Sixteen year old Cecelia Rusakova is hunted. To remain untouched and undefiled she must live a life oblivious to the reality around her and is forced to leave behind her home and her friends, most painfully her boyfriend.


3. 2

“That’s me.” I happily announced.

The girl walked over to me and held out her hand. “I’m Isabella Semenov but you can call me Bella everyone does.” she greeted as we shook hands, “Professor Long informed you that someone would escort you around the premises?”

I nodded whilst adding, “And helping me with my uniform.”

“Da. I remember. This way,” she motioned with that same smile, a smile that helped to ease my nerves a little more even though I noticed her strong grip.

We promenaded down a pavement of the rather extravagant interior gardens which only revealed; the amazement and the complexity of this place. The central design and layout was absolutely beautifully affianced together in a delicate form of roman art. Currently, I had no other reason to believe that this place was going to be bad at all.

Bella strolled before me as she pointed out the different paths which led off into different directions. There were four main paths and four minor paths which were narrower. At the centre of the connected paths within the garden we currently occupied, there was a large fountain harbouring an angel, a cross stood tall behind her as she peered up into the evening sky.

“That’s a pretty statue.”

“It is,”

“Does it mean something?” I asked, curious about the nature of this place and what laid within.

“Apparently, she’s a fallen angel who long ago was cast from heaven with her sister and forced into the Underworld. As a traitor to the Lord her wings tainted in dark scales.”

“Why?” I asked noticing the scales from her neck and down. I suddenly became curious.

“She always wanted a child and was never given one. Not without the means of sorcery.” I glanced at the statue and wondered if this was a religious school. I wanted to ask but Bella had beat me to it. “No our school is not religious in any sense we just have a lot of statues, artefacts and scriptures of many different religions because it’s a subject here.” I stared at her, surprised.

“Religion is a subject!” I exclaimed and she merely nodded.

“Just like science people should know about what could have happened or for some to believe did happen.”

“Did it really happen?” I asked as I turned back to the statue. “I mean is there a way to know.”

“There is,” she offered and I regarded her surprised but utterly shocked at the same time. “Time travel.” I sighed, it was as if the wariness of the day had finally gotten the better of me. I laughed realising the joke that shifted between us.

“Lookie here,” purred a male voice. I spun around to spy, three male boys looking at us with mischievous gazes. The three of them gave off the impression of seniors and I didn’t mean freshmen seniors, either. “Fresh meat,” taunted a red-haired boy. His green eyes raked my body and I felt slightly uncomfortable. Bella stepped between us – her hands flared apart guarding her firm shoulders.

“Leave her alone David!” she growled. I glanced between Bella and David. David looked annoyed and sighed in defeat. The boy next to him; caught my attention as his eyes were fixed on me. Black as the night they were which complemented his pale skin and ash black hair like mine. Beside him was a brunette boy with light blue eyes. “No need to scare the new kid!”

“I’m not scaring anyone,” he innocently mused. Bella placed her hands firmly on her hips. Similar to what I did when I spoke to my father, last week.

“Don’t even try and lie to me!” she growled and I was astounded by her strength.

“Now, that’s enough you two,” soothed a deep commanding male voice. We all turned to the origin of that voice and there was a man. He was taller and more attractive than the three boys. His dark brown eyes and hair were streaked in a lighter brown, making it almost a warm honey colour. “No need to carry on like two year olds.” I felt Bella relax and heard David mutter a curse.

“What was that?” he asked dangerously, glaring at David.

I glanced back at David who stood straight, “Nothing,” he quickly added and I felt my lips turn up into a smile, at his sudden fear, of the older looking male.

“That’s what I thought. I suggest you leave the new girl alone David.” There was a tone in his voice that sent shivers down my spine and when I turned back to thank the mysterious man I noticed he vanished.

“Are you okay? I really hope David didn’t scare you,” Bella warmly sung.

“No he didn’t. I’m fine,” I said wondering how quickly those boys disappeared, “So . . . where’s the shop?”
“You’re late.” Professor Long disapprovingly announced. He glared at Bella who, I assumed, he believed was responsible for making us late. I couldn’t help but stare, the anticipation of what was next to come made me take in every detail.

