TTOAS (discontinued)

The Tale of Alexandra Stormrider

Part 1

Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.

My legs swung against the wall. A brick wall, old and mossy and crumbling away, but strong enough for me to sit on it. Me, that is. No one else ever sits on it. I sighed and rolled up the sleeves of my sweater. A habit of mine, you might say.

Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.

I stared over the muddy grass towards the strangely out-of-place concrete area that had seemingly been placed in the middle of a field for no apparent reason. A scrawny kid with dark hair was messing about on a skateboard – my brother, Nathaniel. He swerved and nearly lost his balance, then regained it and rolled back across the concrete.

Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.

I threw my head back and stared at the sky. Maybe it was just me but, for that moment, it seemed to darken and the clouds seemed to get heavier. Odd, really. Then again, odd things in my life are surprisingly normal. Like that time that cloud seemed to follow this one kid in my old school and kept raining and raining and raining... the day after he kicked me. And when I slapped that girl and her hair stood on end. Perhaps the little things – giving people electric shocks whenever they touch me, thunderstorms peculiarly breaking out when I got angry. You could call me weird... Or at least the things that happen to me.

Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.

I ran my hand through my hair. It was getting dark. Nat and I had promised our mom to be back soon. Nat was still swerving from side to side on his skateboard. Other than that, the place was really quiet.

Not so long ago, this place had been the busiest park in town. Families came here every day. Kids ran wild. It was always noisy – everyone came after class – almost every day. People were planning to add a climbing frame and some swings. It was green and the flowers and trees flourished.

Then everything changed. Overnight, almost. A girl went missing here. She was in my class. She was my friend. Everyone’s friend, really. She was popular – really social, and bubbly. Autumn, her name was. It was only a few months ago. It happened one night after school. She was walking home – and that was the last thing she said to anyone. No one saw her after she walked through the gates into this place. She had been kidnapped. At least, that was what everyone thought. And still thinks, I guess. But that’s not really relevant, now.

The flowers wilted and trees hung there, dead. No one came here anymore. Just me and Nat, on occasion. No plans to build swings and climbing frames. No noise. Nothing.

Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.

“Nat!” I yelled. “Time to go, midge.”
He glared at me. “Don’t call me that!” He huffily jumped off his skateboard, picked it up under one arm, and reluctantly strolled over to my spot on the wall.
I jumped off the wall and slung my schoolbag, lying on the floor, over my shoulder. “Got your stuff?”
He nodded and grunted. I’d learnt boy-language. That meant yes.

We started to walk across the field to the gate. Every step we took made an odd squelching sound. It had rained last night. It had rained a lot. There was more forecast for today. I could already see clouds darkening the horizon if I looked up.

“Looks like rain,” I muttered.
Nat looked up and squinted. “I can’t see anything.”
“Go figure.” I elbowed him. “Clouds, Nat. Over there.” I pointed.
“You are so annoying!” he whined. “There’s nothing there.”
I sighed, exasperated. Could he really not see them? He was still staring around.
“An owl!”
“Sure, Nat. Like I’m gonna fall for that.”
“There is!”
“Yeah! How many times do I have to tell you?”
He sounded genuine. I looked where he was gesturing wildly.

Sure enough, there was a snowy owl.


“Great, Nat.” I said. “An owl. Now let’s go home.”
“I want to go and see it!”
“Mom said we had to get home…”
“Stop treating me like a two-year-old! We will get home on time. We can be quick. Let’s go!” He broke into a run. Sighing, I followed him.

“Hey little owl dude,” Nat soothed.
“Why are you talking to it?” I said, puzzled. “It is an owl. It cannot talk.”
“So? Why can’t I talk to an owl?”
“It can’t answer you!”
“Can we keep it?”
“How is that relevant?” I almost yelled in frustration.
“It’s cool!”
“You don’t just randomly pick up owls from a park and take them home!”
“Yeah you do!”
“Nat! Get real!”
“Excu-u-u-use me!”

We both stopped bickering only to silently turn towards the owl in shock.

“Owls can’t talk…” I said faintly.

Nathaniel gave me a smug smile. Since when did he think owls could talk?

“Now yo-oo-oo -ou have stopped argu-u-uing,” the owl hooted, ruffling its wings haughtily, “I can introdu-u-uce myself. I am Gamma the Owl.”

“Go figure,” I muttered under my breath. Gamma the Owl gave me a stern look.

“I am Headmaster Ambrose’s pet.” Another smug glance from Nat. “I don’t doubt you will want to meet him, now you have been accepted.” This time Nat was looking puzzled. Then again, so was I. Owls do not speak!

“Okay, Nat…” I began. “Let’s go…” I felt a bit uncomfortable and it was getting really dark.
“No way!” he cried. “It’s a talking owl!” He had a point. But surely there was some logical explanation for this…
“Animatronics!” I concluded. “It’s a robot, Nat, with speakers and stuff. It isn’t real.” Nat opened his mouth to say something, but he was interrupted.
“What are these animal-chronics you speak of?”

Huh. It had heard me. Then it hit me – of course it had. There was someone controlling it. I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to figure out.

“Yeah, what are they?” asked Nat.
“Robots, kind of. Like I said. You get them in theme parks all the time.”
“Yeah right.”
“Look,” I said, exasperated. “I’m going. If you want to stay here and stare at some dumb robot bird, fine. But I’m not.” I began to turn away.

“Hold it, young wizard!” Gamma the Owl again. No… not an owl, a robot. I started to walk away. A robot telling me what to do? Weird. Hold it, young… Wait… Wizard?!

I turned around. “Wizard?” I said. Then I realized I was talking to the owl again – no, a robot – and directed the question to Nat. “Wizard?”
“Wizard, indeed!” huffed Gamma the animatronics owl. “Headmaster Ambrose wishes to meet the two-oo-oo latest enrollments to the Ravenwood School of Magical Arts!”

Headmaster Ambrose? Ravenwood? Magical Arts?

“Whoa,” I said. “Hold it. Say that again.” I’d forgotten it was an owl – an animatronics owl – that I was talking too and was now listening with fascination.
“Honestly, young wizard. Ho-o-o-ow many times do-o-o-o I have to-o-o tell yo-oo-oo-ou?” He sighed.

Strange, really, how I had gone from calling Gamma an ‘it’ to a ‘he’.

“Headmaster Ambrose has accepted yo-oo-oo-ou at Ravenwood School! Are you not proud?”
“Ravenwood? What is Ravenwood?”
“Only the most successful scho-oo-ool of magic in the Spiral! What do they teach yo-oo-oo-ou these days?”
“Math, English, you know. The usual.”
“My my, yo-oo-oo-ou have a lot to learn, wizards! Come! Take my wing and teleport with me.”
Teleporting? Okay, that was too much. There was no way this was gonna happen. It had been a good act up till then but this was ridiculous. Nat, however, took the owl’s wing.

“Nat!” I cried. “What are you doing?”
“I want to go!” he replied.
“You don’t think this is real, do you?”
“Yes! I do!”

I thought it over for a second. Surely, if it were true, it would be fantastic. And if not, well, what harm could come of it? I was already imagining a huge, towering castle of a school – like Hogwarts – and wands, and magic, and spells…

“Quickly, young wizard!” A wind was forming around Gamma and Nat. They seemed to be fading away.

It was now or never.

I grabbed onto Gamma’s outstretched wing.

I felt an incredible rushing sensation like I had stuck my head out of the window of a speeding car. It was absolutely exhilarating. There was a swirling vortex of lights and colors in front of my eyes and I seemed to be seeing several scenes at once, but they were all constantly changing, giving me an overwhelming sense of dizziness.

Then everything went black. I landed unsteadily and fell against a wall. With one hand steadying myself, I tried to stand up straight. I opened my eyes. The room seemed to swim before me, giving the impression that books were flying around the room and rearranging themselves. I blinked. It was still doing it. I blinked once more and rubbed my eyes… And still. Surely this couldn’t be possible!

“That was totally wicked!” someone yelled. I looked in their direction, still dazed. Nat. My little brother. I felt another surge of giddiness.
“Can I do it again?” he asked. “Please? That was so cool!”
“In time, young wizard,” hooted Gamma the real owl. This wasn’t animatronics. It couldn’t be. But it couldn’t be real either. It had to be a dream. I might as well enjoy it.

“So,” I said. “Do we finally get to meet Professor Ambrose now?”
“You certainly do,” said a voice from behind me. I whipped around, and there was an old man in navy robes with golden stars glinting at me. I was stunned.

“Are you a wizard?” Nat exploded. He didn’t bother to wait for an answer. “That’s so cool! Do we get robes like that? They’re wicked. And do we have houses here, like in Hogwarts? Because they have Gryffindor and Slytherin and Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw and they’re all so cool and do we have different lessons? Like potions and stuff? That would be totally great!”

Ambrose stared at him blankly. “Hop warts? Where in the Spiral is that? And what are these ‘houses’? Do you mean student dorms?”
“Ignore him,” I said dismissively. “This is all stuff from a book.”
“Really?” said Ambrose incredulously.
“Yes, funnily enough.”
“Well, well, well. If you like reading, I could show you to the library…”
“Yes please!”
“Well, you will see on your tour of Wizard City. But that will come later. First, we must consult the Book of Secrets.”

The Book of Secrets? Could this really be real? Of course not. A dream, I kept telling myself. It’s a dream. Make the most of it. You’ll wake up soon.

“Wicked!” yelled Nat. I turned to him, eyebrows raised, all ready to try and think of a really sarcastic and witty comment. Then I saw what he was looking at.
With a lazy wave of his wand, Ambrose had sent a book flying across the room to land on his desk with a heavy thud. It was huge, bigger than any book I’d ever seen before – and believe me; I’ve seen a lot of books – yet it seemed to glow, almost with a golden light that seemed to radiate from its pages like a warm fire.

“Nathaniel,” beckoned Ambrose. I’ll never know how he knew Nat’s name, but at the time I was too transfixed by the huge book to think about that. There was something, at the time, I’d thought, magical about it. Looking back, that sounds ridiculous. Something magical, in Wizard City… Don’t laugh.

Nat had followed Ambrose’s direction and was standing in front of the book, gazing at it with the same rapture that I had. Then Ambrose opened the heavy cover of the book. The inside was just as fascinating as the outside. I leant in to make out the words written at the top of the page – “When you…” I squinted. The writing had been hand-written in an elegant and elaborate style, and the words were hard to distinguish.

