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Dearest Black Chicken Studios, you are killing me softly with the long wait. So this just popped into my mind and I decided to post it here, subtly influencing your mind for Year 3 contents! The year is 1699 as the twelve year old Artemis looked out the window, watching the snow pile up and listening to the muffling howls of the wind. The school had warned that there was a blizzard coming and students were not allowed to exit the dormitories. Artemis sighed, as he often does, and pressed his face against the cold glass window. He tried to spot the tell-tale glow of lamps from the city of Mineta but the all he could see was snow fluttering pass. Eventually he got bored and tore himself away from the window of his room. The same room he had since the first year after requesting it from the Legate as a reward for saving the school from “The Jungle of Killer Plants!” through the use of his alchemical skills. The boy put on his robe to keep warm and gestured to Cuddles the stuffed toy to follow. The familiar had lost one eye and a chunk of his left ear to a killer flytrap but otherwise was as lively as ever. Feeling the comforting weight of Cuddles on his hood, Artemis exited the room and immediately smelled the sweet smell of chocolate. Salivating slightly, the boy followed his nose that lead him to the kitchenette below. “Boomflags!!” shouted a boy and girl voice. Artemis peeked and found the Second-Years Catherine and Christopher Lionheart beaming and pouring their special “Boomflags” hot chocolate into the mugs of their fellow dorm mates. Quite suddenly Artemis felt a poke on both sides of his ribs, causing him to jump. Vettor Conta grabbed Artemis into a headlock while his apprentice, the equally cheeky Paolo Vulpe tickled him. Cuddles got onto his wobbly feet and set off to find Sasha the tiger. When he came back, everyone was cheering on Vettor and Paolo as they tickled Artemis at all the sensitive areas. Sasha growled and everyone quickly stopped and looked sheepish, as though Professor Storey had walked in with his cane. “Aww come on! We were just playing with him, I swear” said the young Paolo with a grin on his face. Artemis had smile on his face when the two jokesters tripped over one another as Sasha pretended to attack at them. The roaring laughter from everyone else made the dorm feel quite welcoming. Having gotten his share of the delicious coco, Artemis made his way to the common room to stare out the windows again. He choked when who other than Philippe Marchant appeared in the doorway. Cuddles immediately jumped onto Artemis’ head and shook his paws menacingly at Philippe. The bully was just about to do something horrible when he remembered a little promis he had made. Artemis was already tense and prepared for a hurting when Philippe said quietly “Hey, did you put out enough feed for rabbits last night?” Artemis was stunned for a moment and nodded quickly, nearly shaking off Cuddles. Philippe, satisfied that Artemis had kept his promise, gave a grunt and walked towards the kitchenette. Artemis sighed and relaxes until Philippe whispered in his ear “By the way, I told you to wash the blankets for the puppies yesterday, so now you owe me two bags of candy” and stalked away. “At least he isn’t hitting me anymore right?” beamed Artemis to Cuddles as the bully bullied his way to no less than three mugs of coco and a chicken leg. Regardless of his currant behaviour, Artemis thought that it was good that Philippe was showing his soft-side, albeit in an odd manner. Artemis had once stumbled upon Philippe caring for some young animals at the Bestiary. At first Philippe looked awfully comical with a fluffy kitten in his hands. That didn’t last as he settled and shooed the little animals to the other corner so that they wouldn’t hear the horrible things he would do to Artemis if he didn’t keep his mouth shut! And also quite embarrassingly he asked if Artemis would at least help him care for the animals when he is locked up in detention. It was quite an awkward friendship that nearly convinced his friends that Philippe had Mastery. A sudden slam of basement door distracted Artemis from his reminiscing. He saw a group of boys and girls coming from the basement. “I cannot believe this! How did the teachers find out?!” A mousy little boy with a reputation for truancy had an ashamed look on his face. He was fidgeting as the other students in the group groaned and got mad. “It was to meet that Aranaz girl wasn’t it?! I told you!” “Ahh!! Tonight is the premier of The Magpie 2: Revenge of the Apprentice!” “*Sigh* Now I won’t get see those taut buttocks . *Smack!* Thanks a lot Matthew!” “Great! Now the secret tunnel is sealed and we are about to land in detention! Thanks you Matthew!” The leader of the pack, one fearless Malthezar Mhadi, calmed his followers. “Now, now. I am sure we can open another tunnel some other day. And besides, the weather is so bad the show must be cancelled.” The others murmured and muttered and with a heavy heart accepted the fact that tonight was not the night to see The Magpie 2. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun with Matthew here right?” A girl named Tessa, with a mean streak almost as bad as Joana Lio y Rosollo, grinned as she leaned towards Matthew’s suddenly perspiring face. Artemis could only offer a prayer to the gods for Matthew’s safety as he is carried up the stairs in a fluffy of shouts and chants. The common room itself was warmly lit by the fireplace and floating glow orbs. Curtains were drawn, allowing shadows to flicker on desks and walls, with the wind howling slightly. This was not the same common room after the fire resulted from last year’s (now permanently cancelled) Fire Beetles Caring Assignment. On a large table in the centre of the room were five students. Artemis didn’t quite recognize them as they had hoods on. A quick glance revealed that they were playing The Proving Grounds™ Boardgame (3.7th edition.) What started out as a very niche franchise became a very common game played by the younger populations. From boring number crunching to eye-catching light and sound effects, the franchise was enjoyed by many in and around Elumia. They even fixed the terrible naming of pre-made characters such as one Tygate “The Man” Ofminet to Tygate Man-Terror. Artemis could see that the two sides were evenly matched and the referee was bored out of his mind. A multi-handed Level 9 Blue Monkey was slashing furtively at a Level 8 Steel-plated Snail-overlord. It was obvious that the snail-overlord would win eventually because the Monkey had only a stamina of 6 (-1 from wielding the Granite Hammer). The other end was a Level 8 Elven Geomancer wielding the Hammer-Fist on a Stick versus the Level 8 and a half Centaur Scholar of Debauchery using the Scrolls of Bad Humour. The fight only involved both opponents trying to hit each other but missing on every opportunity. Artemis thought of his little Level 6 Pyjama Hero figure he had left upstairs, next to the larger wooden puppet version of the Pyjama Hero. Surely his could stand toe-to-toe with these experts if he used the Shield of Sektah and the Sword of Swirls right? Reaching the quietest corner of the common room, Artemis found to his surprise, Mina. His sister was fast asleep on the couch facing the window; a thick book on the Medical Properties of Curative Ice was next to her. The book must have been enchanted as peeking at the contents gave Artemis blurry vision. He set the book on a nearby end-table, upon which was a half-finish plate of Caramel & Garlic Mushrooms. Mina’s strange taste in food sometimes disgusted people. Artemis whipped out a handkerchief to wipe the little drool off the side of her mouth, when Mina pounced at the sudden invasion of her privacy during her involuntary nap. Mina shook herself awake and found she had one hand over Artemis’ mouth and her other hand … somewhere unpleasant. She immediately settled Artemis next to her and gave him a peck on the nose. Artemis was not quite happy with the sudden attack but he still enjoyed Mina’s company. The howling winds had stopped, with snow drifting pass the window. The youngster sat there, with Cuddles in his arms and Mina snoozing softly at his side, as he watched the snow slowly piling on top of the statue of the now-deceased Legate Orsi. \(ಠ⌣ಠ)/