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The Cards of Fate

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Chapter 4

The Moon representing illusion, fear, anxiety, subconscious, and intuition.

 

            The sweet girl Mary was with this morning was gone, replaced by the devouring monster that had been lurking under the surface this whole time. The cold blue eyes she could not stop staring into stole all the breath out of her lungs. She started sweating, unable to breath and took a panicked step back. Mary looked at the brothers finally breaking the spell allowing air back into her lungs. Rin seemed to be feeling a similar effect, mouth hung open and a single bead of sweat running down his face, Ibara was in similar disbelief, malicious smile finally wiped off his face only a look of horror remained. 

Mary’s gaze darted back to Ririka, glowing ice eyes finding her own. They say the eyes are the window to the soul, if that was true then Mary would have bet all her votes in this moment that Ririka didn’t have one. Her eyes were empty, devoid of any tells, emotion, or personality. Inhumanely unreadable. 

            Everything clicked. This was how the twins took over the academy so easily. This was how they brought any gambler to their knees. This was why Kirari was so willing to risk her presidency. 

None of the other students ever had a chance. 

            No matter the skill of a gambler there would always be tells, tiny facial tics or some form of habit. If you are human, there will always be something. But staring into Ririka’s eyes trying to read her body language it was becoming increasingly obvious that what she was staring at wasn’t human but a monster . And it was ready to devour. 

Ririka’s eyes left Mary’s and dragged down her body before coming back up again. Mary shivered and felt her heartbeat speed up, feeling as if she was prey being eyed by a lioness. Ririka turned back to the brothers addressing Ibara, “I believe it’s your turn to play.” Even her voice was completely different, lacking any emotion that would normally be present. 

Ibara could only sputter in response, his eyes still glazed over in shock and unable to move. 

Inaho spoke up from her corner, “Obami if you keep stalling this gamble there will be consequences.” A cunning edge seeped into her voice, eyes glowing at the threat..  

He gritted his teeth, “Seven.” He practically growled out the words. Mary could see the frustration and fury in his gaze.

Ririka had no reaction, only playing her next card, “Eight.” Looking both boys in the eye as she played the card. 

Rin loudly slammed his hand on the table and stood up, “I call your bluff!” These poor guys, Mary thought, what a waste of a last-ditch effort. Ririka calmly reached out and flipped her card.

Eight.

Rin dropped back down into his seat a look of complete defeat on his face. He dropped his head collecting the large pile of cards he now had. 

Everyone’s heads snapped back to Ririka at the sound of her dropping her cards on the table. Mary’s eyes traced over the cards, jack, ace, four, seven… She had all the cards for every round until she ran out. Mary took a sharp intake of breath in realization. Each round she lost was to collect the cards she needed to win and then she discarded the ones she didn’t need until there was no possibility but to win. The brothers who appeared to be the predators become the prey instantly. Not even those from the Devouring Family stood a chance. 

Ibara threw his cards in anger and defeat. Inaho in her usual chipper voice declared, “And that concludes the match! Since there is no way for the Obami brothers to win, Ririka wins by default. Unless you would like to continue the match?” Rin hung his head and shook it while Ibara stormed out of the room. “Okay! Ririka Momobami will be awarded the total sum of Rin and Ibara Obami’s votes, which amounts to ninety-eight! The election committee will ensure you receive the votes no later than tomorrow morning!” 

All the while Mary watched Ririka’s expression shift, almost as if she flipped a switch, her face went from the emotionless gambler to having a sweet smile on her face when she turned to Mary. 

“Mary, I won!” A small blush began to coat her cheeks.

Even though the Ririka she knew was back all Mary could see were those cold unfeeling eyes. “I- I-.” She couldn’t get any words out, her focus unable to unsee or leave the other girl’s eyes. She squeezed her eyes shut willing the image to go away. They shouldn’t bother her as much as they did and yet she still couldn’t get them out of her head. No longer was she seeing Ririka’s eyes in her mind, they shifted ever so slightly to become the other twin. All she could see now was Kirari towering over her as if she meant nothing, invading her personal space as if it were her own and telling her to join the student council. 

Mary started sweating, her heartbeat picking up. “Mary? Are you alright?” Ririka put her hand on Mary’s arm causing her to jump.

“I- I just…” Ririka looked into Mary’s vacant eyes, she wasn’t entirely here; she had wondered somewhere else. Mary jerked back away from the older girl suddenly, “I need to go, I’m um late.” With no other explanation she quickly left.

Ririka watched her leave with growing confusion and concern not knowing what was happening. Had this morning freaked her out more than she thought? Ririka shook her head, unable to understand. Inaho cleared her throat awkwardly causing the Vice President to flinch. She had forgotten the other girl was in the room, “Would you like to collect your votes now?”

