The Adventures of Trina: The Glass Key: Part Two
I felt like I had been struck by a wall of bricks. Everything crumbled, and I plunged into a nightmare. I vaguely remember the teacher shrieking as a strong arm yanked me from the floor, his merciless glaze looking down on me.
“Evan, is it?” I heard her say. “Please, help him to the nurse!”
I paid no attention to the whispers and the gabbling around me, only the heaviness of my legs as I stumbled toward fresh air.
Outside of the classroom, my blurry vision misdirected me, and I found myself leaning on a wall in a narrow hallway. Even through my shaky hearing, muffled as if cotton balls were in my ears, I heard footsteps stomping toward me. It was him, no doubt about it.
I had no time to defend myself as he confronted me with his fists clenched, his cold, crimson gaze fueled with hatred as he shoved me against a locker.
“Listen here,” he snapped,” you’re not what I’m after, so stay of this!”
“Tell me why you’re here!” I demanded.
“None of your business,” he snarled.
“Tell me or—”
“Shut it!” he hissed, now pressing me against the locker, sharp pains running along my back.
“You—” I spat at him, struggling to escape the force of his muscular arms. “Get out of my neoschool, or else!”
“Get this, if anyone here learns of my identity—especially you-know-who—harm will befall them. I will see to that!” he threatened. “And I will uncover the snitch!”
“You think I’ll just stand by and let you trample over my friends?! You get this; I’ll never let a pirate ruin my life, never again!”
His lower lip twitched, growls escaped through his teeth. “Then go ahead and defy me, see what happens. I’ll destroy every obstacle in my way, so I suggest you shut your mouth and be a good little schoolboy ‘til I get what I need.”
Finally, he backed off, and with his fifthly smirk still facing me, I lunged for him. Still ridden with blurry vision, I missed by a long shot, and he stormed off without putting up a fight. Pathetically, I slumped to the ground.
“It’s Trina, isn’t it?!” I called, but I expected no answer. “It’s Trina you’re after!” Sure enough, he kept on stomping toward the end of the long hallway, the way back to class.
I cradled my head in my hands, which were sticky with sweat. I didn’t care if our vociferous quarrel flooded the hallways, or if the higher ups were on their way to punish me for trying to fight back…I needed to protect my new life, and most desperately, my new friends. But in the end, I was helpless. I was hopeless. I was lost. In this world, my problems…my enemies…could not be blasted away with magic. Without my potions or my wand, I knew no other way to fight.
But my instincts screamed to me that I couldn’t just let him waddle back into class, put on a straight face and act as this ‘Evan,’ not without the truth on my side. What was Evrilin really after? My first thought was revenge. Trina had been responsible for his commander’s downfall. A trace of loyalty in the Mynci could have been enough to sow the seeds for an avenger, and now, he was ripe for retribution.
Or maybe that’s what he wanted me to believe? He had deceived Trina, after all. Therefore I couldn’t shake the thought that this was just another trick question. Except this time, our safety was on the line. I had to find the right answer.
Seconds piled into minutes. Soon class would end, and my friends would be hanging out during lunch.
The cafeteria was hectic, but without the vigor of the fears churning in my brain as I approached Cassie, Linny, and Pat digging through their lunchboxes. They stopped and beamed up at me, but I couldn’t return their smile.
“Hey Tomaru,” Pat greeted. She paused and did a double take when I remained silent. “You know…you’re looking a little pale there…I didn’t think that was possible…”
“Yeah, well…it is my first day…”
“I heard you passed out in LA today,” Cassie giggled. “What in Neopia did you do in there?”
“LA…? Language arts? Right…well we—”
I jolted backwards and caught my words before they let loose into an unwelcoming ear. There he was, hood shadowing his face, walking by and shielded by the bustling crowd, no doubt to spy on me.
“…had a great time at the Altador Cup this year, yup! That Lilo Blumario—Fierce!”
I felt all their eyes fixed on me, especially Pat’s, wider than I’ve ever seen on any Shoyru.
“You hit your head when you fainted? What’s the matter with you?” Cassie asked, concerned.
I didn’t see Evrilin around anywhere, nor could I hear anything over the crowd, which meant he couldn’t, either. So for the moment it was safe to tell them, if my voice was inaudible enough. “I can’t, not here. Being watched. Somewhere else? A secret location?”
“Err…How ‘bout Trina’s place?” Cassie suggested in a whisper, but not without adding an awkward laugh at the end of her sentence. I reckon she thought I was joking.
I immediately shook my head, put on a serious face, and they got the message.
“Okay…wait! I know!” Cassie grasped her mouth; it seemed she forgot we were being secretive. “The girl’s locker room—there’s no class in there right now, and we have it next hour. After lunch we’ll head there early. No one will see you there.”
