"Ok are you ready?" Harry turned to sideways in the truck to look me in the eyes. We had just found a parking place in the now-crowded parking lot near the back. I took a breath and looked back into his brown eyes. I felt him enter my brain and I closed my eyes. He could see the fear I was feeling being inside my head like that. I felt the car shake a little and then warmth enveloped me. His arms held me tight and it took everything I had not to just burst into tears.
"I'm..I'm good," I lied and he nodded understanding the fear beneath it.
"Ok then. Let's get you to that building!" He declared jumping out. I followed suit and ran along beside him to let go of the nerves. He was laughing, throwing his arms out to the side and running right down the middle of the parking lot, almost getting hit twice. He got cursed at by some seniors and he just ignored them calling for me to catch up. We reached the gym where the challenge was going to be held. Harry grabbed my hand and squeezed it before entering with me trailing behind.
"You've got this," Harry whispered in my ear. He then kissed my forehead and walked away to find Mason and Henry, for whom he had bought the three tickets for, including himself of course. Anthony, our class president, came running over to me and pushed me in to a tent. Two girls were standing there holding my battle gear. I guess Genevieve really had gone all out because the girls said they had never seen the padding be this much before. I had a feeling Genevieve was going to play dirty and I was determined not to let her push me around. I deserved that role as much as she did. So I pulled on a pair of sweats and let the girls start placing the padding over my body. They started with the legs, placing the padding around my knees and they wrapped my ankles. They moved up to my chest placing padding around my stomach and chest and then they added some chain mail. And let me tell ya, that stuff ain't light. I held strong. Finally they placed on a helmet. The helmet was painted purple with a silver tiara on top in front of where my ponytail stuck out from the top of my head. I knew Mason and Henry had something to do with this, but I liked it all the same. The girls stepped back and admired their work, putting a mirror in front of me. I felt regal, and definitely ready for battle. They presented me with a blade and I felt my stomach drop.
"Our people are very uncoordinated with weapons, unless they get blessed with swordsmanship or marksmanship." Harry's words rang in my head and I swallowed. I didn't think I had either of those powers, but 5 were still undiscovered, so maybe there was a chance I was blessed. I didn't feel like it as I gripped the sword like my life depended on it, which in this case it probably did.
"What goes on at these battles?" I bravely asked one of the girls, Rebecca I think. She looked at me with big eyes.
"You've never seen one before?" I nodded and Rebecca began to explain. "So mostly there are fighting scenes, but there are also, I guess to say, math problems? Anyway, each challenge there will be a winner, and at the end the challenges will be added up and we'll see who the winner is. I do so hope it's you though Cathleen," she smiled at me friendly and I grinned back. Maybe I had made my first female friend! The other girl had left when Rebecca was explaining to me what the challenges were. She returned with a note and handed it to me.
"Stand strong princess, and remember your power. Love, Harry" I smiled at the note and tucked it into my battle suit for luck.
"Well, you ready?" Rebecca asked.
"As I'll ever be," I delivered the oldest line in the book as I walked out of the opposite door than the one I came in. I stepped out and was blinded by a spotlight focused on me.
"And here comes Cathleen Montague, the challengee for today. She is intelligent, courageous, and beautiful, according to her best friends," the announcer, our principal Mr. Lennon, said over the microphone. I observed my surroundings. We were in the gym, yes that was true, but it was set up never like I had seen it before. It seemed to be three times as big as the normal gym and where I was standing I could see myself on a big screen. I felt like I was a football player about to be watched to see where I messed up. I looked down at me feet and saw sand. Looking at the battle ground in front of me, it was set as a big desert, complete with sand dunes and camels.
"I wonder what the camels are going to be used for," I mused.
"Ohhhhh and here comes our challenger, Genevieve Green. She is strong, confident, and wants her place as the lead role in the play." Ok challengers step forward and shake hands," the announcer said and I headed to the middle of the gym, watching Genevieve do the same. It took us awhile to get over the sand dunes, but we eventually got there.
