Class dismissed!” the history professor announces and walks out of the classroom of the college. Every student packs up their bags and hurry to leave as well since they have never been fond of school. Arielle picks up the thick textbook and follows out the last. When she gets to the gate, she notices the bright sky that has been so tranquil and gloomy the past few days due to the passing storm.
Today looks like a good day.
“I'm going get A+ for this assignment.”
“No kidding. You always get A’s.”
“I know.” Arielle sees two of her classmates at the bus stop. They chat as they wait for the big green vehicle to arrive, but Arielle has spotted the announcement first. The bus won’t come today. Knowing that, she turns her heels and heads to the usual direction.
On her way back home, she stops at a library thinking she will need a book or two for that assignment she just got too. She looks around for a moment until she finally spots an old, thick book titled ‘The Legends’.
She skims randomly through pages as nothing seems to really make sense to her and her dumb brain at all, but then a phrase toward the end catches her attention. “A new world shall open up.” Only did she finish saying that she realizes she has said it out loud. Many sparkling letters pop out of the page and form a circle around her. Arielle’s eyes follow them and as she put it all together, she finds a word. Or perhaps a name.
Slowly and carefully, she spells it out.
“E.X.O” The 3 letters sparkle even brighter, and a strange rumbling noise slowly becomes louder and louder by the second. Arielle looks to her left and right but there’s no one around. When she turns back, the letters have now become bright red and stop moving.
“EXO?” As soon as she says it, a strong wind blows the papers out of every book and surrounds her. And despite having all air in the world in one room, she finds nothing to take in to her lung. She tries to fight her way out, but there seems to be a force pulling her whole body into the shelf. With no air, her legs feel weak and she falls on her knees. She looks up one last time in hope of finding anyone who can help her, but all she sees is darkness. Then, comes a poof!
She disappears into thin air, and the whole place looks nothing like hurricane just passed by.
Arielle opens her eyes and immediately know something is wrong.
It is pitch black; not even a gleam of light, and the place feels cold. Arielle does not have any idea what just happened. Maybe the storm came back and cut electricity off? Because only that could be a possible explanation to all the flying papers and strange noises.
“Hello?” She tries calling out as she takes out her phone and goes to the flashlight app. “Anyone can hear me?” Her voice echoes the whole place. She has a feeling she’s in a somewhat cave. But that must not be possible. She was at the library and she believes she’s still there. She strongly believes that until her flashlight illuminates a face.
“Who are you?” The man pulls out something sharp and aims it to her throat. With shocked and fear, Arielle’s hands slip and the phone falls with a thud, doing a self-shut-down afterward. How convenience. Arielle blinks a few times adjust to the darkness and calm herself down, but the itching pain on her throat tells her she can’t keep quiet for any longer.
“I don't know!”
“No wait, I know who I am I'm just too shock to think!” she corrects herself anxiously because the man is clearly not happy with her answer as he tighten his grip on her shoulder.
“Who are you? Are you one of the Red Force?” he asks again.
“What is that? Is that a name? What is this place?” Arielle is completely scared at the man's action and the tone of his voice.
He says no more and just raises his – let’s say sword – up high. He wants to kill her and she knows that.
“Wait, Kai!” someone arrives just in time and stops the hot-blooded man. Arielle is too relieved that her head feels light and she faints.
“Thank you...” She whispers as someone holds her from hitting the ground.
“Suho!” Kai calls his brother who has just stopped him. “Why did you do that?”
“Don't kill her.” Suho says calmly.
“Why? She could be one of the Red Force!”
“Come look at the sky.” Kai follows his brother outside and looks up as told. What he sees confused him. Strange lines move around in the deep blue sky; not entirely clear what they are, but they come in colorful patterns, making up some kind of a big symbol, or ancient letters.
“What is that?” Kai asks confusingly.
“A message. From mother.”
“Yes, Kai. Our mother.” Suho says in a bit of annoyance. There’s also something else hidden in his voice, but Kai isn't sharp enough to notice it.
“What did she say?”
