a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
“Verena!” A boy growled and followed his much smaller and mischievous partner into the shadows.
They weren’t partners in a romantic sense, though the girl was certainly attracted to him. No, the girl was one of the most feared and elusive assassins in all of Avianor, and at only age 16 she had slain more men than were on the Emperor’s Guard.
The boy loathed her. As the Captain of the Guard, he was constantly running after her, cleaning up her messes and keeping her out of trouble.
The Captain was in charge of the girl’s safety. You would think the heir to an empire would sit in meetings all day, but Verena was different. Darker somehow and always aching to avenge her mother’s untimely demise. Odd, as her mother had passed away when Verena was only 8 years old
“Oh, hush Caiden. You hate Attis more than anyone at court, I would have thought you’d be cheering her passing on from the sidelines. As usual.”
Caiden grabbed for her wrist, but she danced away from him as though it were all a game.
“Don’t say her name.” He snarled.
“How unfortunate. The Captain of the Guard’s heart crushed by a Lady.”
Caiden followed Verena through the winding cobblestone streets, his hand itching to draw out the sword hanging at his side. The light from a nearby lantern made Verena appear young and penitent.
He knew better. At 17 he was the youngest Captain of the Guard in Avianorian history and even with all his training he knew Verena was a more skilled warrior than he would ever be.
One move to abandon her and she would rip out his throat. How she trained as an assailant, Caiden would never know, but he knew her Father had no hand in it. Hell, he didn’t even know if the Emperor was aware of his only child’s lethal nature. Too busy picking out a shiny new wife, Caiden thought, annoyed Verena had dragged him out this late.
“Almost there, Cap,” Verena called over her shoulder. Caiden could hear the smirk in her voice.
He caught up with her. They walked in silence, hidden by the shadows, their cloaks drawn over their heads. Avianor would have been beautiful at this time of night, but as Verena was about to commit first-degree murder, Caiden felt the mood ruined thoroughly.
Verena suddenly took off at a run and launched herself onto a nearby roof.
Caiden groaned. “Get down, somebody will notice you!”
Verena laughed, “Calm down, Cap. I’ll be back in 10 minutes, just hold tight.”
Before he could protest, Verena disappeared through a window.
A handful of minutes later, and Verena came back out the window. “I’m done.” She said it offhandedly, like a child who had just finished an ice cream cone.
Somersaulting off the roof, she landed beside Caiden.
They walked through the cobblestone streets a good few feet apart. Verena spoke up, “Can I show you something ?”
Caiden nodded. He felt something was bothering her, and as much as he hated her, something like sympathy washed over him when she extended a hand.
Her hand was small and cold in his. He didn’t ask what she had done with the body, as always. That was her business and Caiden frankly didn’t want to be an accessory to the murder or any of her other midnight adventures.
Her shoulder brushed against his, and Caiden felt an unnatural thrill rush through him at the contact. Verena didn’t seem to notice as she pulled him along.
They stopped in front of an old planetarium which seemed to fall into the ground.
Still clutching his hand, Verena led him inside.
“Is this safe?” Caiden murmured.
“Have I ever steered you wrong Cap?” He felt her smile in the darkness, and couldn’t help but smile himself.
They stepped up a rickety set of stairs, before finally opening a door to find themselves in the domed room of the planetarium.
Verena broke away from him and danced around the room. You could see constellations on the dome, and the city lights cast a faint glow around the room.
“I come here sometimes. When it’s too much.”
He knew what she meant. They are both so young and the responsibilities they bore could be too much for people double their age.
“I know what you mean. The garden is- it was my favourite place. “
She turned to face him at the change in his words.
“It was Attis’s favourite place too. After what she did- I can’t bear to go back there anymore.”
Verena absent-mindedly nodded and crossed the room to him.
“Caiden, I trust you more than I trust myself and I hate myself for it.”
It caught him off guard.
“Yes. I- I can’t explain right now but they involved Attis in my mother’s death.”
Verena’s eyes turned stormy at the mention of her mother’s death.
“Verena, Attis was eight years old when your mother died.”
“I can’t tell you anything yet. Caiden if I were to run away from all of this,” She gestured to the surrounding room, but he knew she meant Avianor. “Would you come with me ?”
Caiden couldn’t explain it, but he had been trained to oversee her safety since before he could remember, and felt as though he were the only one who could guard her.
She kissed him then, swift and full of pent-up emotions.
They slowly dropped to the ground, and as Caiden stared into the eyes of this beautiful, wicked girl she did the most wicked thing of all.
“I’m sorry. Maybe in another life, we could have had more time.”
Before he could ask her what she meant she pulled the sword at his side out of its sheath and plunged it into his stomach.
As night turned to day and the life left his eyes, the girl wept. She wept for the boy and the terrible things her mother had made her do.
A hand clamped down on her shoulder.
“Don’t cry, darling.” Her mother smiled down at her.
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.