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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4. Chapter 4

The other girls have converged around me, and chattered aimlessly, because they all knew each other and I knew no one. My mind was filled to the brim with thoughts about Henry, why he had kissed me, whether I would ever see him again. So much that I could think of little else, especially not the castle I was about to step foot into for the first time. The gates opened and the girls almost ran inside, scrambling over one another to get inside first. I waited until most of the masses had left, preferring not to draw attention to myself, and to act like a fool because you never knew who was lumbering around.

The servants then took our coats, and whisked us away, promising a tour of the castle later tonight. We headed down the hallway, carpeted with great rugs and decorated with plaques and tapestries, so many you could tell that the royal family was definitely wealthy. Which was to be expected, because they were the royal family. Everyone awed and oohed at all of the magnificent art on the walls, except for me. I walked with my gaze straight ahead, pretending I was too good for any of these girls, and too good to succumb to acting like a love-struck maiden.

No one really noticed my pride act except for a girl who had lagged behind with me too. She was staring at me curiously, eyes wide as we went down more and more hallways, and me not glancing up once. I could see her out of the corner of my eye, and that made me uncomfortable. I didn’t want to stand out, much. I just wanted to get through this without losing a couple limbs and my life, I was now sure that I had no chance of winning. These girls were all in far better shape than I was, muscles almost bulging and their beauty intact still. I had been hoping I wouldn’t fall last in the class, but my overconfidence in myself disappeared.

I expected the girl, whatever her name was, to quit looking at me after a few moments. When it continued for a good ten minutes, I finally turned around and raised my arm back for good measure, acting as though I was going to smack her. She flinched back, like she was scared of me, which was impossible. I got my first good look at her, while she almost cowered in front of my form. She was the opposite of me in many ways. Whereas I was short, she was tall; while I was on the skinny side, she was on the bigger side. Her black hair fell down her shoulders in waves, and I wondered how she could possibly fight like that.  Didn’t it count as a weakness, even as a hold for someone to grab onto and have an advantage on you?

When I didn’t strike her right away, her blue eyes narrowed, and she snapped out, “Scared?” She swayed in her spot, foot tapping impatiently.

I looked over my shoulder to see that the group was far ahead without us, and we had to sprint back to avoid being left behind. The girl walked by my side, keeping time with me, as though we were friends. “No, I’m not scared of you.” I wanted to say that the very notion I could be scared of her was absurd, but that would be a lie. I wasn’t scared, but I wasn’t exactly comfortable with letting my guard down around her. She seemed almost… unstable, like she would snap at me anytime the fancy struck her. And she struck me as unpredictable, and that wasn’t the best strategy to have.

Her head turned towards me and she cocked her head to the side, as though asking a silent question, all while walking with me. “Then why did you not hit me?” She seemed to shrink back a little after she said that, acting like she expected me to hit for asking it.

I decided that this girl was only as nervous as I was, if a little bit more, if that was possible. I decided that this girl was afraid of her own shadow if she thought it could harm her in any way. She was afraid of getting hurt, this one, even after she had been taught to hurt others. Which made no sense; someone shouldn’t fear pain if they could inflict it themselves.

“Why do you shrink back anytime someone talks to you?” I called her out on her peculiar behavior, eyebrows raised in expectation. I gave her three seconds.

Three…

Two…

 

One…

“You going to answer, or are you afraid I’m going to hit you?” I mockingly asked her. I knew I was being cruel, but making a reputation for being cruel was easier than people trying to walk all over me. I didn’t care what the file with my “information” had in it; I wasn’t going to act like someone who was not myself. I had to give up my mother, my father, my soon-to-be-born baby sister or brother, and Henry. I wasn’t going to give up my personality as well.

Three seconds passed, then four, then five turned into a minute, but she seemed like she was going to remain quiet on the subject. I gave it up; it wasn’t worth it, not when she wasn’t going to divulge any information.

Maybe this dimwit could answer a simple question. “What is your name, age, and rank?”

I was about to stride forward and merge with the crowd when she spoke, her voice barely above whispering volume, and my ears had to strain to hear it. “Provinia Hammle, age sixteen, rank four.” My lips twitched into the semblance of a smile when I heard her rank.

There were five ranks, them being in numerical order with the most powerful being first. The first rank was the royal family only, and everyone knew who they were. The second rank was the nobles and lords, and other important people. It was basically people who owned property, knew the royal family personally, and very wealthy. They were the ones who assisted the king in important business that needed to be taken care of. The third rank was the middle class, who were consisted up of people who lived in the wealthy towns, were relatively wealthy, and everyone knew who everyone was. They didn’t have to work that hard to live nicely, and they had lots of leisure time. The fourth rank were the peasants, and the village workers, and the ones who did all of the work. They had no time to do anything but farm, or make things, or to teach their craft to their apprentices. These are where most servants come from. The fifth and final rank was the worst one. They were the outcasts, the people who had betrayed the kingdom and lived on the outskirts, killing for food and anything they could to live. You were born into your rank, and the only way to move up was to marry well or to work extremely hard and to become wealthy on your own, but neither happened very often.

I wondered how a rank four got into here. I thought only ranks three and up were permitted at the academy and only third ranks who were extremely rich were allowed in, or snuck in, like me.

The group stopped at the end of a long hallway and everyone filed into the ballroom, with the hanging lights and the open floor plan. I turned around and placed my hand in hers to shake, and told her who I was, who I was supposed to be. “Scarlett Evangeline Marce, rank two, age fifteen.”

Provinia looked ataken back when I announced my rank. Most people who were more than one rank above you basically ignored you, unless you were a servant of some kind. I gave her a rather hesitant smile and she gave me one back, and I could tell we were going to be fast friends.

