Adrian

The hassle of the year 1654 (part 1)

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Minor introduction:
This will be the first chapter of a fanfic I've been nitting together, hopefully posting this will push me to finish it! It may be a bit slow, but I hope it isn't too bad.
A thing the keen eye will note is that the year of this story is a few years prior to that of the actual game. This is partly because I started the story off at a different angle, and partly because I cannot fully well guess what changes that we will meet in the year. (Note that I started the first thoughts for this before the first DLC)

Anywho, suggestions comments and such are welcome. If you got a wonderful character or want to add a chapter then please do so. It could be fun if we could patch together a story smile.gif
Edit: I'd just mention that the story will not focus solely on this chapter's main character, but change with chapters (and in times even within the chapters)


Aaanywho! (ctrl c, ctrl v time)


Chapter 1: A great way to start a year.

Char could not help smile as he walked aboard The Drunken Bastard, the very same airship that had let him stranded a year ago because he did not have money for a ticket. This year he had money, and despite having spent his summer in what some would call luxury he was happy to be returning to school after the long vacation.

Even the noise of passengers banter, air-sailors shouting and labor did not deter his optimism, actually it was quite the contrary. He looked down at the ticket committing the note to memory. He would be staying in cabin 16. He hefted the basket in his bag once more – just to keep Dancer, the Familiar ferret, on his toes – and set off through the tong of people on the main deck.

He found room 16 down a set of stairs from the main deck. The narrow passageways connecting the cabins was almost empty there were only a pair of kids running back and forth and a young woman supervising them. Char turned to his room and managed to open the door while balancing the basket. He took a moment to take it all in, despite the cabins' small size. There was a bit of everything, a few seats, a hammock, a glow-globe, a net suspended from the roof for luggage. That was all neat and did register, but what was particular was the adorned work on the furniture. Surely great loved had gone into it's creation. He put down Dancer's basket and with his hand felt the smooth curves of the carved bench.

“Looks like we are alone, for now at least” he said, giving Dancer a fond pat.

Having tugged the luggage away and spend some time admiring the finely carved furniture Char felt a need to get out. It was simply getting too boring to just sit and do nothing, and homework not included he had nothing to read with him.

With Dancer on his shoulder the two walked down the hallway, casting quick glances into the other compartments to see if they knew anyone. The Academagia was still far away, and therefore the ship was still half empty. Mineta was of cause the last stop on this trip. Like many other airships The Drunken Bastard made its money flying from Mineta to a long line of smaller islands and back, collecting goods and people.

This time was special though, as not only did many schools start in this period but many shops in cities such as Mineta found that it is profitable to hold a sale – which usually made for ever more passengers. The rooms which would normally only house a single pair was now shared by more than 6 people. Char's journey and home lay in Mezzins however, an island partly isolated due to it's habit of orbiting nearby islands. This year Mezzins was the furthest stop on The Drunken Bastards line, in only a few minutes the ship would set off, bound, in time, for the city of Mineta.

The pair walked for half an hour back and forth, Char politely greeting any students he recognized with a single exception...

“You!” a voice called from behind, so cold that there might have been ice crystals forming in the hallway. Char turned and found Magnus Si'ell the boy who had made the trip to the Academagia a year ago a living hell.

“You are continuing school?” Char greeted with a smile, returning the hostility. “did you actually stop jerking off and actually study at the end?”

“Pfft, at least I don't have every teacher looking over my shoulder – I am thinking we are not all that lucky.” Magnus grinned though his eyes remained as focused as ever.

“I don't see what that has to do with the miracle that must have occurred when you went into the examination, but it is true, the teachers has taken a kind interest in my studies.”

“Kind interest indeed. Well, I won't keep you, much better I am far away when you do whatever it is you do.”

Char barely managed to not roll his eyes to the ceiling. “What happened last year happened because you couldn't keep your mouth shut!”

Char just barely noticed that Magnus' eyes shifted slightly, looking at something behind...

All it had taken was a split second but Magnus' fist came crashing into the side of Char's head. Char was out of balance, falling. The next second he was already laying on the floor, having bounced off the nearby wall in the process.

As he lay stunned on the floor the only sound he heard was that of running feet. Char moved to stand, but the world seemed to spin.

“Are you alright?” a hand was held within easy sight. Casting a quick glance up at the giver Char took it and let himself be helped up.

“Thank you” he said, though standing actually felt worse than lying on the floor, though the dizziness was subsiding. It was however making way for the pain.

“Are you sure you are alright? I've never seen anyone behaving like that here! If I see him I'll be sure to let the crew know, they don't kid around when it comes to that kind of behavior!”

“I am fine... it is fine, don't worry yourself.” Char realized that the old man was still supporting him.

His face was wrinkled though it had a charm to it that few men are gifted with. It felt almost calming.

“I should head off to my cabin and rest, it is a long trip.” Char straitened a bit, letting the old man know that he needn't worry. He had shed a lot of habits during his first year from home, but the unfamiliarity of touch was not one of them. Even the steadying hand of an old man made him feel uncomfortable, not to mention the pain starting to spread like a wildfire in his head.

“Dancer,” it only took a moment for the ferret to slink back from safety and up on his usual place by Char's left shoulder. “thank you again”

“No problem kid, I'll mention the little rascal to the crew.” The old man did a shaky wave and headed into his own cabin. Part of Char had wanted to say “Don't bother” or something similar, to be the bigger part, but the words wouldn't come. Just now he would not mind if they put the boy off at the next town.

xXx

It was a dreamscape with no real features. There was snow on the even ground, snow falling from the gray though cloudless sky. Char looked down, his naked feet buried in a fist deep snow. It didn't feel cold.

“Hello?” the voice seemed small and alien, even to himself, and the snow drowned the sound. He took a deep breath, trying to steel himself. A searing pain shot through his head just as he was about to call out to the darkened sky, the world itself seemed to shatter as the pain grew ever more present. Almost like popping a balloon the pain seemed to subside, just as the strange vision began to change. An angle seemed to distort the view of falling snow, like a second picture was covering part of world. The pain fainted to a dull throb.

Curious, beyond the strange sight before him the snowing world was still unchanged. It was like a new layer had been added unto the reality. This new layer though. Char squinted his eyes removing a few stands of hair that ruined the sight. The second layer seemed to be a foggy landscape, strange illuminated clouds seemed to drift over the land.

Char shook his head. This isn't real, can't be real. As he did the layer seemed to threaten to overwhelm him. He forced himself to look strait and the motion stopped. Slowly he turned his vision another direction. The new layer seemed to jump and dance as he did.

Nothing in his studies at the Academagia even hinted at several layers of reality.

Reality. It was like a stand of silver thread in the landscape, which was just now being revealed.

Reality.

Char blinked a few times, the somewhat familiar features of the cabin started to reveal itself. The thoughts of the snow did not quite leave though, even as the warmth and light of the cabin returned.
Sitting opposite was a brown haired boy not much older than himself.

“Selo?” he asked.

“Surprised?” the youth grinned. “We saw your name on the list when we went to buy tickets and figured we might as well join you!”

“We?” Char cast a dumb look at the rabbit sitting next to Selo.

“No, I ment Aria, she is just getting some food.”

Char got out of the hammock, clutching his head. The dream in addition to the knock from the day before had conjured up a bit of a headache.

“Had a run-in with the door?”

“Had a run-in with Magnus yesterday, though he is about as bright as a door.”

“If you keep that behavior op” Selo said with an air of know-it-all “you will just be alienating all your future connections.” Char had heard the exact line from one of the teachers in school though he couldn't place it.

“I wish I could return the favor and connect my fist to his face...” Char grumbled, taking a seat opposite Selo by the window. “Where are we anyway?” he asked, casting a look outside. They must have landed and taken off again while he had slept.

“Between Fals Hoard and Mineta, we only just left.”

Fals Hoard... Char remembered that place, it was where he was left stranded a year ago. But that meant that he had slept most of the trip!

“Didn't they want to see a ticket from me at Dalesville? Or the Fals for that matter” Char asked, not really sure how so much time could have past, he was usually a very light sleeper, a habit from spending time at the Academagia.

“They did,” Selo smiled “Dancer searched your pockets while Aria and I showed ours.”

Char rolled his eyes. His familiar had a fondness for going into people's pockets. “I am not sure I should applaud it or not...”

“Oh come on, it is a neat trick! Besides this way it finally did some good yeah?”

Aria entered with a tray full of hot buns and tea. “Ah Char, you are up, good. Did you sleep alright? ... what happened to your face?!”

“Magnus happened, I wasn't the only one feeling nostalgic it would seem.”

Aria looked a bit puzzled, Selo was just curious, he had heard a bit of an incident between the two but no details.

“What happened?”

“We met in Mezzins Port a year ago. My parrents hadn't thought to give me any money so I was a bit short. I tried borrowing a bit off Magnus but... well he didn't lend me any.”

Char took the warm tea, clutching between his hands for the warmth.

“That was it?” Aria asked skeptical handing a small piece of her bun to her Familiar, a white mouse.

Char shook his head. “Far from it, I snuck on board, hiding with the cargo – Magnus must have seen because he started to tell about 'the kid in the cargo who had a rare disease' and gods know what. Apparently he managed to offend someone high-class, which meant he was getting dropped off. To save himself he told them about me, the result was that both of us got stranded in Fals Hoard, having to trek the rest of the trip.

“A bit cold” offered Selo, happily taking his share of buns.

“It only went downhill from there.” Char took a generous sip of the tea and snatched a bun before they were all gone. “we just started off on a very wrong foot really”

xXx

“Kill me now, please” Char let his head hit the desk with a dump. Yet another test had been announced, this time in Zoology. “I never thought that Zoology would be such a theoretical subject!” He slowly picked himself together and drew Nutrients and Diets for the Common Familiars, by Dr. Theraji III closer after having shoved it away in a fit of self pity.

“Oh stop complaining,” Selo sighed, turning a page back and forth a few times in an astronomical book Char recognized. “I don't understand this at all! What does the Helios Minor have to do with fortune?”

“Depends on the moon” commented Aria strained, staring at her own book so hard that she might have been trying to force the book to provide her with answers. Char smiled weakly and returned to Theraji with a sigh. The test was tomorrow and beside from a few grumpy notes Char had very little to show for it. Theraji might have been exceedingly brilliant but he couldn't write a single entertaining line even if it was to save his life.

Char had not even reached the bottom of the second page before Selo announced his triumph. “I got it! Alright, either of you want their fortune told?”

“It isn't fortune!” Corrected Aria not moving her eyes from her book, it seemed that it still hadn't provided her with the wisdom she sought.

“Right right, fate then, what does the gods themselves decree?! - Right Char, when were you born?”

It took only a second to realize that this was more interesting than the test. “Early Cheimare in 42”

“You are from Mezzins yeah? Hmm...” Selo consulted the charts and tables. “What time of day? You don't know? Hmm...” Selo started to write some stuff down on paper, though his note taking continued and after after a long minute Char shrugged and returned to the book.

When Selo finally got done Char jumped, he must have fallen asleep. Giving a yawn he slapped the book shut and focused on Selo. “So, you will experience a great trial, the result is unclear... at best. Also you will find your nights restless – due to Silaum's Comet's prominent spot in... the...” Selo checked his notes. “no wait, Invidius? Can that be right?” Selo checked his map again.

“Don't worry about it. I'll head to bed I think, I can't stand this book.” Char started to tug the book into his bag.

Selo snicked. “Not like you did a lot of reading anyway. Before you go could you sign here?”

Char blinked. Sign? “What am I signing?”

“part of my homework, I have to tell the fates for someone, could you try to keep a diary? My teacher wants to see how your week goes...”

“Right” Char yawned, making a quick signature.

“You should really try to get some sleep, you've been down the whole week.”

“Between these tests and Dinnum's snoring that is hardly a surprise” Char replied in a tired voice.


Char was happy to finally collapse on his bed, slightly less happy as he heard the sound of parchment crumble under his weight. Grudgingly he shifted his weight, picking up the note that had been hidden under his blanket. Can we meet tomorrow? Got some questions.

Char gave the paper a tired glance and placed it on the nightstand. Quaan, the student that he was assigned to mentor, must have sent it. He had wondered when she would write.

He frowned for a moment. Was that perfume? He sniffed his hands, a sickly rosary scent. Wonderful, just what he needed.

Early the next morning, after a night of nightmarish snowfall, he sealed a note, handed it to Dancer who would sneak into Quaan's dorm and present it to her. They would meet in the Great Hall, by the main staircase in the afternoon after classes.

The day passed, albeit slowly. Even the test in Zoology had been easier and thus not as nerve wrecking as he had feared. The whole day seemed to have passed in somewhat a daze, even the notes he had taken had been written down in mechanical-like fashion, never really paying attention to the subject but writing down sentences, words, stay information...

“You look a bit off”

Startled Char looked to the speaker, his mind racing to place the face. “Sorry Quaan, I haven't been sleeping much” It was the Great hall, he vaguely recalled that he had gone here and had dozed off on the steps. A sort of middle place between sleep and waking, it had only seemed to make him even more tired.

“If it is a bad time...”

Char held her off with a raised hand. “It is fine.” there was an awkward silence. “You had questions?”

“Right, well, some of the others had visited Mineta proper with their tutors...”

“You do realize that you are not technically allowed to leave the school premises in the first year, save for certain days or with a teacher's approval?”

She did not meet his eyes. “I know what the teachers said.” she admitted solemnly.

“I should also mention that at least sixteen students were caught the first week and was given detention the very first week.” he stressed the number, his tone scolding.

“Yes” she lowered her head further, the cheeks burning. Like so many she had heard rumors of Char stealing the Star off the Durand statue. From there she had supposed that he would be the first to show off such locations.

“Good then!” He finished in a hard tone. She sat unmoving for a long moment. Something inside gave way, and his heart softened. “Do you have proper shoes? I mean shoes for climbing and running?”

She looked puzzled at first, but something in his tone must have given him away. “I believe so” She was looking up, quite expectant.

“Get into your gym clothes and meet me at the groundskeeper's office. We won't leave today – tomorrow after classes, but I want to show you a few things.

They split up, Char heading to his own room and changed quickly to his gym clothes. Taking a look at his journal he let out a sigh. He'd have to get a helping hand from Aria for the current theme in Calligraphy. He understood the value of ink mixtures, their various effects, properties, longevity and other things, but failed to find it interesting. Even in the slightest.

He hid the journal under the mattress, he shrugged mentally. If someone really wanted to look for it while he was out it would likely be the first place. He valued a few other hiding places, like atop the shelves behind a few of the other books but it simply took forever to get out again.

He absently thought about making a secret room in the floor but grabbed himself in the thought. He was being paranoid again. Quickly tossing a treat to Dancer he left the room and hurried down to the groundskeeper. The groundskeeper was a quite amazing elderly gentleman who seemed to know everything there was worth knowing about the school and indeed parts of Mineta – if you could catch him when he had time to talk. There were several helpers of cause, but there was always work to do for the man, even though he looked so old!
Aside from the few usual runners the place was deserted, which was a shame, as he had hoped to introduce Quaan to the old man. Another time, he agreed with himself.

When Quaan finally showed she looked quite uncomfortable in her clothing, like wearing someone else's underwear. “First time in gym clothes?” Char greeted merrily. His spirits had picked up some from being outside. The sky was clear and the sun was still high in the sky. Warm but with a kind breeze, almost perfect weather for a run.

Quaan blushed a bit, feeling very self conscious. “Yeah, I wouldn't have gotten them at all if not the letter had insistent of a full wardrobe.”

Char remembered back, he practically had to buy them all on his own. His parents were rich, but didn't seem to care particularly about him – or anything save for each other for that matter.

“Now is a good time then. The weather is mild so I was thinking that we could take a run around the Academagia, I'll point out the important places – along with a few places that are worth knowing. Like second entrances.”

She had agreed, although a bit hesitantly. He should of cause have realized that she was not as used to run as he and the whole trip took much longer than first expected. It was a good time though. Quaan, although constantly tired, didn't complain (much) and often asked further questions as Char spoke about some building or another. Char had a nagging feeling that it was simply to keep him talking longer so she could rest, but he was glad to show off in this instance.

Somehow the tutee had gone from being just another in a long line of random people to being someone who had a bit of a say in his world. Which was a surprise to himself as he went over the day later for his journal. Slightly annoying too, as he caught sight of the rose-scented note that still lay on the nightstand. Without a second hesitation he took the note crumbled it into a ball and threw it at the fireplace. There was no fire yet but at least the smell would vanish with the flames.

