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A father disappears and Lucas Sforza, the older sibling of the Sforza family leaves to find him and bring him home.

Chapter 1

A letter from Lucas

It had been a few months since father had disappeared and I was none the wiser to finding out what had happened, or had caused his disappearance. I had ended up getting my older brother Lucas involved, and he had left Japan to go and investigate what had happened. Dad had many friends in other countries and my brother and I believed that one of them would surely know something. While Lucas was out travelling the world to investigate, I was investigating at home. See, dad wasn’t just an ordinary guy who had just upped and left one day. Dad had been part of this illegal organization who was involved in shady dealings with the government to try and gain more power and standing. They had apparently done some pretty bad things, according to what the media had said. I think Dad had wanted out of the organization but had been too scared to tell them that he was considering leaving. So, that’s what lead us to this situation that we were in, where we were trying to find him. I had looked into the Organization at home, their name was unknown. They kept that information confidential so it was pretty hard to get hold of a member list or find any concrete information but I believed that they were based in Japan. I was musing over all of this while on my way to Kyoto University where I was currently studying photography in order to become a photographer, just like my father had. I didn’t know much about my mom. She died when she gave birth to me. I always imagined that she was smiling down at me though. Musing over all these thoughts, I got off the train and walked straight into someone causing me to nearly go tumbling down to the floor, and I would have. If the person who I had walked into caught me at the last moment. My university textbooks tumbled out of my arms and hit the ground, causing a few of the pages to be bent over. I winced inwardly at the sight of my now damaged books. I had kept those in shape ever since I got them. I was so distracted by the state of my books that I didn’t register that someone was speaking to me. “Oh I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you there. Are you okay?” I looked up at the person who I had bumped into to see I was looking up at a guy with neck length brown hair and intense looking green eyes. He was wearing a black tank top with a dark blue shirt over it. He looked older than me, I’d say he was about 22 years of age and he was definitely taller than me. He looked pretty intimidating and I felt really nervous just by looking at him. Then I realised he asked me if I was okay and that I probably should answer or he’d think there was something wrong with me or something. I nod, opening my mouth to respond to his question. “I’m alright, I’m sorry. My mind was elsewhere and I wasn’t looking where I was going.” He nodded in understanding and I smiled, feeling some of my nerves dissipate. I bent down to pick up my books but found that they were no longer on the floor. I began to panic, fearing the worst that maybe someone had stolen them but the man’s voice broke through my panicked thoughts. “If you’re looking for your text books, don’t worry. I picked them up for you.” I looked up, baffled, to see the man holding them out to me with a small smile on his face. I took them from him and bowed my head slightly to give my thanks. “Thank you so much…” I trailed off, indicating that I did not know the man’s name. He tilted his head to the side, watching me with his cool green eyes before deciding to speak. “My name is Dommik Maleficum, and what is your name, Miss?” I hesitated. I feel like this is an appropriate place to mention that I had been quite unwilling to mention my name to people, especially strangers mainly because I still had no clue as to who was part of the illegal organization that my father had been part of. But this man, Dommik, he had seemed really friendly. And it was a relief, to be honest. So I decided to tell him my name. “My name is Luci Rose Sforza, it’s a pleasure to meet you Dommik.” I managed a small friendly smile. He tilted his head curiously and for a second, I thought I saw something change in his expression but before I could think on it anymore, he had a warm expression on his face and took my free hand in his, shaking it gently. “Luci Rose Sforza? Wouldn’t be a relative of Akira Sforza, would you?” I felt a jolt of shock run through my body. Akira Sforza was my father, how did this man, this stranger who I had never met before in my life know him? Theories and explanations chased each other around my brain in an attempt to make me feel at ease, but I only felt more nauseous as the horrid thought came to mind. The thought that Dommik was part of the Organization that had been ultimately responsible for my father’s disappearance. But the next words out of his mouth quickly put all those fears to rest. “Your father