Assassin's Bane by GraecusRomanus January 27, 2021

Chapter 1

Ethan Sanders was simply sitting at a lonely lunch table, waiting for it to become less lonely, as it should be in a few minutes.

Ethan Sanders, of course, is me. But I’ll stick to the third person; it makes telling things a lot easier.

He was waiting for five individuals, five unique individuals, an odd variety of individuals. Individuals that stuck out so much that nobody wanted to be near them.

The first of these individuals were two ladies, Catherine and Catherina: identical twins, with short brown hair, lightly tanned skin, and of average height, stunningly beautiful, and stronger than the impression their slim frame gave them.

And what set these two girls apart was the fact that they were incredibly smart. Both had an affinity for crazy fast math and physics that would give an average person PTSD, but neither of them would help someone if they felt that they weren’t trying. And since very few of the people who asked the girls for help actually tried, they didn’t bother helping, which set more than a few people against them.

Catherine and Catherina came over and sat down, grinning at Ethan.

“Catherine,” said Ethan, nodding. And to her sister. “Hey Catherina.”

To the normal person, Catherine and Catherina were completely identical in every way possible, with no visible way to distinguish them. But Ethan was anything but normal.

“How was Fletching’s test?” Catherine asked Ethan. “I heard some of the students say it was the epitome of evil.”

Ethan grinned. “It was okay. I’m pretty sure I got a question wrong though, and I had a light headache from all the math. But I think I did pretty good.”

“And we don’t have to ask how you guys did,” said a deep, but cheerful voice.

Ethan looked up, and when I, Ethan, say looked up, I meant way up. He had to crane his neck all the way from his seated position to see the faces of two others, Kevin and Kevon, also identical twins.

They were both beasts born of muscle and made from muscle, with not an ounce of fat on their large frames. Both stood at over seven feet, Kevin slightly, but unnoticeably taller than Kevon. Both had wide shoulders, and arms that boasted of power.

But let anyone think that they were dumb because they were of mammoth size, and they would both gladly prove them wrong.

“No, we don’t,” said Kevon.

They both sat down, fist-bumping Ethan and the girls.

“Where is Charlie?” Ethan asked. “He should have gotten out of class by now.”

He checked the clock in the lunchroom.

Five minutes past two o’clock. Fourth block got out at fifteen before two, three minutes to get down from the third floor to the lunchroom, fifteen people in the line, three minutes to get lunch, maybe a minute to make it to the table. That would take--

“Ethan.” Kevin’s voice snapped Ethan out of his calculations.

“Yeah?” He looked over.

“You’re doing it again,” said Catherina, shaking her head. “You really don’t need to do all those calculations.”

Ethan grinned and said, “I know, but it’s fun. And I can’t really help it.”

That’s when Charlie arrived, sliding across the slick tiles like a batter sliding for home base.

Charlie’s the designated weirdo of their group. Not that the rest of them weren’t weird, it was just that Charlie’s weirdness was officialized by his apparent lack of common sense and odd ways of performing the most basic tasks.

Charlie wasn’t much to look at. Standing just a little taller than the girls, he had a mess of rebellious brown hair and blue eyes that had smile wrinkles around them, paying patronage to his comical nature.  

He got up and dusted off the side of his pants, sitting down next to Ethan.

“What took you so long?” Ethan asked. Catherine flicked a stray piece of lintel off Charlie, and he nodded appreciatively.

Charlie’s expression changed slightly at the question, barely noticeable, but too obvious for Ethan’s alert eyes.

Nothing good, Ethan thought.

Charlie knew better than to lie to Ethan; he’d pick up stray clues and put together everything like Sherlock Holmes.

“I ran into Steve on the way here,” Charlie said, playing with his fingers, avoiding eye contact.

Kevon and Kevin tensed, Kevon a bit more uneasy than his brother. Catherina and Catherine froze. They turned to look at Ethan, who’d stopped smiling, living up to his nickname.

Ethan was busy analyzing Charlie, his grey eyes, a gift from a genetic mutation, scanning Charlie. After a whole minute, Ethan let out a breath.

“What did he want?” Kevin asked, a deep frown on his face.

“The usual,” said Charlie, relaxing. “Calling me a weirdo, making rude comments.”

Charlie sat up, trying to relax, but a slight movement set Ethan off.

“Gotcha,” said Ethan, glaring. “He lay his hands on him.”

“No, no,” Charlie said, a little too fast. “He did nothing of the sort. Well, he may have pushed me into a locker, but that’s the end of it.”

“I’m going to kick the soul out of him,” growled Kevin, face tight with fury.

He stood up, and Catherina followed him, fists clenched, and her face crunched up in fury.  

“Stop, listen,” said Catherine, getting in front of Kevin. It would have been funny if Kevin weren’t so angry.

 Kevon stopped Catherina, who tried to shrug him off, but of course, to no avail. “There’s no point in beating him up.”

“He hurt Charlie,” seethed Kevin.

“Kevin,” said Catherine, pushing him back into his seat. “I am just as angry as you are but beating him up won’t do anything.”

Kevin started to get up again, but Ethan stopped him this time.

“Kevin, she’s right,” sighed Ethan.

“Ethan, we can’t let him get away with this,” growled Catherina.

“Of course we can’t,” Ethan replied. He gave a long sigh. “Kevon, you need to realize that we are students; we don’t have the power to do anything.”

Charlie stayed quiet and in his seat all the while, his head hanging low. But a part of him was happy that his friends reacted this way. He’d seen many people walk by while he was bullied. And while they couldn’t do anything, it put Charlie at ease knowing that if his friends could do something, then they wouldn’t think twice.

“We can still kick the soul out of him,” Kevon mumbled.

Kevin patted Catherina on the head, trying to calm her down, which earned him a punch in the gut. He switched to patting that.  

“Then what’s the difference between him and us?” Ethan asked quietly, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “If we beat him up, what is the difference between him hurting Charlie and us hurting him?”

“Nothing,” Kevin mumbled after a few moments.

Everyone sat back down again, and in the silence, Ethan mused over Steve and his apparent hatred for Ethan and his friends.

Steve wouldn’t have anything to do with Ethan if Ethan’s dad wasn’t Steve’s dad’s rival. They were both multibillionaires before either of them was born. However, while Ethan’s father spoke to Ethan of morals and honor, Steve had rivalry and arrogance ingrained to him from the day he was born. And even at the age of fifteen, their rivalry hadn’t stopped.

Ethan snapped out of his musing when someone spoke.

“Will there be a time when we can do something?” Catherine’s voice was soft and low.

“There will be a time,” said Ethan. “But the time is not now.”