 

Everyone was silent when a lady walked in, clad in the trousers that only men wore, and a tunic with the royal colors on it, blue and red. Chatter appeared when we saw the woman’s appearance. Her bright orange hair was in a bun on top of her head, and she wore a multitude of bracelets on her arms and a pile of necklaces on her chest. I could see her brown eyes searching the crowd, looking for someone or something, until they settled on me. That heavy gaze made me feel as though she knew my secret, and that she knew I wasn’t supposed to be here. Her full lips pouted for only a mere second before they upturned into a smile and she let her eyes rest on the entire crowd in general.

She crossed her arms, and waited. And waited. And waited. Until the chatter died down and all the girls were staring at her in shock. The girls themselves wore dresses, like the good little girls they were, but so was I, as to not stick out.

“These are our girls.” The statement hung out over the room, leaving us to interpret what she meant. “What is the proper technique to disable a man in one move?”

A girl’s hand shot into the air immediately. Without bothering to be called on, as she was the only one to raise her hand, she answered, “Sweep his legs out from under him.”

“And who are you?” the woman asked rudely.

The girl looked flustered for a moment and embarrassed as she stared at her feet. “Oh, right. I-I’m Violet Trig, age 13, r-rank 3.”

The woman smiled at her, if you could call a crude sneer a smile. “And you were wrong. Is anyone else here smart enough to answer?”

The girls looked at each other, each expecting the other to raise their hand. No one did though, and when I looked around, Provinia mouthed something to me. I couldn’t make it out, but I could get the jest. She wanted me to answer so the woman didn’t call on someone random.

I spoke, my voice clear and strong, resounding around the room. “Scarlett Evangeline Marce, age fifteen, rank two.” I told her, feeling slightly fearful of the women’s reaction. “The way to approach or disable an opponent, especially a full grown man, depends on how he is attacking you.”

“Good job, Scarlett!” she exclaimed. “You’re the first girl to have ever gotten that right.”

I felt a shred of pride at that, and a feeling like I had earned her approval. I projected a smug smile to Violet, who only crossed her arms and frowned. No shame at being happy for getting something right. Maybe the smug smile was a bit much, but the girl kind of looks like she deserved it. Violet looked stuck up- like the girl who was used to always being right, and then she was told she was wrong.

“Now, everyone this is probably some very shocking news to all of you. Prepare yourselves.” she told us. “I know everyone’s secret. All of them. Your little abilities.”

If she was expecting a collective gasp, or some kind of an uproar, she didn’t get what she wanted. All she got was a group of sixteen very shocked girls, some of which were looking at their feet and others who were pretending that they didn’t know what she was talking about. They were all trying to act nonchalant, and they were acting worried. But not me. I wasn’t worried, quite the opposite; I was thrilled, because that meant that everyone had some kind of an ability just like I did. At least I thought she was referring to an ability like mine. That meant I wasn’t alone in the world. I felt relief because I wasn’t alone in trying to understand what I was going through, why I had been granted this sometimes blessing, but most of the time annoying, power.

Without waiting further than our initial reaction, she pointed to herself. “My name is Sylvilla Winburg, age twenty-two, rank two, and my ability is controlling wind.” Wind blew into the room, making us all shiver in the cold air, and then she waved her hand and it was gone. “Now, everyone is going to come up on stage here and introduce themselves. Not optional.”

We formed a somewhat orderly line, and each one of us walked by Sylvilla, muttered something about ourselves and our powers, and then speed-walked away as fast as we could. The sixteen girls seemed to have different powers and ages and ranks. We were all different, yet the same.

The names probably blurred together for most, but they were burned into my brain. I welcomed any information that I could get, anything that might help me win the contest somehow. There was such a variety of different powers, from power over the elements to heightened senses.

When my turn approached, I stood tall, but nervous for some reason. “Scarlett Evangeline Marce, age fifteen, rank two, and my power is mind control. If I tell someone to do something, they have to do it, no matter how hard they try to resist.”

This caused rather a collective gasp from the crowd, as if it was something not normal. I was confused. Were my powers abnormal in any way? I didn’t know the answer, but I was certain that my power made me very powerful. Who wouldn’t have absolute power when you could make people do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted?

Sylvilla ushered us into the adjoined room to the ballroom and in it were sixteen beds, for sixteen girls. Eight bunk beds, each already complete with our stuff at the ends of them. She told us that we were free until dinner, and that after dinner would be time for bed. She told us that since we had already had enough news and excitement for the day, work would begin tomorrow. Then, she stepped out of the room and disappeared.

 

After dinner, we were sent to bed, and I was okay with that, even though it still had to be early. Part of the lifestyle was to sleep early and get up early.

I immediately claimed one of the lower bunks, one of my biggest fears being heights, even ones that were six feet or so in the air. I freaked out because I hated not having the feeling of my feet on the ground, a solid foundation below me. Provinia claimed the bunk beside mine and stretched out, groaning.

“Ohhhh…” she groaned. “This feels good; a real bed for the first time-” She shut up quickly, as if she was about to divulge information that she shouldn’t. I had a suspicion that she was secretive, and it would take a while to get her to trust me. She seemed that way, as though she had walls put up around herself, and they were hard to take down.

“Hey, Provinia?” I asked.

“Yes, Scarlett?” she replied, sitting up as much as the bed would allow.

“You never answered my question from earlier. The one about why you flinched when you thought I was going to hit you.” I rambled on, “I mean, I thought that you would be okay with people hitting you, relatively, because, well, you’re an academy student.”

“Everyone has their own specialty. Mine is… basically anything logical, because my power is the ability to remember everything. Not very useful for much more than passing tests.” She smiled slightly.

“Is that the only reason?” I asked.

My only answer was her snores as I realized she had fallen asleep. I closed my eyes and willed myself to darkness, wondering what tomorrow would bring.

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