“I don't know.” Suho replies and Kai instantly regrets talking to the big brother.
“Then, what does it have to do with killing this enemy?”
“Can't you see? A stranger came into our land and our mother, who had kept silent for decades, talked to us? Is this a coincident?” Suho asks back and glances at Arielle who is unconsciously lying in his arms. “Besides, we don't even know who this girl really is. She could be mother’s messenger.”
“Mother’s messenger? Suho, are you out of your mind? I told you I felt a Red presence and I found her here. She is a Red and you cannot convince me otherwise. I’m killing her.”
“What if you killed her and you were wrong? Remember that last time you decided to go on a killing spree because ‘you felt them in the palace’? You ended up killing our own soldiers who had just escaped from the Red’s land.”
Kai keeps quiet because his brother is right.
“I’m not saying you can’t kill her. You found her; she’s all yours. I’m just asking you to give me some times to decipher mother’s message from the sky. If she says anything about this girl, I’ll let you know. No one touches her till then, okay?”
“But, what if-”
“There’s no downside to this, I swear. We’ll just need to keep close eyes on her.” Suho waits for his brother’s reaction. “Alright, Kai?”
“Alright.” Kai murmurs lowly. “But I want D.O to watch her.”
“It’s not done, he isn’t going to agree-”
“I’ll talk to him. Geez!”
* * *
“Hmmm… What time is it?” Arielle moves to the side. “I think I slept like a rock. Ahh!” A cold and heavy object prevents her from moving her hands. She opens her eyes and looks over to what causing it. Something tickling her neck and when her eyes focus, a yelp escapes her throat. Mice are everywhere, from the bars to the rectangle rock that looks like a bed for prisoners-
Arielle looks closely. She’s surrounded by 3 walls and a set of rusty bars. Her wrists are bounded by big handcuffs that are better suited for a dog collar.
She’s in prison cell.
“Ahhhh!!” she screams. Two guards run up to her cell and they look terrified.
“What did you just do? Did you signal for the other Red spirits to come and rescue you? Did you?!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” She yells at them. As angry as a kid not getting her toy in a toy store, she thrusts her hands and the clang of metal against metal makes the guards jump.
“What's with that noise you made, prisoner? Are you summoning your fellow dark demon? You are, aren’t you?” One of them asks yet again. Arielle is getting really annoyed at their accusation. Does she look really that harmful?
“You got the wrong person. I’m not who you’re looking for.” She tells them, but her words make no change to their mind.
“That’s what they all say.” One replies and Arielle knows she’s in some serious crime she had never committed. The worst thing she had ever done in her life was when she flushed her friend’s goldfish down the toilet. Apart from that, she doesn't deserve to be treated this way at all.
“Where am I?” Arielle asks them. The question comes out like a whisper. She can use a glass of water right now. “What is this place?” She asks again, this time with an attempt to break free from the chains. But it’s not that easy.
“How hard she hit her head, do you think?” one man asks the other, completely ignoring her question. Playing hard to talk to, eh? How much of a man they are.
“I’m not sure, probably misplaced her brain with a rock something. I heard Prince Kai was just about to behead her when she fell and Prince Suho helped her from hitting her own head on the ground.”
‘Behead me?’ Arielle opens her eyes widely. ‘I'm not dreaming?’
“Oh. My. God. Your prince wanted to cut off my head? He wasn't kidding?”
‘What did I do wrong? Why do bad things keep happening to good people?!’
“See? She's faking all along.” The first guard speaks as he looks at Arielle in despise. Arielle wants to scream and yell at them again for being so not understanding and just keep blaming her, but as she opens her mouth another voice comes in.
“What’s with the noisy ruckus? It went all the way to the garden.” Follows the voice comes in someone – someone with a really big pair of eyes. Someone with a baby face and a nice voice, too. Someone who looks so dreamy and… out of reach. “Is this the Red Force shit everyone talks about?”
Someone with a very low choice of words.
“You are very correct, Prince D.O.”
‘Prince? You're highness, huh? Prince with such attitude; I'll have to say no. Prince, my foot!’ Arielle spits the words to herself.
