Chapter One: Leianna
“Trova you have to be careful.” The words ring in my ears, the name rings in my ears. The name I have heard before, so many times, the echo in my ears throughout my entire life, the name, the girl I cannot shake. The girl I must shake. The girl I am told is meant to be better than me, no that is not the word. The girl who is meant to be good, to be pure, to be raised and blessed. Practically an angel on earth. Then there is me, her own personal counter balance. Today I will meet my own nemesis or so I am told. So it has been planned and schemed for me. I have to go meet the girl who has been the other side of my life that I have never met, an illegal bond. I am about to become the anomaly. Someone’s own personal nightmare or so I am told. For I am the unworthy one… or at least compared to her and them, I will be.
“Good morning my princess.” My mother greats me with that smile of hers, so sharp but charming all at once. She is in a good mood, a bit prickly, that wouldn’t be considered unusual if it wasn’t for that nervous glance at me when I sit down at the table. A huge breakfast is put before me. “It’s a big day for you.” Like I could forget with the weight of her smile.
“Let her eat in peace dear, she will do what needs to be done.” My father’s words are heavy this morning; I know what I have to do. Turning another soul dark, but not just that, turning mine permanently. I have twenty-four hours to set my soul on a course for the rest of my natural life. Not just my own soul either, it is not just my soul the darkness is calling for, it wants her too. The name that haunts my life. Trova faces the same twenty-four-hour window to set her soul on course for the rest of her natural life. That is if she knows, just because I am aware of what I am.
Finally, I speak “If she is unaware then it will be easy.” I try to sound confident stuffing a fork full of food in my mouth trying to force myself to eat. To remain composed. I don’t want to eat but I can see the expectancy in their eyes, watching me, measuring me, I cannot falter or fail now. If I do, later I stand no hope.
“Have you decided how you will… persuade her?” My mother has that familiar mischievous glint in her eyes the kind she has before she does something embarrassing and morally reprehensible. Not that my own moral compass strictly points the path to the right thing. I shake my head no and put my fork back down.
“There is no point in a strict plan until I know what I face. A general idea is enough for me, until I know the enemy how can I begin to thwart it?” I ask so nonchalantly my father beams with pride, like he could see every image of his own self in me. But I am not my father. Nor my mother. Nor am I him. Despite what is expected of me, what is demanded and wanted and desired of me I am not him. I want to rage it from the roof tops, every time I see that look in their eyes. That waiting for the first sign of showing what they call my true colours, my true nature. Followed by that flash of disappointment.
Parents with high expectations, the crushers of every dream that isn’t theirs.
I stand to clear my plate but they are snatched away and the food is tossed into the bowl of our poor excuse of a dog. It’s a handbag with teeth if you ask me. No one does, mind you, when I said I wanted a puppy I didn’t have the sorry excuse of a dog in mind, I imagined what I would make it. Not a cute fluffy thing to do silly paw tricks with, that was my mother’s idea to blend in. “How could it look evil?” She had cooed, “it will help us blend in around here like a normal family.” That was until she discovered the fluffy git liked to eat its own poop, then it lost some of its appeal, but it is how it ended up with its name… when she caught it she called it a fuck-wit and ever since then, Wit has been its name. I give Wit a little pet on the head at her bowl, stupid handbag that she is growls at me before I pick up my rucksack and head to the door.
“Enjoy your day honey, break some hearts, destroy some souls” my mum smiles attempting to seem like a well-adjusted home maker saying a normal goodbye at the front door. I give them credit they try to be sort of normal, you know, but well, they did make a deal with him… so you know…
The new school, a twenty-four hour window to corrupt a soul and secure my own, and the overwhelming pressure from my parents to turn out worse than them. What more could I need?
The school gates were nothing to cross, I know it’s silly, why would I be worried about crossing the gates of a school? Thankfully it’s not hallowed, I hope my parents had at least checked before I set foot on the soil if it was, otherwise they would have had to have come up with a better plan. Now all I have to do is find a girl who looks exactly like me, befriend her, lead her down a damning path to turn her soul. Except I don’t want to do the last part. Except if I don’t then I have to find some other way to deal with my own… problem.
“Ok settle, we have a new student today” the professor rolled his eyes at the class who are still mumbling behind closed hands, if it wasn’t for the fact my hair is pulled back or that I had decided to go with some rather chunky black rimmed glasses (that I don’t need- but they do make me feel like I look less intimidating in any sense of the word) I would have looked exactly like the girl sat near the front of the class. All gentle looking and soft by nature in her eyes, although she does seem rather curious when she looks at me. Curiosity is good, it is open, it is a way in. “Class this is… how do you say your name?” She says looking at the paper.
“It’s pronounced Lee-Anna” I say smiling. No one ever goes with the common sense way of saying Leianna, but that doesn’t surprise me anymore, no one seems to have a clue how to do anything. No one tries to do anything for fear of getting something wrong. “Most people just call me Lee.” I state attempting to sound warmer than I feel.
I am pointed to a seat not too far from my target. I hear the whispers erupt again and hear that haunting name whispered again. “Trova”
I write my name in a practiced curl, “Leianna Amaris” on my notebook. There is a soft patter on the window, rain is starting to fall and I smile. At last something that makes me feel, at ease. The soft patter changes to a pelting rain and the whole class is now watching out the window as the sky gets darker. Rather than watch the window I look to Trova for a sign, a glimmer, an unconscious flicker. A flash of lightening but her reaction comes after, just when the rain pours harder, she shudders. I knew she wouldn’t have been predetermined to lean my way, my challenge is going to be harder, to turn a soul that has been swayed from that nature will take more effort than I want to provide. She is the other end of the spectrum, the light to my dark and I have to taint her. I know I will never be able to taint her enough to destroy her soul but I can try, I have to try.
After class is over I feel a presence beside me. A hand reaching out to shake mine, “I’m Trova.” I smile and take it. “Who are you really?” She asks.
“I am Lee… I’m a transfer.” I say plainly waiting for her to fill the silence.
“Are you one of us?” She asks quickly, searching me for an answer.
“I don’t know what you mean.” I say knowing the opposite. She searches me again and dismisses me, shrugging as she turns around to leave me here. “Have you ascended yet?” I ask her.
“You know who I am?” I nod. In that moment she deems me not as a threat but as a tested equal. “Then you know I can’t ascend until tomorrows-”
“-Sunset.” I finish. “Me too.” I try to act less like I had scored the information I wanted to glean.
“You had a twin?” I shake my head no. At least that is not a lie.
“Many like us, we are meant to” I say, a half truth, I am the bi-product of an incredible conspiracy that resulted in two back fires, our existences. “that’s why I was transferred to this ward, to be paired with the other anomaly.” I look around seeming to make sure we are not over heard by anyone now. “Did you go through it as well?” She looks frightened, I wouldn’t blame her, if I can guess her family secret, a forbidden sway is still a sway. She nods, only just a fraction, just to confirm it. “Meeting your blood bringer is…” I pause to let her fill the blank as I please.
“Terrifying. His gaze felt…”
“Heavy? Like they are weighing their investment in you? Their risk?” At least I wasn’t the only one to feel it, albeit from something completely different.
“Exactly.” And that my dear Trova is exactly how I caught your attention.