Canton chroniclesrising.., p.10
Canton Chronicles:Rising Power, p.10Faidra-Foteini Petaniti
Vanessa sighted as she sat in her chair, remembering Tom advising her to put cameras in all public rooms. She had dismissed the thought as silly, because they were five of them and only a hundred kids. The number had seem ridiculously small to her then. Not so much now.
We are too few and they are too many.
And that wasn’t even her greatest concern. With Priscilla’s help, Vanessa and Peter had dug up a few personal details about the kids. The two of them had some violent charges against them, and were associated with an important name. Alice Green. Aldus’s daughter. One of the most frightening men in whole Canton.
They all fell silent once they witnessed her name. Vanessa knew it was wrong to judge a child by its parents, ridiculous even. Her parents were practically angels, and she was nothing but. But as they dug a little deeper, Alice’s name was found in many cases concerning school assaults and physical abuse.
“She is Aldus’ kid alright”, Beth said, completely unashamed from the comparison.
“Seems like it,” Vanessa frightfully admitted. “And it all adds up, the defensive hits and the state of the two boys. They were probably on some dirty work, but it went wrong and they ended up being beaten instead. Did you find Alice?”
“No, Vanessa. All of the girls’ rooms are dark and locked. They’ve all fallen asleep. I didn’t want to cause any more panic than necessary.”
Vanessa nodded. Beth was right. They couldn’t afford to lose control from day two. They had to stay in charge, especially when such people were Aurelia’s candidates.
“Only one thing still doesn’t fit”, Guido added. “Their confusion.”
But Vanessa did have an idea about their confusion. While digging up the cases of assaults caused by Green’s little gang, Vanessa’s eyes fell on a name. Valentine Stone.
John Lucas’s friend, the one with the impressive test scores, a high candidate for the rare telekinetic Power. They were confused because their brains had been messed up with. Lucas was the only one who could do it.
Vanessa decided to keep the thought to herself. They had no evidence for once, and second… John Lucas was just too damn sweet. She didn’t want to cause his friend Val more trouble than necessary. At least not yet.
“We just let it go for now. But tomorrow, as much as I hate it, we’ll install the cameras, as High Counsellor Rosenberg suggested.”
They all nodded in agreement.
“And boys, get your day-trip packs ready. It’s time to pay our little-countryside friend a visit.”
6. The Broken Man
Harmony Village, Canton Eastern Provence A- 09:00, 23th July, 200 A.D
The wooden clock, carved masterfully in the shape of an owl, kept ticking in the living room. The fact that he was able to hear it, meant that he was fully awake once again.
The man had once heard of an Earth fairy-tale, one where a young girl was going back and forth to a magical land with the ticking of the clock. He was much like that fairy-tale girl. The ticking signed his entrance to reality. It showed him, that all the drugs had left his circulation. It was an incredible feeling, because, even for just a few minutes, he felt like a whole new man, ready to cease the day, ready to be done with the booze and the drugs, to hell with them, he didn’t need them, because he was strong.
And then in this determined state, he would turn his head, and his eyes would fall on that one particular picture, the one standing by his side on the bed. The picture showed a happy couple, a beautiful woman and a charming man. Her face was full of joy, gleaming green eyes, bright smile, with strands of hair falling carelessly in her face. The man standing next to her, holding her in his arms, was also happy. More than that, even. He might just have been the luckiest man alive. That man was gone.
At that moment, with his eyes stuck on his dead wife’s face and his hands searching blindly for his pills, looking for salvation, Henry White was actually, the most miserable person in the world.
Henry’s life started as a happy one. He was born different in a time where all Canton people were the same. His grand-father, Stephan White, was the first Negator of Canton, a man who could nullify all Powers, and the one who finally put a stop in Wagner and Magenta’s deadly reign.