“What’s this?” said Nat, blinking. “A quiz or something? I thought a ‘Book of Secrets’ would reveal secrets, not ask questions!”

Ambrose and Gamma exchanged a look that clearly showed barely suppressed amusement. Gamma turned to Nat. “Ah, but it indeed does, young wizard.”
“Oh yeah?” I challenged. “Since when did a quiz reveal secrets?”
“You will find out, young wizard.” Ambrose smiled.
“Can you stop saying that ‘young wizard’ thing?”
“Why, yes – once your names are revealed.”

I almost yelled in frustration. They still hadn’t answered my original question.

“Nathaniel, answer the questions.” encouraged Gamma.
“You know our names! You said our names hadn’t been revealed! What are you talking about?”
“That will come later, young wizard.”

I felt like yelling again.

“Err… quick question…” interjected Nat. “How do I answer the questions? Do I just say it?”
“Of course, I forgot to give you a quill!” exclaimed Ambrose. “My apologies.” He handed a quill and a bottle of ink to my younger brother, who spent barely a split second staring at it in shock before unscrewing the lid of the ink bottle and beginning to scribble in the book.

“Aah…” Ambrose said when he had finished. He muttered some indistinguishable words under his breath and waved a hand over the book mysteriously. All the writing on the page dissolved into nothing.

“What happened?” cried Nat, horrified. His expression of confusion was soon replaced by one of pleasant surprise when a few words appeared on the page.


Enrolled at the
Ravenwood School of Magical Arts on
1st January, 365 WCE

As a student of

“Wow,” gasped Nathaniel. “That’s totally cool!”
“What does ‘WCE’ mean?” I asked.
“Wizard City Era,” explained Ambrose. “The era began with the creation of the distinguished worlds of the Spiral, referred to as Wizard City Era because that is where it all started, of course.”

Wizard City? The worlds of the Spiral? Most of Ambrose’s speech had gone over my head. As for Nat, it looked like it had gone in one ear and subsequently out of the other.

“Ah, yes,” said Ambrose. He tapped the page and it fell into his hands. He held it out to Nat. “Your certificate of enrollment, Nathaniel… Nathaniel Ironheart.”

I don’t know exactly when I realized this, but by that time I had completely disregarded my former doubts about the unusual scenario. It all seemed so vivid. Dreams weren’t like this. At least, mine weren’t. They were quite depressing actually. None had ever been as pleasant as this.

Was it real?

A small flutter of hope stirred my stomach.

“And now, Alexandra,” Gamma hooted cheerfully. “You must find out your name and school of magic!”
“Hold on,” I said. “Before… Before I take this… quiz thing, tell me exactly what magic schools are. I thought this Ravenwood place was one school, not… how many are there?”
“Seven,” replied Ambrose. “There are seven schools of magic.”
“So… they’re all different?”
“Yes. Each has different skills to teach their students and different traits and talents their pupils must have.”

I thought about that. “Which is why we have to do a quiz,” I concluded.
“Exactly, young wizard. Now, these schools have strengths and weaknesses – some general, some to other schools. The schools of fire and ice have weaknesses in each other, as do storm and myth, and life and death.”
“The school that Nat’s in,” I said, thinking out loud. Then I realized something. “Hold on.”
“What, young wizard?”
“That only makes six. You said there were seven schools. Fire, ice, storm, myth, life, and death… So what’s the other one?”
Ambrose smiled. “You are a quick one. The seventh school is the school of Balance.”

“Right. So, how does this all work? There are seven completely different schools?”
“Not quite. There are two groups – the elemental schools: fire, ice, and storm – and the spiritual schools: life, death, and myth. You will learn more about this when you begin your classes.” Ambrose seemed to be getting impatient.
“You left out balance. Let me guess – spiritual?”
“No. Balance is a – well, a mixture is what I’d suppose you would call it – of the other schools. Now, it is time for us to consult the book of secrets.”

He turned to the book again. The first question had reappeared on the page. Ambrose handed me the quill and I began to write.

I had barely set the quill beside the book, on the desk, when the writing melted away again. Within a split second it had reformed, this time bearing the words:

Enrolled at the
Ravenwood School of Magical Arts on
1st January, 365 WCE

As a student of
I felt a grin spread slowly across my face. Storm. All the things that had happened to me made perfect sense. It was the most amazing feeling of rightness. If that’s even a word.

Gamma had picked up the certificate with his feet and dropped it into my hands as he flew overhead. I almost laughed. Not so long ago, I had believed he was a robot. It sounded ridiculous.

“So,” said Ambrose. “Now you’re both enrolled, I think you need spell books. Gamma – can you bring two spell books, please.”
“Immediately, Headmaster,” Gamma hooted and flew off. He somehow managed to retrieve two, dusty books from a shelf and fly back across the room with them clutched in his claws.
“Excellent, Gamma.” Ambrose took the books from his pet owl and held them out to us. “Do take these.”
“Thanks,” I hastened to reply.
“You’re welcome, young wizards.”
I briefly thought he had said that once our names had been revealed he’d stopped saying that. But by that time I had forgotten to care about it.

“And you will need backpacks,” Ambrose said – more to himself than anyone else – before seemingly plucking two small backpacks out of mid-air.
“Thanks,” I repeated, though privately I thought they were way too small to fit even the spell books in. As though reading my mind, Ambrose smiled.
“They are enlarged. Magically. Try putting in your spell books.”

Nat and I did so, and the spell books slotted in while we exclaimed in delight and surprise.

“I suppose,” said Ambrose, “we’ll have to get you some robes. If you would wait one moment.” Ambrose closed his eyes as though he was concentrating hard. Then he opened them, looking relieved.

“Mr Darkwood should be arriving shortly.” he said. As if on cue, there was a knock on a door which I was surprised to see I hadn’t noticed before.

“Come in,” commanded Ambrose. A large man walked in with a bundle under his arm.
“I brought the robes,” said the large man.
“Excellent, Victor.” Ambrose turned to Nathaniel and me. “Would you like to try on your new robes?”

Nat jumped at the chance. “Yes yes yes yes yes!”
I grinned and nodded.
“What color, kid?” Victor asked Nat, who looked at Ambrose for help.
Ambrose smiled. “You are a necromancer, Nathaniel, and the death school colors are mainly black and white. Some students prefer to wear red, but of course, it’s up to you. Any color is acceptable.”
“Black and white it is, then.” Victor Darkwood handed Nat a package wrapped in brown paper. Ambrose waved his staff and Nat’s jeans and baggy T-shirt were replaced by a black set of robes, shoes, and hat with a cool white trim.

“Cool!” exclaimed Nat.

“What about the storm school?” I cut in. “What do…” I struggled to recall what the storm students were known as. “…diviners wear?”

“Well,” Ambrose began. “You wear the same type of clothing. These robes act as a type of school uniform. You will wear them during classes you take in Ravenwood. You may collect other types of clothing from all over the Spiral that you may wear doing quests or at your leisure, but whilst you attend lessons this is what you are to wear.”

“Cool. But I meant what colors?”
“For diviners, usually purple and yellow… sometimes green… But as I said, any color is acceptable.”
“Purple? Green?”
“Yes, young wizard. You would like that?”
I was handed a similar package and with another wave of Ambrose’s staff, I was in the clothes I had requested. They felt cool and light and really comfortable, as though they were made for me.

“They’re great!” I cried. I felt like copying my little brother and running and jumping around in small circles, but I wanted to retain my dignity.

“You will wear them whilst you are in classes at Ravenwood. Think of them as a… uniform, of sorts. Only they’re in different colors. And now, time for a tour, perhaps?”
“Yes please!”

“And this is the library,” smiled the small sprite Ambrose had summoned to show us around. She fluttered her wings daintily and whizzing around at head height. I imagined what it would be like to fly.

“Cool,” said Nat, looking slightly bored. “Okay, so we’ve seen the Commons now. What’s through there?” He gestured wildly towards a tunnel with a wooden sign above it, bearing the words ‘Unicorn Way’.
“Unicorn Way, of course!” the sprite giggled.
“Yeah, well, I mean, can we go in there?”
The sprite stopped giggling.
“Normally that would be part of your tour…” I could sense a ‘but’ coming up here. “…but,” – I told you so! “With all the monsters roaming around…”
“Oh…” said Nat sadly. The sprite flitted around, looking guilty.
“But I guess…” she started. “We could just peep in there… Not for long, though. And you guys had better stay on the sidewalks! No monster battles, okay?”

Nathaniel and I swore we’d do as she asked. The sprite flew over to Private Stillson.

“Who goes there?” he demanded. “No access for novices! You need to get your wands first.”
“They’re with me,” shrugged the sprite, looking tinier than she really was compared to the guard’s huge figure.
Private Stillson huffed a bit but grunted his approval and raised the gate. Nat and I exchanged grins of delight.

“Wow,” I said, staring around. The place was green. Flowers bloomed on the green grass by the sidewalks and trees swayed in a light summer breeze. Everything was so… There was no other word for it – just plain pretty.
“Whatever,” grumbled Nat. He didn’t seem to like it that much. He was strolling with his head down, avoiding the odd glances he was getting from a boy dressed completely in green.
“Careful,” said the sprite. “You don’t want to get into a fight before you even have your wands.
“Whatever,” Nat repeated. I glared at him. Why was he in such a bad mood?
“This is Unicorn Park,” the sprite said, ignoring Nat and pointing to a huge statue of a unicorn surrounded by a small river with clear water that seemed to be the most perfect shade of pale blue.
“It’s fantastic!” I exclaimed happily. I love water.

We continued along the sidewalk. There were some ghosts gliding around in the middle of the street. Other wizards – well, I assumed they were wizards, as they were wearing similar clothes to us – were, well, I think fighting them. As in they were making weird animals erupt from the ends of their wands. A wizard in a bright red robe with an orange trim waved his wand and traced an elaborate symbol which reminded me of a flame, and suddenly a cat – glowing orange as though on fire – leapt in front of the wizard and pounced on the ghost, causing it to moan in pain and disappear into the ground.

