“Room 213…” He reminded himself. “Room 213… Your first class will be in room 213…”
He remembered what the instructions had read. His first class was to be in room 213, in the main building… but where was it? There were no instructions as to where in the main building it was, only that it was IN the main building. No one told him what building was the main building either, it could have been several. For all he knew, he could have been in the wrong building altogether.
Room 110. No, that’s not it. He could see the door to room 111 and 112 up a nearby set of stairs. the 200-s had to have been further down the hall. Past lockers and benches, large windows overlooking the outside took up more space than the wall, bathing the corridors in natural lighting from the morning sun. Why not just have room 1, 2 and 3? There clearly weren’t more than 200 rooms, that would be absurd. Looking ahead, he could see another person. Were they staff, or another student? Sweden didn’t have uniforms, so it was hard to tell, especially for a high school where students and teachers generally shared the same height.
He looked at his watch. He was going to be late. Might as well ask the person where room 213 was. He got close enough and cleared his throat in order to get the person’s attention, which didn’t seem to work. The person in question was standing in one of three parts of the hall that had staircases going up to various classrooms. The opposite side of these stairs were doors leading outside, however there were no windows and the lights were off. As such, it was hard to see who he was talking to.
“Excuse me,” he began in his usual empty tone. “My name is Collin.” He began. “I’m an exchange student, from England. I appear to be lost, and I was wondering if you knew where I could find room 213?”
The figure turned to face him, and it became apparent that they were holding something strange in their hand. Something pointed, at the end of a short stick. They, noticing that Collin had seen it, defensively moved it closer, partly covering the thing behind their leg.
“Don’t worry, I am not trying to take anything from you. It’s just that, I was told yesterday by a Miss Karin to go to room 213, you wouldn’t happen to know where-“
Without a word, the figure held the object up in front of them, letting it go. Slowly, the object turned on its own, until it was pointing right at Collin. After a second of confused silence, they sighed, then tightly grabbed onto the object and charged right at Collin. Before he could react, he could feel the object, sharper than he had anticipated, piercing his neck. In seconds, he was out cold. He didn’t get an opportunity to see the attacker’s face.
It took three weeks for Collin Hart (17) to recover for the following fever that had afflicted him. For the entirety of it, save for a few moments where he would open his eyes and try to speak before going out cold again, he was completely unconscious. He had been found by students exiting class later that morning, and was sent to the hospital after several failed attempts to wake him up. There were no signs of any wounds in his neck, save for a scar that appeared long-faded. The doctors had tried to figure out the cause of his sickness, but to no avail. What’s more, the nurse who tended to him while he was out noticed strange things happening in his room. Objects breaking or moving, either on their own or by various strange coincidences, always a day after the same thing had already happened. It happened often enough for it to be noticeable.
Truth be told though, this tale is not about Collin. He plays a role in it, an important one at that, but he is not our hero of this story. For now however, we will follow from his perspective, and he will serve as our gateway into the situation that had started quite some time before he even arrived in the town of Strömsby, Sweden, as part of an exchange program in 2015.
“I can’t quite remember what happened.” Collin lied, three weeks and a day later, perfectly healthy and back on his feet. He was on the phone, in that same hallway as where he had been attacked almost a whole month prior. He knew no one would believe him if he had told them he was attacked by a mysterious stranger with a magical arrow that pointed at people. Besides, he was talking to his mother, and he didn’t want to worry her any more than he already had. “I just… blacked out. No, I know you’re worried, but I’m okay now. No, really, I’m fine-“
She hadn’t stopped calling him since she found out he was awake. It was good that she cared, she and his father both, but it got annoying fast. He looked around. He was close to where he needed to be- room 213 again. This time he knew where he had to be, and he was heading there as he spoke. He stopped at the bottom of the same staircase that he had been attacked at, and ended the call with the excuse that he was about to enter the classroom. He still had a few stairs to climb first, but he wanted to get a moment of silence before he went in.
As he was about to take the first step up, wondering how behind he was going to be, he heard the door behind him open up. There was a brief moment where the outside sun lit the room up, and sounds of birds and wind washed through. He turned around to see who had entered the building, both as one does when they hear a sound behind them and out of a slight worry it may have been the assailant again, ready to finish the job.
It was, fortunately, not. He may not have seen their face, but he remembered their silhouette- they were shorter than this person (about as tall as he was), thinner. More average-looking. The woman who stepped into the building couldn’t have been the attacker. The ceiling lights on this time, he could see her clearly. She was taller, had wider shoulders. She wore mostly greys and blacks, save for her bright yellow belt buckle, comedically shaped like a map of Sweden. She stopped in the doorway, the door closing behind her on it’s own, and annoyedly glared at Collin.
“Um, Hello.” Collin said as usual, stepping down from the stairs and turning to face her. “My name is Collin. I’m an exchange student, from England. Did you wish to speak with me? You seem upset about something.”
The Woman glared at him for a second, then she spoke. “D’you get stabbed here?” she asked. “Three weeks ago?”
He tilted his head, surprised she knew. “Yes, actually. How did you-“
He was interrupted by a sudden streak of green emerging from behind where the woman was standing and flying straight into his chest, knocking the air out of his lungs and sending him flying several meters down the hall before hitting the floor with a pained “Oof”. He slowly pushed off the floor, catching his breath, his chest in a great deal of pain. He looked around. No one but him and her.
“Okay asshole,” the woman called out. There was anger in her voice. “I know you have a stand, so bring it out and let’s do this!”
“A… A what?!” Collin exhaled, still in shock and confusion over what had just happened. “How did you do that?!”
The woman barged down the hall towards Collin, who in response began crawling backwards to try and get away, panicked over yet another attack the day he had come back from his previous injury. “Don’t try that shit with me! You survived the arrow, so you have a stand. At least try and defend yourself before I kick your ass!”
“I don’t know what a stand is, jesus christ lady leave me alone!” Collin managed to get good footing on the floor and sprung up on his feet, dashing away from the woman. He got about three steps away before that green streak slammed into his side again, hurdling him into a set of lockers. he only barely managed to stay on his feet, leaning against the lockers for balance after he hit his head. He turned to look behind him, realising that he wasn’t about to escape this anytime soon. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” He called out. “Okay?! Please, if you’re going to hurt me, can you at least explain why?”
The woman stopped, a few meters away from Collin, and put her hands in her coat pockets. A strange, fire-like green aura began surrounding her, her hair and coat billowing as if there was a wind blowing. Then, emerging out of nowhere with a similar aura, was a humanoid figure unlike anything Collin had ever seen. It was various shades of green all over, it’s shoulders, hips, knees and the sides of it’s head adorned with a curved extension, like a spike or a horn, but bent almost like armour around the joint. It had a feminine body type, and running along it’s limbs were several lines and circles akin to that of circuitry. In the centre of it’s chest was a large, red light with the number “1” on it. It had a face, with pupil-less striped yellow eyes and an angry grimace. It stood slightly taller than the woman what has summoned it.
“I dunno if you’re bullshitting me or not…” she said. “But fine. This… is a stand. If you got stabbed by the arrow and survived, you should have one too. And if you do, I have a message for you, fancy-boy: You work for Cassius now. That means doing as you’re told, no matter what. And if you don’t? I’m gonna have to beat you into submission.”