(October 3rd Friday)
Spyro was sleeping well in his part of the dorm when he heard a large amount of stomping and banging sounds coming from the other room. It made his spines stand up with the annoyance it brought, and the lack of sleep it would mean.
“Ugh…OOF!” He hit his head on the bunk’s roof while he got out, and grumbled as he sored his way to the door. He knocked on it a bit saying “Rynk! What’s going on in there?”
A small yelp followed by a large thud went off before a weak-sounding voice called out “Nothiiiiiing.”
“Yeah right.” Spyro said to himself as he jimmied the handle, which turned out to be locked. “Unlock the door please.”
“NO WAY! I could be in my-“
“I get the picture.” Spyro interrupted, attempting to purge all images of the interrupted from his mind. “Then get dressed so I can check the damage!”
“There’s no damage. You can go back to bed!”
“No I can’t! You’re banging is waking me up! What are you doing in there?”
“… Sleep… da- wa-walking. Sleep walking.”
The tone did not sound assured. “I’m breaking the door down and coming inside in ten seconds. If you’re not decent, hide yourself. One, Two, Three…”
There were a lot of shoving sounds, and shuffles till Spyro hit ten, then he pushed the door off its hinges then stormed inside. Rynk did not appear to be in the room.
“What the-“ The room was dark, but he spotted the closet and looked inside to find only a few shirts and a suitcase. No Rynk. From there he proceeded to turn on the light and look through the drawers before being slapped from above.
“Don’t look in that!” Rynk yelled. “Not yours!” Sypro shot his eyes upward to see Rynk upside down on the ceiling.
“What are you, spider-girl?!” Spyro whispered forcefully.
“Magnetic Bones, remember? Anything else ya need to know?” Rynk asked angrily.
“Yeah, what was going on?!”
“Nothing. Just go back to bed! I won’t make any more noise. I promise!”
Spyro was too curious to just let this go, but he was also too tired. He had to make her tell him eventually. “Fine.” He answered finally. “But you’re gonna tell me sometime.”
“Don’t worry. I will, just go, PLEASE.”
Spyro walked out miffed, hearing a small screeching sound behind him. He turned and jerked into the side of his bed. The door was repairing itself. “I forgot it did that.” He groaned before returning to his covers. He expected another thud sound to appear but none came, and eventually sleep took the white and black hedgehog.
The next morning Spyro did not find Rynk in her room, which was strange since they almost always woke up around the same time, and he was waking up earlier than that, as he feared sleeping in too long. He took this time to attempt an intrusion into Rynk’s room, which ended abruptly with the door apparently refusing to be broken down this time. “Clever…” Spyro admitted. He let out a sigh and continued getting ready for the day’s classes.
In Craiger and Dante’s dorm…
Craiger was having a similar problem, with the night being non-noisy but Dante simply not being there at all, even when Craiger awoke early the next morning he saw no one in Dante’s bed, so he too got ready and headed out. He was headed for Nature-analysis when he passed a student signing “It’s Friday! Friday! Gotta get down!” then something about his hand being a dolphin. And so began the day.
The class of Nature-Analysis was not to Craiger’s complete taste, as while he enjoyed the images shown, he seemed bored, for reasons you would have to ask him. Then he heard a “PSST!” coming from the doorway. Some of the other heads turned and saw nothing but some fur at the end of a black ear-end. Craiger had ignored this however, and continued with his sketch to present to the teacher.
“Craiger!” The voice called in a whispered voice. Craiger turned his head to see Rynk standing outside the classroom. Quickly he checked to see if the teacher was looking at them, but thankfully Mr. Gerald was correcting a mis-spelling on the chalk-board. Very quickly Craiger dashed out the door, colliding into Rynk, who to Craiger’s surprised, flipped to the side, took hold of his shirt, then threw him over onto the ground.
“Sorry! Sorry!” Rynk apologized as she staggered back. “Reflex.”
And to Rynk’s surprise Craiger began chuckling. “Reminds me of someone I used to know.” He got up. “What do ya need, Rynk?”
“Um… could you… distract the Principal from her office? I need to get to my Home-dimension, but I can’t be caught.”
Craiger shot Rynk a non-convinced stare, then raised his eyebrow and asked “And you need to do this why?”
“The talent show.” She answered.
“… Just that? What do you need that’s so important?”
“Uh… I… can’t say.”
“Then I can’t help ya, Rynk.” And with that Craiger began to walk back inside the classroom.
“No wait!” Rynk tugged him back. “I-it’s some… “ Rynk bit her tongue, and Craiger waited. “…s-sryinges…”
“… I just thought of at least seven bad things that could mean.”
“I-it’s not bad! I just wanted them for a special affect thing!”
“Why am I supposed to believe that? You’ll have to explain what they are.”
Rynk was reluctant to answer. She kept her mouth shut for a moment or two then took a deep breath and answered “I found them… it doesn’t matter where I found them. They have this… red glowing goop… that’s from this… lynx girl… named Kaiya.”
“Ka-“ Craiger collided with the opposite wall, his face filled with shock. His eyes were wide open and he looked as if he had “seen a ghost”. It took a bit for him to regain his posture, but when he did he was still a bit taken. “Y-… h-have… “ then another set of seconds went on. Finally he was able to make a full reply. “I’ll help you… on a condition.”
“Which is…?” Rynk cringed.
“You give me one of the syringes.”
“Rynk, you don’t know what this means to me right now. You either say yes or I’m not only gone, but Ih’m telling the Principal.”
“Y-yes! Yes! Geez! I didn’t know it was that bad.” Then Rynk put the pieces together “You… knew Kaiya?”
Craiger didn’t answer the question He just turned and started off to the Principal’s office. Rynk was still confused, but she chose not to press further and followed.
*knock knock* “Come in!” Miss ICLE answered to Craiger’s knock. No doubt Rynk was hiding nearby to sneak inside. Craiger walked inside with his best poker face on. “What do you need?” She asked.
