As a 20 year old living with depression and anxiety, Luxina Sunderland expects herself to be destined for epic failure. However, after a short nap, she finds herself in another world, befriending a...
Beep, beep, beep, beep…
In its ever annoying fashion, the alarm clock went off, penetrating the drowsy ears of its owner. Bursting through her eardrums, the bothersome blare eventually slammed into Luxina Sunderland's brain which caused her to bolt up in anger and slam down on the clock. It stopped to take its twenty-four hour rest until it would once again be called to action.
Rather than jump up, Luxina decided to just lay there. She looked up to see the bars of the bunk bed above her and let out a long, exhausted sigh. Even after sleeping for twelve hours, she still didn't feel like getting up. Her eyelids drooped from sleep as she let a deep slumber take her, but all of that was intruded by a wet, pink tongue that embraced her face.
"Alright Butters," Lux said as she cast her corgi aside. With his ears fully erected, Butters looked at her with enthusiasm. The tiny nub that sat right above his huge bottom wiggled harsh enough to cause his entire body to tremor.
Luxina rose out of bed as Butters slid off to start his day. She sat there for a second and rubbed her tired eyes. She had spent most of the night playing video games. Last night she took the reins as Commander Shepard, a member of the Alliance Navy, who fought against the Reapers whilst boning every male she could find. It didn't matter if they were human or if they were a fish man, Shepard knew how to get things done.
Lux stood up on her own two feet and walked over to the ferret calendar she had hanging on the wall. The theme for that year was Cirque 'du Soleil except with ferrets instead of tiny children. She ran her finger down the days to the one that was not marked off yet.
Okay, it's August the 22nd, Lux thought as she left the room to pursue a cup of coffee. Butters waddled in front of her and got a head start on the stairs. He would check back often to make sure Lux was still following him. He knew all too well that she would usually give up on the day and go right back to sleep.
As her feet made it into the kitchen, Lux could smell the warm coffee that waited for her. She found it surprising that she even had coffee to welcome her, as her brothers would usually devour it before school.
August 22nd, her mind repeated as she poured the hot coffee into her striped coffee cup. She brushed off that thought even though she found it odd that her brain was holding onto it so dearly. She got out the French vanilla creamer that cooled down in the fridge and poured it into the black coffee. Watching the wave of cream transform the coffee into a beige color, Lux felt a calmness envelope her. The coffee was the best part of the morning.
After mixing the two liquids together, Luxina took her drink into the living room to watch television. Although one of the rules of homemaking was not to make the television the center part of the room, her parents did just that. She didn't mind it so much as the purpose of the living room was to suck one into the box of light that made everyone feel better in some way.
Part of Lux's morning ritual was to watch a political satire show called The Daily Show. It just made her feel better amongst all the chaos and confusion that was the United States government. If you, reader, do not know what the United States government is like, just imagine huge, but extremely rich babies whining at each other all day until their next break. Seeing how Lux was one of the individuals that put money into the government, she was also one of the individuals paying the rich men and women to yell and scream until they got what they wanted.
After fiddling around with her DVR, Lux realized that the show was on break, despite being called The Daily Show. Letting out another long sigh, she decided to retreat back to the kitchen and surf the internet. Looking at pictures of cats with bread around their heads usually helped knock a couple of hours off of her day.
August 22nd, her mind whispered. She decided to one again disregard her brain because she had found a rather funny video of a Korean guy dancing like he was on a horse.
Luxina left her computer and her coffee to engage in a shower. She didn't really see the point of showering for she didn't ever go anywhere. Turning on the light in her bathroom, she saw her tired face in the mirror. She splashed water on it to only look back up and see the same weary expression that hung there. She didn't even have the motivation to crack a smile at herself.
Getting closer to the mirror, she scrutinized the texture of her face. She was twenty years old but still had breakouts under her mouth, by her nose, and between her eyebrows. Like many, she tried the most celebrity endorsed acne product on the market, but it failed. While the left side of her face remained normal, the other side puffed up like she had joined a fight club. Thus she gave up on looking picture perfect, but still couldn't help being disgusted by her appearance.
Her eyes were the teal color that they had always been. She ran her fingers through her long, light brown hair but found them getting stuck along the way down. She didn't like her hair color because it reminded her of the hue of dog shit in the morning sun.
