The Equestria Academy of Magic: A New Star

by Sorcerer

First published

Meet Jonathan Star, a direct descendant of Regulus Star- Equestria's greatest wizard. After his father is moved to a new law firm in Canterlot, he transfers to The Equestria Academy of Magic, makes some pretty weird friends, and unravels a mystery.

Meet Jonathan Star, a direct descendant of Regulus Star- Equestria's greatest wizard. After his father is moved to a new law firm in Canterlot, he transfers to The Equestria Academy of Magic, where he meets some pretty crazy students and staff and makes some interesting friends.

However, there's trouble afoot in The E.A.M. Students are disappearing with no explanation and as the looming threat of dark magic endangers the school, the teachers refuse to disclose information regarding the strange occurrences. Why? It's up to Jonathan and his friends to find out!

Note: When I thought up these characters, I imagined them in anime-style, but that's all up to the way you interpret my story! :twilightsmile:

Chapter One: Welcome to The E.A.M

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"Mom, I'll look dumb if I comb my hair." I groaned as my mom took a brush out of her purse and passed it back to me, urging me to brush my crimson-red locks.

I wasn't particularly excited for today, and by that I mean I was trying not to open the car door and hop out of our SUV. It was the first day of school at The Equestria Academy of Magic, and, to be honest, I was a little gobsmacked by the sudden change in scenery. I was so used to the picturesque landscape of the Crystal Empire, the towering precipices of quartz in the streets and the looming mountain range to the west. It was my home for almost sixteen years... but it's far behind me now. Canterlot seemed... a little less serene. Sure, you could put it on a postcard, but it just wasn't the same.

Dad was a lawyer, and a good one, or so he says. And back in the Crystal Empire he used to- well, he defended people, no matter how cruel. He got transferred to a firm in Canterlot out of the blue during the summer. Thankfully, it wasn't during the school year, otherwise I'd be a fish out of water. He wanted me to take up a career in law- "Inherit the family legacy", but I wasn't really interested his "legacy", and I'm still not. Mom didn't want that for me either.

"Oh, Jonathan! You'll look so handsome if you brush your hair to the side!" Mom, why did you always have to be difficult? I told her countless times before that I like my hair the way it is, but she wouldn't have it.

Mom was a wizard once, but when she was a lot younger- before she had my sister and me. You see, on my mother's side of the family, we're related to Regulus Star, a well-known wizard that used to serve Celestis Solare, the ruler of Equestria. But that was a very long time ago, back when my family was a little less detached, I suppose. My relatives are scattered around, but at one point we used to all live in Canterlot, or rather, that's just what my mother says, and they all used to go to go to the E.A.M before I was born. I watched the trees go by as we drove through the heavily wooded Everfree Hills, the twists and turns in the road kind of made my stomach churn, and to my displeasure, I didn't bring any nausea medication.

The E.A.M is a co-ed school, which was a big change. Back in Crystalline Academy, it was all boys, so I knew the concept of co-ed would certainly baffle me for the next couple of days. I let out a sigh of relief as the road began to straighten out, but then my body tensed up as I realized what that meant. The car began to slow down.

"Johnny, Johnny look!" My sister Beth pointed out the window, and I looked to where she was gesturing to reluctantly. Sure enough, there it was, The E.A.M.

Beth was pretty young at the time, about nine, and she had the whole little girl get up. Yeah, that's right, we're talking pink and purple bracelets, heart shaped necklaces, and frilly skirts. She was certainly a firecracker, and well, I loved her for that. What? Were you expecting that I hated her guts like most quintessential teenage boys would hate their sisters? Well... I do sometimes admittedly, but that's rare. She was really the only thing that kept me moderately sane on the way to The E.M.A, three excruciatingly painful hours of trees, a road with no center lines, and my own crazed, sleep-deprived thoughts. I was roused out of bed at five in the morning, five! You can only imagine how mind-numbing it was spending three hours listening to dad's unbearable pop from twenty years ago; hearing him talk about this one crappy dance tune that was 'All the rage back in his day!'.

"Geez..." That's really the only thing I could say as I gawked at the unnecessarily massive campus and humungous entranceway.

The front door was fit for a king; extravagant and ridiculously expensive looking. And to be honest, the crowd I was met with as I exited our vehicle blended in nicely. Every student wore a uniform, which didn't surprise me (In fact I think that was the only thing that didn't surprise me. We wore them back in Crystalline as well.), but they were white and decorated with gold embroidery, and the girls wore short skirts under their jackets. Their jackets had various nonsensical laurel designs that made their outfits look more like what you would wear to a ball, and it kind of sickened me in a way. It was like they were boasting about how rich they were without even speaking. Well, they were rich in my opinion. This is coming from the son of a wealthy lawyer, the typical father to a cliché boarding school student, so take what I say with a grain of salt... I tend to blow things out of proportion quite often.

I wasn't really the average wealthy kid. I hated over-the-top designer clothes, I hated the whole social structure of the rich kid world, and I hated it when I was looked down upon by the snotty little brats for not bending over backwards for them. As a matter of fact, I don't really consider myself to be "rich kid" material, I'm quite frugal. Back at Crystalline Academy I would often get my meals off campus at cheap fast food restaurants to go, usually curry, and eat it on a campus bench outside; feeding some ducks in a nearby pond with my naan bread as they passed by.

The campus was practically sparkling, in fact, it almost blinded me as I walked closer to the entrance with my family. Although, my parents didn't seem to mind (there I go again... exaggerating). As we walked up the steps, we were stopped by two young men who were probably in their senior year; they wore purple badges that read "Prefect", and the one on the left held a clipboard in his right hand.

"Hello, we are here to drop off our son, Jonathan Star?" My mother told the prefects. "This is his first day at school."

"Welcome. Your son will enjoy his time here, I can promise you that." The prefect without a clipboard smiled as he shook hands with my mom and dad. "You're just in time, Jonathan. We're about to begin breakfast shortly. We're having a buffet."

Before my parents could take another step towards the academy, they were halted by the prefect with a clipboard, who blocked our way. "I'm sorry, but you must say your goodbyes here."

"What?" I protested.

"At The E.M.A, we encourage independence," The prefect on the left stated. I could tell he had recited that line a thousand times before us based on his overly cheerful tone. "In order to fully absorb you into E.M.A environment, we have to let you take charge of your experience."

"My sincere apologies, sir. We must have overlooked that on the rules and regulations." My father remembered as he put my suitcase back down.

"It's not a problem, sir." The prefect on the right insisted.

"But, we can phone him, right...?" My mother chimed in, a layer of worry in her voice.

"Of course you can!" The prefect on the left replied as he adjusted his glasses. "We encourage independence, not abandonment."

I turned to my parents and stood silent for a moment; it was all so sudden. I expected to spend at the least a couple more hours with them, and the realization that this was it felt like I was a smoker going cold-turkey, completely numb and agitated. After a few seconds of quiet, my mother broke the silence and hugged me tightly. I felt her soft black hair rubbed against my head as she held me tight, and tears began to fill her sapphire blue eyes. Her voice cracked as she spoke "Your grandparents would be so proud of you right now..."

"I know, mom. Thanks." I muttered to her as she let go of me.

My dad wanted to look dignified in front of the prefects, which was understandable. He put his hand out to me for a shake, and as we shook he gave me a wink, signifying his yearning to hug me, like my mother did. "You behave, Jonathan. We'll phone you later tonight, okay?"

"Alright." I nodded, then turned to my little sister, who was beginning to cry as well.

"Johnny... when will I see you again?" Beth wept as she hugged my legs (she was far too short to hug me like a regular person).

"Don't worry, Squeak. I'll see you when Hearth's Warming Eve comes around!" I smiled as I looked into her emerald eyes and patted her on the head, ruffling her short brown hair a little. She smiled and wiped the tears from her eyes, handing me my duffle bag filled with school supplies, binders, and my laptop. As she backed away, I gazed at them all huddled together, with a big hole in the middle where I always stood when we got our pictures taken. "I'll phone you guys later, I promise."

"Bye, Johnny!" Beth hollered over to me as they walked back to the car; her right hand in mom's and her left in dad's. As she hopped in, I gave my mother one last glance; a tear rolled down her cheek as she peered out the window, and our SUV left the crescent shaped driveway near the entrance.

"Bye," I said with a shred of doubt in my voice.


The prefects told me to leave my luggage in a pile in the entranceway with the others, and I complied, although I wasn't too keen on the idea of leaving my laptop unattended. It was pretty dead, though, pretty much everyone was outside gathered in the center plaza. As I sped down the grand corridors towards the exit, I read some of the banners. Most of them were of the soccer team, The Rainbolts. Their symbol was, well... a multicoloured bolt of lightning and the banner read "Go Rainbolts Go!" like a roaring fan in a stadium. I scoffed a little as I remembered back when I was six when my dad painted himself purple and we went to an Equestrian Royals football game, and I was laughing at him the whole time. Remembering dad made me miss him more, and I kind of sniffled a bit as I power-walked down the wide corridor.

As I opened the door leading into the central park area, I heard a few voices whispering, and as I listened in, I could hear the malice in the tone of whoever was speaking. I turned back around and followed the voices, which led me to an intersection where I turned left towards the sounds. At the end of the hallway was three people, two of them were tough-looking teenage boys (both at least a head taller than me), and the other was a small, cute girl with a white wool scarf around her neck that cradled the lower portion of her face (which was odd, seeing as how it was still early September and still fairly warm), and she looked my age. The much bigger boys leaned her up against a wall and were violating her personal space by stroking her blue hair.

"Hey, cutie. Wanna hang out sometime?" The ginger-haired boy smirked as his face drew closer to hers.

"No." The girl covered the lower portion of her face with her scarf.

"Hey!" I yelled over to the bullies, and sure enough, they turned to me.

"Who the hell are you?!" The black-haired boy growled as he approached me menacingly.

"The name's Jonathan Star," I bellowed heroically, although, truthfully I was soiling myself. "Step away from her!"

"Heh, we ain't takin' orders from you, pretty boy!" The ginger-haired boy joined up with the black-haired boy and ganged up on me. It didn't look good at first, until-. "Yow!" The two boys wailed in pain as the blue-haired girl grabbed them both by the ear and twisted, a crunching sound echoed in the hall as she crushed their ears.

"I'm going to give you until the count of three to apologize to me," The girl whispered to them; a murderous look in her eyes. I cringed a little as I watched her tug a little harder. "And if you don't say sorry... I'm pulling them off."

"We're sorry! We're sorry! Please, don't rip our ears off!" The ginger-haired boy cried.

"Yeah, what he said!" The other boy agreed as he shook his head.

"Thank you." The girl muttered to them as she let go of their ears, and they ran off in a cowardly fashion; fleeing outside through the exit leading into the plaza. As she slowly drew closer to me, she looked up; her scarf still covering most of her face. "Thanks for distracting them."

"No problem, happy to help." I grinned at her, but my jolly mood didn't really register with her, and she ignored me; walking down the path I tread to get to her without a word. I called out to her. "Um- uh, hey! Wait up!"

"What?" She stopped and turned her head.

"Do you think you can, you know... be my guide? I'm kind of new here..." I said with a degree of shame as I looked into her amber eyes.

"Okay. Come." The blue-haired girl ordered me. She wasn't really shy, she was more contained than timid. But regardless of how weird she was, I followed.

"Hey, what's your name?" I asked as I walked with her.

"It's Mura Muranaka." The girl replied sharply as she turned the corner. Her speech was fast-paced and to the point. "Everyone calls me Murmur."


Mura and I gathered in the plaza along with the other students, who all huddled up beside a big statue of Regulus Star and conversed with one another. Mura and I didn't really do much talking, and she moved closer towards me as the gathering began to morph; creating space to accommodate the elite staff who were parading into the center of the group. They all looked like interesting characters, but... there was one that stood out to me. I heard a lot of things about her before moving here, and the name was on the tip of my tongue. She was average height, and she looked like a very knowledgeable person. Her rounded glasses were thick and clunky and her bangs just barely reached her eyebrows. I could definitely sense a theme to her, a very purple theme. Her long hair was purple, her ruffled blouse was purple, and her high heels were purple. In fact, the only thing not purple about her was her magenta highlights and black denim jeans. She approached the center of the gathering with a walk that screamed 'I'm on a mission.'.

"Hey, Mura... who is that?" I lowered my head to her height as I kept staring at the woman.

"She's Twilly Sparalk, the headmistress of The E.A.M."

"Welcome! Welcome to The E.A.M! If you do not already know, I am Twilly Sparalk, your headmistress." Headmistress Sparalk shouted to the student body as they backed away to make more space for the four other teachers who were lining up for her to introduce them. She stepped aside and pointed to each teacher individually. "On the far right we have Professor Chryssa Lee. She will be your Biology teacher, and she is the housemistress of Spriggan House."

I thought Professor Lee was definitely easy on the eyes. She wore a single strap black dress that went past her knees with black high-heels, and her blue-green hair looked like a tranquil lake at midnight. Her jade eyes complemented her sapphire necklace nicely, lighting up her tanned face and making it glow like a fireplace. A prefect raised a flag next to her. It was the house emblem; a green, woodland fairy on a circular wooden shield with a blue background.

"Next to her, is Professor Sombi Rasheer. He will be your teacher for Mathematics and Arcane Sciences, and he is the housemaster for Crystal House" Headmistress Sparalk pointed to a handsome and organized looking fellow.

Based on the infatuated expressions of the girls in the crowd around him, I could tell he was that attractive. He had flowing ebony hair that was brushed back- a windblown look, and his skin was a warm caramel colour. He had a five o' clock shadow that worked well on him, and he dressed stylishly, a buttoned-up grey vest over his black dress shirt, and a blood red tie that matched his burning, scarlet eyes. He wore grey dress pants and black shoes that were definitely made by a designer brand, ergo, they were way too expensive for my taste. To be completely honest, I was pretty jealous of the guy, and I'm sure every boy watching the girls pathetically moon over him were as well. Another prefect raised a banner next to Professor Rasheer, it was... well, a crystal of course. It was a black gem, and behind it was a grey shield with a red background

"And next to him is our Magic Self-Defence teacher, Professor Spencer Dragoon," Headmistress Sparalk motioned towards a casually dressed teacher- or rather- he looked a lot more like a student than a teacher. "He shall be this year's housemaster for Dragonflame House."

Professor Dragoon wore an untucked white dress shirt with a plain purple tie. His spiky, unkempt hair jutted out in odd directions but primarily went forward. He wore blue jeans with purple loafers, and as a matter of fact, the only thing I could see that distinguished him from a student was the patch of green hair under his lower lip.