I nodded, and heads turned toward the speck of green pacing toward us. “Don’t tell her anything,” I added in the harshest voice I could muster.
Mutually, we agreed, though I was not without guilt. They had to be kept in the dark, just a little while longer…
“Hey…what’d I miss? Sorry I was late, I had to finish up my work. I could’ve done it with a group, but that would’ve been more of a pain.”
“No, it’s fine, Trina,” Cassie assured her, “no need to apologize. We haven’t even started eating lunch yet, so you’re on time.”
“Great! Oh, I wanted to ask—has anyone seen my schedule around somewhere? I’m thinking maybe one of you picked it up by accident. Remember I let you see it this morning?”
Everyone shook their heads.
“I would’ve seen it if I had it,” Cassie said. “I only have a few papers with me right now.”
“Ah, well…it’s no big deal, I guess. I remember my classes, anyway. I mean, I would’ve liked to double check and see that I don’t have Woodshop at two o’ clock, but that’s wishful thinking.”
“Trina, why don’t you stop by the office and pick another one up? Now that you mention it, I think we might be in the same class…”
“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” Her face lit up. “Forget lunch—I’ll get that right now! Meet up with you guys later!”
Had I not been facing impending doom, I would have congratulated Linny for her brilliant plan.
After lunch, we crept into the gym locker rooms. We had about ten minutes before the early birds would arrive, so I cut to the chase.
“So what is it?” Cassie squealed, and I gasped in surprise. “Did Trina meet a new friend? That’s why you wanted secrecy, right?”
“No, no NO! Just no! This is no time for gossip!” I tried to hold back, but I couldn’t take the pressure anymore. It was unbearable, so I just went out and said it. “Trina is in danger.”
“No…no way…” said Linny, shocked. “Who is—”
“Evrilin Shinski,” I uttered bitterly.
“Impossible!” Pat yelled, jumping into a defensive stance at the sound of his name. “He’s a world away from here, what would he want—”
“I don’t know!” I tried to choke back my tears, but they were still evident in my uneven voice. “But he’s here. Maybe for revenge or maybe he’s after one of you, I don’t know…I just don’t know what to do!”
“We need to warn Trina,” said Pat urgently, desperation in her tone.
“Not so fast! We know that Evrilin had a grudge against her. If he suspects her of knowing that he’s here, that’s she’s plotting against him—and I can’t picture Trina backing down for her own safety…“
Pat stepped forward. “Trina can take care of herself! Remember when you bailed on us? We wouldn’t have gotten into that mess if it wasn’t for you hightailing out of danger! She’s a hundred times stronger than you!”
“Pat!” Cassie exclaimed, shocked. “That was uncalled for!”
“Forget about the past! For all we know Evrilin is hunting down Trina as we speak! Look, it’s not that I doubt her strength, and she absolutely has the right to know…it’s just that, how will Trina handle this…emotionally?”
On the last word, the heat of the argument subsided. No answers lingered in the stifling air.
“I could regret saying this in the future, but if Trina thinks Evrilin is after her, she’ll lose sight of herself. And she just started getting things back together, too.”
“Trina’s feelings are complicated, no doubt,” Cassie began, looking down at her thumbs as she spoke carefully. “But Trina really cares for her friends—for us. She doesn’t take betrayal lightly, she can’t…What I mean to say is, without us, I wonder where she’d be right now…”
I saw Pat fold her arms and daze off into space, preoccupied by what I knew were deep thoughts. She and Trina’s friendship had been strained over the summer, but things seemed alright now.
“We have to be extremely vigilant about this,” I said after a brief silence. “Evrilin mustn’t learn that I’ve told you this. He’s probably expecting me to make a move. Somehow, we’ll have to prevent Trina from discovering him, no matter what. Master Iko entrusted me with the power to protect others…and I can’t let him down, or Trina.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll come up with a plan,” the Shoyru promised, with one hand on my shoulder, “and we’ll remain in the background in the process. But when the time comes, I wouldn’t mind playing with a little revenge myself.”
“Times up!” yelled Linny as she gestured to a wall clock, biting her lip.
“I’ll notify you if I spot anything suspicious,” I said to the three as I made for the exit. “But don’t rely on me. No matter what happens, do not let your guard down. ”
“Of course,” Cassie finished, her voice diminishing with each letter. I had never heard her voice so anxious before.
I burst out of the door of the girl’s locker room, but I couldn‘t dodge an odd look from a female Zafara as I slipped by.* * * * *
Later that day, I had a brilliant plan. Well, brilliant to me, anyway. I decided to take Trina shopping, my treat. With any luck, she’ll be enticed to pick up a new wardrobe—in other words, a disguise. Plus, after today, I felt like I needed to lift her spirits.