and I were old work colleagues back at the company he used to work at as a photographer before he went freelance. He was a great man, Luci, and I can tell you that he was a great man. Always honest and hardworking.” He chuckled and then continued chatting like we were old friends. “And I can see that you’re carrying on in his footsteps, studying photography.” I found myself nodding along with the conversation. “Well, yeah, Dad was always a great inspiration to me.” Dommik nodded and then paused, looking as if a question had suddenly sprang to his mind but he was unsure about asking me. It made me curious. “Say, Luci. Do you have any idea where your father is right now?” The question caught me off guard. I hadn’t been expecting him to ask that, of all things. I remembered the excuse Lucas and I had come up with to throw anyone off the trail until Lucas and I had found him ourselves. “He’s out of the country right now. Visiting family. I don’t know when he will be back.” I had never had to give the excuse until now, but I was confident that I had pulled it off flawlessly because Dommik seemed convinced by the excuse. He nodded and ran a finger over his chin thoughtfully before looking straight at me, causing a shiver to run down my spine. “Well, if you hear anything, Luci. Please do let me know. I’ve been very worried about him.” He laid heavy emphasis on the word very, making me wonder what his true motives were for wanting to know. Before I could question him any further, he suddenly spoke, making me jump. “Well, I best be on my way, Luci. Good luck with your studies. Remember what to do if you hear anything.” Letting out a small chuckle and wave, he walked away. I was stunned into silence about what had just happened before the clock started chiming, telling me that I was going to be late. “Shoot!!” I hissed before hurrying out of the train station, being more considerate this time so I didn’t crash into any other strangers who asked questions that I shouldn’t have been answering. I cursed inwardly for getting caught up in his charisma and charm until I arrived at the university. Riki had always warned me to be careful and not talk to anyone about Dad. Doing so could put us all at risk and I didn’t want that. I walked into the campus courtyard and saw my best friend, Risa Rei chatting with what looked like her latest crush so I was unsure about whether to disturb them or not until Risa saw me and waved me over. I went over to join them and she immediately introduced me to the guy standing next to her. He had black hair that went down to the top of his neck and light brown eyes. He looked like he had a cruel streak to him, and seemed like the last person you would want your best friend with, but Risa was the type of girl who could not be deterred once she liked a guy. It was near impossible to stop her from getting involved with the wrong type of man. “Oh Luci, you’re just in time! This is Morden Grimm! He’s a new student here, he just started today. Can you believe how lucky we are?” I looked at her, confused by her last statement. “Why would we be lucky, Risa?” She sighed, looking exasperated as she rolled her eyes at my question. “Because he’s in our class of course!” She said this without even taking a breath. I looked from her to Morden, and saw that he was looking over me, the exact same way a scientist would examine a fly caught in a trap. It unnerved me, a lot more than it had when Dommik had examined me. “Risa, why don’t you introduce me to your friend?” He spoke in a quiet, elegant tone that surprised even me. Because he didn’t seem the type to be elegant or quiet. “This is my best friend, Luci Rose Sforza!” He tilted his head curiously and fixed me with a cold piercing look. “Sforza…” He muttered my name quietly like it was some kind of revelation. Before I could ask what was so fascinating with my last name, the bell for the first class rang, and all the students sauntered inside. I followed Risa, but kept my distance from Morden. Quite frankly he creeped me out in more ways than one. I had my first class to focus on which was one of my most favourites, which was Learning the theory of Location Photography. It was an hour long lecture, and I loved listening to the lecturer talk about why Location Photography was so important and how the location impacted how good the photo turned out or why great care had to be put into choosing the perfect location to take your photos. The other lessons I had today was Editing Photos 101, a workshop on Photography, a practical session and a small exam to see how I was getting along with the course in general. I was confident that I would ace all of this, because Photography was one of the few things I was good at, and it distracted me from all the problems with figuring out where Dad went. Sure enough, the first lecture flew by and before I knew it, I was on my way to Editing Photos 101 where the students were taught to edit photos if ever there was a mistake that had been noticed, or a prospective client wanted the photo changed in