Excerpt from a novel by
“Dear diary” just sounds too stupid. Captain’s Log sounds more official and fancy. After 256 tests, Rose and Xander finally were able to wake me up. But now I can’t even go near a frying pan. I found something out recently, and trust me, I would never want to tell anyone. At first, it was a little headache, nothing too bad. Then over the course of a few continuous hours, it started to feel like someone with a blunt object was hitting me in the head, OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER, you get the point. I felt a sick trickling sensation on the crown of my head, only to find it was blood. I was surprised no one noticed it in my silvery white hair; I was sure it would stain it. Anyway, I felt something that made my head feel like a jaw with two sharp canines coming in. They were short, tiny nubs on the top of my head. If I told anyone, I was positive that they would make continuous jocular references to them. I think they might be horns, but I don’t know. And I think my hair is changing colors again. First brown, then silver, and now what I think to be a black tint with flashes of gold. I don’t know what’s going on with me. Maybe it’s a serious allergic reaction, or something like that. I just don’t want to be that one leader who had horns. That’s sort of humiliating. Oh well.
– Castiel Marena Rivers
My hand started cramping a little bit. I put my small pen down. I sighed and shoved the journal back into my canvas sack and headed out of my room. But before I could turn the handle to my door, a giant wave of pain washed over me.
Of course, while walking to my personal training room, I had to run into the one person I was honestly surprised even got into the army. Elke. I glared and pushed past her, obviously enraging her popular fury.
“Watch where you’re going!” Elke said, trying to gather my scattered attention. “Excuse me? Hello? Anyone in this emotionless vessel?” she screamed into my face. Something made my sense of smell curdle, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“Yeah, I’m here,” I stated simply. “But I don’t find anything interesting about you to talk about. You ran into me, I did nothing. Now excuse me, I have to help save this screwed up world if you don’t mind.”
“I’m doing that too! But I’m not as dedicated as you because I actually have a life to attend to.”
“Really?! Wow, I haven’t noticed. Congratulations on doing something other than what you signed up to do!” I said, cursing the air with my foul words.
“Please. I could take you down, little Rosey Posey. I bet I work 10 time harder than you ever could,” she sneered. A sickening smell lifted into the atmosphere, nearly knocking me out.
“Bring it, Elke.” I swept her feet, landing her on her back, defenseless.
Her horrid perfume stench filled the air. I smiled, trying to hide a grimace, my response to her bad taste in fragrances, and continued walking to my desired destination. As I stepped past her, a raging stampede of her personal followers sprinted to her aid.
Why she was so popular, I had no idea. She was an immature girl who was forced into the Second Defense after her own father kicked her out of First Defense. I heard something that I could fully agree with: Elke was kicked out because 1) she didn’t even lift a finger, and 2) she didn’t try hard enough. She wanted to stay home, live a rich and famous life, but her father thought if she went into the family business it would give her some dignity and common sense.
And that HORRIBLE orchid perfume, Elke practically bathed in it. Not a single inch of her body wasn’t covered with that scent. Apparently it was her signature—not written, then your hand would cramp. She thought it made her more appealing. I thought it would definitely be the death of me. She wore so much, one little gasp could be your last, because you would die of asphyxiation, choking in her stinky grasp.
Later that evening, the air was getting thicker and thicker in my chamber, making it harder to breathe. I had to escape this warm death. I opened the door with a small creak, and the chilling air relieved me of the humid atmosphere. Stepping into the moonlight, I breathed the last bit of remembrance into the air. My once murky brown hair, now turned to a sweet mahogany. My originally pale face was now florescent in the pale light.
I trudged into the bog, where the arms of trees etched new shadows across my head. The black hood I wore over my light armor turned to a dark, beautiful maroon. The freezing air burned red into the tip of my strangely pointed ears. My speckled brown eyes flashed with bits of gold in the corners, highlighting the small spheres. My thin leather boots, now caked with mud, but still flexible and in decent shape. This was only a small trek, I would be back soon, but then again, I never wanted to leave.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a whole legion of guards surrounded me.