Turns out, Neopia Central has a copious amount of shopping destinations. In fact, I’ve never seen so many in one place. This plaza, not far from where we lived, was brimming with Neopians, each flaunting large paper bags in their arms as they strolled by. We came to the windows of a cozy clothing shop, adorned with sale signs and mannequins in fall outfits, and Trina wanted to take a peek inside.
I was overwhelmed by the rainbow waves of clothing racks from wall to wall. Even more impressive, everything was arranged by color and size. Back home, you were lucky to find anything that fit you in the hodge-podge of markets that sprung up on fair weather days
I followed Trina into the back of the store, where the wall was lined in all sorts of hats.
“Like any of them?” I asked her while twirling a red Derby in my hand.
“Some of them are nice, but these aren’t on sale—”
“So what? You can buy whatever you want, remember?”
“It’s just…you’re being too nice. It’s giving off weird vibes, to be honest.”
“Well, yeah, I sense some weird vibes from that, too.”
“Why don’t you try on this hat?”
“Oh, it’s a hat? I’ll admit I’m not a hat person, unless…is there a pirate hat? I’ve always dreamed of one of those, especially the one with the feather! They didn’t wear hats on the Dark Depths, only those generic hoods. Except—oh, never mind!”
“They do say if you wanna be an adventurer you have to be willing to leave your comfort zone.”
“They’re clothes! They’re supposed to be comfortable!”
“How ‘bout this, eh?”
“No, try preposterous.”
“Then how ‘bout as an early birthday present?”
“My birthday’s two months from now!”
“Hence, ‘early birthday present.’ C’mon, you know you want it!”
“Well, I think I can make it work, but it’s not like I have anything that would match…” she pondered, right before glaring longingly at the store across the square.
Ugh, why are girls so choosey? I thought as smacked my palm again my forehead. What had I gotten myself into?
Wait, I knew the answer to that one: an empty wallet.* * * * *
Finally, I had made it to the end of the week. But it was too early to celebrate; I had to get through our first lab assignment. I didn’t expect working in chemicals so soon. Linny told me that her science class just heated water in a vat. I sighed. Why couldn’t we do the same?
As usual, we were paired with the person sitting next to us. Finally, the red Zafara sitting beside me introduced herself as Liz. One by one, I gathered the lab equipment and shuffled them around on the lab bench. I assumed that if I was successful with the setup, Liz would cut me a break and take over the experiment. The instructions were easy enough, but all the solutions were colorless, and thus, easy to confuse. With all the shenanigans happening in the classroom the last few sessions, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had switched the labeling for laughs.
“You…look different today, Trina,” Liz said plainly. “I didn’t recognize you at first.”
I knew she meant it as a compliment, but I pictured her trying to hold back laughs. It didn’t matter, though, because she didn’t know me.
“Like it? They were a gift!”
I twirled around to show off my new clothes—a flowing, light blue vest over a navy blue shirt, along with a necklace of plastic rainbow gems to match my multicolored hat. Definitely not something I would normally wear—oversized T-shirts and a pair of Ember’s Boots were more my style—but I truly liked it. With the light blue matching my wand, I felt within my element. And, most importantly, I averted any clichés with these vivacious accessories.
“That’s done, looks great,” she said as she observed my perfect lab setup, a spitting image of the diagram we were given. “Can you get the experiment going? Looks like it’ll take a while for the apparatus to reach the boiling point.”
“Well, I was hoping you’d like to do it. That setup was exhausting,” I lied. “And I don’t want to get anything on my new clothes. My friend would freak out if that happened.”
“Chemicals just aren’t my thing. The fumes aren’t good for my nose, either. Plus, you seem to know what you’re doing.”
Drat. I was struck down. But I had no reason to be annoyed; it was a team project, as much as I hated seeing it that way.
Like the water vapor from our experiment, the time evaporated. The bell chimed, and every student had fled the classroom but us, still scrambling to finish our lab write-up.
“We’ll finish it for homework over the weekend,” she assured me, drying the insides of flasks with a paper towel. “Right?”
“Well…” the teacher answered, “I’m not one to assign homework for weekends…”
Honestly, I wanted to hand it in unfinished just to get rid of it, but what would that mean for Liz? Or me, after I pledged to always do my best?
“Please?” I beseeched. “We’ve worked really hard. It’s just, we accidently overheated the water bath and started spurting all over the place and we had to clean it up and—”
“Alright, I’ll take it Monday morning, no worries. No need to get all worked up over it; it should only take a few minutes to write the conclusion. Have a great weekend!” he said as he picked up his briefcase and left the room.