“What did you just say?” Someone else asks before he even makes it inside. The one named D.O turns a little as he waits for the other one to show up. “Prisoner.”
“What did I say?” Arielle asks the man back. “I didn’t say anything.”
“Yeah, Baekhyun, she didn’t say anything. It was just me.”
“No. She said something. Something about foot.” And again, he stares at her. “What’s with us being princes?”
“You heard that?” Arielle stares back confusingly. How did he manage to hear what she said just inside her own head?
“Never mind.” Baekhyun waves tiredly and turns to the big-eyed brother. “Hey D.O, Suho wants us at the palace right now.”
“But he told me to stay and watch her.”
“Then, bring her along.”
“Is that a good idea?”
“Hmm…” Baekhyun thinks for a moment and then turns to the two guards. “You two come with us. If she makes a move, slice her head off.”
“Yes, Your Highness!”
* * *
“How many princes do you have here?” Arielle asks as she and D.O are walking toward somewhere. D.O handcuffs her with his hand and drags her with him with every step. He stops in front of a big double door and turns to unlock the handcuff.
“We’re going to go inside you will wait me there as quietly as possible. If you’re stubborn, my soldiers will execute you.”
“You didn’t answer me yet.”
“Stay.” With that, D.O ascends the curvy staircase and disappears with the light. Arielle looks behind her to find the two guards standing a good distant away to her left and right, blocking the door between her. If she wanted to make a run, she wouldn’t stand a chance anyway.
She looks around the place and the interior amazes her. It looks like the replica of the ancient Rome palace in the museum room, except it’s real and more fascinating. The sculptures of 12 statues stand next to each pillar, and each one has a name plate with it. Arielle looks at them one by one; only four names make sense to her: D.O, Suho, Kai, and Baekhyun.
Arielle isn’t worried much about misunderstanding until one man comes out of nowhere and seizes her hardly from behind. She grabs his arm and tries to pull away, but he has his sword up to her neck again. Feeling really familiar, she calls out.
“How did you get in here?” Kai literally growls. “Are you planning something in our palace?”
“No, wait, I-”
“I was asked to trust you, stranger. But the way you act is not trustworthy at all.”
“You misunderstood! I came here with D.O and the guards-” There are no guards when she turns; they are nowhere to be found.
‘Where have they gone in time like this?’
“Any last word?” he raises his sword up high, lights reflect it and Arielle gets the feeling of just how sharp the blade really is.
“Is this the hidden camera show?” She blurts out the last thought in her head. Kai twitches a bit.
“That’s your last words?”
“Okay, you got me. I'm surprised, shocked and scared. So, can I go back home now?” Arielle asks him again. He looks even more confused and mad.
“I said you got me! Come on out, everyone. The show’s over. You win!” She announces.
“How do you know there are other people here?” he asks and backs away a step. Arielle takes that as him admitting this is a show, but that doesn't seem like it when two people walk slowly out from behind the giant vase in the room. They're both tall and…handsome.
Stunned at the two new people, Arielle doesn’t realize the sword that now at her throat. Again.
‘Seriously, what’s with this kid and sharp object?’
“You're with the Red Force, aren't you?” he keeps on asking her about this Red thing she has no idea about.
“Uh… can we talk without using this?” She points to his sword.
“First, what is red frog?” She asks and gains a laugh from one of the two giant boys.
“Red Force.” Kai rolls his eyes.
“It’s the Evil force that roams around this planet.” The one who didn’t laugh earlier answers her.
“What? No! I don't know any evil!”
“Who are you, then?” Kai asks and still doesn't bother to move his sword away.
‘Jerk! Killing a fragile girl? All princes here are jerk!’
“I'm Arielle.” She tells them. “But you can just call Elle for short. I don't mind.”
“Say heaven, Arielle!”
“Hey, we can still talk!”
Kai raises his sword again, ignoring her words. Arielle shut her eyes tightly as she waits for the pain that soon will be coming from that sword.
* * *