I am

"She was made out of pure spirit and life. A star on earth. Yet a hurricane in space. Cassiopeia Turow was different."
I am a girl who dared to dream. I am someone who sought adventure. I am a person who will learn and thrive and satisfy curiosity. These are all qualities most people share. But most people can't say that they overthrew a monarchy or helped burn down the world.


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14. "...we are all in a state of constant hysteria."

 

ELEVEN

“Her adventures weren’t calm all the time were they?”

“No, but then it could be argued that nothing is ever calm, and we are all in a state of constant hysteria.”

 

Five months and a week ago.

An alleyway in Irille.

 

A woman walked along an alleyway at night. The light of the moon illuminated her way and she was in no way scared of the upcoming event. This was what she was expecting. The buildings were tight together and they loomed over her, like a forest of stone. When she looked up the roofs were so close together that she could only make out a sliver of the black sky that was mirrored by the tiny stream of light that trickled along the cold stone ground. The alleyway twisted and turned back on itself, first going to the right, then to the left. From where the woman stood, whether she looked in front or behind, she saw nothing but stone. Anticipation hung in the air like a fog. The man she was meeting here was late. Incredibly late and yet she felt no worry. His oath to her was concrete, and so was the hefty deposit that had transitioned hands. Finally, a figure emerged from a corner, shuffling away from the more populated streets.

“I never thought you to be tardy,” she called and the man turned.

“You know as a kid I always wanted to come down here. And you know why that was? It was because my mother had always warned me and therefore forbidden me from going down these streets. But they are actually quite quaint when you come down them.” He pulled the coat closer to his body, but his rather large frame prevented this. The woman felt sorry for the poor buttons.

“I’m not here for anecdotes. Just give me what I paid for.” The woman was growing impatient as she watched the man not comply to her wishes.

“You know the score, the rest of the money is required.” The man smirked and drew closer to her. He confirmed the presence of her products, the silk bag being pulled free from his pocket.

Her hands were shaking and she was sweating as she watched the bag catch the scant light. It glistened a fine dot within the darkness, the clear products inside beckoning to her. She could not have been quicker as she pulled the wad of cash free, these were the old notes, the ones with just a crown for labelling. She was all too glad when the man counted her money with precision and time, and then gave over her product. He ran away quicker than he had arrived.

Thirteen pills lay inside the silk bag. The near translucent silk gave her that much. But she couldn’t wait, she had been waiting for a lot more time than she would have liked. This was her time now.

The pill tasted sweet on her tongue, but she knew that there was no sugar added to the mixture. It took minutes or seconds for the effects to take hold of her. How much she had missed this. This power and this strength.

The darkness retreated by inches, the light of the moon intensified. She watched as her hands became a light and her whole body became a glow with sparks. This power was hers and whose right was it to take these powers away. It was time to rob some money that she was ever so eager to take. With all the money in the world she could buy out the entire supply of the pill. The entire supply of SIE.

 

...

 

The Palace

It was one and a half hours before the ball and Hadrian felt wariness lingering low in his stomach. He didn’t want to go but it was required of him. Standing in front of the mirror he looked at his reflection, and the ceremonial dress reminded him of his father. The tattoos were obvious despite the clothes and he supposed that the artwork was doing its job. Hadrian sighed and the door opened revealing his brother.

“If you keep frowning like that, your face will remain that way,” Lucian remarked as he entered.

“That’s something a child would say and you know it,” Hadrian replied and fiddled with his shirt. There was just one piece that refused to be tucked into his pants without creasing and it was getting on Hadrian’s nerves. He had to look well put together and not frustrated.

“Here let me help me with that,” Lucian offered and soon the brothers were face to face. It was the opportune time for Hadrian to pick up a conversation that he had been shelving for a while.

“The priest told me about your condition and your reluctance to deal with it. He also suspects that you feel guilty about father’s death,” Hadrian whispered and he knew that his brother had heard him.

“I don’t want to talk about it, you should respect my wishes,” Lucian remarked as he finished his task and withdrew from his brother, “It’s my business to deal with.”

“Being a King is my business to deal with and yet you still help me, why can’t I help you in return?”

“Because I told you not to, but if that hasn’t made its way into your thick skull let me reiterate; leave it alone!”

Lucian was irate and his chest was heaving with annoyance. Hadrian knew that his brother wouldn’t listen to reason and instead grabbed a piece of paper and a pen to write his thoughts down.

