Benedict glared at Julchen as he gently pulled her arm into a sling. “So what exactly happened?” he asked again
“I told you!” she snapped “Wilhelm got the hero sword -”
“Which I told you not to hide in our flat” Benedict interrupted
“Ja ja, which you told me not to keep in the flat, but I’d just got home! I was going to move it later!”
“You could have put your own bag away”
“That would have looked suspicious!”
“Ah yes, Julchen taking care of her own stuff, you’re right, that would be suspicious”
“Do you want me to tell you what happened or not?”
“Go on then” Benedict grumbled, shifting to look at Julchen’s lopsided new haircut
“Wilhelm’s gone all angry because of the hero sword. He found out my secret identity. I jumped out of a window. And he stabbed me”
“So super thief Shadow Vixen, and super public menace -”
“Public menace? Like you weren’t the one who took down the last Chosen One”
“I had help”
“Hmm, your mysterious benefactor”
“Secret friend, kinky!”
“okay, just friend, not kinky”
Benedict stood and went to get some scissors to try to even out Julchen’s hair
“We all knew it was going to be him” Julchen said softly when Benedict returned and started brushing her hair out, “The Chosen One is always the most beloved”
“He wasn’t…” Benedict sighed “I thought he would be stronger than the sword”
“You knew it would have an impact?” Julchen turned to him sharply and watched another giant piece of hair fall down from her head, she winced as Benedict frowned at her
“Keep still!” He ordered “It has had an effect on every Chosen One since it – I don’t even know how long. It always has. They become detached from their family and friends, obsessed with protecting the land and eventually they run themselves into the ground. Do you want a pixie cut or a bob now that you’ve made me hack off another hunk?”
“Pixie, and why didn’t you tell us?”
“It doesn’t always happen. There are records of stronger Chosen Ones resisting for a long while, it happening very gradually.”
“But you didn’t think, at any point, that it might be wise to warn the people closest to him?”
“He was not chosen!” Benedict stepped away and moved towards his big computer. “Emelen was chosen!” he pulled up a picture of the ceremony they had all witnessed. Julchen looked at Emelen, the supposed Chosen One receiving the medal of honour. He was blonde and looked a little like a character from an anime she’d watched as a teen but she couldn’t quite place who. His hair was all pulled back from his face and he had sideburns that could cut you.
She looked away “If I hadn’t taken that sword none of this would have happened”
Benedict laughed despite himself
“How do we keep getting into these situations?” Julchen groaned
“Eleven years of friendship and I still don’t know” Benedict smiled at her. It was his innocent smile. The one that always made people want to do whatever he asked. He was a major supervillain but nobody would ever guess, even with his hulking hockey-player shoulders, his soft eyes and easy smile threw people off balance. Nobody ever suspected Benedict, who rescued stray cats off the street, Benedict, who kept his loved ones out of trouble, Benedict who always helped everyone he met, nobody suspected Benedict would ever be The Violet Terror. The one who had taken down the 16th Chosen One.
“It’s not all your fault -” he said
“Just a little?” she interrupted
There was a slump to Benedict’s shoulders that made Julchen regret the joke. “I’m the reason he lives with us” he looked back at his computer screen. Julchen searched for something to say.
Benedict switched off his computers. “Okay” he said, getting to his feet “You stay here. I need to go and tell my friend -”
“Your secret friend”
“Yes, my secret friend, I need to go and tell them that… well all of this. Do not touch my computers”
Benedict sighed as he exited his hideout. This was all going so far away from the plan. Although, he supposed, the plan had originally been that Wilhelm would leave them to train with the 16th and would eventually graduate and become The Chosen One, and move into their special apartments and they would never have heard from him again, but at least that would have been a clean break.
Benedict idly wondered if Wilhelm was going to move into the Chosen Apartments, and whether anyone had informed the Central Bureaucracy that a new Chosen One had been chosen but that it was not their choice of Chosen One. If he hadn’t been so sour about the whole thing he might have filled out the form.
Benedict came up short at an impasse in the road. Lumberjack boots, faded scruffy jeans, and a red checkered shirt all pointed to signs of Wilhelm. His prosthetic was missing, and his sleeve moved in the gentle breeze. The sword was a new addition to Benedict. He had prepared himself for that, however, what he was not prepared for was the glow. The glow wasn’t supposed to happen unless the Chosen One was exerting an inordinate amount of power.
“Wilhelm” he whispered
“Are you a threat to my land?” The Chosen One asked, it didn’t sound like Wilhelm, it sounded like the 16th. The 16th had asked Benedict the exact same question. Benedict had answered in such a similar way
“Of course not” – I’m a threat to you – “Why would you think that?”
“You have blood on your hands”
Benedict looked at his hands. Sure enough there was a little blood on one, he must have failed to wash it off after bandaging up Julchen’s cut. “You stabbed Julchen” he replied with a shrug
“She was a threat”
“She was your friend” Venom filled Benedict’s voice “And if that stupid sword hadn’t taken over your mind she still might be! Now I have places to be so excuse me!” Benedict pushed past Wilhelm – not usually a good idea when the person you’re pushing past is wielding a 5 foot sword, but Benedict was well past fearing for his safety. He swiped his hand across his eyes, trying to pretend he wasn’t crying and headed towards the Central Bureaucratic sector of the city.