Before becoming one of the twelve heavenly signs, Bennox and Owen were still making their way back to the dorms from the clearing. Nearing the dorm, just as Bennox and Owen reached the split off in the middle, a loud screeching noise rang out from behind the dorm building. Flinching slightly, they shared a suspicious glance. Though it was for a split second, Bennox thought he saw a small flash of blazing red hair around the corner.
"Should we go check, Bennox?" Owen tilted is head towards Bennox. Blood flaked off Bennox's face as he tried to speak without stopping in pain.
"…Sure…" Leaning one arm against the side of the building and the other over Owen's shoulders, they made their way around the dorm's corners. Above them the Hal robot crawled away on the walls. It eyed them for a moment before scuttering off.
Owen rounded the corner and saw nothing suspicious. Just a plain dirt path with the forest close by. Bennox however, saw signs of something. Not really fighting but not really casual either. The smeared dirt brushed to one side, multiple footprints, large and small. There was a slight round circle where someone or something had spun. Bennox couldn't figure out what happened.
"Hey Bennox, was this door always here when we came?" Owen pointed to the dark door on the side of the wall. Bennox's legs shook. He could feel that if they went through that door, they would start something irreversible. Owen turned his head to look at Bennox.
"Hey? You good?" Nodding slightly, Bennox swallowed his hesitation.
"We go in." Owen shrugged and they shifted towards the door. The sudden change from solid floor to steep stairs almost caused Owen to trip. Bennox flailed against the wall.
"Owen!" Bennox swat at Owen's head.
"Err… sorry…" Owen readjusted his hold on Bennox, they began to descent into the darkness. Behind them the door slid closed soundlessly.
As they neared the bottom of the steps a faint light lit up the darkness. Owen's steps became more confident and Bennox calmed down. Before they knew it, they had entered a large room, the size was immeasurable in the dim lighting. The cramped walls expanded and left Owen's side. Both of them shifted until Bennox and Owen's hand found the wall again.
"Owen, don't lose the wall okay? We don't want to be stranded in the middle of this darkness."
"Mmn." They continued. To the far right a slight glow drew Bennox's eyes.
"Owen! Hurry, we need to go to the right." Not sure why but still sensing the urgency in Bennox's voice, Owen dropped his hand from the wall and piggybacked Bennox towards the right. Although Bennox was relatively light, he was still almost the size of Owen so they had only moved for about fifty feet before Owen stopped and put Bennox down.
"…I-it's tiring… carrying you…" Owen was breathing hard. He hadn't expected to run far but only fifty feet was too short. Bennox patted Owen's shoulder.
"It's fine you idiot. I never said, 'carry me' did I?" Owen's face burned. He silently thanked the darkness for masking his face right then. He had just assumed he'd be carrying Bennox over.
"Whatever. I'm not doing you a favor next time." Owen huffed and began to walk away.
"Owen, wrong way." In the darkness Bennox could tell that Owen was embarrassed. His friend might be prejudice against girls but that didn't mean he wasn't soft in come places. Owen stopped for a second and came back quickly.
"I-I knew that. Just testing you to make sure you're okay…" Owen didn't really sound sure of himself. Bennox laughed it off, or at least tried to but the scratches on his cheeks ruptured when he opened his mouth too wide.
"Let's go…" Bennox limped over to the right. Owen hurried after Bennox, still unsure what Bennox had seen in the darkness.
After a few minutes of slow shuffling against the wall Bennox felt something different on the wall. Slight but still noticeable, a small line. A gap between the wall and something else. Bennox stopped and ran his hand over the wall, searching for anything unusual.
"Bennox?" Owen had bumped into Bennox's back due to him suddenly stopping. He leaned on the wall to catch himself from stumbling into it. Just as his hand touched the wall it slipped away from him. Blinded by light, Bennox raised his hand to cover his eyes. Owen fell into the light and landed hard on the metal floor.
"Javier, there are two more not one. Did you miss something?" Bennox couldn't tell where the voice was coming from. He tried to back away but someone grabbed his arms and pulled him forward.
"H-hey!" Bennox let his hands fall and tried to find the wall but his eyes hadn't adjusted to the light yet.
"Pull them both in." Bennox wasn't sure why but something about that voice reminded him of Lydis. Indifferent and yet domineering.
"Roger!" Another pair of hands pushed Bennox from behind. He heard the soft sliding of the door closing behind them. The weight of air in the room seemed to intensify. Bennox fell to his knees and clenched his chest. They must've done something! He looked over to Owen next to him and saw the same thing happen.
Owen rolled over to face upwards. The light was becoming less and less blinding but there was a pressure on his chest now. Like a hammer that was steadily grinding deeper into his ribcage.
Both boys lay on the floor for a minuet when Bennox suddenly prang back up. The light was no longer blinding and the pressure had disappeared. Shifting his hand over his chest Bennox stared at the purple haired girl looming over him.
"W-what happened?" The girl smiled and jumped around Bennox, her eyes scanning him. After finishing her scan, she beamed him another smile and skipped towards a black-haired boy. Bennox turned over and pulled at Owen.