He made a few more notes in the journal, including which entrances he had mentioned. He had only mentioned two so he hadn't compromised all the ways in and out of the grounds that he knew of, which was satisfactory. Of cause none of them was what you could call 'safe' just more so than the main entrance where the guard would simply stop you and point you back to the dorms unless you were allowed to be out.

Other than that it had been a pleasant diversion from the usual toil of homework and stain. But if a boy like Magnus could pass the exams then surely there was nothing to be worried about.

He was not convinced, even in the slightest. Magnus might live with poor grades – if he did indeed – but Char, grudgingly admitted to himself that he liked being someone who knew-it-all. Which sadly meant that he had to carry a larger workload than some others. Aranaz students usually took their homework very seriously, so he would likely not even be noticed when he refrained from raising his hand in class the next day or two. At least he could hope!

xXx

Char was still trapped in the snowy landscape, no matter which direction he moved there was no change to the scenery. There was no change, at least in the snowy landscape. Char had noticed, just at the edge of sight something different, like impossible shapes, and a 'layer' after that held... something like a normal breathing world. When he moved in the snow these other layers certainly moved. He had explored parts of this third layer, it was hardly there but the snow remained the same and the second layer would drive him mad if he kept looking at it. He had found something like a playground, where he watched shadows of people running about, playing, enjoying themselves. He had once or twice tried to interact with them but no one saw him, and he went through walls, people...

Usually there was nothing to hear, but this time he could faintly hear a noise not unlike metal scarping glass. The noise had made the small hairs stand on end. It was just at the edge of hearing though, sometimes vanishing only to return later, seemingly without a pattern.

Char opened his eyes, blinking a few times. The dream already seeming more distant. He turned, shifting his weight and closed his eyes.

In his minds eye he could still see some clouds floating through the world, they seemed to brighten and fade in various places as they passed. Contract, expand, the clouds seemed everywhere. Something about them reminded him of the strange effect Char encountered in the first year when he had mixed several enchantments the day he stole the Star from the Durand collage. During that day, and part of the next he had been able to see whenever magic was in use, as small lights, they shone through everything: walls, earth, everything.

Char opened his eyes. The lights were there, bathed in the clouds. He wasn't asleep. He closed his eyes again, feeling exhausted but not really tired as such.

There was a slight movement at the bottom of the bed, a quiet squeek was enough to identify the reason. It was Dancer.

“Dancer?”

The familiar moved closer, seeming unusually reluctant.

Char opened his eyes, seeing the silhouette of the ferret. “What is the matter?” he continued, just as softly as not to wake the others.

Dancer placed an something next to the pillow, the little creature feeling particularly guilty it would seem, needing help.

With a vague feeling of dread Char reached out to it, in his mind he could see it as a light beaming brightly. It was heavily enchanted, and it hurt to look directly at it.

“oh...” Char exclaimed, slightly surprised as he recognized the item by his pillow. “Dancer...” he was not as much angry as disappointed. Slightly resigned to the mischievous nature of his familiar. With a sigh he closed his eyes. He in his mind he could see Dancer move out of the room. The little thing seemed so sad.
There was no helping it. They had to leave, and soon.

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Apologies for spelling mistakes, wrong grammar and poor calligraphic skills :)

(If you feel a bit of the story is missing then consider it intentional - to keep the readers on their toes and to give me additional places to mess up)

Enjoy

 

Chapter 2: The Hunt and the Hunted

 

Adrian was, as he usually was, up early for his morning run. The sun was just rising out in the distance, overhead a few of the stars still remained visible though they too would fade. Small patches of white clouds hung lazily, waiting for the adventures of day.

 

His familiar, Dot, was circling high in the air. Not for the first time Adrian envied the creature's wondrous ability to fly.

 

“Ho there!” someone called by the nearby flowerbed. Wasn't that old Sass, the groundskeeper? Adrian quickly moved towards him, even Dot descended to show his respect towards the old man.

 

“Good morning Sass, what brings you out here so early?” Adrian greeted.

 

“Morning stroll” Sass smiled, with something between a chuckle and a cough. “Also looking for a student, he was missing this morning from his dorm.”

 

“oh?” Several students vanished from time to time. Often they had found a special friend to stay with or gone into town for some sort of trouble or another. It was rare that anyone was actively searched for.

 

“Seen anyone out here?” Sass asked, tugging his hands into his pockets.

 

“I saw one a few minutes back, she was headed towards the main hall though, a Hedi”

 

“That would be miss Tyra Odel, she usually runs this early. She is not the one who had gone missing. It was a boy from Aranaz, second year”

 

“Really?” Adrian was second year as well and had a few classes with some of them. They usually kept to themselves though. “Who is it?”

 

“Charseth Sinn'th” Sass replied after a small thinking break. Something clicked at that.

 

“Dark haired kid? A bit on the short side?”

 

Sass shrugged “I am not sure, he may be. All I was given was a name, they didn't even ask me to look for him.” Sass gave a smile at that, like he was enjoying the memory of the conversation.

 

“Well, I haven't seen anyone else”

 

Sass nodded a few times, almost like it was difficult for him to stop again. He was about to leave when he suddenly turned back to Adrian. “By the way, what is your name lad? I have seen you out here from time to time”

 

“Oh, Adrian Daycross, second year, Durand.” Sass nodded a few times again.

 

“and Adrian, who is your little friend?” Sass was eying the blue silverbreast sitting on Adrian's shoulder.

 

“That is Dot, for the small spot of silver he has above the beak.”

 

Sass gave a fond smile and poured a small handful of birdseeds into his hand offering it to Dot.

 

“It is an example of why you shouldn't let children name their pets”

 

Sass chuckled at that, lightly patting Dot who had moved into his palm to get at the seeds.

 

“Perhaps so, but this little fellow doesn't seem to mind”

 

 

It was later in the day, just past the last class and most of the day had been abuzz with rumors of Char and Adrian had his suspicions confirmed. It was the kid that most of the upperclassmen claimed had stolen the Star off the Durand statue. As a result most of that year had kept an eye out for him, just to be sure who they were up against. Adrian was no exception though he blamed the guys on patrol duty as much as he did Char.

 

The rumors he had heard through the day seemed, in large, to be mostly baseless. The teachers had in all classes asked if anyone had seen him but otherwise didn't seem to care much. The rumors cast him as everything from freedom fighter to insane maniac. Adrian particularly liked the idea that he was secretly working to take the headmasters place as legate of the Academagia. It was all rubbish.

 

One piece of information did strike him as true though, that there had been a few break-ins across the school. However if, and how, it was tied up with Char's disappearance was anyones guess.

 

“Adrian!” a yell cried, somewhere behind him. He knew that voice. Resigning to the fact that the first hour of his freedom would be lost he finally turned to the voice.

 

In the distance a girl was running towards him. His sister.

 

“Heading to town?” she gasped as she finally arrived.

 

He eyed her for a moment. “No. I was going to the library, a few of my friends are holding a study session.” It wasn't quite true, though a few of his fellow classmates were bound to be at the library.

 

“Oh” she muttered, sounding slightly disappointed. Adrian didn't bother to hide is irritation.

 

“What are you after?”

 

At first she looked shocked, but it quickly passed, she seemed to resign herself to fate. “I was hoping that you might show me around in Mineta”

 

“I am not your tutor.” he stated flatly.

 

“I know, but my tutor just up and vanished from one day to the next.” she was sulking. Just wonderful.

 

“Wait. Your tutor was Char?”

 

“I told you that, several times in fact!” Adrian frowned, trying to remember if she might have spoken of such but nothing came up.

 

“Really?”

 

Even before she replied he had gotten his answer. “Yes! Now why not show your sister around a little?” She was lying – again.

 

“Sorry sis, you'll just have to wait till they let you kids go to town” he gave her a smug little smile and moved towards the main building, intending to lose her by going to the library. Those 'silent zones' were made for situations such as this.

 

“But everyone else has been into Mineta by now!” she complained.

 

“And if you went then the rest of them wouldn't think themselves as privileged, so live with it.” He picked up the pace a little, taking a small pleasure that she had to make an effort to keep up.

 

“How soon did you get to go to Mineta?!”

 

“Second day” he said with some difficulty for the wide grin on his face. “You wouldn't happen to know anything about his disappearance would you?”

 

“No!” It would seem she had been asked that before. She had continued bickering until he had entered the library she did not enter though, something he could appreciate, at least.

 

Adrian was happy to see that none had taken his favorite spot near the central fireplace and quickly took the comfy chair. Ahh, just what was needed after a long day!

 

He blindly let his finger travel the spines of the books in his bag until he found the one he was looking for. The worn book of revision he had used in the first year. While it was no longer the book by which the teacher taught it was still a very well-written book, also he had only read near half of it in the first year. He had managed to get by quite well though, but now he found that some of the theory was missing, so he had decided to go through a chapter or two. He looked absently at the index, judging how many chapters were left. It was a depressingly large number.

 

It an hour of what should have been light reading before Adrian finally gave way for the growling of his stomach. The dinning hall was thankfully still in full motion which not only meant warm food but also that he might hear some real news. A few of his friends had picked up the healthy habit of reading the local paper printed in Mineta.

 

“Any news?” Adrian asked as he sat down besides a group of fellow Durand students. They weren't exactly friends, but generally all of the collage got along well together – which was something of a relief.

 

“Lots” grinned a big merry fellow that Adrian only knew by sirname, Chel' d' leal. “A few small raids by pirates but that is far away. The mayor's wife is hosting some charity...” Chel's smile grew a bit wider. “and there are a few of us who are planning to earn a hundred pim tonight!”

 

That caught his attention. Adrian's parents were kind with their allowance, but they simply didn't have much money to spare these years, which left Adrian a bit dry at times. “Oh, how so?”

 

“The legate has promised some money to the ones who can bring this Sinn'th guy in, along with an artifact.”

 

“He is in your year ain't he?” someone in the group asked.

 

Adrian just swallowed another spoonful of soup, feeling the heat all the way down as he didn't wait for it to cool to answer. “Yeah, I've seen him around.”

 

“Wanna join the hunt? We split equally.”

 

Adrian felt himself nodding. Even if it was 'just' around a small share of 100 pims he would still get some pocket money – and the local theater was still playing “My fair Sparrow”. Char would get home too, which could only be an improvement of his conditions. Right? All in all it was the noblest thing to do.

 

“We meet at eight in the common room” a guy from fourth-year said. “I'll ask Briardi for permission”

 

“You just want to make a good impression” joked a fifth-year who passed by the table, lightly slapping the fourth-year's shoulder.

 

“You are just jealous we didn't ask you along Winter!”

 

The fifth-year waved a hand as he went out of sight as he went through a door.

 

“...anyway. I'll get the permission. Can you give a description of the kid... errgh” the fourth-year was looking expectant at Adrian.

 

“Adrian Daycross” he supplied with a half smile. “but sure. He is a bit short about 4'6, half-long dark hair” Adrian motioned just below the tip of his ears. Admittedly he didn't pay the kid much attention but it was about right. “Also, I've seen him a few times in the morning so he runs from time to time. His familiar is a ferret I think though...” he shrugged. “According to rumor he is the one who stole the Star from us last year.”

 

“aah” a few echoed. A wicked smile crept over a few of the assembled kids.

 

“Right, we meet at eight. Be sure to be dressed properly, it is a dark night and will likely be a bit on the cold side.” the fourth-year concluded, ending any unnecessary planning in a quick turn.

 

Dinner was a quiet affair, in most part. The older students had already finished and spend most of their time bend over a crude map of the Academagia, arguing among themselves which places were most likely to act as the hiding place.

 

What really worried Adrian was the sheer number of good hiding places that the group could think of. Not just the usual good trees or warm attics, but also secret passages, mazes, desolated cabins... the list went on.

 

“Let us discuss this some other place...” one of the boys said, as a group of older Aranaz students passed the table, some among them taking an interest in the map.

 

“Will they try to aid him?” Adrian asked as their made way to the common room of Durand.

 

“I doubt it.” Saia mutter, she seemed younger than the remainder of the group but had to be a fifth-year now. He had not realized she was Durand before this evening though. “More likely they just want to keep their little disgrace in-house.”

 

“Disgrace?”

 

Saia sent him a look, like she could not believe he had just asked that. Adrian felt his face flush. “Sinn'th is Aranaz, they take a great pride in not letting it be known that they break the rules. The kid broke their code, worse yet he continues to do so.”

 

xXx

 

Char tried to put the thoughts of food away, once again focusing intently on the little mirror in his hands. The mirror was far more than that, it appeared as a simple thing though. A symetrical dodecagon, a 12 sided sheet of polished metal with strange carvings marking the rim.

 

Why did it not show the vision again? He felt like throwing it with all his might, as far into the night as he possibly could, though could not bring himself to it.

 

The talent that had made his escape easy had faded as he saw the first visions of his mother and the curse that was placed upon her. Now the same talent seemed to have returned and he desperately clutched the mirror between his hands, staring intently to see what the mirror had barred the day before.

 

“Show me!” he whispered, at his wit's end. He had attempted several spells, but his knowledge of divination was far too limited. He had mused about sneaking into the library, even into the Venalicium, but during day it would be near impossible to get anywhere without someone noticing. The thoughts had returned as the shadows grew longer but while he had followed the call of nature he had also noticed that there were now a increased number of patrols out. Simply knowing where the sentinels were could no longer get him through the main gate, hardly even from one end of the Academagia to the next.

 

He sighed again as he once again gave up on the mirror. The dumb thing! He gave Dancer a little scratch behind the ear trying to think of a way out of this mess.

 

At least now he knew that the mirror had been the property of the legate, but he would still be expelled for stealing should he choose to hand it back,... and then there were the question of what had happened to his mother...

 

He shot the mirror another venomous look. “We cannot simply go to the legate, not now.”

He needed to know more of the curiosity though. Like how to make it work!

 

The sound of stone giving way was enough warning Char needed. Someone had found the tunnel. Quickly killed the energies keeping the glow-rock lit and in the dark he gently wrapped the mirror in the enchanted cloth. The small gleam in his minds eye was enough to know that it was still working.

 

That was another curious thing, why was he seeing these things? There was an echo of someone crawling through the tunnel, perhaps whoever it was, had also heard that he was not alone. Quickly!

 

Char opened the small exit he had been waiting by, one exiting out into one of the smaller storerooms of the bestiary. Looking back he should likely have moved. During day it was a good place to hide, but if the animals awoke now he would only draw attention to himself. Too late! Flee!

 

Throwing out his bag and then himself (with Dancer following close behind) Char began closing the exit. With a loud shriek the secret passage was finally closed and hopefully the pursuer would not figure out how to open the door any time soon. Char picked up the bag and moved to the door, ear pressed to the wood. Waiting. After what seemed a long time he had heard nothing. No one must have heard the exit close. Even the animals seemed to be resting.

 

He opened the door, first popping out a head and then sneaking out.

 

“Go scout ahead” he whispered to Dancer, the little thing sneaking off through the bushes. Once again he was a bit surprised that Danced seemed to understand him, but perhaps, given the situation the little fellow could guess what was asked of it. Or maybe he just ran off.

 

Char shook his head. It didn't help to think like that. He rounded a corner, and then another. Just ahead sat one of the bigger worries, lightly peached on a branch. The lunulus-somethingmus or whatever it was called was a bird who preferred to hunt at night, though by it's calm it had more than likely been fed already. They could make a huge commotion though. Not so much directly, as their screech was mostly beyond that of humans, but there would likely be a lot of familiars out tonight too.

 

Bracing for the worst he snuck a bit further, paying close attention to his footfall. No snapping branches would go a long way to not making a ruckus. In the distance, just by one of the side entrances to the bestiary was Dancer, quickly moving back and forth. It was something Char had learned (finally) was the little fellows sign for danger when he was together with large clumsy humans that couldn't read intentions from the twitching of whiskers.

 

Char quietly moved forward. The birds sitting quietly on their branches, likely observing the coming disaster with mild interest. As he reached Dancer Char could see what the matter was, several groups were still wandering around, a few with lanterns a few had conjured up some form of illumination. The clouds still hung like a giant curtain in the sky, granting a small aid to those who were sneaking in the night. Letting his eyes relax Char could also, with his minds eye, see several magic uses nearby. Most were the ones who had cast the illumination charm, but there were a few stationary too, some of which likely acted as a form of alarm.