“Um there was a sort of triangular thing stuck to a chair in the cafeteria.” Craiger made up. “I went to ask the Cafeteria lady about it but then it like… disappeared. I- I’m not crazy.”
“… And what do you want me to do about it?” The Principal asked, partially convinced.
“I don’t know… do you have something to scan where it was or something?”
Miss ICLE sighed, “Take me to where you saw it.” The holographic form disappeared then Miss ICLE reappeared outside the room. Craiger was in truth a bit surprised by this, but kept his composure and walked on.
Rynk made her way into the office and began searching for a notebook or item that could tell her which portal lead to her world. Three of the seven drawers she opened had construction-papers, to-do-lists, records of school events and meetings, and spare paper. It wasn’t until she got to her fourth that she found a list of names next to a certain number.
(Now to end any confusion, this was the first time Rynk was sneaking out of the school, as the first time she was sent out and snuck back inside.)
Rynk found the name “Mobocan” next to the number 441, then from there searched through till she found the name of her city “Semretches”, which was next to the letters C-A. She jotted this down on some of the spare paper, then got onto the Principal’s computer and began searching for any password files on portal-pass-codes. It took about two minutes to find the code, which was too much for Rynk’s taste. She jotted the code down as well, then charged out of the office, and towards the field-generators outside the school.
The generator had a steel plate, which was locked, though nothing some lock-picking could not handle. Rynk soon had it open, revealing a code box. She typed in the password, then typed in the coordinates and a portal appeared. “Sweet.” Rynk grinned. She was about to jump in, but had a small bit of conscience catch her mind.
“Don’t.” Said her conscience.
“It’s not that bad.” She replied. “I’m just getting something.”
“You’re breaking the rules, and using those… things again.”
“It’ll be fine.”
Rynk’s conscience did attempt to stop her a bit more, but Rynk just ignored it and jumped through the portal.
The sheet of paper in Shade’s fingers became flimsy as she straightened it out in arrogance, attempting to decipher Dante’s handwriting. Crinkles surfaced the ink-covered page, but Shade was certain that all that mattered at the moment was the contents of the note. She was aware that Dante didn’t mind having her glance through the letter, and considering the little time she had, Shade wouldn’t even be able to finish it. Scanning the paper, she believed it was some long message informing Grace about the plans for her performance, but an apology was evident between the lines. Shade silently prayed that the fox would accept it.
Moments before in the silent interior of the library, she had witnessed the aardwolf hunched over the tenth piece of paper he was scribbling on, surrounded by the other drafts cluttering the surface of his desk. His shoulders revealed the burden of his stressful task, but determination was noticeable within his darkened eyes.
“Are you alright?” she asked sincerely at the time, hovering above his disorganized work.
Dante did not take the chance to glance up, and instead heaved a sigh before scratching out a few words on the letter. “I’ll be fine once this is finished.”
“You’ve been working on that for a while. This isn’t the time to be perfectionist.” Shade bit the inside of her cheek, somewhat regretting her choice of words.
To her surprise, Dante disregarded her sentence. He only lowered his head in fatigue, causing his ivory curls to dangle over the silver eyes which once glowed. Shade never realized how much she observed him until now. In a glimpse, she realized that he truly cherished the friendship between the fox and him, and regretted letting it topple over. It unsettled her greatly to see a friend in such a state of grief. Shade made a mental note to ask Grace about what she thought of this whole situation.
Shade sighed as she thought of this, gaining her self-control and pushing the thoughts to the side. She didn’t have enough time for thinking.
After straining over smudged words for a half a minute, Shade decided to just proceed with the job she was given. Due to Dante’s inability to soothe his anxiety, she had offered to take the letter to Grace, and possibly interrogate her for a moment. Of course, Shade hadn‘t declared the second idea out loud.
Even as she stood in the hallway with letter in hand, prepared to face the aggressive vixen, she was blank on which direction to head to. Shade had an urge to slap herself for not asking Dante questions on where Grace could possibly be, but she had no time to grieve over her lack of common sense.
For now, plan A was walking aimlessly around the school, however little she thought it would help her. Although it was a terrible idea to begin with, she had no choice but to use the method to avoid wasting precious moments on thinking. Shade hesitantly chose a hallway that she was familiar with, then began her hunt in a quickened pace, note still in her grasp.
Half an hour had swiftly passed, or so she assumed.
By the time the bat covered obvious areas, her search for the blue-eyed rebel concluded with no avail. Nearby clocks on walls were glanced upon from time to time when having the chance to pass one, and the minutes proceeded to whiz by much to Shade’s distress. Her instincts telling her to go down certain hallways were now considered useless, and she feared that Dante’s patience was about to snap, as of her own.
“Should check around the dorms,” she mused, averting her gaze over to a nearby hall. Fortunately, her time in the academy gave her some knowledge of directions to specific sections. Tucking the note in her pocket, she strolled down the empty maze, gripping onto her last bit of hope and patience.
Eventually, hallways lined with dorm rooms were recognizable. Shade was aware that several students had a taste of creativity, decorating their doors that displayed the fandoms they were a part of. She could now walk freely with no hesitation, knowing that she wasn‘t exactly lost.
Though glancing between the walls, Shade could see it was swarming with Mobians, and only a few gaps for walking through were visible. It took a few props and exotic, out-of-place items for her to realize that fellow classmates were getting ready for the Talent Show themselves, and they all seemed to rush and shove any obstacles in their path, which included Shade.
Shade strutted forward wordlessly, desperate to continue with her task and refusing to let a crowd hold her back. In those first few minutes of going against traffic, she managed to maneuver around numerous people despite the little time she was given to react. The twist and turns were challenging against her confidence, but her keen sense of awareness was at its limit. The exit at the other end of the hall seized her gaze, and she hadn’t realize how ignorant she was of her surrounds.
Her ears had suspected a group of classmates following behind at her heel, but her instincts deceived her.