Lucian you can’t push your problems into a cardboard box and lose them in an attic somewhere. It is not good for your health and all I want is the best for you. You are not at fault for fathers death, the people who killed them are. DEAL WITH YOUR PROBLEMS YOU STUBBORN ASS!!

While it may seem like I’m picking on you, I’m doing it because I am your brother and I care about you. I am a King yes, I have to do things on my own but I appreciate your help. We need to look out for each other since we are all that we have left. Since mother –

The note was never finished since Lucian read it over his shoulder. The paper was snatched from his hands and ripped in two. His brother was furious and stupid.

“Don’t bring mother into this,” he growled with the fragments of paper still in his hands.

“Since she left it’s been taboo to even speak of her, we have to confront our fears and feelings!”

“She abandoned us, left us with a backwards glance and a whispered apology. She didn’t want us and so she doesn’t deserve our feelings towards her.” Hadrian tried to get a word into the conversation but Lucian wasn’t allowing him, “Be sterner, you’re a King Hadrian, be like father and be a man. You shouldn’t harbor pity towards anyone.”

That was the final straw for Hadrian, “You don’t tell me how to rule. Last time I checked you are not the King.”

Both chests were drawn and the brothers faced off with one another. Fights between brothers were more often than not less heated than other fights, there were no punches or digs this time, but they were more serious. Their bond was disrupted and it was the ball in one hour.

“You don’t tell me how to deal with things either.”

Lucian stormed out of the room and the door was left swinging open. It hadn’t been slammed at least. This was just what they both needed and now Hadrian had a ball to attend.

 

One Hour later

The ball was truly a piece of art. But Hadrian didn’t want to be there. At the present point he was dancing with a girl that he didn’t even know the name of.  He turned elegantly, his body in tune with the slow music. Yet, there was a sort of harshness to him, like he was someone who shouldn’t be underestimated. He put up a persona of being interested, he made polite conversation with the lady and pulled on every dance lesson he had ever learnt. The lady was all air and smiles, all sparkling eyes and elegance. Yet he didn’t want that. The softness to her form felt wrong in his hands, it felt like it wasn’t earned or dignified in any way. He didn’t want to be there but he had to. Hadrian placed his foot and made a direction change and the girl followed because that was what she was expected to do. He drew bored but smiled anyway.

“Everyone is looking at us,” The lady whispered as she peaked flirtatiously over her shoulder.

“I haven’t noticed.” He replied and pulled her back into the direction of the dance. The song ended and the applause replaced it. The two separated and they bowed, the lady’s dress gracing the floor in waves. The screech of the applause drowned the unpleasant feel of sweat in collars and breaths regaining themselves.

Hadrian hated balls. He had said that enough times already.

He knew that some people would remark on the architecture of the palace, the high ceilings and the artwork of the sky painted there. They would remark on the tiered dais leading down to the dancefloor and the paintings that graced the walls there. They would remark at the newest painting to be put there, and a crowd would gather to show their grief and their excitement that their previous King had been drawn so well. But Hadrian had saw it all before; the room and the reactions of the people around him. He had danced the exact same dance over a million times and he grew tired of the weight the crown put onto his head. The royal insignia was pasted everywhere and even giving him a headache. This was not his best night, nor would it ever be.

However, he found his time to get away. Hadrian had talked to all of the needy aristocrats and had been allowed to roam the room in the way he had saw fit. Usually, during balls he would find a balcony and spend the whole night there, or wander the less populated areas of the garden, but he couldn’t do that now. If he dared he would be a miss and the Guard would be sent out if he wasn’t immediately found.

Where was a place that was close enough to the dance floor, but far away enough to be away from all of the noise? The Kitchens.

 

...

 

Today it was the ball and she and the owners of the tavern were panicked every second of the day. Cassiopeia had never left a kitchen in the last seven days and she felt like she could weigh out ingredients, crack eggs and blind bake things in her sleep by now. But when it came to the actual day she had this gaping pit in the middle of her stomach that was large enough to make her want to hold her hands around herself. A marked automobile picked them all up at the crack of dawn that morning and they escorted them all to the place that she wouldn’t leave until the dead of night.

“It certainly is something isn’t it?” Bruce muttered as he watched the girl gaze from the window at the passing scenery.

