Settling a score
With a smile Aarina walked down the hallway. She had just checked her test scores on the notice board in the main hall of the academy. With almost full score she had passed every single test, including French and the practical exam of chemistry.
Seeing that she would have the day off due to the fact that headmistress Melfara was still preparing the final exam, Aarina had planned to visit the small elven settlement across Wayfort River.
Humming softly to herself, Aarina made her way to the large entree door of the academy. The young Whitefang had settled down on her shoulder, clicking happily and munching on a large cockroach it had caught earlier that morning.
However, when Aarina and her pet exited the academy, both of them hissed in annoyance almost simultaneously. The reason for that was the bright and warm weather, something Aarina hated and despised. Being part spider and thus a being a creature of darkness, she preferred shadowy places over broad daylight, especially if the sun was shining as bright as it did today.
Quickly Aarina reentered the academy and found a small niche behind a pillar to work her magic. Momentarily setting her pet onto the ground, she focused her magic and the natural abilities she inherited from her mother to spin a cloak woven from black, silken threads that seemed to swallow any light on contact.
Pulling the cloak tight around her shoulders, Aarina picked up her pet, this time holding it close to her chest, so the cloak would protect it too, and continued her way out of the academy. Even with the cloak, Aarina moved from shadow to shadow instead of taking the direct route. However, the courtyard only held sparingly few trees, so there wasn’t much to hide in. On top of that it was nearly noon, meaning that the few trees that stood there gave even less protection from the sunlight. ‘I dearly hope there will be more shadows in the village. Else this won’t be fun at all.’
As Aarina approached he large bridge crossing Wayfort River, she could make out two figures approaching over it. As she drew closer she recognized first Samusagi and second one as Kazuhiku Õuchi-no-uji, also a Vareos like Samusagi and headmistress Melfara.
Ever since he had arrived, Aarina had watched him carefully, hoping to find out more about the Vareos’ secrets. While Samusagi and headmistress Melfara always were on their guard about certain things, Kazuhiku seemed to be a more open person and could often be seen flirting with girls of the academy.
What made him even more interesting was the fact that he seemed to share some of his past with Samusagi. However, so far Aarina had been unable to find out what exactly had happened between the two Vareos. All she knew was that Samusagi and Kazuhiku either ignored each other completely, or, more likely, tried to slit each other’s throat on sight. Also, for some reason Samusagi disliked seeing Kazuhiku flirting with other girls and would often interfere.
Aarina had heard some of the other students argue about whether that was because she wanted him to herself or because something entirely different. Personally she was more inclined to believe the later, since Samusagi and Kazuhiku did not seem like they were or had been lovers at some point in their lives.
As she drew closer to the bridge, Aarina noticed that Knzuhiku was heavily arguing with Samusagi, as he widely gestured around. Samusagi on the other hand seemed to ignore his arguing for the most part and only snapped one or two short comments back at him.
“Why did you do that ~desu?”
“I told you, it wasn’t me!”
“Yeah, of course ~desu. As if I would believe you ~desu.”
At that moment the two Vareos noticed Aarina, causing mixed reactions with both of them. Samusagi assumed a neutral look as she passed by Aarina, in fact completely ignoring her. Kazuhiku however paused next to her, smiling.
“It’s a beautiful day to go out to the village, princess.” He smiled.
“Hmm, I’d prefer less sunshine, Õuchi-no-uji-san.” Aarina answered with a slight smile.
Kazuhiku raised an eyebrow. “And that might be why, princess?”
“Darkness is more appealing to me.” Aarina answered shortly, not wanting to elaborate too much about her true nature.
“Hrmph. If you two have nothing better to do than babbling, fine with me.” Samusagi snapped, spun around and trudged back to the academy.
Aarina looked after her. “Say, Õuchi-no-uji-san. What happened between you and Samusagi?”
For a splitsecond Kazuhiku’s smile faded, before he caught himself again. “You know you don’t always have to be so formal, princess. Simply Kazu is enough.”
“As you wish then, Kazu-san.” Aarina replied. “But that doesn’t answer my question.” She stated a few seconds later.
Kazuhiku sighed audible. “I’d prefer not to talk about that, princess. If you don’t mind.” Before Aarina got a chance to reply, he had pulled a white rose from some pocket of his uniform and presented to her. “I’d much rather talk about you, princess.”
