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The Arena of Kage's
Author's note: I always wanted to write azombie book, but incorporate magic into it too. I write this for Linhlynn, who always (somehow) delt with my odd tendencies.
Amber Markmann ran frantically through her family’s townhome, flinging open doors and ripping up beds.
“Jordan?!” the fourteen-year-old called, searching under the bed.
Her flaming red hair added to the frazzled aura she was giving off, long frizzy hair trailing after her into the living room. A low groan outside a window broke the tense silence.
“Oh my god,” Amber whimpered, backing unconsciously into a corner.
The glass shook as heavy fists pounded against it, the windows rattling in their frames. With each hammer she jumped, wild red hair flying in all directions. Their rhythmic beating continued, spreading to the wooden front door, the sharp sound of glass cracking filling the one-story house.
“Go away,” she bawled, face buried I her hands. “Leave me alone!”
Moments later the windows shattered, Amber’s shrieks filling the air. Glass covered the burgundy carpet like the twinkling stars dotting the night sky. Across the street lights flickered on, but by then Amber was quiet. Shortly after the windows the door gave in, sending splinters of mahogany wood flying through the air. Any outside noise was soon stifled by the shuffling and ethereal sounds coming from the undead.
The mob was a mix of male and female, blood dripping like rain down their rotten, decaying skin. Bones jutted from their joints, clothes ripped and dirty. A putrid, moldy smell enveloped the entire house, causing Amber to gag and plug her nose. The living dead lumbered towards her, eyes skittering crazily in their sockets, heads lolling lifelessly. Leading them in was a young, dead boy, looking like he had been only seven when he had died and a zombie for only a day. He had short, flaming red hair and pale white skin like Amber. Blood matted his hair and face, staining his ripped pajama shirt and pants.
“J-Jordan?!” she squeaked, shrinking down even smaller than before.
His milky white eyes swiveled in her direction.
“Ammmberrr,” he groaned, others taking up the chant. “Ammmberrr.”
“No!” Clapping her hands over her ears she rocked back and forth as a tall, lean, seventeen-year-old strolled into their house. “This isn’t happening, it’s one of those trippy dreams, it’s going to be okay…”
The teen in front of her ran a hand through his spiky, bleach-blonde hair.
“Hey, hey,” he soothed, crouching down next to her and laying a comforting hand on her arm. “It’s okay, they won’t hurt you; they listen to me.”
Still she rocked, now silently mouthing words of comfort. He sighed, reaching into a bag one of the undead handed him and pulling out a syringe filled with a __________ liquid.
“I didn’t want it to come to this, but you leave me no choice.” The teen, dressed in some casual jeans and a purple plaid shirt, injected the drug into her arm like a professional. “And I’m not even a nurse!” He laughed, carefully placing the needle back as Amber stopped moving, going limp and sprawling in his arms. “Now, my pets,” he said, standing up and opening his arms wide. “Pick her up and away we go! Kage needs his entertainment!”
“Yes, Shane,” the zombies murmured, unintentionally causing every word to sound as guttural as possible.
They, astonishingly gently, lifted her off the glass-covered floor and carried out of her family’s townhome. The odd group, with Shane in the lead, trudged down the surprisingly deserted street and towards the distant high school. The sun had just started to raise, the world holding its breath at that moment.
Jocelynn Parker bounded down the stairs, her long blonde hair trailing in her wake.
“Just-in,” she called, her voice as sweet as sugar cubes, stopping to primp in front of a mirror.
Not that it was needed. When there was no answer she called again, this time less sweet.
“Justin? I’m hungry; you better be in there…”
All the make-up in the world couldn’t have hidden the evil grin that spread across her otherwise pretty features.
“A male a day keeps the Reaper away,” Jocelynn sang, eyes closed as she walked blindly into the spotless kitchen. “This had better be a good surprise, Justin. I’m already going to be late to school.”
A voice gave the order as two deathly cold hands clamped onto her forearms. Her eyes flew open just before a hand reached up and slapped her face; not hard enough to hurt, but just enough to make her stunned.
“Excuse me?!!” She addressed her attacker, completely forgetting about the two people keeping a grip on her wrists. “What was that for?! And who are you?!”
