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Rumble in the Arena (Part 4)

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A Second Generation Whateley Academy Adventure

Rumble in the Arena

by

Malagua

 

Part Four

 

Saturday, October 22, 2016 - 1:31 pm
Whateley’s ‘closed’ coliseum. Temporary ‘Bohemian’ Arena

“How is that even possible!?” Some of the guys who placed bets on Cestus' favor exclaimed. To them, this should’ve been a done and closed case the moment the hyena man made contact with the girl that interrupted the fight, nevermind the fact that now it was pretty much a free for all with a target painted onto the guy’s back.

But so far, he was still having trouble pummeling the girl down in what felt like hours but, in reality, a little over a minute elapsed.

Caro leapt, blocked, and dodged the incoming attacks, before delivering one of her own. Deceptive at first, she managed to connect more than a couple on Cestus who underestimated her and instead found himself with a fist up his jaw and gut punch that sent him reeling back.

His opponent was smaller and faster and proved to be more than a match for him… for now.

And that was something even in his addled fuel raged state he could make the connection for.

“Are you going to let us go?” Caro asked, holding her fist up whilst her cautious eye spied onto the side, seeing her friend Chris run along the field to run interference to anyone who would try to claim the added bounty on Zoo and Caro.

“Heh… you won’t hold on much longer,” Cestus snarled, raising his finger to point at Caro’s arm, and the moment she turned to look at it, he came in for another strike. This one connected, with the claws scratching across the scales of her arm but not breaking them.

It still sent her back and away from his striking range, letting him elaborate. “I see your spell. The line on your arm grows shorter the more you strain yourself. Once it’s done… you’re done.”

Caro frowned, spitting out the blood that was drawn from that last punch before glancing down at her line. Cestus’ assessment was accurate.

“I can still take you down.” Caro responded by raising up her hands, trying to mask the concern with uncharacteristic bravado. Even if she could feel her energies constantly draining because of the curse. With the time being within less than a minute, she didn’t like what she was going to do. “B-But if you give up and just go fight someone else. Things won’t go bad for you.”

Cestus barely said anything, his brow furrowed and immediately gave out a snarl before charging forth, his clawed hand about to come down on Caro.

“Not again,” She gasped as she jumped back and answered with a kick that, surprisingly, managed to connect the guy’s ribs, sending him tumbling just enough, thanks to the momentum.

“Fine!” Caro snapped as she was forced to do it. “In for a penny, in for a pound,” she said as she uncapped the marker she carried.

Cestus was pushing himself up and gave Caro the time to tamper with the curse. On the line burning on her arm, now close to the wrist, she hastily drew the circle that covered part of her forearm, tangentially touching the line just before it would start to burn.

“This is overtime now,” Caro said, licking her thumb tip and crossing on the overlap, erasing it. Effectively, the line got extended. And she had no idea how much but was certain that she would run out of mana before that would happen. “I’m tired of you now.”

With Cestus drawing closer at a rampaging speed, Caro took in a deep breath, feeling a burning rise well within her chest. Pinching her lips up the pressure, she exhaled, letting out a stream of fire that crossed the air in a straight line. As she’d expected, Cestus reacted in a primal reflex and immediately tried to flee out of the way of the fire.

Still, Caro pursued, acting like a flamethrower to mark a perimeter before she forced herself to stop. The curse might’ve made her fireproof, but super heating the inside of her mouth would most likely hurt when she changed back.

Regardless, that was what she looked for, throwing herself up onto the retreating Cestus as the ground beneath her burned. Inwardly, she regretted that her shoes might’ve been damaged as a result, but it was too late to stop. With the large boy on the run, she needed to seize the chance while she still had the energy.

Distracted and with his back turned to her, Caro leapt in, bringing a fist down for a flurry of hits. He tried to defend himself, block and even strike her. And more than once he was successful, a strike to the side of the head, one that was caught by the arm and so on. Cestus was dangerous in the sense that he wasn’t moderating his hits in this state… but then again, neither was she. It was the spell on her arm that was keeping her healthy and with no broken bones.

Yet, with every hit she took, the line of the spell burned itself further.

Fortunately, she prevailed. Strike after strike caved in the way and eventually allowed her to reach his throat with a light tap that left him stunned. The opening needed to throw him down onto the ground sending him flying across a distance. A thunderous fall that had him bouncing off the dirt.

It wouldn’t have been enough to stop Cestus, and she was worried that he would get up angrier and stronger. But as luck would have it, when he pushed himself up, his hand touched a button on the ground. A loud click and suddenly a sizzling snap of electricity filled the air. His large hyena body stiffened up, back arched but he was unable to even utter a word as the taser mine did its job. It didn’t matter how big the person was, Jack-in-the-box made sure that it would always have the same effect. Momentary paralysis.

And so, Cestus slumped over, falling onto his side.

“And that’s the end of the match!” she heard someone say as the cameras began to retreat. The show was over.

“I won… I won!” Caro exclaimed, almost in disbelief. So used she’d been to relying on her magic for subterfuge and long-term traps, that she never imagined to outright win a brawl for real, especially against someone with super strength. There was a bit of an intoxicating feeling watching it when she dealt with the problem with her own fists.

“Or maybe it’s just the drake’s curse,” she thought to herself. She was about to turn around and call for Sofia when suddenly, an ethereal pain struck through her body. A spell of weakness forced her down to her hands and knees and her insides suddenly felt the stirring flame within and started to assail her.

She heaved desperately, feeling her lips starting to get charred, trying to let the heat slip as the fire within her became unstable. Almost felt as if it threatened to burn her from the inside out. She had ran out of essence to feed the curse and now she was getting claimed by it, drying her much more than needed.

Desperately, her hand fetched for the knife that hung from her belt. Her fingers tightened around the grip, she felt her strength flickering and her control ebbing. So, she lost any sense of caution and drove the top of the blade down onto the skin of her arm, carving a line from the still burning side of the line down to the spot at the back of her hand.

Her blood being the fuel for the spell, the concentrated amount of it immediately had the glowing burn immediately trace down along the cut and onto her hand. Once it reached the circular marking there, the spell ended and the lines and markings she made disintegrated as embers into the air, taking with it the aches and crippling pains.

Only leaving the mild leftovers of the bruising she received and the aftereffects. Her mana was done for, yet again, and her body was completely exhausted as the leftover changes wore off. She felt the scales recede from her arms and her denser muscles return to normal, with a slight burn at the tip of her tongue that had her wonder if she’d had a forked tongue throughout the bulk of the fight.