"Owen… Owen!" He shook Owen and saw his eyes pop open.
"I'm up. I'm up!" Owen rolled onto his side and propped himself up on one arm. He stared at the large room with a few kids scattered here and there. Moving closer to Bennox, Owen whispered into his ear.
"Bennox, what's going on?" Bennox shook his head and stood up, concentrating on the black haired boy talking to the girl with purple hair.
"If we want answers, we need to go over there." Bennox pointed at the two kids and Owen nodded, offering Bennox his shoulder. Bennox shrugged it off and started to walk towards the boy.
The black haired boy looked up and smirked, or at least that's what it looked like to Bennox. Owen was right behind him as well.
"Looks like your calculations were off Javier." Bennox looked to the left and there stood a cream haired boy with scars over both eyes. The faded discoloration of the scars told him that they were old. The boy noticed Bennox's staring and smiled. He turned towards Bennox and introduced himself.
"Hayden. I'm not blind though so don't make any assumptions." His tone and smile seemed friendly but the dissatisfied look in his eyes overpowered his words. Bennox gritted his teeth and tried to ignore the way Hayden seemed to look down on him.
"Likewise. I'm Bennox. Don't make assumptions from my current appearance." Hayden smirked.
"From what? Disheveled and bloody? Limping and weak? There's nothing to guess, it's plain as day that you are weak and a coward. Someone who doesn't fight on the front but on the sidelines. So tell me, how did you guys manage to get here?" Hayden leaned closer over Bennox. Owen wanted to intervene but Bennox's arm stopped him.
"I have no business with you but that boy over there." Bennox nodded his head towards the black-haired boy and the purple haired girl. Hayden looked both ways. His eyes met the black-haired boy's and he shrugged his shoulders.
"Whatever." Hayden turned around and left.
Bennox and Owen made their ways towards the other. Bennox's firm gaze slightly faltering at the sight of the other kids giving way for him as he neared the black-haired boy. From the way they glared at him and yet still moved for him, Bennox was sure that they were following someone's order. He stood in front of the black-haired boy now. Clenching his fists he was about to speak when an unknown pressure pressed on his shoulders. Caught off guard, Bennox wavered and caught himself on Owen's arm. The black-haired boy smirked. He leaned on one arm and lazily glanced at Bennox.
"Kneel." The pressure increased and Bennox couldn't help but watch as his knees began to shake. One side gave way but Owen propped up Bennox with his arm over Bennox's shoulder.
"Who are you to order us around?" Owen bared his teeth to the black-haired boy. He didn't know what was wrong with Bennox but given that this started when they came closer it had to be because of the black-haired boy.
"Are you his dog?" Shivers went up Owen's back. Something about the boy's tone felt intimidating. Looking at the boy again, Owen could see something ominous behind him. For a second it looked like a black demon but it disappeared just as fast, it must've been an illusion. Swallowing hard, Owen braced himself.
"I am not his dog but his friend. I'm Owen and he is Bennox."
"I am called Javier. You will learn to obey me if you wish to live." Owen scoffed at Javier.
"Obey you? Like all these other weaklings?" He used his other hand to sweep around the room to the others. They jumped up and began to come closer, some obviously fuming while other's sneered at Owen. They shouted insults and threats at Owen.
"Know your place mutt!"
"You'll pay for that!" The mob of kids crept closer. Owen stared at them and back at Javier. Shrugging, Owen walked closer to Javier, Bennox still limping next to him.
"See? Weaklings that only cuss from afar and gang up." Owen stood directly in front of Javier now.
"You better tell me where we are and what's going on, right, now." He growled on the last words.
"Ha ha… the mutt thinks it can threaten me?" Javier sat up. Pulling himself onto his feet, Owen could see that Javier was actually taller than him by a few inches. "I'm asking you. Are you threatening me?" Javier's face was barely an inch from Owen's face now. Bennox lifted his head and saw a wispy demon behind Javier.
"O-Owen stop!" Bennox pushed his way in between Owen and Javier. Flustered, Owen backed away and made way for Bennox.
Trembling slightly, Bennox swallowed the small fragments of his pride. "Javier, we'll kneel."
Owen opened his mouth to protest but Bennox was already pulling him down to kneel. Bringing his mouth close to Owen's face Bennox whispered.
"Unless you want to have our new life ended short, just listen to me. Didn't we already agree on this?" Owen hung his head like a lost puppy and nodded.
"Good, now since this guy seems like the big fish around let's just follow him for now…" Owen and Bennox kneeled in front of Javier. They hung their heads low and pressed their head to the floor.
"Very good. It seems like one of you is at least competent enough to know your place." Javier scoffed and turned around again to talk to the purple-haired girl. She snickered and whispered something into his ear. Just as this happened the door on the other side of the room slid open.
"Oh my…" At the entryway stood a beautiful light green haired girl. From her fancy clothes to the way she carried herself, she exuded an aura of nobility. "What's going on here?"
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