All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The Naragi Blades: Rise of the Guardians
Author's note: I already submitted this story on here, but i've been going through and making a lot of changes so i thought i'd submit it again. Hope you enjoy! (:
Running my fingers through my damp hair the corners of my mouth tilt upward. It just brushes above my elbows as I let the waves dry naturally. Normally the dull brown annoys me, but the slightly golden hue that remains from summer lifts my spirits. I let my grin show in my mirror as I finish getting ready. I’m still not used to my fresh tan face, with no makeup except a touch of mascara and lip gloss, being used to the thick eyeliner and pale skin of my previous years. But that can’t be me anymore. This year’s going to be different.
Turning from the sink I trip over Toby, my German Sheppard and slam into the counter. Shock radiates from my hip to the tips of my fingers and goosebumps rise on my skin. I grit my teeth and rush towards my room, at least 10 minutes late now.
Grabbing the first thing I see in my room I throw it on and rush to the door, kissing Mom on the cheek and grabbing the muffin she’s holding on the way.
“Love you!” She yells out the door. Shaking my head and smiling I slow my pace as I begin to walk down the sidewalk.
“Lena?” my stomach clenches as I keep walking, I just need to get away from the voice. My steps pick up but a cold hand on my arm stops me.
Looking up, I try to keep the panic off my face and try to grin at him, but can keep my mouth working more into a grimace.
“Hey, Zander.” My voice jumps up about an octave as I try to control the annoyance i know is seeping out of me. Glancing up and down the street I wait for him to let go of me, surely late for 1st period by now.
“I see summer treated you well,” he says with a teasing smile, but the cold look in his eyes causes a shiver to take over my body despite the sweltering late August heat. His eyes rake over my body and I feel a blush threatening to spill onto my cheeks, never having been so blatantly checked out. I don’t bother doing the same, seeing as I’ve known him since grade school and he hasn’t changed yet. Short buzzed hair that really doesn’t have much of a distinct color besides being dark. Fairly tall and muscular, but almost too much so, resulting in a strange hulk-like look. Gray eyes that rest atop an almost flawless nose, besides a small bump on the side, the only reminder of the fights that seem to come daily with him. Big smile and obviously whitened teeth, which at the moment seem to be smiling so big I can almost see his molars. His large clammy hand still rests on my arm and I quickly yank it out of his reach with such force that I stumble into someone walking behind me.
“Whoa there,” says a deeps voice behind me laugh. I immediately feel the panic from Zander slip away as I turn to the voice that stopped me from almost falling.
“You okay?” Devon asks me as I turn to him, smiling.
“Wonderful,” my sarcasm makes one of his eyebrows raise, something I’ve always wished I could do. He notices Zander watching our encounter and steps out of my arms that, little to my knowledge, were wrapped around his waist in greeting. He nods at Zander, which is such a typical guy move that I almost laugh, but before I can he grabs my arm and directs me to his car parked at the curb.
I swing the old door of the 1996 Jeep shut as Devon tries to get the engine to start. After the third try, we drive past Zander, who has to walk to school, no doubt grounded because of his last fight. I tap my fingers quietly to the radio before Devon’s obvious staring becomes unbearable.
“What?” I snap harshly, knowing that I’m taking out the annoyance from Zander on him, but past caring.
“N-nothing,” he stutters out, obviously taken off guard by my tone, “You just look different.”
I forgot that this is the first time Devon’s seen me since my, transformation, I guess you could call it. At the end of July, the night after Devon had gone away to work as a camp counselor for the remainder of the summer, my mom had sat me down over breakfast with just about every college brochure in the country and basically told me that things needed to change. My grades were good, better than good actually, I was almost top in my class, but none of the teachers took me seriously because, as my mom put it, I looked like “Dracula’s bride come to life”. I guess she had a point, I tended to wear black a lot and I spent so much time on school work and inside at my job at the grocery store, Al’s, down the street, I was almost creepily pale. Plus the various arrays of thick makeup always on my face probably didn’t help. But apparently I needed to change. So my mom and I had both gone out, gone tanning and shopping for new, brighter clothes—much to my dismay, seeing as I absolutely hate shopping—and signed me up to work as a lifeguard at our community pool.