Nat still seemed uncomfortable but he didn’t grumble like before. The sprite danced onwards, telling us about each house.
“This is Dorothy Gale’s house,” she said. “And over there – that’s Rattlebones’ Keep. I’d stay away from there if I were you – at least until you get the quest.”
"What’s a quest?” I asked.
“Oh!” The sprite giggled. “I’d forgotten you didn’t know much about Wizard City. All wizards in training do quests so that they can gain experience and level up so they can get new spells and see the rest of the Spiral.”
I nodded. We continued down the street in silence until Nat spoke up.
“Why are all the ghosts and stuff here?”
The sprite’s expression grew solemn.

“It’s a long story,” she sighed.
“So tell us!” demanded Nat.
“I suppose you need to know,” she said. “Not so long ago, the death professor, Malistaire Drake, was the most powerful necromancer ever known. You’d think he would go crazy with power, but he only ever used his magic for good. He was married to Sylvia Drake. She taught the Life School. Then she fell ill with flu. Every healer in Wizard City tried to save her, but there was nothing they could do. It was ironic, really, that the best healer ever died from an illness.

“Then Malistaire went crazy. He ripped the death school from Ravenwood. He turned evil. All of the monsters invading Wizard City are something to do with him. Which is why most of them are undead – he used his powers to control them.”

Nat and I were silent. I wished Nat hadn’t asked.
“Wow, that’s bad,” he said.
“Yes,” agreed the sprite sadly. “Even my sisters have been corrupted.” She gestured to the dark fairies fluttering about the street with evil grins on their faces.
“We’ll help,” I said. “We’ll get rid of all of the dark fairies. You can count on us!”
“I’m sure you’ll try, young wizards.”
“Yes,” I said. “We will.”

“So this is Ravenwood,” I said. It had taken a while to actually get here.
Nat grinned. “This place is wicked!”

“Greetings, wizards,” smiled a dog in a suit who was standing next to a tree. “I am Arthur Wethersfield. Do come back here if you wish to take some balance classes.”
“Uh… Thanks,” I said, disconcerted by a talking animal. I grabbed Nat and continued.

“Life school!” I cried. “Over there. The green one. Let’s go.”
Nat groaned but followed me in there. Inside, there was a peaceful atmosphere, smelling of flowers and fields and nature. I inhaled deeply.
“Greetings, new students,” said a soft, mystical voice from the front of the room. It was deserted except for me, Nat, and a large cow dressed in green robes.
“I am Moolinda Wu, life professor. Welcome to the school of life.”
“Cool!” I said. Nat gave a grunt. “Well, we’d better be going…” I added, seeing Nat’s uncomfortable expression.
“Of course. Do come back if you decide to spend your training points here.”

Outside the life school, there was a group of girls giggling together, heading into a tower across the street. Strangely enough, there was one girl – at the back of the group – dressed in light green with an oddly familiar red hairstyle.
“Nat,” I said. “You don’t think that’s…”
“Autumn!” Nat yelled. The redhead turned round to reveal a familiar face – confused at first, and then turning into a huge, warm smile.
“Alex!” squealed Autumn. “Nat! I thought I’d never see you guys again! This is so exciting!” She threw her arms around us.
“I thought so too!” I beamed.
“And me!” chipped in Nat.
“It’s so amazing that you guys got accepted too! That is so awesome! What’s your school? Oh, and what’s your name?”
“Storm,” I said. “And Nat’s death. And you know our names.”
Autumn grinned. “I mean your new last names! I’m Autumn Willowbreeze.”
“Nice. It suits you,” I said. I wasn’t lying, it really did. “Nat is Nathaniel Ironheart, and I am Alexandra Stormrider.”
“That figures, diviner!” she giggled. “And let me introduce you to my friends. This is Madison Lifesong, and Amber Jadeleaf.”Amber and Madison smiled.
“Hi,” I said.
“We’re taking the tour,” said Nat, “so we’d better get going.”
“But it was great to see you again!” I called over my shoulder as we headed into the myth school.

“Hi…” I began.
“Oh, more Conjurer-want-to-bes taking the tour. Lovely. Now, run along and play in the street.”
“Yeah, we’re here on the tour,” I said. I was about to continue when I was interrupted once again by Cyrus Drake.
“Lovely. Now, run along and play in the street.”
“Are you Malistaire’s brother?” asked Nat incredulously.
“I am going to pretend you didn’t say that. Lovely. Now, run along and play in the street.”

I dragged Nat out of the classroom.
“Okay, Nat,” I began. “Let’s get this straight. You do not talk to people like that. Do you hear me?”
“Yeah, whatever.”
“I mean it! If you think you can just say any—”
“Watch out!” yelled a voice. We froze and looked up. A boy in black and white – a few years older than me, maybe – was walking towards us.
“You guys nearly fell off the edge!” he continued. I looked around to see what he was talking about, and noticed that he was right. We were balancing on the edge of a bottomless chasm. I felt the color rise in my face.
“Yeah,” I said. “Um… Thanks, I guess.”
“No worries!” he grinned. “I do it all the time. Malorn Ashthorn by the way. Any time you want to learn death spells, I’m right here, got that?”
“Yeah,” I said again. “This is Nat, by the way. Nathaniel… Ironheart. New at the death school.”
“Hi,” said Nat.
“Cool. You just come here for classes every day, okay? Then I can teach you some death spells.”
“Yeah. Cool.” Nat was grinning. “See you then, I guess.”
“Oh!” added Malorn. “I almost forgot.” He gave Nat a huge grin. “Here – your wand. Oh, and no casting inside buildings or during school hours. Got that?”

We walked into the nearest building. The School of Fire. The second I got in there I was sweating.
“Phew,” I said. “Hot in here, huh?”
“Welcome to the school of fire,” said a tall woman with hair that bore more than a passing resemblance to a flame. “If you think you’re up for pyromancy, come back to learn some spells in the novice class tomorrow. All students welcome.”
“Thanks,” I said.

The next building, in comparison, was freezing.
“I’m c-c-c-c-cold,” shivered Nat.
“M-m-me too,” I gasped.
“Welcome to the school of Ice, my little snowflakes!” A fairy came fluttering over to greet us.
“H-h-h-hi…” I began. Then a snowflake landed on my nose. I blinked.
“Do come back – in some warmer clothes, might I add – if you wish to learn some Ice magic!”

Finally, we came to the school of Storm. Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed from inside the windows. Cool.
“Welcome!” bounced an overexcited frog in a purple top hat. “I am Halston Balestrom, Master Inventor – and professor of Storm magic, of course. Aha! A diviner, I see?”
“Yep,” I said.
“Excellent!” the frog boomed with a surprisingly loud voice. “And you, young wizard!” he added, looking at a bewildered Nat. “You must also come learn some divination! So… yes. Here is your wand… You have your spellbook and backpack, good good… So, yes. Classes start tomorrow morning! A good afternoon to you, wizards!”

Nat and I exchanged a grin.

“So…” I said to Nat, who was lying on his bed. “Where are you gonna spend your training points?”
“Well, I was thinking myth…”
“Yeah right! You said yourself that Drake was a prize—”
“No, I’m serious…”
“You can’t! I’ll have to attack you with my cool amazing thunder snake tomorrow!”
“Oh, come on, I was just kidding! You are so easy to wind up…”
“Well, what are you gonna pick?”
“Not sure. What about you?”
“I asked you first!”
“Yeah, and I answered. I said I’m not sure. So – you?”
“What do you think?”
“You would say that.”
“Yeah, it rocks.”
“Okay, so any serious ideas?”
“Oh sh—”
“No, really. You’ll be unbeatable. With the amazing stormy powers and cool death drain spells…”
“Seriously. Tell you what; I’ll go for storm if you go for death. How’s that?”
“Fair enough.”

Later on, I lay in my bed. It surprised me that just 24 hours ago I was lying in a different universe altogether. I grinned to myself in the darkness. I was a wizard! Still hard to believe.

Nat was asleep. I could hear him snoring softly. “Summon dark sprite…” he murmured sleepily. “Vampire…”

Guess he was getting used to it quicker than I was. Tomorrow… I had memorized my timetable. Novice Death Studies. Spiral History. Ravenwood Literature. Novice Storm Studies. Quests. I bit my lip in anticipation.

Nat had always talked in his sleep – ever since he was a little kid. With everything being different, it was good to know that one thing, at least, was the same.
I mean, some things never change.

Part 2

I leapt out of bed and bounced across the room. A small figure was curled up in a ball under a bright red duvet.

“Nat!” I yelled, shaking the figure.  “Nathaniel! Get up!”
Nat gave a grumble and rolled over. I sighed and tried again.
“I said, WAKE UP!”
Nat finally opened his eyes.
“No you didn’t,” he mumbled. “You said get up. Actually, you said ‘Nat, Nathaniel, get up’.”
I groaned, exasperated already, and pulled the duvet off.

Naturally, he protested. “Gerroffme!” he whined. “Gimme the duvet!”
I raised an eyebrow. “You want to be late for school?”
He nodded, eyes closed again. When I didn’t respond, he realized.
“No! Wait! No!” Finally Nat leapt out of bed. He’d remembered. Ravenwood.

I yanked on my robes and boots, pulled my hat over my head, and rolled up my sleeves.

As I might have said before, that’s a habit of mine.

Sorted. I couldn’t say the same for Nat. He was busy combing his hair. I grabbed the comb, tossed it on his unmade bed, and dragged him towards the door.


An enormous tree loomed over the five buildings that always seemed to be gathered around it. Nat wriggled free of my grasp and went sprinting after his friend – dressed in black and red. Another necromancer. They headed towards the storm school. Soon they were both in animated conversation. I wasn’t surprised. They had been working on quests together and had just finished up Cyclops Lane yesterday. I sighed. I usually did my quests on my own.

Gamma the owl flew overhead. “Hat on, Thomas Deathsong!” he hooted. There was a smirk on my face. It was soon wiped away. “Miss Stormrider, roll down those sleeves! How many times to I have to tell you? That’s the third time this week,” Gamma sighed irritably.

Arthur Wethersfield smiled at me as I made my way around the tree to a chasm on the edge of Ravenwood, where a grinning boy in black and white robes stood. A crowd of smaller kids were gathered around him, sat on the grass. Most of them made the grass wilt as they touched it.

“Alexandra,” acknowledged Malorn Ashthorn, gesturing towards the grass so I knew it was okay to sit down. I didn’t, though. I walked up to him.