Bella bowed, a custom that surprised me. “I’m sorry Sir.” she apologised.

“You’re forgiven. Hurry up and sit down. We beginning the introduction to Calculus.” I stared wide eyed. Calculus! I fearfully thought. When I left we only began to learn Algebra. I suddenly felt weak at the amount of work I was expected to keep up with. “Is she okay?” I heard Professor Long ask.

“Cecelia?” I heard Bella probe with concern.

“I’m fine . . .” I muttered, still a bit weak, after the initial shock of our expectations. “I just don’t know where we’re going to sit and I was hoping to sit beside Bella,” I covered looking at Bella with a convincing smile, “if that’s okay?”

“Of course it is. Why wouldn’t it be?” She grasped my wrist and tugged to my seat for the year. We sat in the centre of the room Bella sat on one side of me; while on the other side of me, there sat a girl with long black hair and dark eyes – her hair was dead straight – unlike mine which waved down to my waist. She was beautiful – prettier than Bella – but at the same time Bella was lovely in her own sense. I suddenly felt self-conscious at the beauty everyone in this room possessed. “Cecelia?” I heard Bella whisper and I regarded her.

She held her slender hand to the side of her mouth as if hiding, her rebellious act, from Professor Long. “What’s wrong?” Her brows furrowed in confusion.

“Didn’t I say no talking Isabella?” motioned the stoic tone of Professor Long. I froze at the sound and felt Bella do the same. How did he know?

“Honestly, why waste our teacher’s time talking,” the girl beside me said in a rather smug tone. I turned towards her. As she ignored me and continued to stare on ahead. “He already has enough to deal with as it is.” I felt my brows inch down as I glared at her.

“Be quiet Genevieve!” I heard Bella whisper in a growl.

“Enough! The only person to talk in this class at this moment was me. Now pull out your text books.” I automatically did as he ordered suddenly feeling very afraid this attractive teacher. His features were something in which was strange, weren’t teachers supposed to be old like Mr. McGrath. Professor Long looked rather young for his age unless he just took very good care of himself. That was how class went by for periods one and two. We learned about the basics of Calculus even though I had difficulty understanding it. The only thing I was able to pick up was the equations looking like quadratic functions.

The bell rang overhead, my classmates packed their equipment before migrating to their next class. I motioned to follow but was soon stopped by Professor Long. “I saw you were struggling with today’s class,” he said.

“Yeah, I did. It’s a bit hard.” I confessed, embarrassed.

“Where were you up to when you left your previous school?” he asked.

“Basics of Algebra.”

“Bella.” I heard him say, I turned beside me and there stood Bella with her briefcase in hand as she appeared to be waiting for me. “I’ll need you to help her catch up in Math if that’s okay.”

“That’s fine Sir. Only if Cecelia wants me to.” I nodded, immediately.

“Of course!” I exclaimed beyond happy to have some help. Maybe I just might survive. I pleasingly thought.

“Well that settles it. You are to tutor her in other subjects until she catches up with curriculum.” ordered Professor Long, “And this will be added to as an extracurricular activity.”

“So I’ll get more points.”

“Five to be exact,” he admitted and I found myself lost. Hopefully, Bella will explain it later to me.

“Thanks Sir, I would have done it without the points though,” admitted Bella as she smiled at me. I felt suddenly happy at the idea of having made a new friend.

“So do you want me to deduct the points?” he mused with a risen brow.

“No!” she cried. I sighed. Maybe I jumped to the wrong conclusion too soon . . . I exasperatingly thought. Once Professor Long was certain I’d get the help I needed, he leisurely freed us.

“I didn’t know Professor Long was going to be our teacher.” I had said once we had left Professor Long’s class far behind and were on our way to our next class which I believed was Anatomy. It was strange, our subjects that was I wondered if this school had a different curriculum. I figured the school itself was signed up to a different program.

“Wait, did you know him from somewhere before?” she asked confused. I nodded.

