Chapter 6: A Substitute (1)
I could swear that the people in this place were all crazy. They wanted to put me in an important game just like that? And it’s even a survival game. God! I knew they were heartless but the thing they wanted me to do was just too much.
“Are you aware of the Linus Cup?” The old woman asked when she saw my expression.
DUH! I wanted to respond haughtily but decided against it. Who wouldn’t know about the Linus Cup?
”Linus Cup is a game held every two years here in the Magic World where schools under the category of Special Abilities compete. For decades, Titan Academy has been devotedly sending participants and representatives and this year, Gin’s team will compete.”
I curiously looked at the person beside me. Does he not intend to speak up? What the hell is he thinking? Is it not time to start complaining on my qualifications, that I’m not fit to be his member?
I nearly scoffed. “I’m not even a student here.” I reasoned out. Right. I would rather be imprisoned than to represent this damnable school.
“That’s not a problem, Miss Sheridan.” said the man. “I will make you an official student now.”
I wanted to laugh at the last part of his answer. It’s official. These people are absolutely mad. Demented, I say.
“You can’t do that. That’s illegal.” And that’s cheating, right?
The woman laughed softly. “Not so much, sweetie.” she reasoned out.
“The rule is as long as you are part of this town and enrolled in the Academy you can join. The length of your stay in the academy doesn’t matter. But of course, the students who have been staying here the longest are the priority; evidently, because we have been training them for such events.”
“Then why do you want me?” I wanted to yell at them. I was having a bad premonition on this deal. I had a suspicion as to why they’re sending me instead.
“You are going to use me as bait, right? I’m coming to be a cannon fodder; just so, your student participants will be preserved.”
“You really do have a wild imagination, now do you?” the woman teased. “Did you see the lady who came here before you?”
I felt Gin tensed beside me.
“She is the one you need to replace. She can’t join the Cup so we need a person who has nearly the same ability as her; and you are the closest.”
Out of nowhere, Gin stood up. He suddenly left the room without a farewell and was left with the two elders. I still couldn’t believe that this was happening to me.
Corrine has precognition ability―she can practically predict what will happen within the next 24-hour period. Her ability is essential especially to games that would take a week or more and sometimes even months. If she can predict what will happen on specific time of the day, it can be used as a big advantage to their team or they can just avoid it and the inherent risk of the situation that may endanger them.
However, she could no longer join. Principal Bins, the old woman, said that Corrine was diagnosed with a sickness. She has a congenital heart disease. I don’t know the specifics but everyone knew that this kind of disease is a natural and an inborn illness; the kind that didn’t result from a battle or effected by another’s ability. It’s also not curable by any special ability.
She was supposed to be part of the Group but they just found out that she was hiding this illness all through while she’s training with the group. No one noticed anything strange except on a specific day where she fainted which was just last week. They were made aware after that incident.
No one had the same ability like her here in Titan Academy. I was the only one who’s the closest. I could sense danger; and that, as Principal Bins and Headmaster Grey thought, was as essential as precognition.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at what they said. I thought that they were just messing with me. But they said that as long as we can return to Titan Academy alive after the game, I can freely return to my former life.
But they made it sound so easy. Return alive? We can only return alive if we win.
I didn’t answer immediately when they explained everything. The offer was not even tempting. I would rather go to prison. But when I recalled Lucas’ family and his face when he promised that he would do everything to set me free from this place I suddenly felt guilty.
I was sure that Lucas will do everything to get me out of here. But now, freedom is in front of me, how can I refuse it? I was suddenly filled with hope at the thought that there were people waiting for me. I can go back home.
So here I was, walking on the bright and carpeted hallway; accompanying me was a butler followed by a maid from behind. I had no idea where they’re taking me. But I know that it’s not the dungeon. Because Principal Bins said earlier, I am now an official student of Titan Academy.
“Where are we going?” I asked the butler with my poker face.
He looked at me, paused and surveyed my clothes; and then made a face like he’s seeing a heap of dirt on a polished surface of a table. The only missing part was him having to touch me and wiping his fingers through to check the dusts’ thickness all over me. I couldn’t blame him; even the servants here were dressed beautifully. He was wearing a tuxedo and the maid was wearing a navy blue and white uniform.
“We are going to Miss Aura,” he replied in a flat tone, like a robot.
“What are we going to do there?” I asked again. It’s four o’clock in the morning.
“You can’t appear in the school with that guise, Miss Sheridan,” he answered as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world.
I suddenly looked at my clothes. Shabby pants, gray t-shirt, and an old coat with some holes. What’s the problem with my old clothes? As if clothes were related to studying.
“Miss Aura is the adviser of the group together with teacher Apollo.” the butler said.
I didn’t understand what he said. I didn’t care anyway. I just nodded and pretended that I was listening.
We arrived in a different chamber somewhere in the palace. There were more doors here than the hallway earlier. This area looked like a living room from a huge house. A moment later, my attention was caught towards the stairs and there I saw a woman in her mid-twenties heading down towards us.
“Hi. Good morning.” she greeted enthusiastically. She’s too lively for a four o’clock appointment. She was still wearing a nightgown but with a lilac colored satin coat over it.
She observed me and I did the same to her. She has a shoulder length hair that’s slightly curly, dark brown above and light brown below. She has a small face, cheerful and kind-looking. I was just taller than her by a few inches. For the first time, there was someone who looked like a normal person in this place.
“Miss Aura, she is Miss Sheridan.” the butler introduced.
“Yes, I know. Principal Bins called me earlier.” She smiled at me. “So, can we go now? There’s still some time left before breakfast.”
The butler and maid bowed as if they handed me over to her. “Excuse us, miss.” they said politely.
“Sure, go ahead. I can take care of her.”
She smiled at me genuinely. Then she excitedly pulled me towards where she came from.
Inside, I looked around the room where Miss Aura brought me. I was almost struck stupid in front of her. How can someone have a room like this? This is supposed to be a school, not a five-star hotel.
“Come on, we don’t have much time left.”