 

The only way to avoid them all would be to sneak across the road, and continue into the open lawn from there. In this dark it would be difficult to see anyone sneaking across there, though it would also be near impossible to do so without tripping every three steps.

 

Char had a feeling that he was being watched, and turned. Nothing. Nothing save the birds, who seemed to stare intently at him. He turned back to the road. Soon the patrols would be far enough to cross without any danger. Soon.

 

He looked back, the birds still seemed to stare at him, daring him to move. Blasted birds! Somewhere in the bestiary a door opened. It might be his pursuers!

 

Not bothering looking what it might be Char raced over the road, almost slipping as he first made contact with the wet grass. The birds seemed to start screeching, though only after he had arrived at the other side. Soon half of the bestiary was awake, and their sound would draw more people towards them. He – had – to get a move on.

 

“Dancer?!” he whispered, unsure if the ferret had crossed the road. “Dancer!” he called, a bit higher. Still nothing. The ferret must have made it. In a low crouch Char made his way over the lawn, keeping as low as possible. A few time pressing down to the ground as someone walked too close to comfort. Char could soon see the lights from within the Academagia, the windows providing a danger in themselves.

 

Think! What to do. He had left a place of safety, should he try and find a new, or would it be better to try and find a book that could help him. Perhaps someone, rather than a book...

 

He shook his head. He hadn't a clue of who to asked, and while he was on the run who within the Academagia would even if they knew?

 

A something moved against his leg and Char almost gave a jump in fright. “Dancer?” he whsipered, as he settled down a bit. He could hardly see the little creature but the light tap of it's paws were enough. “I'm glad you are here! Where do we go?”

 

Char looked up on the windows, they looked ominous at a distance, but also held more knowledge than anywhere. And food. He stomach gave a low growl and he felt a tug forceful enough to stop any thoughts of books and great lore. He needed food. Badly. He had lost most of what he had stolen from the kitchen the day before and he had not had anything since breakfast.

 

New plan, we sneak in, find a safe spot. Get some food and then we start searching the library.

“Right...” Char took a deep breath, trying to see if his little gift of seeing magic could see as far as inside the windows. At that distance everything was a blur, though something vaguely magical was approaching from behind. Feeling like he had back in the bestiary Char began moving again. Still crouched as much as he could while keeping a pace.

 

Where to get in though? He followed the building of the main building of the Academagia though still keeping a distance. Looking for anything that might work as a point of entry. Everything seemed to be enchanted, in some way or another. With his talent he could only see that there were something there, not what it was exactly, which now served to stop any and all progress.

 

It had not been nearly as difficult to get out! Char heaved a sigh, stopping in the shadows of some low shrubs. The only light nearby seemed to come from inside. Maybe a diversion?

 

He looked down at Dancer who stood on his hid legs, keeping his balance by having a paw against Char's thigh. “Can we make a diversion, do you think?”

 

Dancer looked up at him, eyes reflecting some light from the nearby window. “... maybe not then”

 

They looked over to the building again. “How can such a large building be so difficult to enter?”

 

Again he felt like something was looking at him. He looked around wildly. Nothing. He could feel his hairs stand on end. “They are searching for me, some way...”

 

His eyes caught something different though. At the second floor of the nearby tower was an open window, almost invisible as the room behind was dark.

 

Sadly there were no trees or anything to climb on. Feeling the need to move Char moved closer, taking a good look at the wall, to see if he would have a chance to scale it.

 

The stones were largely evenly placed though, very few would provide any support. Char barely suppressed yelling. “Do you think you can get up?”

 

Dancer just looked at him. “Climb?”. Lastly trying a bit of mimicry, which finally worked. The little thing nimbly making it's way to the first floor with a speed that was surprising. “Find me on the inside.” The ferret looked down on him. “We meet on the inside.” Dancer looked from the boy to the window and back. Perhaps guessing what he wanted. Moving quickly the little creature made it's way in.

 

There was still a huge problem. Dancer might be a help on the inside but there was still a matter of getting in himself. He gave climbing a halfhearted attempt but after falling down backwards after getting less than three feet in the air he let it go.

 

Char felt the need to move urgently and kept to the wall, making sure to bow low whenever he passed a window. Just up ahead was one of the smaller entrances, this one with a human guard.

 

Maybe if he could distract the guard he could slip inside without anyone taking note.

 

Char looked around on the ground trying to find a stone or something similar. Nothing. Had they really taken the time to remove stones from the lawn?!

 

New plan, magic could do it, surely. The favorite prank spell of the first year came to mind. However the guard was standing on paved road, something that was unaffected by a mud-spell. Wind perhaps, but it was not subtle at all. When the guard got up he must surely start the alarm.

 

Char was quickly starting to regret that he had let Dancer sneak in. Cursing inwardly Char opened his bag as quietly as he could muster. He had forgotten half of everything, but he still had some a pen, ink, and various other writing tools meant for the fine art of calligraphy. Taking out one of the more sturdy pens (a mechanized one, that can sometimes be found on sale down in Mineta) with a good weight Char quickly closed the bag and put it on his back.

 

Weighting the pen in hand Char put as much effort into the toss as he could, aiming for some bushes far away from the guard. The throw fell short though, the pen itself shattering upon impact with the paved path. The guard didn't see the throw but he did hear the pen crashing, and moved to look. The window of opportunity would not be open for long. Trying to keep as silently as possible Char ran to the door.

 

“Hey! You!” someone called from behind, it must be the guard!

 

Blinded with panic Char tore up the door and almost fell through the doorway in his hurry. After regaining balance he took the first the best hallway, thankful that most of the school was only partially illuminated.

 

“Stop!” the guard called from the door. Char took a moment, looking back towards the door from the shadows. The guard didn't run after but seemed instead to fiddle with some device. It must be an alarm. They would know he was inside the school after all.

 

He gave a quick thought as to maybe knocking the guard down, but he was a grown man, likely trained in physical as well as magical combat. There was no choice. He had to hide, perhaps make it seem like he left.

 

 

Char had been running through dark corridors, largely avoiding areas that were guarded by sentinels, magical or otherwise. He was starting to feel tired, and hungry too. Only acid seemed to be left in his stomach.

 

He took a deep breath, trying to work out where he was while catching his breath. This looked more finely decorated than the usual part of school which contained classrooms, spooks and not much else. Here were flowers, small tables, even the occasional rug. He tried a door. Locked. So were the others in the near vicinity.

 

Maybe all the doors were locked after school. In some distance the sound of feet hitting the floor could be heard. They were running. Closing in. He tried to calm himself, surely he knew something that could work in his advantage!

 

He looked at the area, finding little to be of use. He might knock in a door with one of the flowerpots but it would easily be seen and they would hear were he was. No, it wouldn't work.

 

In stead he started to run again, away from the noise of running feet, even if it meant heading back.

 

“I can hear someone running!”

 

the voice was faint, much like the foot falls, but it was there never the less. They would capture him soon. Char bit down hard, his teeth grinding.

 

“Is that you Saia?” the voice called, the pace not slowing though.

 

Char kept running. What if he could convince him that he was Saia? It seemed like a long shot. Saia was, to his knowledge, a girl's name.

 

Char passed a staircase, stopping briefly before moving up, his legs shaking uncomfortably.

 

“Found him!” A girl yelled, strait ahead.

 

He was cornered!

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A bit short, but exams have a nasty tendency to take up spare time. Hope you enjoy.

 

 

Char sensed the spell before he noticed that the girl in front of him had summoned a palette and begun etching phemes. He tried to get a counter up quickly, but even before his own palette had materialized he felt like he was falling too far behind.

 

Abandoning his spell he tried to stop the spell by punching her, or something, he hated violence but there were little choice in the matter. He took a single step. The world felt like it was tipping, first one way and then another. There was a pull from behind, almost like someone had taken a hold of his robe. He looked back. There was nothing save for the floor rising to meet him.

 

The vague feeling of detachment came just as he floor struck him. The world still seemed to rock violently, though he no longer felt the need to move around. He couldn't recall why he had ever wanted to.

 

xXx

 

Adrian ran up the stairs, finding Char lying motionless on the floor. “Is he alright?” he asked, looking to Saia.

 

“He is fine” she reassured him. “It is a glamour, he should be as active as ever in a ten minutes time. Did you send word?”

 

Adrian nodded, still looking intently at the boy on the floor. He looked quite rough. Even his school uniform had been torn several places. “Shouldn't we tie him up or something?”

 

Saia shrugged. “I haven't got anything to tie him with, do you?”

 

“What about my school cape?”

 

She shrugged again, turning to admire a nearby plant. “Do as you wish, I never considered that we might actually get find him. Listening in for the guards' alarm system was a good idea. You are a bright kid.”

 

Adrian felt his cheeks heat. “Thanks." Adrian noticed that Char seemed to move, though it was perhaps more spasms than coordinated movement. "Is he still...” Unconscious? Dreaming? “down?”

 

Saia looked over her shoulder, he fingers still playing with the petals of a decorative plant. “Yes, though...” he eyes narrowed, and she moved away from the plant. “My spell holds, but it has changed”

 

“Changed?”

 

“Yes. A bit like an outside pheme was working together with my spell.”

 

She summoned a new palette, and with neat strokes formulated another spell. Adrian had a hard time keeping up with her strokes, much less understand the complexity. In a few moments she had finished her work it would seem as she lowered her wand.

 

“Anything wrong?” Adrian asked, as she had not released the spell.

 

“It just struck me that I may be making a mistake, I am using a counter-pheme, divination won't work with the illusion.”

 

The palette hung suspended in the air, not far from Char, a slight blue hue pulsing somewhere within which gave a dramatic effect in the poorly lit corridor.

 

“Tie him up, then I can try my spell.”

 

Adrian looked around for something to use as rope. Save for the clothing they wore and the elegant curtains there were nothing to work with.

 

“Tie him with what?”

 

Saia let her eyes run up and down the curtains for a bit, finally tearing her eyes from them she met Adrian's. “You won't mind donating your cape for the greater good?”

 

Adrian loosened his cape, cautiously handing it towards Saia without a word. She shook her head. “I need you to hold it, don't let go now.”

 

She summoned yet another palette while keeping her divination spell from fizzling. With one hand she carefully inscribed a new spell, it was somewhat easier for Adrian to follow this one. There were some phemes he knew from a mending spell for clothes, still a fair few he didn't know but he did get a good look at a few of them, just in case he ever needed such a spell.

 

She cast the spell, and the cape in his hands started to wiggle, slowly at first but quickly became something of a violent thrashing. Like a snake with a stomachache, Adrian imagined, keeping a firm grip at the end, which became increasingly difficult as it – really – wanted to wiggle out of his grip.

 

Soon though, Adrian still stood holding part of a cape hood while everything after that had folded upon itself until it had created a somewhat thin rope.

 

“That is pretty amazing” Adrian said, unable and not caring to keep the awe from his voice.

 

Saia gave a pleasant smile though it seemed detached from the rest of her, like a natural reaction to a compliment that didn't really mean anything. Adrian felt a little stab at that. Surely the difference between a second and a fifth year wasn't that great.

 

“Tie him up please.”

 

He looked down at the kid laying on the floor. The boy seemed almost sinister in the dim light, the dark hair and his usual golden skin now looked almost black. All the outlandish rumors he had heard throughout the first year suddenly seemed possible.

 

Pushing his worries aside Adrian knelt down and began tying the rope around Char, first his hands and then his arms. Not really experienced with knots he just tied the same one a few times, finally tugging the small piece of what was left of the hood into the mesh.

 

“Should be fine” Adrian pulled in one of the ends of rope as to underscore that point, though Saia didn't seem much worried either way.

 

“Stand back then” She didn't wait for Adrian to move back but let the spell go. The air around Char seemed to shimmer a light blue for a moment before fading into a myriad of colors all seeming to grow bright only to fade and die much like fireworks.

 

Slowly glowing phemes seemed to come to life, like they were drawn onto a giant palette floating a few feet above Char. None of them meant anything to Adrian but Saia certainly found them interesting. Char had begun coordinated movements again, something that had drawn Adrian's eye. He involentarily took a step backwards.

 

xXx

 

Char struggled for a bit as the senses returned to him. The rope that tied him gnawing at his wrists and something in his backpack was uncomfortably pressing into his back. The same back that had just recently taken the blunt of an uncomfortable fall.

 

In front of him he could see a line of glowing phemes dancing in the air, but more than that he could clearly see the forces preforming the dance. Like a glowing layer of smoke rising from his chest the basis for the phemes would start condensing, forming, shaping into real actual phemes at a certain hight, only to fade away and give way to other phemes. A young girl in green robes stood hovering close by, keenly observing the phemes.

 

There were a resemblance between the phemes and the girl, surely it was her spell.

 

Char gave a jerk, hoping that the rope would give way but had no such luck. Part of him had known that he would get caught, that part was almost happy. He might return to his studies knowing that he had at least tried to find out the truth of what had happened all those years ago. Another part wanted nothing more than to get free, preferably leaving a wake of destruction behind.

 

He forced himself to think more logically. All those emotions never solved anything.

 

What worked in his favor? The phemes didn't mean anything, but they seemed to keep the girl entertained for the time being. Why wasn't he dragged off to Orsi? He shook his head, clearing his mind. Focus.

 

The boy standing nearby seemed to keep an eye out for anything, which made it more difficult. Dancer was still on the loose though. They also had yet to hand him over to a teacher, which in itself might present some opportunities for escape.

 

When he finally escaped he had to get out of a direct line of sight, to avoid the various spells that the girl, what was her name, Saia, could likely cast.

 

“I hope they will get here soon” the boy commented. Char recognized the face but couldn't remember the name. The kid looked worried, which might help, but the comment was something to worry about. If there were others coming then it would be impossible to escape.

 

Just being tied up and having a backpack weighing you down was a trial in itself, having to incapacitate two opponents while rising from that was next to impossible.

 

There were some tools in the bag but they might as well be back in his room as he wouldn't be able to get to them either way.

 

He coerced his strange talent out. Whatever spell Saia was weaving radiated like the strongest were-light almost forcing his eyes shut. Trying to see past it he discovered a few light specs, a group of them, approaching quickly. They were likely more Durand, and if they arrived his escape would be impossible. As a rough estimate they would likely be less than a minute. If he wanted to escape then it was now.

 

Char had never been fond of violence, in any forms, which had made like in a school like the Academagia a hell at times, but now... There were precious little choice. The girl was still standing quite close, easily within kicking range. If she fell then maybe the boy would panic, with a bit of agility he might get up with enough time to find a place to hide and get the rope off.

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Picking up his courage Char coiled up and with a snap threw his weight into a kick that struck Saia squarely in the chest, the impact sending her into collision with the wall.

 

As quickly as he possibly could Char rolled onto his stomach and with a few quick moves managed to stand. The boy which had been keeping his distance had fortunately found problems of his own. Dancer, the little ferret had attacked from the shadows, scratching and clawing as much as it could on the kid's face. The only thing that kept Char from crying out in joy was the group of students that was fast approaching.

 

They had to leave, and quickly. “Dancer!” Not waiting to see if his little friend heard it Char ran in the opposite direction of the new group of students. They were very close now.

Char just turned the corner when he heard the sounds of the group of students, the sounds of running feet echoed all the way to Char. Tied as he was his best chance would be to hide, but where. In the dark it couldn't be too difficult, and he had run past several doors, though they were likely all locked.

 

His arms still bound he forced the handle down by leaning on it, the first door was locked. So was the second, and the sounds of the pursuers were getting ever closer. “Hide” Char said, as the third door didn't budge either, there were a light sound of Dancer moving off, perhaps he could squeeze under a door or something. Some feet ahead stood a table leaning against the wall. Hiding under a table was perhaps the oldest trick in the book, but if they thought he was far ahead, and didn't use any light spells then maybe the darkness would hide him. Maybe.

 

He tugged himself under the table, off near the corner he could see silhouettes coming into view. There were no lanterns or light spells. Char allowed himself to breathe a sigh of relief. It might still work. The shadows were still running. Char felt his heart pound in his chest, they would hear it. Or see him, or something, surely. His mouth was so dry that he wanted to swallow some spit but dared not. They would hear. One of the shadows stopped, about the same place that Char had attempted to enter one of the rooms to no luck, the other just continued to run. He even ran past, but not much before he too stopped.

