When we reached Zander, a string of swears was streaming from his breath. He was leaning against the wall, balancing the flower on the open spell book. When I got closer, I could see an orb of light shining above the glass forget-me-not. Zander motioned for us to come closer, and I knelt down, looking into the bright blue light.
Slowly, an image came into view. It was blurred, but I could make out two people, one was a girl with short blond hair styled in a v-cut. The other was a tall, thin man clothed all in grey. The man greeted the girl, bowing with the fluid movement of a skeleton. The girl seemed uncomfortable, but she appeared to respond kindly. The man took a few steps closer, and the girl took a few steps back. He seemed to be reasoning with her, but without much luck. The girl became angry and started yelling at the man, but he didn’t relent. The creepy smile on his lips sent shivers down my spine.
The girl ran, and two other people came into view. The new boy and girl seemed to be the same age as the first girl. The man cornered the three, and tossed the second girl to the side. I felt my heart lurch as her fragile body crashed to the ground. A light enveloped the girl and she disappeared. The first girl opened her mouth in what I guessed was a scream and she tried to run to where her friend had been. The boy stopped her though, and tried to get her to run the other way. The man, who was slowly catching up to them, raised his twig like arm and a beam of black mist slammed into the girl. The girl fell to the ground, writhing as she clutched at her chest, and the boy quickly tried to help her. The man reached them and the just as he lowered himself to the girl’s level, the image went out of focus. After a few seconds, it started over with the man bowing to the girl.
Once I was convinced it was all over, I leaned back, with my head tilted. “So that was my memory?” Zander nodded, his eyes burning with hate. I looked towards Arthur and was surprised to find him glaring at the image in the orb.
“I don’t understand.” I frowned, looking from Zander to Arthur, who had become excessively outraged by the image. “What happened? Which one was me?” As soon as I asked the question, Arthur whirled towards me, his clear blue gaze dimming with a mixture of concern and pain.
“You were the first girl, the one hit with the black mist.” He explained, scanning my eyes carefully. “You really don’t remember what you look like?”
“I haven’t exactly looked in a mirror lately.” I grumbled defensively, running my hand through my short hair, realizing for the first time that I really knew nothing about myself. Arthur looked like he wanted to say more, but Zander interrupted him.
“That’s enough, we have a bigger problem on our hands.” He shot a glare at Arthur. “We have to do something about him soon.”
“I know,” Arthur nodded determinedly, “as soon as I leave, I’m going to go to his castle. If I hurry I may be able to-”
“To do what?” Zander scowled. “Gilgamesh will not listen to reason, and you will not be able to land one hit without him destroying you.”
“I’ll think of something.” Arthur insisted. “If he takes Artemis, he’ll be unstoppable.” My ears perked up.
“I understand that, but honestly, you can’t just go barging-” Zander began.
“Wait, wait, wait.” I interrupted, crossing my arms. “Just what is going on? What makes you think this Gilgimosh is going to do to me?” The two turned to each other with a wince. Arthur rubbed the back of his neck, avoiding my eyes and Zander cleared his throat.
“Our apologies, Artemis, but this is a rather difficult subject.” He waved his hand over the flower and the orb disappeared, leaving the shimmering glass figure on the page. He plucked up the flower and shut the book with one hand and slipped it into the shelf.
“Well what’s difficult about it?” I frowned, following Zander as he made his way back to his desk. Zander placed the flower down on his desk and leaned against it with a sigh.
“Artemis,” he looked me in the eyes, “Gilgamesh is horrible man. He has an immense amount of power and only wants more.”
“So like a wizard?” I clarified, wishing he would just get to the point.
“Yes, he started out like that.” Arthur called from behind. I turned around and raised my eyebrow, watching him pace around the room. “He was extremely talented; he worked for the king when I was just a boy. Gilgamesh was loved by the people, and he was faithful to the king.” A flash of disappointment ran through his eyes. “He could have done so much for the kingdom.”