I knew that most people most likely would hardly recognize me when I came back, and that if they did they’d see it as a positive change, but Devon was the only one I was unsure of; the only one that might not like the change; the one that if he didn’t like it, it’d be horrible.
“Yeah, well I just thought I’d try something new this year,” I trail off, and look down at my thighs, picking at the bottom of my shirt. He hates it. I just know. Tears threaten to spill over. I shouldn’t have even come today.
His warm hand reaches over and rests on my thigh. I glance up, and see his reassuring smile.
“This year’s going to be good.” He says taking his hand back and artfully ruffling his hair. I nod and turn up the music like usual, but the feel of his hand on my leg stays the rest of the ride.
Stepping out of the lunch line, I guide my tray towards my usual ledge outside by a tree in the far courtyard. Sitting Indian style on the warm ledge I gingerly eat a fry off my tray.
“Trade your Pepsi for my Root Beer?” Devon comes up behind me and offers his drink. Mom never buys root beer, says it disgusting and shouldn’t be allowed in the house. That could be one of the reasons I like it so much.
“Thanks,” I grab it from him as he sits next to me with his own tray.
“So is it weird?” he asks, opening his can and chugging it.
“Is what weird?” I ask.
“How everyone keeps staring at you like you’re the new kid?” he asks, generally curious. I’m almost offended, but he’s right. The mixed reactions I’ve been getting have lewerd nervous feeling flitting in my stomach.
“I mean, I even heard one of Zanders’ friends talking about how you’re looking fiiiiine,” he drags out the word fine so perfectly, I know he’s talking about Zanders’ even more beefy friend Chris. He glances at my outfit nonchalantly and, I sit up straighter before I realize how stupid it is. I mean, it’s only Devon. He’s seen me a million times. But somehow this feels different.
He shakes his head and looks down at his food, “People at this school are ridiculous,” he laughs. And I start to laugh back, but the sound dies in the back of my throat, sounding about what I imagine a dying cat would sound like.
The blazing Arizona heat is even more unbearable as I struggle to find my voice, and for once I’m thankful for our school’s skimpy dress code as sweat drips down the back of my black tank top. As much as I try to stop, my chest heaves and I groan. A sharp pain shoots up my arms as my fingers become unbearable warm.
“Devon,” the panic in my voice edges on hysteria, and his head whips around. His mouth drops open so wide I can see the back of his throat. I laugh; he sure looks weird with his mouth wide open like that.
“You’re hot,” his hand brushes my forehead. He thinks I’m hot? I can’t help but giggle uncontrollably. Black spots dance across my vision as I try to grip his arm to balance. The world spins and my stomach heaves the little I’ve eaten for lunch on the grass in front of our ledge.
“Lena!” Devon yells alarmed, his face arranged in a strange expression. My mind whirls as it tried to place the expression.
Suddenly I’m exhausted. I feel what fight I had left go out as I relax in Devon’s arms, and as I drift in and out of consciousness, the strange look on his face finally registers. Complete and utter fear.
Struggling to get my bearings, I panic as darkness engulfs me. Rough, calloused hands support my back tenderly but as I cling to it, those thoughts slip away as well. My mind blanks—complete nothingness—and I’m sure that I’m dead.
Suddenly, I panic as my senses come back to me with startling quickness and a loud yell rings through the air.
“Lena!” A voice yells.
