The obstacle course was split into three parts. The first was a maze made out of metal. The second was logs over a pool of mud to test balance. The third was navigating through a dark cave. Faine stood side by side with the other students, waiting for Bob to blow his whistle. He made eye contact with Joana and nodded. She didn't nod back.
The sound of Bob's whistle ignited the students. Faine ran into the metal maze, only to immediately stumble into a booby trap. It was a net triggered by a tripwire. The heavy net forced Faine into the ground. As he struggled to break free, Joana stepped over him and laughed.
"I could use some help." Faine called as she continued through the maze.
"We're friends, but I'm in this thing to win." She replied. "Sorry."
Faine rached for his pocket knife and began to cut through the net. It was a tedious task. Just when he thought he was doomed to lose and be placed in the remedial class, Lucas and Maya turned the corner. Faine expected them to keep running, but they didn't. They stopped to help him.
"Thanks." Faine said, tossing the net aside.
"You owe us now!" Lucas said, following his sister through the maze.
Maya grinned. "And don't you forget it."
Now that Fiane knew to look out for booby traps, he was able to navigate the rest of the maze with relative ease. As soon as he made it to the end, he sighed when he saw what was in front of him. A balance test. Three logs had been placed above a pool of mud. Joana passed by Faine and said, "You're a gymnast, right? Just think of this as a balance beam."
As Joana mounted a log, Faine replied, "WAS a gymnast...And men don't do the balance beam."
Faine took a deep breath and jumped onto one of the logs. His body's balance was out of whack thanks to his missing arm. 'Slow and steady' He told himself as he inched across the log. 'Don't look down.'
He fell and landed face first in the mud. Then he fell again, again, and again. It took him seven tries to make it across the log. He didn't waste a second before running into the dark cave. It was pitch black. Faine pulled out his cell phone and used its flashlight function to illuminate his path. The voices of his classmates faded as he ventured further and further into the cave. He was all alone...or so he thought.
"I'll admit, I wasn't expecting you to become an exorcist. It's....Ironic."
Faine jumped at the sound of a woman's voice. Hen he turned around, he saw a woman in a dark cloak and beady eyes staring straight at him. Unbeknownst to him, it was the demon goddess Violetta. "You're the last of your kind, of our kind."
"Who the hell are you?" Faine asked, trying not to show his fear.
"Tracking you down was a pain." Violetta continued. "As soon as I left you at that orphanage, I forgot all about you. Your existence was a nuisance. But then I was told I needed you. I searched Eastern Europe for years until I discovered you'd been adopted and brought to America."
"Answer my question!" Faine demanded. "Who are you?"
"I'm your mother."
Faine felt the blood drain from his face. His mother? What? He reached for his pocket knife. "Why are you here?"
"I'm not going to tell you." She explained. "What I will tell you is that I was the one who brought down that stadium, with the permission of my vessel, of course."
"You tried to kill me?"
"If I wanted you to die that day, you'd be six feet under right now." Violetta said qualmlessly. "I was simply making the first of a series of sacrifices. Burning the flesh of my firstborn son was the first step in getting what I want."
"You burnt my arm?"
"The emergency workers never recovered it." Violetta said. "Did you think it disappeared?"
"Get away from me right now." Faine warned.
"Or what, you'll hit me with that stupid little knife of yours?" Violetta asked. "Fortunately for you, I'm still weak. But once I settle into my new vessel, I'll be unstoppable."
Violetta snapped her fingers and vanished into thin air, leaving Faine alone in the cave. The only sound was the beating of his heart. Hurriedly, he made his way to the end of the cave. His fellow classmates were peacefully unaware of what had just happened to Faine. He sat on the ground and tried to calm himself down.
What had he just witnessed?
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