If only we merely had to write the conclusion, without the dozen of questions on top of it. I now despised Mr. Aardo’s decision. I should’ve never had a lab partner to begin with! I would’ve finished it by now, and had saved my weekend from more frustrating lab work.
Liz gave me her address, and reluctantly, I agreed to meet her on Sunday. I was nervous about visiting her home, and I couldn’t imagine her being thrilled to see me, either.
And worse, lunch didn’t help to relieve my infuriation any. When I ranted to them, Pat and Cassie had hardly spoken a word, just the occasional nod to acknowledge I was there, and they refused to explore the school library with me. Could the weekend creep any slower? * * * * *
I was told that Fridays were supposed to be a good thing.
If that was true, then why was I working with my greatest enemy?
Evrilin didn’t remotely look in my direction as he scribbled sentences onto his paper.
Desperately, I wanted to pester him why he was here. But the looming, grave consequences he hung above me kept me in line. Somehow I was certain he would not remain calm, and he would be sure to get caught. To keep him stable, I had to keep quiet.
Thus, an atmosphere lingered between us that could only be described as awkward. * * * * *
The afternoon sun hid behind a passing cloud as I reached Liz’s doorstep. This house was fairly small—even smaller than my own—but the landscaping was impressive, compared to my overgrown bushes and bundles of fallen leaves displaced everywhere. Rose bushes began where the green lawn ended; the fresh aroma of the pink blossoms was relaxing. A willow tree swayed in the gentle autumn breeze.
The door opened, and immediately Liz welcomed me inside. What I had anticipated to be an awkward reunion turned out to be the opposite. She wore a congenial smile all the way to the dining room, where the table was prepared with a full course meal. Steam was rising from every plate—from sliced vegetables to various meats. I squealed in delight when I saw the fish platter in the center of the table.
“Did you make all of this yourself?” I said with my mouth full. With all this tasty food in front of me, I forgot my table manners.
“Yeah. I was bored, had all this food in the fridge, and I figured, why not? You haven’t eaten lunch yet, have you?”
“No, just breakfast. Wow...this food is amazing!”
“Thanks. Don’t hold back; there’s no one else around to eat this food.”
I swallowed and looked up at her.
“My parents won’t be home until late, so help yourself,” she added.
After lunch, we embarked on a tour around the house. Surprisingly, it was larger than I imagined, or perhaps that was an illusion. In every room, the furniture was pleasantly placed, and although I knew nothing about interior design, the skills used were top notch. Each room was very mindful of color coordination, down to color of the window pane. Every square foot seemed to serve a purpose, even if there was just empty space. In fact, it was making me worrisome of how meticulous Liz would expect me to act on the lab report.
In her room, Liz lounged on a Kau print sofa, arms crossed behind her head and looking at the ceiling.
“So Trina, I don’t know anything about you. Now that I’ve showed you around, mind telling me where you’re from?”
“Well, I live a few blocks away…” I froze. I had no idea where to start. It’s not like I was good at this sort of thing. I could never think of anything interesting to say.
“Oh, I love to read!” I said the instant I noticed a bookshelf in the corner. “I just can’t live without reading some fantasy epics every now and then!”
I anchored myself there. As tempting as it was, no one needed to know that I was fervently and dangerously in love with adventuring. Like an adrenaline junkie, but with a cool wand to boot.
“Me too, but not so much fantasy. No matter how many classes I take, I can never get enough knowledge. I read everything from academic journals to recipes in magazines.”
“Bet you know a lot, then!”
“Let’s hope so,” she said dreamily. “I try to cram in as much as I can now. That way there’ll be more open doors for me in the future. I’m sure you feel the same way?”
“Yeah. I want to be an archeologist. I’m not sure exactly how to become one, but doing well in school should help me get there. And maybe even further than that!”
“Ooh, ambitious, I see,” the Zafara said with admiration.
“Very.” I grinned.
“So…would you like to help me?”
“…with the lab?”
“No, no, help me study things…Learn new things…everything. They say that you discover new knowledge a lot faster when you’re around people with different perspectives. How ‘bout it?”
“Sounds interesting…” I said slowly. I wasn’t too sure on what she was asking. Deep inside, I hoped she was longing to befriend me.
“On our spare time, we could visit museums, read newspapers—anything you want. It’s up to you.”
“Well…can my friends come along, too?”
It took a few seconds for her to respond. “If you really want them to, I can’t stop you…but I’m all that good around others…if you know what I mean…”
“Oh, I see,” I said sadly. “I guess we can hang out whenever.”
“Great!” she said, and jumped to her feet. “Now let’s get that homework out of the way…”
To be continued…