Shade wasn’t able to have the chance to spin her head in confusion before instruments abruptly clouded her view. An unexpected bunch that held said items were engrossed in a conversation, not noticing that the bat was trapped in their cluster of band geeks.
“Excuse me?” Shade croaked out, barely managing to dodge a large tuba that emerged from her blind spot without warning.
Only one of the members bothered to drag his attention away from the conversation long enough to look at her. He noted her empty hands and panicked expression before speaking, “I’m guessing you don’t belong here.”
Shade moved her eyes over to the voice, and nearly jumped at the sight she was beholding. A Smilodon, whose size was huge compared to hers. Although it seemed menacing, he had a goofy smile as he stared down at her.
She managed to find her voice. “You guys were literally a stampede.”
“A blind one, supposedly,” he grinned, flashing his impressive arrangement of fangs. “I’m actually not part of this group. I just happened to be swallowed up, too.” He then held up an electric guitar that shared no similarities to what the band had in their hands.
Shade observed his instrument for a moment, a plan developing within her mind, but she quickly cleared her throat to get herself back in the conversation. “I’m Shade, by the way.”
“The name’s Elliot. What brings you here?”
“I’m trying to fin- OW!” Her sentence was cut short by a solid object meeting her back in a painful angle.
Glimpsing over her shoulder, Shade spotted wind instruments slugging behind them and frequently probing their backs. Elliot noted this as well, and the two continued to wobble forward without breaking eye contact. At times, they both had to watch their step to avoid creating a ripple effect in the middle of the hallway, but they eventually turned their attention back to each other.
“Got a plan out of this?” Shade grimaced, the small of her back starting to ache.
The Smilodon pondered for a moment, then gradually nodded, his eyes swarming with deceit. Shade was oblivious to this cunning manner until a slow, wicked smile spread across his muzzle, and his stance shifted skeptically. She wasn’t given any time to question before a loud shriek cried out behind Elliot.
The sound of snare drums colliding with the tile floor contributed to the screeching, which caused Shade to inhale sharply and stumble forward, knocking into the people up front. The outburst had taking them back, and they ended up tripping on their own feet and having their face meet with the floor, halting the herd. The folks that trailed behind were out of luck, unable to skid to a stop and smashing into the group.
Elliot and Shade were painfully sandwich.
The band geeks split in terror, making the bystanders victims of wall shoving. The remaining ones in the group were either trampled or were obstacles that other strollers tripped on. A combination of overreacting students and mindless pinheads only worsened the situation, knocking each other down as if they were dominoes. In mere seconds, a scattering of Mobians commenced rampage throughout the hall, creating a mass panic that ambushed unfortunate students and created sheer headaches from the noises.
Needless to say, the hallway was utter chaos.
Shade had been shoved to the ground during the commotion, separated from her fanged acquaintance. Although sores burdened her, she managed stagger to her feet, having to balance on the wall for a moment to catch her breath. Her stance shifted until the hallway was in her view, attempting to scan the crowd for the fallen Smilodon.
Shade’s gaze finally caught sight of Elliot, who was sputtering and detangling himself from a dog pile that he was unfortunately at the bottom of. Despite his size, the weight of the classmates seemed to cause him great agony. The people in the heap were busy or pained to notice they were suffocating him, and they seemed to be having a breakdown themselves. Shade smacked her forehead before roaming over to the ordeal, using her wings to float over the crowd.
“Come on!” she snarled through clenched teeth, tugging Elliot out of the mass before more hordes continued to trip over and crush the bunch.
In response to having his arms practically ripped out of their sockets, Elliot dropped his instrument that he held and squirmed desperately to loosen the lower part of his body. The tug-o-war continued until the pile of victims realized they were a burden, and they calmed down enough to shift their weight until one of his legs was released, giving him enough leverage and strength to free himself.
His last limb was finally rescued after extra straining, and he rested on the ground to gain more energy and soothe his muscles. Shade attempted to help the others in the load as Elliot composed himself, grimacing from his back pains.
“I think I hear teachers,” he murmured quietly, and Shade’s body tensed in response.
“Teachers?” She gulped down the lump in her throat, glancing nervously over her shoulder.
“I doubt they’ll find the culprit, though.” He looked around to get his bearings, and his eyes widened with shock. “Woah. Did I do this?”
Upon seeing the destruction, Shade groaned. “And I have no idea how. ”
“Must be my size.” He laughed heartily to himself.
Eventually, students were balanced back onto their feet with only minor bruises and sores, much to their surprise, and the fanged troublemaker strutted back onto his feet. The teachers he spoke of arrived at the scene and interrogated students in the middle of the hall, but no questions were answered. They soon blocked off the entrances and allowed no one to leave or enter the area, not satisfied with the results they were given. Elliot commented on how long the imprisonment would be, and Shade could only slump in distress , worried over the amount of time being wasted.
Students that heard of the commotion cluttered the openings with hopes of catching anything interesting, but were shooed away every now and then, being blamed of causing a disturbance. The ones that were a part of the situation had to stay put, though some saw it as a chance to skip certain activities.
Despite the staff’s work to catch the culprit, no-one able to point fingers. Everyone had been caught off guard during the whole wreck, so the authority figures had no evidence that led them anywhere, meaning Elliot was in luck for now. The unfortunate classmate with the crushed foot was nowhere to be found, possibly surrounded by the group of teachers, and it seemed as if he was clueless as the rest of the crowd, much to Elliot’s happiness. Shade wasn’t pleased with his lack of guilt, but decided not to speak of it.
After straining over the problem with no hopes of finding the culprit, the personnel finally approved of the students returning back to their classes, one by one. It was a tedious process, and when it was Elliot’s turn to depart, he acted like any other victim, and managed walked out without being suspicious. No classmate appeared as a suspect, and this frustrated the staff even further.