Jocelynn eyed the girl standing before her in her family’s kitchen. The girl wore an all-black kimono, matching her straight, glossy black hair and dark, slanted eyes. She looked to be about nine, with a small, petite frame.
“Insolence towards your elders is an act of treason, silly.” She spoke as if she were scolding a doll. “And my name is Mieka. It means beautiful red.” Her eyes narrowed, face growing evil and dark. “Red as in blood.” As quick as the storm had come, it vanished. “Kage is probably waiting for a report. I’d better hurry up.”
Mieka curled her forefinger, walking solemnly out of the kitchen. With a start Jocelynn realized the things holding her arms were wraiths. Black as night yet as gauzy as mist, wraiths were creatures from the darkest nightmares. Their hugs were particularly deadly; through full physical contact, they could absorb your soul, leaving you an unmoving, boneless heap. Wraiths wore cloaks of darkness, hiding everything except their pale, sturdy and unexpectedly gentle hands. This was precisely what was holding Jocelynn captive. They led her out of the house, their ‘feet’ never once touching the ground.
“Come on, you slow-de-pokes,” Mieka said ahead of them, her clothes as still as death despite the strong morning wind. She waited for them at the end of Jocelynn’s driveway.
“So, Mieka,” Jocelynn said after they had walked a while. “Where are we going?”
Mieka looked up, already bored with her prisoner. “Now or later?”
“First we’re going to the school, and then you’ll get shipped to Kage’s.” Mieka looked straight ahead, arms crossed. The sun rose, big and yellow, causing Mieka to shield her eyes and wince.
“Why? What’s going to happen there?” Jocelynn asked, turning her face away from the bright glare.
Mieka looked back, annoyed, her voice flat. “I suppose they’ll torture you. Kage likes the girls broken. And then at his place you’ll either be one of his girls or a fighter in his arena.”
Jocelynn digested this, noticing that they were getting closer and closer to the high school. They must have walked for at least a mile, but it was so close she could see the name on the front: Michael J. Beech High School. She didn’t want to meet this Kage-guy, whoever he was; he played dirty, using little girls and wraiths, the sicko. Mieka was ominously quiet the rest of the way to the school, ignoring all of Jocelynn’s questions. The nearer they got to the building, the more the wraiths fidgeted. Jocelynn was soon dragging her heels, face showing downright terror; if it made the wraiths nervous, it was something to be afraid of.
Tristan Sarvey strolled into the Michael J. Beech High School, hands in his jean pockets and a breeze ruffling his black hair. Gazing around the granite cafeteria, his mind was elsewhere. God, how he hated the place, but he had to feed. A school was the perfect place for the physical contact he used and craved. One would think a fr***in’ school would have enough psychic energy to feed him for a month, let alone a week or two. That person would be wrong; it barely fed him from day to day. A short, two-second brush in the hallway scarcely gave him the energy to stay awake in class. Which would be bad, because he would get suspended; or worse: expelled. Tristan shuddered; he didn’t want to even think about not feeding… His brown eyes darted around the empty lunchroom.
“Hello?!” he called, heading towards the other vampire’s meeting place.
No nerds, no jocks, no pretty girls in-between. Tristan groaned in disappointment, his stomach already growling with hunger. He snapped his fingers.
“I know where they are! There must have been a pep fest or something this morning, that’s why they’re all in the gym!”
Running to the gym, he softly opened one of the three entrance doors.
“Sorry I’m late,” he whispered, stepping inside and shutting the door. “I didn’t know, but I’ll just go sit…”
Tristan stopped in his tracks, his brain not quite understanding what it was seeing. The whole gym was packed with zombies, their decaying skin filling the air with a putrid odor, flesh falling off in clumps. Tristan felt his breath catch in his throat as a zombie wearing a tattered football jersey turned towards him, dried blood crusting its face.
“Intruder,” it said, the word no more than a rasping growl.
“Now, now, what do we have here?”
Tristan whirled, his black clothes making him look like a shadow. He was face-to-face with a blonde-haired human who was wearing purple plaid and blue jeans, his short hair spiky. The teen clapped Tristan stiffly on the back.
