Varvana's Power

Scarlett Evangeline- just like any other teenage- has many secrets, except Scarlett's are a little more... dangerous if they were to come out. When her friend Henry gives her an envelope with an invitation to a secret competition at the king's castle, she finds out that it's not quite what she seems. Scarlett can control people's minds, and as she comes here she thinks she may have an advantage. But as she soon finds out, they all have powers, and the reason they are entered is to determine the new queen. Scarlett and her friends are forbidden to have any contact with anyone outside the castle, but she finds out the secrets the competition is hiding, she feels herself drawn closer than ever before to Henry. And with a king and a goddess planning to sacrifice one of the girls, the winner, she is terrified of what may happen. Welcome to the nightmare.

P.S. For people who want to know how often I'll update, I'll try to every two or three days. :)

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1. Chapter 1

Come on, come on, move. He wasn’t going to wait much longer. He wasn’t going to wait forever.

My footsteps clattered on the cobblestones, but only as a slight disturbance in the night. The sound echoed throughout the street, bouncing off of the buildings and back into my ears. I winced at how loud my boots sounded, how awkwardly I had to position my feet. The cloak had fallen off my head, only slightly, but enough I could feel the wind playing with the locks of my hair. It was cut to my ears, like a boy’s because it was easier to maintain and stayed out of my eyes during a fight.

I had to squint to see the way down the street, to make sure that I wasn’t passing the tavern. The rain had dropped from the sky unexpectedly that night, clouding the full moon and the light I depended on. There was a lure in the rain for the moment, an advantage I was trying to use as quickly as I could. The rain wouldn’t hurt anything, only a mere annoyance, but it would be wet and I could only stand being cold for a time.

There. The tavern. I could see the building looming before my eyes, large compared to the miniscule houses and shops. It wasn’t a particularly hard place to enter, as my goal was the bar.

I was within twenty feet when the sounds of the tavern reached me. The door creaked as I opened it, but no one paid me any attention. This was easier than I thought it would be, which was a first.

Said too soon.

A guard was standing at the door, inspecting people. For what, I didn’t know. This place was dirty, a criminal’s place, but that kind of explained it.

He only gave me a customary glance and I was about to pass when he grabbed my arm, shooting me a seedy smile and inspecting me further. He pulled me aside roughly, saying, “Nice try, girl. You are not getting in there.”

I breathed deeply, trying not to get frustrated. This man was going to blow my cover! I had to focus if I wanted to get through. I concentrated until a dull headache surfaced and the sound of my heartbeat pounded against my eardrums. Go home, you never saw me. You never saw me. His eyes began to glaze over and he dropped my arm, turning back and heading to wherever he came from.

I didn’t feel bad after. It didn’t hurt them, what I was doing; only forcing them to see my side and to do what I said. I had known about the ability since I was very young, but had used it sparingly as I didn’t know very well how it worked. Until I had met Henry, I had no clue how much power I contained.

When I entered, drunkard men were everywhere, and I took a seat at the least crowded place, ironically the bar. These idiots were on something much stronger than beer.

James, the bartender, looked bored as he continued to clean the glasses in a monotone motion. He looked at me out from under his lashes, sizing me up and sneering down on me in disinterest.

I looked like a boy. I knew that and the fact that he didn’t say anything was a good sign. I was supposed to look like I did. Who was going to let a woman here unless she was the tavern keeper’s wife or daughter? No one. Including that guard I had diverted. No one would miss him or even know he was gone. No one would care.

I was glad that I looked like a boy.

“‘Aving a drink, ‘oy? Or you going to sit ‘ere?” James asked, his missing front tooth making it difficult to understand him. He was young-looking, maybe early twenties. I wondered how he was missing a tooth.

“Got any water?” I wasn’t in the mood for a drink and it probably would have exposed me anyway. Woman weren’t allowed to drink much. My family would’ve been able to tell the next morning.

“Weak stomach, ‘uh? I got just what ya need.” He held up a finger and rummaged through something I couldn’t see. My fingers drummed the top of the countertop, eager to have something to do other than just wait and look foolish. “Ah, ‘ere it is.” He handed me something clear-like in a glass and I merely looked at it, setting it back on the bar top.

My eyes were then searching heads, looking for the eyes of a certain person. The one I came to meet up with. The one who might have had the information I’d been waiting for my entire life. I caught myself looking at the almost unnoticeable boy in the corner, his face hidden from view by his cloak, much like my own. I could tell it was him by the way he held his body, with a little too much pride for someone of his ranking. The kind of pride that would get him into trouble one day if he wasn’t careful.

As if sensing my eyes on him, his head jerked up, meeting my gaze with his own. His piercing green eyes almost glowed in the darkness, reflecting the light of the fire. He stood and passed me on the way out of the door, giving me a subtle nod of acknowledgement. That was my cue to leave and meet him outside.

I couldn’t find James, but the boy wouldn’t wait for long. Only a few minutes at the most. Digging a couple silver coins out of my trouser pocket, and setting them under my untouched glass, I slipped out of the door and into the cool air.

I saw a flash of cloth as he rushed around the corner and I tailed him as quickly as I could. He marched through the streets as though he owned them, and I followed silently, until he was running and I was trying to catch up, everything blurring except for him. He stopped and I almost ran into him, my breath coming out in great gasps.