My sight comes back as I groggily search for the voice. My stiff body lies on a long, black couch and the cold leather spreads goosbumps across my bare legs as I push myself in sitting position. About 3 feet away from me sits a boy in a couch identical to my own. His wide gray eyes are wise, boring into my own, but a hint of hysteria threatens to spill over in their depths. I feel my eyes go wide as I realize this boy isn’t as old as his eyes tell, but at least 7 years younger than me. He pushes his wild black hair away from his face, eyes finally leaving my own and glancing uneasily around the room where we sit. Following his gaze I realize we’re not alone.
Three men stand in front of a steel door, matching most of the rest of the cold, sterile room. The man in the middle stands tall and lanky in long black robes, his hand perched on a tall cane. His gray hair is smoothed back, comes to the base of his neck. Shadows engulf his face, but eerie black eyes glint through the room. The two beside him stand shorter and bulkier, guarding him.
“Liam, we’re not here to hurt you,” the man in the center says to the boy, his voice deep with malice. I watch as Liam struggles for confidence.
“I know, Marcai,” he says uneasily before smiling and continuing, “I have the protection of the Guardians,” Liam grins cockily—almost oddly cocky for a boy who seems to be merely 9 years old.
Marcai shifts his glare from Liam to me. “For now,” he barks, before turning and walking into the darkness.
Liam shifts his attention to me and his gaze turns sad. “You’re leaving again aren’t you?”
I stare at him in disbelief. Who is this kid? What is going on? Where am I?
He watches my confusion and understanding takes over his features,
“You don’t know about any of this, do you?” his small hands grasp my own and I go to squeeze them back before I realize he’s placing something in my hands.
I turn my palm over and look at the warm pendant in my hand.
“It means wise and strong,” he says as he gestures to the small design in the middle of the green pendant, “wear it always.”
I clasp the necklace around my neck, instantly calmer as the warm pendant rests just above the scoop of my tank top.
When I look up, Liam starts to get up.
“Do I know you from somewhere?” I ask, finding him strangely familiar. His sad eyes look at me for a moment before softly shrugging and walking away.
“I’ll see you soon,” his voice echoes through the room as my thoughts become muddy and I sink into unconsciousness once more.
Flitting in and out of consciousness, the first thing I hear is a consistent beeping. Slow. And growing rapidly more irritating.
Cold sweat drips around my eyes as they flutter weakly open, flinching at the harsh light overhead.
“Lena?,” Devon sighs in relief. “You’re awake.”
I struggle to sit up, but my chest aches and I lay back down against the pillow. I glace around. The hospital walls are a light gray-white with slight chips towards the corners of the ceiling. A sickening baby blue drape hangs over a small window and the divider between the room and the bathroom. My nose scrunches at the strong smell of disinfectant that lingers in the air.
Mom and a nurse stand just outside the door, talking in hushed tones.
Looking back at Devon’s solemn expression, I suddenly remember someone else wearing the same one. Was it real. Underneath my hospital gown, a warm pendant rests at my chest; discarding any doubts.
“Liam,” I breathe out, brows furrowed at I bolt out of bed, ignoring the instant headache that gives me.
“What?” Devon stares at me like I’ve lost my mind and I realize he thought I was calling him that.
“When I was—“ I start to say, but quickly shut up as Mom walks in.
“Well, we preformed some tests, but the results shouldn’t be in for a few days. From what we can tell so far, there’s nothing wrong with you,” the doctor turns to me and smiles, “You’re blood pressure is a little higher than normal, but that could be from anything. Nothing to worry about.” The doctor—Janet Ross—says her name tag, quickly take out my IV and checks everything before telling us we can leave Mom makes Devon wait with me at the curb while Mom goes and gets the minivan.
We just stand there for a couple of minutes before finally, I joke,
“Sorry for almost puking on you.”
“No worries,” He pauses, “What were you going to say earlier. When you woke up?”
I go to answer but at that moment the minivan drives up. Dizzy again, Devon helps me get into the backseat half asleep. The faint feeling of Devon’s lips on my forehead puts a soft smile on my face before I fall unconscious.
