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The Last Nephilim
This was my NaNoWriMo project last year and was completed at 55k words. Now I've been rewriting it haha... mostly trying to gauge my audience at the present. See how they like it.
"You know what must be done..."
His entire body was on fire.
"Yes... He must be taken care of. He must be... eliminated."
His eyes were open at once, sweat soaking him to the bone and chilling him. He was somewhere between choking and shivering, every single gasp of air an effort to get into his lungs and his teeth chattering violently. It took him several moments before he even dared to move.
Finally, he sat up and shook his head, hoping to clear the fuzz from his brain. A hand went to his chest.
He looked over to his bedside table and noticed that his oil lamp was nowhere to be found, something that made a frown form on his lips. When he swung his legs over the bedside, the heel of his foot landed on something sharp. A bolt of pain shot through his body and he yelped. Something hit the ground with a jingle when he shook his foot.
"Wha--" He looked over the side of his bed when a shimmer caught his eye. On the floor beside his bed lay his lantern, the glass on it smashed and little shards littered around it. He swore under his breath as he tried to step over the pieces. A few pieces embedded themselves into his foot and cut into his flesh when he got to his feet. He drew in a breath and twisted one foot to examine it. Blood welled from the wounds that dotted hs foot and he bit the side of his mouth.
Stupid dreams, he thought. And now I need a new lantern, too... at least it burned out before I knocked it over, I suppose. He hobbled forward a few steps before examining his foot again. Without the threat of more glass entering his feet, he set to work on pulling the shards from his flesh, holding them tightly in his hand. Once all the bits were out, he dropped them onto his bedside table. He looked over the mess at his bedside.
"Eh," he said with a shrug. "I'll deal with it some other time."
Just as he had finished his musings, there was a knock on the door.
"Gideon! It's Karma. It's time to head off!"
Whispers of a voice unknown to him danced throughout his head, making him squeeze his eyes shut to block it out. His head was throbbing and as he went to the door to answer it, he pressed one hand to his temple and massaged it. When he opened the door, it creaked, further aggravating his headache.
"There you are! Took you long enough."
Her eyes were the first thing he noticed, bright yellow and big enough that they took up half of her face. Freckles dotted either side of her nose.
She pushed past him, into the room.
"Not much of a set-up, huh?" She asked, running her hand along the door frame. "You've got a really small dorm."
He didn't respond outright, choosing instead to shrug her comment off.
"What, Kitsune got your tongue?"
Her eyebrows creased together and one corner of her mouth dropped. "You alright?" She asked.
"Yeah, I'm great."
She tilted her head to the side and stared at him for a few moments. "You're not excited to go, are you?" She said.
He snorted and rolled his eyes. "Of course I'm not."
Her eyebrows lowered. "Oh..." She smiled at him, the fox ears on top of her head twitching. "I'm sorry, Gideon."
"No no, it's fine," he replied, waving a hand in dismissal. "Let's just get going, yeah?"
The sky was grey and the air itself nipped at his nose when he and Karma left his room. As they walked through the outskirts of the city, he kept my eyes on the loose stones on the ground as they walked, kicking them out of his way every so often. As they got closer to the Temple, the sense of dread grew stronger in his stomach and faint whispers danced through his head.
"Gideon, are you okay?" she asked him all of a sudden. The noises in his head instantly quieted.
"Yeah, fine!" He replied, trying to force a smile. Karma saw through it and arched her eyebrows at him.
"Really?" She asked.
He didn't respond.
"Gideon, you should know by now not to lie to me," she said, clicking her tongue. "I can read you like a book; You know that."
"Yes, and?" He kicked another stone out of their path and looked up to the skyline. The Tower, the main building in the Temple, was in view, making a groan force its way out of Gideon's throat and into the chilled air.
"You're lying," she snapped, narrowing her eyes at him.
"Okay..." He took a deep breath. "So I'm not okay. But you should know not to ask that."
Karma bit her lip, making it turn a bright red against her teeth.
"True, true," she said at last. "Any new voices?"
The carefree tone to her words made him flinch. To her, he guessed, the voices didn't seem like much, but they were a living hell for him.
"No," he replied, teeth clenched.
"Are you sure?" She reached out to touch him, but then shrank back at the last second. His eyes darted from her hand to her face and he frowned. Karma had the uncanny ability to read minds just by touching them, something that Gideon had always detested. To him, mind-reading was an invasion of privacy, a highly unwelcome intrusion, even from his best friend.
"Yes, Karma, positive," he replied. They were nearing the Temple's entry gates then, which didn't give Karma too much time to protest.