Having stopped the backlash of the curse before it got worse, Caro was able to recover at least after a couple of breaths, enough to get up. Which came in the right time as, not only she was hearing Cestus groan and stir, though still paralyzed, but it also reminded her that the free-for-all bounty rule was still in place, and not far from her, some of the other competitors that had managed to dodge Chris were making their way towards her.

“Crap” Caro gasped as she tried to get up but wouldn’t be fast enough.

And yet, as one of the guys was but a couple of steps away from her, in came Ratel. The girl grinned wickedly as she met the participant with a hard lariat. She threw her weight as best as possible and for a brief second, she thought it would be easy, but quickly found herself getting dragged off by her upperclassmen’s strength.

But the girl had a ton of grit, took the hit, and ran with it. She swung her legs behind the guy’s back whilst her arm was around his neck, turning her lariat into a hard supplex against the dirt.

“Rachel…” Caro said relieved. She’d completely forgotten she’d trapped her within that infinite corridor. She must’ve run through the rest of the length of the measuring tape.

“I should be mad at you for what you did to me,” Rachel said with a scoff as she pushed herself up from the knocked down guy.

“That’s your problem,” Caro retorted. “Though it’s a fortune that you made it here right on time.”

“Did I? I didn’t notice?” and when Rachel turned to look at the hyena rager on the ground, she gasped in disappointment. “What happened? Did you do that?”

“No?” Caro said, with the least of interest of adding herself into the Whitmaniac’s list of fighters. “I’m only here to help my friend and get out.”

“So, you crashed the tournament?” Rachel asked.

“I did so to help my friend. She was getting a bad beatdown in a rigged match. I jumped in, thrashed their champion and now everyone is after the two of us,” she said pointing over at Zoo who was running her way, rounding the fires burning on the ground with Caro’s jacket at hand only to get sidetracked by one of the fighters. Fortunately, Zoo still had some fight within her, enough to keep herself from getting ziptied… at least from that initial attack.

“You should’ve said so sooner. I would’ve helped,” Rachel said, her eyes drawn towards Chris as she fought around some of the participants.

“You’re still grounded, remember?” Caro reminded.

“Even after I helped you?” Rachel mused.

“Just get done with it.” Caro sighed. “The whole exhibition match format it’s over. Now it’s a free-for-all with an added bonus to whoever captures us.”

“Free for all? Sweet!” Rachel said with a sinister grin. Still, Caro knew the girl had no intention of participating on the whole capture the target scheme. She was here only to be the last man, or in this case, girl standing. And without saying anything, she just jumped in for the interception.

“I’ll… I’ll just pretend that I didn’t see her,” Caro muttered as she dusted herself off before turning in the distance, watching Chris just as she used her warping field to decelerate one of her opponents to the point of stopping as she squared off with another.

“Chris!” Caro called. “We’re leavi-” she said, instantly cut off when a punch emerged out of nowhere, completely blindsiding her and throwing her back to the ground.

“It was supposed to be a simple thing.” Said a girl’s voice as the air was shimmered and blown away, revealing the appearance of lithe girl of light brown hair dressed in a rather simple yet elegant attire, evidently not made for combat. It took a couple of seconds for Caro to recognize her as one of the organizers of the event, the one who sat at the forefront of the balcony.

“Right… one of the bohemians is an illusionist… Glam, wasn’t it?” she said as she tried to pull herself up.

“All she had to do was roll with the punches. Play the good girl and it would all be fine. It’s the reason why we paid her.” Caro reacted by forcing herself up, throwing a fist, mostly a retaliation for being sucker-punched. However, she ended punching the air. Her fist slipped through the girl, Glam’s face. And as that happened the image became suddenly transparent and faded out, and in turn, the girl appeared out of thin air like a ghost, grabbing Caro’s wrist and pulling her to deliver a knee strike down the stomach.

Caro almost lost consciousness from the surprise strike and fell down to her knees. As she heard the girl’s step go around but was already getting an idea that she’d just pull another mirage trick.

Illusions, of course, Caro thought as she tried to think. The booklet in her pocket certainly had a couple of spells that could help her with that. The issue was that she’d been so drained, that she couldn’t possibly use another spell, even if she wanted.

“I’m so livid,” Glam muttered. “I was hoping that Cestus would get what he wanted, that he’d be happy enough. You know how important it is to do that for your prospective boyfriend? For the sake of appearances? But look at him. You turned him into the laughingstock of the day. Thank you.” She said sarcastically as an invisible kick sent her stance tripping down and the knife spinning on the dirt.

“So what? Does that mean he can treat my friend as a punching bag?” Caro snapped as she grabbed a handful of dirt and tossed it in the voice’s direction just as she pushed herself up. She hoped that it could reveal an outline, but instead found the dirt disappearing in the air.

“You thought that would work?” Glam mocked as illusion once again disappeared and the real one emerged out of thin air to deliver a punch. The girl was no fighter, but neither was Caro, and when the first ones connected against her face, they hurt like hell. “Think no one has tried that against me before?” After the third one she managed to raise her arms to block herself.

Caro was easily outclassed and at a crass disadvantage. The brief moment her hands passed by her view, suddenly, there were three Glams standing before her, all of them grinning. “What happened to the big bad witch? No more magic to use?”

And with that all three came forth, throwing fists in synchronized tandem and easily keeping Caro guessing and vulnerable. Not because it was three times the strikes but because it was hard to know which was the real one, or if she was even among them. And whenever the real one came, she almost lost all of her defense.

This was probably the most damage she felt she’d taken throughout the entirety of the fight. And the more she fell into it, the more she wished she still had the power to punch the rich girl in the face. But alas, she’d used most of her mana and felt zilch when she tried to tap into it.

One strike came down against her face, one that clearly came from the void of the air, and she managed to catch just before it disappeared into thin air. She had no idea what she expected and was already out of strength for retaliating. She only realized after and braced herself for an upcoming punch when Sofia happened.

She entered the fray leaping in with all of her might, with her shoulder held out, she crashed through the three mirages and struck the real one, whose hand was held by Caro. Sending the real Glam away and onto the ground.

“Caro! Are you okay?” she asked concerned as she reached to help her up.

“I’m as well as I can be,” she said, feeling her cheek swollen from that last punch. With her mana drained for the day, she would need to go to Doyle building to get it treated and come up with an explanation. But back to the pressing matters. She saw Glam was already out of commission on the ground, or at least that’s what it appeared. One could never be certain with her.

“Caro!”

Fortunately, Chris was already much closer than Glam. “Are you okay?” she asked, stopping over to check her face, making her wince and swat her friend’s hand away.

“I’m fine… can we leave? Are they chasing you?” Caro said as she picked up her athame and felt Sofia slip the coat on her.