I drew my hood down and stared at his backside, glaring at him as much as I could while still trying to catch my breath. He turned, eyes flashing with silent laughter, and that made me push him with as much strength as I could muster, only enough to make him falter back a step or two.

“What was that for?” I almost yelled. I looked around. We were in an alleyway of sorts, surrounded on all sides by garbage and rats eating away. I could hear their squeaks and their claws as they scrambled about, fighting for every last scrap of food.

“What’s the matter, Scar? Can’t keep up with me?”

My teeth clenched together at the mention of my nickname. My name was Scarlett Evangeline, a mouthful for sure, but one I loved. He only shortened it as a way to taunt and annoy me, knowing I hated it for two reasons. One: it wasn’t proper to shorten a name or make a pet name for someone. It just wasn’t done, not that I was one for following the rules, but it still got on my nerves. The second: the four lines on my arm that we assume is a scar. No one knows where it came from.

“Don’t call me that, Henry.” A sigh escaped from my lips and I watched the clock tick away in the distance. “Do you have it?”

“What, no formalities? No asking how I am?” He pouted, lower lip pushing out.

“I don’t have time for your stupid teasing today. My parents will be up in a few hours and I have to get going.” I had just seen him the day before. “Now, tell me. Do you have it?”

He reached into his pocket and muttered something under his breath I couldn’t catch. Probably called me annoying or another really stupid and immature insult. Henry handed it to me and I tucked it under my cloak, where it would be safe from the rain that had just started to fall once more.

I started to walk back to my house without saying goodbye, when he yelled at me, “Nice haircut, Scar.” My hand immediately shot up to my hair, smoothing it and checking it to make sure it looked the way it was supposed to.

I had just cut it earlier that morning, using the knife my father used to cut our daily meat ration, long before my parents woke up. I had gotten back from my nightly training with Henry early and decided to do it. My mother had a very unpleasant surprise that morning, and my father had only given me a secondary glance, not really caring, leaving the child-care to my mother. She had yelled and fussed and begged for me to tell her why I had cut it off, the hair I had never once cut in my life before then. I refused to give her an explanation, simply shrugging my shoulders. It would have been almost impossible to explain the situation or the circumstances of why I cut it anyway.

I had just started getting better at the training that I was assigned, out of the awkward stages and starting to learn how to move like a master. It had been because Henry had given me an ultimatum: lose the hair or have him stop teaching me. He had trained me for about four years before he gave it to me, but I really liked it. He didn’t have to teach me either, in fact; it would’ve been in his best interests to quit teaching me. The only girls who were allowed to learn hand to hand combat were the academy girls, the richest ones. I chose to cut it off.

I reached my house and slipped in through the window, the cracked one that sometimes squeaked if you opened it too fast. I had my own room, so it was relatively easy to come and go as I pleased. Relatively. My mom was usually a light sleeper, too, but that was taken care of by some drugs that may or may not be slipped into her dinner every night. I sat on my bed, the mattress squishing only slightly under my weight and opened the package Henry had given me. There were two papers inside: a short letter, and the contents of my soon-to-be new identity. The letter read:

Congratulations!

You and fifteen other girls have been selected from every girl in the kingdom to come participate in a competition at the palace and the winner will be compensated. If this is your wish, come to the castle gates the fifth of the Cold season at dawn. Bring nothing with you, and come alone.

Sincerely,

Sylvilla Weatherstop

I could not imagine the woman writing this. I had heard of her before; she was one of the only women to have true power, as the wife of the king’s advisor. She was rumored to be truly eccentric, and this was not her style. The note was most likely constructed by one of the scribes or the king and signed with her name. The second piece of paper was what I assumed to be my cover. Henry had told me I needed one if I were to truly be myself. Otherwise, my parents would suspect, and that could not happen.

Name: Scarlett Evangeline

Age: 15

Occupation: Student at Henry's School for Martial Arts

The bottom of the paper contained a note, addressed to me.

Scarlett,

I’ll pick you up and tell you your life story and all you will need to know on the way. Don’t tell anyone. Be prepared to leave your family behind. I’ll see you at practice tomorrow, same place and time as always.

- Henry

I had to stop and look around for a moment to process the whole thing. I was actually going to the castle! I was actually going to get to live out the dream I had always had. I would never have to marry Augustus, the forty something man my parents had arranged for me to marry. I would be free to live my life as I chose fit. I was thrilled, except for one thing. I was going to have to leave my family and the life I had always known. Granted, I was never close with my parents the way some were, but I still loved them. I would miss them, but they wouldn’t miss me. They would never really notice I was gone. They were that busy. My mother was young; she would have other children, and would almost forget about me.

I wandered to my desk in the corner and turned the bottom drawer knob, opening a secret compartment that slid out of the bottom. Placing the papers there carefully, I prepared myself for what would be the last time I would sleep in this very bed. That day was the third day of the Cold Season, and we would have to leave the next day to reach the castle gates. I would have to say goodbye without really saying goodbye. I gathered the covers and closed my eyes. Tomorrow I will have to get up and act like nothing has changed, when everything has.

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