August 20, 2016 by Lyn
an Inventrix Guest Story, Part the Fourth
Addergoole, Year 25
Hell Night Saturday
Sigruko strode down the hallway, no longer running but still covering ground quickly. That hadn’t just been someone taking his haunted house hazing job “a little too seriously”. No; he had been ready, willing and eager to hurt her. Torture her, even.
She had once asked her father how you could tell the difference between people like us and the monsters he hunted. You’ll know, he’d said. At the time, she’d thought it was a useless answer.
Now, she understood. No wonder he’d been nervous: there were monsters in this school, and she was trapped with them.
“Sigruko!” Corentin’s voice called after her. “Sigruko, wait!”
“For what?” She didn’t slow even a fraction, anger clear in her voice. If he wanted to, he could run. She didn’t owe him any favors.
Corentin caught up with her a moment later. “Look, I didn’t–”
“You let him catch me. You just stood by and let him!”
“No, I…” Corentin started to fall back before, looking determined, he darted in front of her and blocked the way. “Just hear me out, okay?”
“Why should I?” Sigruko glared at him. “I know you could tell I wanted your help – but did you help? No!”
“You abandoned me,” she interrupted. “I don’t see what there is to add. It’s a damn good thing I can take care of myself. Now move.”
“I didn’t want to! I couldn’t do any–”
“I don’t want to hear it,” Sigruko snapped, cutting off the rest of his sentence.
“Look, I know I should’ve done something. I wanted to, but–”
“But you’re a coward. Move.”
“I’m– okay, fine.” He ran a hand through his hair in exasperation. “I don’t get into fights I know’d get me fu– seriously hurt. You can call that a coward. I call it common sense.”
“You didn’t even need to fight him! All I needed was a distraction and all you did was stand there.”
“Look, it’s not… Can’t we talk about this somewhere else?” He glanced uneasily down the hall, back the way they’d come.
Sigruko followed his gaze, then took a quick look around the area. “I’m starting to hate this place,” she muttered. “Fine, we can talk.”
“Thank you.” Corentin looked relieved and stepped aside to let her pass.
She walked the last stretch back to her room, quietly fuming to herself even as she stepped through the door – and stopped, looking back at Corentin as he waited just outside. And waited.
She left him waiting just long enough for him to start looking uncomfortable before she exhaled loudly and waved him in. “You can come in.”
“Thanks.” He sounded like he wanted to complain, but sensibly was restraining himself. Following into the room, he stopped near her desk and glanced around, looking uncomfortable.
“You can sit down.” Sigruko gestured at the desk chair. “I’m looking forward to your explanation.”
“Thanks,” he repeated and sat down. “There are… rules, down here, about what we can or can’t do. Or say. Things like…” Corentin grimaced. “Well, like what Fishel wanted.”
“Me?” Sigruko replied drily.
“Not– well, yeah, but– I’m not allowed to talk about it,” he finished lamely.
“Right.” She folded her arms across her chest, looking unimpressed. “And you weren’t allowed to kick Fishel in the shins or something, either?”
“Well… no, there’s no rule against that. I just… I’m not much of a fighter.” He looked bitterly down at the floor. “If I got in his way, Fishel would be after me all year, at least. And you saw what he’s like – I don’t have a chance against him and his crew.”
“What about your crew? Or would they just sit and watch, too?” Sigruko leaned back against her dresser, arms still crossed.
“I get it, okay?” Corentin’s shoulders hunched defensively. “And I don’t have a crew. My… last year’s group didn’t really work. Raven’s helps me out sometimes, if he feels like it.”
“Yeah.” He shrugged. “So I lay low and stay out of trouble. I’m usually pretty good at that.”
“I’m not.” Sigruko’s smile had little humor. “As I’m sure you’ve realized.”
“A little, yeah.” He shook his head and smiled. “Hanging out with you is turning out riskier than I figured.”
“Being me is turning out riskier than I figured,” she replied ruefully. “I was expecting something to go wrong, but I wasn’t expecting a school full of monsters.”
Corentin looked surprised. “I thought you knew about the not-human thing before getting here?”
“Not that.” She pushed away from the dresser and started pacing. “There’s us, and then there’s real monsters, evil creatures like my dad hunts. Attacking people, cornering them in the halls, trapping them to force us into decisions you aren’t allowed to explain? And you knew all about it!” She whirled around and glared at him accusingly. “‘Some people take it a little seriously’? That’s the best you could do?”
“Yes!” Corentin spread his hands helplessly. “It’s one of those things we’re not allowed to talk about.”
“Ugh!” Sigruko flopped onto the bed with a melodramatic sigh. “I hate these rules. I can’t trust anyone, can I?”
Corentin hesitated. “What about your family?”
“They can’t talk about things either, can they?” Sigruko frowned. “Besides, I don’t want to rely on them. Not unless I have to.”
“So… does this mean you’re not angry at me any more?” He looked at her hopefully.
Sigruko frown at him, then shook her head. “No, I’m still mad. But,” she added as his expression fell, “I forgive you. Just don’t do it again.”
“I don’t have a lot of options, you know,” he protested.
“I’m sure you can think of something helpful. You know…” She sat up again and glared suspiciously at the door. “At this point, I think I’m going to call off the dance. Maybe next week, if things are looking better.”
Corentin was in thought and seemed not to have heard her. “You know… there is a way you can avoid being caught.”
Sigruko looked at him sharply. “How?”
“Well, uh.” He fidgeted in his chair, suddenly wanting to look everywhere but at her. “If you, well… if I’m yours.” He frowned at the floor, seeming to struggle for words.
“If you’re mine?” She looked surprised, then thoughtful. “Then what about you?”
He shrugged, with a nervous half-smile. “That depends on you?”
“It’s… an interesting idea.” Sigruko watched him thoughtfully. “I don’t know. What would I be getting myself into, really?”
Corentin opened his mouth to reply, then gave another grimace and sighed. “Your Mentor is Doug, right? You can ask him. I think you can handle it, though.” As she continued looking dubious, he placed a hand over his heart. “I promise. Besides,” he continued as the room seemed to twist for a split second, “it’s the only helpful thing I can think of doing.” He looked a little chagrined.
“The only thing?” Sigruko quirked an eyebrow. “Well. I guess after yelling at you for being useless, I should take you at your word. So,” she asked half-seriously, “how does it work, blood ritual?”
“Not usually.” Corentin suddenly grinned and got out of the chair, kneeling on one knee next to the bed. “Lady Sigruko cy’Doug, I give myself to you, your will as mine, should you have me.”
“Oh not this stupid princess thing again.” Sigruko rolled her eyes, unsuccessfully holding back a smile. “Fine. Corentin cy’…”
“Corentin cy’Mendosa, I accept you as mine. Now what?”
Corentin was still smiling, although he looked much more uncertain. “Now? Whatever you want.”