It hadn’t been that long ago, and the scars were still evident on the streets of Meltokio. When Marlene Wilder had been killed by a stray spell from an inept half-elf assassin, the backlash on her fellow half-elves had been apparent. None could be seen wandering the streets, not even the slums. They’d been effectively driven off or hidden from sight.
The rumors had died after about a year, though the awkward silences persisted any time the young Chosen that had been the intended target walked into a room. It wasn’t that there was any sort of remorse, because the nobility tended to be vacant of things like actual deference and respect for anything outside their own wants and needs. It was an affected silence, like stepping on eggshells to make sure that the little redhead was kept happy.
Zelos Wilder, the next Chosen out of however many.
The backlash of what had happened wasn’t just on the half-elves, and to be honest, Zelos didn’t care. He resented them, in a distant way. It wasn’t even a feeling he put much thought into being conscious of. It was just there. However, so much had changed. His sister, the first friend and second person he could possibly have cared about was gone.
For his safety, as if he wanted that.
She was locked into an abbey, and her mother was killed without a trial. She definitely hated him by then, if she ever really liked him at all.
You should never have been born.
Zelos had requested to spend the last winter as far away from Meltokio as possible, to get away from the very fact that it would snow. Making snow angels and snowmen were the last things from his mind, and he’d probably never be able to enjoy them again. Even the hint of being cold made him want to run to somewhere safe and warm.
Though, safe was really an arbitrary term at this point. But hot was better than cold. Cold was the last memory he had of his mother.
And how he ruined her life. If he had a choice, he’d wish to never have been born. If that really would have made everything better, but it was kind of too late. She was already dead, and he was still alive.
Zelos was waiting in some waiting room in the palace. He didn’t really care to see the king of Meltokio right then, and it wasn’t like there was anything new or useful that he’d be able to tell him. He’d make something up, probably, make the King feel important. Give something his blessing, whatever it took to get them to leave him alone.
But this time was different. This time, waiting with him was a girl, she looked younger than him. Black hair, and some sort of weird ninja clothing. Zelos, at first tried to ignore the excited, happy conversation that she tried to have with him. Zelos didn’t really have the will to be excited and happy these days.
“Hi! What’s your name?”
“I’m Sheena! You know what I’m here for?”
“No.” And he didn’t care. He kept his eyes glued to the floor, except for an occasional glance at her, because she was just that hard to ignore.
“I’m going to try and make a pact with Volt! I’ve been training really hard every day. But Grandpa thinks I can do it!”
The room was pretty much empty except for the two of them and a guard and a maid in the other corner. Sheena must have been really bored to keep talking to him like that. He nodded numbly, glancing at her again, since her swinging feet were catching his eye. She was really young, wasn’t she?
“I wanna help Tethe’alla and Mizuho. It’s a secret village, y’know! Only the villagers know where it is.”
“I’ve heard of it,” he responded.
But there wasn’t a lot of feeling to his response. He was more curious about her and why she seemed so happy about having so much weight on her shoulders. Did she think making a pact would really be that easy?
“Yeah. So I’m gonna be a summoner. What about you? What’re you gonna do when you grow up?”
Zelos hadn’t been expecting that question, and instantly looked away.
“I don’t know yet,” because he definitely didn’t want to be the Chosen. For so many different reasons.
He’d rather stop thinking about that, and he glanced back at her, with her cheerful face. How could someone be so cheerful? It was kind of nice, after so much silence and after so many people averting their gaze from him.
“It’s okay, cheer up!” She was still smiling. “Whatever you wanna be when you grow up, you gotta do it, right? You can’t say anything’s impossible, or else you’ll always feel sad like you do now.”
Zelos wasn’t sure how to respond, and he was saved by the king and an elder gentleman walking out of the meeting room. This was where they separated, wasn’t it? Zelos looked back at her, and she had turned away to greet the man. He must have been the grandpa that she was talking about earlier.
As they started to leave, she turned back to face him and waved. “Bye, Zelos!”
He paused and just a bit smiled as she turned away.
She was right, wasn’t she? If he wanted something, he’d have to work for it. He was in the best position to make everything right, for Seles, for his mother. He’d find a way to fix this Chosen system, and use it to take whatever he wanted.
He wouldn’t have minded talking to Sheena some more though. Maybe they’d get lucky and meet again one day. He definitely at least wanted someone like her to notice him again. Next time, he’d make sure to talk to her more. He’d make sure to impress her.