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«EASTRIDGE ACADEMY: SCHOOL FOR ADVENTURERS BY KARA LOO AND JENNIFER YOUNG Eastridge Academy: School for Adventurers Prologue Explain why you would be ...»

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Torrent had a cold look in his eyes when he replied, “No, Princess, you really do.” With a sudden gesture that barely required any movement on his part, Torrent knocked his fist into Fell’s chest.

Fell had often had the wind knocked out of him, so he wasn’t surprised that he gasped in pain, unable to breathe for a few seconds as throbbing seared his lower chest.

Averi ran to Fell’s side, panic in her widening eyes. “What did you… is he going to be okay?” she demanded.

Torrent pushed her away from Fell. “I hope he’s up to taking more than that if he’s going to be a Warrior,” he said, grabbing Fell’s arm and twisting it backwards. “Welcome to your first day of Sparring.” Fell pulled at his arm, trying to get free and fight back; instead all he did was tangle his arms up. Torrent pushed him to the ground, but Fell scrambled back to his feet.

With a smirk on his face, Torrent feinted to the left, then dodged right, jabbing Fell in the side before calmly hooking his foot behind Fell’s ankle and shoving the boy backwards. Fell fell hard on the rocks. An unnatural cracking sound as he fell told them all that he had broken something.

“Remember this,” Torrent said to Fell. “You’ll be experiencing a lot of it if you stick around.” Whistling nonchalantly, Torrent walked away as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

Averi helped Fell up. “This class doesn’t seem fair,” Averi said. “Shouldn’t they be teaching us to fight back?”

–  –  –

“Maybe first they’re trying to teach us how tough it is,” Fell guessed.

“Or how to take a punch?” Averi asked, though her tone was doubtful.

Fell grinned weakly. “Oh, I’ve had loads of practice at that. No wonder it’s so easy.” “You’ll need to see a Cleric,” Averi said, glancing at Fell’s arm, which was clearly at a painful angle.

By that time, most of the first-years were sporting an injury of some sort. Halden rounded them up and instructed them to go to the Infirmary for treatment.

Fell waved good-bye to Averi with his uninjured arm and followed the other fighters to the Infirmary. Some of the second-years laughed knowingly, and Fell heard more than one of them saying that the point of Sparring was just to give the little Clerics something to practice on.

~*~ The first-year Warriors entered a spacious room filled with clean, white beds that lined the walls. Pairs of students stood hovering over each bed, eagerly waiting for someone to practice on. Fell gulped.

A brisk woman pointed at each Warrior student and sent him or her to a bed. When it came to Fell’s turn, she pointed at a pair of students in the back. As Fell approached the two Clerics, he couldn’t help noticing the girl first. Somehow, even with her slight build, she managed to terrify him, which probably had something to do with the scowl she had fixed on him.

The boy, on the other hand, smiled comfortingly, and Fell felt a little less terrified. When he reached his cot, the girl gestured impatiently for him to sit down. He quickly obeyed.

The girl started mumbling something and tracing runes in the air. The boy caught her wrist.

–  –  –

“What are you doing?” the boy asked. “Shouldn’t we at least introduce ourselves? My name is Rai,” he added, addressing Fell. Fell opened his mouth to reply, but the girl cut in.

“What would be the point of that?” the girl asked.

“And this is Wisteria,” Rai said, ignoring her. Wisteria huffed. “Now that we’re talking, we can ask him what’s wrong.” Wisteria glanced at Fell’s wounded arm, then back at the boy. “Clearly, he has a broken arm.” “Isn’t it better to ask him? What if the broken arm’s not the only thing he has?” Rai pointed out, eyeing Fell’s nose, which was still broken from the previous night’s fight.

“We could always do a low-level Probe spell,” Wisteria said, starting to trace the rune.

“Yes. Or, we could just ask,” Rai reiterated, grabbing her hand again.

“My arm is broken,” Fell cut in, hoping to prevent any more arguing. “And my nose.” “See?” Wisteria said, dropping the magic from the Probe spell and starting again on her healing spell.

Rai watched her for a second. “Well, is there anything I should do to help?”

