Clarissa sat at the edge of the bed, staring blankly at nothing. She had barely moved since arriving the evening before. Dawn was beginning to trickle in through the window behind her. She sat in silence, watching her shadow gradually stretch itself across the carpet.
Her door creaked open. A woman with pale, ashy skin and black, wavy hair entered. She placed the long package she was carrying on the dresser and looked over at Clarissa's slumped form. "What's wrong, human?" she sneered. "Crying like a baby because your powers are gone?" The woman walked to the bed and leaned forward, bringing her face just a few inches away from Clarissa. She peered through Clarissa's thin, blonde bangs. "Should've thought twice when you had the chance," she hissed. She chuckled meanly and straightened up. "Humans are such stupid creatures," she said out loud to no one.
Clarissa hadn't moved. She hadn't even glanced up. The woman watched her for a few moments, absentmindedly running her fingers through her long hair. She turned around and exited the room, shutting the door behind her.
Clarissa remained as she was for a few more minutes. Then, slowly, she raised her head. She looked across the small room at the door. Her eyes rolled to her left, toward the package. Her head followed suit, and gradually she stood up and walked with leaden steps to the dresser.
She touched the coarse brown wrapping paper, grazing her fingertips along its surface to the center. She tugged on the twine bow, making it come undone. Carefully, Clarissa removed the paper. There were two wooden boxes. She opened the smaller one first.
A thin but ornate silver necklace with a light brown crystal set in the center and a small ball of light sat together on a white satin cushion. Clarissa reached for the necklace, accidentally grazing the ball of light with her knuckle. It soaked gently into her skin, glowing white tinged with green before fading completely. Clarissa raised her hand and examined it closely. Nothing seemed to have happened. She crinkled her eyebrows in mild confusion.
She looked away from her hand and turned her attention to the larger box. It was long and plain, with a small latch on one side. She undid it and raised the lid, revealing a shining silver cutlass and a folded letter. Clarissa picked up the letter.
She stared at the tiny, black squiggles for a long time before realizing they weren't making any sense.
Clarissa had never had a problem understanding anything spoken or written before. Maria had always translated for her.
Her lip began to tremble. She bit it and squeezed her eyes shut as she leaned forward against the wall behind the dresser. Clarissa crumpled the letter in her fist. Her chest heaved as she began to hyperventilate. Her jaw clenched itself painfully tight. Low growls began escaping her gritted teeth. She brought her hands up against the wall, pressing the wrinkled letter against it.
She screamed and punched the wall with all her might. She screamed again, this time in pain, as she staggered back and fell against her bed and to the floor. The wall had been unexpectedly solid. Tears threatened to fall from her eyes as she nursed her injured knuckles.
She glared angrily at the letter, which had fluttered to the floor. She snatched it as she stood up and stormed out of her room. Clarissa stomped to the door directly across the hall from hers and pounded on it. There was rustling, and a young woman with light blue hair and a huge eye patch opened the door. She rubbed her good eye sleepily, then squinted grumpily at Clarissa.
"What do you want?" she demanded.
Clarissa held out the letter. "I can't read. Read it to me." She didn't make eye contact.
The young woman leaned against her doorframe and smirked. "Why should I?"
Clarissa gave her a dirty look. "I'll owe you a favor."
The woman nodded and smiled, taking the letter. "That works for me." She cleared her throat a little and began reading.
"'Each contestant is to receive one weapon, one spell, and a Soul Gem to aid them in the first round of this tournament. You may use these items and ONLY these items against your opponent. As you survive each round, you must claim your opponent's soul using the Soul Gem. You may switch your weapon for theirs if you choose, and you may either absorb their spell, or use it to increase the power of the one you already have.
She handed the letter back to Clarissa, grinning smugly. The woman shut her door without a word.
Clarissa went back to her room and sat on her bed again. She thought for a while about the letter. It was still in her hand. She looked down at the symbols, picking out a few words as she slowly tried to read it again. After a while she turned back to the open box on the dresser.
Clarissa put the letter aside and went to it, picking up the cutlass. The edge of the blade glinted menacingly in the morning light.
"Maybe I can do this without you, Maria."