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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5. Chapter 5

I was awoken by a shaking hand on my shoulder. I shot up out of bed, pressing my hand to the side of my head in pain. Muttering slightly about that, I blinked the sleepiness out of my eyes only to see a very blurry version of Provinia. My thought was where am I, and how did I get here. Soon, the memories came flooding back and I realized that yesterday wasn't a dream. So much had happened yesterday. So many shocking experiences.

"What?" I whined, somewhat irritated.

I didn't remember falling asleep the night before, but that was alone to alarm me. I didn't sleep, almost never. The whole stealing energy thing from people. Then it occurred to me that the last time I had drained someone was that guard a couple days ago. No wonder I was exhausted. And hungry, I thought, my stomach growling at the mention of food.

Provinia rolled her eyes, a look she couldn't pull off very well and told me, "Get dressed. Its time for breakfast."

"But why do we have to get up so early?" I groaned and got out of the bed, grabbing whatever dress was at the top of my trunk and pulling it on. It turned out not to be a dress, but my trousers and shirt I had worn that night at the inn, or one of them I owned.

Provinia started to gasp at my appearance and then held her reaction back, studying me closely. "You look so much like a boy like that." Her eyebrows rose. "Didn't you have to get up this early at the academy?" Her tone suspicious.

I forgot. I wasn't supposed to give anything away that might suggest I wasn't from the academy. "Oh, oh yeah. Right."

I rushed past her, not bothering to brush out my short hair. She follows on my heels, and I follow the sound of chattering to the dining hall, through twists and turns and a million hallways.

I burst open the doors, where all of the other girls are already enjoying breakfast, and am greeted with the stares of all of them. I smile wanly and sit down at the end of the table, saving a seat for Provinia, who I lost in my almost run for food. She sits down next to me and I eat in blessed silence, talking to no one, but listening to the bursts of conversations around me.

Sylvilla stepped into the room, clad in what I was starting to think of as her signature style. She glanced at the entire room before taking a seat on the other side of me. She gave me a once over, making me blush, before flashing me a smile and a thumbs up. A half smile snuck up on my face, and I went back to stuffing as much food into my mouth as possible. I would have to eat more or drain people more often to avoid this happening again.

"Okay, girls. It's time for the first day of your new life." She caught everyone's attention and even my eyes were on her. "Here's how it works. There are five tests you have to pass for this competition. Between each test, some of which have more than one part, you will have a day to train or basically do whatever you want."

Violet raised her hand and asked, "What are the tests that we're training for?"

Sylvilla snapped at her, "If you would listen, I would tell you that I'm not going to tell you. It's part of the competition. Always be prepared for the unexpected." She got up from the table and waved for us to follow her.

We followed her into the biggest room I had ever seen in my entire life. It was like Henry's training studio except ten thousand times bigger and better. I swallowed a squeal, wondering what I should possibly do first. Provinia turned towards me and did exactly what I had wanted to. But her scream wasn't because of the weapons or even the training arena; it was what Sylvilla said next.

"Oh, and girls? If you choose to, you can spend the day exploring the castle and the outside gardens. Don't leave the grounds." There was an implied warning in that last sentence, but I didn't think anyone caught it except for me. Then she turned and left out of the room, leaving us to our own devices.

Provinia pulled on my arm like an unruly child and asked pleadingly, "Go to the garden with me?" I cast a glance at all of the other girls, who are doing their best to train for whatever was coming, and us the only two thinking of leaving.

"Come on; I want to talk to you." She said, and this time I followed her out to the gardens.

The gardens were dead looking, it being the Cold season, and the trees bare. The Cold season was always my least favorite one; every other one was full of vibrant colors and this one just looked like everything was brown.

Provinia made sure that no one was following us and that no one was around when she sat down in the brownish grass. I plopped down next to her, and yanked off my shoes, rubbing my feet absentmindedly.

"What did you want to talk to me for?" I asked.

Provinia was acting weird, the whole charade of making sure no one was around. I should’ve have been training and instead I was sitting in the grass like a prissy little girl. And yet here she was, just sitting and not saying a word. My impatience began to grow. She gave me a look of annoyance like I was the one wasting her time when she was wasting mine and laid down on the grass, staring at the sky.

"You know," she started. She pointed to the sky excitedly. "Look! That cloud looks like a flower in a vase." She patted the spot next to her and gestured for me to lie down.

Having no clue what she was talking about and why she was looking at the clouds, I laid down beside her. I squinted at the cloud she pointed to. There was nothing there except for the cloud, no picture I could see. What was she seeing that I couldn't?

"Is this all you brought me out here to see?" I asked, sitting up and dusting off my dress. "If so, I'm going back in." She got up quickly and gave me her hand, pulling me from the ground.

"No, no. I have something that I need to tell you. But sometimes I get distracted." She giggled, a smile lighting up her face.

But I wasn't smiling. I wasn't amused in the slightest. She led me to an alcove in the wall, a sort of cave in the bushes with walls twice the size of me. I gazed at the ceiling, wondering how she knew this was here. The entire thing was made up of vines and twigs that were entwined into each other, making up part of the one strong barrier.

Provinia allowed herself a glance around before shaking her head sharply. "We should be safe here."

The next thing I knew, Provinia had a hand on my mouth and had pushed me into the back of the cave. Her eyes were wide and alert, and the curve of her mouth told me she was panicking slightly. I didn't understand what she was doing. I was about to drain her to get her off of me when she put a finger to her lips anxiously. Then I heard it. Footsteps. That were heading this way. Like they knew we were in here. And just like that, I was suddenly as nervous as Provinia was, as though she was projecting her emotions onto me. But that was impossible, her power was remembering everything.