“I was doing well, but was starting to get overwhelmed… And then, out of nowhere that Ratel girl just jumped into the fight and distracted them. I just thought it was my chance to provide support.”

“Thanks Rachel,” Caro sighed before looking over at Chris. “Alright, I’m ready for the express exit.”

“What’s that exactly? Sofia asked.

Chris stepped up, standing before the roommates. “Alright, you two holds onto me.” The two girls humored her, grabbing onto the Poesie’s shirt and she in turn began to work her ‘magic.’

Holding out her hand, and spinning it like tracing a circle, she drew a zone of red into the air, as thin as paper but sizzling with the warper’s energy. And then she repeated the step two more times, stacking the fields on top of one another. “Try to move along with me. Any variation will be multiplied, but as long as you’re holding onto me, we shouldn’t stray far.”

By the time she was done, just one jump would have them slip into Chris’ ability. They could feel the tension and sizzling movement of the power just close to their heads.

“We’re aiming for the stands, in particular, that open area by the entrance,” Chris informed as she lowered her body signal about what they were about to do. “At one…” she began counting.

Caro sighed, glad that her legs were still unharmed whilst Sofia was nervous about this.

“At a two…”

The fight appeared to intensify around them and was starting to grow increasingly close as Ratel was just entertaining herself with a group that for once was becoming too much for her now that she lost the element of surprise.

“Three!” Chris called out grabbing the two girl’s arms to give them the guiding step into the inclined field. Two steps and a leap that, by all means should’ve barely taken them a just short of a meter forth. But crossing through the field of energy, it greatly increasing their momentum, sending them much higher than expected into the other field, and then the next one.

The girls felt their souls leave their body at the sudden increases but were still conscious as they saw themselves leap about twenty meters into the air and across the field.

Sofia began to scream as soon as they crossed the last warp gate whilst Caro only began as they stopped going up and began their descent.

The ground was drawing closer faster than they expected, drawing some attention from the crowd. Fortunately, Chris was more than used to the momentum changes and her daredevil personality made it easier for her to remain in control. So, as they were falling, she ensured the girls were holding onto her before throwing both arms forth, throwing a strange orb of blue energy that bloomed upon hitting the landing spot.

As the group fell down and entered the miasma, they felt a soft friction start to slow every atom within them, buffering their speed until they touching the ground barely feeling like they’d made a skip from the field.

“Wow…” Sofia blurted out as the field disappeared and the air sludge that permeated their moves vanished.

“You get used to it,” Caro said, giving Chris who stood proudly a light nudge down on her ribs. “Come on, let’s get going,” she instructed, grabbing her coat from Sofia’s hands and the undisturbed bag she’d left under the seat before they began their run back the way they came from.

Fortunately, none of the bystanders or spectators were in the mood to try their luck for the prize, so they let them through, and they departed the arena.

The competition was starting to heat up as more of the students began to find their downfall and those that remained saw themselves start to get drunk in their victory. One of them had managed to slip the cuffs on Cestus to claim the prize whilst Glam had managed to drag herself back to the balcony. With about half a dozen competitors remaining, there were some interesting predictions going from the betting house. Some demanding for a refund if the freshman girl that appeared out of nowhere ended up winning the pot (since no one could’ve bet on her).

Gazes turned towards Bohemian Lion expecting him to make any sort of announcement, but he remained silent.

Before those remaining could engage each other, the doors at the front of the coliseum opened and in came the members of campus security, fully decked in riot control gear, just in case.

“We received calls of a clandestine off the books fight club… You kids have a lot of explaining to do!”

Saturday, October 22, 2016 - 1:39 pm
Makeshift locker room at the fringe of La Pedreada

“Oh, the chaos! Can you believe the fire in these kids?!” Marco exclaimed, seemingly entertained as the camera cut to black as the connection was closed, shortly after the large hyena boy, Cestus, hit the ground. “A free-for-all brawls. I didn’t think it would be as entertaining. It is, however, a shame that we have to cut away from this fight… but today’s main event has arrived.”

Caroline shook her head at the commentary. While she appreciated the turn the fight had taken and the bully getting a lesson of why magic shouldn’t be underestimated, it’d suddenly turned into a chaotic cluster that she couldn’t help but find disappointment with the school for allowing this. The saving grace was that Marco’s streaming system had an inbuilt ID pixelater to keep the student identities hidden.

“But then again, I’ll have to inquire later, there’s no way the syndicate would be happy about that,” Caroline muttered before checking the time on her phone. “Hm… It’s about time for lunch… Are you done now, Cole?”

“In a moment,” Cole said with a small smile, amids between swings and lashes from Root’s wooden sword. He danced around, avoiding the hits before trying to get in closer. By now, having gotten a good sense of the man’s danger, all Root could do was jump away.

By now, Cole was done sparring with each of the evaluated fighters and determined their capabilities. None of them had taken more than seven minutes to study. With the free time available, Root took a gander in asking Cole for a rematch and the man happily accepted.

The syndicate’s enforcer and trainer was just having the time of his life, as he always did. Facing off with someone who just had the drive to improve and learn. Pure motivation that happened to remind him of the joy of his lifestyle.

“Well then,” Cole mused as he raised up his fists. “Shall we make this a short one?”

“Why? Need to be given a break?” Root said, his light trash talking coming across as playful banter as he couldn’t keep himself from grinning. The young man had quickly gained a sense of familiarity with the syndicate representatives, which seemed to bode well for his prospects, despite trying to bring the sword down on the recruiter.

“Even if I’m exhausted, I can still beat your ass,” Cole laughed as he made a butterfly kick to put some distance between the two. “How about I try something different?”

With that he changed his stance upon landing, standing upright with his legs together and an arm behind his back. The other was held forward with an open palm, a flick of the wrist away from becoming an invitation.

“Are you serious?” Root asked, frustrated. “You’re mocking me.”

“I’m not. I always fight seriously, if not for you, it’s for myself.” Cole said. “Besides, what’s wrong with this? Better focus on one limb, my legs and body are almost one.”

“Cole,” Caroline mused as she occasionally glanced at the TV screen where stats of the official fighters were playing.

“Okay okay,” Cole said before turning towards his opponent. “I’ll give you three attempts, Travis.”

With that, Root launched himself forth, wooden sword in hand he brought it swinging down for a swing which he changed in mid trajectory for a horizontal slash, and carried on trying to pressure Cole, but the man wasn’t falling for it.

A smooth sidestep to the side, an arch of his spine before bending over to avoid the swing, he made quick work of the attacks in a graceful manner, not letting them touch him before interrupting one of the attacks with his legs following the motion and connecting against the man’s shoulder.

The hit was enough to force him back with a sore shoulder.

“That’s one,” Cole marked.