The next couple of days go by without any more blackouts. Devon tries to visit the first day that I’m out of the hospital but my mom refuses. Constantly at my side she pesters me to eat more soup; drink more water, before I finally just start feeding it to Toby when she’s not in the room to get her to stop. Not that he minds. He’s a constant presence, lying next to me on my large mahogany bed, his tongue rolling out of the side of his mouth as he grins at me. But, for some strange reason, his grin reminds me of Liam. Not that Liam looks like my dog, but still, the carefree grin eats at me.
What did he mean, when he asked if I knew about any of ‘this’? Any of what? And he said I would see him soon. How? I can’t help but feel frustrated as my thoughts probe at me, seeking answers I don’t have. The warm pendant still hangs around my neck, a mystery of its own. I unhook the clasp and study it. Hey, what do I know. Maybe it says exactly what the hell is going on inscribed on it. Looking closely at the markings etched in its center, I sadly realize that that isn’t the case. Small swords cross at their hilts, bound together by—is that a ribbon? No. I bring the stone closer to my face, almost touching it to my nose. It’s an N. Curled around each blade as if tying them together. Making them one.
“Well, that helps things.” I mutter sarcastically, setting the stone on my bed without another thought. A knock on the door takes me away from my own thoughts.
“Come in,” I call, far too lazy to get out of bed. When I see Devon inch into the room, I instantly regret the fact that I hadn’t bothered to comb my hair that morning, which is most likely sticking in every direction possible. When he turns to close the door behind him, I hastily run my fingers though my hair, attempting to tame it. I snatch the piece of gum sitting on the desk by my bed and pop it in my mouth before I scold myself. It’s just Devon. He’s seen me in diapers. Well, not really, but we met in third grade. It was right after my dad had died, and we had just moved here. I was angry. About everything. About having to move here, away from my friends. About having seen my dad at his funeral, because his body had never actually been found. About how I had lost my dad in general; my best friend. About how my hair was extremely curly back then, and shot in every direction. All that anger in a 3rd grader… well it wasn’t pleasant. The permanent scowl on my face made me a little intimidating. Somehow, even on my first day, everyone was scared at me.
But not Devon. I was sitting at my table, doing some god-awful arts and crafs project, cause I never did have any artistic talent, when he came over and sat next to me. I was about to snap at him, being basically fed up with everyone. But I looked up, and he wasn’t even watching me, like every other kid had been all day. He was just coloring. So intent on his drawing. Even then, he was so focused. My scowl had slowly turned into a look of curiosity, and like he knew I was watching him, he looked up.
“I’m Devon,” he said. The edge of his lips tilted as he grinned at me and went back to his work. Like he wasn’t scared to be sitting by me. Like it was the most comfortable thing in the world.
We’ve been best friends ever since.
“So how are you feeling?” Devon’s voice breaks through my trip down memory lane and I look up and see his smile. The same as it was back in the 3rd grade.
“I’m holding my own,” I laugh, gesturing to the stop on the bed next to me as he starts to sit down on my desk chair. He takes my invitation, sitting next to Toby and petting him as we sit in silence. My radio softly plays a Beatles song and I can feel the bed shift as Devon turns to face me.
“What’s up?” He asks, and somehow I know he’s talking about Liam. Before I know it everything is tumbling out.
When I’m done, he sits quietly for a minute, and I watch him as he processes. His eyes are crinkled as he rests his chin on his hand, thinking. Toby grunts between us, obviously annoyed at be ignored while I was talking to Devon, so I pet him, waiting.
“And you’re sure this isn’t just a dream or something?” he asks.
“That’s what I thought, until,” I reach where the necklace lays on my bed and hold it up, “I realized I was wearing this.”
He looks at it, obviously unimpressed.
“That’s it?” he says, “It’s just a green stone on a chain.”
I can’t help but be annoyed. His voice inches toward patronizing, as he watched the necklace, obviously waiting for something to happen.
“Look, Devon. Don’t you see the engravings?” I ask.
