This story is inspired by Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Magnus Chase and the gods of Asgard, The Kane Chronicles, and my siblings.
I woke, very kerfuffled, with a searing pain in my shoulder. What had happened? All I could remember is the light turning off as my friends left the room, then something whacked me in the back of the head, causing me to black out. I scanned my surroundings, conveniently lit by the warm glow of the morning sun. It must’ve been just before brekkie and the room looked brill. Aside from the duvet, of course, which was covered in dark, metallic blood, and I was lying on the floor, covered in more of it. Ignoring the whack on the head, unless I had managed to roll over something pointy with my shoulder, someone had purposely cut my arm. I was confused as to who it might be until I remembered last night... Somehow, she had managed to get to me. She must’ve sent someone, one of her minions perhaps. Which meant I had a job to do, but first I had to make sure none of my friends knew what had happened, especially not Max.
My head spun as I picked myself up from the dirty floor. I needed to scrape the blood off before Max came, otherwise I wouldn’t be let out of the house for months. I snuck to the door, creaking it open a smidge. Checking to make sure no one was there, I quickly sprinted to the other side of the hall, where the door was hanging open. I rushed inside and quickly shut the door and locked it. There was a satisfying clink noise as I secured myself in the bathroom.
At the sink, I rinsed my shoulder as best as I could, but it ached like someone had taken a knife to it. Suddenly, in the murky mirror, I saw a figure standing against the white wall. The brightly colored hair was the first clue, but the obnoxious outfit was ultimately what gave it away.
“Quacky, I need to tell you something.” Azazel said, all traces of her usually humorous mood gone.
“W-what are you doing here? In the loo, I mean. It’s still early in the morn, shouldn’t you be... off to Bedfordshire?” I asked, hoping nervously that she wouldn’t tell Max.
“No, because I needed to tell you something. Remember that one day you smacked into me legging it through the hallway?” She questioned, and I knew it was rhetorical, but I wondered why she brought it up.
“Well, of course! I-I’m sorry for running into you, if that’s what you mean.”
“No. I saw something after you came out of the library, and I didn’t think it was important then. But now, I see that you need to know.” I’m sure my face went as white as the duvet used to be.
“You saw... what?” I asked, hoping she wouldn’t go that direction.
“I saw these... words across the screen. They looked really creepy, and I stayed to watch them.” I knew where this was going. My knees started to shake. I wanted to say something, anything, to make her stop, but it was too late. I didn’t want to wake the others up and once Azazel started talking, whether she was serious or not, there was no stopping her.
My nightmare came true as she recalled those dreaded words in a barely audible and rather haunting tone. “The words went something like this:
But when the blame,
Takes a name,
The true betrayer will show,
They will lie low,
Keep secrets you don’t know.
Your mind they will blow,
And your fate will never be the same,
As long as they bring the pain.
They will be blemished,
Your name replenished.”
After she said the last line, I remembered the searing pain in my shoulder. It wasn’t a mistake.; I knew that now. Someone had taken a knife to my trust, and I didn’t even know who.
“But, that’s not the only thing I wanted to tell you. I need to earn your trust so you can earn mine.”
“What do you mean? How?”
Azazel took a deep breath and plunged into her story. She spoke quickly like she wanted to get it over with and rather softly, almost like a hurt puppy. “About a few months before our quest, a shadow started following me around. I couldn’t do anything without its gaze boring into my soul. I knew there was something wrong with it and I did everything I could to get rid of it. It’s one reason I ran away.”
As much as I wanted to hear my friend’s tragic life story, I had more important matters to deal with. “Azazel, look, please don’t tell Ma-”
“My family was never there for me; they never took me on any of their trips. I had no one to care for me until I met my old friend.”
“Wait, but does that mean-?”
“While I was enchanting weapons to fight off the monsters with her, I didn’t hear it coming. When I looked over, my friend was gone, sucked into the black void of a shadow that came for us. I never saw her after that, but the void said something to me. It said, ‘Child, if you want to save your family, you must-’” She choked on her sentence before continuing with the next one. “I didn’t do it because my family... They deserved the punishment. They left me all alone, never gave me the support I needed. I thought it was the right thing to do, but I was starting to regret it, especially once I knew who the shadow was. That’s why I joined you to go stop Nyx. I almost did what she asked, but there’s no way I can get them back now because it would hurt you. As a part of my new family, I hope you can do better than them.”
“Azazel... I-” Were the only words coming out of my opened gob as she stepped into the hall and closed the door.
I now realized why my friend was so... Azazel. Behind her quirky smile and goofy laughter was a girl forced to abandon a family who never cared for her anyway. Most of all, Azazel continued to resist Nyx. This last part filled me with guilt, knowing I could never repay my friends for what I was about to do.
I quickly threw a towel over my shoulders to make it look like I took a shower, and raced after her. By the time I got there, Azazel was talking with Max about plans for the day. Meanwhile, Ali was drawing a map of the island and planning where was the best spot to catch crabs, because she refused to eat Cascade’s cooked fish.
Trying to act normal, I walked to the counter and grabbed a biscuit with butter on top. It was so gooey and moist, I doubted that Cascade made it.
Max must’ve seen my face because he said, “My special recipe, do you like it?”
I responded by grabbing two more and tucking in.
“These are so bloody good, Max!” Ali said, sounding surprised.
Max looked way beyond proud, and even Cascade was grabbing seconds. As we all sat and ate biscuits, I debated whether I should tell them about last night. After a few minutes, I decided not to. This was my problem, not theirs, and no one else needed to get hurt. I rubbed my aching shoulder and thought about what Azazel had told me before she ran. I locked eyes with her, and the slightest shake of her head warned me not to tell the others about our previous conversation.
I excused myself to the loo, actually taking a shower as I let my fears and doubts wash away with the water, only for them to come back later. As I was bandaging my arm with a piece of my shirt, I heard a crash outside my window. The late morning light outside the window gave me a clear view of what was below. I was serenely gazing out the window when I heard a high-pitched scream. I dropped everything and rushed down the stairs, not caring that my shoulder wound was showing. I was completely unprepared for what I saw before me, my laughing gear dropping at the sound of bones that cracked like laughter. I was too late.
꧁𓊈𒆜 𝕱𝖊𝖑𝖎𝖈𝖎𝖆 𒆜𓊉꧂