“You can say that again,” Lisa answered for her and they watched as buildings and people passed by in a haze. This way of travel beat any other kind that Cassiopeia had experienced so far and that was a hard thing to do since the Night Thief was a hard contender.

Her eyes widened when they arrived and the gates were shut behind them. She didn’t feel at all trapped, just in awe of a new place and a new overwhelming sight. The palace was an old country mansion that had probably been extended over the centuries. It was the only explanation for how large the domain was. It now had four sides around a central quadrangle and over five hundred rooms. These were guesses or exaggerations of course, since she couldn’t tell from the outside. But it certainly looked like that from its gargantuan size. It took a small army of servants to upkeep such a large abode and indeed most of the rooms weren’t ever used. She could tell from them parading around the courtyard, arms laden with dishes or towels or candlesticks and candles. From knowledge of protection she knew that the monarch dwelled in only one corner on one floor and would rarely step foot in the places where the real action began. The lower floors, where the servants worked off of their feet, was where all the real action took place. The real action for her would always be that of the workers and not of the monarchy because that was what ran the people, and the people ran the country. Without them they would be a fraction of who they were at present day. But she had to remind herself that the palace was a status symbol, the aristocrats were where they needed to be, separate, apart, superior, untouchable.

Cassiopeia was now part of that army and she had to perform and operate to a standard unless the aristocrats and her future would look bad.

“We must do a good job here,” Lisa warned as she voiced the girl’s thoughts and they set to work. Bottles were laid out, foods were prepared and cooked, ovens stuffed to the brims of their capacities. Time sped onwards as the sun faded and the chores were completed. Cassiopeia became more disheveled. There was so much to do and so little time.

Then the cheers began and the music and the voices. The ball had begun and she was in the kitchens performing her actions with hurried hands.

Cassiopeia wondered what it would be like if she was out there. Without consciously wanting it to, the scene formed in her mind and for a few minutes she was not a cook in the kitchen but a pretty woman out there.

For young women whose opportunities for exercise mostly consisted of walking, with riding thrown in at one end of the social spectrum and housework at the other, the chance to work off some energy through the skipping and marching and changing of partners of an old-fashioned country dance was exhilarating. The wide sweep of the open space, filled with people; those to be envious of and those to stare at. This night offered an opportunity for conversation away from the ears of chaperones – perhaps with a variety of gentlemen. The elaborate dresses – no gowns – and the makeup covering up any blemishes or insecurities. Just one night to step into the high heels of another woman, of someone different and with eyes attached to their form and their mind. Conversations filled with laughter and possibilities. Walking away with sore feet, a fulfilled stomach and mind, a smile on faces and dreams in heads.

Oh to be one of those women. But then Cassiopeia wouldn’t want to either, to be someone who was so focused on how they looked and how they walked and how they danced. She valued her other qualities and although she wasn’t like those women out there she was herself. That was the one thing to be proud of.

Back to the clatter of pots and pans and busy orders she allowed her gaze to follow the gigantic cake in the center of the warm kitchen. Exactly nine towering tiers, the cake was white swirling into blue and a crown made out of spun sugar sat on the top. Embellished with lacing and sugar flowers, it was a sight to gawk and drool at. It made Cassiopeia feel a bit disheartened by her raspberry jam tarts and dark chocolate bites. Nevertheless the cake would be taken out soon by the servants and she would be able to sit down and see how her friends were doing.

It took her moment to realise that she had just called Lisa and Bruce her friends. They had warmed up to her and although they had realised that she was more delicate to other Irille women, they valued her for her unusualness. They actually had meaningful conversations nowadays and they sometimes asked how her day had went.

It took thirteen servants to take the cake out and Cassiopeia could hear the crowd erupt in applause and shouts as it was revealed to them. Those around her, and herself included, deflated and dropped their utensils. There would always be another glass to top up or another bottle to be opened but all the food had been served and for being on their feet all day, those in the palace kitchens deserved a rest. Sitting down was the best feeling in the world right now and Cassiopeia drifted as she relaxed her muscles.

“You alright novy?” Lisa said and smiled at the glare Cassiopeia sent in her direction. Lisa’s hair was down now, the long curls framing her face haphazardly as they jumped free from the band at the back of her head. Never before, had Cassiopeia saw Lisa so tired to the bone and she imagined that she looked like that herself.

“I suppose so, how has your day been?” The two women had been on separate stations and the station Lisa was at was undoubtedly hotter and more stressful than hers. 