In high school, some of people would praise her looks. Lux was told she had high cheek bones, but she honestly couldn't tell. What she did know was that she had a pointed, defined nose. It wasn't really big, but it didn't look right. To her it would have looked much better on a man.
Lux grabbed her orange toothbrush and glued some toothpaste on the bristles. She tackled her teeth as fresh mint flushed into her mouth and got rid of the groggy feeling one usually had in the morning. Though the brushing reverberated in her head, she could still hear a vague voice say: August 22nd.
Spitting out her remnants, Lux washed her toothbrush and sheathed it for another day. She never liked her teeth, either. Her two front teeth were big and square while her canines looked like that of a dog's. The reason her two teeth were a little more forward than they should have been was only because Lux had sucked on her fingers until she was thirteen. It was a bad habit that lasted longer than it should have. She had also wet the bed until she was fifteen which she was later told was a sign of depression.
Lux gathered the clothes she chose to don for the day and started the shower. She undressed herself slowly but ran passed the mirror quickly. She never liked to look at her naked body. She felt that her hips were too big and her legs too fat even though she was at a normal weight.
She let the warm water cascade on her body as she let her hair soak up the water. Shortly after, she added shampoo to the mix. Her bathing routine wasn't different from most as conditioner was next on her list and then soap. She completed this in about fifteen minutes and then got out to dry.
August 22nd¸ she heard again. She became intrigued as to why her brain held on to the date and quickly dressed so she could get over to the calendar. The only dates Lux put on her bedroom calendar were major video game releases, so she only needed to run to the kitchen. Her eyes searched for the date only to find the word 'College' taking up the little box allotted to the 22nd of August.
Her heart sunk as a lump formed in her throat. Though it was her second year, Luxina had never gotten the hang of college. She usually found herself alone in a class of idiots, which is what she deserved seeing how she could only afford to attend a small college close to home. College just made her feel so useless and nervous that she had trouble taking in what she needed to learn. That's why, after two years, she had a GPA of .93. She had already been kicked out of one college and expected to be kicked out of the second very soon.
She hopped back on her computer and checked her schedule. She had class at three. Seeing how it was only nine, she had time to kill. The only problem was that she had nothing to kill it with. As she racked her brain to find something to do, she became thoroughly depressed. Her thoughts went from worrisome mess to self-deprecating jerk in a moment of seconds. Lux rushed over to the orange bottle of pills that sat on the counter by the refrigerator.
Her hands were shaking from nerves as she unscrewed the bottle's cap and was immediately presented ten or so yellow pills. Inside these yellow pills were the chemicals that kept her brain in check; the very same chemicals that any normal person's brain could create on their own. Lux's brain was an exception and had been since she was twelve. What her doctors saw as a sign of illness Lux saw as a sign of feebleness.
Taking out one pill, she stared at it for a minute before she grabbed her coffee cup and used the rest of the coffee to aid the pill in flushing down her throat. Along with that pill went her pride, which she swallowed every morning. While the medicine did keep her from bursting into fits of rage, anxiety, and break downs, it did not keep her from feeling the same way. Rather than let the emotions rush out, they were contained like an angry lion in a small cage. No matter how much her emotions struggled to release themselves, she never shed a tear or shouted into space.
After taking her medicine, she sat down at the kitchen island and stared outside. The minutes ticked by slowly as her gut twisted to the thought of returning to school. Unlike last year, she didn't have a best friend or a boyfriend to comfort her after a long, stressful day of school. Since she had the sex drive of a two year old, Lux wasn't able to keep her relationship stable, which fell apart after two years. Now she was alone and without a friend to talk to.
Lux slowly got up from her chair and looked back at the clock. It was only ten twenty now. She thought of things to do, like writing, drawing, or gaming, but nothing stuck out in her mind. The only thing she could think of was napping. After the rush of anxiety and thoughts, her mind felt a little tired, so she gave up.
With her faithful dog following behind her, Luxina dragged herself back up to bed and fell asleep just as others were beginning to wake.
Luxina awoke to complete silence. She kept her eyes closed as she regained her consciousness back. She was known to be a deep dreamer, but couldn't recall dreaming at all during her slumber. She wrote it off as nothing and still kept her eyes shut. Maybe she only slept a half an hour, which caused her absence of dreams. All she knew was that something was definitely amiss.