 

Had they found him? Char hardly dared look for the fear that he might do something to notice him.

 

“Hey” a male voice called, almost greeting. Char sat still, hardly breathing. “We see you, you know”. It might be a trick.

 

“It was a merry chase, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out the small passageways by the bestiary.” The words seemed unnatural loud, a hollow echo, taunting.

 

The shadow in front took a few steps closer, passing a window Char noticed the blue-with-golden-strands uniform. There was no escape now. “You are from Aranaz?” Char asked, slowly rolling out from beneath the table.

 

“Indeed, don't you recognize me?” The young man in front took a step closer to the window, letting the cold light hit his face. There was something familiar, he had seen him a few times before though he couldn't place it. Without waiting he continued. “I was part of the group that tried to get the Star from Durand last year, the very same one that you took right in front of us. We cleared most of the wards and you just stepped in and took it only to go back into that hole you came from!”

 

A few things fell into place, why the older students hadn't been particularly thrilled when he had returned with the Star, why the party celebrating the victory had been so short. Why the older students never spoke to him when the Syndicate held meetings. The boy in front, he had seen him at the meetings. “Silas?” a nod was enough to confirm it.

 

How unfair it was, disliked for doing exactly what everyone had wanted you to do. Never had the urge to run seemed stronger, yet wholly without purpose. The Sphinx Syndicate would catch him if they really put their mind to it. “So, what now?” Char asked as he go up.

 

“Sixt von Rupprect would speak with you, likely going to the Legate's office afterwards and then off school. Was nice knowing you”

 

Silas cut the rope, so sure was he that Char could not escape, and indeed, what hope was there? “How did you find me then? If you followed me to the bestiary then you must have some scryingstone or... something.“

 

“Still thinking of escaping?” Silas gave a bark of a laugh. “I'll tell you when we reach von Rupprect's office, best not risk it with you.” With that they began navigating their way though the dark halls of the Academagia's main building.

 

If he was truly expelled, what then? There was little to do at home, that world was too small and isolated after knowing the wealth of knowledge that the Academagia stored. Perhaps he could find work in Mineta, a bookshop or something, or a library. Unless of cause such places were barred due to being expelled. The thoughts were a bit unsettling, but helped put things in perspective. But what would happen to the Mirror? Would Orsi be allowed to hide the truth? Maybe speaking to von Rupprect wasn't such a bad idea.

 

Silas stopped outside a door, as did Char and the silent escort that had followed close behind him.

“You asked how we found you? Nothing as difficult as scrying, that things takes ages and hardly ever works unless you do it just right. You should know that the pins we hand out to full members of the Syndicate can be tracked by us, if we will it. We simply tracked you down knowing that you would not leave the pin behind if you were going for stealth, enchanted as it is.”

 

It was so simple. Such a simple thing had spelled disaster. Char heard the knocks on the door but didn't bother looking. Not more than a few heartbeats later the door was opened. Char was held back while Silas spoke a few hushed words with the Regent. Then Silas left, and nudged Char into the office and closed the door. A click sounded and the door was shut.

 

xXx

 

Adrian had been surprised when that little ferret had jumped him, pulling hair and scratching like a maniac, even more so when it suddenly lept off him and ran to greet his owner. Then there was Saia who had been knocked out and to top it off out of the blue comes four boys from Aranaz. Two of them didn't even pay any heed to the surroundings simply looking at what looked like a small chronometer and kept a quick pace. One followed, but slower, looking for... well, that was anyones guess, he had an empty stare like nothing truly registered with him. The fourth though had been kind enough to help Saia get on her feet, and began leading the two of them back to their collage. Adrian had been opposing it at first, but all it had taken was a single glare from the older boy and any protests he might have voiced was silenced.

 

Halfway across the field to the Duran collage Saia began coughing uncontrollably. “Was she sick?” the Aranaz senior asked, still supporting Saia.

 

“No, she was fine. Sinn'th gave her a kick to her belly, it might have upset something...”

 

The Aranaz student looked hesitant for a moment. “You can find your own way home right? - I'll take her to the infirmary.” Without waiting for reply the boy scooped Saia into his arms, and without any visible strain set a breakneck pace towards the infirmary.

 

Not really one to disregard orders Adrian had almost covered two thirds of the distance to Durand when curiosity finally got the better of him. If he could meet up with the group then they could likely get some answers. Running as fast as he could (slightly augmented with a very nifty spell that didn't take much time to cast) Adrian entered the main building yet again, the guard at the door didn't even seem to care anymore. All those people coming and going.

 

The hallways were still not lit but a few magic lights were lit here and there, seemingly at random making it somewhat easier to move around. After a few turns Adrian could hear voices in the distance, arguing. Sneaking closer it was clear who was making the fuss. The Durand students from his group were facing up to the Aranaz who had rushed past Saia and him to get at Sinn'th.

 

Doubting their chances Adrian kept quiet, sure that he would cause more harm than good if a fight actually broke out. He did catch a few tidbits of information. Sinn'th was kept in von Rupprect's office, which, Adrian recalled, was on the second floor. He had once been freighting messages between von Rupprect and Oliver Storey, concerning some forms. He was playing currier half the day, on a Sunday no less!

 

Picking another path Adrian avoided the fight and made his way towards von Rupprect's office, hoping to eavesdrop some useful tidbits. If nothing else then he should be getting some favor-points by the boys in Durand simply by trying.

 

Adrian found his way to von Rupprect's office quickly, the door was opened slightly, casting a cone of light into the hallway. Every fiber of his being was crying out that danger was near but he had already gone this far. Taking off his shoes to increase the stealth Adrian crept close to the door.

 

It wasn't till he was right next to it that he noticed the shadow looming just by the door frame – a ferret. He gave a closer look. It was the same ferret that had attacked him earlier! Adrian was tempted to kick the little creature but he could hear voices from here inside the officer, making noise now would only ruin his reason for coming.

 

Von Rupprect was sitting by his desk, Sinn'th was pacing back and forth inside the room near the windows. In the light the boy seemed much smaller, less intimidating though a hint of wildness or madness perhaps, still revealed itself with his sudden movements.

 

“And you had no idea the artifact was stolen?” von Rupprect asked, wholly unconvinced.

 

“I suspected it, but-”

 

“Why didn't you return it then?”

 

“I tried to, at the beginning, but then it showed me a vision and-”

 

“The disk?”

 

“Yes. I had intended to drop it somewhere, so you wouldn't know it was me.”

 

“We would know, but continue” von Rupprect said, a sly grin on his lips.

 

“I would make sure you wouldn't but the vision I had made it impossible for me to hand it over to Orsi”

 

“Why didn't you come to a teacher then? To me?” There was a hard edge to his question that held an unsettling power. Adrian had never been so glad that he didn't belong to Aranaz.

 

“You were the one that said if Dancer was caught stealing again then I'd be expelled!” His voice in a bit of a panic.

 

The older man scratched his balding head, his eyebrows narrowed in thought almost to the point where they met.

 

“Ahh yes, I remember! You had stolen silver bone shards of the Katari songbird – from my personal study.” It wasn't said as an accusation but rather a fact. He even seemed to find something about the even entertaining as he held a small smile.

 

“It wasn't me, but Dancer”

 

“No matter” von Rupprect dismissed, leaning back in his chair.

 

“You said that you didn't want let Orsi have it – why?”

 

Sinn'th said something while cimbing to sit in the windowsill of the open window, it was too low to hear, but straining a bit Adrian could just follow the rest. “... showed me a vision of the past. Of my mother. She was heavy with child, but something was wrong, she was sick, dying. The mirror gave me her feelings just then – I'll never forget it. She was desperate, for her self and for her child, and...” the boy trailed off, looking pensive for a moment, then shook his head. She sought help, and found Orsi.

 

“He wanted her to let all her defenses fall and do as he said. Whatever he did he only made it worse – so much so that she was inches within death and he just left! A man from the village came in with the local doctor a time later, they somehow made her better, stable, but not whole. How could they when Orsi took so much?!”

 

There was a long silence. Sinn'th was slumped, looking almost deflated. But the silence endured and for a moment Adrian was worried that von Rupprecht had done something to avoid people from spying. Nothing moved and nothing made a noise. Suddenly Adrian's own breathing seemed loud.

 

“Can you show me this 'vision'?” the voice seemed to suggest that von Rupprect did not believe the story.

 

“It doesn't always work” the boy seeming to settle down a bit, a mild sadness seemed to linger though.

 

“Try it” It was in no way said as a proposal.

 

From his location Adrian could just see that Sinn'th jumped down from the window and picked up his slightly tattered bag, rummaging through it. A small gleam from his hand was all that suggested that he had found it.

 

Von Rupprect did not seem to be able to contain his wonder as he was passed the disk. “I had imagined it much larger, I must admit!”

 

He motioned for Sinn'th to hand it over and the boy did so.

 

Sinn'th just stood still, seeming to openly glare at the teacher though from this distance Adrian could not be sure. If only I were closer! He shook his head and took the chance to open the door a little wider. The door creaked slightly and Adrian's heart thundered. Surely they must have heard!

 

It took several long moments before Adrian dared look in again. Now he could see much better, von Rupprect was standing slightly leaned over the desk, his back turned towards the door – thankfully.

 

With his wand he cast several spells in succession, the sizes and colors of the phemes alone spoke volumes of the skill of the teacher.

 

“How does it work then?” he asked, irritated, after having tried a few times to no avail.

 

Sinn'th was standing by the back wall facing towards von Rupprect - and towards the door. Adrian forced himself not to move. With luck the kid hadn't noticed.

 

The boy walked past the office chair and moved to take the disk, von Rupprect on the other hand moved back like he had been zapped by electricity, the disk tightly in his hand. “Tell me”

 

“I can't show you. It just happens.” Sinn'th complained, his eyes narrowed. From the distance it was suddenly difficult to tell who wielded the most power in the room. The boy's hand still stretched out to be handed the disk.

 

In the distance Adrian could just hear the creak of a door opening, followed by the sound of shoes on stone. It was vague but there surely, someone was in a hurry. Unbelievable it would seem that the boy heard it too. In a single motion the kid snatched the disk from von Rupprect's hands. Like a coil that had been tightly wound Char simply snatched it from him and tore his arm back. In a fluid motion he snatched his bag and before von Rupprect could cast a spell or even guess at what had just come to pass the boy had climbed into the window and without a seconds hesitation taken the jump.

 

The steps had in the mean time gotten closer, and Adrian felt a strong hand throw him back from the door. Dazed he just saw the silhouette of what must surely be legate Orsi himself. “Where is he?” Orsi demanded, joining von Rupprect by the window.

 

“Jumped”

 

Adrian tore his focus from the office by the sound of several others rushing to the room.

 

“Get down to the ground level! If he isn't where he fell then he must be close!”

 

The large group that had consisted mainly of students (from his group Adrian recognized – though they paid him no heed) and a few members of the staff who had been a few steps behind Orsi as he came quickly stopped up and moved back down the hallway from where they came.

 

“Not you” Orsi said when Adrian moved to sneak off as well. It had seemed a prudent idea, get away while the option was open.

 

“Rupprect, I count on you to finish things up here, please. - And you” Orsi turned to Adrian. “You come with me!”

 

Adrian followed as a shadow behind Orsi, not daring to object. They went down the first flight of stairs, before Orsi finally spoke, his manner seeming more kind, though it still held an insisting tone that Adrian dared not oppose. “Tell me what you saw in von Rupprect's office”

 

-xXx-

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If you caught some loose ends or places that makes little sense then please feel free to let me know!

 

Next chapter will hold some info on Char Sinn'th's family (or the one we know of) but otherwise slow down a bit. Will introduce a new point-of-view too.

 

Thoughts and comments are welcome - as always.

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Sorry for the long break. This little project was a tad grand in scope from the offset (deliberately so) and near exams (I think) got too much. It was there neglected then forgotten, rediscovered only to realize that my old computer had my files. By the time I hooked my old harddisk up (for school work) I had happily forgotten the story again. I can't say my old system of numbering documents were great and so sadly parts were lost (and remain so..). I'll keep looking though and rewrite what I can remember from memory. The rest I'll make up as we go along.

 

Making a long story short: We are back baby! ;)

 

On a more serious note: got a few days off now and I *WILL* work on this. Else I'd just disappoint myself, and we can't have that (again... :rolleyes: ).

 

(The next part was actually made as a finishing touch to the previous chapter, hopefully the style will not change overly much in the future)

 

xXx

 

Aria found herself growing increasingly fustrated with the easy acceptance everyone around her seemed to display. Even Selo, who perhaps was Char's closest friend had just accepted that Char was suspended from school. It was only one rumor among the many though, ranging from absurd ones that he assaulted the main building, jumping off the roof to get away, to simply being outside school for more than a day and due to disrespect was suspended for a week.

 

“But what can I do?” Selo asked, for what must have easily been the tenth time. “You knew him as well as I did, he never tells anyone his plans.”

 

“But you never even try to ask anymore!”

 

“Neither do you!”

 

“He never, ever, confided in me. He used to tell you everything.”

 

“Not everything...” Selo replied, looking down at his plate. The dish was as bland as ever and Aria found herself trying to reign in the temper lest it caused a fight. They had too many of those recently.

 

She sighed, pushing the half-eaten dish away. “I am going for a walk, I need some fresh air.”

 

“Would you like me to come along?” he asked, looking up. She had hoped he would just grasp the intention.

 

“No” His expression changed instantly, he understood now. “thank you though” she added, slightly belayed. Not that the courtesy had much effect. The courtesy was much like their relationship these days, without merit. Still...

 

Aria felt the winds blow strongly as she finally exited the main hall, her hair whipping forward and the feeling of relief was almost tangible. They had been having one silly fight after the other now, all starting with her proposal that they join the effort to steal the Mallen Star.

 

Selo had been dead against it, for whatever reason and had not spoken to her for almost a day. Things had escalated after that to a petty strife that... She sighed. That just reflected how much they really had in common.

 

 

The winds blew strong as Aria exited the main hall, her hair whipping forward. Had it truly been so long since she had been for a walk? It was likely, half a year had easily gone by since the last time.

The winds had change almost a week back, the world growing colder for a time now, something that had begun affecting the vegetation. The shades of the world growing a more golden hue.

 

She started walking, at random at first but then towards the slightly more overgrown area near the path to Chorda.

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Ah! Finally an update! laugh.gif

 

But now I have to start from the beginning again since it's been a long time.

 

I might be able to siphon off a few bits of inspiration for my little side project too.

 

Siphon. Makes me sound a little odd doesn't it?

 

Keep going Adrian!

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Aria mused about actually climbing towards the peak, but it was a cold wind blowing now and without some gloves and some warmer clothes the trip would be more arduous than she fancied.

 

Despite the wind though there were many people out, not all were enjoying the fresh air certainly, but there were many smaller groups pacing about. She recognized a few from her own year, a pair of Hedi girls who for some unfathomable reason took Zoology. They were busy trying to get a... goat-thing? Back towards the pens.

 

Casting a quick glance back to Chorda Aria decided that a bit of company would be a welcome change. Besides, she was getting curious.

 

As she approached she could make the creature out clearer. “Hello!” she said aloud as the girls got well into hearing range. They turned around startled, seeing Aria though they calmed down. “What are you doing?” she tried to ask curious rather than demanding. The look on their faces said they were in trouble if they were caught.

 

“Just bringing this fellow back to the pens” the older dark haired girl replied. Aria hadn't bothered keeping track of their names and it seemed a bit late to introduce themselves. She would have to ask around. There were a few Aranaz taking Zoo after all. Not that any names popped but there were some, surely.

 

“What is it?” It looked like a goat, but a human shaped goat. A slightly green-dotted human shaped goat. With a muzzle on. While she didn't take Zoo she was fairly sure that this 'animal' was indeed not a real animal. Thinking back, there had been an incident with someone braking into the Hedi girls' bathing room about a week or two ago.

 

“It is a... ergh” the shorter girl with brown doe eyes started, her mind clearly working double time to think of something convincing.

 

“It is a revenge-o-mega-dork” said the dark haired one, more to the beast than Aria. “And it is going to the animal pens for tonight.” The girl pulled hard on the strap tightened around the neck of the unfortunate creature. “Now move!”