“Back-breaking to say the least.” Lisa chuckled and went over to kiss her husband. One day Cassiopeia would have a love like that, something unbreakable and expressed in the smallest of manners. Time would only tell.

Cassiopeia was sure that she slept for a while, lulled by the relaxed business of the kitchens, as when she awoke she felt lighter and weighed down at the same time. Things were still the same around her yet the staff held glasses in front of them, congratulating themselves on hard work well done. The one thing that was different however, was the King perched in front of her.

The King – who she knew the name of but didn’t dare call him by it – was smirking as he picked at his fingernails. The burgundy suit and the decorative lapels and the barely there hair made up everything that the King was. Of course, Cassiopeia was sure that there was more to him, but by looking at him that was a short and apt enough description.

“Before you panic, you’ve only been asleep for twenty odd minutes.” He said and his voice was almost gleeful as his smile broadened at her confusion and lethargy. Hadrian himself, had come into the kitchen and congratulated his staff on a marvelous job, then he had seen the girl sleep and found it to be the most peaceful place in the room at that moment. He was attracted by the atmosphere and he found himself sitting there, embracing his thoughts with full fronted effort. Of course, he didn’t just sit there and stare at her that would have been weird.

Cassiopeia would have liked to have asked why he was there, but he was the King he could do whatever he wanted. Stopping herself from saying that, she closed her mouth. Cassiopeia didn’t have anything else to say to the person in front of her.

“You can speak can’t you?” He joked and laughed at the death glare she gave him. Mentally, she berated herself for that too but decided against it. She was a person, she had free will too.

“Yes I can.” Cassiopeia replied and then relapsed into silence. Around them, the others didn’t seem too fazed about the King’s presence, in fact they seemed to be ignoring him. But they probably saw more of him than she so they were probably used to him by now. Her mind was full of ‘probable’s’ as she tried to ignore him.

But the King would not be ignored and chose to change the topic in order to get her to speak, “You know that there will never be another palace like this is any country or city in the entire world? The King of the time, my ancestor from who knows how long in the past, killed the designer after the build was completed. It may be gruesome but at the time, it was the first place to establish Irille as a country of the New World.”

“Are you going to kill the organizer of this ball to prevent any balls like it in the future?” She quipped and then caught up with her mouth. Clapping her hand over her lips her eyes widened at her words. How stupid could she be? She was in front of the man who could send her to death for god’s sake.

“Oh you’re funny!” The King answered and blew up her panicked thoughts, “No, I mostly organized it and I don’t want to kill myself. I don’t consider myself a brutal man to be honest. I always found the New World preaching’s of genetic diversity a bit bizarre, they were always going to the extreme to be the first of the first.”

“Not much has changed now then.” Cassiopeia deadpanned and leaned back in her chair. The King didn’t seem to be leaving any time soon and it was better not to spend time in awkward silence and uncomfortable stares.

“Believe me it has, some of the diaries here explain how biological testing was a huge craze in the newest days of this world. The least genetic diverse people were either executed or experimented on until their DNA had changed completely. We may still adopt the old ways of the Old World, scaling back on technology in most cases, but we have advanced from the first days of this world.”

“To live in the newest days and believe in needless genocide…” Cassiopeia drawled on and thought about it. Family trees were everything these days, you couldn’t interbreed or have any possibility of doing so. Their population must be diverse enough to never suffer from that sudden plague ever again.

Then there was the sound of a massive pop. The kitchen staff tried to locate the sound but it didn’t come from the kitchen. The King was amongst those looking for the origin but then he recognized the next sound. Grunts and groans, the brief gargle of the alarm sound before it was cut off, and doors opening harshly and hitting against walls.

The doors of the ballroom had been forced open.

Being in the kitchens was certainly safer but it wasn’t a great advantage point to see what was going on. The only way to see what was happening, without opening the doors, was to peek through the slim crack between the two doors. Too much weight on them, as one leaned to have a look in the ballroom, would cause the doors to open and their position would be revealed. Everyone in the kitchens was on high alert and still as they could manage as they strained their ears.

The King was the only one that moved, lifting a finger to his lips as a motion to be quiet, which was the most obvious move he could make. But he also moved to the door and made a painful choice of standing tall and tense with one ear precariously lifted to the white wood.

