The person held their hands up and stepped out of the shadows. I looked closer, squinting in the dim light, then realized; the person was a girl. She was about seventeen and tall with long brown hair that hung over her shoulder in a braid. She had a sly smile and her dark eyes raked over us, lingering over me and narrowed.
Derrick breathed a sigh of relief and lowered his bow, “Jessica, what are you doing?”
“Practicing.” The girl said curtly, “Who is this? A new apprentice?” She nodded her head at me.
“Yeah, this here is Alison Walker and she’s thinking about become an apprentice here. Allie, this is Jessica Peters, she’s training to be a Ringmaster.”
Jessica gazed at me and then stuck a hand out, “Nice to meet you Alison.”
“Allie is fine,” I smiled, shaking her hand.
“Jessica, where is everyone? We wanted to bring Allie to meet everyone.” Erica asked.
“Well, everyone is kind of scattered around. Like I said, we’re practicing how to stay safe the next time Reapers attack but we decided to group up at the classrooms in a few minutes.” Said Jessica.
“Ok, we’ll come with you.” Mason said behind me.
Jessica nodded and started walking along the path, I sped walk up to her and asked; “So Jessica, what were you practicing in the woods for?”
She looked at me and sighed, “You know that we’re in a war against the Army and Reapers, right? Well, we need to practice hiding from the Reapers and those metal freaks; they destroy everything.” Jessica spat out the last part, her voice full of sadness and hate.
My eyes knitted in surprise and confusion, “What happened?”
Looking down, she said so quietly, that I had to strain to hear her; “They killed my parents, both of them.”
“Oh…” I said, not sure of how to comfort her.
She glanced up at me and offered a small smile, “It’s fine, it was a few years back and I still have time to plan my revenge.” She gestured to a long, slender, bronze sword hooked onto her belt.
“Jessica, you know you shouldn’t focus on just revenge.” Derrick said sternly.
“I know already, jeez Derrick, you don’t need to tell me every day,” Jessica rolled her eyes in exasperation.
“What did you say?” soon Jessica and Derrick were fighting, throwing sharp comments back and forth between each other. I slowed down, to walked next to Erica, “What’s up with them?” I asked.
“Oh, they always fight, its normal. They’re all pretty close, them and Derrick’s sister Emily, she became a full Ringmaster just before Mason and I left,” Erica added, “Anyways, all there parents died in a Reaper attack when Derrick was just 13. It was a pretty sad day I heard. We lost almost all of our best fighters and parents.” She said looking down.
“Did… did you lose yours too?” I asked tentatively.
“Yeah… I didn’t know them though, of course, I was with a foster family, sent away from the war, but it still hurts, knowing that your real parents are dead and you never met them.” Erica glared at the ground while she said this.
“Oh…” Again I was at a loss on what to say.
Suddenly, the tension was gone and Erica shook her head, her red hair flying everywhere. “Well, it’s fine, I know that they were great people and I hear good stories about them so I want to follow in their footsteps.”
I smiled at her and nodded, “That’s great.” Then I paused, “Wait, does that mean my real parents are here? And does that mean my mom isn’t… my mom?”
Erica hesitated and looked behind her; I peeked around and saw a silent exchange of glances between her and Mason. “What?” I asked suspiciously.
Erica sighed and took my hand in hers, “Um… how do I explain this? Well… your parents haven’t… well… come out yet. We don’t know exactly who your parents are. The only reason we knew you existed was because we got an anonymous tip about you and decided to check it out.
It was only later that we actually realized that you were Ringmaster material, and then they sent me and Mason in. Do you remember? We came a little later in the school year…” She trailed off when she realized I wasn’t listening.
I stopped walking and stared at the ground, my parents haven’t come forward? What does that mean? Questions of doubt, anger, and fear circled my head until one stood out from the rest; do they not want me?
Suddenly, tears were flooding my eyes, threatening to overflow. Even though I was facing the ground, Erica somehow knew and tried to change the topic, “Hey… um… oh yeah! Do you remember when Mason and I first came to school?”
Thankful for a reason to get my mind off the heart-wrenching fact about my parents, I willingly thought back to the day Mason and Erica first came to school… “Huh… that’s weird…” I mumbled to myself, my eyebrows scrunched together.
“What is it?” Mason questioned.
“You guys did come in the middle of the year right?” I asked.
Erica thought for a moment, “Yeah… why?”
“I can’t seem to remember it… My memory is just… fuzzy…” I said slowly.
Mason and Erica exchanged a look then Mason said, “I think your memory was erased…”
My eyes widened, “What?”
“Yup, we got a Mind Master to fix everyone’s memories so they would be suspicious of why Erica and Mason came later.” Derrick joined our conversation.
“Oh, you finished fighting?” Erica deadpanned.
“Somewhat,” he pointed toward Jessica who was stomping away from up, “Anyways, I think your memory was erased because we did get someone to do that. It just kept the questions at bay- even if everyone’s memory was a little fuzzy from that day.” Derrick added with a smirk.
“Um… sure,” I rolled my eyes, “But what’s a Mind Master?”
Erica spoke up, “Oh I’m pretty sure I said something about it when we were at the wall; being a Ringmaster is, in a way, like a job. Everyone had something they’re good at so they need to be able to put their abilities to good use.
“But our ‘abilities’ are special. Like… um…”
Mason butt in, “For example, Ms. Clark’s ability is Healing. She’s a nurse. Derrick’s ability is Combative- meaning he specializes in fighting. During your training as an apprentice, you come to learn what your ability is.”
I pondered for a minute about what I had just learned then asked; “Can you have two abilities? And what other abilities are there?”
Erica responded to this; “Yeah, someone can have two abilities but it’s hard, having three is even more rare. Any more and its just unheard of.
“There are a total of five ability groups: Healing- like Ms. Clark, Combative, Mechanics- some of the people in that area can make a car out of anything, Gardeners- if you can plant it into the ground they can grow it- and lastly, Mind Masters.” Erica held up a finger for each one she named.
“But most Ringmasters are mainly Combative and Mechanics. We do have a lot of Gardeners but finding a Mind Master is really hard. I think there’re only about eight Mind Masters total…” Derrick trailed off, staring behind me.
I glanced in the direction Derrick was looking and saw a faded path cut off by an old picket fence. I turned to Derrick and then, for a split second, I saw a shadow of an emotion cross his face, and then it was gone.
“Where does this lead to?” I asked, walking towards the fence.
Erica and Mason both turned to look and Erica sighed sadly saying, “Oh… That’s the Cemetery.”
I stopped with a hand hovering over the entry gate, “Cemetery?”
“Yeah, the attacks from the Reapers are getting worse and people are dying, they’re trying to take us out before the Army comes.” Derrick said. His face was wiped clean of any emotions.
“Oh…” I mumbled still looking at the gate, I felt compelled to go in, like something was pulling me closer.
“You can go in if you want.” Mason offered.
I shot him a look of gratitude and slowly pushed open the old gate.
What is Alison going to find in the Cemetery? Why does she feel she needs to go in there? Ha! You’ll just have to wait and see!
Anyways, enjoy and leave a comment! Thanks!
Read on: Chapter Eleven