“I have a training point I’d like to use,” I began.
“Level twelve, huh?” he smiled. “Seems just yesterday you and Nat were novices.”
“Yeah, I guess,” I said. “But can I learn Banshee today?” I added impatiently.
“Sure. Here’s the card.” I was handed a black card with a picture of a screaming woman on it, and a few figures.

“Quieten down, guys!” commanded Malorn. He always insisted that he was really just a student, like us, so we were allowed to call him Malorn instead of Professor Ashthorn. After all, the professor title didn’t really suit him.

“Okay, so today we’re gonna go over the Banshee spell…” A couple of level fourteens groaned. To be honest, I felt a bit sorry for them. It must be kinda dull to keep going over a spell they had learnt four levels ago. Then again, they would be journeymen soon. And then they’d learn Vampire. Awesome.

“Spellbooks out! Turn to the death chapter –it is page 597, section 4. Who can tell me the accuracy of banshee?”
“85%!” cried a myth student at the back.
“Three – or one power, one normal.” A level thirteen necromancer.
“Minimum damage?”
 “245 death damage, except when there are resists, shields, or damage debuffs.” Me this time.
“And maximum?”
“305 death, excluding boosts, traps, and blades.” Another necromancer.
“Great! Now the boring bit’s over, you can practice it. Get going, guys!”

I took out my wand and grabbed a Banshee card from my deck. I had been practicing this in private for almost a week now, wheedling a few cards out of Autumn Willowbreeze, my journeyman theurgist friend who seconded in death. It had taken a while, but eventually I had mastered it. And the banshee had only escaped once. I blamed Nat. Even though he was level 7.

I traced the death symbol, feeling an icy breeze swirl threateningly around me and seeing skulls appeared all around me. I was freaked out when I first cast a successful Dark Sprite and that happened, but I’d got used to it. It was just what happened. Unexplainable. Well, not exactly unexplainable, but we don’t learn about it until we get into Master Class, and that’s ages from now.

A banshee appeared in front of me. I nodded and she opened her mouth and started to wail. More banshees appeared and joined in the screeching. It was giving me a killer headache.
“Nice work, guys!” A voice cut across the horrific sound. I signaled for my banshee to quit the screaming, and she did so, a little reluctantly, folding her arms like Nat in a strop.
“Good control, Alexandra!” I glowed. I’m a bit of a sucker for praise. “Oh, and Thomas, remember, it’s a ghost. Don’t try to restrain it.”

A level ten who I knew was called Thomas Deathsong was trying to cover his banshee’s mouth. He grinned sheepishly as it kept on screeching.


Half an hour later, I was sitting on one of Bartleby’s roots watching two necromancers trying to make their banshees fight each other. They were failing miserably – all the banshees would do when provoked was wail, and it was pointless anyway, because they were unable to hurt each other, seeing as they were just spirits. Eventually they gave up and dismissed the ghosts.

 “Okay, class!” yelled Malorn Ashthorn, trying to be heard over the banshees that remained. “Dismiss your banshees and pack away your wands. Homework – practice controlling these banshees! Off you go!”

I slung my backpack over my shoulder and started towards the Commons. I walked into the library and sat down, grabbing my history book, notebook, quill, and ink. Harold Argleston walked in.

“Good morning, class. Today we will be learning about the rebellion of the pyromancers in 76 WCE. Please have your notebooks open to take some notes. I have prepared a presentation, and it would be well-advised for you to listen, as I am going to set you a project on this. Resources for your research will be available here every day after classes, although I would recommend you pay a visit to the Krokotopia library, as they have much information on the subject. And do try chapter 8 of your books – that should be helpful. In your projects I expect the cause of the revolt, the effects, and a detailed personal analysis of the revolt. This will be due in next week.”

I sighed and held my pen poised. I would have to come back here after school to study. I had been planning on starting Colossus Boulevard today. I sighed again. I guessed that would have to wait. I was no whiz at history. Harold Argleston began his presentation, and I responded by beginning to scribble notes on what I could understand of the subject.


I had a free lesson next, so I decided to have a break before starting on my history project. I strolled over to the chasm where the death school used to be. I liked the place – the silence and the cold wind that seemed to be there permanently. I assumed it was okay for me to stay in the place as long as there were no classes being held there. There weren’t any today. There were a few apprentices trying to control their thunder snakes outside of the storm class. I giggled to myself as a thaumaturge was electrocuted by a particularly feisty one.

I was dangling my feet over the edge when I first heard the noise – a great booming sound. I was pretty surprised to say the least. It was always silent when classes were being held. But I knew that the apprentice myth class was going on, so I assumed it was trolls. I did think it was very loud though. In theory, that made sense, as I was sitting next to the myth classroom, but it sounded closer. And surely it was too loud to be a troll whacking the floor with his club. It boomed again. The floor was shaking.

I set down my sandwich and stood up. I had a bad feeling about the noise, but I was determined to prove myself that it was simply an unruly troll. I stepped quietly towards the myth school. I peeked in at one of the windows. No trolls. Just students with heads bent over their desks. As if Cyrus Drake would let them do anything fun anyway.

But then, what was the noise?

There was another earth-shattering boom, this time followed by a cruel laugh. I rounded a corner to see a tall myth kid with blue hair and a satisfied smirk on his face, accompanied by two smaller myth kids and a…



And what was more, it was lunging at a diviner, who was backed against Bartleby in fear. On an impulse, I rolled up my sleeves (again) and sprinted over to them.

The tall myth kid looked round with a puzzled expression, which was only to turn to another smirk when he saw me.
“Why is that any of your business?” he said, haughty and unruffled.
“And why should do that?” he asked in exactly the same stuck-up manner.
“TELL IT TO STOP BEFORE I KNOCK THE MANA OUT OF YOU!” I was right in his face now. Well, not exactly face, because I was half a head shorter than him. But still making an impression, or so I hoped.
“Alright, chill out,” he said, a tad defensively, folding his arms. “But aren’t you going to answer my questions?”
“No,” I said, before I could stop myself. “You get that stupid, idiotic creature to quit that right now or I’ll… I’ll…”
“Did you hear that, my fine Cyclops friend?” asked the tall boy.
The Cyclops turned around and faced me. He grunted.
“Yes,” the stuck-up kid said smoothly. “She did insult you.”
The Cyclops grunted again.
“Get her!”
The Cyclops was getting ready to obey. I darted through its legs, confusing it, and grabbed the diviner, who had been watching with a mixture of confusion, fear, and amusement. I tore off my backpack and fumbled for my wand and deck. I flicked through it desperately. Lightning strike… Dream Shield… Storm blade… Thermic Shield… Lightning Bats!

With a wave of my wand, a cluster of purple clouds appeared. There was a high-pitched shriek and a flash of lightning as several purple-blue bats swooped down towards the myth kid.

And that was when Headmaster Ambrose decided to appear.

There was one word going through my head – oops.


Guess what?

Immediately, Cyrus Drake had appeared, claiming that Reed (the tall kid – his last name was Mythstrider) had done nothing wrong, and that the apprentices had simply been practicing summoning their trolls. As I opened my mouth to say that I had seen the apprentices and they were most definitely had not been practicing spells, he continued to state that I had simply launched a completely unprovoked attack on three innocent myth children. My mouth was hanging open in shock. I was disgusted. How could he say that? He’d been in the classroom the whole time.

Of course, the Mythstrider kid had probably got off scot-free – typical conjurer luck.

The diviner and I were waiting outside Merle Ambrose’s office. It was the first time I’d had a proper look at him. I recognized him vaguely from class. Fair hair, green eyes. He seemed to be taking an interest in the floor. It was an awkward silence. I bit my lip and tried to start a conversation.

“So,” I began. “Um… What’s your name?”
“Jacob… Jacob Ravencloud. But call me Jake.” He replied, smiling.
“Okay,” I said. “I’m Alexandra Stormrider. But call me Alex.”
Jake grinned.
“What level are you?” I added.
“Twelve. And you?”

There was another uncomfortable silence.

“That Mythstrider kid is a right pain, don’t you think?” I said thoughtfully.
“Mmmmm,” replied Jake, suddenly serious.
“I mean, what is up with him?” I said, trying to lighten the atmosphere.
Jake grimaced. “Seriously, Reed is nuts.”
“You’d know?”
“How come?”
 “He beats me up. Or, that Cyclops does.”

I mentally kicked myself for momentarily forgetting that he was the guy being beaten up by the Cyclops.

“But thanks.”
“For sticking up for me. Usually everyone pretty much ignores it.”
“Oh. Well. You’re welcome, I guess.”

It was kinda awkward. I hadn’t really thought about that much. As I said, it was on an impulse.

“So, what quest are you working on?”
I blinked. “Um… I just got in Colossus Boulevard.”
“Wicked. You’ll have to take me in there some time. I’m finishing up my Firecat Alley quest.”
“Firecat Alley? So you’ve nearly done the main quests for all three streets? You’ll be in Colossus in no time!”
“That’s the follow-up quest? Great! I’ve been looking forward to it for ages!”
“Didn’t you know already?”
“You don’t have any friends at a higher level than you, do you?”
“Don’t look so worried about it. You’ll probably make some in Colossus Boulevard. I’ve heard there are lots of high-level kids there. I mean, it’s an optional area. Most people go back to it after Krokotopia.”
“So… um… What’s your secondary school?”
Jake went a bit pink. “Um... Life.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“It’s a girly school.”
“Says who?” I was angered. The life school was definitely not girly. Gosh, I would get into an all-out fight if I even suggested that to Autumn. “And why did you pick it if you think that?”
“I don’t think that.”
“So why did you say it?”
“That’s what everyone thinks.” I was getting seriously annoyed.
“Even the grandmaster theurgist boys?”
“It’s not girly! There are loads of boys in the Life School!”
“Reed says…” Reed?
“The Mythstrider kid?” I exploded. “Why are you even listening to him, let alone taking any notice of what he says?”
“It’s just what he says.” What did it take to get the message across?
“Forget about him. He’s a loser.”
“Seconding in Life isn’t a bad thing. I wish I had.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“Ah… my little brother made me…”
“Who’s your little brother?”
“Oh, Nathaniel Ironheart. He’s level seven, death school. He said he’d go for storm if I went for death. He did go for storm, but I regret it now.”
“Yep. As I said, Life is cool.”

Boys were so stupid sometimes.