“He escorted me to my dorm and told me that someone would show me around the school grounds and help me with what I needed from the school shop,” I said.

“He didn’t tell me about that,” she said and I was surprised. Why wouldn’t he have told her that? I considered to let it slide, as it wasn’t like I could judge what a full grown adult does. The problem was, only they could judge what I do which to me was so unfair, in so many ways. “Maybe he never thought it was necessary to,” she commented.


The air around me chilled. “I’m quite thirsty my dear . . .” cooed that same voice and I froze.

“Cecelia?” I heard Bella flutter beside me. Her gentle touch, pulled my mind back to the reality I faced. There, however, was a cool lingering sensation stinging my skin in the safety of these halls. “Cecelia?” Bella examined once more. I felt relieved to have her by my side as I was certain beyond any reasonable doubt; I was bound to hear it once again.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you,” I confessed. Bella relaxed a bit but her eyes still read “apprehension” – “concern” – “fear” not that I blamed her. I was slightly scared myself. It was the second time I’ve heard that voice and the second time I felt the cold out of nowhere. Father did say that when someone was hearing things they were on the verge of craziness, I just prayed I wasn’t. “I guess I was just a little nervous,” I lied.

“What’s there to be nervous about?” she asked not completely believing my lie.

“You know it being a new school and all . . . new people . . . I’m scared to make a bad impression.” Which was very true. I was strangely and notably scared to start over, even though it felt oddly familiar.

“Relax, you have nothing to be concerned about. People here don’t judge. We really are the same.” she said and the way she said that, made me question what she truly meant. “We all have more in common than you know,” she admitted smiling warmly at me. Without further ado, we continued on to our class, even though, I didn’t understand what she had meant. I felt her relax, as if the weight of something was lifted off her shoulders and decided to leave her be.
I stared painfully at the paper before me. Nothing stuck as blurry lines riddled my vision. Reading the page over and over again, didn’t increase my already lack of concentration so regrettably I gave up. Placing my head on my folded arms. I released a frustrated sigh. “Don’t give up you’ll get there,” she encouraged.

I spent the day going to all of my classes while being escorted by Bella. Not that I minded. I however, would have preferred to understand what was considered to be senior level work. We were just learning algebra, when I left at my old school for math so the gap in academic levels was wide to fill. Then there was Anatomy and Physiology II, a class describing all the different names of bones, muscles as well as how they worked together. With the levels required to reach. I disapprovingly felt like a University student already.

“Maybe but it’s going to be at a slow pace . . .” I muttered.

Bella was helping me catch up at the moment like Professor Long had asked her to except when she tried to explain stuff to me – I felt like I was wasting her time – I couldn’t even comprehend French and she was teaching the basics. “The key to languages such as French and German is memory.” she had said at one point. Just thinking about it now made me really feel more insecure than I did when I first laid my eyes on Genevieve who I found out was the girl that sat next to me in Professor Long’s math class. She was like a god given gift – I bet she had the most popular guy as her boyfriend. “I swear I’ll never catch up!” I moaned. I heard the chair shift along the floorboards and felt light pressure on my shoulder.

I looked up and there stood Bella with a warm encouraging smile. “Maybe it’s time for a break.” she said and I almost jumped in excitement at her idea.

“A break?” I asked, she nodded.

“Yeah, we’ve been at this for a few hours now.” I turned to the cloak and almost cried, it was five in the morning and school had finished at two o’clock. Also it turns out there was no such thing as the weekends but instead a weekend, so in other words, Sunday was free.

“What are we going to do?” I asked. She had to think about that for a moment before her face light up in delight. I regarded her with confusion.

“Why don’t I introduce you to the Circle?” she asked.

“The Circle?” I questioned. She laughed like a lady, “What’s the Circle?” I asked, she composed herself and smiled.

“The Circle was the school’s exclusive group of students,” said Bella.

“They are students of each level or grade as you will. They have the top marks in the school and are the best in the Arena.” I stared at her last word: “arena” as in stadium or amphitheatre?

