he was truly thinking about. What's a boy to do?
A few insufferable minutes later they pulled into the parking lot of Bob Evans. Tommy told the girls to go on ahead, and woke Ashe from his sleep-like trance. He had a bad feeling about what was going to happen next. The van suddenly felt stuffy. He took a deep breath. When the girls were a good distance away, Tommy opened fire. "Boy, you got it bad!" Ashe was taken aback and speechless. "I've never been in a relationship, but I know what infatuation looks like. living with her must suck." "You have no Idea..." Ashe sighed, "Is it really...that obvious...?" Ashe, who hadn't fully accepted his own feelings yet, didn't expect to be found out so quickly. "Yep. Just thought I'd let you know," He laughed, "I wish I knew what questions to ask you, but this really isn't my forte." He continued, watching as the girls swarmed on Elie. "But Elie's getting Drilled right now." he hopped out and shut the door noisily. "Really...? but...nothing's happened yet..." Ashe didn't realize what he'd implied. "yet?" "Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?" They both laughed at Ashe's quick response. As they walked inside, they talked about other things besides girls, and found they had more in common than hormones. Drilled indeed. When they arrived at the girls' table, Elie was sitting in the middle of the crescent-shaped booth, her head cast down and her hands in her lap. The other girls looked disappointed. Ashe felt bad for her. He smiled lightly when she looked up, and she smiled demurely back, timidly sweeping a stray strand of hair from her face. Her deep pools of innocence sent his heart off again, so he looked away as he took his seat. He sat next to Xepher at one end, and Tommy sat by Amilia at the other. The lady soon arrived to take their orders. When she left, xepher leaned over and tapped Ashe on the shoulder "wanna switch me spots?" she asked mockingly, pointing to Elie on the other side. Ashe flushed and shook his head, grimacing. Throughout the meal Ashe stole many glances in Elie's direction, always noting that she held her food delicately with both hands, as if she was afraid to drop it, and she blinked when she took a bite. She also stared down, still embarrassed by some fore spoken word or phrase. Ashe didn't know if asking was a good Idea...Probably not. He still, however, felt her brutal bad cop- bad cop interrogation was in some way his fault. when he asked what was wrong across the table, she simply bowed her head. And everyone laughed; except Elie and himself. He could see that wasn't going to work. Maybe he'd apologize later, when they were alone... Maybe. Ashe's Slightly nervous, slightly thoughtful disposition caused him to be the second to last one finished. With Elie trailing behind. The others didn't seem to mind, but took it as a silent token that they were perfect for each other. When she finished, she still hadn't opened up completely. she looked up, slightly thoughtful, her innocent eyes muddled with anxiety. Everyone paid for their meal except Ashe, who didn't know ahead of time to bring money (who's fault was that?). He hated favors, but allowed Xepher, who had a job, to pay for him. Suddenly, there was a crashing noise; It sounded like it was coming from the outside.
The night air was crisp, for a moment, then went stagnant. no sooner had they stepped out of the door then everything was still...gray and cold. Ashe remember vividly the students in the hall. But looking around, he noticed he wasn't alone in the nightmare, and that the four other people with color regarded him as curiously as he did them. The next few minutes was a blur to him. First was the shadow appearing before them. it looked just as the other one had the time before. Next, he was dragged off by Tommy towards the van. Third, he saw Elie, Face suddenly stern and composed, holding out her right hand toward the abhorrent beast. A ball of swirling color was forming in her outstretched hand. As she aimed for the great shadow she was saying: "This one's stronger than the last one, I'll need to use a stronger spell."
The eyes. Ashe could only stared into the blood thirsty eyes that towered high above. The only objects that weren't blurred. It filled him with a kind of rage he'd never known. "I want...to punch it." He spoke angrily. Tommy, a little discomfited by the sudden happenings, and quite possible the baby-sitting, gruffly replied, "No way. Those things have magical barriers that deflect anything physical. you can't touch it." Ashe's knuckles popped without the use of his off hand. "let go..." He wrestled free of Tommy's grasp, and sped headlong at the target. He heard an angry call from behind him, but found it unintelligible; words were scrambled in his racing mind. There was a flash of light as Elie released her bolt of white energy. To everyone's surprise, however, the Beast stood unaffected, simple strings of smoke rose from the shadow's upraised arm. The rage which Ashe couldn't quell rose exponentially into a fervent throb in his brain. He ran, ignoring the surprised and ordering voices and faces of the group, balling his hand into a tight fist. His finger nails in his palm almost drew blood. The foe seemed to accept the challenge, sending its own fist down to meet him. Their Fists collided dissonantly. At first there was a crunch, then a strange hissing, like putting a hole in a CO-2 cartridge. Then, all at once, The monster's whole arm dispersed like a flock of frightened butterflies into the air. Ashe fell to the pavement, his fist sizzling with a repugnant fume. He held it to his chest and caught his breath; his brain was too discombobulated to understand anything, but now her heard sounds of battle as the others finished off the wounded creature. The only thing he could watch, though, was the spinning pavement, as it rose up to meet him.