There was a lone bandit in the ballroom, and it wasn’t the typical person who would be this bold. It was a woman first of all and she didn’t even dare to mask her face. Hadrian was mildly shocked by that but what shocked him more was that she didn’t even have a weapon.

Well, not a definite weapon, the lightening protruding from her very fingertips was a weapon enough.

“She must have killed all of the guards to get here,” Hadrian murmured quietly. He had personally drafted near on a hundred guards to be centered on this section of the palace. After all a guest life of four hundred was bound to have an enemy somewhere. He felt guilt run through him that he had personally sent a hundred guards to their deaths. Hadrian shook himself, he had to get over it and ensure that the people in the room next to him would survive.

“You’re not going to go in there and start a fight are you?” The girl muttered as she walked over to him. Briefly he could hear an older woman warn Cassiopeia from going anywhere. But he had other things to think about.

“Do you think I’m that stupid?” He hissed back at her as she leaned over him to see through the crack, “There are four hundred bystanders in there and if I parade in there with a weapon ready they all die. Now is not the time for idiocy.”

Hadrian’s eyes shifted from the girl to the scene in the room beyond. He could just see his brother, looking as if he wanted to leap behind the table he was leaning against but deciding against it. If Lucian was wise, he would at least have a ceremonial dagger at his hip just like Hadrian had. If he knew what he was doing, he would keep his hands poised against said weapon and underneath the table if he could. No one in there wanted to provoke the woman if they could help it.

As the woman moved further into the ballroom and the lightening grew in intensity, the alarm and terror in the room increased in proportion. The woman just smirked in response. Then her eyes were drawn to a man with a notepad and pen out on the table scribbling away with haste. How stupid could someone get, wanting to capture enough notes to sell to a journalist if they survived? Some people were either really greedy or just really idiotic.

The woman waved her hands and the lightning leaped from her hand to the table. Instantly the table and the notebook went up in flames. The man leaped back in horror as his hand was singed in the flames. His quick sound of pain only made the woman smile in response, and the rest of the room shake.

“If you please!” She shouted above the sound of crackling flames and collapsing wood, “Sit down and be calm, I don’t want to hurt you. I just want your money.” She said with finality and the lightening on her hands went out as quickly as it came, the electric blue strands definitely not a miss on the part of the terrified bystanders.

“If everyone wants to survive they’ll give it all up,” Hadrian whispered and ignored Cassiopeia’s look of nervousness. He knew just as well as she did and not all of them would give up the notes they had in their pockets, some lord and ladies were like that.

“You have to be delirious,” someone said and Hadrian couldn’t see you it was. Whoever it was must have lacked a brain cell.

“I assure you that I am perfectly sane Miss Goody Two Shoes,” the woman purred and Hadrian demanded the other female speaker to shut her mouth and sit back down.

“This is outrageous, all the money we have here would never fit into your pockets. You’re not even deserving.” Then Hadrian recognized the warble, Lady Ivy the daughter of a retired constable who had enough money to build several houses. He had to think, and he had to do it quickly otherwise she would die.

Having lightening at ones fingertips was impossible. It had never been heard of. But lightening was essentially static electricity and that all it wanted was to get to the ground. Normally, it could be prevented from building up by something metal and the kitchen was full of stuff that was big enough to protect a body.

“Everyone grab a serving plate,” He addressed to the crowd behind him, “It will protect you for a while if she strikes at you. Knowing her she will know that not everyone is in that room. When she does she will come here and you have to have a chance of surviving her attacks.” The people around him answered his calls and did it gingerly. The girl gave herself one and gave one to him and he could tell that she knew where he was going with this.

“You’re not going out there are you?” She whispered, her breath hardly escaping her mouth.

Meanwhile in the ballroom the woman was assuring that the money would fit into the big sacks she carried with her and that it would be put to good use once it was in her possession.

“I’m a King, I have to serve my people.”

“That doesn’t mean get yourself killed in the process.” The girl retorted but he had to do what he was planning to do. Lady Ivy wouldn’t survive much longer as she carried on with her demands that the woman must ‘go away’. Using the serving plate to nudge the door open just enough for him to slip through it, he could see the exact moment the woman’s patience ran out.