 

Aria took an unconscious step backwards, so did the doe-eyed girl. “I won't keep you then.” The goat-thing looked up at Aria with pleading eyes. But whoever it was had it coming... Hopefully they hadn't gotten the wrong kid. Aria took a different path than the girls, suddenly glad to be away from them. Whoever said that Aranaz had the cruelest revenge? Still, he would likely be found out around feeding time by the caretaker. Hopefully.

 

She had been walking for a good ten minutes and was feeling more reasonable already. Not quite ready to forgive Selo his handling of her Mallen-Star proposal, but now that she had considered it, why was he so set against it? To spare her, he had explained last time. It could be rough and dangerous. The scandal if she was caught. She wouldn't be able to study for class as much. The excuses had been numerable, but was it true? She was beginning to doubt it. Maybe he had already agreed to help someone steal it. Had the Sphinx Syndicate recruited him and not her? She frowned.

 

So caught up in her problems that she almost didn't notice the group of third-years who were keeping balls in the air through some spells, some more elegantly than others. “Sorry” she muttered as she had almost walked into one of the older, and taller, and well, more beautiful, girls.

 

The girl in question just smiled, her ball hardly affected by their near collision. She can afford to be sweet. Aria felt her mood sour almost instantly, and it was getting cold. Her feet were getting tired too.

 

She turned headed back towards the dorm rooms to get her bag. The study session would soon be over. And Selo might be worried. She felt tired. Not so much physically as mentally. Selo had been so distant for a long time, and now Char had vanished too. She tapped her lip thoughtfully, as she had a habit of. Maybe Char was missing, but what of Dancer? Their familiars seemed to have a way to communicate, maybe she could use that now. She just had to get hold of Nip and get her to get hold of Dancer.

 

“Com'en through!” Aria was shoved by a boy a head shorter than herself. Another, a girl, running just behind him. “Run!” she advised, not slowing down.

 

Slightly dazed Aria turned, seeing a flower, a petunia bush, huge and very much alive, running by its roots in a sort of wobbly kind of way. “First-years” she scoffed, and gathered her palette.

 

It was a spell she had learned in Revision last year. She had heard a few of the first-years had been learned it just a few days ago so it popped up first. She cast it, successfully as always, and the spell connected with the overgrown plant. Any second now it would turn into a (perhaps slightly oversized) vase. A horrible long second went by and nothing happened.

 

The next she knew she was running for her life. It hadn't worked. Did it only work with inanimate objects? She couldn't recall. Why had she not just used a negation? Why not just run when she had seen the kids. Why...

 

 

xXx

 

Selo sat by her bed in the Infirmary, worried. She was always too clever for her own good. Too sure of herself. Too... demanding, at times, and condescending too. He fondly stroked her hand. He still liked her, loved her even. Maybe.

 

He knew she had studied some of his classes just to be of aid, and was always happy to help with anything. But ever since Char had stolen that damned Star she had changed in attitude. She wanted to play hero. She wanted to show she could apply the knowledge she knew she had.

 

He whipped his hands from her's as a nurse came by. “I'm sure she'll be FINE. Now kindly leave and head to class. We do not abide students using this as an excuse to skip class.” She handed him a small folded peace of parchment with a thin seal holding it in place. “For your teacher.” she said and snapped the chair away from him as he had risen to take the paper.

 

Selo tugged the letter into a pocket, grabbed his bag and headed towards class. History was likely to kill him now that he had no one else sitting by his table.

 

Selo sneaked into class, though not as noiseless as he would have liked as he tripped over a bag. It felt like everyone was watching him for a long moment, a few snickers from ahead in the class. He looked back to his feet where Julie, a girl from Morvidus was untangling her bag from his feet. She looked as embarrassed as he felt. Sorry she mouthed. Selo held up a hand, giving her a smile he didn't quite feel and finally pulled himself up. At the head of class today’s lecturer had begun anew, if he had ever stopped. He found his seat took up quill (a semi-automated FEATHER mark II, his mother had insisted.) and his history journal. He browsed past some poor notes from a few weeks past, then some doodles, and a few more notes. Those were decent, but then, the lecturer had been wonderful. Then last week's. Doodles and a drawing, not rather flattering one of Beauty. Beauty had that day insisted on switching places with Selo and his friends, effectively trading tables. (Her name wasn't Beauty of cause, but something she insisted that no-one could pronounce properly anyway so they may as well call her by the meaning.) Selo grinned at the sight of the drawing. Someone had played a prank on her later that day, and she had croaked like a frog for almost two hours before they finally got her down from the tree she had climbed.

 

The class had gone worryingly quiet all of a sudden and Selo almost didn't dare look up. The lecturer was catching someone in 'frivolities' but thankfully not him. He quickly found the newest clean page and set down the date in the corner. Looking up to the blackboard he tried to find today's topic.

 

It there were a few things noted down, a few dates, a circle around one and several dots near it. (Likely the teacher had tried to get a point across, feeling the need to punish the blackboard for the students' lack of knowledge on the area.)

 

There were also some names, most of them didn't mean a lot, but one stuck out. Merri Sel de Saugir. He had been a theologian who had predicted a great many things, the death of the duke (almost 40 years later) to the exact time of day and how it would happen (flatulence). He also saw his own death (imprisonment by the very same duke and then poor hygiene for 3 years), though many had similar predictions concerning Merri's death once the duke got word of the prediction. All his predictions were worryingly accurate – save one. He saw his own son born and had filled out all the paperwork 8 months ahead of time. The weight, the size the time down to a minute. He messed up the gender though, which everyone thought funny and which he is most remembered for today.

 

Selo looked over some of the other names, another struck a cord, but it was much much later. His pen was faithfully coping the names down into the journal though, something to look at later.

 

Paying attention to the head of the class the lecturer had not gotten past the fact that one of the girls had been doodling in his class, and had seen fit to publicly show what the girl had drawn. From his place he couldn't see the page but from the sniggering it was clear that the man didn't get the reception he was hoping for. A loud *crack* echoed through the room. “SILENCE” the man shouted, in Merrilien. Then, switching back to Regalian “I demand respect!” Some of the laughter flared up again. The teacher spoke some, what Selo assumed to be, curses and then took a strait route to the door, almost tripping over Julie's bag (which had somehow moved back towards the door), and without a look back he left the room, slamming the door hard as he did so.

 

Everyone seemed stunned, and sat in silence. For about a second when one of the boys rose and started packing his books. A chatter flared up and Selo found himself somewhat lonely.

 

 

xXx

 

Hopefully Selo's part isn't too hard to read. I like to think of him as quite insightful and good at history, but not good at this kind of classical lectures.

 

Also, if anyone knows french, I hope you will tell me if Merri is used wrong (as in, it being a girls name) or if it should be du rather than de and such. Sadly my own knowledge of french is limited. Hope it is enjoyable regardless :)

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Adrian pushed some kind of boiled root around on his plate. It had a taste and texture not dissimilar to a cleaning cloth that their maid used. The remainder of the meal had been good, by Academagia standards, but despite that not many had chosen to stay in the Great Hall, the place was not even a quarter full.

 

Adrian frowned, hoping some of his collage mates would pass by soon, otherwise he would have to go back to the dorms alone. Not that it was a problem, much, but a group of Aranaz kids kept the Durand collage under surveillance for whatever reason. They claim that some of the fourth-years had stolen something of theirs and wanted it back. Maybe that was why it was so empty?

 

Adrian looked around, most of the people eating were first and second years. Where were the rest?

 

He cast a distrusting glance at the root thing and took a small bite. It was disgusting. That settled it. Draining his glass of water, primarily to remove the foul taste, he gathered his things. After placing the plate and glass at the cleaning counter he made his way back to the Durand Collage.

 

Outside the winds had picked up, it was cold too. Surprisingly so. He was almost tempted to try a spell but the Durand collage was not far from the main building. Despite the weather though, or perhaps because of it, many small groups seemed to be out. Small lights from lanterns or spells wandered here and there. Maybe they were after Sinn'th again? It seemed strange but then again, this was the Academagia.

 

Out at a distance, somewhere over the Imperial Forrest, thunder roared from the clouds. A storm was coming. Adrian picked up the pace, pleased as the doors to the collage came into view.

 

Inside people were milling about. Everyone had been home it seems. “What is up?” he asked as he passed a few from his own year. A pair of girls who placed too much value in personal appearance. Not that he felt he was lacking there, but they those two had a knack for making him uncomfortable.

 

The first girl, Milli, just ignored him but as he was about to pass the slightly younger spoke up. “A first year has gone missing, for some reason they think he might be outside so the older students are off looking for him.” “Oh, thanks, Tel.” Her friend just rolled her eyes and pulled Tel the other direction whispering something in a hard tone, just low enough that Adrian couldn't follow.

 

Adrian headed into the commonroom, and was thankful to see some more familiar faces. “Hey” he called to a table of students, the same that he had been out hunting with a few days ago. “What is up?” he asked taking a place on the armrest of the sofa.

 

Saia, the fifth-year was sitting in the sofa opposite, quite recovered it would seem, next to her say two other girls, fifth or fourth years it wasn't exactly sure but they both had a kind look to them.

 

“Some stuff.” Chel, the big guy muttered. His voice slightly hoarse. “Some kid has gone missing” he said, grumbling as he tried to scribble something into the margin of a book. “I heard.” Adrian said, slightly deflated. He had hoped for something more exciting. “How do you feel Saia?”

 

Saia looked up from her thoughts. If he hadn't seen her eyes being open before he would have sworn she had been asleep. “I-I'm fine, thank you.”

 

“Nothing broken?” he smiled, pleased to hear she was alright.

 

Saia looked horrified at that though it disappeared almost instantly in a veil of courtesy. “No, I hit might head slightly but the nurse said I shouldn't worry.”

 

Some of the boys around the table looked instantly worried at that. “You were in the infirmary?”

 

“Just shortly” Saia said sinking further into the sofa.

 

“What happened?” A few of the boys even looked to Adrian for an answer. They seemed more interested in this than when he told them what had happened in Sixt's office.

 

“Nothing, I bumped my head, the nurse said it was fine.”

 

The two other girls were starting to defend their friend too, either of them starting to rise new subjects. One of them successfully getting a few of the guys to explain some negation theory that Adrian didn't get a word of. At the opposite end of the table Saia was still in the spotlight and Adrian wished he had kept silent. Despite Saia's attitude he still found her very charming.

 

“Look” she said with a finality, apparently hoping to end the topic. “I hit might head around the time Sinn'th escaped, Adrian and Lorik helped me to the nurse. End of story!”

 

Everyone seemed pleased for almost half a minute and things were returning to normal when Chel d' Leal suddenly looked up. “Lorik? Isn't that the guy from the Aranaz Rimball team?”

 

“Yeah” one of the other boys said, looking up from his book. “He's really clever too, he helped me with a..” he stopped momentarily. “Well, a project. I think he was hanging around the entrance earlier.”

 

“oh aye?” Chel said, slightly cross.

 

“Simion!” Saia said, clearly annoyed that the topic hadn't died down yet. “He is just a nice kid, not out to steal your incantation notes.”

 

Simion Chel d' Leal didn't respond though from the looks he didn't take any comfort in that statement.

 

Everyone seemed to return to their own little projects, and again Adrian felt left out.

 

He had already finished most of the homework for tomorrow, leaving only the practical part of negation, and it was too late to get a practice room unless you would risk detention. Naa. It wasn't worth it.

 

Still, he could write home. He still felt bad that he had waited as long as he had, which had delayed the letter even further.

 

It was decided and just as he was about to take his leave the three girls who had occupied one of the sofas rose, and with a bland farewell left for the stairwell.

 

Adrian was about to leave as well, had risen and was about to say his goodnights when Chel... Simion, took hold of his arm. “Can we speak?” Simion may have 'only' been a fourth year but he was a huge kid. Usually the gentle giant but now...

 

“Yeah”

 

Simion lead the way, past the stairs and into one of the small study rooms. Three kids were already sitting there, first years, if Adrian had to guess. “Would you mind if I had a talk to my friend?”

 

Even Adrian felt compelled to leave the room, had the boy not kept a firm grip on his arm. Needless to say the three left the room, one gathering his stuff quickly but with a wave of the hand abandoned the cause.

 

“Now then.” the grip loosened and Simion took two chairs, offering one to Adrian. They sat, uncomfortably close to Adrian's mind but that may have been the fear talking. “I want you to take this” Simion conjured a small pouch from his back pocket opened it and presented Adrian with a bundle of impossibly soft white cloth. Inside lay a heavy golden pin, at the head several small runes were inscribed.

 

“We found it outside Sixt's window, trod into the mud.” Adrian was relieved to say the least. Taking the pin between two fingers he examined it closer. It had an odd feel to it like the weight was way off. “A group of Aranaz tried to bully it out of me today, and I only barely kept it hidden.”

 

Adrian felt that the beating might just have been postponed now. “What is it?”

 

“That is what I want to know. The Aranaz kids will still think I have it, so tomorrow I want you to sneak down to Mineta, to the Hall of Physical Records and learn what you can.

 

Adrian folded the cloth around the pin again and slipped it into his pocket. “Okey”

 

Simion rose and went out the door. Adrian still sat on the chair as the three heads looked it. “Can we go back to work?” one asked, insecure.

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Fan-fiction!

I think this is the first english fan-fiction I read.Also the first non-Three-Kingdoms fan-fiction I read.

I mistake Simion for Simon again and again^^;

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There are a few fanfictions here, hope you enjoyed it. The next update should be up tomorrow I think.

 

Hehe sorry for the names, I have a nasty habit of using the same names for similar characters in my stories, Simion is one of them. ;)

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The next week was among the worst times in Selo's life at the Academagia.

 

Aria had busied herself with some secret side project that she wouldn't speak of. She had taken to literally build a fortress of books in the Longshade library and none of the messages he left for her had been answered. Julie had been the only real friend in this time, agreeing to study with him, which was the only way he would get his work done.

 

There were constant bickering in the Aranaz common-room too, most concerning Durand. A few students had even gone as far as doing a midnight raid but apparently they hadn't found what they wanted. As one of the students who actually had some friends in Durand he was constantly prodded and pushed to show his colours. Some of the older students had even tried to trick him into entering a duel with a Durand student.

 

Halfway through the week Char had been found, hiding in a cave a bit up Chorda. Somehow he managed to evade a group of fifth-years, which had left everyone in a fit. There were several rumors how exactly he had managed it, but since none of the people in the group were willing to talk Selo very much doubted them all. A much more interesting rumor was that the Legate had been the one to 'send' the group in the first place. Somehow he must be able to track or divine a student's location. When Selo had asked the older students in Aranaz he hadn't gotten a direct answer, but the fact that several books on tracking and negation were being read in the common-room now suggested they hadn't considered it previously.

 

Selo sat flickering his quill back and forth in the air, at times ticking his nose, while considering the state of affairs. He was writing home and considered how best to put his thoughts into words.

 

The into he had simply covered from the other letters. His parents were strict on formality and so certain codes must be upheld. - Which included the beginning of the letter. It should be written so politely and blandly that everyone reading the first lines should think that everything was going well. Selo had simply taken the easiest way out, directly copying the opening of the previous letters he had sent. That had already been done though, and now he was left with the hard part. Explaining states of affairs as diplomatic as possible, while still letting his parents know how he was doing.

 

Things are, however, tense at the moment. Tensions between Durand and Aranaz has flared up to new heights and we are caught in the traditions and paths carved by our seniors. Durand is being accused of stealing from Aranaz, and Aranaz have, most certainly, broken into Durand. Both sides are as bad as the other.

 

Selo dipped the quill into the ink bottle, examining the writ. His penmanship was improving, though Sixt would likely still fault him for the slow progress.

 

Aria and I had a falling out too, about Charseth Sinn'th, from Mezzins, if you recall. He went missing a bit more than a week past due to some misunderstanding with the school administration.

She no longer replies to the notes I send, and while this all started as a silly argument I don't see how to end it.

 

Selo sighed. He was getting carried away. He eased the hold of the quill, which had tightened, and dipped it in the ink once more.

 

Regardless things are well school-wise. We have just finished a project in Enchanting, I made a diary which will only open for one particular person. Sadly that person is now my teacher, but I still think it was fairly well made. We have not gotten the results back yet though.

 

There was an interesting piece of gossip too that passed my ear, that you may know more about; Is it true that the Young Prince of Medinei will be attending school next year? We attended the sisters coming-of-age did we not?