The halls were hardly dense at this point, since people were either scattered about or leaving any tight space to avoid another mayhem. This gave the two plenty of room to discuss important matters.
“Alright, what was that back there?” Shade asked sternly, holding up his guitar for him.
“An extraordinary example of a chain of events,” he chuckled, but quickly silenced himself
when he realized Shade’s stern expression.
Elliot inhaled deeply and straightened his posture, feeling her piercing glare as he took his instrument from her hands. “I might have intentionally stepped on the toes of the people behind us.” He glanced over and saw a brief flash of disbelief in Shade’s eyes. “I swear, I wasn’t expecting that much of a reaction. Bandies are wimps, and it‘s not my fault everyone surrounding us were too brainless to move out of the way. I didn‘t mean it.”
Shade continued to observe him for any traces of dishonesty. “Bu-…How did you give them that much pain with your feet?”
“See for yourself.” The Smilodon raised his foot to her view, and Shade’s eyes focused on the size of it for a moment. They were larger than what she expected.
Shade winced and scrunched up her nose at the sight, then her eyes wavered back to his. “Why are you barefoot in the first place?”
He let down his foot with a groan. “Shoes are a pain. These huge feet of mine reject any kind of pair out there. They either ruin the shoe or they’re bend back because of lack of space. Very painful stuff, I might add.”
“But was it necessary to step on their toes? Your weight probably made it worse for them.”
“Ouch,“ he said playfully, then innocently shrugged. “I couldn’t think of anything else.”
“Uh-huh.” Shade held his gaze for a moment before sighing deeply. “Hopefully you wont be using that as an excuse when the staff starts questioning. I doubt they‘ll let this one go easily, and they‘re advanced enough to track you down.”
“If they do find me, I bet it’ll be after the Talent Show.”
Shade froze, allowing the words to gradually creep within her mind. She had completely forgotten about her task. The bat smiled uneasily, running her fingertips along her pocket, feeling the letter inside. “Sorry to cut this conversation short, but I really need to head off somewhere.”
Elliot’s grin widen. “No worries. I ought to go myself.” He held up his guitar once again with pride. “Gotta practice, y’know.”
Shade forced her mind to adjust on her thought from earlier. The song Dante had chosen needed 4 members to perform it: a drummer, bass player, guitarist, and a vocalist. Seeing how a guitarist was already in front of her, Shade decided to take a chance. “So you’re in the talent show?”
“I wanted to be.” Elliot’s ears folded back. “But I thought it’ll be disappointing for only an instrumental act to be played.”
Shade exhaled deeply in relief and straightened her posture, feeling more confident now that she had a opportunity. “How about you join my group? We need a guitarist.”
Elliot’s eyes remained focused on her for a moment, his vision wavering in and out of shaky images, and it appeared as if he stopped breathing. He blinked repeatedly to clear his surroundings and collect his thoughts. “You serious?”
Shade peered at him in confusion, his reaction being rather unexpected, as if he was never given a chance before. Although it raised some curiosity within Shade, she stuck with the conversation. “Of course. We really need the members.” She pursed her lips as he gazed absently at her, still dazed by the offer. “Do you happen to know someone with experience in the bass guitar?”
Suddenly his ears sat up from their droopy position. “Well, yeah!” Elliot barked as if it was obvious, and Shade tried to remain still from his sudden outburst.
The room, which was bustling with the conversations and gossips of their peers, died down to silence. Everyone turned to see what the commotion was all about. Shade flinched from the sudden pairs of eyes glued to her, and Elliot reacted quickly by lowering his ears once again. Despite the obvious expression of embarrassment, a grin plastered his muzzle. “Nothing to see here. Move along.”
At first they remained still, exchanging glances, but they soon forced themselves to turn away with questions and judgments clouding their minds. Shade’s only response was forcing a smile and turning back to Elliot, her own opinion of him developing within her thoughts. He was strange, there was no doubt about that, but he seemed to be their only hope in the short amount of time Shade and Dante had.
“So, do I have to audition for ya?” Elliot let loose a polite laugh, seeming to forget the scene moments before.
Shade nodded. “I don’t doubt your talent or anything, but we just need to make sure you’re capable of playing the song we chose.”
“We?” he repeated, shooting her a puzzled look.
“My friend was the one who came up with this whole idea. I’m just helping him out.”
“Nice friend you are.”
Information was exchanged after their brief conversation, which centered around the performance itself. Elliot declared that he was familiar with the song they were playing, and his companion might, as well.
“You actually know how to play it?” Shade inquired, and Elliot flashed an unconvincing smile.
“We actually just know the song itself.” He paused for a moment. “You don’t have to worry. Just give us a day and this performance will be smooth.”
Worry formed within Shade‘s eyes. “That doesn’t seem like enough time to practice.”
“Trust me, we can handle this.” A questioning aroma seemed to betray his ‘normal’ behavior, yet his confident smirk said otherwise.
It took a moment for Shade to ignore her uneasiness, but she eventually gulped down her doubt and concealed her temptation to question him about what he was hiding. She told him where to meet up for practice and added other important information, and he wrote them down in his handy-dandy notebook that he carried around for some reason, but he claimed it was because of his terrible memory.
“So, I just go this room at this time and I’ll find you and your friend there?” Elliot pointed to his scrawled writing on the paper, and Shade uneasily nodded, unable to read his letters. “Great. My buddy will arrive with me, too. He’s rather quiet but his talent should impress you both. You see, he’s been practicing for a while-”
Shade quickly glanced over at a nearby clock as Elliot continued his babbling, and a panicked feeling overtook the bat. She had been gone for more than half an hour, and at that very moment, she was overcome with the inexplicable need to flee the scene. Shade attempted to hold his gaze, resisting the urge to interrupt Elliot, but her breathing pattern was indicating stress.
“You look a bit tense there,” he commented, much to Shade’s relief, and her eyes casually settled themselves on Elliot once again.
Shade took a deep breath, choosing her words carefully. “I’m really on a tight schedule.”