“HALT! YOU WILL BE HELD FOR TREASON! YOU LEFT YOUR POST, SOLDIER. THAT IS BREAKING ONE OF OUR FINE LAWS,” the leader said as one of his cronies tied my hands tightly behind my back. “YOU WILL BE EXECUTED FOR YOUR CRIMES.”
I had no clue what was going on. It was stupid that anyone would think that I would break the law. I wanted to tell them everything, but it was unlikely they would believe me. Crap, I’m so screwed. I thought pessimistically.
It wasn’t what I thought. My eyes were playing tricks on me.
“ROSE!” I screamed as she turned her head…well, as much as she could. The look of fear stretched across her familiar brown eyes. The first friend I made in the orphanage was about to get her head chopped off.
“Ignitus, this woman is a criminal. She must pay for her deeds,” the executioner pleaded softly.
“Release her.” I stated firmly.
“I SAID RELEASE HER. She is a soldier of the guard, and she has more ranking than you could ever dream of,” I growled.
They released her head from the little dip in the wood.
“THE REST OF YOU, GO HOME,” I screamed at the small group of citizens gathered to see the beheading.
I grabbed Rose’s arm and pulled her aside. “Yes, hello. I’m overjoyed to see you, not beheaded!” I yelled.
“I know, I know. I was just leaving my chambers to go for a walk in the woods. But, apparently, a warrior that looked just like me, left their post in Kirme, and they thought I was that traitor. And since it is heavily against the law to leave your post, I was taken. Sooooo yeah. How’ve you been?” she smirked.
I laughed a little. “Oh, you know, leading a rebellion, kicking Carrion off his own boat. It’s hard work. Oh, and I had to kill Dominicus and then put him back together. The same old same old.”
I was glad that I made it in time, so that my friend didn’t die for something she didn’t do. I sat in the harbor watching the waves crash against the slowly rotting wood.
“Now this isn’t so—” Rose started talking but was cut off by a large deafening ring.
Must be noon, I thought, not thinking much of it. But, as I looked over at Rose, she had a look of complete terror etched across her face. “Rose, what’s wrong?” I said.
“Th-that was a war bell. Something must be coming,” she said, slightly shivering.
“That was just a normal old church bell. Something horrible isn’t going to kill us, Rose. We’re going to be fine. Look, I haven’t been here long. I don’t know how many bells this section has, but I assure you that there is nothing to worry about.” I persisted, but she just wouldn’t listen.
She turned to me, a grim expression plastered to her face. “Cas, I’ve studied in this sector. I know everything about it. I think I’d know if it was a warning call. And I’ve never heard one like that before, so that must mean that something HUGE is coming our way.”
“Yes, of course, how could I be so ignorant?!? A whole legion of Umkaila and red wolves are coming straight for us. If there’s any problem, I’m positi-” I was cut off by a large screech, which was soon followed by an ominous howl. “Oh crap.” I said, all the blood draining from my face.
“I TOLD YOU!” Rose screamed as she jumped up and sprinted to the entry
I barked orders at the soldiers, making each and every one of them understand the grave danger that we had fallen into. I was given my scythes and courageously made my way to the castle’s gate. I nodded at my soldiers and they made a thick line, prepared to either die or live without a few limbs.
“SET!’ I screamed at the first line of archers. They all pointed their elegant bows at a 90-degree angle, arrow tips gleaming in the afternoon sun. “FIRE!” They all released with a loud twang and impaled the majority of the monsters.
The monsters still kept on running and slowly prowling towards us. I felt like I could read their thoughts: they all screamed dinner! This made me excited. It was about time that I had a little battle. But I knew that blood was going to be spilled. And unfortunately, most of it wouldn’t be the monsters’.
Once again I felt that metallic lifeline spread across my tongue. The archers were almost out of their deadly ammo. I wished that this would all end. I think that they did too. I ran through the midst of the soldiers, making it to the very front of the line. Spreading my arms wide, I could sense danger. I smirked and made a small barrier around my army.
“CASTIEL, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Rose screamed through the sea of confusion.
“Saving.” I smiled back at her.
In my peripheral vision, I could spot a small river of tears streaming down my face. I felt a burst of pain in my one good arm and an attack on my left leg. I sighed, giving one last burst of life. I went to the floor, creating an ancient rune around my feet, mumbling an incantation I have never heard.