–  –  –

In a few seconds, Wisteria had finished the spell and with a flick of her wrist, she nudged it towards Fell’s arm. The magic enveloped his broken arm in a glowing ball of light so strong Fell had to look away. When Fell looked back, the bone was set.

“Here, I’ll start re-fusing the bone together,” Rai said, beginning to write the appropriate rune set.

“No, I’ve got it,” Wisteria said, also writing the runes in the air.

–  –  –

“Well only one of us should—” Rai said, pushing his spell towards Fell’s arm at the exact same time as Wisteria finished hers and moved it towards Fell.

Fell desperately tried to edge away as the two spells converged on him in a shower of light that blinded all three temporarily.

“That can’t be good,” Rai said grimly.

“Doubtlessly,” Wisteria agreed, fixing Rai with an irritated look.

Before the light had even cleared, an intense pain shot through Fell’s arm, worse than the pain of the original break. The cry of pain from Fell brought Wisteria and Rai’s attention back to their patient.





“What happened?” Wisteria asked, a quickness to her voice revealing her fear.

“We cast two spells on only one wound,” Rai said. “Instead of taking days to finish, these two spells will do the work in a few hours.” Wisteria couldn’t take her eyes off Fell as he writhed in pain. “Then… that’s good… right?” she asked doubtfully.

“There’s a reason this tactic is only used in the field,” Rai said. “No one would willingly suffer through the pain outside of a life threatening situation.” “Oh,” Wisteria frowned, her hand moving to her shoulder, her expression torn with indecision. It was another cry of pain from Fell that sent her into action.

Wisteria dragged the right flap of her tunic down an inch to reveal two intricate runes that looked as though they had been weaved together. As outside light hit it, the top half of the rune flashed bright purple and flew forward to twist around the symbols Wisteria was already drawing

–  –  –

in the air with her left hand. She forced the spell away from her, focusing it all on Fell. He gulped.

The light of the fusing spell pulsed and then dissipated. Within a few seconds, Fell’s pain had receded to the dull ache of the broken arm it was before.

–  –  –

By then, Aisling had taken notice of their corner of the room and had hurried over.

Wisteria elbowed Rai.

“Just start the spell again,” she hissed. “And, quickly.” Rai quickly traced the runes for the fusing spell and settled it again on Fell’s arm.

–  –  –

They both gave Fell a pointed look, and he quickly added, “Feeling much better,” though the sweat still stood out on his face from the agonizing pain that was only too recent in his memory.

Aisling moved on, and Rai and Wisteria began the next step in healing Fell’s arm.

Wisteria set a protection charm on Fell’s arm that would lock the spell into place for the next few days, and Rai started the plaster cast.

They fell into a comfortable rhythm, working together, while Rai made amicable small talk with Fell, and as they finished, the earlier debacle had been nearly forgotten. It was only as Rai healed Fell’s broken nose that Fell remembered.

–  –  –

“Why did it hurt so much earlier?” Fell asked.

“It was accelerated healing,” Rai explained. “It hurt for a little while because your arm was doing one day’s worth of healing in only a few minutes.” He noticed Wisteria looking away, guiltily. “But,” Rai added. “Now, you’ve got a head start. You’ll be healed in half the time that it would’ve taken.” “Half the time?” Fell echoed, a smile lighting his face. Rai smiled back.

“Still, keep the cast on for the next two days,” Rai said. “It shouldn’t hurt, but you should still be careful with it.” “Thanks,” Fell said, looking at Wisteria.

“You’re welcome,” Rai said.

“Yeah,” Wisteria added.

Aisling passed by their table and cast a Probe spell to check their handiwork. “Well done Ravin…and Raven.” Rai glanced at Wisteria, and she rolled her eyes.

Fell wasn’t sure he’d understood what just happened, but he thanked them again and slid off the bed, preparing to leave. He had only gotten a few steps before Rai called after him.

“Fell, before you go…can I ask you something?”

–  –  –

“Would you rather be treated by somebody named Wisteria or Raven?” “Wisteria, of course,” Fell said, glancing back at the pretty girl who had healed his arm.

Rai smiled triumphantly, and Wisteria adopted her all-too-familiar scowl as Fell rushed out of the Infirmary.

