After I got through the door, I was too tired to even try the stairs and contemplated just passing out on the couch in an attempt to get some sleep. I felt sore once I sat down and shifted uncomfortably. I’d wandered into the kitchen and was about to give up and try going upstairs when another student walked into the room. She wasn’t familiar and greeted me with a smile which I found odd and off-putting.
“Yeah?” I really didn’t feel like talking about the crap day I’d had.
“How did you like your first day?”
“Was fine.” I cringed a little and looked away.
“Something wrong?” She asked with genuine concern.
She took a seat across from me. “You can talk to me. I’m a good listener. I even have four ears.” She said as if it were a joke.
I didn’t quite get it until I noticed a ghost-like figure beside her.
“What…What was that? Don’t tell me this place is haunted…”
“Oh, sorry, I thought everyone saw me fight Rook.” The ghost figure appeared next to her. “This is my power, Oversoul.”
“Right, sorry. I have a lot on my mind.” I couldn’t remember much about the combat class other than my own pitiful failure.
“You can let it out if you need to. I think it’s just me and you anyway.”
“Uhh…I don’t know…” I looked around the room, feeling a little nervous.
“Whatever you say stays between us. But, I won’t force you. I just want you to know I’m here if you need to vent. Everyone needs to from time to time.”
“Why would you do that for a stranger?”
The girl smiles. “You don’t need a reason to help people. Whether you’re a stranger or my closest friend, I want to help you. It’s just what I want.”
“What’s in it for you?” I stared at her skeptically.
“I would like to say nothing, but honestly I feel good when I know someone else feels better because of me. It’s why I wanted to become a hero.”
“Right.” I sighed and relaxed a bit. “I guess that’s a noble cause.”
“I’m glad you think so, but I don’t feel noble.”
“Would be hard to have that and not also feel a bit of pride, I think. Anyway, you are…who? I don’t believe we’ve met.”
“I think everyone has a bit of pride. Not so much as Leo but…” She stands up and holds her hand out to me. “Anyway, I’m Vicky.”
I stared at her hand, unsure of what to do. I was probably supposed to do something as she was staring at me expectantly, but nothing came to mind.
“Uh, I go by Nine, it seems. It’s nice to meet you.” I nodded to her.
She took the hint and lowered her hand. “Well, it’s good to formally meet you, Nine.”
“Yeah, likewise. Sorry, my manners are a bit rusty…” I scratched the back of my head of out embarrassment.
“Well, I think you’re doing fine so far.”
“Uh, thanks…So, what was that thing before? Oversoul, you called it?”
“It’s…well it’s kind of like my soul given physical form. Would you like to see it again?”
“Sure.” I did my best to give a genuine smile.
Vicky focused and summoned Oversoul. It seemed like a bundle of energy somehow given life. “Feel free to touch her. What’s your ability, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Oh…it certainly is polite…?” I asked, noticing that it had pulled out a chair. “As for the touching thing, I think I’ll pass. I’d rather not corrupt something so pure.”
She laughed a bit. “I doubt a touch from you would corrupt anything.”
“Hm, a lot of people have thought the same thing…”
“Well, don’t sorry. I feel like I’m pretty safe. Want to talk about it?” She said, dismissing Oversoul.
“What do you have in mind?” I asked, hoping she wouldn’t pry too much.
“Why do you feel you’ll corrupt me?” She asked, sending Oversoul into the kitchen for something.
“Oh, I…I’ve done a lot of things in my past that some would consider to be villainous. My abilities made the work easy, but it still haunts me.”
She took a serious expression. “I don’t know what those things were -not do I need to – but I think it doesn’t matter anymore.” Vicky took the glass from Oversoul before it vanished. “All that matters is what you do from here on out.”
I took a moment to think. “Yeah, I wish things were that easy. I feel like I’ve done something terrible. The dreams are having me lose sleep.”
“If you have, don’t you think it’s more important that you make things count from now on? To make up for everything? Of course, I don’t know what you’ve been through and I won’t pretend to. I just think you could become something great. You’re here, aren’t you?”
“I still don’t know why I’m here. I’m starting to think that the company is just fucking with me at this point.” I replied bitterly.
“I don’t think it matters why you came here, just that you made it here.”
“Mhh…” I still didn’t buy it and looked away from her, my own thoughts catching my attention.
It was quiet for a moment before I heard others come down the stairs. They weren’t familiar, either. One of them seemingly hid behind the other. I couldn’t hear what they’d been talking about, but the one in front seemed to light up upon seeing us.
“Vicky sure-Oh, speak of the devil.” They waved to her.