The world around me caught fire and made a haven for me, but nothing died, except the land surrounding me. My vision slowly turned to a shade darker than black and I finally gave up. Letting the shadows absorb me, I disappeared into a false world of monochrome. No light, but also no sign of darkness in sight. I felt at peace, and then something woke me up, a slight shake and then vicious gurgles of misinterpreted words. It sounded like blood and despair in their true forms. But I would never be able to see them. A sensation of a million nails digging into my spine emerged. Flashes of the past, and memories that no one would understand. No one ever understood.
I woke from my daze. My small army was still protected by a fiery barrier. I smiled, slightly grimacing. I lifted my head from the stale warm grass. The air was humid and it was impossible to take a decent breath. Coughing up a small pile of blood, a wave of crazed laughter washed over me without my consent. I looked up and glared that the prowlers slowly crawling towards me.
I shouted an incantation that I have never heard but knew by heart. I yelled, each word getting louder and louder. Everything that I never wanted in the first place was finally in a steaming pile of ashes. I fell into a little dream-world once again.
Castiel was knocked out for multiple days. None of us knew if she was ever going to wake up. After countless hours of getting nothing but sympathy, I had enough. I always told myself to never get attached to anyone, but this was an exception. Castiel was the family that never dropped me off at a doorstep and ran. She was the closest thing to it.
Everything was off, even me. Most of the more trained and famous fighters who agreed to fight in this rebellion were pushing to elect a new leader. It’s been three days and they’ve already moved on. Show some respect, I thought as I pushed past people in the tight streets.
I saw the bells before I heard them. A loud ringing like a rock hit me in the head. Something about it sounded airy and soft. Then again, it was like a million meteors striking your ears. It was a deadly red sound. The birds around me seemed to silence its violent sound. Their vocals flowed through the air in yellow and a beautiful off-white. This was different for me. Usually it was sound, now it was colors and pain. I felt normal and different all at once. The clicking of horse hooves sounded like a heather grey or a gentle brown as I past the stables. The hypnotic calls of the seagulls shouted colors of vibrant cyan or a crisp mint green. I wonder if others felt this as well, because it was more vivid than anything I’ve ever felt.
I’m usually calm in a crisis. Then again, this wasn’t a crisis. It was a dream, a hallucination, something too far from reality. I was lost inside my own head, seeing everything that I have remembered, or counted as a memory. My head seemed to be there just to mock every regret and fear that’s ever occurred. Lost in the woods, and tripping over long tangled roots was not a happy time. A low growling haunted me in the distance. I touched the trees, looking for a weak spot to hide.
Could be a red wolf, but since when are monsters haunting my dreams? Sure, the thing under my bed was in here, but when you bring something from the real world in here that is just the most creepy thing that I’ve ever witnessed I thought as I climbed the thick bark, hoping for a better view, which, luckily, I did get. Looking over the vast forest, I saw something grey with a metallic appearance.
I cut myself while climbing down, but the bark’s sharp and sticky texture was somewhat soothing. Running through the thick underbrush, jumping over roots that seemed to want to kill me, I finally made it to my desired destination. But, it wasn’t a thing, it was a pile of ash. I thought I had seen something valuable while sitting in my little perch, but it was high upon the mountain of ash.
I carefully climbed my way to the top. Looking around, I grabbed a thick, smooth object and sprinted down the collapsible pile of gravel—only to find that it was a rock. A ROCK! I chucked the rock into the forest, but didn’t hear anything when it landed. Suddenly without warning, everything around me burst into flames.
I was fine, but I glanced at something that made my stomach acid curdle. My friends, tied to each other, obviously knocked out, and slowly being cooked in the flames. I used all the strength I had left to untie them. It didn’t work.
Something glimmered in the fire. Not fuel, or anything combustible. Something shiny. I grabbed it, rubbing my fingers over its smooth surface, only to find the other side was scratchy as a high quality sand paper. It was shaped like a teardrop, light as one as well, but the end of it was so sharp it could easily take out an eye. A brilliant idea popped into my head, fueling the gears that were stuck in place for far too long. I ran over to me grumbling friends, cutting them free and creating a protective dome around them.