Root didn’t say anything and once again launched for the next set of attacks. This time, he tried to mix it up and wield the stick in one hand, using his magic to make it shorter while trying to connect a punch with his off hand.

This time, it forced Cole to use his free hand to block away the punch attempts, gently deflecting them as he changed his strategy. Rather than dodging the swing of the sword’s length, instead he jumped in closer, going as far as using his elbow and forearm to bump off the blade’s hilt.

Eventually, he got close enough to reach over and grab Root’s shoulder and use it as leverage to force the young man’s off hand around his back and lock him in position. Outside of the reach of the sword where no swing could touch him.

“Second,” Cole lectured before releasing him forth. “You’re getting better. “Think you’ll get me now?”

“I doubt I will,” Root mumbled.

“There’ll be other times,” Cole reassured.

“Alright,” Root said, assuming a proper fighting stance.

And when Cole humored him, restarting his position, Root launched for the attack. This one was better and more calculating, no longer using the offhand for the offensive, but more to counteract his opponent’s moves. His focus and strength were now onto the wooden sword as he swung it slightly more expertly.

Cole dodged and slipped out of the way trying to find an opening, engaging in a slightly more even match. At least in appearances. Caroline knew the man’s true strength and there was no hiding that he was locking himself with that stance and deliberately fighting with a hand behind his back.

The syndicate trainer’s assessment was that Cole’s swings, while stronger than before, still lacked the control the two-handed grip awarded him, even for a hollowed blade, the swings he made required a better degree of control for which it didn’t appear as if he’d trained.

Deciding to finish it, Cole closed in the distance. One of the swings of the wooden sword came in crashing onto his side. And he could easily dodge it by jumping back, but instead made a judgment call and, instead, soldiered through. His hand was raised up, to meet up the hit.

A hard smack came in, one that carried far more density than he’d expected. Cole stifled a yelp of pain before as he tried to keep his strength but was forced to back down. Root tried to capitalize on this and do a follow up attack.

Cole’s stance might’ve been chipped away but hardly broken. He effortlessly caught Root’s fist, forcing himself to use the hand behind his back.

A sliding kick to throw him off balance and a spin of the wrist, Cole sent Root spinning onto the ground for a good fall.

*Cough* Root managed to say as he spat off the dirt from his mouth. “I thought you weren’t going to use your hand…” he said, wiping his face clean.

“I never said I was going to fight you one-handed, didn’t I?” Cole said reaching over to offer his hand to help him up, which Root accepted. “Tsk… that really hurt,” he noted, somewhat surprised, shaking his wrist. “Feel like you broke a couple of bones on my hand.”

“Really?” Root asked eagerly before realizing the awkwardness of the case. “I’m… sorry.”

“Nah, don’t be,” Cole said as he shook his hand, wincing slightly as he clasped his wrist. “I made the decision. But I was surprised, with unexpected density… Can I see that wooden sword?”

“Sure,” Root said as he moved to pick it up and offer it.

“Hm…” Cole said, both inspecting it up close and balancing it on his hand. “Crudely made out of real wood, obviously magically grown. Despite the imbalance, it was still properly made.” With a flick of his hand had it flip int the air and caught it by the hilt. “What surprised me was the weight of this.”

“It’s vera wood… a dense thing.”

“And it’s not hollowed, as I thought.” Cole said, swinging it around. “Much heavier than it looks and you’re stronger than I imagined,”

To that, Cole flipped the blade back onto his hand and offered it back hilt first. “You got to strike me and forced me to break my stance… Good job.”

“Thank you,” Root said, a smile appearing on the young man’s face as he accepted the blade. Then came a glow around his hand as the magic was absorbed from the stick, letting it shrivel and shrink down into his palm until there was nothing but presumably the seed from which it spawned. “Does that mean I have the job?”

“We’ll stay in touch,” Cole said as he moved back to Caroline. The two bid the fighters a polite salute before they slipped away from the training area.

Once the two were together, walking out in the open area, alone, they felt comfortable enough talking.

“Did he really break your hand?” Caroline asked, reaching her out, preparing to use her magic when Cole dismissed her.

“Nah, I’m so used to taking worse hits from brutes. A kid with a wooden stick wouldn’t do anything to me. However, it did take me by surprise how sturdy that thing was. He can do some damage.”

“So, we leave him in the prospective column?” Caroline said.

“He fits the bill, though I’ll need some more sessions, but might as well consider extending the invitation soon.”

“What do you make of the other in-house fighters?” Caroline asked. “We were supposed to do this evaluation later. But you just happened to get your way out of this.”

“What was wrong with doing it sooner? You got to see the spectacle.” Cole mused. “As to the fighters… Most of them are your standard run-of-the-mill brawlers. Some do it for fun and as such haven’t bothered in refining their technique. The man of the armor and the mage do it because they think their powers grant an advantage, but it doesn’t raise the level of hubris.”

“Any potential hires?”

“I’d recommend most of them for the ‘rent-a-thug’ program, even as far as under the level 3 rank if we ever find ourselves out of the regulars.”

“What of the kid?”

“More examination is required,” Cole said as they reached the elevator down into the tunnels in construction just as it was coming back up. And within was Curtis Johnson again.

He departed the iron box, making such a poor effort to hide his displeasure, that he almost gave up on the pretense. “Are you two done?”

“If you want for a fight,” Caroline said, taking the lead so as to hope that the guy would be much less confrontational. While also holding his arm asking him to refrain himself. “I’m afraid my partner is done with for the day.”

“Aw tired, isn’t he? I can’t believe those guys made you put up a sweat, Perhaps I can spar with you then,” Curtis said in a disingenuous tone towards Caroline. “I’ll be gentle.”

“Not interested,” Caroline said. “Any physical evaluations will be done with my partner, a certified specialist in martial artists.”

“Hah, martial arts?” Curtis snorted. “They’re all fancy and good for show, but it doesn’t measure up to raw power. I can demolish a rock with a fist and barely break a sweat. I doubt your partner can do it. I wouldn’t want to break him.”

“You’re right,” Cole said with a casual smile, though Caroline could feel his arm tense up. “You might have an easier time breaking rocks with your fists, but more than that goes into combat. And I don’t appreciate you making such a dumb summation of what goes into it.”

“Whatever weakling. If you feel like challenging me, book me. I’d appreciate it if it was televised.” Curtis said before he stepped through, bumping up against Cole’s shoulder before disappearing around the corner of a tent.

“You really have a lot of patience for him, don’t you?” Caroline said as they stepped into the elevator. With the gate closing in a thunderous creak and the lever of the engine pulled to get them on the slow descent.