“But,” Zander interrupted, causing me to turn. “He didn’t. One day he found a book about black magic and found a spell that was never supposed to be unearthed.” Zander held my gaze, his dark eyes tired and serious. “Gilgamesh used the spell, and the results were tragic. People died and one girl….” He shuddered. “She’ll never be the same.” He became silent, and even Arthur’s rhythmic footsteps paused as if to honor the girl.
“What was the spell supposed to do?” I asked after a few moments. Zander shook his head, turning away quickly to face the cold wall.
“It’s a spell that takes the life of another to make one’s magic more powerful.” Arthur said softly, joining me at the desk. “The spell rips out a person’s soul and turns it into raw power for the spell’s user.”
“And Gilgamesh wants to do that to me?” I asked, looking from Arthur to Zander’s back.
“Yes.” Zander turned around, heading back to the bookcase. He perused the shelves and pulled down an aging purple book. “Gilgamesh wants to take your soul, Artemis, he’s tried already, but for some reason, he’s failed.”
“Is that why I can’t remember anything?” I leaned against the desk calmly.
“I believe so,” he flipped through the pages. “Of course, nothing is certain…” he sighed and closed the book. He reshelved it and removed another one which he quickly flipped open.
“Zander, what do we do?” Arthur asked. “We can’t keep pretending Gilgamesh doesn’t exist, we need to do something now.”
“I know, Arthur.” Zander snapped. “But right now, I don’t have any idea what’s to be done. Gilgamesh is far more powerful than I, and I can’t think of anyone who can stand up to him.”
“Let me, I know I can do something,” Arthur pleaded, a lock of his light brown hair falling into his eyes. He brushed it back as Zander shook his head.
“Arthur, I know you want to help, but you don’t know how powerful this monster is. I’m doing my best to keep him at bay, but even that has become harder and harder.” Arthur continued to push and Zander retorted in kind. I sighed, leaning back as I watched them argue. I still wasn’t sure what was going on, but it looked like I had suddenly become important. I wondered if there was anything I could do…
“I’ll go.” I said suddenly. Arthur and Zander whirled their heads, looking at me with surprise.
“Absolutely not.” Arthur growled.
“Artemis, this isn’t something you need to be dragged into.” Zander interjected.
“Isn’t it a little late for that?” I smiled dryly. “I’m already the cause of the problem, I want to help.” I shrugged before they could add anything else. “If Gilgamesh is too powerful for one person, why don’t I go with someone, both of you- I don’t know, send an army with me in it. I’m going to help.”
“Artemis,” Arthur furrowed his eyebrows. “This is not your fight.”
“It became my fight when Gilgamesh targeted me.” I grinned calmly. “Besides, what happened to the other two in the memory? Don’t they need help too?” My smile wavered as I thought back to the other two people. I felt a pain in my stomach when I thought about them being in trouble, even though I didn’t know who they were. Tightening my lips, I added firmly. “I’m helping.” Zander let out a huff while Arthur shook his head.
“This is just too big of a task.” Zander said, giving me a tired look. “We can’t risk getting you into trouble.” I opened my mouth to respond, but Zander held up his finger. “Artemis, you cannot face Gilgamesh.” He turned to Arthur, who looked irritatingly relieved, and said. “Take Artemis and keep her out of trouble. One of the rooms are being prepared for her, but it won’t be ready until after dinner. I’m not sure which one it is either.” Arthur nodded and walked towards the door. He looked at me expectantly, and I turned to Zander. He raised an eyebrow, warning me to not object. I sighed, defeated, and followed after Arthur. The knight held the door open for me and I jumped over the murky green water.
I was stuck in a world that I had no memory of, with people who wanted to coddle me and pretend I couldn’t handle myself. But I swore, as I followed Arthur down the hall, that I wasn’t going to be useless. I wasn’t going to be the damsel in distress. I was going to fight Gilgamesh, with or without Arthur or Zander’s help.