“Right. I forgot.” His friendly smile contorted into a grin of embarrassment, and Shade did not doubt his claim of having bad memory at that very moment. As he tucked his notebook back into his coat pocket, a smirked lined Elliot’s face. “Until we meet again.” In one smooth move, he bowed while tipping an imaginary hat.
Shade’s lips curled up into a sideways simper, returning his friendly gesture with a slight curtsy. “See ya later.” Satisfied by her goodbye, the Smilodon strolled away in a merry fashion, resting his guitar upon his shoulder and casually saluting to his new acquaintance.
He seemed normal to some extent, Shade thought to herself, continuing to watch Elliot leave and disappear into the colorful sea of students. Her unnerved her to an extent, and she knew he had some sort of ability, considering his declaration of being able to play the song after a day. Shade he could only hope his talent made up for his behavior.
Dante was also an issue she had to keep in mind. He was tolerant, but seemed like to person whose approval isn’t as easy to get. If he was as understanding as Shade herself, maybe there wouldn’t be an issue in the audition. Though what worried her most was what Grace’s reaction would be.
Shade heaved a sigh of relief as the tips of his ears blended into the background, and only the faces of strangers were in her view. A large burden was now off her back, and she could continue her search without a nagging guilt holding her down. Perhaps she would be worry-free if she only knew where to go next.
Although she was hesitant about it, her only plan was to return to Dante and get some help. Shade didn’t believe that it was too late, but at the same time, doubts swarmed her thoughts. Making a fool of herself, especially in front of him, was not an accomplishment she would be proud of. But he wasn’t the kind to judge, right?
“I’m over thinking things,” Shade murmured, her fingers gently scraping the edges of the letter in her pocket. She kept her calm as she took edgy strides to the entrance of another hall, hiding the torrents of her thoughts underneath. She needed to stop thinking, believing it wasn’t doing her any good right now.
Shade dwelling on her impending failure was unnerving, and honestly uncharacteristic of her. She wasn’t the one to give up, nor permit such a mere task to burden her. Finding Grace and delivering the message was her only objective, yet she wasn’t even able to complete it in less than an hour. This crushed her ego dearly.
Grudgingly, Shade continued to allow the hall lead her to the next destination, wherever it was. She was lost, no doubt, and deep inside, she felt as if things would start on a downward spiral, that she wouldn’t meet Dante’s expectations in time. Shade almost halted to a stop, a thought slowly coming over her.
It seemed as if he was the one that pestered her mind, lately. She wasn’t sure why.
Maybe it was his determination that she admired, or possibly his courage to take such a big leap against all odds. Or it could possibly be his unconditional devotion - his willingness to make an effort to prove that he cared. There was something about his personality that drew him from anyone else, and it intrigued her to see such strength from a damaged person such as him. Dante had flaws, no doubt, yet there was a sense of understanding from him that knew of these flaws, and he had the spirit to contradict them.
Shade clutched her head with one of her trembling hands, a question lurking inside: Why was she thinking of him now?
After a moment to herself in the hallway, Shade glanced up and realized that she was alone. Not a single soul nor sound existed. The silence tormented an uneasy feeling upon her, but the empty space slowly eased onto her trouble mind, and she felt herself calming down to a bearable level. It wasn’t the usual bustling atmosphere she was so accustomed to, but she enjoyed the change nevertheless.
Maybe it’s a good time to think this through, Shade thought to herself.
Grace was not the embodiment of aloofness.
She reminded herself of this as she strolled down the hallway - a single individual accompanied by an unknown crowd of people, prompting a feeling she was all too familiar with. The vixen learned to ignore this nonexistence and focused on the unsettling sense at the pit of her stomach: she felt guilty, and possibly insensitive to some extent.
Although it was a rather bitter truth to take in, Grace was an extraordinary example of it at times. Fortunately, she was aware of her attitude and was willing to tone it down a notch, yet another situation comes along and picks at her self-control until it unleashes. This eventually leads to assumption that she has a ruthless personality. It could apply to her in some conditions, but her heart was in the right place, or so she has been told.
“Maybe I was too harsh,” Grace murmured to herself, accepting the fact that she must have the mistaken one, as well. The grudge she buried beneath her behavior had formed into words she cannot take back, which followed her until she came to the conclusion that maybe it wasn't entirely Dante’s fault.
But this did not mean she forgave him. And she had her logical reasons.
Although the lovely reunion they shared ended with shambles of disbelief and disappointment, mostly on Grace’s part, Dante did have a role. His words and actions boiled the feelings within her, and said feelings poured out back onto him, burning his self-confidence to the point where he couldn't face her. Was she selfish for asking for a sincere apology? Perhaps.
“Excuse me! Hello!” Came a voice from behind. It was undecided whether this person was talking to Grace or not. Regardless, if it was, best to face them instead of lead them on till their throat became sore.
Confused classmates soon shifted their attention, and Grace chose to acknowledge it, as well. She paused to turn her head back and glance over, scanning for the owner of the voice.
The holder of this slightly distressed voice was a tall male lynx. He had a medium build, average, aside from his height which was at least five feet, the average of normal mobians being four and a half. He had a guitar-plastered Tee, red, with almost crinkled tan jeans. He walked up to Grace. “Are you Grace?” He asked in a small huff of regaining his breath. “Sorry for the first name only if you’re not. A first name’s all I was given.”
Grace stood in silence, nodding slowly but wearing an expression of bewilderment. She took a moment to rummage through her mind on whether she knew or even seen this person, but there was no memory of him. Her gaze darted up and down, studying his apperance, then her eyes squinted as she leaned back. Implied by her actions, she looked uncomfortable. He knew her name, and that was strange enough for her. "Who are you?"