Afraid of being pierced by the sunlight that would come through her window, Lux kept her eyes closed as she felt around for Butters. She couldn't find his soft fur and instead felt a scratchy texture. She opened her eyes in panic and scanned the room. Instead of intense sunlight, she found herself in darkness. Above her was a small square hole in the wall which had bars on it. That gave her a little bit of sight.
She saw that her bed was now made of damp straw. She shifted some pieces to see if Butters might have been underneath, but he was nowhere to be seen. From the small window she could see that the wall was now stone. She felt around beyond the straw pile to feel a stone floor that was a little damp and mossy. Carefully getting up on her feet, Lux immediately dusted herself off. She knew that her bedroom was dirty, but it definitely wasn't dusty.
Taking one step caused the sound to resonate through the room. She listened carefully for some movement, but she heard nothing else.
I guess I'm alone? she thought and continued to walk through the cell. She walked towards the window to try and get closer to some sort of light. She wasn't afraid of the dark per se, but she was in an unfamiliar location and being in the dark didn't help at all. Maybe there was something waiting for her to take one more step? Or maybe there was a giant hole? The possibilities were endless.
The wall underneath the window seemed to be a moist and spiky texture. She decided to feel along the wall and walk further away from the light. She felt around before taking each step to make sure that she didn't step in a hole or crevice. She eventually made it to a corner.
Following the next wall, she repeated her procedure until she made it to another corner. Her hand slipped through a crack of the next wall. She quickly pulled her hand back in. She did run into a solid and cold object and realized that iron bars kept her from exiting the room she was currently in.
I'm a felon, she thought. Lux then tried to remember what had happened before she arrived there. All that remained clear was that she took a nap to calm her nerves and somehow ended up there. Maybe I murdered someone? Maybe I'm cunning thief or drug dealer? Countless ideas ran through her head until she realized that modern jails didn't use something as medieval as bars to keep prisoners at bay.
Lux put her head against the chilly and closed her eyes. "Balls," she muttered quietly to herself as she began to devise a plan for escape.
With labored breath, Raphael Versailles rushed down the main hallway in the Palace of Kings. He could hear the cascade of many footsteps behind him. He knew for certain that these men were allies of Lord Icis and men that, just moments ago, he considered friends. But what did he expect? The visions of innocent death he saw affected him much more greatly than Lord Icis, his henchmen, or his own brother. He was repulsed at how Lord Icis wanted to kill those that stood in his way.
Clutching the object that Icis held so dear, Raphael had no choice but to run. The mass of warriors that followed him had already wounded him badly, but he couldn't give up. Just days before, Raphael was content with enslaving the citizens of Exercitus and killing its king. He himself didn't understand why he suddenly had a change in heart, but he couldn't watch another life go to waste.
Turning the corner, Raphael slipped into a dark room. Putting his back against the wall, he listened carefully to make sure the men ran past it. He no longer heard the footsteps and decided it was safe to light the torch he had tied around his waist. Using some matches he had in his pocket, Raphael created a blaze that filled the room with much needed light.
The room appeared to be a small kitchen. He limped around the room to get a better feel for where he was. He already knew that the kitchen was too small to be where the royal family had their meals prepared, so he came to the conclusion that it was for the prisoners.
It was a little sad for him to see the dinner that was being prepared at the time of the attack. The chef must have been cutting the less-than-pleasing looking vegetables when the raid on the castle commenced. Two carrots looked to be finished while a half of a carrot remained with a knife in the middle. On the cutting board looked to be a hand print that was soaked with blood. Walking further down the room, Raphael found the lifeless body of what seemed to be the chef. His blood was still warm and wet, so his last breath wasn't too long ago.
Raphael touched the pool of blood beneath the man and let it soak into his black leather glove. Though he didn't kill the man personally, Raphael knew that he was a supporting character in this chef's demise. He also knew that the chef couldn't have been his only victim. He already watched his brother kill the queen and the princess. He even witnessed Lord Icis take the life of King Aramis, which was when Raphael decided to alter is role in the ordeal.
Though he felt the jagged edges in his palm, he still made sure that the King's stone was in his grasp. It was a teal color and inside was a luminous light that shifted violently in small space the stone provided. He had no idea why Lord Icis wanted the stone so badly, but there had to be a reason. Besides gaining the throne to Exercitus, that stone was Lord Icis's priority. He reassured Raphael and his brother several times that they were not to touch the stone.