The mysterious person stopped at the entrance of the cave. They knew it was there, that was the only thought able to enter my mind. They knew we were here. A sudden feeling seeped into my bones, an impossible passion to protect this place. The person stepped in, face covered in shadow.

I yanked myself out of Provinia's grasp and leapt at them. I attempted to punch them. They caught my wrists. I fought with all my might to escape. They were too strong for me, it had to be a boy.

"Let me go!" I growled, still trying to get free.

"Scar!" That voice stopped me cold. Henry. My futile efforts ceased. I went limp, confused.

I blinked up at him, sure that I was being tricked. There was no way he was here, I thought I would never see him again. And yet here he was, breathing and standing right in front of me. The kiss. I was suddenly desperate to run from here, as far away as I could, as my cheeks burned red with embarrassment. Get control of yourself, Scarlett, I thought.

But of course, it would be worthless to run away. I would just pretend that the kiss never happened. It would complicate our relationship far too much, jeopardize our mission way more than I was willing.

I put as much snap into my voice as I could. "What are you doing here?" I knew how mean I sounded, how uncaring. "And let go of me!"

Henry's hands left my wrists and I pushed away from him as hard as I could. I didn't care how ridiculous I looked, or how confused Provinia was, I wanted out. But it was impossible to get out without pushing past Henry and every time he touched me, all I could think of was our kiss and how lonely I felt when he left. Only a day had passed, but I had yet to think about it, about what it could mean for us.

Provinia stood in the corner of the small cave, looking small in comparison to Henry, looking almost afraid of him. I turned her way, asking, "Confused yet?"

She gave me a small nod, eyeing Henry with suspicion. "Who is this? Personally I don't like him."

I knew there was a reason that I liked her, that I had wanted to be her friend. A reason I had accepted her friendship. She had an instant reaction to him, a bad one apparently.

Giving Henry a pointed look, I said, "Provinia, this is Henry. Henry, this is Provinia, my friend."

Her lips made an O, and she nodded. I had to tell myself to act normal, not to scream and attack Henry like I wanted so desperately to. I had to act like a some semblance of normal, and if Provinia wanted more details later, I would explain later. But not here. Not in front of him, and not when I was so mixed up about my own feelings.

"What are you doing here, Henry?" Provinia asked, putting some traces of venom into her words. "As in: how did you find this place?" Her eyes narrowed and flashed almost dangerously, every trace of being scared of him from earlier gone. She seemed like a different person from the one who shrank back from his presence.

He bit his lip, a gesture I recognized as one he did when he was in deep thought. He hesitated before answering, and that gave me a clue that he wasn’t sure how much to reveal to Provinia and to me. But I didn’t stop him. I was interested in how he had found this place as well, and the news that Provinia had to share could wait. He didn’t answer and stopped biting his lip, conceding to standing there in an awkward silence.

When I couldn’t take it any longer, I burst out, “Would you please just tell us? By the Nameless God, you can be annoying, Henry!” My thoughts whooshed out like I was unable to keep them in by force of sheer will anymore. Henry seemed to be surprised at my outburst, but he sat down and gestured for us to do the same.

“It’s a pretty long story, you guys; I don’t know if you’ll have enough time to listen.”

Provinia and I exchanged glances, a mutual desire to find out what he knew in our eyes. We nodded and said in unison, “We have all day.”

Henry started his story, a wild one. “You guys know that the king is corrupt, right?” We both shook our heads. “Well, when the king was born, his father looked upon him and stated that he would be the greatest king we had ever known. And his father’s prediction was correct. As you know, we call him a descendent of the Nameless God, and that we had His blessing. There were no wars, no disease, and everything was going according to plan. But there was a problem with our king. He has been keeping a secret from the entire kingdom that no one would have ever guessed. Something that people would think would be crazy if suggested. The king processes the rare power to force his will upon others, to draw energy and to take it away as he sees fit.” I gasped and Henry gave me a look that meant to keep quiet. “He’s been using this power for years to not age, meaning he will forever be our king if no one stops him. He will never have a successor.”

Provinia interrupts him. “I don’t understand. What does this have to do with you? All you’re doing is telling us something that really makes no sense.”

He gave her a dirty look. “Well, maybe if you would listen, I could explain it all. If I don’t give you the back-story, you’ll be confused. Pay attention.”

I rolled my eyes and told them, “Both of you: no arguing.”

Henry continued where he left off.  “I’m with an organization that is working to bring the king down. I guess you could call us rebels, but we prefer the term Duys because we are going to save the kingdom.” He turned to me. “Scarlett, we’re going to need your help, because you’re- you know. And that’s pretty much it. All you need to know for now.”

Provinia spoke up again. “That still doesn’t explain why you’re here. As in this cave that I discovered.”

“That’s classified information. I told you the story so you would watch your backs.” Henry looked around suspiciously. “I don’t like the idea of you being here by yourself, Scar, without some protection.”

I was about to say something nasty about how I didn’t need or want his protection when the bell for lunch rang. I looked over my shoulder and saw Provinia get up and wave for me to hurry up. “We have to go. I’m not coming back.”

He tried to grab my arm but I ducked past him, running to catch up with Provinia, wondering why I didn’t believe him and his story.

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