"Can I just check?" She asked.
"Can I at least give you another medicine dose?"
He paused just as they neared the Temple gates, his steps faltering. "Are you that concerned?"
"Yes, Gideon. Who wouldn't be?" She reached out and gripped his wrist as other students moved past the entrance gates. Many caught sight of them and called out to Gideon, hoping to strike a nerve with him. His nostrils flared as he tried to block them out.
"Just breathe, Gideon," Karma whispered in his ear. "We'll get in there and we'll be okay, alright?" When he didn't respond, she elbowed him in the stomach and he hissed out a "yes!", making her nod. They passed through the crowd of students and into the Temple, all the while being shoved from all directions. Finally, a guard stepped in, though she gave Gideon a dirty look as he and Karma passed.
Indeed, he thought, it seems that no one really likes me after all.
"Of course no one likes you," a voice hissed in his head. "You're of no use to anyone!"
His head began to throb. "Shut up!" He said through grit teeth, his headache reappearing.
He met Karma's worried gaze and smiled weakly. "I'm fine."
"The voices are back," she stated, her tone giving no room for arguments. "Come on, I suppose I better give you your medicine before things get too bad..."
"I'll be okay, really." He said, trying to reassure her, but she wasn't listening to a word he said.
Karma pulled him into the main building and the office warden gave them a glance before returning to her writings. She had a hump in her back and a beak-like nose from which her glasses rested, almost as if they were hanging by a spider's thread.
From there, Gideon and Karma veered left into a dark room, which had formerly been a torture chamber. Hardly anyone came in there anymore, not since the time someone disappeared after setting another student on fire. The room was supposedly haunted, not that anyone really cared.
The instant they walked into the room, the atmosphere turned frosty. Karma let Gideon go only long enough to slip her satchel off her shoulder and onto the floor before she spun around, giving him an intense stare.
"You lied," she said, her jaw clenched.
"Actually, I didn't," he replied. "They started talking when we got here."
"Fantastic..." Karma turned and dug through her bag before returning with a jar, a long, flexible pipe, and a hollow needle. She motioned for him to sit on the ground before she joined all three components together, then she tilted his head to the side and blew into the needle, making the black liquid in the jar start to bubble. He gripped her hand when she nodded and she jabbed the needle into his neck. He jerked forward, stars dancing in his vision, but refrained from crying out. Moments later, the needle was taken out. The world spun as Karma pulled him to his feet and in the dusty mirror on the wall, Gideon could see the ink moving through his veins, up his cheekbones and into his hair, already jet-black from the past doses. The green eyes in the mirror stared back at him before slipping away as Karma pulled him out of the bathroom again.
"How do you feel?" She asked him after a few moments.
"Dizzy," he replied. "The world is spinning..." He stumbled every few steps, his senses dulled as he followed Karma.
"I know," she replied. "It should pass off in a couple of minutes.." She guided him back to the lady with the crow nose, who gazed at them both expectantly through two holes in her mass of wrinkles.
"What do you want?" the lady asked them, her voice making Gideon wince. Her voice held the same grating frequency of nails across a chalk board.
"Our schedules for the year, if you wouldn't mind," Karma replied, shooting Gideon a look.
The wrinkled woman came back with two slips of paper after several moments, one for Gideon and one for Karma. Karma took them both before nodding to the woman and then she and Gideon left her in peace.
"Karma, I can't focus right," He said once they were out of earshot, squeezing his eyes shut in pain. "Everything is hazy."
"I know, Sweetheart. I know. Just hang tight and it'll wear off eventually."
He tuned her out as the world began to get clear again and he could again focus without his eyes feeling like they were going in two different directions. Things came back into perspective just in time for him to slam face-first into a pole, making it rattle with a clang. The sound reverberated around the courtyard and many stopped to stare at the source. Karma pulled him away by the hood of his robe, touching every inch of his face in search of damage. He moaned and winced at her touch.
"Gideon, are you okay?" She asked, her eyes wide with surprise. She continued to run her hands over Gideon's face as she assessed the damage that the pole had done.
"Yeah, fine." Gideon waved her off and rubbed his temple with one hand, the other hand being tugged at by Karma as she pulled him towards the tall tower in the middle of campus. Its spires seemed to rake the sky, determined to claw at God and the sky that he sat in. Though Gideon had seen The Tower several times before, it never ceased to leave him in awe. This time wasn't any different. As they got closer to the building, he craned his neck to see the top. The light grey sky contrasted greatly with the dark stone tower, making it seem all the more ominous.