“Miss Stormrider, Mister Ravencloud,” Merle Ambrose beckoned, opening the door to his office. I had almost forgotten why I was there in the first place. I followed him into his office, Jake trailing behind.

“Well,” he said sternly. “I am at a loss as to what has happened here. You two seemed perfectly well-behaved until this incident! And you, Miss Stormrider, should know better than to summon creatures during classes without permission. I am very disappointed. And Jacob, where did you manage to get involved in this? As I said, I am at a loss.”

“Professor Drake lied!” I complained. “That myth kid started it! He had a Cyclops and it had Jake against the wall and it was throwing its weight about like a Helephant or something! The apprentices weren’t practicing Troll! I saw them! They were having a test! And anyway—”
“Miss Stormrider! Do be quiet. I do wish to hear what happened in your own words, but that outburst was quite unnecessary. And you do realize that you are asking me to mistrust the word of one of the faculty?”
“Of course I realize!” I sighed. “Because he was lying! Honestly! Tell him, Jake!” I turned to Jake expectantly.
“Well…” Jake was hesitating. I nodded at him encouragingly. “I don’t know what the apprentices were doing…” I frantically shook my head at him. “But Reed did have a Cyclops,” he added, taking my hint. “It was pinning me against Bartleby.”
“Are you sure this is what happened?” Ambrose was frowning.
“Yes! Of course we are!”
“Very well. I do not believe this was entirely your doing,” Ambrose said solemnly. I grinned. “But I am not inclined to trust this tale…

“But Richard – no, Ryan… no… um, whatever – did it! It was his fault!” I cried desperately.
“There is no proof that he did so, other than your word,” said Ambrose, serious. “I trust that enough to accept that you were not entirely responsible for the incident. However, Alexandra, you know the punishment for summoning without permission. You will receive a detention. Here, Monday, straight after classes. No excuses.”

I knew there was no point arguing. I still sighed.

“I suppose that is all for now,” added Ambrose thoughtfully. “But make sure nothing like this happens again, do you understand?”
Jake and I nodded solemnly. Ambrose nodded, and we turned to leave. I was just about to open the door when Ambrose spoke again.

“Miss Stormrider?” I turned around. “Sleeves.”

I looked down at my sleeves. When had I rolled them up again? Stupid habit. I reminded myself to stop doing that. I rolled them down guiltily and Professor Ambrose smiled as I left.


I sat in the library looking at books about the pyromancers’ rebellion. It wasn’t particularly interesting, and it was hard to find information that Harold Argleston hadn’t already mentioned. I made a mental note to ask Autumn if she could take me to the Krokotopia library to see if there was anything better. I flicked through another heavy, dusty history book. Nothing.

I slammed the book I was reading shut, frustrated. A couple of novice conjurers looked at me, aghast, as if to say, ‘How could you make so much noise in the library?’ I ignored them. I didn’t have the patience to fight with any other myth kids today.

I sighed. What was the point? I would go talk to Autumn later. With that thought, I grabbed my bag and walked out into the Commons. It was nice to get some fresh air, but the place was packed with loads of students who were talking at the tops of their voices. I thought about doing quests. No. I needed a break. I headed towards the Shopping District, pushing past a herd of Balance apprentices.


I breathed in the cool air. I was sitting on a ledge on the edge of Triton Avenue, next to a waterfall. I liked it here. I could watch the world go by. It was perfect for me, seeing as I was a diviner. I love water, storms, Triton Avenue itself. I watched an apprentice cast Snow Serpent on the Kraken hundreds of meters below me. I could see wizards on the other side of the water fighting Haunted Minions and Rotting Fodders. My legs were hanging off the edge of a high cliff, but I had been here too many times before to be scared. I was startled, though, when I heard a voice from behind me.

“Hey.” It was a boy’s voice. I whipped around, only to see Jacob Ravencloud. He was grinning.

“Hi,” I replied. “How’s it going?”
“Pretty dull actually,” he said thoughtfully. “Mind if I join you?”
“Not at all.” Jake sat down beside me.
“So,” he said. “Why are you here? I thought you said you were working on Colossus Boulevard.”
“Yeah,” I sighed. “But I just came here for a break. From homework. You know.” There was yet another awkward silence before I added “Why are you here? Weren’t you finishing up Firecat Alley?”
“I found out I had another side quest here,” he shrugged. “I seriously want that Three Streets Savior badge!” he joked. “Done now, though. Homework, you say?”
“Yep. History. Pyromancer’s rebellion.”
“History?” Jake looked interested. “Don’t you like it?”
“No,” I smiled. “Who does?” I caught the look on his face. “You do, then.”
“Yep. But I could help you with that homework. My history class did that project a while back.”
“That’d be cool. Thanks, I guess.”
“If I help you, we’ll be even.”
“I guess so. But I think saving you was way better.”
“Well if you feel like that…”
“No, no. I need help. Seriously. I’m awful at history.”
“You want to get started?”
“Sure. Let’s go.”


I sprinted through the Commons, barely aware of my feet thudding against the ground one after the other and the way in which I was inhaling air in huge, gasping gulps. My heart was racing. I ran over the Rainbow Bridge, glancing over my shoulder. My hand grasped my wand tighter as I pushed myself on. I knew I wouldn’t last much longer. I could see him over my shoulder, dark and tall and ridiculously intimidating, wielding his mighty staff. I could do nothing more. I tripped and fell on the ground. I tried to crawl, but my knees stung. My robes were torn and I had no energy left with which to move. My knees were bleeding. I stared up at Malistaire.

“You will not get away, Stormrider, mark my words. You will never escape my clutches! And once you’re out of the way, Wizard City will be destroyed!” He raised his staff and I could feel the dark power radiating from him. I was vaguely aware of my screams…

“Alex!” whined Nat. “Shut up! Why are you screaming? I want to sleep!”
“Sorry Nat,” I whispered. “Bad dream. Go back to sleep. It’s late.”

I struggled to recall the details of my dream. Why do they always seem to slip away as soon as you wake up? Running. From something… Something bad, evil in fact. With a staff. Running away from something evil with a staff. Malistaire.

What was that all about?


 It was Monday, straight after classes, and I was waiting grumpily outside Merle Ambrose’s office. I wasn’t happy about getting a detention. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly a model student – let’s just say this wasn’t my first detention – but I didn’t think I deserved this one. I was only trying to help!

I was slouching against the wall, fuming, when I first heard the voices from inside. Fascinated, I put my ear to the door.

“It’s obvious,” said Ambrose. “He’s one of the children of the prophecy.”
“That may be tru-oo-oo-ue,” hooted a distinctly owlish voice that I recognized as Gamma’s, “but we cannot be sure yet. It is too early to tell.”
“We have so little time!” stressed Ambrose, his voice barely more than a whisper. I had to strain to hear. “We must let him know the truth before it is too late! Malistaire—”

“Well, look what the Firecat dragged in,” drawled a snobbish voice from behind me. I jumped, startled, turning around to see the stuck-up features of the Mythstrider kid.
“What are you doing here, troll-features?” I tried to sneer, but, as I said, he was taller than me, so it was hard to say if he was bothered.
“Detention,” he said loftily, tossing blue hair out of his face. Ugh. “What about you? Telling Ambrose about me being naughty again?”
“Detention,” I said, before what he had said had sunken in. “Wait. What do you mean?”
“After last time, I assumed you would be telling tales to the headmaster again.”
“What last time?”
“You told Ambrose I summoned the Cyclops!”
“Yeah, like he believed me!”
“Why d’you think I have a detention, squirt?”
“Don’t call me that, troll-features!”
“Fine. You don’t tell tales on me, kiddo.”
“I didn’t! Well, I did, but Ambrose didn’t believe me.”
“Yeah right.”

Gosh, some people are so stubborn. As if on cue, Ambrose opened the door.

“Mister Mythstrider, Miss Stormrider.”
The Mythstrider kid walked in haughtily and I followed grudgingly, still a little annoyed about having a detention.  Ambrose gestured for us to sit in front of his desk as he seated himself in a business-like manner.

“You both know why you’re here,” he began. The Mythstrider kid threw me a contemptuous glare. Jake was right. He was nuts. What was I meant to have done?

“You two know all too well what the rules we have here are. We don’t have many rules, because we know that, sometimes, young wizards’ powers get out of control. Mostly, this can be contained. But with all the havoc that causes, we can’t have any other wizards deliberately running amok and causing chaos by summoning more creatures.
“Spells are not to be used on your classmates. In Wizard City, we teach you only to use your spells in self-defense! Have you two learnt nothing in your time here?”
“It was in self-defense! He summoned the dumb Cyclops!” I cried.
“We have no proof that it was attacking you directly. Your summoning of lightning bats – though very well cast, I must say, but that is beside the point – was not really necessary.”
“What proof do you have that I summoned the Cyclops then?” said the myth kid indignantly, dark eyes flashing in anger.
“Professor Wu saw it passing the Life School. She assumed a myth initiate’s spell had gone astray. It seems that was the case.” Ambrose’s gaze was disapproving.

The Mythstrider kid looked surly, but didn’t respond.

“Your parents will be told, Mister Mythstrider. You two can write out some lines for now. No magic this time.” Ambrose looked at us sternly. “I must not cast spells without good reason. One hundred times,” he added.
With that, he teleported in a small ‘poof’, different to that of any other wizards, in a small cloud of silvery stars. It was really quite pretty.

I realized that papers had appeared in front of us. I slung my bag on the floor, pulled out a quill, and began to write.

“So,” said the Mythstrider kid.
“So what?” I said, carrying on writing. I wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible so I could work on my history project with Jake. For once, I actually understood what the Pyromancer’s rebellion was.
“Who are you, anyway?”
“What’s it to you?”
“Just want to know if anyone asks me if I know the name of an annoying little squirt.”
Childishly, I retorted, “At least I don’t go around summoning creatures to terrorize innocent people! Who are, like… What level are you?”
“Fourteen,” he replied snootily.
“Two levels less than me!” I continued.
“That isn’t very much,” he sneered.
“You’re still a bully.”
“Yeah. You better watch your back, squirt.”
“Don’t call me that.”