Friends are my family. And family is my greatest flaw now. I thought as I tended to their wounds. My old friend, Return, was the first person to stir from the mysterious slumber.
“Are you okay, Cas?” she faintly whispered.
“You should worry about yourself. I’m just dandy. Are you okay?” I said, reigning in my sarcasm. I always thought sarcasm was a bad thing, but over the years I realized it wasn’t quite that bad, but it wasn’t mandatory either. So I tried not to use it, but unfortunately I seemed to be fluent in it.
The floor below me turned into a mushy surface. I slowly sank further and further into the ground. It was solid a second ago. Am I just going insane? I questioned myself, which I usually didn’t like doing. My small dome was failing, quickly deteriorating and disappearing. The ground soaked me into itself like a sponge. I couldn’t help the others. I couldn’t even help myself!
I let the ground absorb me. As my head went under, I woke with a large bang. Apparently, for the last five days, Rose and Xander were coming up with ways to wake me. Today was test number 256, and it was two frying pans.
I sighed. The excruciating pain dropped to my lower torso. The pain was growing since I’d woken. Pain surged through my back, connecting to my shoulder blades. It dawned in bigger and bigger waves. I wanted to cry out, but that would cause unwanted attention. I felt dizzier and dizzier, the room spinning around me. The ground crashed into me faster than a simple snap. The fall certainly didn’t help the pain at all. Cries quickly found their way out. I sounded like a wounded animal. My tears stained the wood floors.
The incoming horns caused no pain. I think they were finally done growing in.
“Cas, are you okay?” Xander said.
Rose was standing behind him. “You sound like you’re dying!”
“I’m fin-AHHHH!” I screamed in agony. My breaths came in short gasps.
I saw something, or SOMEONE appear in the corner of the room. It was blurry, then I automatically knew who it was. “It’s about time you transformed.” Carrion said in a low growl.
I scowled. He was only here to mock my pain. “GO AWAY!” I shouted fiercely.
The stabbing sensation in my back grew worse. Before I knew it, two fiery angelic wings sprouted out of my shoulder blades. It was a little surprising. I screamed, but this time it was only out of surprise. I sort of smiled. It was badass.
“Oh god.” I heard Carrion whisper under his breath. Knowing he was scared fueled my pride.
“Run.” I stated coldly.
His figure started to fade.
My hair was a shade darker than black. My eyes were a crimson that could pierce through your soul. My wings were a beautiful rose-gold.
Without my consent, the door flew open and Carrion’s apparition disappeared. I shrieked.
Xander and Rose stood there, jaws scraping the floor.
“Cas, why didn’t you tell us?” Rose blubbered.
“I agree!” Xander said.
I sighed. They needed an explanation. “Knowing you guys, you would laugh…” I pleaded, a guilty blush dusted across my cheekbones. I just wanted to disappear. My wings wrapped around me, comforting me in distress.
“Who do you think we are? We’re your friends!” Xander said.
“We aren’t monsters, Cas,” Rose said.
“I was scared!” I said. My wings collapsed and hid behind my back. “You two are intimidating!”
“Come on. Let’s show everyone.” Rose said, grabbing my arm and pulling hard.
I shook my head. “NO!”
“Come on! Be brave for once!” Xander said coolly.
My hand almost fell off due to Rose’s ruthless grasp. The doors to the main hall opened as if on cue. She dragged me to the middle, where every single soldier was gathered. They all silenced once they saw us enter the room. I might as well give it to them straight.
“So if you haven’t noticed…I’m a phoenix,” I blurted.
One guy in the back coughed uncomfortably. It was silent for a few minutes. They all stared in awe. My palms became sweaty under all this unwanted pressure. I decided to spread my wings for proof. Then the hall erupted with cheers. This was a better reaction than I expected. I smiled, but something I saw in the corner was unsettling.
Hidden in the shadows, there HE stood. This time, it wasn’t an apparition.
“YOU.” I growled, marching towards him, growing angrier by the minute. He was standing casually in the shade, like nothing was wrong. And he called out my name.