Karma handed Gideon his schedule as they both walked inside the Tower and he studied it closely. He frowned when he saw his first class. He had potion-making class, a class that required a skill he lacked in. He sucked at making potions, mostly because he could never measure things right. As he read the schedule over and over again, hoping for it to change, he decided that he probably wouldn't get out alive.
"Stop being so dramatic," Karma drawled, almost as if she could read Gideon's thoughts. He glared at her and she stuck her tongue out at him in response.
"Really," she said. "It's not going to be so bad." She looked at her schedule and then at the giant sign in front of them by the staircase, tapping her lip as she thought.
"Looks like you go up a few flights of stairs," Gideon said after he'd successfully sneaked a look at her paper. She rolled her eyes.
"At least I don't have to go to the dungeons," she retorted. He frowned, but ignored the gnawing feeling that was growing in his stomach.
"It'll be okay," He replied at last, trying to calm himself down more than he was Karma.
"Of course it will," she said. She stared at the winding staircase for several minutes before saying, "I'll see you after class."
He was left alone as Karma walked away.
At the bottom of the stairs, he was met with many dirty looks and thrown objects. He turned away from them, trying to find his teacher, Mr. Furlow's, room.
"Look at the little freak go!" Someone whispered, making everyone around them giggle. Gideon pulled his hood over his head and past the other students
"Hey, weirdo! You gonna hear any more voices this year?" Someone else called out. Gideon's head slipped a little lower towards the ground.
Finally he managed to slip past, even when someone tried to trip him. Pain shot up his leg and his ankle throbbed as he cracked open the door into the potions room. Lots of students were already seated and when the door groaned against his weight, they all turned and stared at him expectantly, as if they'd already known who it was. Mr. Furlow, busy scribbling something on the blackboard, stopped and turned to stare at Gideon, who shuffled hurriedly into the closest open seat. Mr. Furlow narrowed his eyes at him and, with the wave of his hand, sent a small book in Gideon's direction. It traveled from Mr. Furlow's desk and landed onto Gideon's, who could feel the heat of his stare from where he sat. He fidgeted in his seat.
Mr. Furlow finally stepped away from the board and turned to face the class. He was a short man and he wobbled on the stilts under his pant legs, stilts that didn't do much to make him seem tall. His mustache curled at the ends and his ginger hair was so frizzy that looked electrified.
"Students! Are you ready to learn?" He barked out.
The door slammed open just then and Mr. Furlow sighed. Every student all looked over and stared at the door like it had just exploded.
"Hold the line, because fabulous is here!" Shouted the person from the other side of the door. His wings buzzed rapidly as he flew into the room and he sat himself next to Gideon. The chair screeched as he moved it in order to drop a minuscule satchel into the seat and then he jumped onto the table. He was only a few inches tall, at best.
"And just who are you?" Mr. Furlow asked, his ears virtually blowing steam.
"Fenrick Night, at your service!" Fenrick, a rather petite creature, replied before striking a pose. His hair was bright blue and every inch of him was drenched in sparkles. As his tiny wings buzzed, it coated the table in glitter, making Gideon inch away.
"Well, Mr. Night... You're late."
"Meh, doesn't mean much to me. Just let me blow something up and I'll be outta your way." Fenrick folded his hands behind his head in a carefree manner, cocking a grin at Mr. Furlow.
"Right, Mr. Night. I'm sure you will," Mr. Furlow replied. Another book floated from his desk to the one that Gideon and Fenrick were sharing. Fenrick opened it with a sigh.
"Hey, who are you?" He said to Gideon after a few moments. Gideon tried to ignore him, to no avail.
"Hey... hey. Kid, I know you can hear me."
"Mr. Night!" Mr. Furlow said, his jaw clenched. "Do you have something you wish to share with the class?"
"Nah, I'm good," Fenrick replied. He poked Gideon again.
"Are you positive?" Mr. Furlow asked.
"Absolutely!" Fenrick poked Gideon again. "Hey... Hey!"
Something landed in Gideon's hair and Fenrick pulled it out. It was a piece of paper, crumpled into a ball. He unfolded it and read it to himself before tapping Gideon's shoulder again.
"You're Gideon, aren't you?" He asked slowly.
Gideon nodded, holding his breath. Fenrick didn't move.
"I'm not like the others, don't worry..." he told Gideon. "Really... Please say something?"
"Mr. Night!" Mr. Furlow snapped, orange hair crackling. "Shut up or I'll nail your wings into a wall!"
Fenrick backed away from Gideon, head lowered in defeat.
"Now, where was I? Oh yes! Students! Turn to page one thousand and eighty three and repeat after me!"