“What actually part-takes in the Arena?” I asked – hiding the small bit of fear I felt in that moment. When she said arena my mind immediately jumped to the formal arena layout of ancient Rome with the gladiators. Which to me was a little strange as I didn’t think a school like this would waste their time with something so dangerous.

“Battles of course.” I stared. She blinked, confused for a moment, “Is something the matter?”

“Of course there is! How can people battle each other? It’s inhumane!” I growled slamming my hands on the table as I stood. I felt strongly the chilly air as I realised that I just screamed at the top of my lungs, in the school library. Other students, turned their heads towards me, including the Librarian, harbouring frosty cold glares that sent shudders down my spine like the voice, did every time but this one I knew, wasn’t as dangerous.

“Shh,” hushed Bella and I gave her a side look – expressing the “seriously” look, I attempted to have moulded into my features. “What?” I sighed and sank back down.

“Never mind.” Before I can even close my eyes, Bella yanked me to my feet. “Wh—?” I began but was immediately cut short by her superhuman iron grip. This chick is really strong what on Earth are they feeding her? Without answering she towed me out of the room and into the hall where she pressed me up against the wall – her eyes narrowed at the entrance. What’s going on now?

“Okay, we’re good,” she motioned and released me.

“Good for what?” I asked as Bella walked passed me with her hands behind her back, acting almost as if she was purposely ignoring me. “Hey! Good for what? Bella wait up!” I called as I raced after her. I couldn’t believe it but she was only walking and suddenly she was already at the end of the hall – waving at me with a bright smile on her face.

“Hurry up! I want you to meet the Circle!” she called cuffing her lips. When I eventually caught up to her, we made our way towards an outhouse at the edge of the school grounds. It was a mini mansion, with warm orange tilted roves, well cut bushes and a pearly white central fountain. It was beautiful at night, as the crescent moon filtered, against the fountain waters.

“Is this where they stay?” I asked.

“No, this was where they hang out. They have a separate dorm level of both male and female.” I nodded. That did make sense, regardless of how good they were at school work, they would definitely be separated. I was one-hundred per cent certain, my dad would make sure that I didn’t come in contact with a boy after Ryan broke up with me on our dinner date. Well, that depended on what kind of guy. My father could be a bit picky.

“Cecelia . . . are you okay?” Bella asked.

I glanced up to spy Bella, regard me with concern. I smiled and she returned the gesture. Before I knew it, we were on our way into the building where the Circle was. It was lavishly designed in a similar sense as the main building with wooden panels and wooden floorboards, high wooden dome ceilings with golden antique chandeliers not of electricity but of small flickering of flames. The flames seemed dance in a gentle yet elegant manner as Bella led the way while I followed without question.

“Bella?” probed a female voice. I glanced at the sound and there stood a red haired girl, her blazing hair fanned down to her waist as her pale blue eyes were radiant and distant, making her all the more beautiful.

“Diana?” asked Bella before she screamed in a bubble of joy. Stumbling up the stairs to where Diana stood she wrapped her arms around her waist. The two from the sight appeared to be old best friends. I waited patiently for them to finish and once they did Bella automatically introduced me to Diana. Diana was a very cool, composed and reserved young woman. Even though, she appeared to be a year older than us.

“I’ve heard so much about you,” said Diana as she viewed me. She and Bella slowly walked down the stairs before meeting me in the anteroom where I stood.

“You have?” I asked confused.

“Of course,” she answered. “Bella here hasn’t shut up about you.” Bella gave me a warm smile and Diana became in a sense welcoming but still reserved.

“Really?” I asked.

Bella was immediately by my side, “Of course, how could I not?” I smiled and we linked arms.

“Follow me, I’ll lead you to the others.” Diana stated and we followed after her. There in the common room the large next room over, upon flush brown leather couches were several other students – in the same; silver, blood red and black uniform. There were six three boys all of which were attractive. Taking a closer look I pulled myself up, realising that, the three boys from before stood a mere few feet from me – David and his group.

“Well look who it is . . . fresh meat.” droned David as he delivered a sinister gaze. The small licking of his lips at all didn’t help in not making me uncomfortable at all.