He squints at the stone for a long time before he shakes his head, starting to get off the bed.
“I think you’re just tired, Lena, maybe you should get some more rest.” He says.
“What?” I ask, rather loudly actually. He looks surprised at my harsh tone, but it’s not my fault he’s an idiot.
“There’s nothing there, Lena. It’s just a stone.” He comes to the side of my bed, taking my hand, “I know, you want to believe this is real but,”
“It is real!” I can feel my voice edging on hysteria but the hell if I care.
“Just hold it,” I thrust the necklace into this hand, “Don’t you feel it? It’s warm or something. That’s not normal.” My eyes search his desperately, waiting for some sign that I’m not crazy.
“Do you?” I ask again. His voice jerks when I talk and he looks up at me openmouthed.
“Talk again,” he orders staring at the necklace.
“What?” I ask, confused. Hoping that he finally sees it, and that im not psychotic I start to rant, “I really don’t understand. It’s right there. Why can’t you,”
“Oh my God,” he interrupts softly. I watch disbelief fill his features as he studies the stone. I feel my body sag in relief. Finally, he sees it too. It’s not just me.
“Do you see it, the swords and,”
“It pulses when you talk,” he interrupts, and I stop mid-sentence, staring at him.
“What do you,” I start to ask, but as each syllable comes out, I see him twitch a bit, eyes wide.
“Every time you talk,” he starts, speaking slowly as though trying to figure out the words himself, “Every time, it sort of pulses in my hand. It’s almost like,” he considers, “like it is talking as you do.”
I snort until I see the look on his face.
“When you were just talking and getting madder, it started to get warmer,” he says quietly, almost to himself.
I’m about to argue with him, tell him he’s crazy, when I get an idea. Grabbing the warm pendant from his hand I place it on the bed in front of me.
“My name is Lena Marie Kantel. I’m 16 years old, and I just started my junior year in high school,” I stop a minute, trying to figure out what to say next, “Last week, I met someone named Liam and he gave me this necklace. I don’t know if it’s supposed to do something or..” I trail off and sigh.
“Nevermind, this isn’t working,” I set the necklace down, upset that my idea didn’t work. Until I can feel it. The pulsing that Devon mentioned earlier. I can feel it through my toes, throughout my whole body. I feel alive. I watch the necklace, as new engravings appear as if someone is carving them into it, slowly above the swords starts a word. First a neat, script N, not unlike the one linking the swords. Followed by an a. Before my eyes the word is finished and I stare.
“Naragi,” I say aloud, my voice low, “What the hell does that mean?”
Devon is looking at me as though I’ve gone completely insane.
“That’s what it says,” I tell him, voice edging on excitement, “but what does it mean?”
“I don’t know,” he says, “but from the look on your face I have a feeling I’m going to have to help you figure it out.”
He wasn’t helping me figure it out. At least not right away. When my alarm blared Monday morning, it wasn’t soon enough. For the first time in a long time, I shot out of bed, excited for school. I quickly threw on the first clothes I saw and ran my fingers through my hair, shooting down my stairs and into the kitchen.
“Whoa,” my mom jumped at my sudden entrance, “excited to go back to school?” she chuckled.
“Yeah,” I grabbed the lucky charms out of the cabinet and poured myself a bowl, sitting across from my mom at the counter.
“I haven’t seen you for breakfast in years,” she observed over her paper, eyeing me suspiciously.
“Just a lot of energy I guess,” I shrugged it off, trying to down-play my excitement. Today I was going to start to figure things out.
“Can I borrow the car? I’m meeting Devon early at school.” I hold up the keys.
“Sure honey, Daniel is picking me up soon anyways.” Daniel is her boss. Mom works for a huge company in the city, selling computers or something. I don’t know, I don’t really ask too much about it.
“I’m staying after school to go to the library,” I share with my mom after a while of silence, finishing the last of my cereal and putting my bowl in the dishwasher.