"And next to me is Professor Shirman Armorè Sparalk. You may call him Professor Armorè to prevent any confusion." Headmistress Sparalk gestured to the tall and stoic man next to her. "He shall be your housemaster for Valiant House, Magic History teacher, and aid Professor Dragoon in Magic Self-Defence class."

I thought for a second about his name, then turned to Mura."Wait, Shirman Sparalk? Is this guy-?"

"He's Headmistress Sparalk's brother." Mura cut me off to deter conversation, and I shut up; not wanting her to try and rip my ear off.

Professor Armorè's hair was a sea blue with cyan highlights, and he was dressed in an all white outfit with the only exception of his cyan tie and gold pocket watch attached to a chain on his pea-jacket.There was an air of nobility to him, and he kept his hands firmly attached to his sides, it was obvious this guy was of some high social ranking- more than just a teacher. He was pretty good-looking too, which of course, made all the boys instantly jealous. Another prefect placed a flag with an emblem; a magenta sword over a blue badge-shaped shield with a white background.

"Now that we've introduced you to your housemasters and mistress's, I believe it is time to assign the newcomers a house. New students, in the inside pocket of your uniform, is an enchanted slip of paper with your name on it. The slip will be sucked up by this sphere in my pocket and your house will be decided once it has calculated the perfect house for you." Headmistress Sparalk explained as she reached into her pocket and lifted a crystal ball high in the air. "New students... raise your slips!"

I raised my slip along with the other new students, and in the blink of an eye, the crystal orb inhaled them all like a vacuum. It was pretty impressive, considering the fact that there were dozens of the sizeable pieces of paper, and the sphere fit in the palm of her hand.

"Your house will be chosen after breakfast." Headmistress Sparalk motioned to the house flags, and the prefects took them down. "Thank you all so much for joining us in our wondrous world of magic. I hope you learn, and most of all... I hope you build strong bonds that last a lifetime. New students, follow a prefect or pupil to the main dining area in the west wing."

"Awesome, I'm famished." I thought to myself. I guess being lonely and without sane friends makes you kind of hungry.

Chapter Two: The Lunch Table

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The main dining area was no exception when it came to extravagance. The whole room was about twenty meters wide, approximately sixty from the entrance to where the chefs were stationed at the back of the room, which was lengthy enough to accommodate the massive crowd. There were four rows of wooden tables, each stretching to the back. In the back was the buffet table, and as Mura and I made our way through the two rows closest to the center, I could make out the food as we drew closer and closer to the back.

There seemed to be just about anything you could imagine in the heated buffet table that spanned the width of the dining area. Whole omelettes with cheese and peppers, pancakes and crepes with mixed berries and all the fixings, and even a whole section dedicated vegetarians and vegans. You could see the chefs toiling away in the back, cooking and preparing meals for the highly demanding crowd (they were a mob comprised of hungry teens after all).The whole culinary ensemble was three times larger than Crystalline Magic Academy's, which made sense, considering the fact that The E.A.M housed more than five hundred students, a lot more than Crystalline had.

Now, five hundred seems like a low number, but Equestria doesn't have an abundance of people who wish to become wizards, it's a hard job. Granted, magic is used quite frequently in public schools and in day to day menial tasks, but it's applied differently when you want to profess in it like a wizard. If you wanted to be a fully-fledged wizard, you had to commit, you had to train and study. A wizard's job is to educate the next generation and defend the land from supernatural threats like ghosts, werewolves, and vampires. Not for the faint of heart, I can tell you that much. But I work well under pressure, which is a trait I got from my father's side, comes in handy quite often. Of course, you couldn't really tell right off the bat. You'd have to get me in a tight situation, otherwise I'd be just a useless jokester.

I grabbed a bowl from the stack at the end of the buffet table and took one of those packaged oatmeal pouches with the flavoring, like the crappy ones you would find in hotels. Oatmeal is kind of my go-to breakfast when I'm on edge, and the first day of school certainly called for an extra packet, so I took another and grabbed some raisins from a bowl next to the little compartment where the pouches full of oatmeal were. I used the hot water dispenser to fluff-up my oatmeal after I put it in the bowl. I also poured myself two glasses of milk from the cylindrical drink dispenser off to the side on a separate table, to the right of the main buffet. One was for me to drink, and the other was for my oatmeal. I also took an apple, because every time I'd serve myself an improperly balanced meal, I'd imagine a tiny mom on my shoulder scolding me.

Mura had some odd stuff on her plate. Tofu, rice, little rectangular pieces of green stuff, and tuna on one piece of rye bread. She also had an orange, which didn't really go with her meal, but it wasn't really my place to judge, being a person who had just picked out the cheapest, most bland, and least-inspired food on the buffet table.

"What's that?" I asked as I pointed down at her plate, specifically at the weird green things.

"Seaweed," Mura replied as she placed it on her half-sandwich, then placed the tofu on top. I gagged a little as I watched her take the first bite, but thankfully, she didn't seem bothered by my disgust. "It needs pepper."

"Hey, Mura... how old are you anyways?" I asked, trying to distract my mind that was fixating on how nauseating that sandwich looked.

"Fifteen," She answered, turning around to find the pepper on the buffet table.

"Hey, that's my age! Are in the-." She walked away before I could finish.

As Mura grabbed the pepper shaker, I turned around and tried to look for an open, secluded table. After the blue-haired girl was finished, she brushed past my side and motioned to me to follow. Trusting her judgement, I obeyed. "Where are we going?"

"To my table. My friends sit there." To be brutally honest, I didn't expect her to have a group of friends, she seemed far too contained for that.

We made our way back to the entrance to a table on the left, close to the corner of the room where barely anybody was, perfect. The table was secluded and away from the main four rows.

Sitting at her table were two boys. One looked like the typical computer nerd, and I could tell based on the fact that he had his laptop open on the lunch table. His short hair was a dirty blonde color, and he wore glasses over his green eyes. He was pretty short, not as short as Mura, but short enough to mistake him for a younger student. The computer nerd's expression changed from boring to excited as he took a bite from his fancy looking lobster-sandwich. He began typing on his laptop and talking to himself as he chewed his food in a delighted fashion. "Oooo! This is going on the blog! Head Chef Penelope Pinkerton, you've outdone yourself with this masterpiece! This sandwich is like making out with a cherub!"

The boy on the other side of the table looked like a spunky guy, and he had a toothpick in his mouth, but I think it was there just for show. He was pretty built, and he was taller than me, but only by an inch or so. His prickly, silver hair was brushed back like a hedgehog and perked up by his red bandana, which had a runic symbol in the center where it covered his forehead. His yellow eyes looked lively and wild, like a wolf ready to pounce, and he had various ear piercings that didn't go well with his unbuttoned, gold and white school uniform at all. Granted, the black pants and tie of his uniform seemed to balance out his getup, and they went well with his olive skin.

"Hey, Murmur." The silver-haired kid greeted as he gazed at me for a moment with a raised eyebrow, then back to her. "Who's this guy?"

"He's Jonathan Star, the new student Professor Dragoon was talking about." Mura introduced me by herself, but I didn't really object.

"Woah, Woah, Woah! Star? Hold the phone! You're tellin' me this guy's the descendant of the Regulus Star?!" The silver-haired kid was positively gobsmacked. "Wow!"

"Well, don't make too big a deal out of it." I chimed in, but that didn't seem to lessen his excitement. I really wasn't looking forward to all of this attention.

"Nice ta meet ya, Johnny!" The silver-haired kid put out his hand, and I grabbed it. We shook hands for a few seconds, then he broke it off and introduced himself. "The name's Fraylick, Fraylick Hernandez! I'm a certified Runemaster, and I'm also the top magic duellist in our class!"

"Fraylick, you're only the second strongest duelist, right behind Augustine." Mura pointed out his lie, and Fraylick's face turned red.

"Well, I don't count know-it-all's when it comes to magic duels!" Fraylick shouted in an embarrassed-rage. "Miles, back me up here!"

Fraylick had rolled his sleeves up to his elbow, and I could see runic symbols tattooed all over his forearms. A Runemaster would usually grow up to become a battle-mage, work for the army, or join the police force. They were like guardians who protected towns and cities, and they used magic runes on their bodies to cast a wide range of spells. They were rare to come by, and back in Crystalline (a school of three hundred and fifty), there were only three of them.

"Yo, Miles." Fraylick snapped his finger in front of the computer nerd's face, but he didn't react. Then, Fraylick clapped his hands together, the nerd jumped and gasped as he snapped out of his technological daze. "Miles!"

"Ah! Sorry! My name's Miles, Miles Redheart!" The nerd panicked and frantically shook my hand, then he brought out an inhaler out of sheer stress and sucked back some air. "It's an absolute honor to meet a member of the Star family!"

"Thanks. May I sit with you guys?" I asked them both, and they shrugged, which I assumed meant 'why not?'. I sat at the end of the table where an extra chair was set up to accommodate for another person.

"Bro, what the hell are you doin'?" Fraylick had a look on his face that just screamed 'you messed up'.

"What?" I wondered as I set my bowl on the table and began eating.

"Listen, that's Augustine's spot, so you should probably-." Mile's body tensed up as a hand was placed on his should, and based on his expression I could tell he knew whose hand it was.

"Who's this crimson-haired hooligan, and why is he sitting in my spot?" A girl questioned the whole table as she poked my nose.

"Ouch!" I exclaimed as rubbed the bridge of my nose. "What was that for?!"

This girl was rich, I mean, super-rich. I could tell just by looking at her face. It was all dolled-up and proper with a heavy amount of makeup, but not enough to be off-putting. Her uniform was perfect with not a single flaw, and right off the bat I could tell she had some major OCD issues. Her straight, rosy-pink hair looked like a sheet of silk, perfectly coiffed and neat, and her deep indigo eyes distracted me for a brief moment. She was beautiful, no doubt, but she had a malicious look in her eyes that contradicted her kempt and graceful exterior.

"C'mon, August, just let him sit where he wants to..." Fraylick groaned as he rolled his eyes impatiently.

"I shall do no such thing, you delinquent!" Augustine insulted Fraylick, and he stood up to face her down.

"What did you call me?!" Fraylick clenched his fist and brought it close to her face. It was an obvious empty-threat.

"You heard me, you ruffian!" Augustine got so close to him that her nose almost nicked his. "And don't try to act all tough in front of the new kid! You're only defending him because he's in the Star family, and you want to suck up to him!"

"Oh, that's rich!" Fraylick pressed his nose up against hers. It looked as if they were in a nose-jousting competition. "Don't act like you weren't going to kiss his boots too!"

"You know, I'm right here." They didn't really listen to me, and they continued to throw insults at each other back and forth.

"Murmur, would you do the honors and quiet them down?" Miles gestured over to Mura, and without hesitation, she intervened.

Mura gave them a truly terrifying glare that would send shivers down anyone's spine, and her little voice may have been soft, but somehow it emphasized what she said even more. "Sit down and eat."

Fraylick and August turned white, then sat beside each other without a word. Truth be told, I'd probably be scared too, knowing full-well what that tiny girl was capable of. As they all sat, Fraylick and Augustine shivered a little. "We're sorry, Mura."

As they sat down beside each other, I looked over to Augustine. "Hey, you can have this seat if you want, August."

"No, it's fine." Augustine insisted as she began eating her omelette. "But I'm only giving it to you for now! If I see you in my seat tomorrow, there will be hell to pay!"

We ate pretty casually; talking about Miles' culinary blog, Augustine's daily beauty regimen, and Fraylick's morning exercises. It was all pretty weird and random, but it was comforting to talk to some people my age for once. It had been almost three months since I left Crystalline Academy, and admittedly I was pretty lonely.

After we were done, everyone turned their attention to the entrance. Headmistress Sparalk was standing there with the four house leaders not far behind. "Attention! Attention everyone! Can all new students please grab the paper slip out of their jacket pocket, please?"

I checked my pocket curiously, and sure enough, there it was. A folded up slip of paper, the same one I had back at the plaza. Only it had been written on in very neat handwriting, it read 'Dragonflame'.

"Know that this house has been chosen for you specifically for academic reasons." Headmistress Sparalk explained, which was followed by the groans of disappointed kids. "This is the house the rating-sphere calculates, and it knows what house is best for you."

"So, what did ya get, Johnny?" Fraylick wondered as he tried taking a peek at my slip. "Oh, awesome! You're with us then!"

I was a little iffy about it at first and didn't really know whether to be overjoyed or mortified. However, my worries were subdued when I heard the cheerful voice of Professor Dragoon, who approached our table with a great big smile on his face. "Hey, guys! I see we've got a new member of Dragonflame! What's your name, buddy?"

"It's Jonathan Star, sir," I answered politely, although I don't think he really cared about manners that much.

"Say, I know about you! You're that student Twilly was talking about yesterday! She was pretty excited about having a member of the Star family in this academy!" Professor Dragoon chuckled. "Can't wait to teach ya in Magic Self-Defence class!"

"I look forward to it, sir!" I replied with a happier tone.

"Great!" He beamed, then looked over to Headmistress Sparalk, who was urging him to return to her side. "Sorry kids, gotta jet! Gonna greet some other newcomers! I'll see you in Dragonflame House then, yeah?"

"Bye Professor!" Augustine waved to him as he moved over to another table.

"He seems pretty cool." I grinned as I took a drink from my glass of milk.

"Oh yeah, he's the best!" Miles said as he closed his laptop and put it back in his case.

"This may only be his second year as a teacher, but he's made a huge impact on this school. He definitely knows his stuff." Fraylick added as he took one last bite from what used to be his egg salad sandwich.

"He's also one of top ten wizards in the world." Augustine chimed in as she took a sip from her chamomile tea. "He had the highest average in E.A.M history, I record I plan on beating this year."

"Really, August. You plan on getting higher than one-hundred and two percent?" Fraylick doubted her and gave her a smug look.

"Yes, as a matter of fact I do!" She huffed as she crossed her arms.

"Students, please follow a prefect or pupil in your house to the main entrance where your luggage is being kept! They will guide you to your dorm afterwards!" Professor Armorè bellowed as he stepped aside to let the students who were done their breakfast get past him.

"I guess I better get going then," I said as I got up from the chair with my bowl.

"We'll come with you!" Everyone at the table but Mura shouted. I sighed, realizing that they'd all be clinging onto me for probably the next week or so.


I got to my room on the second floor, and I tossed my luggage onto my twin bed. It was odd having a room for yourself, but apparently every student had their own. That wasn't the case at all back in Crystalline, you always slept with a roommate, even if you were in your senior years. Feeling free and relaxed, I popped my earbuds in and I looked around the room with some rock set to max volume as I unpacked my stuff and tossed it in the open closet at the foot of my bed messily.