 

He left out the fact that they had all gotten detention for harassing a teacher to leave campus. The Legate had personally taken an interest and had given them all a piece of his mind. While the teacher might not have been without fault he had expected better of students at the Academagia.

 

A few had shrugged it off, but Selo still felt that he had been partly responsible. He hadn't helped harass the teacher, but neither had he tried to calm the situation. It was an odd mix of guilt and justified indifference.

 

Selo looked up from his letter. The Aranaz study had gone quiet, most of the students had retired for one reason or another. He looked out, the sun was sinking casting a dying orange glow on a purple-blue sky. There was a wave of nostalgia in the air, home suddenly seemed very far away, a distance that spanned time more than distance. A better time, simpler, at least.

 

The soft crackling of the fireplace, the musky smell of old books... it could almost be home.

 

Selo almost thought he was alone until the soft crackling was broken by a muffled cursing. Following the voice Selo saw a few older boys sitting by a table with several books piled on it. Beginners guide to poisons, Riglyn's cauldron – a how to and a long line of others. Yet, despite the subject being potions... Selo took a closer look at the spell in question. The main pheme was tied to fortune telling.

 

That was a way to solve the homework, supposedly. Selo turned to his table. The ink was almost dry on the parchment. He picked up a book on magical history and skipped to the small mark indicating his progress. The chapter was not particularly well written nor was the contents really important in the larger scheme of things, but Selo had begun sympathizing with one of the figures. Through the character of Trill de Gai, a young woman of no other talent than the fact that she kept a journal and had befriended the fabled Hektor the Strong, a mage of no small talent.

 

What had caught Selo's eye was not so much the stories of Hektor, for better or worse he was a figure of great power at that age, but rather how they were told. A librarian at the Venalicium Library had been kind enough to find a copy of Trill's journal, written in the most beautiful hand. Sadly the name of the copyist was not readily available or Selo might have looked for another work as well, maybe for some calligraphy hints.

 

The journal of Trill though, had been different than the text his teacher insisted they read. Of cause that was always the problem with working too close to the source, your view would be colored. Still. Selo frowned, looking down at the journal, he could almost see the struggle of Hektor, such details had been written down. Details and private thoughts. In some ways the journal was more of a diary though most historians seemed to skip past the sentimental mush. The text he was forced to read though was purely hard facts, things that could be found through other sources, documents, paintings or other. Selo had not read all of Trill's journal, but a few of the passages were very well written, skimming through the journal though, some other insights were given to Hektor's character.

 

Apparently, for all their friendship, Trill often wrote Hektor as the part of the brute, a man so devoted to his fighting that he failed to see the way of peace. That part seemed to be missing in the text the teacher had presented. He could remember the warm summer day back in his parents' mansion when, in a tutoring session, he had asked why they hardly ever said that one of them were good and one were bad. Selo had been raised with a lot of children's fiction often portraying the Good's victory over Evil. It is a historians job, only to record what we know as truth, and do so while remaining neutral

 

Selo looked back to the journal, then to the text in front of him. Was it really neutral to not mention that he was a brute? Maybe there was another reason...

 

“I say we sneak in to the office and take a look”

 

Selo had awoken from the musing by the boys' planning.

 

“Evi'an, do you really want to? If we get caught.” Spoke a soft voice, the whispering almost beyond hearing despite sitting rather close to their table.

 

“Do you want to fail then?” Evian said, distraught. “I can't face my parents and tell them I failed potions!”

 

There was a hushing around the table. Selo tried not to make a sound, to look occupied with his work. Whether they thought he was listening in or not could make all the difference. It seemed a long wait, before they finally begun again, and Selo could breathe a sigh of relief. Now all he had to do was get away without them noticing how close he had been sitting.

 

“How do we do it then?” asked one, the same one who had been doing the fortunetelling previously. His voice breaking slightly to an uncontrolled higher-pitch.

 

“We sneak into the classroom, look for the test, copy it and find the answers.” Evian said, his voice working to whisper but it was high enough that others beyond Selo must have heard.

 

“Why not just find the answers? Asked the softly spoken one.

 

“I will not steal answers.” commented Evian firmly.

 

By now the few others in the room had stopped what they were doing, everyone listening in on the group. From his position Selo could see a few by the window looking like they were writing but their quill not quite touching the paper and with a satisfied smirk on their faces.

 

Whether they got the test or not, the group would have to pay a huge price for the other students' silence. Sighing Selo marked the page. He hadn't even read anything, only in the journal... it would be a long night. Gathering his things, and carefully placing the letter inside in the book to avoid it getting ruined he made to leave. Only a small piece of business to deal with first. It took all his courage, but Selo moved up to the group, all eyes staring at him, both from the group but also the other students at his back.

 

“You should forget it” His voice sounded smaller, more hushed than he would have liked but he forced himself to continue. “We all heard your plan, better you forget it.”

 

The group seemed stunned speechless, they were looking around, likely noting all heads suddenly busying themselves with homework, the silence that had just been broken.

 

“There is no helping it then.” said Evian, resigned to his fate.

 

“Why not just... study?” asked Selo. To him, using fortunetelling was a cheap way to study.

 

“We were!” complained the fortune-teller, his voice intent to remind him that he was a middle thing. Neither man nor child.

 

“I cast my fortune for the test tomorrow” he continued, trying hard to keep his voice level. “'It will be a day to remember,' it said. 'great risks and no victory'”

 

“Risk is right” commented the softly spoken one, his face not matching the voice. “We have four tests during the year, counting more than half our grade. In the first test all but one failed, and she only barely made it. If we fail again...”

 

The silence seemed tangible, and Selo felt more uncomfortable than ever, he wasn't good at potions either, Aria might be... but it was doubtful she knew enough to help people in a grade above them. If she would help, that is.

 

“I can't help, I am afraid.” Said Selo, hoping to excuse himself. “But if you can't even plot the theft without notifying half a room...” He let it hang there, making to leave when the fortuneteller stopped him.

 

“Stay. I will tell your future.”

 

“I really should-”

 

“Just sit.”

 

The boy picked up a deck of cards from his bag. Mixed them up well and drew the first as he spoke. “Tomorrow will be:” the card landed. It was beautifully made. It held a duality, one man getting stabbed thinking of how he met a lover, and the man with the lover thinking of his death. “one of turmoil and fate.” He picked two more. “You will take something that doesn't belong to you.” he pointed to the ornate pirate flag on the card. The others around the table casting a dark glare to Selo, perhaps thinking it unfair that he stopped their heist and he himself planning another.

 

“Don't worry. It may not be anything concrete, maybe you get the last piece of cake tomorrow, leaving someone else in want” He shrugged and continued. “This is the phoenix, something will be renewed or reborn.” He picked two more. “There will be danger”. Selo looked at the card. It was a thundercloud, made in such a way it would look like a skull when you were not looking directly at it.

 

Selo didn't pay much heed to most readings, but something about that card unsettled him. “The last one is duel. You will likely have to fight someone, or something”

 

 

Selo was almost out of the door as he heard Evian make a comment. “Do you mix those card properly? You drew 'Turmoil' when you read all three of our fortunes as well!”

 

Selo shook his head. Maybe they shouldn't pay so much heed to a bunch of cards!

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The next should be up soon (<- not trademarked => Wednesday latest). Full of turmoil and fate, or maybe just a lot of candy eating and good theater. Hope you enjoy :)

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OMG oO I made a filler. I feel kind of bad, but hopefully it will make the epic seem more epic when the shit finally hits the fan. (One can hope)

 

Not so much candy as I would have liked but hey, you can't win them all. (Besides, Denmark is hit by an unusual freakish heatwave just now, the candy would just melt! - - Actually, thinking about it, it isn't so unusual, the weather usually gets decent when the exams start presenting themselves. Of cause we return to rain and gray skies when they are finish - naturally)

 

Enjoy ;)

 

xXx

 

Selo woke early the next day, the result of a horrible nightmare. Something about potions, fates and a ferocious book trying to eat him. Looking out the painted windows he saw only dark clouds, the sun had yet to rise. He let his head fall back to the pillow but he was already awake. Sleep just wouldn't come.

 

After a minute he finally succumb to the notion of reading the last of the history text he hadn't gotten around to yesterday evening. Lighting a candle by the bedside he pulled the book from his bag and began.

 

Two hours later, around the time that the sun made it's lazy way onto the sky, Selo finally laid down the book. He was exhausted. He had tried to fall asleep a few times when the book overwhelmed him but it just wouldn't come. The day seemed to pass in a haze, he hadn't particularly paid much attention to anything that happened in the first classes, history too passed without any incident, despite the teacher had clearly marked him as a victim (perhaps due to the bags under his eyes).

 

It was only in the midday break when Julie interrupted him as he was spacing out by a window in the Great Hall that he actually woke. She had an unusual proposal.

 

“Want to skip class?”

 

Selo could feel a slight shiver going through him. Was this the Danger? The Turmoil? Even worse, he knew he would likely regret his choice.

 

xXx

 

Adrian stood before the oblong pool, trying to swallow his distaste. He absolutely hated swimming, hated it beyond words. Despite what his teacher tried to tell him he still couldn't float, he felt like he was sinking whenever he was submerged. He had not had a single positive experience while in the water, not one. The Ardica Lake had not helped this matter, nearly drowning him a year past.

 

Next!

 

He saw the girl in front of him gracefully jumping into the water, head first. She emerged far ahead, breaking the surface while already making her way to the opposite end of the pool. He swallowed.

 

Next!

 

Adrian looked around, franticly looking for some way to escape, but there was no help coming. No freak storm, no animated super-plant, no-

 

Next! Commanded Massioti. Shutting his eyes shut he made a dive forward. For a second the wait was the worst, he knew he would hit the water, it would take his breath away. He would be carried under while everyone was looking. The shame!

 

The next moment the water hit his stomach just submerging his head before he broke the surface and gasped for air in a panic. His feet kicking in a frantic to keep his head above water. He blinked a few times before he could see the world clearly again. Then, with some reluctance made a slow progress towards the opposite end. As he swam he could just see the tired and disappointed face of Massioti, the teacher standing strait as a ruler in his trunks – despite the cold weather which had caused most of the students to be jumping, skipping or just huddle for warmth.

 

When he finally emerged from the poor he was ready to sink into the ground though the fates had other ideas obviously, as Massioti waved him over.

 

Adrian most of all felt the urge to walk the opposite way but heeded the teacher regardless.

 

“Not the best performance eh?” joked Massioti, handing Adrian a towel. Massioti looked over Adrian's shoulder. Next! He shouted, causing Adrian to flinch. Why had the teacher called him over? Was he simply too slow? Detention?

 

The cold was quickly enveloping him, despite that he felt reluctant to dry off while everyone else had to continue swimming. Massioti ignored him for what seemed a minute while he was observing the students' progress. “Right,” he said, smiling kindly. “I just got a letter for you, Orsi would like a word.” The teacher handed him an envelope, though it had been sealed and was directed to Massioti it was written to Adrian.

 

Adrian began reading, the problems associated with the letter dawning upon him.

 

As we discussed earlier I need you to help show a few potential students around. Be at the Great Gate by the end of the midday break. - Orsi

P.S. There will be one other guiding the tour along with you.

 

Adrian had plans! He had a date!

 

“Finished reading?” Massioti asked as Adrian's mind began working double time to avoid the total ruin of his friendship. He kept the groan to himself and handed the paper to Massioti who proceeded to burn it in a quick spell. “Good then! Time to get back and practice that dive eh? Nothing like a bit of practice to improve!”

 

Adrian didn't meet his eye, but instead went to the back of the line. His jaw set in place as he would have to endure another hour of water torture and then the dubious honor of touring some spoiled brats around while he was missing the second-last play of “My fair Sparrow” all his part-time work was, by a single stroke of the headmaster, wasted.

 

The break had passed far far too quickly. He had just manged to change clothes, track down and then explain to his date that he couldn't make it when the bell was heard. She had been disappointed, but sympathetic to his problem, promising that they would try it another day.

And Adrian? He was late, late! Orsi would be disappointed and Durand would get demerits. That, added to the look on her face and how he felt; the day couldn't possibly get worse.

 

 

The main gates were surprisingly quiet, to such a degree that he had never seen it so empty before. Usually he would never pass the main gates while there was still class, nor would anyone else if they intended to sneak out, but... still.

 

It was easy to find the group he was meeting up with though. A group of five people, three girls and two boys by the look. As he came closer he had to revise, two girls and three boys. What he had thought was a dress was in fact a robe. Pure white and golden-edged robe.

 

Poor boy, Adrian thought as he waved at them and drew closer, he even had a very fair face and long dark hair. He would be teased to no end.

 

“Adrian is it?” one of the elder students called out, his accent seemingly biting off parts of the words, he was a Vernin from the looks. As Adrian came close the elder boy placed his arm around Adrian's shoulder turning to face the small group of potential new students. “'is is Adrian, a Duran, an' I'm Ei-peh 'ifth 'ear Vernin.” Despite his seniority Eipeh seemed very kind, radiantly so almost. There were no question as to why he had been chosen to be guide.

 

“Who 'r you 'olks then?”

 

One of the boys stood forward, his skin lightly golden with keen brown eyes. “I am the Young Prince of Medinei,” Adrian was about to fear that he would continue on a tirade but his fears proved groundless. “-but call me Diniz”

 

Diniz shared a smile with the boy next to him. He held some of the same features, the skin tone, the stature, though his eyes seemed oddly yellow, and his hair was a mild creamy white. The boy returned the smile and made a small bow. “Greetings” the boy said, seeming almost proud. His intonation was a bit sing-song, like at the theater – while Diniz' had been close to old Elumian rather than Regalian. “My name is Ayrien, I hail from distant Marino – to the south” he added as no one seemed to give any indication that they knew where Marino lay. Except the prince, but they must be tutored in stuff like that. Ayrien drew back in something of a bow, his manner suggesting that another one introduced himself.

 

It was the boy with the dark hair and pretty face, called Hae'li'on, though he seemed rather uncomfortable. The two girls presented themselves Fraedis and Seina, while they spoke Adrian felt himself eying Ayrien instead. There was something wrong there, though he couldn't place a finger on it. To make matters worse the prince and him seemed to get along well together.

 

He couldn't quite place it but he felt the small hairs on his neck stand on edge and he felt the adrenaline pumping through him. Something bad was going to happen, he just knew it.

 

xXx

 

Char lay with his eyes closed, surrounded in the darkness, in a small house on campus. He lay still, keenly feeling the eyes upon him. Orsi's little spy. They had spoken, Orsi and him, and reached an agreement, though Char felt it was less an agreement than a demand with no alternative.

 

Char could stay in school, provided he attend hall duty for half a year, and allowed himself to be actively supervised the year out. With no incidents he would be allowed to continue in schooling and maybe the next year with more relaxed control. He had kept the disk though. Orsi had not even asked for it, which was curious. Surely he must know that I have it, thought Char, angrily.

 

He could almost see the students milling about their business all around in his mind's eye. A few walking alone but most walking in packs. He closed that too, his mind-map. He never felt rest though, another layer popped into view. Outlandish in it's appearance but gradually it had become familiar to him. This was no shadow plane, no not-quite-Clyve that the book Aria had smuggled to him had described. It was it's own world, of dangers and monsters. He could see them but they didn't see him. Once or twice he felt them reaching out for him, but they never quite touched, and their world was such that they could not spend a prolonged time trying to search for what they could only feel.

 

He watched a bit, they were odd creatures, some horned or winged, working on two or four legs, some a mix. They seemed to a be a single race though, for all their difference. He looked at a group, they were setting up a double ambush to lure in a group of horned-quick-dogs, as he had grown to call them. They were huge hound-like creatures with spikes, their speed and intelligence making them difficult enemies, but...

He looked at the odd race, he hadn't yet found a name for them, for they seemed to defy categorization. But they were more clever still. A use of illusions and clever tactics saw to it that the hounds took the bait. Then the first ambush, causing wild panic among the hound-creatures, but there were more. More who fell to the second ambush. It was a carnage, many died on either side, though the hounds had lost the most.

 

Char looked away, feeling slightly sick. Snow fell. He looked away again, he did not like that place. So desolate. He opened his mind-map to stop the constant changing. Students were still walking about, out harvesting plants, some playing with their familiars...

 

That was odd. Char moved his map, it was uncomfortable but less so than it had been while trapped in the cave on Corda. He saw something that seemed almost familiar, not quite but almost. Something that shouldn't be here.