 Jake was in the library, head in a book as usual. I tapped his shoulder and he turned around. I grinned but he looked almost scared until he realized it was me and his fearful grimace morphed to an expression of relief.
“Chill out, Jake,” I grinned. “It’s only me!”
His smile widened as he said, “You scared me! I thought you were Reed then!”
“Why would you think that?” I almost laughed.
“Oh… Y’know… So shall we go do some quests?”
“I thought we were going to work on that history project.”
“It’s nearly finished, anyway. Plus, you’ve just had a detention – with Reed, as well! You need some rest! And I just got into Colossus Boulevard, so can you help with the first couple of quests?”
“Sure!” I wasn’t fussed about leaving it until later, and – let’s face it – when you have the choice of sitting in the library or fighting evil snowmen, what are you going to pick?

No, I wasn’t fussed until much later, when I realized that I hadn’t once mentioned the Mythstrider kid’s name to Jake once. So how in the Spiral did he know that I had a detention with him?

Part 3

A voice came to me through whisper chat.

“Hi Alex!”
“Hey Jake. What’s up?”
“Wanna work on some quests in Krokotopia?”
“Sure. Shall I port?”
“Yep. Liam and Matt are here too.”
“Cool!” I teleported.

At once I appeared in the middle of a hot, dry desert, crammed with wizards who were desperately trying to cool down in the fierce heat of the perpetual sunshine. I was next to Jacob Ravencloud, my best friend at Ravenwood, Liam Dawnbreeze, a theurgist and Jake’s twin, and Matthew Fireshard, Liam’s best friend and a pyromancer. Matt was the only one who looked comfortable in this heat.

“Chamber of Fire?” said Liam with his trademark grin.
“Anything to get away from this heat!” I groaned. I was sweating already. My robe was meant to be perfect for a Krokotopian environment but nothing could stop Krok weather.
“Quit whining!” chipped in Matt. “I like it.”
“You’re a pyromancer. Professor Falmea’s son, even. You’re a weirdo!” laughed Liam.
“You can’t talk, flower pot!” retorted Matt.
“Okay, can we just go now?” Jake was getting impatient.
“Yeah, whatever,” I said, and started towards the Pyramid of the Sun.

“Is it me,” said Liam, “or does it smell really weird in here?”
“Must be the Nirinis,” shrugged Matt. “They have some serious hygiene issues.”
I giggled.
“I wonder where they go when they’re defeated,” said Jake thoughtfully.
“To the land of smelly Krokotopians!” decided Liam.
“Or the Oasis,” I said.
“The Oasis?” Matt looked skeptical. “You don’t see them having a chat to Sergeant Major Talbot very often.”
“At night?”
“What are you talking about? This is Krokotopia for Ambrose’s sake! There is no night!”
Jake finally defeated the last one with a quick leprechaun.
“Aw, no fair!” exclaimed Liam. “I was gonna get that one!”
“You should have got in the battle first then!”
“Ugh, another 15+ hat…” sighed Matt.
“I wish we’d level up. We have, like, hundreds of these things now.”
“So, who do we talk to now?” chipped in Liam.
“No idea,” said Matt.
“Who gave us that quest in the first place?”
“No idea.”
“You could say that again.”
“No idea.”
“You could say that again.”
“No idea.”

“Gosh!” I yelled. “You guys are giving me a major headache here!”
Matt and Liam apologized in unison. Suddenly, Matt looked surprised.
“What’s up?” said Liam.
“Saffy needs help again.”

Saffron Winterglade was Matt’s little sister. She was also the news of Wizard City. Of course, there was a shock in store when everyone found out that Dalia Falmea’s daughter was a thaumaturge. Saffy, however, was completely oblivious to this, and was still a popular little kid in her ice classes.

“Okay, well, come with us and talk to… Whoever it is, and then you can help her. I’ll come with you, if you like.”
“Thanks, Liam.”


“Are you sure, Alexandra?”
“Yes Mr Lincoln. I’m sure.”
“You want to study Life rather than Death?”
“I think you mean, yes, Mr Lincoln.”
“Yes Mr Lincoln. Please Mr Lincoln.”
“Fine. Your training points have been returned. I would go and talk to Professor Wu for some tuition to get you up to standard.”
“Yes Mr Lincoln. Thank you Mr Lincoln.”

I ran to Ravenwood, whisper chatting to Jake on the way.
“Nice one Alex! Now all four of us will be in the same class!”
“Yeah, Life is totally cool.”
I pushed open the door of the Life School.
“Good afternoon Professor Wu.”
“Good afternoon Miss Stormrider.” I always found it a bit creepy how all the teachers knew everyone’s names. “What brings you here?”
“I’ve decided to study Life rather than Death from now on.”
“I am glad to hear this child. If you have felt this instinct from within, you have taken your first steps into theurgy. I assume you wish to take some extra classes to get up to standard?”
“Yes please, Professor.”
“How do you feel about…? Mondays and Thursdays, perhaps? Here, after school?”
“That’s fine, Professor. Thanks for your time.”

Moolinda Wu smiled as I walked out of the door.

She knew the girl just wanted have lessons with her friends. She shouldn’t really let her begin theurgy if her heart wasn’t in it. Yet she could see the girl showed a lot of promise. Maybe, one day, the girl could be a fine healer.


“Nat, if you don’t hurry up I’m going without you!” I said, exasperated.
“Alright, coming,” he said. He rubbed his eyes, and added, “Did I tell you I defeated Sergeant Skullsplitter yesterday? It was totally awesome, ‘cause me and Hunter asked Tom to help, y’know, Thomas Deathsong, the one in the initiate class, I think he’s level twelve, and then he brought his friend Ethan, and we just got him bad! It was sooo funny, and then Thomas used Banshee and it turned round and started yelling at him, and me and David tried to stop it, but it just kept on and on, and then Ethan cast this Seraph, and Sergeant Skullsplitter was just looking like, ‘What the heckhound?’ and we were laughing our decks off, it was so funny…”
“Yes, Nat. You have told me. Three times, in fact. Now let’s go.”

“Hey Alex!” cried Jake from beside Torrence, where there was a constant drizzle.
“Hi Jake,” I replied. We had Storm class first that day. We entered the school and found a pair of seats near the back. Halston Balestrom was bouncing around excitedly on his desk. He spotted up and leapt over a few stools to land on our desk.
“Welcome to the journeyman class, Miss Stormrider and Mr Ravencloud!” he smiled. We had finally leveled up when we’d turned in the quest we’d finished the day before. After we’d remembered who to talk to.

After bouncing back to the front desk, he addressed the class. “Good morning journeymen! I hope you have had an excellent weekend!”
There were a few murmurs of agreement.
“Any new level sixteens?” A few kids raised their hand.
“Excellent! A new spell for you all! Wonderful! Now, move the desks out of the way, and I will demonstrate a Kraken!” Jake and I looked at each other excitedly. The only Kraken we’d ever seen was the one that went on a rampage and managed to almost completely destroy the storm school last week.

Once the desks were out of the way, Halston Balestrom leapt off his desk and waved his arms enthusiastically, tracing the storm symbol. It fizzled.
“Oh,” he said, looking a bit embarrassed. “Let me show you again…” He traced it once more. Another fizzle. By this time, Halston Balestrom was looking more than a little embarrassed. There were a few snickers, mostly from the level nineteens in the corner. He looked at them sternly.

“I assume you want to show the class then, Mr Dragonrunner?”

Blaze Dragonrunner thought a lot of himself. He was a myth pupil, and both Jake and I had met him before. He was a friend of Reed Mythstrider, the kid who used to torment Jake with his Cyclops. He sneered at us, before stepping forward. “Fine, then.”
He cast a Kraken. It didn’t fizzle. It worked, all too well for my liking.

A lizard-like purple beast appeared, roaring ominously. The creature was slowly stepping off his rock and advancing on us. I caught Blaze’s cruel expression and knew that he was behind it.

Professor Balestrom, completely oblivious, bounced around cheerfully. “Excellent, Blaze!” he cried. “Keep it under control now…” he added after it roared again and waded through the water towards me and Jake. All the time the Kraken seemed to be glaring at us. I was frozen to the spot.

On the bright side, by that point, I had realized at least two things. 1 - Krakens were scary, and 2 - one of them wanted to kill us.

To my right, Jake stiffened. The Kraken was way too close for comfort now. It seemed that everyone else was completely unaware that within minutes we would be sea monster snacks. Actually, I wasn’t sure. ‘Did Krakens eat people?’ I thought. ‘Or just electrify them. That would be bad. Then again, we’re diviners. Electricity can’t hurt us. Can it? But it could drown us. Can storm wizards breathe underwater? We should be able to. I’ll try that sometime.’ I shook my head vigorously. Now was seriously not the time to be considering whether storm wizards could breathe underwater or not.

For the second time at Ravenwood, I grabbed Jake’s arm and pulled him between a monster’s legs as it was about to smash us into pieces. However, this time it was cold water there, not a space, so I ended up testing my theory after all.

Let’s just say it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped.


Halston Balestrom was a bit disgruntled when we emerged from the water, dripping wet and freezing. On the bright side, he was even more disgruntled that a wall of the storm school had been knocked down twice in one month, which distracted him slightly from our wetness.

Blaze tried to sneak off when he’d realized that Professor Balestrom knew it was deliberate, but to no avail.

“Mr Dragonrunner!” shouted an annoyed frog voice. “I did not say that you were dismissed! Come back here this minute!” Jake and I exchanged a glance and snickered.

“I can’t wait till Matt and Liam hear this!” I grinned. I wasn’t affected by the water.

Nevertheless, Jake and I were sent to Professor Falmea to dry our robes, which was slightly embarrassing as we’d walked into the middle of a test for the kids in journeyman pyromancy. Matt and Liam cracked up. Naturally.

I’ll never forget Dalia Falmea’s expression.


“Ready for your first Life lesson?” said Jake.
“Sure!” I said. “Let’s do this.” Autumn, my level nineteen friend, had taught me how to cast both Imp and Leprechaun, some basic life spells, at the weekend. I couldn’t make them obey me like my thunder snake, but Autumn said that it wasn’t bad for a first attempt, even when the imp jumped on my head and squashed my Charged Helm.

We entered the classroom quietly, but the room was quite noisy, in a peaceful sort of way, however much that sounds like I’m contradicting myself. There were kids in green robes lazing over chairs and talking to each other, much more sociable than the death kids I was used to working with. It was nice. At the back were Matt and Liam, their conversation punctuated with laughter. Liam saw us first.

