Dear readers, tonight we get inside the mind of a seventeen year old girl, forced to participate in a deadly tournament – all to possess the Queen of Hearts card, the ticket to ruling her domain.
Why is it so dark? I thought. I-I can’t open my eyes… I feel so light… Am I floating? Where am I? Who am I?
“Neela,” a gentle voice answered, echoing within my mind.“Your name is Neela,”
Neela… Neela Blydes.
“Good. You remember your name.” the voice said. “Neela, I’m going to help you get your memories back, okay? A few questions should do it.”
“Don’t be scared. I won’t be telling anyone what you tell me. I promise.”
Then ask away.
“Alright,” the voice paused, as if thinking, “do you remember where you grew up? What was it like?”
Where I grew up… I wracked my brain for an answer. I grew up in two places.
Yes, I said. Up until I was five, I lived in a meadow area near the border of the Queen of Hearts Domain with my parents and older brother. My brother and I always played outside, and our father always gave us lessons on the wildlife in the meadows and forest.
“What about the second place?”
The slums… I spent the rest of my childhood growing up in a small clinic with my brother in the slums of the Queen of Hearts Domain. It was a dangerous place. Around every corner was a fight, and I had to go through some of my own in order to survive.
“Man… What made you want to live there?”
I didn’t want to. Never wanted to. I lived there because it was the only place I could go after people killed my parents and burned down my home.
“Okay, we won’t venture further in that direction. Let’s go a different route,” the voice said hurriedly. “How about this? Any favorite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?”
No toys, but, the corners of my lips tugged up into a small smile, memories, yes.
My father always brought home flowers for my mother at the end of every week. The way they made her smile… was angelic.
“That’s sweet,” the voice laughed a bit. “Neela, do you mind if I ask questions about the present?”
Go ahead. I’ll answer them the best I can.
“If you’re not able to, that’s completely fine,” the voice assured me. “Do you remember anything about what you’re doing now?”
No. Do you?
Can you give me a hint?
“Well… people love watching you fight in the ring.”
My head pulsed. An image of dirt and a cheering crowd filling the stands of an indoor arena flashed in my mind. I’m fighting in a tournament for the title of Card Holder of the Queen of Hearts Domain.
“That’s right. Do you remember what’s happened recently?”
The first half of the solo rounds are over, I’ve met the leader of the rogues, and Jacen… my brother… he’s… the blood…
“I guess you do remember,” the voice interrupted. “Let’s go into another direction, alright?”
“Do you remember how you felt about entering the tournament?”
You mean when I was forced to enter? I scoffed. I didn’t want to enter and be part of the slaughter that’s the tournament. Then… I realized if I won and became Card Holder, I could change how it’s all handled. I still hate it, but I view it as an opportunity now.
“That’s a pretty good viewpoint,” the voice commented. “Anything scary since you entered?”
Almost getting killed by a poison dart from my best friend’s brother’s underlings was pretty scary, I answered. It was the most intense city chase I’d ever been in. I was lucky to have my friend there to protect me.
“Your friend sounds reliable.”
“What’s the worst thing about what you’ve been through already?”
The worst thing? A lot of terrible things had happened since I was a kid, but… there was one thing. Meeting some of the most wonderful people on the planet.
“That’s the worst thing?”
And the best, I said. They’re like a family to me, but it’s likely someone will get hurt. Death is hard to avoid in a Card Holder tournament.
That’s true… The voice was silent for a bit before saying, Well, can you tell me about these people?
Lily’s a big ball of energy, I immediately said. She can be overwhelming, but I still love her. Will balances her out really well. He’s definitely the calm one in their marriage. Brochan has been a great trainer, and Amil…
He’s my best friend.
“Your best friend or boyfriend?”
My. Best. Friend.
“Alright, don’t bite,” the voice said. “I just wanted to see if you had any romantic interests.”
“If you say so,” he chuckled. “Well, is there anyone you hate?”
“That was quick.”
Because he’s the one who ordered those men to kill me.
“Good point. Uh, do you want to get away from these stressful things?”
If you don’t mind.
“Not at all.” I could hear the smile in his voice as he spoke. “What’s your favorite drink, color, and relaxing pastime?”
Those don’t sound like typical interview questions.
“Ah, there’s the sarcasm I live for.”
“Nice to you’re coming back little by little, shrimp,” he said. “Now answer the questions.”
My favorite drink is earl grey tea, my favorite colors are black, white, and red, and my favorite relaxing pastime is reading a good book.
“Have you visited that library yet?”
No, I sighed. With my training, most of my free time is spent sleeping, and that’s whenever I have it.
“I gotcha,” the voice said. “Well, I guess that’s part of your future plans, huh?”
That and… something else.
“Oh? And what would that be?”
Well… I opened my electric blue eyes and was met with honey-brown ones. Smirking, I pushed my best friend’s face away from me. “That’s for me to know and for you to find out, creep.”
“Heh,” Amil took my hand from his face and grinned, “nice to have you back, shrimp.”
“Thanks for helping me get my memories back,” I leaned back against the pillows on my bed and sighed. “I never thought that person was a Manipulator of the mind.”
“You’re lucky they could only take your memories away temporarily,” Amil said, sitting beside me. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to recover them.”
“I know,” I mumbled. Looking at him, I smiled a bit and said, “Were there any other questions you wanted to ask me?”
“Would you like to change your answer to the love interest?”
“Oh, shut up!” I picked up a pillow and swung it at him, frowning when he caught it and laughed. “What’s your second one? And it better be good.”
“Alright, well,” he took the pillow from me and hugged it, “what’s one secret you haven’t told anyone yet.”
“Hmm,” I looked up at the blank ceiling, thinking. “You won’t tell?”
“Well…” I trailed off and sighed. “My dreams have been growing more vivid lately, and… I don’t think it’s a good sign at all.”
“I don’t know, but,” I looked over at him, not even trying to hide the worry on my face, “they always leave me feeling… helpless.”
Kaitlyn Legaspi is the self-published author of the Dark Irregular Trilogy, a young adult fantasy trilogy she wrote in middle school. Writing passionately on a daily basis, she plans on adding more to her repertoire in the near future. Now a third-year business undergraduate student at the University of Florida, in addition to writing, Kaitlyn enjoys singing, studying in the nearby boba tea shop, and reading whatever has caught her interest. Currently, she is working on publishing the second book of her Card Holders series, Two More Lives
You can find Neela on the pages of Red Blood.
Join us next week to meet a supernatural brother like no other, a PI from 1976 Harlem. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.