“What did I say?” growled Bella as she stormed over to David who purposely ignored her. “You bully!” Before I could say anything – the two boys from earlier came approached me and this time I knew Bella wasn’t going to be there to protect me.

“Wow isn’t she cute!” said the brunette boy – he extended his hand – taking mine in his in a firm grasp. “I’m Alphonse Maklakov and this beside me” – he removed his hand from my grasp and gestured next to him – “is Kristian Levkov.”

“I see you guys have now met.” said Diana as she joined our little social faction while Bella and David continued to argue. We all turned our heads to the brunette girl with light brown eyes – her brown hair cascaded down her back to her waist in straight silky threads. “Beatrice there you are, come and introduce yourself.”

Beatrice made her way towards me and smiled. She extended her hand like Alphonse and I took her dainty pale hand in mine. She warmly smiled. “I’m Beatrice Levkov.” I stared at her, “Levkov” as in relation to Kristian Levkov. The look on my face must have spoken my thoughts as I heard those words because at that moment Beatrice giggled, “Yes, Kristian is my brother – to be exact – my twin brother.”
Wandering around the school grounds without Bella was a big mistake; that much I knew. After all, I’ve only been here for less than a week and I was already lost. I sighed, “Didn’t anyone see this coming?” I recalled Kristian and Alphonse telling me that I’d be alright while David explained the ridiculous indecipherable directions he scribbled on a crumbled piece of paper. “And here, I thought my father’s writing was messy.”

I stood, questioning which route to take; I paused at a three-point intersection at the edge of the school grounds. It was smaller than I expected it to be however, the majority of the school was a hundred acre and apparently there needed to be an update in the brochure sometime next year since the school grounds were being extended while new facilities were being added. “You lost little lady?” asked a deep voice. I spun around, to see a middle-aged man wearing a large straw hat smiling at me, he was smeared in droplets of sweat while the wearing brown one piece overall, smudged in dirt.

“I’m sorry . . . you are?” I asked. He smiled and giggled at my sensible question.

“The name’s Jarvis, yours?”

“Cecelia.” I introduced. He shifted around his thick shovel he had plunged into the ground; something he used to support himself. “And yes, I’m lost . . . can you tell me where the teahouse is?” He laughed and I questionably regarded him, I was certain I didn’t say anything funny and if I did, I was unconvinced it was that funny.

“You found it little miss, head inside that building behind the trees, you can see the red tiles there in the distance.” He nodded his head in the general direction. I turned from him and saw the slight read roves he nodded towards. Internally, I felt more relief at that moment than I did since they gave me this task. “The lady there . . . name’s Ercela, she’ll help you with whatever you need. Just remember to be polite.” He turned his heel and left, lazily waving at me from over his shoulder.

The small house wasn’t exactly small, it was large. The cream coloured walls danced fluidly under the sunset and the purple-blue sky behind the building only added to the red tiles which complemented the surrounding forest in a pleasant manner. I strode towards the fly-wire door and knocked on its black metal frame. There was nothing at first though I was tempted to try again. The moment my pale knuckles were ready to repeat – the wooden door swung open to reveal a woman with slim glass frames lining her sharp eyes and pointed features as black hair was pinned back and up into a high bun. “Yes?”

“Are you Ercela?” I asked. “The woman in charge of the tea house.”

“Yes, and who might you be?” she asked.

“I’m Cecelia Rusakova, I was sent to retrieve more tea by the Circle.” The woman sighed her delicate pale fingers brushed along her features as deciding what to do. She stepped aside and gestured for me to enter something I did without hesitation, as she seemed like the type of person to cut interest quickly. Soon, I was guided inside a foyer designed like the main castle.

“Those kids, honestly, I swear they go through tea and sweets like water. Don’t they know these things aren’t cheap.” she mumbled and I was slightly confused by her reaction.

We entered a large spacious room, lined in tall ceiling high shelves where pots filled with herbs; plants and other flora all of which were labelled with a white tape and black penmanship. “Don’t these come from companies?” I enquired as I observed the masses and masses of herbs stacked in numerous jars.