The lynx was taken back slightly by this, but quickly followed up by smacking himself in the forehead, “Right! Sorry. I’m Dave.” He extended his hand for a shake at first, but stopped halfway awkwardly. “Sorry, uh… I… heard you neede- w-wanted someone to help with your Talent Show… I’m blanking on the word I want to say here.” The word was Performance, though Dave would most likely mistake that for Audition or Entry.
In response to his fumbling of words, Grace grimaced and broke eye contact for a moment. "I hadn't even announced recruitment," she said bluntly, but then she released a sigh and gave him a stern look. "So are you saying you're actually willing to help?" The tone of her voice seemed to demand a straight answer.
“Well yeah!” He answered excitedly. “I wasn’t going to enter myself originally. I mean, one guitarist, singing voice or not, isn’t going to get first place or third…” He noticed her expressions, “Are you… okay?”
The question seemed to throw her off, but she remained calm. "I'm fine." She was not about to confess her lack of experience with working with others. Grace tried to ease her stiff demeanor, her posture becoming less tense. “If you're the only one, I suppose I could see what you have in store."
“Alright, do you want me to just play something, or find a song we both know? … You are the singer right?”
Grace nodded, but not as affirmatively as she hoped. "I'll try my best with the role. Finding a song we're familiar with is probably wise with the little time we have." She looked uneasy for a moment. "I only know few, so our options are limited. But there could be a chance where we spontaneously know the same song."
“Sweet.” Dave snapped his fingers in cue. “Alright so is there somewhere you wanted to do this? We could practice in a random classroom or something.”
"I think a room with a piano available would work best."
“All... right…” Dave rubbed his chin, “Know any rooms that have those? I mean, yeah there’s the music room, but it’s totally crowded.”
Grace held back a groan, not having enough tolerance to deal with obstacles. Her eyes narrowed, staring at nothing in paticular, as her foot tapped on instinct - her own method of thinking. She craned her head as a thought came to mind. "There's always the choice of using a portable piano. We can borrow one and find an isolated classroom."
Dave nodded, “Alright, I’ll try to find him. Is there a classroom or dorm or something you have in mind?”
She gritted her teeth. "Classroom? None in mind. But my dorm is available, and it should be empty."
“Alright, where’s your dorm?”
"Well, the dorm number is 41Z, if that helps."
“Alright thanks. I’ll get there as soon as I can.” Dave waved goodbye and ran past her into the crowds.
By the time Dave was gone from her sight, Grace realized her heart was pounding. It wasn’t out of fear nor excitement, but she did felt as if fate decided to cross her path. Although it was mere conversation in anyone‘s eyes, Grace knew there was a sense of accomplishment. She held a friendly conversation and didn’t mess up.
A stranger was going to help, despite knowing absolutely nothing, and her actions didn’t exactly gave him second thoughts about his decision. At least that’s what she believed, considering that they were going to meet up again. If she just kept her attitude at a bearable level and continued with the nonchalant behavior, maybe there was success ahead of her.
And this was also a second chance for her to fix the first impression she just left. The end was a decent finish, but her trust issues got the best of her at the beginning. It took a moment to comprehend the fact that someone was standing in front of her and offering a helping hand. Recently, it has happened more than once, but Grace had not adapted to the attention just yet. An intimidating aura would clearly emit off her at certain times, and people would usually avoid that type of thing.
Grace wasn’t sure how she thought about Dave just yet, focusing on his sheepish behavior and knowing nothing else - but her impression of people could be changed. With clenched fists and a new found respect, she absentmindedly took the route to her dorm.
Spyro walked down the halls of Mobius Academy baffled. No one seemed to need a guitarist or a pianist. ‘It’s my own fault,’ he thought. ‘waiting that long to ask. Guess I’ll have to figure something else out.’
The zebra-colored hedgehog thought over if he should withdraw from the Talent Show. It hurt his pride to even consider that. To him it was almost like a promise, and he definitely did not want to make anyone change their schedule because of him. He needed to find an act to join.
His head hang low. If he wore pants he would have his hands in his pockets, so instead they swung at his sides awkwardly. As he went along the hallway he felt a breeze pass him and looked up. Rynk had just ran past him. Rynk with her secret act. If he could convince her to let him join he’d be saved.
“Rynk wait!” He ran after her. With his supernatural speed he quickly caught up but unfortunately Rynk heard him instantly and stopped just as quickly causing him to almost trip over her. Spyro leapt over the lynx to avoid knocking her down, performing a near mid-air split before landing and turning to face her.
The lynx was a bit awe-struck by the gymnastics. “Nice one.” She smiled.
“Thanks.” He smiled back, forgetting for a short moment why he was trying to talk to her. “Uh… I wanted to know if I could play music for your act or something. Everyone else is taken.”
The lynx instantly drooped. “Oh… Um… I’m sorry, Spyro but… I’ve got everything set already. I can’t really… I’m sorry.”
Spyro drooped as well, his arms hanging low as well as his head. His posture quickly returned but no less upset. “Okay…” He sighed. “I guess I’ll just keep searching.”
The lynx patted him on the shoulder. “Good luck… sorry I couldn’t help.”
“it’s alright…” He replied lowly. He did not turn to see her walk off, he heard the footsteps.
Spyro stood like that for a short while before deciding to continue on. As his head rose again however he saw another student walking towards him while carrying a piano. It was a male lynx with black hair, about Spyro’s age, and rather tall for a Mobian.
“Hey!” The hedgehog yelled as he walked over. “Is that for the Talent show?”
Dave set the piano with a grunt, then leaned back to crack his back. “Yep. Why?” He leaned forward to face Spyro.
“Do you need help?” Spyro asked hopingly, his spirits near broken.
“Depends.” Dave gave the hedgehog a somewhat doubtful stare. “Can you play piano?”
Dave kept his contemplating stare for a while longer before answering “Guess it’s worth a shot. If you want to show what you got you’ll have to keep up. I’ve got to get to my partner now.”
“Won’t have to worry about that.” Spyro yanked the keyboard up with one hand, shocking Dave a slight bit. The lynx nodded to him and began walking to Grace’s dorm. “I’m Dave by the way. You?”