Aarina was about to reply, however the sound of laughter coming from behind stopped her. She turned around and saw a group of students crossing the bridge over Wayfort River. The four students were happily talking and laughing among themselves. TeTe, Victoria and Kiyoko all seemed to have had a great time down in the village. Only the fourth member of the group looked a little glum and somewhat angry.
An angry hiss escaped Aarina when she recognized her. It was Whitney.
The moment Aarina had recognized her rival, Whitney had looked up as well. A deep growl filled the air, as she stopped on the spot, fixating first Aarina, then Kazuhiku and then Aarina again.
“Is something wrong Whitney?” Victoria asked.
TeTe and Kiyoko had turned around as well, wearing puzzled expressions. None of them had noticed Aarina and Kazuhiku yet.
Without a word Whitney stepped forward and pushed her way through to the edge of the bridge. “Get out of the way.” She said in a quiet, yet noticeably angry voice.
“Do you really think I’m taking orders from an underdeveloped hellhound?” Aarina answered in a low tone. She stepped forward, until only about ten meters separated her and Whitney. “Quite the contrary in fact,” Aarina threw her cloak to the ground and dropped the young Whitefang. “as I think it’s about time you learned your lesson, doggy!”
“If you dearly wish to eat dirt, I’ll gladly be of assistance, bug.” Whitney spat out.
“Err, Whitney I don’t think that is a good idea.” Victoria tried to reason with her, however Whitney had lost control over her anger already.
“Get out of the way.” She said to her friends, before whispering several words in Latin, summoning her battle outfit. Her uniform transformed into a black leotard, with a small black skirt attached to the front. Golden armor plates formed around her shoulders and legs, while pure white satin gloves and white tights covered any exposed skin. Last, a black veil settled over her hair.
Aarina gestured with her hands and produced a strange clicking and hissing noise, much similar to the way she communicated with her Whitefang pet. “Chs Xtrk Chnrst!”
Within two heartbeats Aarina’s uniform was consumed below thick black threads, featuring a rather large cleavage. Long, fingerless gloves formed on her arms, reaching almost up to her shoulders. A net woven from thinner threads settled over Aarina’s hair, so it wouldn’t get in her way during battle. Suddenly she arched forward slightly, hissing something, before black dust erupted around her and swallowed all sunlight in close proximity.
An angry snarl erupted from the cloud and two purple orbs lit up inside, soon to be followed by six more. Slowly the dust settled down again, creating a thin film on the grass.
When Aarina’s form became visible again, Kiyoko shrieked in terror.
While Aarina still appeared human, it was very clear that she was not. Eight long, spiderlike legs sprouted out of her back, all of them heavily armored with chitin plates, while at the same time bearing a sharp, bladelike tip.
Aarina’s face had also changed. Two large fangs sprouted from her mouth, which she clicked expectantly, while a Black mask covered the rest of her face, except for the eight deep purple, glowing eyes.
“Let’s play a bit, doggy.” She snarled and jumped forward, the black dust following her through the air, and eventually flying forward at Whitney.
“Parentis amorem!“ Whitney exclaimed, while holding out her hands. With a bright light, her staff materialized in front of her and she took it, before jumping backwards to evade the black cloud. “Peccatum autem irae flammis!“
A golden wall of flame shot forward, instantly incinerating Aarina’s dust.
With an angry snarl Aarina dodged the flames, by using her spider legs to cling to one of the pillars supporting the bridge. “You’ll have to try harder, doggy!” She shouted, before releasing a greenish colored gas into the air that spread all over the area and slowly sunk down to the ground.
Sensing the danger, Kazuhiku teleported onto the bridge grabbed TeTe and Kiyoko and ported out again. Victoria drew upon her own powers and dashed forward at superhuman speed, narrowly avoiding Whitney. Further away from the bridge she rejoined Kazuhiku and her friends. “Shouldn’t we do something…?” Kiyoko asked fearfully. “They’ll kill each other, if we don’t stop them!”
Meanwhile, Whitney had used another blast of golden flames to burn most of the green gas Aarina had released upon her. However, she had accidentally inhaled some of it, causing her to cough heavily.
“Do you really think you are up to fighting me, doggy?” Aarina asked, before flinging sticky, black goo at her opponent. “’Cause I don’t think so!”