“They would if the companies had what we want, except they don’t. I grow them and distribute them to various other places. It’s a well-earned business except when those little brats decide to drink up my hard work. I won’t have any money to pay for next month’s supply if they keep this up.” The hardness in her features and the tone of her voice – from here, I could indisputably tell, she was frustrated.

Thud! I peered over my shoulder and glanced at the door only to find nothing. I returned my attention back to Ercela. Her black well-shaped brows only arched more in annoyance as she glared at the door. Immediately, it swung open and I was surprised at who I saw. “David?” I questioned. “What are you doing here?”

“Making sure you have our tea.” he answered casually striding over to us, not even considering, closing the door behind him.

“I’m getting it now.” I stated, slightly annoyed. Before turning my back on him. “Anyway, you still haven’t answered my question!” I declared with my back turned on him. I continued wait for Ercela as she grunted in annoyance, before she returned to search for what was required. “Um . . . Ercela, do you know what to look for?” I asked hoping she did.

“I do, relax, child. It’s the same as it always is. They’re like their parents – similar tastes must be a dominant gene among their families.” she uttered and I giggled. David marched beside me.

“Hey! That’s my family you’re talking about you, old hag!” he growled. I glared at him.

“David!” I gasped. “Don’t be rude! You can’t go around and say stuff like that!”

“Such pestilence impudence!” snapped Ercela. She turned around this time her hands on her well curved hips and glared. The strangest part was she didn’t even look that old – she looked like a young adult. “You kids these days are more impatient than your predecessors.”

“What?” he growled confused and I remained silent. Like that the two managed to be tangled into an argument that I was contemplating one: on how quickly it happened and two: how heated it was. What I didn’t understand was the talk about the predecessors’ thing. How does this woman know their families? Was it her mother who told her about all these things? I somehow managed to drown out the argument and noticed a little while later that it was quiet. I noticed Ercela had crossed her slender arms at some point, as she watched me.

“Did you hear what I said, child?” she asked.


“I said is there, anything you want?” she asked, this time with a serious gaze. I glanced between her and David and back again, David just shrugged at my confusion as Ercela hadn’t said much.

“Um . . . no it’s okay,” I urged.

“You sure?” questioned Ercela with a gaze so penetrating, I nodded. Feeling as though she was searching for the darkness within.
Couldn’t you turn around and say you had everything under control? Sometimes I wondered about David, for some strange reason, he didn’t seem to believe half of the things I tell him. At the same time, I really couldn’t be bothered but I knew I had to ask as there was this foreboding darkness that surrounded this school and yet, within those same halls every day there seemed to be a shadow so much obscure than black itself. I wandered beside David on the way to school grounds, with the tea bags cradled in brown boxes that sat snuggly in my arms, “Why were you there?”

“Because I wanted to be.” he argued and I scowled at his words, I had a strange feeling he was lying to me but couldn’t be sure if that feeling was true.

“Fine. Whatever.” I groaned. We returned to the central school grounds, immediately before sunset and wandered down paths lined in well-trimmed bushes, the mowed lawns – leafless paths that appeared to have been pressure pumped rather than blown – which seemed to give a healthy dark green orange glow. “What’s the time?” I asked, scared of missing first period. I had Professor. Blanc and I didn’t like the sound of what the rumours surrounding him. Apparently, he was the type of teacher that drilled their students with work and more work – his way of teaching, was far more brutal than any other teacher, I apparently, could have ever had.

“Six thirty,” I stood frozen. David stopped and turned over his shoulder. “What’s with you?” he asked and I failed to reply, I failed to do anything. It was my second day of school and I was going to be late for first period. David turned around and waddled towards me with utter grace, masking a questionable guise.

“I’m quite thirsty my dear . . .” that voice whispered.

My arms slacked and my thoughts vanished. “What’s wrong with you—” The ground turned and shifted beneath my feet as everything began to crash. Even before I knew it, I landed on something; it was firm and sturdy but far from safe. “Cecelia! Hey wake up! Cecelia!”


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