“Cathleen, Cathleen, scared aren’t you? You’ll never beat me you weak, useless pig,” Genevieve spat as she got closer. I soothed my seething anger and put on a bright smile, not returning an insult. Genevieve looked taken aback, but continued her rant. “Can’t think of anything to say? Aw, well isn’t that just adorable. A weak, unless, and brainless pig. You’ll never amount to anything.” She ended and looked at me fiercely, begging for me to retort. I smiled at her and held out my hand, determined not to let her know she had hurt me. She gripped my hand and shook it, releasing as fast as possible. I allowed my hand to return to my side and turned to the left, mimicking Genevieve. We were staring up at this box, where I could barely make out two people sitting. One was sitting tall and regal, and the other was slouched over, like he was bored. A third person appeared behind the two people and even from this far away, he seemed not to belong there. I saw a flash, and I screamed to the two box people, realizing who it was. I pointed as fast as possible and began to run toward them. The figure seemed to notice me and instantly focused on me. I put my left hand down behind and willed my power to work. I felt the wind pulse from my hand and push me off the ground. I headed straight for the box and by then the person held a knife to the throat of the regal looking one and his partner seemed to be frozen in place. I flew into the box, immediately focusing my hand toward the assassin.
“Ah, ah, ah, Cathleen. You don’t want to do that,” He said pulling the man up from the chair. I got a good look at the victims’ face and realized I had never seen him before. The victim was a man, probably late thirties, with soft brown eyes, which right know looked scared. He opened his mouth to talk and the assassin pushed the knife in deeper. I could see a trickle of blood coming from the knife tip, so I took a step forward. The assassin stepped back, pulling the man with him, trying to block his face with the victims’.
“Cathleen, don’t do whatever he says!” The victim was able to get out. The assassin hissed at him and returned his gaze to me.
“Cathleen, put down the sword and don’t use your powers. Come with me, and I’ll let him go,” The assassin said in a calm voice. Even though I didn’t know this man with him, I felt a connection and I couldn’t let someone die on my behalf. I saw the curtain behind the assassin move, and instantly felt someone enter my mind. I calmed.
“Okay,” I dropped my sword and placed my hands behind my back to show I wasn’t going to use my powers. The assassin pushed the man away and he stumbled into the back of the chair, gripping his bloody throat. The curtain rustled once more and the assassin was beckoning me forward. I walked toward him and when I was about two feet away he reached out. I thought he was going to grab me but he caressed my face. I flinched at his touch, and tried to step back. He gripped my throat and started to choke me. I was gagging not being able to breathe, and just about to pass out when Harry leaped through the curtain, tackling the man. I turned my head away and leaned against the wall, trying to suck in air. I heard a slice, a wrestle and then a thud.
“Please Harry, don’t be dead, don’t be dead,” I whispered turning around. Harry was kneeling on the floor and huge gash in his shoulder, the assassin lay dead below him. He turned and looked at me with sad eyes, blood gushing from the cut. He crawled over to me and crushed me in a hug, blood still coming out from his shoulder, soaking my clothes.
He buried his head into my shoulder, “Cathleen, are you, are you okay?” I pushed him off of me to look into his eyes, which were teary.
“Yeah, Harry. I’m okay,” I answered smiling. He reached out his hand and touched my neck.
“He gripped you so hard,” He whispered stroking my sore neck. I could feel bruises forming on my neck, from the assassin's fingers, choking me. Once again, I looked at Harry’s bleeding arm, and saw that his face had lost color.
“Harry, Harry, come closer. Let me look at that arm, you’re losing too much blood," I scooted toward him and ripped off some of the fabric from the suit I was wearing. Wrapping his arm was tough work, the gash was as long as a small cutting knife. I had to rip off about four pieces before I had it right enough. Harry was leaning against me and I pulled him to the wall where I collapsed. Harry looked up and he instantly shot up and offered the victim I had saved his hand. The man shook it, and kneeled in front of Harry. Harry nodded to the man and proceeded to relax, returning to his position on the wall.
"Arthur, I'd like you to meet Cathleen," Harry gestured to me and I stood up offering my hand. The man reached out and shook it.
"Hello Cathleen, I am Sir Arthur Montague, leader of the royal army," I nearly choked again upon hearing the name.
"Montague? Montague?" Was all I could say, both Harry and Arthur smiled.
"Yes, Leena, Sir Montague is your father."