Every damn room had that snotty regal vibe to it, right down to the gold-laced pillows. The white walls with gold embroidery, the red carpet floors, the red and gold silk drapes on the windows, the wooden furniture with complicated wood carvings of grape vines and dragons. Everything was so stupidly over the top and gold in some way, which was something I wasn't looking forward to. It was all too flashy and expensive, too show-offish. I had to fix it, so I put up some of my posters I packed in my luggage of grungy rock bands and techno artists, just to give the room a little vibrancy. I put all the books my mom packed for me on my shelf next to my desk, then I set up my laptop for later, to video-chat with my family.

After I finished unpacking, I put my suitcase under my bed and I sat down on my computer chair, staring at the wall with a spaced out expression. Geez, even the damn ceiling had bloody gold embroidery. It was starting to make me sick to my stomach.

My nausea was brief, thankfully, as there was a knock at my door. I opened it up, and sure enough, there was Miles with an excited look in his eye. I raised an eyebrow as I took out my earbuds. "What's up?"

"Oh, uh..." Miles trailed off a bit, trying to figure out a way to phrase his sentence so that it made him sound cool. "Hey... bro? Did you want to hang out, maybe go over to the plaza with me and the others? Talk, and chat, and what not? There's a bunch of food stands and booths there, did you want to check out the clubs E.A.M has to offer, maybe?"

I figured I needed a club. It would give me a positive outlet, something to do besides listening to music all day and texting, it was a free of classes after all. Headmistress Sparalk insisted that the new students bond with their pupils and join a club, the typical teacher 'cooperation' lecture. Although, there was some validity to that, I had to admit. It's hard to find a sense of identity in school without trying new things, I suppose.

"Sure, Miles. I'll be down shortly, just give me five." I answered him with a half smile as I started closing the door.

"G-great! See you soon!" Miles said excitedly just as I shut the door.

I sighed and looked in the mirror on my left, staring into the sapphire-blue eyes I got from my mother, and running my right hand through the crimson hair I got from my father. I spoke to myself, with a nervous tone in my voice "Alright John, you made some friends, now you've got to keep them. I got this, just don't be stupid. Oh, who am I kidding?!"

Chapter Three: I Joined Some Clubs

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It was around ten am by the time we all arrived at the central plaza. It wasn't as packed as before, due to the fact that the club booths for sports like soccer and basketball were gone. Sign up for athletic after-school activities were later that day, and to be honest, I wasn't too interested. Fraylick on the other hand, he was raring to sign up for any sport he could fit into his day.

The booths were set up around the center, past the perimeter of looming fir trees and vibrant flower beds surrounding the marble fountain in the center. We strolled down the wide sidewalk together, all our eyes fixated on the interesting displays. There was science club, which had a few intelligent looking students concocting a green chemical mixture. If I were to join science club, it would be utterly disastrous. Students combusting, blue flames engulfing the school, it wasn't a pretty thought, and I quivered a little as I imagined it.

Miles' face lit up as he saw the culinary club just a few booths away, and I expression become ecstatic as a pleasant aroma filled his lungs, tempting him to come over. He looked at us with the eyes of a puppy dog looking through a window. "The Culinary Club..."

"Go for it." Augustine rolled her eyes as she shooed him away with her hand, and he clicked his heels like a cartoon character as he darted over to the booth.

I stood in place with the others for a moment. We all seemed stumped, well, maybe not Augustine. She tapped her foot impatiently as she glared at us.

"So, what are you doing? My mom told me to pick at least one non-sport club, and I have no idea what to pick." Fraylick scratched his head as his eyes danced around desperately. He was as stumped as I was.

Well, I had to pick two at the very least, otherwise the little mother sitting on my shoulder would call me a slacker. So I thought. I wasn't a cook, wasn't really my forte. The last time I tried cooking was when my parents were out of town, and that ended with the microwave exploding in a horrifying inferno that left a scorch mark on the wall that we had to paint over. I also saw the chess club booth and thought to myself. It didn't take long for me to come to the conclusion that I was not suited for thought-provoking games involving a ludicrously asinine amount of patience such as chess, not for me.

"Hey, what about art club?" Mura gestured over to the booth at the end of the long sidewalk, by the entrance.

"Gee... I don't know about that. Professor Cordia is kinda..." Fraylick tried to look for a positive connotation to his word, but he couldn't find it. "Weird."

The Art Club stand was secluded at the end of the long line of booths, near the back entrance of the main building of the academy. It seemed to make sense to me. I always enjoyed doodling, making art in class, it was kind of my release. It was a way to just put my thoughts onto paper. Sure, they weren't masterpieces, but they were my way of passing the time, and I got pretty good at it. Well, that's what my classmates thought at least, back in Crystalline. My teachers didn't really approve of the drawings on my paper that should've been important schoolwork.

As we approached the Art Club booth, we came across some very odd and colourful pieces, all abstract and chaotic, like some kind of mad painter just vomited all of his hysteria onto sheets of canvas. Reds, greys, green, and blues, there was paint splattered all around the booth. The paintings were all gathered around the table in a nonsensical fashion, either stacked up on top each other unevenly or leaned up against nearby trees and the thick brush to the left of the display table.

The proprietor of the stand had his back turned to us as he flung paint at a canvas like a conductor directs his band, firm but with overwhelming ferocity. As he tossed paint at his abstract art, he hummed along to a classical tune that was playing on an old gothic-looking record player that looked like it was fashioned out of bronze and shined-up with oil to give it a prismatic sheen. Although the tune sounded familiar, it had a horror style mood to it, all overly abrupt and full of intentionally out of tune violins, yet the odd man still hummed as if the song was pleasurable.

"Excuse me, sir," I asked, trying to get his attention. There was no answer at first, and he continued with his work, still humming along to the broken symphony."Sir!"

The man jumped as if he was just hit with a fully charged defibrillator and he turned around with a shocked expression on his face. "Oh dear! My apologies, child. What brings you here?"

As he approached his booth I could see how slender this man was. He was about a head taller than Fraylick, but his proportions made him look taller. He had a small torso for a man of his height, and his long arms and legs made him look like a spider-monkey. He wore what I assumed was once a white business suit, but it looked as if it was caught in a multicolour explosion of paint. The suit like a wild and enthralling impressionist painting brought to life, filled with warm colours like orange, red, and bright green. His complexion offset the colours of his suit, grey and dull, yet his jolly and curious expression balanced out the dreary hue of his face. His medium length, dyed white hair was all swept to the side, and it concealed the one side of his face from view. His one visible eye was very out of place, it had a bright yellow iris and a blood red pupil. His cheekbones were very pronounced for a young man of his age too, and he seemed like an old-soul. He had an intriguing presence to him that was most definitely an enigma. He was intimidating yet humble, graceful yet clumsy, powerful yet contained. It was as if his whole demeanour was constantly shifting, changing, yet still remaining the same somehow. I suppose it was like that for every art teacher.

His smile grew wide upon his face as he looked down at us all and clasped his hands together with glee, and spoke to us in a soothing voice. "Are you all going to join my club?"

"Yes, Professor Cordia," Augustine chimed in when she realized I was out of words. "We wish to join Art Club."

"Really? Well, I expect only the best from you, my dear!" Professor Cordia pronounced his sentences all proper like a butler from those cheap horror flicks involving a haunted mansion, without the cliché accent, and I don't think he did it just for show, that was his voice. He looked over to Fraylick and rolled his eyes. "I assume you are Fraylick? Interesting. Ms. Ambrosia had many... colourful stories about you last year in Art Club."

"Oh, did she?" Fraylick shot Augustine an evil glare, and a smug grin stretched across her face as he did so.

"Well, no matter!" Professor Cordia cheered as he gave us each a slip of paper to put our signatures on, and took them once we all signed them. "We're going to have such fun together! Art Club shall start tomorrow, and repeat itself every second day until the end of the term!"

"Thanks, Professor," I said to him.

"Oh my, and you must be Jonathan Star! The campus is abuzz with talk regarding you!" Professor Cordia hummed as he patted me on the head. "I'm looking forward to seeing what you can do, Mr. Star!"

"Great..." I muttered to myself nervously as I turned away with the others.

"Toodles!" He sang in a flamboyant manner as he went right back to painting.

"What a strange guy..." I whispered to Fraylick, and he chuckled a bit in response.

"He prides himself on being weird, it's kinda his thing." Fraylick laughed as he looked back as the lanky man. "He likes things all messed up and chaotic."

"I think he's a genius!" Augustine added with snark as she raised her chin.

"I think he's cool," Mura mumbled.

After a while, we all found at least three clubs (excluding Fraylick). Augustine had had the most out of all of us, Science Club, Art Club, Music Club, Dance Club, Philosophy Club, and Mathematics Club. Mura had picked Culinary Club, Martial Arts Club, and Art Club. I also picked Martial Arts Club as well, because I actually was in karate for a few years back in my old school, and I figured I'd give it another go. As for my other club, I picked Music Club, mainly because I knew how to play piano, and because I ran out of choices. Miles was in Music Club with Augustine and me as well, and he also signed up for Philosophy Club. We all were pretty satisfied with our choices, however, there was one last club we were all interested in, one that we all scrambled towards once we saw it. Magic Duelling Club, run by Professor Dragoon.

There was a huge lineup, but after a few minutes we eventually made it to the front and signed up. We were all so excited to test our mettle in magical combat, and I'm sure many others were as well. Wow, I can't even describe how thrilled I was to be taught by one of The Ten Elites.

The Ten Elites were the ten most powerful magic duellists in the world who all gathered at Arcane Tower, a massive building in the center of Canterlot that was visible, even from the academy. Many of them were from Equestria, but there were some from faraway lands as well. Most were hardened battle-mages and wise philosophers, but there were teachers as well, like Professor Dragoon. It was kind of my dream to join them one day in Arcane Tower, to be the very best at magic, and based on Augustine and the other's determined expressions, I could tell they shared the same dream.

"This is gonna be sweet!" Fraylick pumped his fist in joy. "I've learned a lot since last year, you guys! I'm gonna mop the floor with you all!"

"Don't be so sure, Fraylick. We've all practiced too." Augustine smiled as she looked back at Miles and Mura, who both nodded. "How are you at magic-duelling, Jonathan? Do you live up to the family name?"

I thought about it for a little while. I wasn't fantastic, but I certainly wasn't a pushover. I could hold my own in my old school, but I think I'd have a lot more trouble keeping up with the others in The E.A.M. There were magic-duellists from all over in that school. "Well, I'm alright. I'm not great."

"I hope I'll be pleasantly surprised..." Augustine smirked as she tossed her hair to the side. I hoped I'd be pleasantly surprised as well.

"Hey, since we have a free day today, maybe we should all practice a little! Get to know where we all stand in the rankings!" Fraylick proposed, and we all were with the idea. "The after, we'll all meet up in Dragonflame House to relax a little!"

"Sounds like fun!" Miles grinned. "I'll watch you guys!"

"I'm in," Mura muttered.

"A complimentary idea." Augustine nodded.

"Alright." I said, although not with a lot of confidence. "Maybe I'll just watch with Miles..."


We found a perfect open area for us to practice after a few minutes of searching. It was secluded by trees and large boulders, and it was pretty quiet for an area only a few hundred meters from Dragonflame House, the house furthest west on campus. The green grass was cut short by the caretakers to keep it neat and tidy, and the sun was getting covered by the approaching rain clouds, the fresh smell of rain warning those below of the impending showers, although the warning was not urgent. The clouds were still far enough away to give us time. Miles and I sat on one of the big boulders facing away from campus together as we watched the other three duellists gather, Mura, Fraylick, and Augustine.

"Alright, this is just a casual duel, so let's not break any bones on the first day, okay?" Augustine urged Fraylick and Mura, but she was directing her concern mostly towards him.

"Roger." Fraylick saluted her as he stepped back a few feet along with the others. "Let's do this. We should all at least put on a good show for John, right?"

"Not too flashy, alright?" Augustine tried calming him down again, then looked around to make sure everyone was ready. "Okay, are we all ready? Go!"

Augustine showed-off first with her magic, plant-control. The grass around her feet began to overgrow wildly and form giant tendrils of green sprouts and roots. She whipped them around as she jerked her hands about in a hypnotic fashion, and she raised one tendril like a whip and aimed right at Mura. "Let's see if you can block this, Mura! Plant-Control: Verdant Whip!"

I gawked as I watched the towering pillar of vegetation come crashing down with Miles, who had an excited look on his face. "Woah, she can control plants?"

"Yep and she can talk to them too." Miles grinned as he watched Augustine's attack.

Mura grunted, and crossed her forearms in an 'X' shape. "Transmute Body: Stone."

Mura's body began to make crackling noises, and her skin turned grey as every inch of her skin took on the texture of a rock. "Wow, what's her magic?"

"She can turn her whole body, or any part of her body into a few materials, kinda like self-alchemy if you think about it," Miles answered.

"Transmute Attack: Precipice Fist!" Mura jumped up and broke the giant whip in two with her bare hands, and she landed with a great 'thud' as her stone body hit the earth. She took on the weight of the material as well.

"Nice block, Murmur! Now I'm gonna take a crack at August here!" Fraylick complimented Mura as he dashed past her and prepared his magic, raising his fist to activate a large rune on his forearm. It shone a bright red like fire. "Attack Rune: Fireball!"

Fraylick hurled a bright red ball of hot flame towards Augustine, and she raised her magic shield to deflect the attack. The attack was diffused, and it withered away as it struck the translucent green dome around her body. "Nice try, Fraylick!"

"My turn." Mura crossed her forearms again, and her body became black like a piece of coal. "Transmute Body: Vulcanite Rubber."

Mura's fist right hand stretched out like a rubber band and writhed around like a snake as she charged at Fraylick, readying her next attack. "Transmute Attack: Elastic Flintlock."

"Crap! Defence Rune: Ice Wall!" Fraylick shouted as a wall of cold ice formed in front of him to block the attack. Then, Mura's rubber fist snapped back to normal as she swung her arm, and the force of the elastic snap transferred into her knuckles, generating tremendous force as her fist made contact with the ice. It shattered with a deafening 'boom', but Fraylick was left unharmed by the attack thankfully. "That would've hurt..."

"Mura's pretty tough," I stated as I watched her rubber skin turn back to normal.

"Yeah, she's holding back too." Miles chuckled lightly as he analyzed the fight. "She's tougher than them, but she's too shy to show off."

He was right. Although that strike was powerful, I could tell she was without a doubt holding back a lot of power. It was a casual match after all.

"Alright, folks! Let's finish this, huh?" Fraylick charged up another attack.

"I couldn't agree more! Plant-Control: Vine Barrage!" Augustine shouted as a wall of whipping vines prepared to pummel the opposition.

"Transmute Attack: Elastic Musket." Mura's body turned back into vulcanite rubber, and her right foot extended towards the vines at supersonic speeds.

