Become a Book Nerd
When you’re not reading books, read our newsletter.
My chamber is cold tonight.
Most evenings, the rooms are relatively chilled, but an overwhelming feeling of dread hangs over my shoulders like an icy cloak.
I shiver and wrap a thin blanket over myself, then sit on the edge of my bed. The chamber beds are made to be compact, not comfortable, and they’re placed on the upper lefthand corners of the rooms. A small lamp gives off a faint glow on the grey nightstand, and the walls are cold stone. The door is shut, but a draft seeps through the bottom.
I tighten the blanket around my shoulders and reach for the single book in the room. Given to all the Elites, the Code of the Light is required memorization material for students, so I doubt I’ll ever forget the content. Still, I pick it up when I need to take my mind off of life.
I lay back on my bed and hold the book up to read. My mind drifts to two years ago, when my class graduated from the Academy and I was submitted to the Elites. It had been a long, hard process of preparing myself both physically and mentally, but I pushed myself. Placed third in the rankings. Made sure that I would be accepted, because I knew that it was the only way I’d survive.
The thing about Illuminance is that we’re a very systematic group. Many would say that this plays to our advantage; however, after years of my being discriminated by our members, I know better. Here’s my problem: the ranks of Illuminance members are generally determined by family status. One of your parents dies? Forget about your respect.
Lose one to the enemy?
Trust me, you don’t want me to go there.
My mother died when I was born. That wasn’t dishonorable. But I refuse to speak about my father.
Unfortunately, I know firsthand how miserable life without a family is. My only salvation is being an Elite. Without it, I’d be just another mouth to feed- or, to the views of General David Chesler, a worthless setback.
Of course, I know that my lack of parents hasn’t affected me in a way that would impact the overall wellbeing of Illuminance. For some reason, Chesler sees anyone without a family unit as a weakness to the rest of the people. I suppose he’s been shaped by the views of those who have gone before him. Still, seeing as I’ve worked harder than most over the span of my life, I feel the fact that he still has a burning despise for me is incredibly unfair.
That’s where Kenzo comes in. He’s always been there, I guess, but when our instructor partnered us on our first day of training, I really began to appreciate him. We had talked a couple of times, so it didn’t take long to break any ice between us.
Things became routine: train, eat lunch, train more, go to bed. But that bond grew stronger. We started to rely on each other more. I was there for him when his brother was killed in battle. He looked out for me when the other Elites harassed me.
As if I’m responsible for my parents’ actions.
I close the book and set it back on my nightstand. Obviously my mind won’t allow me to read tonight. I curl up into something similar to the fetal position and spread the blanket over as much of me as it will cover.
I reach over, switch the lamp off, and close my eyes.
After a while, my body finally finds the refuge of sleep.