“Okay,” she said, and for once, I was glad for her little interest in my life. At least it was better than lying to her. Cause I don’t think, “Hey mom, I had a vision about this kid name Liam, who I think is actually real so I’m going to go try to find something about him at the library. Oh, and by the way, I have a necklace that pulses when I talk,” would go over very well.
I wave at her as I go out to the car and start to school.
When I go up the front steps of our high school, I see Devon is already standing by the door, where we said we were going to meet.
“Hey,” he greets me, as we start towards my locker.
“So we’re going to stay after school?” he asks, pointedly ignoring all the looks we’re getting as we walk down the hallways. Obviously there has been talk. If I was them, I’d probably be talking about me too. Shy little Lena, comes back from summer with a whole new look, then disappears the next day for a whole week? Yeah. A little crazy. Especially for this dump of a town.
“Yeah, I got the car from my mom, so I can basically stay till whenever.” I start grabbing my history books from my locker.
He nods, “okay, we go back to y house after we find some books, cause the library closes early today.”
“Okay, that’s fine,” I shut my locker and turn the lock, starting towards first hour.
We part ways, me going to my American History class, and him to English. I take my seat next to Hanna, one of my good friends. She starts chatting instantly, catching me up on what I missed when I was gone.
“So, are you feeling better?” she asks. When she called earlier in the week, I told her that I had the stomach flu. Obviously the lie had worked.
“Yeah, just a bad patch of it or something. Good as new now though,” I smile at her as she continues gossiping and I zone out. Hanna’s the biggest gossip I’ve ever met. But we’ve been friends since freshman year so I’m used to it.
Finally, our history teacher comes in as the bell rings, talking loudly over the chatter among my classmates.
“All right, let’s start where we left off Friday. So we left off after the constitution was ratified,” he bellows, opening his tattered book, “who can tell me how many amendments there are today to the constitution?”
Someone in the front row, Melissa I remember her name being, shoots her hand up in the air and announces haughtily,
“Twenty-seven, sir,” I stop paying attention. From missing a week, I’m already behind in school. The rest of my day goes by the same way. I have hours of makeup homework and n idea how to do it. The day drags on, as I look forward to going to the library with Devon at the end of the day.
Finally, the last bell rings and I hurry to the library, getting a table. I set down my back and search the rows of books. I scan the titles, my excitement quickly turning into annoyance. What am I even looking for?
“Find anything?” Devon’s sudden voice behind me makes me jump, and I shake my head.
“I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be finding.” I walk over to the desk. More like stomp, actually. To say this search is failing is an understatement.
“We’ll find something,” Devon assures me, pulling his laptop out of his bag, “Maybe there’s something online.” He starts it up, pulling up the search engine. He pushes it towards me.
“Go ahead, you look online, I’ll keep looking at the books,” he disappears among the sea of books and I turn my attention to the computer. I type in Naragi and wait for the page to boot up. The results below show a number of random things, ranging from clothing stores to music. I click through the pages of results, reading the titles to no avail.
One of the links catches my eye, MAN MISSING: 2003. Curious, I click on the link and wait for the page to load. I start to read the article as the pictures load.
Charles Kantel. Reported missing on September 3, 2003. 6’1’’,
205 lbs. Brown hair, and green eyes. Last seen at 5:10pm
the night before, before he was reported to be going to work.
Please contact if you know any information.
I feel my pulse start to speed up as I scroll down the pictures. There he is, in an outfit I’ve never seen. Deep green robes drape over his tall build as he smiles into the camera, holding a sword. My hands shake as they hover over the mouse.
“Lena I think I” Devon comes out from behind a pile of books, but halts when he sees my pale face.
I look back down at the article and scroll down. There he is again with sweat dripping down his face and a proud smile. And again with his arm cut as he bandages it.
Devon comes around my chair and looks at the article I’m reading. His face changes as he struggles to understand why I’m so panicked.
“Is that..” he asks.
I nod slowly.