There was only one class that every student at Eastridge took, regardless of major. Even though it meant a chance to see the Princess, Rai was dreading it. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that he would spend the entire time running. First-Year Conditioning took place a few hours before dinner each day, and it consisted almost entirely of laps around the campus.

When he arrived at the Coliseum, he found the entire first-year class assembled. After a few stretches, Halden sent them all running laps around the outer perimeter of the school.

Warriors ran with ten-pound weights evenly distributed to simulate armor, and Thieves and Mages were lucky enough to have nothing, though some of the Thieves were all making an effort to run silently and stay in the shadows. Rai figured it was an old habit. Rai kept pace with Nox and Quin, not quite daring to drop back to where the noble ladies were clustered.

“Find your key yet, Ravin?” Quin joked.

Rai gave a nonchalant shrug. “Haven’t needed it.” “How are you getting into Drop Tower?” Nox asked.

–  –  –

Nox snorted. “So you’ve given up trying to get it back?” Quin laughed. “I guess Ravin knows when he’s beat.” Rai laughed good-naturedly with them, then picked up his pace. Nox and Quin tried to keep up with him, but he quickly outpaced them. They might be better Thieves, Rai conceded, but at least he was the better runner.

After the first few miles, most of the students began grumbling, but Rai found that the running cleared his head. He was used to going on runs, so he was able to keep up an aggressive pace without getting too out of breath.

–  –  –

It was a long run around the outside wall of the school. By the time everyone had made it back, Rai was ready for a break, but when Halden dismissed the other classes, he held the Clerics back, and Aisling stepped forward.

“Each day, along with Conditioning,” Aisling told her exhausted students, “Clerics have additional Shielding training. I believe you’re all familiar with the Shield Rune. Every Cleric should be able to cast this in her sleep. All the healing in the world won’t do much good if you’re Blasted to pieces by an attacking Mage while you’re in the middle of the bone-fusing charm.” Aisling demonstrated the Shield Rune and waited until everyone proved they could cast it. Then she turned to the obstacle course behind her in the Coliseum.

“You’ll be going through this course with your lab partners. Take turns pretending to be injured, and Shielding your wounded teammate as you carry them to safety. For the purposes of this exercise, assume that your side is retreating, and staying to heal is not an option.” Rai found Wisteria toward the back of the pack. She was clearly still out of breath from the running. “Ladies first?” he asked.

Wisteria looked dubiously at him. “You don’t even look tired,” Wisteria accused. “And you probably weigh twice as much as I do.” Rai laughed. “It’s not my fault you’re short, though it is convenient.” He swept her into his arms, holding her against his chest.

Wisteria blushed and squirmed uncomfortably. “Don’t you need a hand free for casting the Shield Rune?” she pointed out.

Rai looked around at the other teams; most of the “victims” had been thrown over their partners’ shoulders. But then Aisling signaled for them to begin, and it was too late. Rai ran forward at a good pace, easily outdistancing the other teams.

–  –  –

Just then, a fireball flew past them, missing by inches. It slammed into a tree behind them. The impact of the attack threw them both forward onto the ground.

“See, a Shield would’ve been useful right then,” Wisteria grumbled, wiping the dirt off her.

“Fine,” Rai said, hoisting her over his shoulder this time.

But before he could take a step, Aisling called out, “Ravin, you’re dead. It’s Raven’s turn.” “Delightful.” Wisteria glared at him. “I’m holding you personally responsible for this. If you had listened to me—” “Shouldn’t you be rescuing me right now?” Rai said, setting her on the ground and falling unhelpfully at her feet. “For all you know, my leg was just blown off, and you have to carry me to safety.” “Right,” Wisteria said rolling her eyes. “Couldn’t have lost an arm instead, huh?” “The purpose of the exercise is for you to carry me,” Rai reminded her with a grin, putting his hands behind his head.

“I would kick you if Aisling weren’t watching,” Wisteria told him, and it occurred to Rai that she might not realize he was teasing her. Funny, most girls seemed to enjoy being teased.

Wisteria grabbed Rai’s arm and attempted to heave him forward. After a second of straining, she gave up, and instead concentrated her efforts on throwing a Shield into place to deflect the incoming barrage of fireballs.

“This is impossible,” she said through gritted teeth. “We’re pinned down.”

–  –  –



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