 

His eyes snapped open as the first roar like thunder broke his reverie. Something was wrong!

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Hey! Its over too soon. laugh.gif

 

And tell me you are not thinking of this dog.

 

 

229Houndoom.png

 

 

My turn will come soon.

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Over? It's only beginning! The story has actually taken a wild swing from my original script. The idea was basically to have most of the year one way or another sent to detention. Char for stealing and reading books on Gate, Aria (as hinted) for sending him forbidden books, Selo for covering Aria (He would, at least back then), Adrian for escalating the Aranaz-Durand conflict further (Which maaaaay be happening? *gasp*) Young Quaan (Adrian's sister (yep she is still there)) for sneaking into town. Marcus (the Morjerk at the beginning of the story - simply for being himself)

 

Everyone groaning in detention while Orsi gives them all a good lecture on academic pride.

 

 

Now though, we have collided with another story, which I had not originally intend to post (And still won't - you just get to feel the repercussions in this one).

 

In short detention may not be the worst that can happen here! *muahhaha* Now, I may have spoiled a bit but it shall be made better! With cookies and all that good stuff only a decent baker can be convinced to create.

 

Speaking of cakes, does anyone know where to find a recipe for Vesuv? I think it is an ice-cake something, but I've not had much luck in my search.

 

 

Edit:

Doh, over as in 'the end of the entry'. Yeah... *flomps head to table* I need to learn to read properly.

 

In other news, the next chapter should be out sometime this weekend unless I decide to slack overly and go out, in which case, Monday. Much fun is being had writing this chapter :)

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I've kept this to not confuse people - BUT new readers please continue to THIS LINK to continue the story.

 

Thanks, and sorry if it has caused confusion.

 

They were at the end of the tour, having spent almost two hours walking back and forth. Ayrien and Diniz had been chatting lightly with Eipeh during most of the trip, asking for stories and sharing their own. Adrian had listened in a bit now and then but had found the company of the girls pleasant, even if they didn't say much. Nor did the last boy, who had followed them in silence.

 

“So,” spoke Ayrien, his yellow eyes dancing all around, “could you perhaps show us the Venalicium?” Still his voice had a song-like quality to it, that made the uneasiness feel even greater for Adrian. “'ure” Eipeh said before Adrian could counter the suggestion, as he had a few times now.

 

They turned for the largest library in the Academagia, located in the main tower. It was a way to go though chatter had made the walk through the heart of the school seem easy and unusually problem free, though that may have been Eipeh's doing more than anything. Loads of students were milling about now, some headed for the dorms, some for the libraries, other again for the gardens.

 

“How is your sister?” Ayrien asked, never far from Diniz' side.

 

Diniz' face fell into a more serious mask. “She is under house arrest”

 

“Oh, what did she do?” The boy actually seemed concerned.

 

“Nothing,” Diniz took a breath and continued, the small group hanging on his every word as they made their way up the ornate staircases. “Her mother though, tried to have me assassinated.”

 

There was an eerie quiet. “She failed of cause, no doubt hoping that my death would open a path to power for her daughter.”

 

The silence kept stretching onward. The stairs opened up into a marbled doorway with an elegant writ in hammered bronze just above the door. “How do you know each other?” asked Fraedis, one of the prettiest girls Adrian had ever seen. Her light blue dress with the dark flowers only added to picture.

 

Diniz fell quiet, thinking back. “It was not all that long ago was it? At my sisters acceptance into the Academagia?”

 

Ayrien nodded, his eyes scanning the book shelves as they passed, the group walking into the reception of the Venalicium. “It was, my friends and I had been hired to add some flare to the party.”

 

“You were hired?” exclaimed Haelion, incredulous. Adrian was surprised as well. The way the two of them spoke he had imagined that the boy had been of noble stock – at least.

 

“Oh yes” Smiled Ayrien, beaming a set of white teeth. “Though we are trained to blend in”

 

Diniz coughed a laugh, though he didn't continue.

 

“That evening was my first mingling with so many nobles, usually I would only be required to entertain one or two at most...” His finally settling on the group around him. “Which is easy – a little white lie to get a conversation started and you are off. Never in my life had I imagined the hyenas at such a gathering!”

 

Diniz saw fit to take over. “Unbeknownst to our friend here, my father had announced that a troupe of actors would be in the mix, they were to appear nobility but in fact were not.” He tried to keep the laugh out of his voice but didn't quite manage it. “There was a prize to be given to whoever could point out all the actors. Ayrien here was caught as the first, and they kept baiting him to expose his fellows.”

 

“I had a group of at least two tens, men and women, all trying to talk to me, all trying to ask about my past – a past that was build on only a whimsical lie we all had agreed upon before entering the ball.” Ayrien held a small twig between his fingers and whirled it around proficiently while talking.

 

“It was a hell like you would not believe!”

 

“It was a success though” commented Diniz. It kept most of the party goers occupied while my father could discuss politics with his friends. “And proved a nice diversion for the rest of us as well. I won fifty pim in a bet because of you“ grinned Diniz.

 

The small twig fell from Ayriens fingers and landed on the ground. “Surely you didn't guess us all!” Ayrien said, bending down to pick up his twig.

 

As he rose his yellow eyes seemed fixed on something right behind Adrian. “Would you PLEASE keep it down?! This” The twig-like woman spoke, none too softly either, “is a Library, not a meeting hall!” She sent them all a stiff look and turned back to her desk at the reception.

 

Eipeh coughed lightly, and, in a lowered voice, took the word. “This is the Venalicium. Many many students use this every day Despite the librarians” he added, grinning, though he went very quiet when he noticed the woman was still staring at them, at him, maybe.

 

“Any-”

 

A thunderous sound ripped through the library, the whole tower seemed to shiver slightly. Ever all people were running to the windows to see what had happened. Adrian too, though he was unsure of where the thunder came from, there were no more than a few clouds in the sky.

 

Then the alarms went off.

 

Adrian blinked a few times, disbelieving. But all around him the panic broke out. People running for the exit and their little group would soon get swarmed.

 

The realization struck; A pirate attack!

 

Adrian felt could remember the procedure clearly, stay in the dorms and don't engage the pirates. “Quick we have to-”

 

A second shot fired, sending a shockwave through the tower.

 

At the receptionist's table stood the twig-woman calling out over the crowds, calling for order. She was right, many more could be hurt by the panic than the pirates. Pockets of calm groups existed in the sea of madness though, his own was one of them.

 

“We have to get to safety”

 

“The library is safe” ventured Eipeh, though looking unsure.

 

“Does this happen a lot?” asked Diniz, a picture of calmness itself. A slightly annoyed calmness to be sure, but nevertheless.

 

“Not that often.”

 

In contrast Ayrien and the girls seemed a mix of horror and confusion. Haelion seemed to be recovering from the initial shock though.

 

“This could all be, just random then?” Ayrien asked, his eyes darting everywhere perhaps looking for places to hide.

 

“Random?” repeated Adrian, confused. That was when it hit him. “Could they be after you, Diniz?”

 

The prince shrugged, not particularly concerned. “I couldn't say, though it is possible.” Only now did Adrian notice the sword at his hip. Had it even been there before? Diniz sported a very fancy cape but had he hidden the weapon there?

 

Around them people seemed to have calmed down, the ones who were staying had closed the door, the rest had fled for whichever place they felt safest. Or, Adrian thought to where the fighting was happening. Durand had a bit of a reputation for throwing themselves at the enemy, though it was not always appreciated.

 

The girls had calmed down too, Fraedis and Seina had both taken a place at the window looking out. “Do you see anything?”

 

Seina moved to the side to let Adrian take a look. “Not much, but there is something happening out there.”

 

Off in the distance, towards the Imperial Reserve near Chorda Hearth several spells were being cast, and not just the simple Sheets of Ice or some weak fireball. Though Seina was right it was too far away to see anything definitive.

 

By the main doorway the librarian stood, locking the door. The Click ringing out through the library. For a time it seemed very quiet, people were either looking out through windows or had returned to reading. From what Adrian could see they were not getting far in their study, always looking up and around but he could understand that they felt a need to do something. Some of the older girls had found a map of the Academagia, and were moving little folded pieces of paper around on it. Adrian walked closer, recognizing their work. They were showing the battle as it looked from the tower.

 

“Look!” someone at the window gasped, and Adrian could feel the pressure of people at his back as he reached the window first. “They got an airship onto the grounds!”

 

“It looks damaged”

 

“Spells?”

 

“More likely from cannons, just look at it. It wasn't spells.”

 

Adrian saw that several pirates jumped off and ran towards the main building.

 

“Barricade the door!” he called, pushing through the crowd. A few of the older students helped him shift the heavy table the receptionist used towards the door.

 

“Will it help?” Adrian asked. The desk had been much much heavier than it looked and he had no more strength left.

 

“Maybe” one of the older students said. Adrian didn't even look, but the voice said it all. The man doubted it.

 

“There are spells and counterspells protecting the door!” the librarian said, still slightly in a huff that her desk had been moved. “Those beasts aren't coming in.”

 

Someone outside fumbled with the doorknob, then pounded on the door a few times. Everyone held their breath, their eyes fixed on the door.

 

A second went by, a minute, two, it seemed to stretch on. “They must have gone.” someone said off to the side. Someone laughed, a slightly forced or nervous laughter.

 

“Some teachers are crossing the ground.” a voice said, Deniz'. Adrian moved to the window and looked down. A group of teachers were making their way from the Imperial Reserve, past Durand collage and were moving swiftly towards the ship anchored not far above the ground by the main entrance to the main building of the Academagia.

 

A distance behind them a window was blown in, a few nearby students threw themselves onto the floor. Then the next window, even further away, crashed. Debris flew inwards. Some ran to the students laying on the ground, others only stared in shock.

 

What more could go wrong?

 

“Don't!” called a deep male voice by the librarian. Adrian whirled around, watching the librarian, half of her body missing, covered by an invisibility spell. A man's head hovered near the half-librarian, the head and his two arms were the only things visible. He held a knife by her throat, his left hand firmly holding her right, a wand in her hand. “Drop it!” he commanded.

 

A spell hit him squarely in the back, the invisibility faded quickly. Another spell hit him forcing the knife from him sending it to the ground, almost hitting his now appearing foot.

 

“Stand down!” commanded one of the older students, an Avila girl, her wand ready with a spell.

 

Then she suddenly doubled over and fell to the ground. Another head appeared near her, of a somewhat older man with a bald head and a bushy beard. “Listen kids!” he yelled, a flash of a wand appeared but faded again, as did the man by the librarian.

 

“We don't want to harm you, so shut up and stay still!”

 

Adrian could almost feel the hostility directed towards this one man. There were almost thirty students in the room, all looking at him, all waiting for a moment to throw whatever spell at him. Adrian too was ready.

 

The man must have felt it too. A hand appeared pointing to the librarian, who was now being lead towards the inner library. The knife missing from the floor. “If you do anything I cannot guarantee her safety!”

 

With that the old man vanished again.

 

The old lady faded into one of the corridors.

 

“We should-” Eipeh didn't even get to finish the sentence before he doubled over.

 

They were still in the room. Adrian cursed inwardly. Cowards!

 

As if it wasn't enough the silence from outside the door was broken. “We know he is in there!” a deep and nasty voice cried out almost faded to nothing as it had to pass through the heavy door. “Open now and we won't hurt you”

 

The last bit was said in a playful tone which just made it feel all the more creepy.

 

Adrian looked around, meeting the eyes of several others. No one knew what to do.

 

“Heeeelllp!” One of the first-years cried out one of the broken windows. Everyone look at him, half expecting him to be knocked unconscious, but it didn't happen. “Heeeeeelp!” he called again, though Adrian doubted anyone could hear. They were high up and the winds were strong.

 

All around people where standing up, no longer worried of the invisible men. “No one is in here! Go away!” one of the fifth-years called to the door.

 

At the opposite side the same nasty voice chuckled. “Best stand clear kiddies, and cover your ears”

 

“Explosives!” Someone called out. The people closest ran away from the door, everyone else took a collective step backwards. Adrian helped Eipeh away from the door, the boy still out of breath and bleeding slightly though not knocked out.

 

Everyone had begun gathering at the opposite end of the reception though a number had run, taking a dubious shelter further inside the library.

 

“Does anyone have a mind for illusions?” Diniz asked, hushed, in the silence where everyone waited for the explosion.

 

A pair of Hedi girls stepped forward. “What do you plan?” they asked, just loud enough for Adrian to hear it. “They may be coming for me” Diniz admitted, though he didn't look particularly worried. “Can you make my clothes look like yours?”

 

“Like Hedi?” the youngest asked, earning her an annoyied slap from her senior. “Any collage” Diniz said. “But quickly.”

 

“Godina is the easiest” the senior said. “I can do it”

 

The girl began weaving a spell, all the while people were shifting uncomfortably.

 

“We can fight them” said one of the older boys, the same that had doubts about the safety of the door.

 

An explosion shook the tower, making books fall. The door held.

 

Outside some voices were cursing though they were too muffled by the distance and the door itself.

 

“Sorry!” The girl excused as Diniz was clad in a suit of Godina, but instead of green it had gone sharp pink. “The explosion messed it up, I'll fix it!”

 

It didn't take long for her, though to the trained eyes of the mages it was a rather raggedy illusion. Enough to fool pirates though.

 

The boy was still rallying the students to retaliate.

 

“They are not the same as those others” he reasoned. “so we can at least chase these out of the school until the teachers can deal with the other ones”

 

There were mixed emotions, some agreed while other were more curious as to why it all was happening.

 

The second explosion came, sending half the desk flying through the reception, the rest pulverized to splinters along with bits of door.

 

Three large, huge even, slightly dumb looking pirates waltzed through the door. “Where is he?!” they demanded, their voice slurred.

 

Diniz, already expecting them, pointed further into the library. “some mage-ninja took a boy in there!”

 

The three men shared a look. The largest looked at a bronze pocket watch. “We should never have trusted them to keep to the deal!” he grunted. “Come on, we can't waste time!”

 

xXx

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I had intended to make it longer but I had a friend over this weekend. I got today off though so I hope to make a quick continuation to this one a bit later today or tomorrow if it gets a bit late.

 

Made a minor addition to the previous chapter too. Why or what it could mean I'll leave to you guys. ;)

 

Next part will be up somewhere later in the week. Sniffles, homework and a lot of scrapping of story is the cause of the delay

 

The library is below ground. Holy s- *cough* Yeah, I should pay more attention. Regardless, we will do some minor redesigning, and a bit rewriting. I'll let the previous chapter be in the original form but likely re-write it. I usually don't mind mistakes in fanfictions, I just prefer it to be correct. I'll make it better too, and it'll have cake. Maybe. ;)

 

Any more things I've missed/should've added/is horribly wrong? I'm happy to add/edit/erase as needed for the sake of a better story.

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I have not played enough of the game 2 tell if anythings wrong.Mage-ninja is a bit weird.

A good read regardless!(I don't mean so bad it's good kind of good!)

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hehe yeah I agree, but someone in my class keeps making pirate/ninja comments, and if we got pirates in a world where we also get ninja... then yeah. ;)

 

I'll be rewriting that part regardless. While they may not be ninja in name they will certainly still have a more stealth element to them.

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Exams have a nasty ability to soak up large amounts of time!

 

Post midnight writing is fun though. Might be a hell to read and mistakes galore but I'll fix it (or some of it) soonish (I suspect).

 

I'm still not 100% pleased but how it turned out, but honestly I've spent ages twiddling things back and forth and all it did was take up time and we'd never get anywhere. So, this is the 'next' part. Some bits are recycled most are not. Hopefully it seems less in-a-tower and more in-a-basement now. I'm still not pleased that the next part will take place in a basement but I think I got a workaround, that'll hopefully be exciting to read.

 

Gladly taking bets on what might happen next ;)

 

xXx

 

 

 

They were at the end of the tour, having spent almost two hours walking back and forth. Ayrien and Diniz had been chatting lightly with Eipeh during most of the trip, asking for stories and sharing their own. Adrian had listened in a bit now and then but had found the company of the girls pleasant, even if they didn't say much. Nor did the last boy, who had followed them in silence.

 

“So,” spoke Ayrien, his yellow eyes dancing all around, “could you perhaps show us the Venalicium?” Still his voice had a song-like quality to it, that made the uneasiness feel even greater for Adrian. “'ure” Eipeh said before Adrian could counter the suggestion, as he had done a few times now.