“Well, I’ve had my fill of fighting for now.” Cole sighed. “And, as I said before, I know their type. Think their powers are for absolute victory. Sooner or later, the realization and the knocking off the pedestal will arrive. And it doesn’t have to be by my hand.”

“But you’d let someone else do it.” Caro shook her head.

“It’s almost karmic. At any point, there’ll be someone better. You might have a bad day. You might be weakened from a wound, or you can just make a poor decision in a fight. And when you do, it’ll be a more painful fall the higher you hold yourself.”

“You do believe that? Folks like that… like my ex, they never seem to find the way to learn.”

“Time will come.” Cole sighed. “I used to have my best friend, Oscar Newton. Both of us grew together, served the army together, trained martial arts after we were booted out. We were both anime, martial arts, and superhero nerds together. Probably the only person who could stand toe to toe up against me and actually win.”

“Sounds impressive,” Caroline said, aware of the man’s track record.

“It is. Despite being a baseline, he had no fear to face off against mutants, even making himself a minor career as a vigilante. Defend the weak, be better and stand up to bullies. He swore that he would take on anyone, no matter how strong they were. I even loved him for that.”

“You’re speaking about him because he’s gone… aren’t you?”

Cole sighed. “He joined a team of investigators and helped put many criminals behind bars, many mutants that were stronger than him. However, eventually, the danger got the better of him. The details of how it happened are a mystery. Apparently, a group of killers ambushed them within a building… I never found out.”

“He made a family with his co-workers. Had met a nice girl and was about to marry… and then nothing.” Cole shook his head. “My point was, there are people in this world who’d advocate for justice, teach bullies lessons, and fight with honor. They will train because they find enjoyment out of a respectful encounter, have something that drives them or merely because they want to be better. Fate or chance will eventually pit them together against those that need to be taught.” A chuckle escaped his lips. “I say that as I work for the syndicate, building up these guys.”

“You’re doing things for good, in your own way… as am I,” Caroline said, reaching over to rest her hand on his shoulder with a soft smile.

“I guess you’re right. While heroes are aplenty and far apart, the syndicate is but one bigger organization. Not plagued by that sense of superiority that permeates the other side’s culture. We’re the outliers that try to keep many from crossing lines. And as you hope that the kids you care for will live happy lives, my hope is that the ones I train will deal with the bullies before them.”

Saturday, October 22, 2016 - 4:29 pm
Doyle Building, outside

The girls knew they were being naive. To think they could take such a prominent role within the fight and get away without anyone realizing. Caro was pretty much convinced that would be the case.

However, as they reached Doyle to get themselves treated for the bruises, in particular Caro. They came across members from campus security as they were bringing in some of the arrested over for inspection. Out of fear of getting spotted, the girls, Caro, Chris, and Sofia tried to slip out as soon as the former got a cold compress pressed up against her cheek and a thick bandage wrapped around the self-inflicted cut on her arm. Nevertheless, they were still recognized on the way out. Presumably because the tending nurse outed them by the nature of their injuries.

They still went easy on them. Given consideration upon finding they were rescuing their friend and weren’t present when the bulk of the students were taken into custody. Though, from what they heard, many of those involved, including Cestus and the rest of the organizers, would be leaving with but a slap on the wrist.

Without doubt, there was a bit of handling from upper management to make it happen. Maybe even from the headmaster himself, they suspected. Whichever was the case, this whole operation was treated like some students just having an unsanctioned fight.

“Despite the booze,” Sofia sighed.

“Despite the bets,” Chris appended.

“Despite the senseless violence,” Caro finished.

The trio sighed as they sat by the benches just outside the place. After such a long day filled with hectic fights, the moment to stop was very well needed for all three.

“Thanks, Chris, for the help,” Caro spoke up.

“Yeah, thanks,” Sofia added.

“Don’t mention it,” Chris said with a slight smile.

“I’m really sorry,” Sofia added. “For all the troubles I brought. I didn’t really expect for things to blow up like they did.”

Caro knew better than to chide Sofia for that, but Chris didn’t. “It was an underground fight club. What did you expect?”

“I didn’t think it would get that bad,” Sofia said defensively. “I was just supposed to get through and pretend to lose. I was doing it for friends.”

“It went badly,” Chris said with a small sigh, surprisingly quite tactless.

“I know. I know,” Sofia sighed to quell the growing frustration. There was a bit of a cheesy thought stuck in her mouth but refused to leave. Caro had an inkling of what it might be.

“Well… Do you think you’ll be…”

“More careful about it? Yeah,” Sofia sighed as she pushed herself up onto her feet. “I mean… Crossby is still my boyfriend, sort of, and Trevor and Steven are still my friends. But they’ll need to give me a good explanation.”

“Just…”

“I know, I know,” Sofia admitted sullenly. After all that had happened, she had no leg to stand on out of outrage, especially as she saw Caro’s bruised face. “I’ll start to set up boundaries. Hard boundaries.”

She made a long pause, followed with a sigh before looking down at herself. Her combat attire was but a simple top and a set of shorts from a special material, all of it and herself included, dirtied by the soil. “I’ll go back to our room. I need a shower.”

“I’ll probably follow in later,” Caro sighed. “It’ll be some time before I stop feeling the pain.”

“Right… Again, sorry,” Sofia apologized again as she began to walk back in the direction of Whitman.

“You know? Chris said once they were alone. “I didn’t get to see the entirety of the fight, but I was just stunned when I saw you throwing a punch against that Cestus guy. You sent the guy flying.”

“Yeah… it was a spell I used,” Caro said, stiffening as she realized that she’d left her notebook within her back pocket and, as a result, it was all crumbled and wrinkled over. She would’ve been despaired hadn’t her spell-books been marked with a spell that would immediately mend them when needed. “Basically, gives me a lot of power… but it almost killed me.”

“For real?”

“Well… I was most likely to fall into a coma… but I still managed to get out of it before it got serious.” Caro said, showing up her bandaged arm. “Grimma will mock me for seeing me out of mana already.”

“Magic sounds complicated.”

“It is…I just needed a bit more practice. It becomes easier to miss-gauge the amount of mana I pour into them when making the down payment. And some have consequences that are part of the risk. This one, for example, was meant to suck my mana every second, it could’ve been practiced a little better, but in the end, it would’ve still kept on doing that as long as I was still marked.” She raised up her bandaged left arm.

“And can’t you like to have a clause that stops it under a certain threshold?”

“I thought about it…” Caro shook her head. “But I didn't have the time. Admittedly, it would be much more convenient if it were something I could just slip on and wear. A magical trinket.”

“You know?” Chris cocked her head. “Curses oftentimes do go hand in hand with objects.”