"Hey, let's check in there," a voice shouted. Raphael jerked his head to the door he entered in and saw someone jiggling with the door handle. He must have locked it, which saved him some time. Picking his torch off the ground, Raphael headed for a metal door and ascended down the dark staircase.
"Is someone there?" Luxina called out to the darkness. Just a millisecond before, she heard footsteps and strenuous breathing. A light soon presented itself and that light was carried by a man. He looked dirty and had blood running down his lip and forehead. From what she could see, he looked to be in his late twenties.
"I'll get you out," the man said and he shoved something in his pocket. Handing her the torch through the bars, the man untied a small string around his belt loop which had a ring of keys.
"Where did you get those?" Luxina said.
"A guard," he said, and added in a slight mumble, "that my brother killed." He was shaking badly as he went from key to key; trying to unlock the cell that Lux was in. Finally, after much toil, he found the proper key and the door to the cell made a click noise.
The man entered the cell with Lux and shut the door. "It's best you stay in here for a little while," the man said. "Lord Icis's men are on their way down."
"Who?" she asked as he threw the torch down and stepped on it. Before the light went out, Luxina noticed that the man had a huge wound in his side and was bleeding profusely. She also immediately noticed that he had on odd clothes that seemed to come straight from the late 1700's.
His attire consisted of a charcoal colored tailcoat that was lined in gold. The collar of the tailcoat surrounded his neck and it was unbuttoned, revealing a gold waistcoat covered in blood. His pants were beige with a black stripe going down it. His boots were brown and went just below his knees. He also had a rapier strapped to his side with a huge hilt. It was that of a swept style hilt, which was used to protect the hand of the wielder.
"They're after me," the man said and he ripped off a piece of his tailcoat. Using the string from the keys, he wrapped an object up with the fabric and tied it tightly. Luxina was curious as to what it was, but decided to keep her nose out of things. She had no idea where she was and she knew that starting problems wouldn't help anything. "Here, take this," the man said and he handed Lux the wrapped up object. She could see a small, but violent light moving through the fabric.
The man must have read the state of wonder her face expressed and said, "Do not open it."
"What do I do with it then?" she said.
"When the coast is clear, I just need you to run and speak to no one," the man said with a stern tone and he took a knife he had in his boot.
"What about you?"
"My time is done here," he said and held the knife out straight at his heart.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Lux said and she quickly rushed to grab the hilt. After a vicious pulling battle, Luxina won and the man fell over. Surprised by the fact she actually won the pulling match, Lux dropped the knife. This created a loud noise which echoed throughout the jail.
"What was that noise?" Luxina heard a voice say from upstairs. They must have been the henchmen that the man warned her about. She looked over at the man who was lying in the pile of straw. She rushed over and leaned beside him. The next thing he knew, Lux was shoveling straw on top of him.
"What are you doing, you imbecile?" the man snapped.
"Saving your life, buddy," she said and quickly grabbed the knife and hid it beside him. "Now, stay quiet." Grabbing the keys the man dropped, she used them to lock the door from the inside so that the henchmen couldn't get in. She put them snuggly into her back pocket and got ready. She held onto the bars real tight and prepared to lie.
Luxina Sunderland was most definitely the worst liar known to man. Between giggles, cracked smiles, and raising her voice to an annoying tone, she was the champion at getting caught. But this time, dear reader, she meant business and tightened up her expressions in hopes to appear legit.
Along with loud footsteps that echoed throughout the small jail, a dim light also became present. After a few seconds, the light became a bit bright and helped reveal to Luxina the scruffy, dirty men that backed Lord Icis. There were only five of them, but the one holding the torch seemed to be important and less dirty than the others. A more clean cut sauntered behind them and took his place at the front of the group.
"Ah, so there's a lass here?" one of the men said and he smiled which revealed the slimy, yellowed teeth he was sporting.
"We should take her as a gift to Lord Icis," another man said, but he didn't smile, much to Luxina's fortune.
"No," the high ranked man said and he curled his lip. He had blonde hair and a pointy goatee. He was wearing an outfit similar to the injured man, but it instead had tassels on both the shoulders. Even through the dim, orange light of the torch, his cold, blue eyes contained immense anger. They stuck out to Lux as she examined the man closely.
"Have you seen a man around here, young lady?" the important man said. He had tranquil but emotionless voice which made Luxina feel uneasy. He also gave her an intense glare which made her break eye contact and look around nervously.