“And who might you be, my friend? A hopeful necromancer, waiting to join the rule of Kage? A strong, brave warrior, ready to fight horrible monsters in Kage’s arena?” The blonde looked Tristan up and down, frowning. “You don’t look like either of those.”
“I’m not.” He regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth. “No, what I mean is, I’m not exactly like those-“
Tristan noticed the blonde watching his mouth, eyes narrowed as he talked. Oh no! Can he see my fangs?
“Hey, hey, hey,” the blonde interrupted. “It’s okay. I get it. You want to be a necromancer, but you’re too afraid to ask.” The blonde smiled, wrapping an arm around Tristan’s shoulders. The smile never met his eyes. “I’m Shane. Look-look at all this.” Shane motioned to the gigantic gym filled with the undead. “All these Shamblers could be your doing, someday. Just say the magic words, and it’s all yours.”
“Shane!” Tristan and Shane spun around to stand in front of a little girl dressed in a black kimono.
“Ah, Mieka. So glad you’re here.” Shane bowed respectfully, resting his hand on her shoulder. “Excuse us, um…”
“Tristan.” Tristan tilted his head, placing his hands in his pockets.
“Nice to meet you…Tristan.” Mieka looked at Tristan intently before following Shane off to the side.
Psst, a voice in his head said. I’m Jocelynn. After a pause she added I’m another vampire.
Well of course she was a vampire; they were the only monsters able to talk to each other telepathically.
I’m Tristan, he answered. Where are you?
Behind you, held by the wraiths. Listen, you need to get out of here. Mieka, the cute little girl? She kidnapped me. She says she works for some guy named Kage…
Pretending to pace, Tristan glanced behind him and caught sight of Jocelynn. Her normally pretty face was drawn tight, her eyes wide with fear. You couldn’t fake fear like that, no matter how good of an actor you were. Carefully he weighed his options; he couldn’t do much, since his energy was running low, but the physical contact from Shane had woken him up.
Okay. I’ll try.
Jocelynn didn’t reply. Tristan took a quick look at Shane and Mieka, deep in conversation and sometimes looking his way. He started to stretch and shake out his legs.
“Hey!” Shane shouted as Tristan took a few steps back. “Tristan!”
Tristan tipped an imaginary hat towards the pair before strolling towards Jocelynn.
Tristan! What are you doing?!! She screamed in his head.
I’m really sorry, he said back. It’s for the best. For both of us.
When he reached the stunned Jocelynn he hugged her, wrapping his arms around her torso. In their six-second embrace Tristan absorbed all her psychic energy, draining her almost to the breaking point. He released her just as she collapsed, completely sucked dry.
“Sorry,” Tristan said, giving her one last look before dashing out of the gym.
He ran fast, so fast he was just a black blur, loping until the school was just another building in the distance.
“Shane, Mieka, Jocelynn, Kage-something tells me this isn’t the last of them,” Tristan muttered, slowing down near a grove of trees and yawning. “Time-speed sure takes a lot out of you. Maybe I’ll just-yawn-take a nap…” He sat at the base of a thick elm, leaning his head back and closing his eyes. Soon he was fast asleep, having already forgotten about the prior events.
Medical Vankspeare was one of the heartbreakers: stunning looks, but stays single through most of school. His tan skin, toned muscles and bad-boy attitude had earned him a bunch of followers. Every day they would follow him around like a magnet, their giggling annoying him more than anything. So when he walked into the school and his groupies weren’t there, he was worried. As he stepped into the cafeteria a black blur raced past him and out the door. At 136 years old, he had seen his fair share of miracles, but never once had he seen a vampire travel at time-speed, using that special running ability whenever pure terror was near. Medical decided he would need all the help he could get to fight whatever it was, slipping off his leather jacket and unfurling his wings. They were each four feet across, golden in color and with a leathery feel, like a dragon’s except for the scales.
“Let me go! Stupid Shamblers!!”
The feminine voice let out a stream of curses as Medical silently flew to the top of the room, hovering stealthily by the ceiling.
“Get your filthy rotten hands off me!!”