“Yeah, I guess that should be my next project,” Caro sighed, stretching her arm, finding it still a bruised sore pain from it. “But for now. I just want to rest and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing and recovering.”

To that Chris seemingly smiled, leaning onto the side in a teasing motion. “Do you want to-”

“I’m not going to the anime club, Chris”

“Nah, besides, I’m pretty sure the showing is over. Even if it still were, we’d need to catch up on the episodes we missed, ” Chris said with an amused chuckle. “I was actually about to suggest we get something to eat. I’m starving.”

“You know, so am I,” Caro said with a small smile before perking up at someone who drew close. “Well, I didn’t expect to see you, Gwen.”

Their third friend, Gwen Silver came their way, looking by far the most presentable of the bunch, clad in a skirt and a blouse that was a stark contrast with Caro and Chris’ muddled state. Her face appeared with a fading blush and bore the fleeting aspects of a wide smile as she drew close, quickly offset by the sudden concern.

“Hey Gwen,” Chris said as she moved in to hug her friend with her dirtied clothes. She knew what she was doing as when her fellow Poesie held up her hands she just backed away with a smile. “Are you back from your date?”

“Yeah, of course I am. We weren’t going to spend the day. Dereck said he had to meet up with his buddies.” Gwen said.

“How was the date?” Caro asked before Gwen could formulate the next question.

“It was great. I loved the movie and my talk with Dereck was sweet.”

“Remember what you liked about him?” Caro asked.

“I did. Just reassured me that he was the kind of person I thought he… wait a minute. Why am I the one talking? You two look like you were in a fight.” Gwen blurted out.

“You should see the other guy.”

“What happened?” Gwen asked.

“It’s a bit of a long story,” Caro sighed. “But I’m also starving… So how about we take this to the Crystal Hall?”

“Alright,” Gwen sighed, reaching over to offer her shoulder for her friend.

“Yay,” Chris mused.

“And here I thought you’d be the one who’d get into trouble in Berlin.”

Saturday, October 22, 2016 - 6:20 pm
Bohemians’ Club, Whateley Academy

The regal lounge within the tunnels bustled with life. Marked as the Bohemian club room, Karel, the leader, Bohemian Lion, called as the ‘afterparty’ for the event. Members, of both of high and small caliber within the group were present, as well as their collaborators. All present, at Bohemian Lion’s behest to raise a glass for what he called ‘a job well done.’

Not that it felt like that to many. Many of those active participants got their fair scolding from security, at least until they were let go. A couple of their associates weren’t as lucky though. Such was the case of Jeff Hayes who operated the stream and was being partly accused of tampering with the school’s internet protocols to allow a third party to access them, things for which the poor guy wouldn’t have any idea how to answer.

Taking all that into account, there was still cause for celebration. For starters, the overall feedback for the events was rather lukewarm, as opposed to the disaster they had expected. With campus security rolling in, most of the animosity shifted towards them and had blurred up the perception the viewers might’ve had.

“That Mexican,” Karel said, talking with his inner circle, a glass of bourbon at hand. “Marco, wasn’t it? He loved the show, in particular, my free-for-all twist. A novel concept he called it. Goes to show those knuckleheads can’t think further than the basics.”

And to that, those around made a bit of a formal laugh, to echo their leader.

“They even asked if we could do a repeat. I just told them to sort it out with the school. If we ever consider doing something like that again. We’ll do it right,” Bohemian lion said, casting a furtive look towards the soured corner of the house, where the star of today’s show, Cestus sat by, nursing his drink as he sulked. Some of the basic members and helpers tried to cheer him on, and among which was Glam who was modestly trying to sweet-talk him.

Which somewhat ticked Karel, having grown used to having an entourage of girls, all dedicated towards his wants and needs. With a look from him and a nod of the head, he showed off his still prevalent control, summoning Glam to his side for the rest of the conversation.

“Hopefully, it’ll be just a phase,” he thought smugly as he addressed Glam. “How’s our ‘gladiator’?”

“He’s still annoyed at the girls that burst in.”

“Yes… Caroline Hersebeth and Christina Cobryn. Their appearance was unexpected… but that’s what you get for poor planning. If you wanted to make this a safer spot, you should’ve picked a different venue.”

“Are we going to go after them?” Glam said, idly rubbing her shoulder where she was tackled.

“No,” Bohemian Lion cut in.

“But…”

“Both of those girls are members of the Future Superheroes of America. And rather prominent members at that. Picking up a feud with them out of some hurt feelings it’s just not worth it.”

“I… I understand.”

Bohemian lion shook his head, as he raised the glass for a sip, the drink was just as good as expected, and even better.

“Hm…” Bohemian Lion said as his glass parted from his lips, now empty. “This has such a nice flavor.”

“Thank you,” Crossby said with a bit of smugness, trying to appear humble. But the guy’s personality wasn’t that much of an offshoot from Karel’s, so he could tell he was forcing himself to play along. Not that it mattered, he was and would always be of a higher standing. “Um… about my… our payment?”

“You should consider yourself lucky we even have you here promoting your goods,” Glam antagonized.

“We did as we were asked. And on the side, we did more.” Crossby defended. “She went forth with a fight when your man lost control. Apparently, no one even told him his fight was rigged.”

“And have him get mad?” Glam shook her head with a follow-up glare. “All she had to do was keep up the act.”

“And get pummeled by your boyfriend?” Steven, who was just done pouring another drink, spoke though not enough so as to keep the criticism away from Cestus’ ears “We all saw how he flew off the handle.”

“Our friend got her services hired, and she took a beating for her. If Caroline hadn’t jumped in, I’m certain most of us would’ve.” He said, exchanging reassuring glances.

“And you find yourselves in breach of contract.” Glam frowned.

“Don’t talk to me about contracts, you knew what had to happen and that this was without a clause,” Crossby snapped. “And we would’ve gotten exposed when the guards came in, were it not for me. That part was in the contract, but the collateral offered was not worth the trouble getting caught would’ve gotten us.”

“I’m sure that there is a lot to litigate here,” Bohemian Lion weighed in before shaking his head. “But Bill is right. He did his part and would have to get paid.”

“Don’t forget, you also agreed to have us as your de-facto supplier.”

“Yes yes. A deal is a deal is a deal. For the next month, we’ll be buying our drinks exclusively from you,” Bohemian Lion said with a smug tone as he held off the empty glass, laying it onto the tray Steven carried. “Do be sure not to water it down. I have a wonderful sense of taste… which is why I appreciate it.”

“Thank you,” William Crossby added with a modest nod. “We’ll be excusing ourselves now, alright?”

“Fine, take your leave. Just leave the drinks and we’ll send Pitfall to your… ahem, offices, with the payment,” Bohemian Lion stated dismissively.