"I haven't," she said and tried to give him a defiant look, but she just couldn't. It was like both of his irises were piercing into her like a thin, sharp needle.
After a few seconds of him looking at her, he finally shouted angrily, "You're lying." This caused Lux to jump. The man went to open the door, but it wouldn't budge. "Does anyone have a key to this door?" he shouted impatiently. He threw up his hand, expecting someone to hand over the keys swiftly. He clenched his hand into a fist after a couple of seconds.
"I told you I wasn't lying," Lux said timidly. "No one else can get in here."
The man held his fist down by his side. He looked down at the ground and closed his eyes. All remained silent. In fact, no one took a breath. "Arrrgh!" he shouted as he cast his fist forward. He punched the bars, which prompted Lux to jump back. She didn't go far enough however, as the man grabbed her polo shirt collar right through the bars and brought her forward. Her entire body hit the iron bars and pain shortly followed. She swung around to try and break free from the man's clutches, but she couldn't prevail.
With his face close to hers, he said: "If I find out you're lying, you're dead." He then threw her down on the wet stone floor. Lux knew she couldn't take him, but she got up quickly and tried to punch him through the bars. He grabbed her wrist with his right hand and took out a small dagger he had on his side with the other hand. He cut a deep V into her arm which caused her to scream in pain. She withdrew and held the bleeding wound.
The man shook the blood of his blade and sheathed it. "Seeing how this castle will soon belong to Lord Icis," the man began, "I guess I need to pick my own personal slave to brand with my name." He turned to his men and said, "Remember men this girl belongs to me, Lyone Versailles. After this little take over is done, I want her transferred to my quarters for further…processing."
The men laughed as they began to leave. Lyone must have decided that she was telling the truth. Holding her arm, Luxina waited to hear the door shut. Once it did, she rushed over to the man and started to uncover him. He was unconscious, but definitely not dead.
"Wake up, mister," Luxina said as she shook him by the shoulders.
The man woke up quickly and saw in the moon's light the fresh V that Lux had on her arm. He bolted up, grabbed her arm, and said, "Where did you get that?"
"A man came in, demanding me to say you were here," Lux said. "I tried to punch him and he gave me this cut. It looks really deep."
"Was his name Lyone?" he asked quickly.
"That was my brother," he said. "That mark. It's just something he does. Anyone marked like that is known to the men of Lord Icis as his property. They're either to serve him or die by his hand."
"I'm not serving him," Lux said.
"Then you're marked for death. That's no good. If one of his men sees you outside of the castle, you will promptly be taken to him."
"Well, I'm not just going to hand myself over to him," she said defiantly and put her hand on her hip. "Speaking of outside the castle, you and I need to get out of here."
The man removed his glove and touched her face, which caused her to recoil a bit. He held on and let it stay. "Can't you feel me getting colder?" he said. "I'm practically dead." Luxina then took his hand off her cheek and held it. He was getting cold and she could see the pain in his eyes.
"Honestly, I don't know who you are, or why you're here," Luxina said, "but you're all I have right now. I will not leave you here to die. I don't care if your brother will kill me; all I know is that you are the most important person to me right now. I want to protect you and get you medical attention immediately."
Living a life with selfish parents and keeping to himself, the man never heard someone express to him of being 'important.' It was something entirely new to him. All he could read from this girl's face was a mix of fear and determination. He had never put his trust in anyone and closed himself to everyone. Even though he felt disgusted for doing it, the man decided to stand up. Luxina also rose with him and hadn't let go of his cold hand.
The man looked down at her and said, "My name is Raphael. Raphael Versailles."
"And I'm Luxina Sunderland," she said and put his glove back on his hand. She picked up his knife and he took it. "First thing first," Luxina said, "we need to get you wrapped up." She grabbed the keys out of her pocket and unlocked the door. She opened it slowly and stuck her head out to see if the badies were gone. The hallway was clear and the room upstairs had no light coming from it.
"Are you sure you want me to come with you?" Raphael asked as he grappled onto his bleeding side.
"Of course," Luxina said and she took the object he gave her out of her pocket. "And here's this back as well."
Luxina placed it in Raphael's palm and he stuck it in his coat pocket. "Are you ready then?" she asked him, with an expression as bright as the moon.
"Yes," he said, and even though he tried not to, he cracked a small grin.
"Let's go," Lux said and took her first step out of the cell, which also marked her first step into a grand adventure.