Henry also possessed his grandfather’s ability, and the Council was nothing less than overjoyed. He was born and raised in a small Eastern village, but he was always treated as royalty. His life had been an easy one, full with pleasures and zero responsibilities. His natural charm, combined with his looks and laid-back character earned him a lot of friends, and later in life, girlfriends.
“Do you even know what responsibility means, Henry? Do you even have dreams, or even targets in your life? Other than partying, I mean.”
Vanessa Rehberg, his best friend, would always scowl him about his lifestyle, but Henry loved her too much to care. He also loved himself, his martial art training, his motorcycle, the bars of the City Centre and their parties. He only had to work a few times a month, providing the Council with a bunch of negating items like handcuffs or amulet, crafted from him respectively.
His attitude changed at his 27th birthday party. He and Vanessa shared the same birthday, therefore throwing a huge party on the 29th of July.It was where Henry met the love of his life, Eva Gerard. She was a friend of Vanessa’s and totally breath-taking, big green eyes and a mess of fluffy raven hair, pale complexion and smooth skin.
She was beautiful, but more than that, she was different in a very particular way. Quiet and really shy, it took Henry almost six months to convince her for a single date. But that was all it took. At his 28th birthday, they were already married.
For the first time in his life Henry really craved for a family life, ready to embrace the responsibilities that came along. After a while they moved together in his grandfather’s cottage in a little village called Harmony, the last village before the eastern desert.
The Great Deity Aurelia lived in a cave in the middle of the desert. Henry was aware of the fact, because, as a child, he would often leave his house in the middle of the night, riding miles with his motor-bike, in order to see her. He didn’t know why, but she always held a special interest for him, even though they were practically born enemies.
Henry would never forget how they stood opposite each other, and how he admired her waves and ripples of her blue aura. The Deity had no body at the time, just a suspending light ball, grazing the cavern’s walls.
The first person he ever shared that information with, was his wife. And slowly, but steadily, Eva begun to change. She was a scholar, studying the Heroes and the Powers of old. She was fascinated with the Deities and wanted to see Aurelia up close, even communicate with her.
“It’s impossible, baby” Henry would tell her, while they laid together on their bed. “She hasn’t communicated with anyone in years, except maybe the High Counsellor.”
“Let me try, Henry. Just let me try.”
And he had. Three years in their marriage, and Henry had lead his wife to this damn cave countless of times, with no result. Aurelia would talk to no-one, and his wife would grow more depressive, every single day. Henry knew that her inability to speak with the Deity was merely an excuse for her sadness.
Despite their efforts, Eva had not been able to become pregnant. And the fact weighted heavy on her.
“I just want to be useful” she said one hot afternoon, with the thunderclouds looming threateningly above the desert.
“But I am not capable of succeeding in one simple thing. I can’t have babies. I am falling back on my work. I can’t even get Aurelia to say one freaking word to me. Let alone be her medium.”
Henry had grasped her shoulders, in a desperate attempt to shake her from the dark cloud she had found herself in.
“Eva, what are you talking about? A medium gives up its own body, its own soul to its Deity, and it remains possessed forever. You are talking nonsense.”
“It’s the ultimate honour.”
They had argued for a long time, until they finally went to bed, without a word.
Henry dreamt that night, uneasy, frightening nightmares. And also of an event that had happened just two days ago.
Vanessa had taken him by the hand, and with a mere excuse, dragged him to the back of the house.
“Is everything alright, Henry? With Eva I mean.”
“Why do you even ask, Vanessa” but he felt the sweat on his palms. Nothing was ok. Not a single thing.
“She is becoming slow and forgetful at work. The Archive is starting to fall apart. Even Tom has noticed, and he never complains.”
“I thought you came for a visit, sister. I didn’t know your boyfriend send you to spy on us.”
The hurt on her eyes was clear. “I am here because I care, Henry. Something you obviously don’t. Maybe you’ll start taking care of your own wife. Before it’s too late.”
The nightmare made Henry sprung from his bed. He knew that his wife was gone, before he even saw her missing body. He rode as fast as he could, his motorcycle screaming through the desert.