“Hey! You guys!” he yelled. “Dried off yet?”
Matt grinned and added “How the heckhound did you end up dripping all over the fire school?”
We sat beside them. “It’s a long story,” said Jake, “and Alex can tell it.”
“Why me?”
“Because you got us into it!”
“How did I?”
“You dragged me underneath the stupid thing!”

Liam held his hands up. “Wait. Hold it,” he said. “Dragged him under what?”
“A Kraken.”
“A Kraken?” Matt echoed.
“Yes. A Kraken.”
“And before you ask, yes, the terrible trio was behind it. Well, one of them,” added Jake.
“Our fine friend Reed?”
“Nope, Blaze the Bu—” I started.
“Mm-hmm, lovely Blaze,” interrupted Matt smoothly.
“Yeah, him. He summoned a Kraken.”
“Which attacked you and then destroyed half the Storm school,” he said sarcastically.
“Yep, exactly.”

“Good morning, students.” The soft voice of Moolinda Wu silenced us. Her voice was soft and musical, but authoritative at the same time.

“As Theurgists, it is up to us to preserve the beauty of nature. I appreciate that most of you have heard this from me many times before, but I cannot stress the importance of this, especially now, when there is a darkness overshadowing the Spiral… But maybe I am looking at the true savior of the Spiral now.”

Perhaps it was my imagination, which is, incidentally, extremely overactive, but I could have sworn she was looking directly at Jake when she said that.

“Nevertheless, as Theurgists, we should overlook this, we should bring light to the Spiral, for without Life, there would be no Death, or any magic.” There were murmurs of agreement across the room. She smiled serenely.

Jake was clearly concentrating one heckhound of a lot harder than everyone else. Liam and Matt were playing hangman on a piece of paper. Me? I was listening. I just happened to notice how cool the ceiling was at that point.

“You all know that Life is the study of the energy that resides in all living creatures. We can use this to enhance the growth in anything. Let me show you.” Moolinda Wu picked up a plant pot with a pathetic shrub in the center. She waved her hands – well, hooves – weaving a delicate pattern in the air, the life symbol. She muttered a few mysterious words in her musical voice and the plant blossomed before our eyes, stretching its leafy limbs and sprouting pink and purple flowers. She looked up and smiled.

“As theurgists, we must always strive…” I think this was where I got distracted. Who could blame me – Matt had managed to set the end of his quill on fire. “Whoops,” he mumbled. Liam was trying to discreetly whack it out with the edge of his robe, with no success. I quickly took out my wand, trying to make a little water come out of the end of it. I shook it. Water splattered all over a surprised Liam and the girls at the desk in front of us. “Watch it!” Liam hissed.

Autumn Willowbreeze, sitting in front of us, turned around, frowning. I think she was surprised to see me. “You leveled up?” she mouthed. I nodded. “Nice,” whooshed a voice to me through whisper chat. “But try not to soak me. What happened?” I made a face.
“Matt set his quill on fire,” I explained through my head.
“Matt? The fire one?”
“Yeah, naturally.”
She smiled and turned back around, rolling her eyes. “Typical pyromancer.”

Moolinda Wu was still speaking, I realized guiltily. “Today we will be practicing making things grow. This may not be a spell you need to know in dueling, but it will surely help you develop your control of the life energies under your command.” Ok. So, how does one do that?

“Collect withered flowers from the front. If you need any guidance, feel free to ask. Also, before I forget, may I see Miss Stormrider please?”

I walked to the front of the classroom somewhat awkwardly, despite being carried with the crowd of cheerful theurgists. Moolinda Wu beckoned me to the side. “Miss Stormrider, am I right in thinking you are unskilled in life at the moment?”

I thought. “I can cast an imp,” I said. “And leprechaun. Sort of.”
Moolinda Wu nodded. “Could you show me?”
I nodded in response and took out my wand. Moolinda Wu handed me a leprechaun card. I waved my wand. Fizzle. I went a bit pink. Life spells were known for their accuracy. I waved it again, and around my feet grew green grass. A rainbow appeared and a dwarf-sized man in green slid down it, muttering something incomprehensible. He did a little dance at the end and threw gold everywhere. A few theurgists at the front turned to look at me in surprise. The leprechaun gave me a glare and disappeared.

“Not bad. I still think we need some lessons, though. Tomorrow, after class, if you wouldn’t mind, Miss Stormrider.” I returned to my seat, a little embarrassed.

Liam’s plant was growing as we watched it, stretching further and further towards the ceiling. Jake wasn’t doing badly; his plant was slightly weedier than Liam’s magnificent blooms though. Matt was trying. The plant was green, but drooping slightly. He prodded it with his wand. It burst into flames.

“Oops,” he mumbled. “Guess I’m not too good at this flower lark.”
“Do try to control your flair for pyromancy Mr Fireshard,” came the reprimanding but light voice of Moolinda Wu. With a flick of her hoof, the plant was back to its original withered state, exactly the same as mine.

I waved my wand a little. A spark flew out of the end. I put down my wand. I didn’t want my plant to suffer the same fate as Matt’s. I had an idea. Picking up my wand again, I cast an imp. I pointed to the flower. The imp gave me a confused look which soon shifted to a mischievous grin, and he started picking leaves off the plant. I quickly grabbed him by the ears and pulled him off. He gave me one last glare of resentment before disappearing. Not such a great idea.

There was a sudden knock at the door, startling me. I whipped my head around to see Merle Ambrose entering the room. He cleared his throat authoritatively, and the room fell silent.

“Could I see Mr Ravencloud and Mr Dawnbreeze, please?”
Liam and Jake exchanged a look. Were they hiding something? Did they know something Matt and I didn’t? They got up and left the room as suddenly as Merle Ambrose entered.

“What was all that about?” hissed Matt in my ear.
“No idea…” I replied. “We’d better interrogate them when they get back, right?”
“You bet!” Matt grinned. He started prodding his plant again, more gently this time. I tried the same. Nothing.
“Can’t I just pretend Liam’s one is mine?” I moaned. I was hopeless at this. My plant seemed to droop further.
“Don’t we all wish that?” replied Matt. “It’s a tough life for us non-theurgists.” He continued poking his plant somewhat dejectedly. It sprouted a little.
I sighed. A leaf fell off my plant. I picked it up and promptly dropped it. Matt smiled, barely suppressing his laughter.
“Quit laughing!” I demanded playfully.

“Jake! Jake! JAKE!” I yelled through whisper chat.
“Alex, I’m busy. Go away.”
“What are you doing? You can’t be that busy. Can you?”
“Oh, just shut up.” He seemed to tune out from then on. Matt turned towards me.
“Anything from Liam?” I enquired.
“Nope. Nothing,” he sighed. “He just keeps saying he’s busy. Probably playing tag with an imp or something.”
I grinned.

Suddenly, there was a swirl of pale blue snowflakes and an icy breeze whistled past. A short thaumaturge with blue hair and a perky smile appeared in front of Matt.
“Hi Matt!” she piped.
“Hey Saffy. What’s up?”
Saffron Winterglade, level eight ice wizard, smiled up at her big brother. “Not much…”
“I can feel a ‘but’ coming up here,” Matt grinned.
“But—” she giggled.
“Told you so,” smiled Matt.
“I’m a little stuck on Firecat Alley. Bastilla Gravewynd is really hard, remember?”
“Alright, I’ll lend a hand. Coming, Alex?”
I grinned. “You bet.”
“Thank you Matt!” squealed Saffy. “You’re the bestest big brother ever!”
I almost cracked up when Matt went red.

There was a girl outside the tower when we arrived.

She was tall and willowy, with black hair in a ponytail. I hadn’t seen her around before. Her aloof expression reminded me of Reed Mythstrider, the resident conjurer bully. Her robes were unusual; they looked as though they were made of silk, dyed pale blue with a deeper midnight blue trim. Saffy ran up to her eagerly.

“Kymma!” she cried. “Are you on this quest too? That’s amazing!” She turned to me and Matt. “This is Kymma Frostleaf. She’s my best friend, and she’s the best in our class. She can cast Evil Snowman already!”
“Hello,” said Kymma Frostleaf. She sounded friendly enough, but there was an air about her – a sense I couldn’t quite place. Perhaps her eyes were too narrow, her voice too smooth.
“I thought mom said—” began Matt, frowning.
“It doesn’t matter.” Saffy looked a little annoyed.
“So, are we gonna do this or what?” I tried to be cheerful whilst wondering what Dalia Falmea had said about this Kymma.
“Yeah!” bounced Saffy, excited as usual.

We stood on the sigil and went in.

It was an easy battle for us journeymen. Bastilla Gravewynd wasn’t the hardest of bosses, so Matt and I didn’t need to worry.

I cast a Storm blade as I whisper chatted to Matt: “What were you gonna say outside?”
“About what your mom said. When we met Kymma.”
“Oh. Mom doesn’t want Saffy to hang around with her.”
“Why not?”
I was caught off guard by a dark sprite which pushed me over. I got back up again to Saffy’s giggles and Matt’s somewhat guilty reply of: “I don’t actually know.”
“Didn’t you ask her about it?”
“Yeah, but she wouldn’t say. You know my mom, terrible temper.”
“That’s where you get it.”
“Oh, shut up.”
“Eh, you’re alright. Sometimes.”
“All I know about this Kymma is that she’s an orphan. Lives alone in her dorm. Seconds in death.”
“Yes, death. It’s a bit odd, isn’t it? Most thaumaturges go for a high attack school, fire or storm.” Right on cue, he waved his wand and a sunbird appeared, attacking a minion.
“S’pose it’s up to them, though.” I cast a storm shark at Bastilla Gravewynd, who screamed and fell into the ground.
“I guess.”

“Bastilla’s Deadly Choker!” I said out loud. My head was aching from whisper chat by then. “Brilliant! It gives me two death traps!”
“Nice,” grinned Matt. “Except – you don’t take death anymore!”
“Oh… Yeah…” I remembered.
“So you won’t need it. You can sell it at the bazaar.”
I considered it. “Actually,” I said, thinking out loud, “it’s Nat’s birthday next week. I could give it to him.”
“You’re way too nice,” said Matt, shaking his head. “If I got some brilliant ice gear for level 5+… I’d sell it!”
“No you wouldn’t!” cried Saffy. “That’s not fair!” She ran up to him and buried her head in his robes.
“Just kidding, Saffy, just kidding…” Somehow she managed to climb onto his back. “You want a ride, huh?” Matt started running around making dragon noises. I laughed.