"Attack Rune: Thunderclap!" The sound of thunder roaring echoed as a concussive force escaped Fraylick's hand, barrelling towards the maelstrom of vines.

As the three attacks collided, they all were overwhelmed by one another, scraping and crashing in a cacophony of deafening noises. Mura's foot was slowed by Fraylick's thunder but thrashed apart the vines. Fraylick's attack shredded the vines, but it was dissolved by the force of Mura's kick. Their attacks seemed to destroy each other, like a three-way game of rock paper scissors, and everyone trumped everyone.

"Wow, that was cool!" I yelled over to the warmed-up fighters, who all shook hands and smiled (well, Mura didn't really smile). I jumped off the boulder along with Miles. "You were all so strong!"

"Yeah, well... I'm not that great." Fraylick said with a cocky attitude as he dusted off his uniform. "I was holding back for these guys!"

"We all were holding back, remember?" Augustine reminded Fraylick, who glared at her in response.

"Oh yeah? Because I saw you struggling back there!" Fraylick chuckled as he poked Augustine in the shoulder.

"Oh hush, you buffoon! I could wipe the floor with you any day!" Augustine growled at him, and the two became locked in a staring contest.

"Alright you two, settle down. We've should be heading back to Dragonflame House now." Miles sighed and split them up.

"Alright, alright," Fraylick replied as he broke away from his glare-off with Augustine.

As we all walked back to our house, Miles gave me a nudge to get my attention. I looked back at him with a raised eyebrow. "What's up?"

"So, why didn't you want to join them?" Miles whispered as he drew closer.

"I'm not that strong. I wouldn't even put up a decent fight against them." I said in a defeatist fashion. "Why weren't you in the fight?"

"I'm a healer, I can fire regular blasts of magic, but I don't know specialized offensive magic like them," Miles answered as he put his hands in his pockets. "And don't put yourself down. I'm sure you're a decent magic-duellist! You just have to get stronger! Isn't that what this school is all about?"

"I suppose." I brushed my hand through my hair as we kept walking.

"So, who's up for some ping-pong when we get back?!" Fraylick joyously bellowed as he turned around to face us, walking backwards towards our dorm. "I'll take you all down!"

"I doubt it," Augustine smirked as she tried to burst his bubble.

"You want a bet?!" Fraylick grunted.

"You're on!" Augustine replied with determination as she glared at him again.

"Will these two ever quit?" I thought to myself as I watched them argue back and forth all the way to the dormitory.

Chapter Four: Shine On, Littlest Star

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The Dragonflame lounge wasn't as crowded as I originally thought, in fact, no one else was around, and that was surprising, considering all the awesome stuff in there. There was a pinball machine in one corner of the room, there was a dartboard, a foosball table, one of those mini-basketball courts you'd find in an arcade. There was a plethora of board games to choose from as well in the drawers and shelves along the wall, although, I was never all that into board games, they always felt a little too bland to me. In the center of the room right next to where the three sofas were, there was table tennis court. It wasn't intimidating at first glance, and it seemed innocent enough. I assumed it would be a friendly game, but that was a mistake.

If there's one thing I learned the hard way at The E.A.M, it's that I suck at ping-pong. Fraylick bested me eleven to one, and he wasn't really the most pleasant winner. He danced around the ping-pong table with a cocky grin on his face and waved his hands up in the air like he was urging an imaginary crowd to cheer with him. "Woooo! King Fraylick is undefeated! I smoked August, and now I beat John too! I'm on fire!"

"Oh, hush!" Augustine crossed her arms in disapproval. "You only beat me because I made the mistake of holding back!"

"Oh yeah? Well, I was holding back too!" Fraylick snickered.

"Really?" I asked him. "Because you only beat her after tying with her ten times, you only won by two."

"Yeah well, I thrashed you!" Fraylick snapped back at me, then sat down on one of the sofas next to Miles as he put his hands behind his head and leaned back. "I wanted to keep my title as The King of Table Tennis, and I did."

"Maybe you should take on one more person, just to solidify your title." Mura chimed with her usual calm and contained voice in as she grabbed the paddle out of my hand and took my place at the end of the ping-pong table. I couldn't really tell if she was trying to be funny, or if she was just fed up with his cocky attitude. Either way, it was damn funny. The look on his face was priceless, he acted as if he had just been hit by a bolt of lightning.

"Um... The King of Table Tennis doesn't take challenges..." Fraylick muttered pathetically, avoiding eye contact with Mura, who did not approve of his cowardice.

"Are you scared, Fraylick?" Augustine giggled as she sat down between him and Miles.

"Ooooo... she's calling you out, dude," I said to Fraylick as I stood behind him, speaking to him like a devil on his shoulder. "Are you chicken?"

"Y-yeah? You chicken, Fraylick?" Miles added awkwardly with a slight stutter.

"I am not a chicken!" Fraylick yelled stubbornly, then stomped over to his side of the ping-pong table, getting into a ready position as he grabbed his paddle and ball. "Let's go!"

Fraylick stared Mura down with burning determination as he tossed the ball up in the air a few times, then after a couple feign-serves, he finally hit it over. "Take this!"

Within a few short moments, Fraylick's focused expression shifted into a regretful and fearful mug. Time seemed to stand still as Mura's eye shone like a burning flame of competitive passion that overwhelmed his by tenfold, and as her paddle made contact with the ball, Fraylick's face became even more horrified. Just by looking at him, in that very moment, you knew exactly what he was thinking, it was the face of 'I've made a terrible, terrible mistake...'.

I swear I saw smoke radiating off Mura's paddle as the ball zoomed over to his side and bounced off the table, striking Fraylick right between the eyes. He was flattened by the ping-pong ball, and he flew back, his head slamming against the nightstand beside the sofa closest to him. He wasn't unconscious, surprisingly, but he had two welts definitely large enough to get patched-up. Part of me wanted to help him up, but the wicked half of me felt that he had deserved that punishment. It was kind of like the whole "wrath of the gods" stuff, when the hero in a legend got a little too big for his britches, and his higher-up kicked his ass for it. Still, I helped him up, but I laughed doing so.

Fraylick felt a little light-headed, so we took him to the nurse's office. On the way there, he didn't really complain. Either that was because he was too concuss to do so, or he felt that Mura's "wake-up-call" was necessary to get him off his high-horse. Although I think the first reason was more likely, because he spaced-out quite a lot as we walked down the main hallway of Dragonflame House, looking for the nurse's office.

"My head..." Fraylick groaned as he removed his left arm from Mile's shoulder and held his head in pain. "Damn, Mura... do you take steroids or something?"

"Oh, can it!" Augustine huffed in a prissy manner. "This is your fault for being such a cocky bastard!"

"Yeah, I know..." Fraylick grunted as he pounded on his head. "Damn..."

"Well, there is a silver-lining, pal," Miles smiled mischievously. "You get to have a visit with Ms. Fiona Shae."

"Ms. Shae?" I wondered as I noticed the satisfied expressions of Fraylick and Miles, who seemed to be daydreaming.

"She's the nurse, of course, and she's very skilled at her job. She's the kindest person I know," Augustine sighed. "But she's a lot more popular than the other nurses for a... certain reason."

"Oh? What's this reason?" I asked.

"You know those people who are really attractive, but don't realize it, and put people in awkward situations unintentionally?" Miles laughed awkwardly. I could tell he was reminiscing on some cherished memories. "That's her."

I thought about it. "So, by attractive, you mean..."

"She's got a smokin' hot bod-!" Fraylick was cut off by Augustine's heel slamming down on his big toe.

"She's an incredibly nice lady, and we should only focus on that! You know how timid she is!" Augustine interjected. "I swear if I see any of you ogle her, I will get Mura to dropkick you into the next century! I hope you aren't as perverted as these two are, Jonathan!"

"I can... usually control myself," I said as I knocked on Ms. Shae's door.

"Famous last words..." Fraylick mumbled just loud enough so I could hear him.

They were definitely my last words indeed. The person that opened the door was not a common woman, but an angel that emitted a glorious light of beauty and grace that pierced by heart like a blade. My face turned bright red as I heard a voice, soft and sweet, greet me. "H-hello..."

She was an avian, I could tell from the two wing-holes in the sides of her nurse outfit, and the cream-colored feathers sticking out of said holes. But that wasn't really what got my attention, what did, was her breathtaking figure that could put any man in a stretcher just by looking at her. Her light pink hair was wavy and long like a giant wave, and it looked so soft and kempt, flowing like a river and complimenting her emerald eyes. She was curvy and buxom, and her smooth and flawless face was like polished porcelain. Although her outfit wasn't revealing like the nurse costumes you see on Nightmare Night, it was still a showstopper. It was white and gold like our uniforms and it seemed a little more like a dress, and it was a little tight in the chest area. The jokester part of me wanted to point out the obvious hot-nurse cliché and mock it, but that side of me was stomped on by the primal caveman that does back flips whenever he sees a busty woman.

"H-he-hel-oooh..." I could barely breathe.

Augustine stepped in front of me, realizing that I was lost in a void. "Hello Ms. Shae, we have an injured student here."

"Oh goodness!" She cried as she got Fraylick to sit down in a chair. "Where did you get these injuries?"

"I-ummphh!" Fraylick was muffled for a moment as Ms. Shae reached over to her supplies and grabbed a wet cloth from her sink, not realizing she had stuck Fraylick's face in her chest. He took a deep breath as she pulled away and began dabbing the wound on his forehead with her cloth. "Stay strong, Fraylick..."

"I haven't seen you around here before, are you new?" She asked me politely. It took me a while to regain my composure and respond.

"Um, yeah. I just transferred here this year." I replied nervously. "My name is Jonathan Star."

"That's wonderful, it's an honor to meet a member of such an esteemed family like yours." Her smile melted my heart like butter, and her voice was like a morning dove singing a sweet song. She was quiet like Mura, but she wasn't contained like her, Ms. Shae spoke softly because she seemed a little overwhelmed by all the people in the room.

"Thanks..." I grinned bashfully, then looked over to a blue, fuzzy cat bed on the ground by her desk with a small, white-furred creature inside. It wasn't a cat, and it wasn't a dog either. On closer inspection, I could see the trademark long, fluffy ears of a bunny. "Is that a rabbit?"

"Oh, yes... that's Angel." She pointed over to the furry rabbit with the same overjoyed look on her face. "You, um... shouldn't pet him, he's quite sleepy today... maybe you two can be acquainted tomorrow!"

I backed away slowly, trying not to wake the rabbit, and I leaned up against the wall adjacent to the door. "So, are you the nurse for just this dormitory?"

"No... I have other nurses working with me in Dragonflame, but they're all off duty at this hour." She explained as she put two patches on Fraylick's head.

"This hour? How late is it?" I stepped forward and turned around to look at her clock. Eight thirty, not too late, but later than I expected. "Man, time flies. What's the curfew around here?"

"Ten for first-year students, eleven for second-year students, and twelve for senior year students," Augustine informed me.

"So, we've got about two hours and thirty minutes then. Nice." I nodded as I leaned on the wall again.

"Alright, slow down tomorrow, Fraylick. Let your wounds heal." Ms. Shae insisted as she helped Fraylick to his feet.

"I got it," Fraylick assured her as he opened the door and walked outside into the main hallway. "Thanks, Ms. Shae."

"You're welcome, Fraylick. Have a nice night everyone, and... please be careful outside." There was a serious tone in her voice that made me curious, although, I knew bringing it up would bother her, so I bit my tongue.

As the door shut and we began walking back to our rooms, I asked the others what Ms. Shae meant. "Hey, guys. What does Ms. Shae mean, 'be careful outside'?"

We all stopped for a moment and stood silent, then Fraylick piped-up, hating the awkward silence. "You mean, no one told you yet?"

"Told me what?" I said as Fraylick stepped closer to tell me.

"A few months ago in June, there was a first-year student from Crystal House who went missing one night," Fraylick revealed. "Her name was Summer Anderson."

"Missing? Where did she go?" I asked.

"No one knows," Augustine added. "The teachers won't talk about it either."

"She just disappeared one night, then the school went quiet for the rest of the year. It was kind of ominous if you ask me," Miles commented. "We aren't allowed outside after nine pm now, which wasn't one of the rules last year."

"That's so strange," I thought. "Are the teachers hiding something?"

"We shouldn't be talking about this," Mura interrupted us. "We aren't allowed to talk about it, remember?"

"She's right. We shouldn't be talking about it in the main hall like this, someone could hear us." Augustine whispered.

"What are you all doing here?" A voice echoed down the hall and caught our attention.

We all turned, and Augustine replied to the silhouette at the end of the hall. "A friend of ours was injured, and we came to visit the nurse's office!"

"Oh, I see," The figure stepped out of the moonlight rays streaking through the windows and revealed himself. It was a prefect, a senior year student, and he approached us casually with a smile on his face. "I'm sorry if I startled you, I thought you were someone else."

The prefect was fairly tall, a little taller than Fraylick, and he had brown hair that was fashioned into a sort of flattened-fohawk. He had honest silver eyes, and he had a pretty relaxed demeanour. I wasn't really sure if he overheard our conversation, but he believed our story.

I caught his eye briefly, and he gave me a quick wave. "You must be Jonathan Star, correct? I'm Roderick Grey, one of the prefects. Although, I'm sure you already knew that based on the badge here."

"Nice to meet you." I nodded to him.

"Awesome... glad to have a Star in Dragonflame House," He looked past us and down the empty hall. "Pretty dead tonight, huh? I suppose everyone's tuckered out, being that it's the first day and all!"

"Yeah, I suppose!" I chuckled uneasily. I wasn't the best at small-talk, and I could see that Augustine was kind of holding her breath.

"Well, carry on then! I'll be waking you guys up tomorrow at eight, so don't stay up too late, alright?" Roderick passed us and walked down the corridor, then turned to the right and disappeared down another hallway. Everyone exhaled loudly as if they had been underwater for a few minutes.

"That was the Roderick Grey, one of the most esteemed prefects in the school!" Augustine was hyperventilating a little.

"You think he heard our conversation?" I asked.

"No," Miles replied. "I don't think so."

"He would have said something if he did." Fraylick deduced.

"Do the prefects know anything about the incident?" I couldn't help but ask.

"No, probably not," Mura answered. "They just enforce the rules, they don't make them. They're still students."

"This all seems so weird..." I muttered under my breath.


After that ordeal, we all returned to our rooms and got comfortable. It was about thirty minutes before lights-out, and I had put my favourite baggy blue pyjamas on already, thankfully you were free to use your own nightwear. I was getting sick of those horrid uniforms.

I opened my laptop and called my parents, and I knew they'd be eagerly awaiting a call from me. After it rang for a few moments, they picked up, and their faces appeared on the screen. Even though it had been barely a day, I was already missing them, and judging by the look on their face when they saw me, I knew they felt the same.