Medical gasped as one of the gym doors flew open, revealing a police-officer-turned-zombie pulling a goth girl down the hallway by the arm. Even from his high viewpoint he could see she was pretty, with creamy white skin and dressed in all black, handcuffs locked around her dainty wrists. He had to remember how to breathe, unable to tear his eyes away from her struggling form. The zombie staggered to a door near the stairs, unlocking it with an out-of-place key ring and shoving the girl inside, not bothering to remove the handcuffs. Medical was torn between finding out what was going on, thus satisfying his inner curiosity, or saving her. He made his decision when the zombie turned around, saw him and gave a warning call. Tucking his wings in close to his body, Medical dove towards the open door, going at least 20 miles per hour. At the last minute he pulled up, tripping and stumbling into the room, sprawling onto the floor and on top of the goth. He grunted, rolling off and leaning against one of the concrete walls as four pairs of eyes stared back at him.
A curly, blonde-haired teen smirked, raising his eyebrows.
“Welcome, dragon-boy,” he sneered, standing up and starting to circle Medical, muscles rippling. “Does the beast have a name?”
“I’m a monster just like you,” Medical retorted, groaning and hesitantly getting to his feet. “And I do have a name. Try Medical Vankspeare.”
“Medical Vankspeare?” The blonde howled with laughter as the others watched on in silence. Medical noticed the goth, still handcuffed and trying in vain to stand up. “Medical Vankspeare? Your majesty, pardon my actions-I was not aware of your big-headedness.” The blonde’s laugh sounded like a pack of hyenas, barely able to bow mockingly before bursting into his cackling again.
“Yeah yeah, we get the picture-give him a break, Dominic.” A small, curvy brunette sidled up to him, laying her head on his chest and smiling up at him. “I’m Angelica. Nice to meet you, Medical.”
Medical tried to be nice, but in truth, he only had eyes for the girl in handcuffs. “Um, hi.”
He had dealt with this same situation hundreds of times, but not in front of a girl that wasn’t that shallow.
The goth girl, dressed in all black, got to her feet with some difficulty, having been kicked out of the way by Dominic.
“Hey, shortie,” Dominic said, referring to the goth. “Who said you could get up? Nobody. So get back down there.”
The girl raised her head, her dark purple eyes having flames dancing in them.
“I’m sorry your majesty. Maybe you’d like a hot fudge sundae on your way down from power?”
Everyone in the room gaped at this girl, used to abuse and ordering around, suddenly find a brain and stand up to them. Medical thought his heart would explode, he liked this girl so much.
“And-and who are you to question my reign?” Dominic said, finally finding his voice, seething with rage.
She met his flaming gaze head-on. “I’m Destiny Potter, your fallen majesty. A witch.”
The effect was immediate: Dominic growled like a wolf, angelica drew away from Medical and pulled a silver dagger out of its hidden sheath, and Medical took a fighting stance. Why do I always like the wrong people? He thought, remembering the ogress, dragon and voodoo queen of years past. But Destiny seemed unaffected by this show of hate; she spoke a few other-worldly, sinister-sounding words and the handcuffs snapped in half and fell to the floor.
“Oh, scary,” she said sarcastically. “Wolf-boy, sluticorn and birdbrain. Terrifying.” Evidently she wasn’t afraid of them in the least. “I could blast you all into oblivion with just a few words.” She studied her nails with obvious boredom. “I’m very powerful for my age, which is fifteen. I’m also the strongest in the state. You have no chance.”
“Oh yeah?” Dominic snarled, his teeth lengthening as he leaped at her.
“Ylingya ising,” Destiny chanted, raising her arms and spreading her hands.
Black spider silk shot from her fingers, trapping his arms to his body and tying his ankles together. He fell to the concrete floor with a thud, wriggling like a fly stuck in a black widow’s web.
“Let me go, wench,” Dominic growled, face morphing to make him look more and more like a wolf.
“Wench, am I?” The strands broke off at her fingertips, instead shooting out of the middle of her black, looking like grotesque wings. Kneeling next to him she said, “We’ll see about that, wolfie.” She ran a hand down his face, chuckling when he snapped at her fingers. “Who’s next?”