“Do you know anyone by the name of ‘Grace’, by any chance?”
“Never met one.”
Shade heaved yet another sigh, but remembered to thank the person with a nod before walking off. Much to her disappoint, she put her last resort to action, which consisted of finding out who knew of Grace. So far, she came to a conclusion that the Grace wasn’t well-known just yet. But only a handful of students had been asked, according to Shade’s memory.
“Excuse me.” The bat tapped the shoulder of a guy who seemed charismatic enough. He didn’t react at that moment, rather oblivious. Once he had turned around, though, Shade ultimately regretted her decision.
The infamous Slice glanced up at her, then smirked. “Hello there, angel face.”
Normally, Shade’s normal behavior would play along in this sort of flirtatious conversation, but she knew Slice’s ways from numerous classmates - and there were other reasons. “Wrong person,” she said bluntly before turning away.
“Wh- Hey, come on!” Slice attempted to follow the bat, pulling off a signature grin and sputtering a pick up line, but another girl joined the picture.
“Leave her alone, Slice. You already mess with Grace.”
Shade halted to a stop. In a matter of moments, she turned around to see who had spoken.
Behind Slice was the girl named Annie. Her arms were filled with boxes, as if she was involved with the Show herself, but it seemed more like a volunteer job. While she watched Slice leave with a grumble, she noticed Shade looking her way and smiled. “Sorry about him, are you lost?”
The bat calmly eased her excitement. “Not exactly. I was looking for someone.”
“Who? I might know them.”
“Well, you had mentioned her a second ago.”
Annie arched a brow, then the realization overtook her. “Grace? My dorm-mate?”
Shade nodded vigorously, digging into her pockets and pulling out the folded letter. “I need to give this to her. Do you know where I can find her?”
“I haven’t seen her all day,” Annie remarked, and the excitement died down. “But she should return to our dorm eventually.”
“Any specific time?” Shade’s voice was becoming desperate.
Annie shook her head in reply. “If you’re unable to wait, I could give it to her instead, if you’d like. You probably have other things to catch up on, right?”
At first, Shade had no clue on what else she could be doing, then she remembered the band of boys waiting back at her dorm. They have yet to audition for her, and she knew Dante would be rather picky if their performance didn’t reach his expectations. There wasn’t even any proof that they had the capabilities they were looking for.
“I can’t thank you enough,” Shade’s muttered, and Annie reassured her with a smirk.
“Don’t mention it.” Annie looked down at her full hands, then at the letter in Shade‘s fingers. “You can place it between the boxes so it doesn’t fall off. I’ll try my best to keep it with me.”
Following her instructions, Shade carefully wedged the letter in a safe place, purposely sticking it out so it would be noticeable. She pulled back her trembling hands in a hurry, remembering the little time she had left. “Thanks, again.” Before she was able to step away, however, Annie noticed that on the outside of the letter, who it was addressed from was completely blank. She was not about to peek inside to know the answer.
“Wait!” she interrupted Shade’s departure, and much to her relief the bat did look back. “There’s no name on the front of it. Do I tell her it’s anonymous?”
Shade thought for a moment, wondering what was necessary or not. “Actually, tell her it’s from Dante.” She quickly exited before Annie was able to ask questions.
Grace’s eyes followed the symbols on the page, her concentration straining after looking over each stanza. Considering she knew little of the song, the lyrics had to memorized in the short period of time she had. Before she began the crucial practice, Grace wisely used her time to take in the song in order adopt the tune. She listened to the point where it got stuck in her head, then nestled herself on the couch to get in a comfortable position, with hopes of the relaxation aiding her memory. So far, the words were utter gibberish when she attempted to recite it in her mind. However, mumbling the song under her breath was a tactful method, and it helped that she was alone.
Although it would have been wise to mention, Grace neglected to touch upon her lack of confidence on stage. Scratch that - she felt nervous when it came to performing in front of people in general. Her flaws might be exposed in some cases, and the fox had no problem flaunting them, but there were a few minor errors that she bothered not to reveal. She did consider herself skilled to some extent, but the talents she held were no more special than the gifts of another.
Being the center of attention wasn’t something she aimed to accomplish, and if it ever happened in the past, it wasn’t always intentional. She feared her voice would crack at the sight of hundreds of eyes watching her, and she only hoped the audience’s faces were concealed by shadows.
“Stay focused,” Grace murmured as she gave herself a knock on the head, one of her many quirks. She looked over the words again, wiping her hand every now and then to avoid staining the words with sweat. Eyes darted across the page as lips moved along with the words, crooning softly with a tremble in her voice. She was lost in a daze that she was unaware of her surroundings.
The door opened. She did not notice this of course, half out of her complete concentration, and half because these doors did not creak. Dave’s head popped up from behind it, followed by Spyro’s. At first glance, Spyro instantly recognized Grace, and was about to say “Hey I remember you.” But everything passed “He-“ was replaced by “OOP” and a snorting sound, when Dave covered his mouth and nose with his soon to be wiped hand. He had noticed Grace’s concentration. He was familiar with this sort of thing.
Slowly Dave moved his hand in an upside down arch to his left, motioning for Spyro to follow him out of Grace’s eyesight. Spyro nodded, though Dave was not looking, and they silently sneaked behind and sat against the wall, setting the piano between themsevles. Spyro was completely oblivious about what was going on, aside from assuming that Grace would be upset by a random guy, but even then it would stand to reason that a random guy popping up in her room without her knowing, whom she met only once before, would upset her more. So only Dave knew why.
Dave was simply waiting to see how much she would get into the song. Granted she was singing now in a soft whisper of a voice, but the best singing comes from when completely comfortable, which Dave of course knew from experience, but that is another story.