"Hey, skippy, how was the first day at school?" My dad adjusted his glasses as he squinted.

"Pretty good," I answered. "We had a free day to socialize and tour the school."

"Sounds like fun, sweetie!" My mother chimed in. "Did you make any friends?"

"Yeah, I made a few," I replied. "They're- they're pretty cool."

"Did you meet any cute girls?" My dad teased.

"Rick, he's too young for relationships! Isn't that right, Jonathan?" My mother voiced her outrage regarding my dad's comment.

"I'm just kidding, Karen," My dad tried calming her down by placing his hand on her shoulder, and she rolled her eyes impatiently. "So, what's happening tomorrow?"

"Let's see here..." I pulled out the schedule from the drawer in my desk. "I've got... two classes back to back from nine to eleven, Language Arts then Math. Then a break, eighty minutes of Science, Lunch, activities, Magic History and Magic Self-Defence, Phys. Ed, supper, then after that... either study or clubs."

"Wow, sounds like you're swamped." My dad whistled. "What did you choose for clubs, skip?"

Admittedly, it took me a while to remember what I picked. Not because I didn't care, but... I have awful short-term memory. "I picked Music Club, Art Club, Martial Arts Club, and... Magic Duelling-."

"You picked Magic Duelling Club?!" My mother's face lit up. "I knew you'd pick that! Who runs Duelling Club? Is Mr. Callahan still there?"

"No, it's run by Professor Spencer Dragoon, have you heard of him?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact I have! He's one of the Ten Elite Wizards, correct?" My mother recalled. "Isn't he a little too young?"

"Well, I haven't been to any of his classes yet, so we shouldn't judge just yet," I urged her. "He seems like a cool guy."

"Well, I hope he knows what he's doing..." My mother mumbled a little. "Magic is a fickle thing."

"Hey, where's Beth?" I asked.

"Sorry, skip... you missed her. She went to sleep an hour ago." My dad apologized. "It's a school night after all, you understand, right?"

"Yeah, I know," I said with a sombre tone as I lowered my head. I was really looking forward to seeing her again.

"Hey, c'mon son. You have all year to chat with Beth, and you'll see her at Hearths Warming Eve a few months from now!" My dad reassured me, but I wasn't too keen on talking to Beth through a screen for three and a half months. "Don't be look so down..."

"Thanks, dad," I gave him a half smile. "I'll try and call you as soon as I can tomorrow after school, okay? I've got to go to bed."

"Alright! See you tomorrow, son!" My dad waved as I prepared to close the laptop.

"Bye guys." I chuckled lightly.

"Make your grandfather proud... my little star." My mom beamed as she blew me a kiss goodnight.

I closed the laptop slowly and jumped onto my bed. I thought about my grandfather as I stared at the ceiling. His bright smile, his jolly laugh, that wink he'd always give me when our eyes met. I remembered the cool breeze of the beach where he lived, the bright sun, the roar of the ocean; calm yet vigorous, like him. It had been a whole year since he had passed away.

I remembered the comforting expression he gave me when I visited him at the hospital with my family, the hopeful look in his eyes. He was strong, stronger than anyone I had ever known, even after he lost grandma, he still remained strong, and that made me strong. But, no matter how strong you are, you can't overcome mortality. One day after I got home from school, we got a call from him. He had visited the doctor a few days prior, and... I guess it took him a while to work up the courage to tell us. It was cancer, spreading throughout his body. The doctors gave him twelve months.

The last year at Crystalline was the hardest in my life. I took a bus and visited him, I took walks with him in the early stages, but I didn't have time. My grades plummeted, my parents were worrying, everything was tumbling down. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, It felt as if every moment I spent away from my grandpa was just a waste of time. Then, one day, my parents got another call and pulled me out of school. He was dying.

I held his hand gently and wept as he passed away, and still remember his face. The same smile, the same wink. He died happy, knowing I was with him by his side, and I'll never forget what he said to me with his last breath. It the last few lines from the same story he'd read to me when I was sad, the same story he read to me when my dog died, and when I broke my leg. It was "The Littlest Star".

"Shine on, Littlest Star, though your light may be dim..." I whispered to myself as I stared at the ceiling of my dorm room. "Shine, like a brilliant nebula, wild and fantastical... Shine like a candle, calm and mysterious... Shine, not for me, but for all."

On that night, I swear, I heard his voice recite the story with me. And then I knew I wasn't alone.

Chapter Five: The Start of a New Day

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My alarm clock hollered at me in my half-conscious state, urging me to awaken with the sound of its cries. The awful noise rang in my ears for a moment as I rubbed my eyes and slammed the button on the top of the alarm clock to shut it up.

As my ears adjusted, I also heard a knock at my door, loud and abrupt, layered with urgency. The knocks became more rapid each time the unknown individual tapped on the white wooden door. I pretty much flew out of bed the instant I realized why the prefect behind my door was so frantic. I looked back at my clock, 7:56 am. I had four bloody minutes to get changed and showered and explain myself to Roderick. I was practically screaming as I put on my clothes and combed my hair so it didn't look like a disgusting crimson jungle of vines jutting up in the air (I'm not the lightest of sleepers).

"I'm coming!" I shouted in desperation as I jumped into my uniform pants and buckled my belt. There was no time to freshen up, so I plopped two pieces of spearmint gum into my mouth and sprayed on some antiperspirant.

I opened the door with a relieved sigh, but my relaxation was brief. As the door opened, I was met with Roderick, who looked at me with an impressed look on his handsome mug. "I'm impressed. Now c'mon, I don't want you to delay roll call."

I followed him down the extravagant hallway decorated with red carpet floors and white walls with (you guessed it...) more gold embroidery. I'm fairly certain it wasn't real gold, but the paint and the cost of design would've been disgustingly expensive, just thinking about it made me gag.

We both ran down the marble, spiral staircase in silence and into the main entrance of Dragonflame House, which looked a lot better in the daytime when you could see all the really cool architecture. There were statues and paintings of dragons and serpents surrounding the sparkling marble floor of the circular room that was probably thirty feet from the floor to the ceiling. As I looked up, I could also see dragons painted on the ceiling, spitting fire and battling knights and wizards. The overall design of the place had a real atmosphere to it, not all gray and bland like my last dormitory.

The one hundred and twenty-five students of Dragonflame gathered in the expansive entranceway, and even with all the people in that space, the room still had volume. Everyone split up into their age groups and about a dozen prefects with clipboards called out our names.

I lined up beside Fraylick and Miles in my class, Class 2-D, close to where Professor Dragoon was standing. The relaxed green-haired man strutted over to his prefects and yammered on for a bit, and got them all organized, then Fraylick leaned in and whispered to me. "I thought ya died, man."

"Well, you're half right," I groaned as I ran my hand through my hair. "I feel like a walking corpse."

"Was the bed not comfortable, or what?" Miles muttered as he tilted his head towards me, trying not to attract any attention.

"I just had a lot on my mind is all..." I told him. "Still getting used to all this, you know?"

"Yeah, I get it. I'm pickin' up what you're puttin' down, bro!" Miles tried to act cool, but it failed miserably, and he came off as an awkward buffoon. "I catch your drif-!"

"Miles, please stop," Fraylick shook his head in disappointment as he nudged Miles with his elbow and looked forward. "For all of us, bro."

"Sorry." Miles zipped his lips and stared down at the ground.

The prefects all split up. Roderick stood at the end of our row in the front, and he eagerly awaited Professor Dragoon's wisdom with a smile on his face. The young professor sort of paced around for a while just to see all of our faces, and as he settled in the center of the room, he took a deep breath. We all quieted down in response to that action.

"Hello everyone. As you all know, my name is Professor Spencer Dragoon, the primary magic self-defence teacher," He bellowed. "Now, I know some of you may be scared. I know some of you may be wondering 'how in hell am I supposed to fit into this wacky place?'. Well, it ain't easy, but... I know you new guys all too well. In fact, ask me, or any senior student what their first year was like. I'm sure the answer will almost always be the same. We were all newcomers once, it's alright to be afraid. I just hope that we can all adjust and work together this year because that's what this dormitory is all about, companionship. These people are all your brothers and sisters, treat them with dignity and respect, and above all other things... have a little fun as well. Thank you for your time, everyone. Breakfast will be served right away, so it's best to leave right about now."

The professor's words solidified my opinion of him in a way, made me a little more secure. I could tell he was an honest man, young at heart, but responsible when he needed to be. He was mature enough to follow his duties, but he was young and independent enough to relate to us all. And looking back on it, I think that's what made Spencer a great teacher. He could relate to us, talk to us like we were actual people, not just some mindless drones that had to follow orders to the letter. It was obvious that he didn't expect the world from us as students, but he expected some level of responsibility, and he expected us to let loose once in a while.

After our morning assembly and roll call, I followed Augustine and the rest of my friends to the west wing for breakfast. Breakfast was alright, I had more of those oatmeal packets, but it was a little uncomfortable eating them. Augustine shot me a few disgusted glares as she looked down at my food.

"How can you eat such slop?" She raised an eyebrow at my food, and her nose scrunched a little in derision.

"Well, some of us may not like gold chips on our ice cream and diamond encrusted white truffles, Little Ms. Moneybags." Fraylick mocked her, and she stuck her tongue out at him in a bratty fashion and then raised her chin to emphasize her prissy attitude. "Don't you have one good thing to say, August? You don't have to insult someone once the opportunity arises every time, you can bite your tongue once in a while."

She shook her head and rolled her eyes, but politely obliged. "Alright then." She looked around the table for something she could compliment, then looked to me. "Jonathan, your character is by far the most tolerable of everyone here... well, everyone excluding Mura." Mura grunted and gave her a nod of approval, then went back to nibbling on her tofu and seaweed sandwich like a rabbit chewing on a carrot ecstatically, hiding her face behind her wool scarf with every bite she took. I sighed for a moment and replied with a fake smile. "Thanks..."


After breakfast, my class assembled in the math room in the east wing, it was lead by none other than the leader of Crystal House, the handsome and quiet Professor Sombi Rasheer.

His teaching methods were... let's say unusual. He'd draw equations on the board and whisper to himself in a contained manner, then turned to the class to request input in order to complete the equation. However, you could tell that he knew every answer, only looking for input to measure our intellectual level and adjust his teaching methods accordingly. Luckily, our class passed with flying colors, or, at least that's what I think except for the meathead jocks at the back of the expansive, gothic designed room who were just yammering on about asinine topics.

"Aw, man. You shoulda seen the way Courtney was lookin' at me, man." One of the idiots whispered. They were not far from where I was sitting. The professor requested that they stop their pointless chatter, but they continued regardless, ignoring him.

I wasn't really paying attention either, I was looking around the room and admiring the scenery, peering out of the translucent glass that looked a lot like quartz. My fascination was brief, however, when the professor said my name, although I had no idea what he said other than that. I was pretty spaced out. "I'm sorry, what?"

"I said, I want you to solve this expression for me. Factor it."

I squinted and looked up at the board with a raised eyebrow, 6x2 - 13x + 5. I used what little math knowledge I had and did it in less than a minute, which was actually pretty impressive for me. I suppose I wanted to either save my ass or look show off. Although, the math was pretty rudimentary, so it wasn't really boasting material.

"(2x-1)(3x-5)?" I answered, still a little doubtful.


I exhaled deeply and leaned back in my chair, releasing the stress and tension. As I did so, I felt someone nudge me with their elbow. At first I thought it was Mura who was sitting on my right, but she just shrugged when I asked her. When I looked to my left, however, I was met with a cheery-eyed girl who gave me an excited smile. "Nice save."

Her blue-green eyes were like an ocean and her grin was pearly white. She wore a decent amount of makeup as well, but not too much, dark purple eye shadow and jet black mascara with black eyeliner. Her long maroon hair was shaved on the right side and the top was swept to the left side of her face as if her hair was constantly being blown around by the wind. She had an alluring glow to her, warm and faint, but noticeable. She was very attractive, and being a teenage boy, I was immediately drawn to her. "Thanks."

"You're welcome," She laughed as she whispered back to me. "My name is Saffron, Saffron O'Neil. I already know who you are. Pretty much everyone knows, being that you're a member of the Star family and all that. But I'm guessing that you're pretty tired of having your boots kissed by the teachers and all those girls piling on top of you, am I right?"

"Yeah, tell me about it," I teased with a smug grin and a sarcastic nod, trying to be cool around her. "I get it all the time..."

"Nice..." She played along with my sarcasm and looked towards the front where the professor was writing down more equations. "So, how have you liked school so far?" She asked as she tapped her pencil against her desk out of sheer boredom.

"It's been alright," I replied as I placed my shoulder on my desk and held my head in my hand. "I'm still getting used to the change in scenery."

"Yeah, it can be a little overwhelming at times. I remember when I was new too, but I got used to it, the teachers here are pretty cool-." She ducked and dodged an incoming paper airplane that was thrown by one of the jocks. "Almost got me!"

"Oh, damn... it's going across the room way too fast!" The one jock whisper-yelled as he watched the plane fly towards the chalkboard at the front. "Oh, no. Oh, man!"

It was too late to stop it, the plane was headed right for the professor's head. However, just as it was about to make contact, it disintegrated into ash, as if there were some aura around Professor Rasheer. He stood silent and stared at the board, motionless and unmoving. Then, two trails of purple smoke billowed from his eyes, and he turned around, revealing to us a horrific mug.

His red eyes remained the same, but the purple miasma floated around his face, and the white in his eyes turned into a sickening radioactive green, glowing a little. "Tell me, who threw that?" His voice was cold and calm, yet layered with hostility. His presence shifted entirely.

The class was silent for a moment as we all stared into his demon eyes, entranced by their mysterious influence. He walked down the center aisle of desks menacingly. "I promise, the punishment will not be as severe if the offenders speak up now."

Again, the room remained silent for a moment. But the silence was then broken after a few minutes by the one jock, who confessed to his actions by raising his hand for him. "It was me, sir.-"

"Detention," The professor interrupted him. "For a week."

We all didn't question his punishment, and we went back to work, including me and Saffron.


The morning was fairly dry and eventless. We worked with Professor Rasheer for another hour in Language Arts, which was dreadful, being that it was silent the entire time, and we all were scared out of our wits. After a double science period with the beautiful Professor Chryssa Lee, we had a break, where Saffron and I chatted about our parents and our interests. We both played guitar, although her passion was becoming a singer, and I told her about life in the Crystal Empire and school in Crystalline, my sister, everything.