Her face scrunched and her hand was flung out. In seconds, blue strings of electricity sprinted from skin and into the air. It took a single moment for it to connect and Hadrian could see how their met Lady Ivy’s body and spread, strands running in tendrils like they were dancing. It was horrifyingly beautiful. Lady Ivy’s screams lasted a second, high pitched and painful, before the electricity reached a forgiving hand to her brain and ended her life. It took the entirety of three or four seconds for the lady to die and the stakes were pushed ever higher as Hadrian stood there with a dish held lax in his grip. He was terrified and wondering what he had just done.

“Everyone give her your money.” Hadrian ordered the room and the woman’s eyes shifted to meet his.

“Ah. King Hadrian, I was wondering when you would show,” her voice was almost a croon as she enjoyed the sight of lords and ladies pulling wads and piles of cash out of their coats. She was drooling as the stacks on the tables grew higher and higher. Hadrian was glad that he didn’t personally handle any cash. But the Lords and Ladies obviously thought that this was either a charity or a business event.

“You take the money and we all stay alive.” He negotiated and put a loose hand on the dagger at his waist. Hadrian hoped that he wouldn’t have to use it, but in a corner of his mind he knew that he would.

“Of course your majesty,” she said mockingly, “You have my most sincere word.” She bowed and began collecting her money. It was slow work and everyone besides her were statues who would only become human once more when she left. She neared Lucian’s table and Hadrian held his breath. Her head tipped to the side, “What’s underneath the table mate? Anything of value?”

Don’t. Don’t, Hadrian begged for himself and for Lucian. They may have argued earlier but Hadrian didn’t want him to be harmed. The woman snatched his brother’s hand from the table and held them until Hadrian could see Lucian’s face collapsing in on itself. His brother would never physically show pain with a scream or a tear, but he was in pain.

“We had a deal,” Hadrian called out and the woman withdrew, and he knew that his brother’s hands would be burned or his brain would be damaged.

“I didn’t allow them to reach his heart of brain if that’s what you’re wondering my lord.” The woman promised and turned to face him once more, her bag full of money now she grew more defiant and unforgiving. He could anticipate what she was going to do next, as she flicked her hand and a stream of electricity flashed towards him. His reflexes were quick as he dragged the dish in front of his face. As the sparks hit it he panicked for a breath before he marveled as they refracted in directions over than the dish. They may have hit a table or two, or a tapestry but he had survived. It had worked!

Behind the dish his face was of relief was apparent and he could only guess her expression of rage. He advanced quickly, throwing up the dish every time her frustration got the best of her.

“You are not standing in my way!” The woman shouted and she became incandescent. Both in emotion and in light. It was as though she became the electricity she emitted and her eyes glowed the same white, blue that her powers were. “I will have this power forever!” She screamed and she flung the electricity desperately. Hadrian couldn’t risk that hitting a person, and he was glad when the bystanders hurried away to the huge metal table at the front. They could be safe there.

Looking at his brother from said table he tried to convey what he wanted him to do. Subtly his brother nodded and Hadrian prepared himself for an act of stupidity or intelligence depending on what its consequences were. Releasing the breath that he had previously kept in, Hadrian flung his dagger towards the woman and Lucian was a split second behind him, flinging his own in her direction. One cut her ear. The other landed in her leg. She extinguished. There was no other adjective for it, her powers disappeared and she stood there a woman in pain. With trembling hands she reached down to pull out the dagger. As she pulled it free, another one sunk itself into her shoulder. Looking back, Hadrian could see a frightened Cassiopeia near the kitchen door, her arm extended on a throw. The woman’s eyes looked up in fury and Hadrian knew that it was about to get worse.

As she woman advanced on them once more, she stumbled and looked behind herself. If Hadrian looked over her shoulder he could see another dagger protruding from the woman’s back, and it was unlike any dagger that he had seen. Curved blade, wooden handle. A second dagger came and then a third, and soon the woman fell to her knees gasping and trying to spark her hands to defend herself. It didn’t work and when a fourth and fifth dagger met with the other three, she fell forward and onto the ground, blood rushing down her sides and onto the tiles underneath her. Behind her there stood two people in black robes, with their faces hidden. Hadrian moved to go to them but they were already turning and running away.

Desperately he gave chase but as soon as he reached the doors they were nowhere in sight. How could they be that fast? Where had they come from?

“Is everyone alright?” Hadrian asked to the perplexed room. He could sum up that entire room in a few words, a killer dead on the floor looking like a porcupine, a bewildered and sighing crowd, and an air full of questions. 

 

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