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Ashe woke coughing. At first he couldn't tell where he was, or what the weight on top of him was, but as the dam of his memory broke he tried to grab his head with his right hand. He felt the weight then, something in the way of his movement. His arm felt bulkier somehow. He could feel it was bandaged, but what was on top...? his shoulders...his legs... it was as if they were pinned to the...bed? Upon opening his eyes finally, he found himself under the anxious eyes of Elie. She was on her hands and knees above him. Her snow-white hair draped around him, forming an intoxicating tunnel to her face. His breathing soon became labored. He noticed he was in bed, any other notion of setting was lost in her face. "you're up." her voice cracked with fatigue. Ashe groaned sleepily in the darkness. "how long have I been asleep?" he asked slowly. there were so many more complex questions, but he couldn't articulate them in his haze. She gave him an I've-been-worried-sick look and almost whispered the answer. "Three days..." "What!?" Ashe's eyes widened, then closed completely. "Damn...damage report?" He flexed his right arm and she lifted a worried hand, which found a more comfy spot beside his head. "How did you do it...?" "Do what?" "Pass through the demon's barrier?" "I don't know...I just...wanted to hit it." He couldn't even begin to explain why he'd done it, let alone how. So angry...He'd never felt so angry before. She was still hovering above him, making it hard for him to concentrate, but the mention of "Demon" fished out the real questions, but without clever articulation, he blurted out; "You're a witch!" She looked hurt. "a sorceress, actually...in training...is that...a problem?" she was obviously playing on his biases this time. with such a sheepish voice it made his chest throb harder. "no...not at all." He remembered the process of Breathing, and how essential it was to human life. "good...I'm glad..." Her voice was strangely calm, like she'd been practicing her speech all night in a mirror. He noticed the room was dark now, but the sparse illumination bounced off her cheekbones, and made her lips glisten slightly. He gulped. "'Cause I was wondering..." her face was getting closer to his. She blushed awkwardly, and she suddenly collapsed on top of him. To his surprise, his previously stiff body completely relaxed. Her ear was to his chest now; no doubt that hearing his heartbeat gave her confidence. "I'm no good at this confession stuff..." Her voice was distant, unsure. "Just...say you'll be my boyfriend." The last word was nearly a whisper, and sounded more like "boy..................friend............" "Of course..." His voice shook, and naturally, he scooped her up in his arms. "I guess I've kinda...." "me too..." she guessed his response. she let her own arms contour around him, afraid to let go. With surprise he realized his arm was winding around her waist, and the other through her hair. He breathed deep, taking in the full fragrance of her hair on his face and chest. "you smell nice..." he said, unable to understand her muffled response. Turning his head to finally secure his surroundings, he realized it was their dorm room the large wooden desk chair was sitting right next the bed, and a pillow was in the seat. She'd been worrying. She probably hadn't slept for a while. He arched his neck to look in her face, buried in his chest. she was asleep. He was swept by wave of pity for her and, in the wake of that pity, guilt. He pulled her closer to him and closed his eyes, but it was impossible for him to sleep.
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Dawn came all too quickly for Ashe. He wondered what time it had been when he awoke, leading him to wonder how long Elie'd been sitting there. Suddenly Elie's lose hold on him tightened, like she was having a bad dream. When she'd relaxed again, Ashe gently, and reluctantly, pried himself out of her arms and fetched his cell phone from his backpack. He called her in sick; he was relatively certain she'd be sleeping all day. Ashe rushed through his daily chores to be able to have a few minutes to watch his new girlfriend protectively. He sat on the wooden chair and watched the slow rise and fall of her chest as she dozed. In the new morning light, he saw there were shadows under her eyes. Definitely a sign of sleep deprivation. He wondered what the others would say. Looking at his wrapped hand again, he realized he hadn't asked Elie about it. He'd take it off, but he was frightened by what it might hide. And it was so well done, he wasn't sure he'd be able to redo it if need be. He was torn between staying home with Elie, and going to school to drill the others about his arm. he decided on the later. Sighing, he looked at his watch. Time flies… Shaking his head tiredly, he got up, stretched and tucked in the object of his affections. The morning light stung his eyes, once outside, he felt as though he hadn’t seen the light of day for…days. Reluctantly, he headed down the stairs for the courtyard.