Mura stayed pretty close to the two of us as we chatted and almost seemed to try and worm her way between us whenever she got the chance, At first I thought they were just accidents, but after a while I realized that she was deliberately trying to break us up. As Saffron and I walked down the hall with everyone else towards the west wing for lunch, Mura barged in between the two of us one more time, then I snapped. "Mura, what are you doing?" I interrogated her, and she tucked her head into her scarf in response with no verbal reply. She darted into the lunchroom and sat down at our table without a word.

"I'll talk to her later, Jonathan. She's just is like this when I'm around new people. She just gets afraid is all." Saffron insisted as she gestured towards the lunchroom.

"Are you two... friends?" I wondered.

"Um... yeah, we are," Saffron seemed a little unsure about what she was saying at first, but she shook her head and reorganized her thoughts. "I was her first friend last year, and... well, I'm everyone else's friend at our lunch table too."

"Wait, why weren't you at our table yesterday?" I asked as we both stood by the door leading into the lunchroom.

"I was busy that day, sorry," It looked as if she was lying, but I didn't ask, as it might have been a personal reason she wasn't willing to share. "I was there for sign-in and orientation, but- yeah."

After picking out our food, we both sat down at the table. I sat down beside Augustine and Miles, and Saffron sat between Mura and Fraylick. As I took a bite of my chicken wrap, Fraylick piped-up. "So, why did'ja miss school yesterday, huh? Did you come down with a case of the 'I don't want to go to school bug', or what?"

"Oh, shut your trap, Fray," She scoffed, then took a bite of her B.L.T. "I was a little tied up, and besides, there wasn't even school."

"Wow! Another delicacy to add to the blog!" Miles almost jumped out of his seat as he took a bite from his gourmet burger. "I can't wait to be taught by the Penelope Pinkerton in Culinary Club!"

"Geez, she's running that, Miles? Be careful, dude. She's kind of a firecracker, that one." Saffron warned him, but he didn't seem to care.

"Really?" I doubted her. "How bad?"

"I took that class for about a week last year before I quit." Saffron quivered a little. "Her... excited personality didn't really drive me away. It was that beast in the back room that scared me off. She keeps a toothless pet alligator in the back!"

"Oh please, Saffy, that's a load of bull and you know it," Fraylick chuckled. "Does anyone else think Saffron would look great in a tinfoil hat?"

"I concur," Augustine joined in on the joke.

"I'm serious! She does! She keeps it in the pantry!" Saffron seemed pretty committed to making us believe her story, which was enough evidence for me. I had no desire to go and find out for myself. We all laughed together and ate our food, except Mura. She sat silently in her own little world.

I'm wasn't really sure what kind of relationship Mura and Saffron had, but it seemed profound enough for Mura to become agitated with me. "Great," I thought to myself. "It's the second day of school, and I'm already mucking everything up."

Chapter Six: A Duel Between Elites!

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Karate club was... interesting. The instructor was a prefect named Sticks, and he was a little odd. He wore a kasa, those flat, bowl-shaped hats you always see sensei's wear in those cheap martial arts movies, only this time it was for real. He only spoke when asked a question or when he was showing us a combination to practice on our partners. I don't think he was fluent in our language and only spoke in brief phrases or sentences like 'No,' 'Yes,' and 'Okay, go on' so as not to make a mistake.

I think the club name should've been changed to "Organized Throw-Jonathan Club" because that's really all we did. Everyone wanted a piece of me like I was some kind of new punching bag that needed to be softened up. I sparred probably seven people in grappling matches which all ended in utter defeat.

What was odd about the whole experience was the fact that Mura gave me the stink eye the whole time. "What did I do wrong?" I thought to myself, and the idea echoed in my head over and over as Mura tossed me around like a ragdoll into the nearby concrete wall of the multi-purpose room and chucked me off the set of blue exercise mats we all laid out to cushion our falls. Truth be told, I had so many bruises, I looked like a carrier of some debilitating disease.

I was beginning to get kind of pissed off at Mura now. I mean, it just bothered me when I saw someone so... contained about their feelings, it drove me mental, especially when those feelings were about me. I ignored it again to the best of my ability, but I couldn't help but feel like a giant asshat whenever she looked my way.

So, my class moved onto the next subject, Magic History. You know that feeling when you're on the edge of your seat? Actually, scratch that, do you know that feeling when you've got a class that you've been waiting for all day, and you're basically slitting your own throat from anticipation because Magic History class is as exciting as going to a second-hand store with your grandma? Well, that's how it felt in my opinion when being taught by Professor Armorè.

Magic History as a subject was interesting, no doubt, but Professor Armorè's teaching methods were... let's say dry. There's nothing I hate more than comprehension questions, you know, those questions confused first-year teachers or old teachers would give you. Those questions, in a nutshell, are basically "Did you remember this?", "What happened in this chapter of your textbook?", "Are you dead yet?", things like that. Magic History didn't last too long, mostly because I was just slacking off and doodling. Time flies when you're doing something you enjoy, but that's common knowledge.

After one excruciating hour of Magic History, my class jumped up out of their seats at the sound of the bell and ran to Professor Dragoon's room just down the hall.

"Hey, wait up!" Miles shouted out to me as he caught up, and my other friends followed him. "Man, you were pretty eager to get out of Professor Armorè's class!"

"We all were, Miles," Fraylick added with a 'matter of fact' attitude.

"Well, I think sleepy-head beat us in terms of boredom." Saffron implied as she gestured to me.

"Sleepy-head?" I thought out-loud. "Did I...?"

"You dozed off a few times during the period, dude," Saffron giggled. "You're lucky I propped your head up to make it look like you were awake. You owe me, man."

I thought for a moment and realized she was right. My memory of Magic History was in fragments. "Damn, you're right... crap."

"Like I said... you owe me," She smirked with a smug expression as she walked ahead of me and into the classroom.

My class and I were caught off guard when we entered the room. Everything was in order, but the blackboard was missing, and there was a hastily scribbled note crudely pasted onto the side of Professor Dragoon's metal desk that read "MEET ME OUTSIDE AT THE TRACK SOUTH OF THE CENTRAL PLAZA, I'VE GOT A SURPRISE FOR YOU GUYS..."

We all were a little sceptical at first, seeing as how this was the first day of formal classes, but we obliged and met him at the sixteen hundred meter track. He stood on the track in the grass where people would usually gather to watch the races with his blackboard, and he was accompanied by a row of around fifty archery targets set up behind him. He also had someone with him, someone that we all recognized, and all of our jaws pretty much hit the floor the instant we saw her standing there. It was Sweetie Belledonna, the leader of The Ten Elite.

"No. Freakin'. Way," Fraylick gasped.

Sweetie was an icon at the time, and she still is. She embodied the dream of every aspiring wizard to reach for the stars. She was known as one of the best wizards in history and for good reason. She not only single-handedly defeated a battalion of enemy troops in The Second Changeling War, but defeated the much older, far more experienced mages of Arcane Tower after graduating from The E.A.M. They were all so impressed by her dedication and tenacity, they guaranteed her a spot in their ranks once one of their own stepped down. What was most impressive about her was the fact she was still so young. At the mere age of twenty-two, she was leading the most powerful group of people in the known world. So yeah, the mere sight of her made us cry tears of pure joy.

"Everyone, I'd like you to meet one of my closest friends, Sweetie Belledonna, who... based on your speechless expressions, doesn't really need an introduction." Professor Dragoon chuckled as he watched us all stutter and gawk at her. "We decided to team up for our first class today and go over the basics with you again, but don't worry, we'll get to duel today. Sweetie, take it away."

"Certainly, Spencer." She nodded with a chipper tone and fascinated expression that only a child could make. Based on the fact that she called him by his first name, I could tell they were fairly close friends. "After a lengthy and in-depth conversation at bowling night a week ago, your Professor and I decided to team up for this first class, with permission from the folks at Arcane Tower and your headmistress! Now, I'm sure you all have a ton of questions you want to ask me, but I'm afraid answering them all would take a millennia, which I don't think you can squeeze into an hour. So, let's make some magic why don't we?"

Sweetie spoke in a proper fashion, but there was a hint of childlike playfulness to her demeanour that contradicted her speech patterns. Her pale skin went hand-in-hand with her pink and purple hair, and her bright green eyes were filled to the brim with curiosity and compassion. She wore a white turtleneck and paired it with a thin, lavender coloured scarf. Her acid-washed jeans went surprisingly well with her fuzzy white boots, and it further enhanced her bright-eyed and innocent appearance. She also wore a pair of purple, leather gloves, which, I didn't really pay attention to at first.

I looked back at Augustine and grinned a little upon witnessing her expression. It was quite obvious she was a total fangirl, and she was eagerly jumping up and down on the inside. Upon noticing my reaction to her contained excitement, she scoffed and crossed her arms. "What are you staring at?" I shrugged, and she sighed at me in disappointment.

"Such a fangirl..." Saffron muttered, which almost made Augustine explode.

"Now, I'm sure you all know the basics," Sweetie said as she grabbed the blackboard with her magic and kept it suspended in the air next to her. She grabbed a piece of chalk and started drawing an idea bubble, the one you'd draw when you brainstorm. She started with one large bubble in the center and labelled it 'Magic'. "This is all magic," She then took the chalk and divided it into three separate bubbles. "These are the three classes of magic, Offensive, Defensive, and Passive," She branched off of each bubble and divided them into three more bubbles for each class, nine in total. "These are the sub-classes of magic. We have Offensive Spells: Ranged, Physical, and Burst. We have Defensive Spells: Walls, Shields, and Traps. And finally, we have Passive Spells: Augmentation, Healing, and Illusion. As you all know, every class and subclass relates to one another in some way and can be applied in different ways."

"Wow," Augustine sighed as she swooned over Sweetie's eloquent lecture, and Saffron and I giggled in response to her girly obsession. "Shut up!"

"Now, for today's class, we'll be showing you the basics of Ranged Offensive Spells. So, find a target of your own and work with it. I want you in a line, about twenty feet away from your target," She instructed us, and we all found an archery target. "We'll be using raw, general magic for now, no specialized abilities or powers. We'll be focusing on a simple magic blast, so just focus your internal energies, use the pure magic within you and hold it in your hand."

We all obeyed and each student, including me, raised their hand towards their target and began to charge up a small sphere of magical energy in their hand. I made a ball of yellow energy, celestial and sparkling, unique to my family. It wasn't the brightest or most impressive, but it was certainly something. Like a dim campfire glowing with an entrancing aura that can be described as humble and warm. Fraylick's magic was red and crackling, like a blazing torch the Vikings of ancient history would carry into battle to light fields ablaze. It was spastic, unstable, like a bomb about to go off. Augustine's was a dark green colour, like a deep forest at midnight or an emerald. Mura's was blue like an ocean, tense, mysterious, yet full of wonder and contained vigour. And Saffron's orange magic aura was like electricity, precise and powerful, arcing like a short-circuiting wire. Miles aura was purple and hypnotizing, like a crystal ball or a ghostly entity, humming an odd tune.

"Now that we're all set, I want you to hurl it at your target, but show restraint... I don't want you to make them explode, hit the center, and just focus on accuracy for now," Sweetie ordered us. "Also, I don't want you to blow them up because Archery Club would be pretty ticked off if they found their targets blown to pieces. Fire away, guys."

We all hurled our magic at the targets, and a vast majority of the students hit the center, or just close enough. However, I missed completely, and my magic attack ricocheted off the ground and dissipated after a few seconds of flight as it shot up into the sky. My face turned bright red, mostly due to the fact that Sweetie was right next to me.

"Your magic has heart, but it needs guidance, a clear path. You have to really get a feel for it, man." She encouraged me as she pointed over to my target. "It's Jonathan Star, right?" I nodded nervously in response to her question. "Well, Jonathan, I want you to focus on that target. This is your foe. Keep your eye on the target, and let your body go through the motions. Don't be so tense." I relaxed my body as she watched me charge up another blast. "There you go..."

I fired off another shot, and it hit right on the mark that time. A wave of relief swept over me, and I sighed with a confident smile.

"Awesome! See? You're just nervous, that's all!" She cheered enthusiastically as she moved on to the next student to my left, who was having some trouble with his posture.

"Isn't she just awesome?" Miles grinned as he fired a blast at his target.

"I can't believe the Professor was able to get her to come out here," I replied. "You'd think she'd have other, more pressing matters to attend to."

"Well, she may be the leader, but I hear she has a pretty open schedule, or... that's just what Canterlot Wizard's Quarterly says about her." Miles admitted as he fired another blast.

"Canterlot Wizard's Quarterly?" I asked. "What's that?"

"Only the bestselling magazine in Canterlot!" Miles informed me with great interest. "There's lots of cool stuff in that magazine. Tons of facts and trivia, and it really goes in-depth."

"That book is for nerds, don't read it." Fraylick chimed in with sarcasm in his tone.

"Ha ha..." Miles rolled his eyes as he kept firing at his target with pinpoint accuracy, hitting the center every time.

"Nice aim, Miles. You've improved a lot since last year!" Professor Dragoon complimented him, and he lit up almost instantaneously.

"Really?!" He said with a shocked expression. "You mean it?"

"Of course! I think you'll make a great duellist, Miles!" He beamed as he moseyed over to Fraylick, who wasn't hitting any of his shots.

I found Fraylick to be a little bit of a spitfire with his magic, impatient and stubborn, preferring raw power over precision. For every shot he missed, he became more and more frustrated with his target, and ramped up the power of his shots, so much that they burned chunks of grass when they hit the ground.

"Whoa, calm down there, dude." Saffron tried to relax him as she put her hand on his shoulder.

"She's right, Fraylick, you should simmer down, and that's coming from a fire-wizard," Professor Dragoon insisted as he aided him. "You need to stay calm, and focus that rage into a single point, that target."

Fraylick nodded reluctantly and took several deep breaths before finally preparing another sphere of magical power. As his eyes met the target, he closed them for a moment, then hurled his magic at it with the accuracy of a sniper, striking it dead-on.

"Awesome! And all you had to do was channel that rage, contain it to a point." Professor Dragoon gave him a cheerful smile and a pat on the back before moving on to another student.

After a while, Sweetie and the professor stopped us, and we all shook our hands vigorously, as magic-casting tends to wear on the hands a bit. Professor Dragoon checked his silver wrist watch and looked over to Sweetie. "Three fifty... we have about five more minutes of class time, want to show off a bit for the class?"

"Sounds like fun, Spencer. Let's do it!" She cheered as she pumped her fist in the air like a teenager in a rave. "So how about it kids? Want to see us duel each other for a bit?" Again, we were all speechless. "I'll take that as a yes!"

They told us to back up to the very edge of the grass next to the surrounding track as they prepared themselves for a duel. Professor Dragoon brushed the dirt off of his white dress shirt and clapped his hands together, activating his magical power. His hands ignited in a burning green inferno, and his eyes were set ablaze with the same flame. His flames seemed to roar like a mighty dragon as he raised his hands towards his opponent as he got down into a ready position.