Whitney dodged the goo, by jumping further down the bridge. “Est peccator, per pannum!“ She exclaimed in response, initiating another change.
Within seconds black and golden flames burned over her body, quickly disintegrating her old battlesuit and replacing it with a more fitting version. Black leather formed around her chest, creating a rather tight blouse inscribed with red runes.
Whitney closed her eyes briefly, allowing the energy of Goldenfang to break free. When she reopened her eyes they were of deep, blood-red color. Two of her teeth evolved into large fangs and her face split in a vile grin. Shining golden fur escaped her pants, creating several long tails, whipping around behind her. At the same time, her human ears vanished, being replaced by furry, golden triangles on top of her head.
A crimson red pentagram formed on her forehead, signaling the end of her transition. With a few whispered words, Whitney transformed her staff into a thin, sharp rapier, also bearing the devil’s pentagram.
“Your end is near, bug!” Whitney spat out, before intonating Latin spells: “Vita autem aeterna est peccatum acediae!”
Instantly a gas-like substance spread through the air and wavered towards Aarina. Contrary to the fire, Aarina simply awaited the substance. Once it reached her, she inhaled deeply, filtering most of Whitney’s attack out of the air within seconds.
“Quite tasty for something made by a helldoggy.” She chuckled, before turning serious again. “Never try to best me with poison. For it will be your downfall, dog!” She spat out, recreating the poison Whitney had used. Only that Aarina’s version was ten times stronger and moved through the air twice as fast.
“Hasatan est ignis!“ Whitney called. “Burn in the flames of hell, bug!”
Black fire spread all over the bridge and the adjoining grass, until it reached Aarina. Despite her attempt to evade Whitney’s attack the fire was too fast and caught up with her, setting her dress on fire.
Instantly one of Aarina’s spider legs snapped off the lower half of her dress. At the same time she jumped backwards, leaving the small patch of black silt burning on the grass. “Grrr. You will pay for this, dog!”
While somersaulting backwards to evade a blast of golden flames from Whitney, Aarina began chanting in Arachnid. Similar to the first time, her form became obscured by black dust. Only this time the earth started shacking as well.
“Hiding in the shadows won’t help you, bug!” Whitney growled, her tails whipping around agitatedly.
Suddenly a gleaming, black-plated, eight foot long leg stepped out of the dust. “Bug? I think you are mistaken, doggy. Judging from height, YOU are the bug here!”
The dust had settled, revealing Aarina in her full glory.
While her upper body remained mostly the same as before, with the changes being old, rune-inscribed armor plates strapped onto her shoulders and arms. Additionally, she wore a blue fighting Kimono and a large leather belt strapped around her hips, holding the sheath of a large one handed sword.
However, as far as her lower body was concerned Aarina had become absolutely non-human. Her torso was sitting on a giant, spiky haired and chitin plated body of a spider. More precise, the body of a Shadow Skitterer from the Northern Mountains.
Instead of having her spider legs sprout out of her back, they were sprouting from her lower body. Also they had grown in length, easily extending eight or nine feet far. Their lower parts were reinforced with gleaming chitin blades, making them perfect for stabbing opponents.
Aarina’s behind had swollen greatly, ballooning twice as large as she was, while bearing crimson red markings that seemed to glow.
Snarling Aarina launched herself forward. At the same time she screeched something in Arachnid and slammed her legs onto the ground, causing even more shacking, which led to a large gorge forming in the ground and surging towards Whitney.
At the last moment Whitney managed to jump to the side and evade the gorge, however she overlooked one of the large pillars at the edge of the bridge and crashed into it.
Aarina laughed maniacally and released another gorge. However this time the earth did not split because of Aarina’s leg smashing onto the ground. The actual reason was the army of tiny spiderlings she had called upon to aid her.
Hundreds and thousands of golf ball sized spiderlings ravaged out of the gorge and spread all over the grass. A squirming mass of black and grey bodies drowned out even the last bit of green, with spiderlings scrambling over each other time and again, trying to get out of the gorge. Suddenly, all of the sudden the squirming stopped. Every single bit of movement on the spiderlings part halted and came to an end.
Then, every single spiderling turned towards Whitney. With a mental command from Aarina they focused on her for the space of two heartbeats. With the third heartbeat every single spiderling in the area charge Whitney.