a certain way. I loved editing. It gave me a chance to express my creativity. After Editing Photos 101, it was time for lunch where due to my surprise I got a call from Lucas to update me on the situation. “Lucas? How’s it going.” He sounded tired and stressed on the phone, but I could tell he was trying to sound cheerful for my sake. I know he didn’t want to worry me. “Still no luck on my end, I can’t seem to locate him. What about on your end, Luci?” I bit my lip. “Nothing on the Organization that Dad seemed to be running from. They seem pretty hard to pin down. It’s obvious that they’re getting protected by some higher ups.” I could imagine how Lucas would look right now. Worried, and wanting to help. “I’ll see what I can dig up, just don’t get yourself in too much trouble. Got it?” I rolled my eyes and replied back sarcastically. “Yes, big brother. Don’t get your panties in a twist.” Before he could say anything else, the bell rang to signal the start of afternoon classes. “Gotta go. Laters.” I hung up and dashed off to my Photography workshop where I got a little berated for being late, but made it up with all my hard work completing my portfolio for the exam. All I had to do was hand it in and then I was free to go. I know what people think, Photography is just taking a bunch of photos and that’s it, it’s not hard. That it’s one of the easiest things to do, and sure. Anyone can take a photo. But it takes true talent and skill to take a good photo. And that’s what I prided myself on, Dad had taught me everything I needed to know about photography since he had been one of the best in the business. As I thought about Dad and how he was missing, I felt a pang in my chest. I missed him and Lucas more than anything else in the world. Sure I had my friends, and that was great. But I wanted my family back. I mulled this over, looking glum as I left the campus to get the train back home. I was still living in the family home. Attachment and memories I didn’t want to leave behind made me want to stay there, so I did. As I unlocked the front door and opened it, the door hit something, preventing it from opening all the way. I gulped, feeling my hands shake as I reached in and flicked the light switch. I was half expecting someone to grab my wrist and pull me inside, and that would have been the last anyone had ever seen of me. But the grab never came, so I was convinced the house was empty, unless…someone was lying in wait for me. But I’m sure my imagination was running away with me, as usual. I looked down to see what had prevented the door from opening and was surprised to see a folder with an letter taped to the front. Written on the letter was my name in my brother’s handwriting: To Luci Rose Sforza. He’d sent me a letter and what looked like some information in that folder. I bent down to pick it up and examined the date it had been sent. It had taken a whole two months to get here! Why hadn’t he told me on the phone that he had sent something in the mail to me, unless he had forgotten. Which seemed more than likely. I sat down on the couch and opened the letter, reading it first. It read:
Dear Luci,
How are you keeping? Well, I hope. I thought I’d write just so you would hear from me and not have to worry. So this letter won’t be very long. I still haven’t found Dad but I found out some interesting information which I was able to get to you, so look in that folder I sent you as soon as you get this.
Love, your brother Lucas
P.S Stay out of trouble.
A smile went across my face as I read through the letter, happy that he had thought of me even when he was so busy trying to find out what had happened to our father and who was responsible for his disappearance. I turned my attention to the folder and opened it. Inside was a list of names, I saw the name of the Organization at the top, finding out that they were called the 1st Syndicate. Somehow my brother had managed to get the name of every single member and had sent a copy to me. My eyes roved over the names, which were as follows:
Yulius Lobo
Vossler Tempest
Vexacion Onyx
Vayne Darkmore
Theodor Diablo
Ross Helion
Noire Steros
Nebula Magnus
Nealuchi Shadowsoul
Morden Grimm
Moldark Storm
Layre Krauss
Maggart Steros
Hogan Roseberg
Heinrik Panther
Hanzel Crypt
Driscoll Morgan
Dommik Maleficum
Axel Crimson
Caecilius Victor
Adam Riddle

It was a list of names, who all seemed to be the members of the organization that Dad had been part of, the 1st Syndicate. Two names in particular had jumped out at me, causing my heart to contract in fear. Morden Grimm went to my school, and was apparently dating my best friend. Dommik was the man I had ran into this morning. Now that I think about it, both of them had acted weird around me. And now I knew the reason why. They were looking for my father, but why target me? Question after question ran through my head, but yet I had no answers….

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Elizabeth Wootton

Northumberland, united_kingdom

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