He entered the cave running, out of breath, but it was already too late. Eva was flying towards the blue Aura, her eyes, ears and nose bleeding. The sound of an explosion, and the ground shaking, like an earthquake.
Henry covered his eyes and ears, and when he finally dared to look around, his wife was gone. The blue aura was gone too. In front of his eyes stood Aurelia, with Eva’s body, a malicious grin in her face.
That was the last thing Henry remember, before his world turned black.
His life went downhill after the incident. He was hospitalized for a long time, refusing to see anyone, throwing a crying Vanessa out of his room. Eva had heard their secret conversation that day, he was sure of that. It was the last nail on her coffin. Vanessa, that idiot Rosenberg, and him were the ones responsible.
After his exit from the hospital, he barricaded himself in his house, refusing to leave or to see anyone. His father tried. His long-time friends tried. Vanessa tried, more than anyone. But everyone failed.
Henry was a shadow of his old self, and after a while the alcohol came into his life. So did Canton’s wondrous drug, angel-dust. His dad died, and Henry attended his funeral from afar, with Vanessa making the last speech.
After a while everyone stopped calling, even Vanessa. Every day Henry would inject the liquefied drug in his veins, with a single hope of death as his own companion. He was a coward. A betrayer. A killer.
Sometimes a small flame would burn bright inside Henry’s mind, a tiny spark forming into a feeling, and that feeling was anger. In those rare, lively moments, he knew he wasn’t responsible for his wife’s death. Trying to shake the self-loathing out of him, Henry blamed the thing that took everything away from his life. Aurelia. Everyone in Canton thought that the Deities were holy and kindred spirits, but he alone knew, that they were evil in their very essence.
Aurelia was the one who broke his wife’s spirit, forcing her to jump in that cave. She had always needed a body, their Holy Deity, and his wife was an excellent candidate.
I’ll kill you one day, Aurelia. I’m a Negator, a miracle of men, a force of nature. You ruined my life. And one day, I will find the strength to fight back. And then my revenge will be the sweetest thing I’ve ever tasted.
The loud knocking sound startled him.
This is a dream. It must be.
Then he realized that someone was knocking at the door. His door. He mustered his thoughts as well as he could. Everyone had forgotten him, and with good reason. Some new neighbour perhaps, trying to test his luck with the spooky house round the corner.
Well, too bad, friend. Today is not your lucky day.
He went back in his troubled sleep. And then BOOM! A blast so strong that nearly gave Henry a heart attack. And that weird sensation, something he rarely felt anymore. Pure Anger. He was an alcoholic, a drug addict, a loser. But that was still his house and no one had the right to barge in uninvited.
He jumped up, trying to stabilize himself as much as possible. His heart and head were throbbing and his feet were unstable, but he was too mad to notice. He opened his bedroom door with a deafening bang and stomped into his living room.
“WHO the fuck do you think you are, barging into MY house like this? Go away, or you will get your ass handed to you. In pieces.”
He shout the sentence out loud, surprising himself. He didn’t even know he still had the strength to threaten someone.
Two figures were standing at the entrance, behind his now wrecked door. Two men. Two men he knew too well.
“Guido? Peter? What the hell are you two doing here?”
Henry felt extremely annoyed, but also a little bit glad. He had been alone for so long.
Guido looked at him with a look of deep sadness and wonder, but remained silent.
You never were one of too many words, my friend.
Peter approached him carefully, looking at him questioningly, with disbelief painted all over his face.
“Henry, is that you? What … what happened to you? Why are you looking like this?”
His wonder infuriated Henry. He took a step towards him and Peter took a step back reflexively. He must’ve looked pretty threatening, even in this sorrow state. He was one of the best tactical fighters of Canton, after all.
“What happened to me? What the fuck happened to you? Are you even in your right minds, barging in like that? If you have a favour to ask, I would advise you to be a little more gentle and cautious next time. Now get out.”