Panicking, Whitney began to chant her spells again: “Hasatan est ignis! Hasatan est ignis! Hasatan est ignis!”
Waves of black flames washed over Aarina’s army, however for every spiderling that burned in the fire, five more took its place and continued their charge upon Whitney. Aarina herself did not exclude herself from the charge and used her powers to fling sticky threads at Whitney. Of course, most of them instantly burned in Whitney’s fire, however more than one web actually found its mark or stuck to the bridge in close proximity around Whitney.
A splitsecond before the spiderlings reached me, Whitney exploded in rage, allowing Goldenfangs powers to flow freely, before emitting a massive burst of golden and black flames, while screaming: “Ut peccatum merget in ignem aeternae damnationis!“
The wave of flames washed over Aarina’s army of spiderlings, incinerating every single one of them on the spot.
Aarina herself remained undisturbed by the approaching wall of flame and instead snarled in Arachnid: “Hxt Chtsrt Kls’tschrm!”
She flung her hands to both sides, allowing her magic to take physical form. A giant, black and silver threaded web spread out in front of her, rapidly gaining size. Then it collided with Whitney’s flames.
For a few brief moments it seemed that both magics were evenly matched. Two heartbeats later the opposing forces exploded.
<It would be better to retreat here, Whitney.> Goldenfang quietly said in Whitney’s mind. <You can’t win this battle.>
“Shut up, Golden!” Whitney hissed and prepared to strike at Aarina.
<I’m serious, Whitney. You are still too weak to win here. You are not using you real power!>
Whitney was about to snap a reply, but instead she ducked low to avoid falling debris from the bridge. And even while she was doing so, black and silver threads flew through the smoke created by the explosion and snagged to the remains of the bridge around Whitney.
It only took Whitney a few seconds to figure out that Goldenfang had been right, turn around and use the hanging smoke as a cover for her escape.
“What do chu think chu are chuing here?” A voice called out, easily identifiable by her accent. Headmistress Melfara had noticed the shacking of the earth and when she had looked out of the window to see what was going on, she had witnessed the giant explosion Aarina and Whitney had caused. Angrily she had used her powers to teleport down to the shoreline.
“I demand chu know what chuoing on here!!”
Aarina noticed that the headmistress had arrived and slowly reverted back to her regular human form, albeit with a torn uniform.
“Aarina… attacked Whitney.” Kiyoko whispered from behind TeTe, where she had been hiding.
Instantly Melfara snapped around and glared at Aarina. “Chu chuome here!” She demanded.
Aarina, knowing that there was no way out, obeyed.
“What did I say about schudents fighting in the achudemy?”
Aarina trembled slightly, but did not make a move to answer the headmistress.
Suddenly she felt herself being lifted off the ground by an invisible force and slammed into one of the larger debris blocks, driving every last bit of air out of her lungs.
“Answer me!!” Melfara snapped once again, suddenly not looking like a little child anymore.
“No… fighting… in the… academy…” Aarina croaked out, defeated.
“Churrect!” Melfara growled. “But chu chuse to ignore me!” She indicated the broken down bridge. “Not only that, chu also did not refrain from destroying the achudemy’s property!”
“I apologize, headmistress.” Aarina said quietly.
“CHU APOLOGIZE? CHUU!!” Melfara screamed. “CHU DESTROY THE BRIDGE AND ALL CHU CHU IS APOLOGIZE?!?”
“CHU WILL REBUILD THE BRIDGE! When chu are done with that, chu will clean the achudemy’s hallways for the next chu weeks! Do chu understand?”
“Yes, headmistress… I understand…”
“Good!” Melfara said, before turning around and walking back to the academy again. After a few steps she stopped and turned around once more, addressing Kazuhiku, Kiyoko, TeTe and Victoria: “If chu find Whitney, send her to my office.”
“Yes, headmistress.” Victoria answered for all of them.
After Melfara had left, Victoria, TeTe and Kiyoko stuck around a little bit more, before leaving to search Whitney. Kazuhiku settled down on a rock near the bridge and watched as Aarina began moving the debris to one side to create more room for her to work.
After a brief while of watching, the sun vanished behind a few clouds and a chilly wind rose from the river. He decided that he’d be better off inside and left for the academy as well. He took one last glance at Aarina and raised an eyebrow in surprise when he noticed her expression.
She was smiling broadly.