Accepting the outcome, William stepped back into the party to gather the other members of the group.

“What do we do about Sofia?” They could hear Steven ask on the path.

“Not now. We’ll talk about it later.” Was the answer as they left the metaphorical sphere.

As the group dispersed and moved around to chat up with the others. Scarlyt, approached the Bohemian Lion.

“I didn’t think you’d pick up another provider over the one we had from the Village.” She noted as she looked at the liquid in the glass with a bit of displeasure.

“Well, they passed the taste test and it’s for a trial month. It’s been getting quite troublesome to transport things around campus. If the provider is within the tunnels, it’ll be much easier.” Bohemian Lion said, taking a sip from a refilled cup. “They told me you pretty much took my spot during the event.”

“You said you had no interest in it… and someone had to act in your stead,” Scarlyt defended with a bit of a playful tone that spoke as to her intentions.

“But you didn’t have to,” Bohemian Lion chuckled. “Regardless, it all worked out.”

“I’ll say… I was a tad surprised campus security showed up. Pitfall and Glam, practically took the case over to the headmaster’s assistant and earned their secret approval for it.” Scarlyt said, adopting a more discreet tone. “And yet, the most interesting part was that, according to some, they could be seen gathering around the entrance right before breaking in.”

“You don’t think the school backtracked on their word, right?”

“Perhaps, I’m just wondering how it all seemed to end coming up Karel, don’t you agree?” Scarlyt asked.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Bohemian Lion said, deliberately smirking on the corner of his mouth to tell his lie.

“Please. You show up just in time, sway the crowd as you want and we get caught. But oddly enough the members of the bohemians and our business partners get off with nary a punishment? Reeks of a plot. You sold them… us out” Scarlyt hushed an accusation, though bearing no apprehension.

Bohemian Lion shrugged. “I did no such thing. All I did was cut another deal.”

“With the school?”

He nodded. “Basically, I gave them a suggestion. Told them about the stream and how it would be bad for the school. Proposed that they just break in just as the stream is over to satisfy all parties. That way, the stream goes uninterrupted, they can pretend they did the right thing, despite me bribing them and we get to march.”

“Feels pointless,” Scarlyt muttered. “You said you bribed them, how much?”

“About twenty percent of the money we made. Admittedly it wasn’t much to begin with but all so I can fix the problems of this group.” Bohemian Lion chuckled. “While it was still a surprise to see how things turned out, I can’t say it was unexpected. My role was to try and salvage the situation. Fix our reputation and so on.”

“So, knowing that it was going down, you pretty much came in and made the big promise of money for the last man standing. Did you also contact Jack-in-the-box for those zipties?”

“It was originally meant to add some rules. Putting them around people to keep them from getting up as a legit way of disqualifying them. But also assure the school we were being somewhat responsible. The fun part came with the money. I made a promise that I wouldn’t have to honor when offering the money and saw them jump into the fight. Even managed to keep the cash made from the bets.”

“Part of the deal with the school?”

“Yeah,” Bohemian Lion said. “I had to explain it was more like buying a raffle ticket that they happened to lose. In the end, I won, as I always do.”

—————

Saturday, October 22, 2016 - 6:30 pm
Twain Room 217

“That’s such a wonderful piece,” Caroline praised as she saw the picture snapped of Vic’s colored ice sculpture. “The color is quite impressive.”

“Cherry or strawberry, I like sweet tastes,” Vic said with a smirk. “And by the looks of it, so do many of the people within the club. Most of them got two pieces of it.” With that, he produced two popsicles that had been laying on a plate by his bed. Both of them appeared still in the perpetual freeze, even covered by a light layer of frost thanks to the paper marking stuck onto them.

“Hm… That is an interesting design,” she said referring to the marking.

“My roommate did them. They keep the ice cold, regardless of where I put them,” Vic casted his look over his shoulder, at the desk across the room, where Toby would usually sit. Right now, his roommate was out, although the tablet containing his helping spirit was still present.

“Nifty.” Caroline smiled. “I’m glad to know that you’re spending time with friends and other activities. I mean, art? I didn’t expect it.”

“Well, it’s a non-committing workshop. I can show up whenever I want.”

“Still, it’s good to know,” Caroline smiled before looking around curiously. “And is there anything of note happening around the school? In particular, around the arenas?”

“I wouldn’t know. Why do you ask?”

“No reason,” Caroline immediately answered.

“So… how’s the trip to Mexico?” Vic asked curiously. “Are you there with Cole?”

“Yeah,” Caroline smiled, moving around the camera to show off the Syndicate’s enforcer who was doing pushups with one arm and one leg. “Say hi.”

“Vic, sup?” Cole greeted with his usual smile, holding the pose. Vic was more than sure he wasn’t at that level, yet. “Hope you’re doing well at school. I look forward to hearing how your lessons with Amanda are going.”

And with that he carried on with his workout as Caroline took back the focus of the camera. “He’s just doing his usual thinking. Mind you, I’d rather he’d do it outside, but we’re located in a homely hostel. No gym.”

“And how was the place?” Vic asked.

“It was pretty impressive. Still under construction… But it has potential, both in its staff and on the business model. It just needs a bit of the syndicate’s sponsorship to polish the points in which it’s lacking.” And with that, Caroline narrated her first day of visit. From the minute details such as the tunnels in construction to the fields and arena, lastly rounding up with the fighters present and the stream that took place while they were doing their job.

“So Whateley’s fight was streamed to the public today?” Vic summarized. “Now that you mention it, I did hear something about it, but didn’t think it would be recorded.”

“Yeah… the school has its quirks. I’m just worried about how it would go with the change of management.”

“How was it when Carson was around?”

“Oh, it was fine, really. Not exactly a golden age, but at least you could feel as if it was stable. Not to discredit the current administration, after all, Mazarin was a prominent member of the syndicate and one of the people who hired a disgraced heroine such as myself. You just happened to come in as the waters were starting to settle in.”

“Lucky. Well, it’s not like I notice every decree the headmaster makes,” Vic said with a small sigh, checking the time on the corner of his tablet, which Caroline picked upon.

“And what are you doing tonight?” Caroline smiled. “More studying?”

“I was thinking of it, just after I have a talk with some old friends.”

“Friends from… Rhode Island?”

“Washington, really. I was thinking about telling them about my whereabouts and the kind of adventures that are around here. I kinda promised.”

“You’re lucky,” Caroline said. Vic heard of stories of people being discriminated for being mutants, but so far, he hadn’t had to face it nor be exposed to it. His friends in Washington had been surrounded by that strangeness and grew up with nary a problem about it. “Well, I’ll leave you be. Think about the Parents Day plan, as well as the whole Christmas matter.”