“I am afraid that’s out of the question, Henry.”
Neither Peter nor Guido had spoken. It was a woman’s voice. Figures.
“Better step out of the shadows now, Vanessa. Or are you afraid of me too?”
Vanessa Rehberg stepped inside the house and walked right towards him.
“Afraid of you Henry? No. I know very well, how much of a great pussy you are. Staying barricaded after the death of your wife. There is no need for anyone to be afraid of you anymore. By the looks of you, you can’t even carry your staff.”
She spat out the words, but she looked more sad than angry. She was exactly the same as six months ago, in his father’s funeral speech. It was the first and last time Henry had been drugged out of his house.
“You must be in a really tight position to be destroying people’s homes, just for a change to speak to them, Vanessa.”
“This isn’t a friendly Sunday visit, Henry. We are here because you have a contract.”
Henry had to search hard in his brain to understand the meaning of her words.
“Vanessa, have you lost your mind? I belong to the Council, and I’m obliged to help with my negation at times of extreme necessity and/or war. Do you see any war around you?”
“Would you even recognise a war going on at this sorry state of yours? As long as you were sleeping Henry, alarming things happened. People disappeared in the West. Some were even found dead, just below the Great Mountain.”
She continued as Henry gazed at her, speechless.
“The Academy is re-opened. And we train people there. Talented young people. Some of them are showing great potential already. Maybe a little more than we can handle. So we need you to be on standby in all of the times. You are being paid to do so, Henry. You are the Council’s property.”
Henry’s head was spinning. The information was too much for his wounded brain to handle. He spoke slowly, addressing directly at Vanessa.
“Let me get this straight. You took innocent young people, practically kids, and you train them to face an enemy which leaves dead bodies behind him? How desperate are you? Do you even care that they might be in danger? Do you even care if they live or die?
Vanessa was now at the edge of her almost non-existing patience.
“They are in a fully secured environment and they train under extremely careful circumstances…”
“Of course you don’t care if they die. Like you never cared if everyone else lives or dies, did you, Vanessa?”
“Henry that’s enough. Say no more. You know you’ll regret this.”
Guido was the one talking now, pleading for him to stay silent. Henry’s mouth was faster than his brain.
“Like you didn’t care if your best friend died or not. You ruined my life and now you want me to help you? GET OUT OF MY HOUSE.”
Henry screamed the last sentence with all the spite he could master. He felt liberated, even for a few seconds, before guilt settled in.
The guys started to protest, but Vanessa was faster than both of them. In a totally unexpected show of her strength, she jumped directly at Henry and threw him on the floor, holding his neck, pinning him to the ground.
“Vanessa get a hold of yourself. You are better than this” screamed Peter, unable to stop her.
But Vanessa wouldn’t listen. She was too enraged to listen. She slapped Henry’s cheek once, hard. But instead of protesting, Henry started laughing. A hysterical crazy laugh.
“What’s wrong, sister? Are you angry because you can’t handle the truth? Or because I made you express your true feelings? If you could only look at yourself right now, while you’ve dropped the mask of pretentious seriousness.”
She slapped him again, harder this time. His head turned on the right side, facing the large mirror in his living room, long unused and dusty.
“Look at your face, Henry and tell me which one of us has the worst look. Don’t you dare putting Eva’s name into your mouth, you fucking junkie. If there is a higher place and she is there, you be sure, she is ashamed of her husband’s actions every single day. You put a nail on her coffin like the rest of us. And you don’t even have the courage to accept it.”
She spat on the ground next to him.
Henry remained totally still, saying nothing. He was too hurt from her words to respond, even though he was the first to start this blame game. Probably because her words were so true.
Vanessa regained her grip on reality and stood up, leaving him motionless on the floor.
“We are leaving.”
Canton Chronicles:Rising Power by Faidra-Foteini Petaniti / Fantasy have rating 3.8 out of 5 / Based on19 votes