Sweetie removed her gloves and rolled up her sleeves to reveal her steel, mechanical limbs, which was pretty shocking to me. I would've never imagined a small and unthreatening woman like herself to have such a hardy, sturdy feature to her form. I was in awe, "What are those for?"

"She has those to cater to her specific powers, the ability to control the velocity of her own body and objects she comes in contact with. She replaced her own arms and legs to better withstand her own power." Miles informed me.

"Damn," I shook my head in disbelief. "That's hardcore."

Sweetie and Professor Dragoon nodded to each other once, then began their duel. In that instant, Sweetie vanished out of thin air, then materialized behind Professor Dragoon. Sweetie launched a blindingly fast kick, but the professor blocked it skilfully with his right arm. His forearm he used to block took on a purple, scaly texture, and it absorbed the mighty blow that would've flattened anyone else in the class with ease. The impact sent out a faint but noticeable shockwave that shook everyone to the core.

"Wow, I felt that from here," Saffron chuckled lightly, impressed by the powerful display of their magical capabilities.

"I didn't even see her move." Fraylick gawked at Sweetie.

"What were those scales that formed on the professor's arms just now?" I asked Miles.

"They're dragon scales, an augmentation magic he learned from dragons," Miles replied. "The professor picked up all his magic abilities from dragons after studying them for many years."

"I didn't even know that was possible..." I muttered to myself.

Professor Dragoon launched himself into the air using the flames that escaped his hands and soared high above Sweetie. "Hey, no fair!" Sweetie huffed as she opened her clenched fist and thrust her hand forward, towards the professor, as if she were high-fiving the air. Without warning, her hand suddenly let out an intense 'boom' noise, and a shockwave escaped her hand that knocked the professor out of the sky. "Air Palm-Heel!"

"What was that?" I wondered.

"When she moved her hand forward like that, she pushed the air around it forward, then she accelerated the air she pushed to hypersonic speeds. That's what made that shockwave." Miles observed in detail.

The professor recovered within seconds, and before Sweetie could land a blow on him, he surprised her with a fiery trap beneath her feet that erupted into a blazing pillar of emerald fire. "Burning Ascent!"

The attack blew her back a few feet and left her open again, which gave the professor enough time to launch another attack. He charged up a ball of fire in both his hands and tossed it at her without even thinking. "Dragon Bomb!"

Sweetie blocked the attack with the green magic sphere she surrounded herself with and launched a counterattack with another air 'high-five'. "Air Palm-Heel!"

Professor Dragoon dodged that time, and followed up with a fiery fist, but... he stopped before his fist made contact with her face. He looked down at his watch nervously as he heard the bell ring."We got a little carried away, I think."

"Crap." Sweetie said with an embarrassed expression. "Sorry about that, kids... we should've stopped earlier."

There was an awkward silence, but it was brief. We all broke out into joyous applause and cheer, still struck by their brilliant display. It was the most excitement we had seen all day, and we were pretty satisfied. Admittedly, I kind of lost track of time two.

"Don't worry about your questions, kids! I'll be here all day!" Sweetie tried to reassure her disappointed fans who didn't get their questions answered.

"Thank you, everyone, I'll clean this up with Sweetie, you guys get in your sports-gear," He ground his teeth together nervously. "Man, Ms. Dashner is gonna be pissed at me..."

Chapter Seven: I Suck at Boxing, But Not So Much at Drawing

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After we all got into our gym clothes, we marched out of the change room doors and assembled in the massive modern-style gym. The walls were white, like the rest of the building, but blue, gold-embroidered banners dominated most of the wall, it was hard to find a space on them where there wasn't a twenty-year-old banner of some championship sports team. It was much larger than the lunchroom, and the walls were so high, it felt as if the room wasn't built for me, but a giant or a great monster. The wax floors were designed for basketball, and I assumed that based on the familiar line patterns and the fact that there were basketball nets folded up and pressed against the walls, like those foldable stools you'd buy for your kids to sit on when a relative visited and you had let them sit in your chair.

Our Phys. Ed. teacher was an avian by the name of Raina Dashner, and she was- well, she was something. Her hair was cut at medium length and was swept to the side, kind of styled like how a cliché goth kid would style their hair, only hers was multicoloured like a rainbow and pretty dishevelled. Ms. Dashner couldn't have been any older than twenty-two, and her bright red eyes looked lively and determined. Her tight, black yoga pants and yellow tank top flaunted her toned physique, and most of the guys by me were totally in awe.

"Alright you punks! Get in a line!" Her voice wasn't assertive, it sounded more competitive and spunky. We obeyed without question and formed a row on one outer blue line that spanned the entire length of the gym, from one end all the way down to the other. We all stood firmly as she walked down the line, inspecting us all. "Well, I've seen worse." She shook her head shamefully as she stopped at me. "And you must be Jonathan Star, right? Well, you may come from a long line of fancy wizards, but magic won't get you anywhere if you don't have the stamina to use it!"

"Thanks," I said, although I wanted to be sarcastic with her. I figured it would be best not to stir up trouble on the first day.

Now, I'm not the most athletic person in the world. I'm not overweight or lanky, don't get me wrong, but I'm certainly no linebacker. I've been in a few sports now and then, but that was mostly just to fit in with the other guys and get a little exercise. Sports just aren't my thing. Standing beside Fraylick kind of made me feel pretty weak, because Fraylick looked jacked in his striped muscle shirt, not bodybuilder jacked, but close to it. I felt as if I was missing out on some much-needed testosterone.

To my right was Saffron, who wore an outfit similar to Ms. Dashner's, only her tank top was dark green instead of yellow. I resisted the urge to gawk at her like an idiot and looked forward every time she looked at me. She laughed to herself every time I did it, which made Mura scowl slightly.

"Alright, kids! Today we'll be doing some basic training exercises! There won't be any activities until I whip you guys into shape!" We all groaned in response, and Ms. Dashner rolled her eyes. "Careful! Groaning gets you fifty push-ups!" We all shut up instantly as we saw her serious expression. "That's better! Now, let me think... what shall we do first? Oh, I know! Some push-ups! A classic!"

We all got down into a push-up position and prepared ourselves. I could see an intense look on Saffron and Augustine's faces as they looked at each other, giving each other a nod and a grin. "Are they in a competition or something?" I thought to myself.

"Alright! I want twenty-five push-ups, on your own time!" She made sure we were all ready. "Go!"

Fraylick and Augustine took off like a rocket, breathing in an out as they went up and down at the speed of light. Mura, on the other hand, was taking her time and doing push-ups not only with one arm but with her fingers instead of using her knuckles or regular palms. Mura wanted to get the most out of the exercise, and she did every single push-up with precision, and never lost momentum or stopped. They were all pretty impressive, and it kind of made me feel like a total wimp. Miles did okay, but he kind of slacked off once in a while like me. Although, I wasn't sure whether he was doing it to make me feel better about myself, or if he was legitimately exhausted.

After forty-five excruciating minutes of workouts, we were all soaked with sweat. Well, except Mura, she was breathing just a bit heavier than normal. I was positively dripping with sweat, and I was almost completely out of breath after our ten minute run around the gym. I had to sit down for a moment just to recollect my strength. Ms. Dashner approached me soon after with a smug grin on her face. She aided me to my feet, and I shook my hair a little, a few bead of sweat dripping down my face. "C'mon, man! We aren't done yet!"

"Yay..." I croaked.

"Alright! It was good seeing some sweat today! I'm glad you're all feelin' the burn!" She clapped her hands together and grabbed a large plastic container on the other side of the gym and opened it up. There were some boxing gloves for all of us to wear. "Now it's time we gave you a little break! A stress-reliever!"

"Boxing...?" I said to Fraylick as I stood up straight and panted. "Are you serious? But, this isn't even... boxing club!"

"Just go with it, or she'll make you box her," Fraylick warned me. "Every Phys. Ed. class is different. Different warm-ups and everything."

"That's... fantastic..." I was so out of breath I didn't even have the energy to make my voice sound sarcastic.

"Find a partner, kids!" Ms. Dashner commanded us. "I'll give you two minutes to spar, then you'll switch and fight with someone else!"

I did the smart thing and picked Miles first, who didn't really put up much of a fight, and I felt bad after the two minutes were up, and I apologized. He said it was okay, but I still felt like a wimp. To regain my honour I picked a fight with Fraylick, who fed me some pretty nasty blows to the chest and head. I may have been in martial arts, but experience was no good when you were pitted against a guy twice your weight. After he destroyed me, I moved on to Saffron. Actually, she wanted to fight me. I wasn't keen on hitting girls, as it didn't feel right to me, so I mostly blocked and jabbed. Saffron hated that and pummelled me whenever I got too close, knowing I wouldn't retaliate. I suppose it was her way of saying, 'your morals make you weak'. After her, I sparred a few other guys, and I did my best to avoid Mura, who was sizing me up like a wild cat getting ready to pounce. Eventually, she caught me, and we sparred.

Mura must've had a black belt in "Kicking Jonathan's Ass Fu" because that's what she did. Every time I tried to use my size against her and close the distance, she'd uppercut me right on the chin or deliver a crushing right cross to my jaw. Even with her thick mitts on, it still felt as if I was being hit with a brick. Even when I let go of my morals to try and overpower her, she'd simply tank the hits and drive her fist into my gut. Every time she hit me, I could feel her contained rage being released through her fists. It was pretty confusing for me, because even then, I still had no idea what was bothering her. The bell rang loudly, and we all showered and got changed into our uniforms. It was time for supper.

Our dinner was pretty good. We all had prime rib and mashed potatoes, and the meat was so tender it practically fell off the fork. Miles wrote about it in his blog like every other break, and Fraylick was checking out some attractive girls as they passed by, which made Augustine roll her eyes at him. Mura --like always-- sat in silence as she played with her food, giving me the stink eye now and then when I wasn't looking, although I could see it in my peripherals.

"So..." Saffron tried to break the awkward silence. "That was some gym class, huh? Ms. Dashner really knows how to get us ready for supper!"

"She always does," Fraylick replied.

"So, John. Did you enjoy your first day of classes?" Miles added, cutting off a piece of his prime rib as he looked over to me.

"Yeah, they were pretty cool," I said with my mouth partially full. "Although, the day isn't over yet. We've still got Art Club."

"Yeah," He agreed and continued eating his prime rib.

"Did you meet any girls? You know, someone you're interested in?" Fraylick grinned mischievously.

"Oh hush, Fraylick," Augustine growled at him. "You're such a pervert."

"C'mon, August, I'm a guy!" Fraylick threw up his arms in an outrage.

"I'm sure the other guys are thinking about stuff like this right now, aren't you fellas?"

"Na," I said as I ate a piece of prime rib.

"Maybe just a little..." Miles blushed.

"See? Who's the girl? Is it Maria again?" Fraylick chuckled to himself as he played around with his food a bit. "Man, you've got to talk to her sometime! Get to know her, man!"

"No- I, I just couldn't. I can barely speak to other girls, and I still have troubles speaking to Saffron!" Miles shook his head.

"Because I'm just so smoking hot, right?" Saffron winked at Miles teasingly.

"Arrgghh! See what I mean?" Miles' face was pretty much on fire.

"And that's why we love you..." Saffron teased him again, and we all laughed together, even Miles.


Professor Cordia wanted to test us on the first day of Art Club to see our artistic talents, so he set up dozens of easels for us to freely paint on whilst he observed. I sat in silence on my stool and looked around Professor Cordia's art room before I started painting. The room was filled with abstract paintings of, well, everything and anything, especially butterflies. There was one painting of a butterfly right hanging on the wall, in the back corner of the room. It was a monarch, but being abstract, it didn't really resemble one too well. It had prismatic and jagged qualities to it that made it look more like a bunch of diamonds all huddled together, and the paint used to make the wings was an odd orange-copper colour that was partially reflective. It was actually quite mesmerizing to look at.

Mura was next to me, and she stared at her painting intensely as she splattered crimson-red paint all over her canvas. It was quite frightening to watch to be honest. Watching her paint in that way immediately made me think back to the day before when she almost ripped off those kid's ears.

The professor moved about the room, viewing our progress. He stopped once in a while to offer advice, and as he made his way to the back of the room, my body tensed up a bit. I still hadn't painted anything, and I began to tap the handle of my brush against my lower lip to think. I didn't really know how to start. I was about to paint, but, I saw a few pieces of charcoal to my left on a trolley filled with assorted art supplies. I grabbed some and began to look around the art room for something, but nothing seemed to catch my eye, except Mura, who was scowling at the bloody mess on her sheet of canvas. I Looked to my left quickly to not draw her attention, and I began to outline her features. She stood perfectly still, and it made me wonder what was going on inside her head. What was she thinking? There was something so alluring about her, not in a romantic way mind you (most people would've assumed a kid my age was just horny), but I suppose her character sparked my creativity.

After I finished the outline of the side of her head, I began to add detail to her left eye. A fine layer of black soot began to coat the tip of my index finger and the end of my thumb as I pressed down on my piece of charcoal. When I finished her eye, I moved on to her nose. It was small and unpronounced, and as I shaded it I began to notice her lips. Though you didn't see them often because of her scarf; they were fuller than expected, and luckily, she tilted her head up just enough for me to see them clearly. I figured I'd leave the scarf out until the last second, and I suppose, in a way that seemed right to me. As I finished drawing her blue hair, and as added more detail to her rounded cheeks and her chin, I realized that the Professor was watching just over my shoulder. As I looked over to him, he nodded his head in delight, pleased with my work.

"Not bad, Jonathan, not bad at all," The professor nodded. "Who is this girl?"

"Oh, um- she's just my mother. When she was younger, of course." I explained with a nervous stutter. Mura rarely allowed others to see her face, so I assumed he wouldn't recognize her.

"I see..." I exhaled a little as he moved on, and left me to continue my drawing.

As my eyes moved back to the canvas, I caught a glimpse of Mura, whose face was beet red, although it was hard to tell at first due to her white wool scarf. "Mura- I, um- sorry?" Her face changed from embarrassed to angry, and she pulled her scarf up further, over her nose to conceal everything, preventing me from finishing the drawing. She then switched places with Saffron, who was at the front of the room. "Smooth," I talked to the little artist inside my head. "You could've picked that apple on the professor's desk, but you had to pick her, huh?" That little artist was a bit of an idiot if you ask me.

"Wow, congrats, Johnny," Saffron clapped slowly and sarcastically as she placed her canvas on the easel and sat down on Mura's stool.
"You're a fairly dense guy, huh? So, what did you do?" She stood behind me and observed my drawing of Mura. "Wow, that's... actually really good. But still, that was pretty weird, buddy. Don't be a weirdo, John." She sat back down at her stool and continued to paint.