“Hey, Ryland!” Vicky waves back, smiling.
“Hey Vicky, hey…Ivan was it?” Ryland asks, coming over to us, the other student seemingly hiding behind him.
“Uhh…I prefer Nine, thanks.”
“Okay…” I saw him raise an eyebrow at my answer and I looked away, not really wanting to engage with him.
“Kioshi, right? Hey, I’m Vicky.” She greets the other student who was still behind Ryland.
“Hi-i.” The one who I assumed to be Kioshi gave a quick nod to her, but nothing else.
“Did you ever go to see the doctor, Ryland?”
“Yeah.” Was all he answered, clearly he didn’t want to talk about it.
“Sorry, should I have not said anything?”
Kioshi asked Ryland something but I couldn’t hear it. Their conversation didn’t interest me much, anyways. I was too exhausted to focus on too much right now.
“Good.” Vicky said, catching my attention as I’d sort-of dozed off for a second or two there. “Would you two like to sit down? I think everyone else went off to do their own things.”
“Sure.” Ryland replied. “What were you two doing?”
“Nothing important.” I mumbled, still not wanting to talk.
“Just talking to pass the time.” Vicky gave me a reassuring smile which I didn’t really understand what the point of it was. “So, I don’t think we’ve formerly met, Kioshi. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Yeah. Nice to meet you, too.” Kioshi gave a small smile in return.
“Hey.” I gave him a quick glance and he returned with a nod.
“Are you guys liking Ravenhold so far?” Vicky asked.
“It’s strange. Rook is mean.” Kioshi said.
“Yeah, I totally agree with you there.” She laughed a little.
“Yeah, a lot of heroes are dicks.” I mumbled, knowing I should’ve at least expected Rook to have been that way seeing as he was a known hero.
“It’s something, not sure what I was expecting.” Ryland shrugged. “At least there’s nice people here.”
“And some really nice teachers. I think it’ll only get better, though. The first day is always tough.”
“Yeah.” Ryland nodded. “So, you guys want to do something? We could play a game or something…”
“Did you have anything in mind?” Vicky asked with excitement clear in her voice.
“I think I saw some board games in the living room?” Ryland replied.
Vicky looked over at Kioshi and then to me. “What do you guys say? What to play a board game?”
“I guess. I doubt I’ll be getting any sleep anyway.”
Kioshi just nodded and they followed Ryland closely while we went over to the living room. He looked through the games, frowning at some. “How about Risk? I don’t feel like Scrabble or Trivia Pursuit would be fair.”
I didn’t really know what any of those these as I didn’t recall playing such a thing before. I chose to mostly just follow along with what the others were doing while holding open my tired eyelids.
“Truthfully…I’ve never played any of them. Father had me training too much to play. So, I’m good with anything.” Vicky said, looking somewhat ashamed.
“I’ve never heard of any of them…” I admitted even though I probably wasn’t missing out on much.
“How is it played.?” Kioshi asked.
“Well, it’s a war game, you need to take control of the world-” Ryland said before going over the rules.
“Oh, so we get to be supervillains? Sounds awesome.” I said, liking that idea.
“More like conquerors, it seems.” Vicky said. “I’m interested.”
“Yeah, you’re like a general, or something.” Ryland replied.
Kioshi looked confused still.
“Looks like you’re our guide, Ryland.” Vicky said with a laugh.
“Okay. Let’s set up and I’ll teach you as we go?” Ryland offered.
“Sounds good.” Vicky said with a smile.
Kioshi just nodded again.
The game was long and tedious. I barely gave enough effort to pass for being actually interested in what was going on. The only thing that surprised me was that somehow, Kioshi had ended up winning in the end.
“Well, congratulations Kioshi. You’re official the ruler of two thirds of the world.” Ryland says with a laugh. “It’s getting late, I think we should call it a night?”
Vicky seems distracted by something for a moment before replying. “Yeah, I’ve gotta find my roommate anyway. Good work, though Kioshi.”
“Thank you.” Kioshi says before blushing and looking away.
“Let’s play again sometime?” Vicky offered.
“You had some serious dice skills and sure.” Ryland said with a grin.
“It was good meeting you Kioshi. Don’t be afraid to come see me or just say hi.” Vicky said with another smile.
Kioshi returned her kind gesture. “You’re nice.”
Vicky turned to Ryland and I. “The same goes for you two as well.”
I blinked awake after I realized I’d been in an out of sleeping while they’d been talking.
“Save it for bed, ok?” Vicky waves to us. “Goodnight guys.”
“Somebody needs coffee.” Ryland laughed.
I mumbled something to him before I dozed off again.