She steeled her expression trying not to let her heartbreak show at the apparent rejection she just received from Mary. “Yes.” 

[]

            Mary walked, well more like nearly ran, through the academy halls with no destination. She just needed to be away . Away from the partner that was something she said she wasn’t. Away from her slipping control over her partnership. Away from her monster.

            Her chest heaved making it across campus in record time, she finally stopped at the first door she laid her eyes on. She burst into the empty classroom, unable to get enough air and chest still heaving. Sweat dripped down her forehead, she was too warm and couldn’t breathe. She ripped off her necktie and unbuttoned the top buttons on her shirt. Leaning over one of the desks she closed her eyes trying and failing to catch her breath.

            She felt a warm hand land on her back, every muscle in her body stiffened, “Shh, Mary, it’s okay. Just breath.” Yumeko’s calming voice washed over her and Mary immediately relaxed. Yumeko shifted, grabbing her hands off of the desk so she could look the blonde in the eyes. “Breath with me okay? In… Out… In…” Slowly Mary regained her breath, somewhat calming down. The blonde immediately slumped exhausted and sat on the desk. Yumeko sat down next to her covering her hand with her own. “Better now?”

            Mary waited a beat before responding, “Yea.”

            “Do you want to talk about it?”

            The blonde sighed, “It’s nothing.”

            “Mary.” Yumeko gave her a pointed look, “It’s obviously not nothing.”

            “I- I just-.” 

            “Is it the Vice President?”

            Mary looked at the other girl with surprise and sighed, “Yea.” Yumeko moved her hand to the blonde’s shoulder to rub it comfortingly. “I just… I thought she was different I guess.”

            “Different from?”

            “The other Momobamis.”

            Yumeko hummed in response, “And it turned out you were wrong?”

            “I mean yea. You should’ve seen her when she gambled… She changed instantly, it’s like she flipped a switch and turned into Kirari.”

            “Mary, as different as they are they’re still twins.”

            “I know,” Mary huffed, “I guess I just thought she was better than her sister, that she wouldn’t be as ruthless... I don’t know.” 

            Yumeko shrugged, “Even still, you are partners, she’s on your side.”

            “Is she though?” Her anger began to seep into her voice, “She’s a Momobami, not to mention Kirari’s twin, why wouldn’t they be planning something. This has to be part of a game they’re playing.”

            “Do you really think that?”

            “I-.” Mary thought of that morning, waking up to Ririka’s hand on her face and in her warm embrace. She looked away sadly, anger draining out of her.

            Yumeko stood up and walked in front of Mary, she poked her finger into Mary’s chest right over her heart, “Do you truly believe that, in here? After all the gambles? After she gave you her votes? After trusting you?” Mary looked away in shame. “Just something to think about.”

[]

            “Ah, there you are Ririka.” Kirari said as Ririka entered the student council room, not even looking up from her work. Only silence responded and the soft tap of shoes on the hardwood. The Vice President slumped unceremoniously on one of the couches. “What’s wrong?” Kirari asked, finally looking up.

            “I’m suffering the consequences.” She huffed out, taking off her mask and throwing it beside her.

            “Of?”

            “Being a Momobami.” She stared daggers at the floor.

            Kirari hummed in response, “I think you’re going to have to be more specific than that. We both know that includes many different consequences.”

            “Mary ran off after my gamble with Rin and Ibara. I think- I think I scared her.” 

            “Scared of what? Did you lose?” Ririka gave her a pointed look, the other twin raised her hands up in surrender. Kirari walked over and sat beside her sister. “Are you worried she won’t come back?”

            “Of course, I’m worried!” Desperation began to seep into her voice, “You should’ve seen her face, she looked at me as if I was a monster.”

            Kirari cringed, “That may be my fault.” 

            Ririka deadpanned, “What. Did. You. Do.”

            “I may have gotten a bit in her face when inviting her to join the student council. It was quite worth it though, you should’ve seen the look on her face, it was quite interesting.”

            “See!” Ririka pointed an accusing finger at her sister, “This is what I was talking about when I said we have to share the consequences sometimes!”

            “I didn’t know you cared about her as much as you do.” Kirari had a mischievous twinkle in her eye.

            Ririka blushed, “She’s my friend of course I do.”

            Kirari chuckled, “Riri, if I’m being honest, you have nothing to worry about. I’ve seen the way the two of you look at each other. Besides you trust her, don’t you?”

            Her sister blushed even harder at that, “I do.”

            A growing smirk blossomed on Kirari’s face, “Then I propose we have a gamble."