I sighed softly to myself and grabbed another sheet of canvas from the trolley next to me. "So, what are you painting, Saffron?"

"Oh, nothing. Just the apple on Professor Cordia's desk," She replied as she turned her easel my way. That damn apple. It was pretty good, although she shading was a little off. Then again, I was no art critic.

"That's pretty good," I said as I went back to my new picture and brainstormed.

I tried to think of something, and... it wasn't that I lacked ideas. I was drawn to this single idea, buried in my head for so long. I thought of drawing a comic book character or some kind of interesting tessellation, something interesting. But, for some reason, it just didn't feel right. I started to draw a crow.

I thought back to that day in the park, that day I spent time with my grandfather. It was the last time we visited the park together, as he became too weak to walk only a few days later. I thought about when we sat at the bench together just before we left. It was about to rain, and you could smell the moisture in the air and feel the thickness of the gentle wind fill your lungs. There weren't many birds out, they had all sought shelter from the incoming rain. Except, there was this crow that persevered and sat on the sidewalk just a few feet away from my grandfather. I was prepared to scare it off, but my grandfather insisted that it should stay, then he smiled at it and slowly bent over to feed it some breadcrumbs. Surprisingly, it went right up to his outstretched hand filled with breadcrumbs and perched itself along the edge of his palm, devouring the crunchy pieces of bread as it bobbed its head up and down.

Before that afternoon in the park, I always thought of crows as annoying pests, uncompassionate parasites that fed off the dead. But, I think I learned something from the crow. Crows understand death better than us humans, they know when an animal has met its end. They accept death, because death is what sustains life, and in a way, I think my grandfather knew that too. He knew that it was his time and he accepted it, but it took me a while to comprehend his passing. After all, I'm no crow.

After applying the finishing touches to my crow, I stared at it for a while, taking in a big breath of air, then letting it out as I rose from my seat and put away my charcoal. Truth be told, a part of me wanted to put my hand out and feed my drawing, but I figured I've had enough of feeling like a moron. I looked up at the clock: eight o' clock. The class was over.

Everyone grabbed their finished artwork and handed it into Professor Cordia, who offered criticism to each member or Art Club. I grabbed both of my drawings, and I handed the raven into the professor when it was my turn.

"Well, this is marvellous! Simply marvellous! I think I just might hang it on my wall!" Professor Cordia announced to the class. "But, I must know... whatever happened to that portrait? May I see it?"

"Sorry- I, um... I messed up. I'm going to throw it away." I said as I hid it behind my back with one hand.

"Very well, but don't get discouraged by one screw-up! You have talent, son!" He encouraged me. "Have a good day, my boy!"

"Thanks, and I won't get discouraged," I assured him as I walked out the door and into the hallway leading to the door, with Saffron following not far behind.

"Hey, John, wait up..." She stopped me, and I turned around to face her.

"Don't throw that away, let me have the picture. I'll just say that I wanted you to make it for me so that I could give it to her for her birthday."

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Yeah, I think it's a great drawing." Saffron admired my work. "She's so beautiful... and she's always hiding from everyone. I think this will be a perfect gift for her birthday next month."

"Huh, so she's got a late birthday like me," I said to her as I looked down at the drawing. "So, what's her deal? She's been weird all day. Is she mad at me or something?"

"She's like that with everyone, she probably thinks you're trying to steal me away from her. She's a super protective girl." Saffron explained. "But, don't worry, she'll open up eventually. She's a really nice gal."

"Yeah, well-." I trailed off as I heard a faint noise in the distance. It was some random person who frantically opened the door to the outside at the end of the hall.

"Please, someone help! My friend was attacked! Please, help me!" She begged us as she ran towards me. "She's bleeding!"

"Oh shit..." I began to panic, as did Saffron.

Chapter Eight: Black Blood in a Baggie (Try To Say That Five Times...)

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Saffron and I informed Professor Cordia about the attack immediately, and he and the rest of the class raced outside, following the friend of the attacked-- a taller girl with dark hair about a year younger than me. The professor carried a first aid kit in his hand filled with medical supplies, and what was odd about the frantic experience was that the professor seemed to be tenser than the rest of us like he had gone through it before and was dreading to live through it again. "This must've happened already," I thought. "It must've been kept under wraps last time". Although that was just a hunch I formed based on the professor's troubled expression.

We all gathered around the scene of the crime in the main plaza, and my friends and I huddled close together, just inches away from the injured girl. It didn't take long for the whole school body to notice and step outside and investigate the disturbance. The victim was about the same age as her friend but shorter and with blonde hair. She was curled up in the fetal position shaking and shivering, her eyes wide with shock and a gaping gash on her right shoulder, a claw mark. The only thing I could think of that would've been able to cause that much damage was a bear, but I don't think a bear would just attack a kid once and run for it, it didn't sit right with me.

"Dear, can you tell me what happened?" Professor Cordia asked the victim's friend as he tended to the bleeding girl, knowing that her assaulted friend would be too scared to respond.

"Well, we were just leaving Chess Club, then this... thing jumped out of the bushes! It was too fast to see, like a big blur, but before I could react Mary was attacked by the thing! She stabbed it with the handle of her comb, but it didn't do anything!" She cried as Saffron held her close to comfort her. "Will she be alright?"

"She'll be fine..." The professor said as he coated the wound in disinfectant and wrapped it in gauze. The wounded girl let out a shrill but quiet screech as the disinfectant began to take effect. "It's okay, you're okay..."

Headmistress Sparalk darted through the panicked crowd, along with the four house leaders and Sweetie. She silenced the terrified students and spoke. "Students, please. We cannot panic in a situation like this. I want everyone in their houses within the next hour. The school is under lockdown for the rest of tonight until we figure out what's going on."

Professor Armorè picked up the wounded girl and held her in his arms like a baby; he was much larger than she was. "Thank you, Disarro," He said to Professor Cordia. "I'll take her to Ms. Shae."

"Lockdown?!" Miles gulped. "That's never happened before, not since The Great Intestinal Spell of sixty-two."

"Great mental-image..." Fraylick cringed as he thought about it.

"Remind me again how you know these things, Miles?" Augustine gagged as her mind unintentionally visualized the event as well.

"I read?" Miles laughed pathetically and shrugged his shoulders

"Now's not the time to joke around. Be serious." Mura stated in a monotone voice with a stoic expression. Knowing full well the wrath of Mura, we all shut up. "We best be heading to our dorm rooms," She mumbled as she walked back to Dragonflame House with the rest of us following not far behind.

Before fled the scene with the others, however, I noticed a small pool of black sticky liquid on the sidewalk that I just happened to step on. Based on the viscosity, it was blood, but I couldn't tell how fresh. It smelled a lot like hot coals, which was odd, considering the fact that it didn't feel hot at all. I reached into my pocket and brought out a plastic bag that, conveniently, I mindlessly shoved in my pocket at lunch after I finished a packaged bag of carrots because I was too lazy to get up and throw it away. I was lucky that I remembered. Using my index and middle finger, I smeared the blood across the cement sidewalk and scooped it into the baggie.

As I mopped up the remaining slime, I noticed that Sweetie saw what I was doing. I cursed under my breath, preparing for the scolding of my life. I wasn't sure if picking up black sticky liquids were against the rules, but I wasn't keen to find out. Pathetically, I hid the baggie in my backpack as she drew closer to me, hoping she didn't see it. To my relief, she didn't.

"What were you doing there?" Sweetie asked me with a raised eyebrow. "You were crouching down and picking something up. What was it?"

"Oh, um," I quickly thought up a half-baked lie. "I just, um... dropped my pencil in the grass is all. It's... hard to see it in this long grass." I kept going with the lie, and I tried to use small talk to break the awkward tension. "They should really cut this grass a bit shorter, huh?"

"It's only an inch tall, John." She looked at me with a suspicious glare. My plan wasn't going as smooth as I originally anticipated.

"Well, back in my old school, it was only a half inch!" I announced with purpose. The little guilt-goblin in the back of my head was scratching against my skull, reminding me that I was a lying piece of crap. "I really should be getting back to Dragonflame!" I darted after my friends, but I didn't run, I was already suspicious enough. I power-walked instead.

When I caught up with them, I wiped off the thin layer of sweat on my forehead and took a deep breath. They all could tell I was on-edge, so naturally, they were curious. Augustine, being the outspoken individual she was, piped up first. "You seem nervous," She pried. "What were you doing back there?"

"I'll tell you guys about it later, once we get back," I said to them in a hushed tone. "I don't want anyone else to know."

"Oh no, secrets?" Miles ground his teeth together. "I'm not very, um-."

"Miles sucks at keeping secrets," Saffron said bluntly. "He told Mura about her surprise birthday party last year; cracked like an egg."

"I don't function well under pressure, guys! I'm fine as long as I don't experience confrontation!" Miles exploded in a nervous outrage. "How was I supposed to lie to Mura's face when she was giving me her trademark glare?!"

"Are you saying I look scary?" Mura's monotone voice had a barely noticeable growl to it, and she gave him a long and ominous stare.

"No, I-..." Miles started hyperventilating. "See what I mean?!"

"Don't worry, man. Just play it cool, and I'll cover for ya." Fraylick laughed lightly as he gave Miles a brotherly punch on the shoulder.

Miles breathed deeply and ran his hand through his hair. "Thanks... man!" Miles' awkward tone of voice didn't sound smooth at all, like a forty-year-old man trying to be 'hip with the kids'. "You're the best... bro?"

"Never say 'bro' or 'man' again, Miles." Fraylick crossed his arms and shook his head with a grin on his face. We all laughed as we entered Dragonflame House, including Miles.


"Alright, watch this..." Fraylick lined up his shot and punched the white ball with his cue, slamming the ball right into the ordered colored pool balls and breaking the arrangement.

The gathering of balls split up and shot out in random directions, one banked off the side and went into a middle pocket, another landed right in a pocket at the end of the table. He had a few 'friends', which was pretty impressive, but I think he wanted the whole arrangement to go down, which was ridiculous. Any competent pool player knew it was pure fiction to successfully put every ball in a pocket on the first shot.

"Nice, nice..." I nodded with a half smile as I watched him take his next shot.

The prefects set up a pool table in the lounge, and we spent our last couple of hours shooting away. They figured it would be beneficial to switch things up now and then, just so that the others didn't get bored. There were a few new faces in the lounge that day, a few jocks, some popular girls, a couple nerds. Most of them were talking, but some of them were either playing chess or darts, casual games. Roderick was watching us all for a bit, and took turns with his fellow prefects to monitor the lounge. Every time he showed up, I could see a little spark in Augustine's eyes as she stared at him from her chair, adjacent to the pool table. It was obvious she was into him. I walked over to her once I made my shot (I scratched...), crouching down beside and gesturing to Roderick.

"So, you like him, huh?" I said with a smug grin on my face, watching her face turn red.

"No, I-... respect him," Augustine tried to cover her tracks, but I could see through her lie, and she knew it. "He's... a superb magic-dueller, and a... very handsome-." She cut herself off abruptly and crossed her arms out of frustration.

"Hey, it's cool," I laughed as I stood up. "Your secret is safe with me."

"Um... thank you?" It looked as if she were unsure, like it was the first time she had said thank you. It only took her a few seconds to regain her composure, and she looked at me with suspicious eyes. I knew what she going to say next. "So, how about that order of business you were going to tell us about, hmm? Have you forgotten?"

"Oh, right," I rolled my eyes and looked around to make sure no one was watching. "Tell the others to meet me in my room. I don't want any of the prefects to know about it."

"Alright," She agreed. "But this better be good."

We all gathered in my room after Fraylick and I finished our game of pool. Miles and Fraylick sat on my sofa in front of the window, I sat on my rolling armchair at my desk, and the girls sat on my bed. We all huddled closer together as I withdrew the baggie filled with the strange black liquid from my backpack. I could see a curious twinkle in their eyes as they investigate the odd substance. To my surprise, it didn't dry up as much as I thought it would.

"Whoa, what is this stuff?" Miles' face recoiled in disgust at the sight of the revolting slime.

"It's blood, I think," I told them with an unsure expression. "Although, it doesn't really smell like any blood I know."

"Do you think it came from the creature that attacked Mary?" Saffron wondered.

"I think so, it was close by, and her friend said it fled soon after Mary stabbed it. So I suppose it could be blood." I thought of any other evidence to support my claim, but I came up with nothing.

"But, there's no real way we'll know for sure..." Fraylick scowled, a little disappointed that the trail went cold.

"Actually, there is a way..." Augustine chimed in. "Professor Lee, the mistress of Spriggan House, the Biology teacher. She'll know if that's blood or not, and if it is blood, I think she can figure out what creature secreted that foul substance."

"But we can't leave Dragonflame House, remember?" Miles reminded us. "We'll get suspended or, even worse, expelled if we leave."

"Then I suppose we'll have to wait until morning then, huh?" Saffron stated as she leaned back against the wall.

"Yes, we do," Augustine said as she plugged her nose to prevent the ghastly scent of the revolting substance from entering her nostrils. "And for Solare's sake, Jonathan... would you close that bag?!"

"Is it bothering you, Augustine?" Fraylick looked at her with a phony puppy-dog face. He snatched the bag out of my hands and began chasing her around my room with the bag. "You just need to get used to it!"

"Ah!" She screeched in horror as she fled from as he held it out towards her. "Someone! Stop him at once!"

"I don't know. What do you think, Saffron?" I went along with the running joke.

"Hmm... you know, I think Fraylick may be right. Maybe you do just need a little time with it." She mocked her and giggled under her breath as she watched Augustine squirm.

Eventually the joke got old (emphasis on "eventually") and we let Augustine breathe. She was pissed, but I could tell part of her was laughing on the inside, perhaps the part of her that I saw when she was eyeing Roderick. While she didn't show it, I think she was more contained than Mura was. She always wore that mask in her day to day life, and I think she was tired underneath that disguise. It must've been hard to act mature and proper all the time, to be from a high social class and be forced to act the part. Her father was a wealthy businessman and her mother was royalty. She had pretty big shoes to fill.

"I'm gonna voice chat with my parents here, so I think you guys should head back to your rooms. I'll keep the blood with me." I insisted as I opened my door.

"I think you'll have to voice chat with them tomorrow," Miles told me as he adjusted his glasses. "The school is on lockdown, so the internet and the landline will get shut off tonight."

"The service is crap here too," Saffron added. "You probably won't be able to use a mobile hotspot to run a voice chat. Even if there was good service, a hotspot is always pretty iffy."

"Damn..." I shook my head in disappointment. "I was going to talk to my sister."

"Sorry, John...I know how you feel." Saffron shrugged. "I was going to phone my dad tonight."

"It's cool, it's just one night," I sighed as I close the door. "Just one night..."