“Will do,” Vic smiled. “Talk to you later.”

Monday, October 24, 2016 - 12:54 pm
On the way to the Crystal Hall

“Ah… I loathe being unpresent when you get into this sort of tribulation,” A shadow spoke up as it traveled alongside Caro. Its silhouette feigned to take steps on the ground within her vicinity just as the smoke draped around the figure. Waving in the same way as if wearing a dress with a silken skirt. Her gaze, two bright glimmers of light, narrowed with a sense of amusement that came in with her conversation.

She passed with a bench by its side, letting the figure’s legs melt away into the air only to reform as if nothing. Proving its non-corporeality but also everyone’s obliviousness towards it. “I want to believe you’re not screwing me over and just happen to be present when things are safe, Grimma.”

“Oh, but child of Hersebeth, what do I get by being out during the more entertaining moments.” Grimma mused. “I must say, when you tapped into that aspect of dragons, the ripples it sent off reached my very being. It was like a star shining bright before receding into the deepest confines of space. What a way to start a trial run, in the middle battle. I do wish I could’ve seen it.”

“I don’t think you will. It almost killed me; you know?”

“Nonsense. To be a sorceress of fables, adopting multiple forms and powers as the situation demands it should be child’s play. Make yourself as imposing as a giant, as ferocious as a dragon or humble as mouse, it should be a habit you’ll have to get used to if you aspire for this.”

“I’m not even sixteen, I don’t have anything to aspire for yet.” Caroline said, frowning as Grimma hovered around, crossing eyes with her. “You’re free to take away your gifts and job offer, and scram.”

“Oh? And what? Cast you back to your unfulfilled life with two-faced girls and the prospect of shallow romances with ‘jocks’? Based on status and wealth? Your life became all the more interesting when you found me in your grandfather’s estate,” Grimma said with a small smile as she backed away.

“As to your near-demise. All it takes is practice and refinement… out of which, I know you’re not fond of practicing because…” Grimma trailed off, deliberately teasing Caro as she traced her ghostly hand over her head, drawing the shape of the horns. “Perhaps, I should be tossing you a bone as an incentive.”

“Do you mean…” Caro said hopeful, though Grimma quickly dismissed it as she changed topics, slipping in closer.

“Perhaps you need to find a different angle. Your ‘almost died’ problem, has a myriad of a solution. If you want to keep yourself from feeling the exhaustion, perhaps a mystical bangle. That would be a way to start.”

“It’s about what I thought,” Caro shook her head. “And will that keep me from getting drained?”

“Absolutely.” Grimma smiled. “Garner essence and slap into a ring of your making. Imbued with runes and markings with your conditions said. From there only the trinket’s mana will be for the taking. Enchantment or curse are both for you to be played “

Grimma didn’t wait for Caro’s answer, and instead just floated up into the air as she gave her spiel, and upon finishing, her form dissipated.

“I’ll think about that,” Caro muttered. “Mana from another source to access more power. What sort of mystical power could be placed within.”

“Well, now it’s not the time for it,” with that, she moved along the path over to the crystal hall where her friend was there to meet her.

“Caro! Heya!” Sofia greeted as she reserved her a table.

“Hey, Sofia. Everything good?” she asked. After the events from Saturday, she expected the Bohemians to drop by and retaliate over them crashing their event. Fortunately, nothing happened on Sunday while she was out, and with Monday and the school going back to being the usual concern in people’s minds, she wanted to think it would be unlikely that they would try anything… though her mind couldn’t dispose of the notion.

“It’s all good,” Sofia said.

“Are you ready?” Caro asked, looking down at the notes that were laid down on the table.

“Completely,” Sofia smiled. “I’m ready for any pop quiz that comes out.”

“Good, good. Have you heard anything from William?”

“Yeah. I forgot to tell you. He called me on Sunday,” Sofia said before quickly adding. “It was to apologize. He’s really sorry for that.”

“And he should… Don’t let a single apology sway you,” Caro sighed. “In middle school, I used to dole out apologies without even meaning it.”

“Yeah, I know. I’ll be a bit wary and have to consider things. Whatever they plan for Halloween, I’ll be careful.”

“Alright,” Caro said, holding back the contempt, and Sofia noticed it.

“Don’t worry,” she reassured, and something in her voice came across wholeheartedly. “I know I won’t forget the clothes I have to buy for you after the incident.”

“Coat stained, shoes melted, and shirt ripped and bloodied… am I forgetting anything?” Caro mused much to Sofia’s mild but laxed annoyance as she pushed herself up to get some food.

Caro sighed and leaned back. Second time in a month that her words had backfired on her and she’d spent so much mana on the matter, she thought to herself as she considered the kind of things and solutions that could be offered. Garnering the essence of a creature, find ingredients that are both rare and powerful. Maybe find a werewolf for a bit of its essence? Are they even real? Perhaps go for a modern angle? And see if she can leech some power from a devised creature… Go hunting for a dragon, maybe?

The more she thought about, the less sense it made. But just as she was starting to sway towards finding something more mundane like a rat or cat (with Shisa being a willing donor) she paused in that last word. A dragon.

And as luck would have it, at that time, the group known of M3 was passing by. Freshmen boys and girls that were, by other accounts, upstart enough to have their own special table up in the upper levels. Not that Caro cared, by now she was still done with the school politics of popularity.

But her eyes fixed on the tall brit girl, with dark red waving hair and a pretty apparent attitude about her. Chris had told her about the noteworthy cases within the cottage, one of them, a girl named Morgana, said to be blessed with the power of fire. She went by the codename of Dragonsfyre. And apparently a bit of an indication as to her origins.

Checking her calendar quickly, she knew that a good time would be nigh, so she gathered her courage and stood up to meet up with them.

“Excuse me…” Caro said, getting the heads of the girl and her entourage to turn her way.

“Yes?” Morgana answered, cocking her head in confusion. The freshman seemed to be sizing her up, probably wondering if she had any beef with her. Her eyes studied Caro’s physical attributes, from the scales visible under the shirt, at the neck of her coat, to the horns that curled themselves around her forehead before going up. Not seeing the threat, she invited her friends to move along.

“Sorry, my name is Caroline Hersebeth, and I’m a friend of Chris.”

“Chris? Christina from Poe?”

“The same one,” Caro said. “I’m sorry to be this up front, but I have to ask. Your powers. Are dragon-based, right?”

“Well… um, yes? You aren’t a dragon slayer, right?”

Caro shook her head. “Can I ask for your help?” She asked a puzzled Morgana.

 

The End
Read 713 times Last modified on Monday, 25 April 2022 21:22

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