This went on for a few minutes before Grace eventually glanced up. Though this was not because she had notably good hearing, but instead the fox was simply looking up at the clock. Considering they were out of her sight, she had no way of noticing them, but she was often paranoid enough to at least be aware of something. If not that, she was highly impatient. Grace sighed in exasperation as the paper crinkled in her hands, then her eyes slowly made their way to the door to check.
While Dave was content with remaining silent for the moment, Spyro’s conscious got the better of him. “Um… I just pulled in here so…”
Immediately, Grace stumbled off the couch and onto her feet, grabbing the nearest item due to her reflexes: a pillow. She spun her heels towards the sound and held the cushion above her head, but before she was able to aim, she recognized Dave’s face. However, the person beside him was a complete stranger, and this only fueled her confusion. There a second of silence as Grace stared in bewilderment, her arm still in the air and posed in a way where she could fire at any given time. Her eyes darted to the door then back at them, and instead of lowering her weapon of choice, her brows lowered in fury and skepticism.
“When did you get here?”
“Uh… two minutes ago.” Dave replied. “You were busy so we didn’t want to bother you but at the same time we didn’t want to carry the piano anymore.”
“Hi again by the way.” Spyro waved.
After studying him for a sign of disbelief, Grace saw nothing and dropped the pillow back on the couch. She wasn't exactly comfortable with a random appearance, but their explain was logical enough, so in this case, she would have to hold back her tongue. She gave a slight wave as a reply to Spyro's greeting, but turned her attention back to the topic, "I would have preferred a knock next time." She eyed the lyrics on the ground and cast her eyes back to them. "Even if I were busy.”
“I was told that you guys wanted someone to play piano.”
She cocked her head to the side. "You're actually able to play the song we're performing?"
“Well not yet but Dave asked me so…” Spyro looked back and forth at them, barely cowering in the awkward stares, “Look I just thought it would be okay. If I’m being a bother…”
"No, no, " Grace interrupted while holding up her hands. "We need as much help as we can get. We can work this out somehow."
“Soooo…” Dave sighed in relief while standing up and turning to Spyro, “do you need sheet music?”
“That, would, help.” Spyro answered, as if it was obvious, which it was.
“Were you using Piano sheet music, Grace?” Dave turned back to Grace.
She nodded and fetched the paper on the ground, shaking off the dirt. Instead of holding it out for him, she grabbed another paper on the couch, then handed it over. "I printed out an extra since I still need to get the words down."
“That works.” Spyro shrugged with his head to the side a bit and took the paper. “Do you want me to practice out of earshot so you can practice?”
Grace raised a brow at the offer, then reached up and rubbed the back of her neck out of thought. "I honestly just need a moment or so to step out of the room. Though eventually we have to practice together so it sounds alright."
“Okay, great.” He smiled. Then he lost the smile a bit, “How long do we have again?”
“U-um…” Dave looked around till he found a clock on the wall, “It’s Two now… so… Tw-two hours…”
“I’ll get to work on the song.” Spyro zipped about hooking up the piano and placing the sheet and was already practicing under ten seconds.
The fox's eyes widened at his speed, but said nothing to avoid wasting more time. In a hurry herself, she peered over to Dave and quickly pointed to the room where her bed was. "I'll just be there. It'll be good enough."
As they got their selves positioned and concentrated, the door knob turned as the volume increased. It soon swung open, and Annie emerged with her hands still full and struggling. She immediately halted to a stop when seeing the scene. They didn't notice her, or bothered not to, but she felt awkward in the act and attempted to slowly close the door with her foot. When getting no reaction, she hobbled her way over to the table to get rid of the clutter in her hands, the note was still wedged between the items. She was tempted on asking where Grace was, but instead maneuvered around them to look for her herself.
Eventually, Annie discovered the fox sitting in her room. "Gr-" she stopped herself when realizing that she was practicing, as well. Her voice had caught her attention, though, since Grace had met her eyes for a moment, almost taken back by her presence. Annie sheepishly grinned and clasped her hands in embarrassment. "Uh, hi. Sorry to bother, but I was just letting you know that there's something on the table for you."
Grace did not look amused. "Something?"
"Y-Yeah, well you see, it's a funny story, I got it from-"
"I'll check it later, but right now..." Grace held up the lyrics in her hands, implying that she was on a tight schedule, but not trying to rudely shove it in.
Annie stared at her for a moment before understanding. "Oh, right, right. You guys do look awfully busy." To her dismay, Grace didn't give her much of a reply. "I better head out then, huh?"
"We would appreciate that."
Annie began to slowly step out of the room. "Sorry...again." Feeling her face flaming out of shame, Annie quickened her steps as she made her way to the door. She almost slammed it, but caught herself at the last second and eased it shut, not wanting to break their concentration.
Grace sat in silence for a moment, then looked down at the paper and continued what was interrupted.
Dave caught Annie as she exited. He was curious about why she seemed uneasy and asked “Are you alright?”
“H- Yes… kind of.” She whipped around to him, fiddling lightly with her fingers. “I- I just had something that I needed to get to Grace, but she’s busy so…”
“The… letter?” Dave assumed him knowing would seem suspicious, and quickly added “I saw it in your hand when you walked into her room. Is it important.”
“Well… yes… I think.” Annie squeezed a lock of her hair, nodding about nervously, “It’s that someone told me to give it to her, but she’s so busy, and- I’m just repeating myself now.”
“Well I could try to get her to read it, but I don’t know how much of a help I’d have.. I sort of just met her today.” He let out a brief nervous chuckle. Annie smiled in slight pity but mostly appreciation, “Thanks either way.” She replied. “I… guess I’ll see you guys at the show, yes?”
“That’s the general idea.” He replied teasingly. She started out. Dave opened his mouth but words did not come out at first. He closed it again, then opened it again, “Uh He-…” He looked away, but Annie had heard him.
“Yep?” She turned a bit, hands on the handle of the door.
“I-er… forget it. See ya.” He made a half-wave goodbye. She waved goodbye as well and walked out.