 

They turned for the largest library in the Academagia, located in the main tower. It was a way to go though chatter had made the walk through the heart of the school seem easy and unusual problem free, though that may have been Eipeh's doing more than anything. Loads of students were milling about now, some headed for the dorms, some for the libraries, other again for the gardens.

 

“How is your sister?” Ayrien asked at length breaking the silence that had taken hold of the little group ever since they had entered the main building.

 

Diniz' face fell into a more serious mask. “She is under house arrest”

 

“Oh, what did she do?” The boy actually seemed concerned.

 

“Nothing,” Diniz took a breath and continued, the small group hanging on his every word as they made their way up the ornate staircases. “Her mother though, tried to have me assassinated.”

 

There was an eerie quiet. “She failed of cause, no doubt hoping that my death would open a path to power for her daughter.”

 

Adrian joined the others in silence. It seemed even worse considering that the boy seemed to take it so well.

 

They turned a corner and the entrance to the Venalicium finally came into view. The wide entrance and the bronze plated inscription above it. To Adrian's mind it looked very stylish, though he was not quite sure what the inscription said, 'Venalicium' he supposed, though he couldn't make that out of the tortuous script.

 

Inside was the reception, with huge windows showing off the Garden and Beasiary, the Icanicix and Kazus Halls both visible off to the south-east. The muffled sound of pages turning, dampened coughing, some sneezing all prevailed over the general noise that had seemed predominant just outside the doorway.

 

“How do you know each other?” asked Fraedis, one of the prettiest girls Adrian had ever seen. Her light blue dress with the dark flowers only added to her charm.

 

Diniz fell quiet, thinking back. “It was not all that long ago was it? A year? At my sisters acceptance into the Academagia?”

 

Ayrien nodded, his eyes scanning the book shelves as they passed, the group walking further into the reception area of the Venalicium. He had pulled a small twig from a pocket in his loose white pants. “It was, my friends and I had been hired to add some flare to the party.”

 

“You were hired?” exclaimed Haelion, incredulous. Adrian was surprised as well. The way the two of them spoke he had imagined that the boy had been nobility – at least.

 

“Oh yes” Smiled Ayrien, beaming a set of white teeth. “Though we had been trained to blend in”

 

Diniz coughed a laugh, though he didn't continue.

 

“That evening was my first mingling with so many nobles, usually I would only be required to entertain one or two at most...” His eyes finally settling on the group around him. “Which is easy – a little white lie to get a conversation started and you are off. No one ever suspected a thing, usually. Never in my life had I imagined the amount of hyenas at such a gathering!”

 

Diniz saw fit to take over. “Unbeknownst to our friend here, my father had announced that a troupe of actors would be in the mix, they were to appear nobility but in fact were not.” He tried to keep the laugh out of his voice but didn't quite manage it. “There was a prize to be given to whoever could point out all the actors. Ayrien here was caught as the first, and they kept baiting him to expose his fellows.”

 

“I had a group of at least two tens, men and women, all trying to talk to me, all trying to ask about my past – a past that was build on only a whimsical lie we all had agreed upon before entering the ball.” Ayrien held a small twig between his fingers and whirled it around proficiently while talking.

 

“It was slightly unfair” Diniz agreed. “Especially considering that most people knew each other from former parties.”

 

“It was a hell like you would not believe!” Adrian couldn't help but smile. The group had halted by a staircase down to the actual library a sliver of sunlight bathing them.

The staircase was of a time long past, where wagons were used to move the books up and down. Two bands of metal had been inlaid into the, compared to the remainder of the library, rather crude, though wide, staircase.

 

“It was a success though” commented Diniz. It kept most of the party goers occupied while my father could discuss politics with his friends. “And proved a nice diversion for the rest of us as well. I won fifty pim in a bet because of you“ grinned Diniz.

 

“Surely you didn't guess us all!” Ayrien protested, his yellow eyes moving quickly from Diniz to something behind Adrian's shoulder.

 

“Would you PLEASE keep it down?! This” The lanky librarian spoke, none too softly either, “is a Library, not a meeting hall!” She sent them all a stiff look and turned back to her desk at the reception.

 

Eipeh coughed lightly, and, in a lowered voice, took the word. “'his is 'he Venalicium. 'any 'any 'udents use 'his every day. 'spite 'he librarians” he added, grinning, though he went very quiet when he noticed the woman was still staring at them, at him, maybe.

 

“Come” he mouthed.

 

The group moved in silence down into the the library proper. Out of sight of the librarian, though Adrian could almost feel her eyes following them.

 

“It is huge!” Fraedis whispered, a quiet awe in her voice. The group looked out over what could be a sea of shelves. The warm glow from the chandeliers making the white walls and light coloured shelves appear golden. “'his is 'he archives,” Eipeh explained, “it's not 'o easy 'o find 'hat you 'ant 'ere, as 'hey keep 'hanging the 'ystems. 'ot as bad as Longshade mind.”

 

“How do you find anything down here then?”

 

“There are rooms and shelves dedicated to each pillar of magic” Adrian explained, pointing to a hallway in the wall to their right. It lead to the Glamour section.

 

Ayrien took a step up the stairs to get a better look, following Adrian's outstretched arm.

 

“You can go anywhere then?” he asked, twirling the twig in his hand even faster.

 

“No. In first years you will be restricted to the pillar-specific rooms, and the archives to some degree.”

 

Eipeh pointed to a doorway in the wall opposite the Glamour section. “'hrough 'here you'll eventually get 'o 'he advanced 'pell 'ection, and 'urther down is 'he 'orbidden 'ection. I's all warded 'hough.” The curiosity was apparent on Ayrien's face. The boy even dropped the twig in his eager. “'eavily.” Eipeh added, perhaps to counter just that.

 

Adrian took the chance to show some of the sections he had used himself, and that the group might appreciate. The athletic's section didn't quite impress them, despite what Adrian had hoped. The girls apparently found sports dull, Ayrien didn't find it relevant for whatever he intended to study, though he never elaborated on that. Diniz liked sports to a degree, fencing in particular. Haelion mostly enjoyed full-magic sports, which, to his dismay, was not covered in this section in the library.

 

They were about to wrap up the tour when a muffled thunder shook the ground.

 

“What was that?”

 

Eipeh shrugged, not looking so concerned.

 

“Might be a spell gone awry,” Adrian muttered, though he was a bit unsure. Spells very rarely seemed that violent. “We are not too far from some of the practice rooms, so..” he shrugged. Trying in part to excuse the event to himself as well as the others.

 

Above them the huge chandeliers were swaying lightly from side to side, making shadows dance between the many shelves. The sea of shelves had become most alive, a wild thing.

 

The alarms went off, piercing the air, just in time for the next thunder to shake the library. Nearby two books fell off their place on the shelf.

 

“What is happening?”

 

Everyone looked to Eipeh, though Adrian knew that alarm. He had heard it last year, it had been ringing in his head for almost a day after that episode. “It is pirates”

 

“Pirates?” Ayrien coughed out.

 

“Yes, we have to get to safety.”

 

“We 'hould get 'o 'he nearest class rooms.” commented Eipeh already moving up the stairs again. Around them people had begun making haste, leaving the library in droves.

 

“Does this happen often?” asked Diniz, perfectly calm though there was steel in his voice. Out of the corner of his eye Adrian noticed that Diniz had been carrying a sword all along. He couldn't say why but he had never noticed that previously.

 

“Not that often. We had one last year..”

 

“'wo, 'hough 'he 'econd was more of a 'obbery”

 

Upstairs they could see the true chaos, many students were running around, some trying to find their friends, though most were working their way out of the library.

 

“Look!” gasped a girl, pointing out the windows. A few stores above them a smaller airship were cruising through the air. With a crunching sound it scratched the tower sending wood, iron and rock cascading down to the ground.

 

“They are in the building” someone gasped near the door.

 

“Bar the door!” commanded the shrill voice of the librarian who had caught the group talking earlier.

 

A few of the older boys began shifting the nearby shelves towards the door while chairs were being revisioned to a primitive lock.

 

“This might all be a coincidence then?” asked Ayrien, looking even more worried than the girls of the group.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“You think someone is out to get you?” laughed one of the fifth-years nastily, as he levitated a table towards the door. “don't worry kid, no one cares!”

 

Ayrien seemed very quiet. “Not me” he said, as the elder boy was out of hearing range.

 

“Diniz” mouthed Adrian. Of cause. “Would they really try to get you here?”

 

Diniz shrugged. “I wouldn't know.”

 

It seemed foolish. The Academagia was one of the most secure places. Sort of. Still the teachers were very skilled, and the students were not without means.

 

One of the most secure places he agreed with himself. Adrian looked out of the windows. The ship had vanished from view, though there were many people running about on the ground outside. Some casting spells into the air.

 

One of the most secure places he knew, at least. Adrian couldn't help but wonder how shockingly lax it might seem to a prince. He might be used to have bodyguards, a castle, all sorts of things.

 

An explosion shook the building sending a wave of rock and pebble down past the windows. It was close this time, inside the building.

 

“There are someone outside” said one of the boys close to the door.

 

The librarian stepped closer to the door, already conjuring a spell. With her voice more penetrating she shouted at the door. “We locked the door. Find safety in one of the classrooms with a teacher!”

 

Adrian felt a bit bad though the feeling vanished like dew in the sun as the reply came in a very deep and slightly slurred voice. “Open up kiddies, we won't hurt you.”

 

Someone knocked at the door, pulling and pushing though nothing happened. Thankfully. Adrian took a deep breath, he hadn't even noticed he had been holding it. All around people were tense, all staring at the door.

 

Something hard hit the opposite side of the door though it didn't budge. Then, nothing. Silence.

 

They all stared in silence for a very long minute. Nothing happened.

 

“Do you suppose they just left?”

 

Most of the people looked skeptical, though also a tad hopeful.

 

Two more minutes stretched. “They must have gone.” someone said off to the side. There was a freeing laughter if it was slightly forced and nervous.

 

“Some teachers are crossing the ground.” a voice said, Diniz'. Adrian moved to the window and looked down. A group of teachers were making their way from the Imperial Reserve past the Durand Collage and were moving swiftly towards the main building of the Academagia.

 

Just as things were about to look up several of the large windows shattered blowing shards and pieces of metal frame into the room. As the glass rain subsided Adrian looked up. What had caused this? A stray spell? He surveyed the nearby field but while there were a few students casting there it seemed unlikely.

 

“No one move” Spoke a mostly invisible man while holding a firm grip on the librarian. Only his head was showing proper, the rest of what would be a body was transparent though it held a slight blueish tinge to it. Like colored air.

 

“Stay calm, no funny biscuit” His voice carried an odd accent that Adrian couldn't quite place. There was a bit of muffled laughter at his poor Regalian, though he didn't seem to mind overly. Instead he pushed the librarian forward. “The hidden books. Now” he grunted, even as he passed several now scowling students. The man seemed not to notice, or not to care, that a few students had even gathered their nerve to summon a palette, though the answer to their casting came swiftly, but not from the man leading the librarian down a set of stairs. It came in form of paralyzing spells cast from two men hiding in the shadows. Not that it mattered much as they were invisible as well. It was only the air that showed a light blueish tinge that revealed them at all. That and that the spells came in that direction.

 

All thoughts of rebellion died down with that. It was difficult to see if they had moved, hiding in the shadows as they were, and Adrian found the doubt infuriating.

 

There came a bump from the large main doors. Then another. Adrian was torn, he didn't like looking away from the blueish tinge that he could just barely see if he strained his eyes, but he didn't like the sound from the door either.

 

“I'd stay away from the door kiddies!” came a muffled shout from the door.

 

“Get bac--”

 

The blast came much sooner than anyone had expected, though thankfully no one stood just by the door. Splinters, pieces of wood and furniture, as well as scrapes of stone came flying into the hall, a few single pieces even flying far enough to pierce the large glass windows, falling into the fields just outside.

 

Though the rubble and smoke came three, no four large men, all dressed as what could only be pirate attire, and not the fancy kind either. The men wore raggedy clothes which only made them all the more scary.

 

“'an so!” coughed the largest pirate as he stepped through the smoke, his friends in tow. “we finally came though! We were beginning to think you didn't want us inside!” he brayed his hand patting a huge sword in a hit hanging from his belt. It was an odd kind of blade to Adrian's eyes, but he knew that the pirates had their own weapon makers and were skilled in their use.

 

“Hail! Show 'em the sketch” One of his friends took a few steps forward passing the largest man with the bushy gray beard. He fiddled with a piece of parchment, uncoiled it from the protective cylinder and showed it to the students.

 

“Any of ye seen this here lad?” Adrian had, and so must most others. It was Diniz, though the sketch didn't do the boy credit.

 

A few of the others glanced to the back of the room, where Diniz had stood looking out the window. Had Adrian not moved to get a better view out of the window they would have stood next to eachother. Knowing that Diniz was running on borrowed time Adrian couldn't help but try and find the boy in the midst, it should be easy with his unusual clothing.

 

But he was not there. He found Haelion easy, and the two girls next to him. A few of the others were looking around as well, no one finding him it seems.

 

“So?” rasped the leader of the pirates, impatient. Adrian had begun to think of him as captain, though the man lacked both a large hat and a parrot, maybe even a wooden leg though that one may belong to fantasy stories rather than the real life.

 

A small, frail voice broke the silence. “Some invisible mages broke in and stole him away” Adrian blinked. It was a girl near the back, from Hedi. She must have been a third or fourth-year though suddenly it didn't seem so important. What was important was that she had just spun a lie that might save Diniz' life.

 

“Oh aye?” The pirate said, his voice laced with distrust. The big man moved towards her with a gait that only a pirate would be able to use and get away with it. “And that is the truth is it?”

 

“We shouldn't 'ave trus-” one of the large pirates swallowed hard just by a single glare from the captain. “An how, pray tell, did they come in before we? Hmm?!”

 

The Hedi girl, a rather small ravenhaired girl seemed to shrink as she was questioned.

 

“Open your eyes mate” called one of the upperclassmen from Durand. “They came through the window”

 

“Aaaah!” the large pirate moved to the Durand boy, his gait still as unsteady as ever, as if he was unsure if the floor would suddenly jump up to knock him down. “A hero aye?” the pirate was so close that the boy had to move back, presumably to avoid the smell.

 

The pirate took a firm grip on the nape of the boy's robe and moved towards the window. Carefully examining it. “Hmmm...” he rumbled, so deep that Adrian could almost feel it in his chest. “Did you see them take the boy?”

 

“Yes”

 

“Hmmm”

 

“Hail!” the pirate approached his leader with some caution. “This boy?”

 

“Yes!” the Durand boy said, pretending to look carefully at the picture.

 

“You'r sure?!”

 

“Yes!”

 

Adrian was surprised to see that the boy fell to the ground when the large pirate let go of his robes. Had the man really carried his collagemate so easily in one arm?

 

The pirate fished up a disk, not unlike a pocket chronometer that had become fashionable in some places.

 

The large pirate studied it, then shook it, turned it, shook it again, flipped it. Just then Adrian saw the face of the device. It held three arrows, a blue, green and red. The blue and red both pointed very close to the same direction, namely further into the library. The last pointed the exact opposite, in the direction of the Imperial Reserve.

 

“Good kids!” the pirate rumbled, deftly snapping the device shut and placing it in his pocket. “We won't have to test if you can fly today!” he barked a laugh. “Come boys! We hunt!”

 

When the whole group of pirates had left everyone gave a sigh of relief. Adrian too though he tried to find a few things in the crowd. Where had Diniz gone? And were the blueish mages still there?

 

He strained his eyes but they were gone, they must have escaped when the pirates entered. Had they been afraid of the pirates? Adrian had secretly considered flinging a spell at the pirates, forcing them out of the library. But if the blue mages were afraid of them...

 

Where were Diniz though? He looked around. He found Haelion easily, and the girls. They were talking to the ravenhaired Hedi and... Adrian frowned. A Goldina? He squinted. Somehow the boy seemed out of focus, sort of fuzzy, like the colors faded into each other around him.

 

It was Diniz! He recognized the face, they must have used a glamour!

 

Relieved Adrian went to join the group while there were if but a short break.

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Bet:

 

5 pims = Ninja-mages make an appearance laugh.gif

 

20 pims = Adrian (Not you Adrian!) chooses to follow the pirates.

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