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Ghalia is a world filled with mysteries shrouded in darkness and magic hidden in the forests. Man divided the world up between three great nations: Marin, Lafelion, Rourik. Although they are in peace now, evil stirs within the dark corners of the world again. Now the race to stay alive is upon them; their only hope left lies in the hands of the Arklings.

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9. Chapter 8

My mind got very bored staring at the bleak room. It had more luxuries than I could ever dream to posses, but my interests drifted out the lone window to my left. I could just barely glimpse the scene of the city below from the bed. Above the tiny, bustling figures that filled the streets was the grey sky. It was clouded over with the promise of rain. During the wet season, the sun never shined. I’ve hated it since I was a child. Back then, I would look up at the sky and wish for the sun to come out. I needed to feel its warmth bathe my skin that was hidden beneath the dust of broken rock. Those were simpler days.

            A knock on the door interrupted my train of thought. I glanced over as a figure slipped into my room. Almost immediately, my skin prickled with recognition as I stared at the Arkling. Although his clothes were plainer now, he still reeked of rich fabrics and luxury as he approached me.

            “I was sent by Jennings,” he said tentatively. Obviously, he wasn’t used to this sort of situation. Why would he ever bother with a villager, the bitterness of my thoughts probably showed on my face. I didn’t care. I wanted him to see my distaste for his kind, of which I would not be a part of. “I’m here to do a treatment on your back.”

             “What kind of treatment.” He rolled his eyes at the suspicion in my voice. Ignoring my question, he asked,

            “Please lie face down on the bed,” his polite tone held a subtle stubbornness. Nothing here was optional. Reluctance pulled at my movements as I turned carefully in the bed so I was lying on my stomach. I felt the ice touch of his gentle hands as they brought my shirt up to expose my back. Tenderly, they rested square upon my back, causing me to shiver slightly from the cold that seemed to radiate from him. Slowly, the cold began to spread away from his hands and across my body. It covered me like a frost, chilling the sparking pain within my back until it was nothing but a numb throbbing. The ice was like a balm and soon I found myself relaxed in its embrace. I felt suspended, in a painless sea that lapped at my skin with icy tendrils. This bliss of not being shackled down by pain elated me to a plain where I had never been. 

            Finally, I was brought back down by the sound of movement beside me. My eyes opened in time to see the Arkling sit down in the chair by my bedside. Silently, I studied him as the frost melted away from my back, taking away the pain with it. His blonde hair was probably the fairest I had ever seen. It shined, almost white, and complimented his light complexion perfectly. I had no doubt that his face had captured most of the female hearts in the castle.

            “Do you always stare.” His question pulled me from my thoughts. I could only think to look back at him, unsure by what he meant. He clarified once the silence had stretched out long enough between us. “During your punishment, Calix told me you stared at him the entire time. Even now, that is all you are doing.”

            I looked away and pulled my shirt down, back over my back, before sitting up. I had never thought of that before, but I guess it was true.

            “There isn’t any reason,” I muttered. Although that was probably not true, I couldn’t think of a better answer to give. He didn’t look satisfied with my answer, but that was not of my concern.  Now, it was my turn for an interrogation. “Who are you?”

            “Romulus,” he said, clearing his throat. “I prefer to go by Rom though. What is your name?”

            “Bu-“ I stopped myself, confused for a moment. Should I use the name that man gave me, or do I stick with the one the miners called me. Neither were my true name, so in the end I supposed it didn’t truly matter. “Rynn,” I finally replied. The name felt foreign on my tongue. “Who was the man who visited before you? He had a blonde beard and amber eyes.” I hoped that my attempt to describe him would be enough for Rom to recognize the man. Evidently it was because he quickly nodded in realization.

            “That was Gideon Jennings. He is the official Keeper of the Arklings.” I listened attentively to him, absorbing the information. The interest in my face must have been an indicator to continue because he continued on with his explanation. “As Keeper, it is his duty to train us and help our powers grow so that we may serve the king to our full potential.” His voice sounded as if he was reciting that from a manual. I thought for a moment about that before I continued with my questioning.

            “How do you know if you are an Arkling.” It was the question I desperately wished I could ignore. I was not an Arkling, there was no doubt in my mind about that. But I had a sinking feeling that whatever kind of test Jennings had in mind would not ignore me.

            “They administer a test, run by Jennings.  The goal is to make your powers come out, even if it’s only for a moment. If you are an Arkling, he will get it to show.” His absolute tone sent a shiver down my spine. How long would the test last before Jennings would finally give up and admit I am not an Arkling? What would I have to do to prove that to him? The fear must have shown on my face because Rom instantly changed his voice, trying to sound more reassuring. “The test is quick if you are an Arkling. If I were you, I wouldn’t worry about it. Jennings is never wrong about these things. At this point, the test is simply a formality.”

            With a quick smile he stood, stretching his arms as he did.

            “Your body was pretty damaged, not with just the trip, but also many of your old injuries never healed properly. It took so much out of me the first time I treated you that I had to stop. Thankfully this time was not as bad.” He looked down at me, assessing me quickly. “All you should need now is some rest.” Even as he said that, I could feel the drowsiness seeping through my body. My head deftly nodded in agreement as heaviness began to drag at my eyelids. I remembering hearing the click of the door before darkness took me. 

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