“Well, I’m going,” began Kymma. She started towards the door.
“Wait for meee!” cried Saffy, sliding off Matt’s back and sprinting after her. They disappeared out of the door together.
“Not even a thank you!” said Matt mock-indignantly. “Kids these days…”
I laughed loudly. Matt never failed to make me crack up.

“Talking of rude kids,” he continued, in a more serious tone, “we should go find the terrible twins!”
“Yeah, I guess.” I tried to whisper chat to Jake. “Jake! JAKE!”
“Ouch, Alex. Do you have to yell?”
“Yes! Where have you been? Where are you now?”
“I’m in the Commons. With Liam. Port.”

Matt and I turned to each other and said at exactly the same time “They’re in the Commons.” Simultaneously, we teleported.

“Jake! Liam! What happened? What did he say? Where did you go? What did you do? Why did you take so long? We went all the way to Firecat Alley! And back! When did you get out? How did it go? Did you—”
Liam held up his hands. “Whoa. Whoa. Slow down, Alex. You’re a regular twister sometimes!”
“Make that all the time,” added Jake.
“What were you doing?” asked Matt.
“Headmaster Ambrose wanted to speak to us.”
Matt frowned. “And it took you an hour?”
“What was he talking about?” I demanded. “Were you in his office? Did you do something wrong?”
“Nothing much, yes, and no.” Liam was grinning.
“What’s ‘nothing much’?”
“Nothing, obviously.”
“Well, he had to be talking about something!”
“He was talking about—”
Jake interrupted. “We’re not supposed to tell anyone!”
“We can tell these guys!”
“But Headmaster Ambrose said…”
“Stop being such a wimp. These guys won’t tell anyone! You won’t, right?”
I shook my head vigorously.
“Well—” Liam stopped abruptly. “Good afternoon Headmaster.”

I turned around quickly to see an elderly bearded man. Merle Ambrose was directly behind me.

“I hope you weren’t about to divulge your secret, Mr Dawnbreeze.” Ambrose looked stern.
“Not at all, Headmaster. Wouldn’t dream of it, Headmaster.”
“Good, good. Just remember that I am always watching… Or Gamma is, anyway.”
“Absolutely, Headmaster.”
“Now, follow me. Yes, both of you. I have some things to give you.”

Both Jake and Liam looked uncomfortable as they were taken into Ambrose’s office.

“What is up with that?” Matt asked in confusion.

“Please tell me, Jake. I promise I won’t tell. Honest. Please. Pretty please. Pretty pretty please with a cherry on top.”
“No. No, no, no, no, no. I can’t tell you. I’d like to, but I’m not allowed. Now quit bugging me about it!”
“Oh, but please Jake. I promise promise promise I won’t tell!”
“No! How many times do I have to tell you?”
“Jake, I’m your best friend. You can trust me.”
“I’m sorry, Alex. I can’t tell you.”
“Fine. I’ll ask Liam then.”

“Please tell me, Liam. I promise I won’t tell. Honest. Please. Pretty please. Pretty pretty please with a cherry on top.”
“Look, seriously, Alex. I’ve told you. Ambrose will kill us if we tell you. Maybe one day, but not now, okay?”
“But why not?”
“Because Ambrose will kill us.”
“Did you tell Matt? Because I’ll ask him then.”
“No, I didn’t tell Matt.”


I was reminding myself of a bratty toddler at this point, or Nat in one of his strops. I decided to sit down and cool off. Triton Avenue.

I hadn’t been there for a while. I’d been busy trying to get into Krokotopia. And then out of Krokotopia. Now I was there I couldn’t wait to see the back of the place. It was hot, and when I got hot, I got stressed out. What can I say? I’m a diviner.

A voice floated into my head – Matt’s voice. “Got anything out of them yet?”
“Nothing,” I sighed.
“Same here. I reckon my mom will know something about it. I’ll ask her…” The voice floated away again.

It must be something pretty big if they can’t tell anyone. Maybe something… Spiral-wide. Something really major. Maybe it wasn’t my imagination when Moolinda Wu looked like she was looking at Jake when she said about the ‘true savior of the Spiral’. Maybe Jake and Liam were destined to save the spiral. Maybe… Maybe they were in the prophecy Ambrose mentioned a few weeks ago, when I had that detention with the Mythstrider kid!


“She does know something about it!” yelled Matt triumphantly in my head.
“What did she say?”
“She told me to mind my own business.”
“She knows but she won’t tell me. It’s so unfair…”
Matt was interrupted by another voice.

“What is it now, Nat?”
“Can you help me?”
“With what?”
“Lord Nightshade! Me and Hunter just got there!”
“Hunter and I…” He still hadn’t got the hang of basic grammar.
“Whatever. Can you help?”
“Yeah, yeah, fine, whatever.” I teleported to him. He was standing right in the middle of Haunted Cave. I ran to the sidewalk. “You could have told me you were in the middle!”
“I could have, yeah…”

Hunter Ghostblood was standing outside Nightshade’s tower. “Nathaniel,” he said. “Can we just do this, now?”
“Yeah, Nathaniel,” I said, teasing him. “Let’s just go and finish this. Nathaniel.”
He grumbled something rude under his breath as, for the second time that day, I stood on the sigils.

I waved my wand; my arms were tiring now. A trio of angry lightning bats appeared and swooped down over Lord Nightshade, who cringed in pain. Hunter cast a Dream Shield on Nat. Nat cast a Thermic Shield on Hunter. Lord Nightshade stepped into the circle and I felt the life drain out of me. The next round was easy; it wasn’t mana-consuming to cast the final wand spell which would let my little brother into Krokotopia.

“Yes!” yelled Nat and Hunter simultaneously. I smiled, remembering the day Jake and I had done the very same thing after finishing this quest.
“Thanks Alex!” cried Nat. He teleported to the Commons so quickly it was a small wonder I saw him turn as he disappeared.

It was an easy battle, if I was honest. I sighed to myself, wishing I could get some of my own quests done. I wondered what the other three were doing now. Jake and Liam were probably still running around after Ambrose.

Then a voice I’d heard a lot of that day suddenly came into my head.

“I’ve had an idea.”

Merle Ambrose spent a lot of time thinking. Today, however, he had thought far too much. He rubbed his forehead as though it would stimulate his musings.

He sighed as he, again, picked up the crumpled old parchment on his desk. It was torn at the bottom, as though the paper had been ripped in half. Ambrose seemed to remember this as he fingered the tear. His face reflected the regret and frustration he was feeling.

“Gamma,” he finally managed to croak. “I leave tonight. I will be back within a few days.”
“Headmaster,” hooted Gamma, and if owls could show concern in their facial expression he would have done so. “Is this really necessary? It’s far. The journey alone…” Gamma left the threat hanging.

There was a long silence. Ambrose broke it with an exhausted, “I know”. They exchanged a glance.
“Headmaster, without you, the future of Ravenwood is precarious. You know barely anything about this world. To send students there would be… Do you know the consequences of quests that are too dangerous?”
“Are you questioning my knowledge of teaching? This is why I must travel there first! It could be the home of the magic we seek. Imagine how much further magic could advance!” Ambrose’s voice was fierce, and any trace of tiredness had gone.
“Very well, Headmaster.” Gamma flew away, defeated.

Headmaster Ambrose left the room. A few books rearranged themselves on their shelves, and there was silence.

Part 4
“Matt… Are you sure this isn’t a little… drastic?”
Matthew Fireshard, possibly the most impertinent pyromancer in the Spiral gave me a cheeky grin. “It is. That’s the point, Alex.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. Only Matt could be so lighthearted in a situation like this. Not that being, well, bad, was something I wasn’t used to doing.

“We could get,” I had said to him, “in so much trouble for this,” – I emphasized the word so – “it’s unbelievable.”
“How else will we find out?” he had replied, jovial as ever.
I had sighed then, because, as reluctant as I was to admit it, he was right. Our friends Liam Dawnbreeze and Jacob Ravencloud – the twins – were being asked to do something for Headmaster Ambrose, and wouldn’t tell us. Matt and I, of course, were desperate to find out.
“Coming?” his voice was still upbeat.
I could imagine him grinning. I would have seen his smile if it wasn’t so dark – it was coming up to midnight, and we were standing in Ravenwood, alone. I breathed in and out slowly. “Fine.”

He shivered, pretending to be freezing, or I thought he did, from what I could see in the dark. “Don’t like all this cold lark.” As whiny as that statement would sound from anyone else I knew, he still managed to pull it off with a bright tone, and I smiled in spite of myself. He could make Cyrus Drake laugh if he put his mind to it.

Soon enough we were in the Commons. It wasn’t a long journey. “You know, we could just ask them… One more time…”
Matt gave me a reproachful look. “You know they won’t tell us.”
“Still…” I shrugged.
“This is the only way!” Matt was, for the first time, irritated.
“Fine.” I’d all but given up. “So, how exactly are we going to go about this?”
“I told you!” Matt was exasperated. “It’s not hard. We see if the door’s open –” I nod – “and if it is, we walk straight in and see what we find.”
“And if it isn’t?” I challenged.
“We can think about that if we can’t get in.”
“Why did I ever agree to this?”
“Because – in case you didn’t hear me last time – this is the only way. And who could ever say no to me?”

I rolled my eyes. Typical Matt.

“I’ll try the door,” Matt said, trying to be bold.

Headmaster Ambrose’s office was, for the first time ever, completely empty. There was no one there at all, and it freaked me out big time.

“So,” said Matt, almost seriously. “This could be a bigger job than I imagined.” He surveyed the room critically, eyeing the countless stacks of books that were, for once, still. I wanted to laugh. ‘Why am I even thinking about laughing at a time like this?” I thought. ‘I’ve just broken into the Headmaster’s office!’ The full reality of the situation had only just hit me.

“Matt, I don’t like this,” I said. Even I could hear the tremble in my voice.
“Don’t be such a wimp!” he replied, rifling through a pile of parchment.
“Matt…” He looked almost pitying.
“Alex, don’t worry about it. What could come of it except a detention?”
I took a deep breath. He was right. “Nothing,” I said, somewhat reluctantly.
“Exactly. So nothing to worry about. Well, except trying to find the dang thing. I mean, this place is so unorganized. Someone should get the Headmaster to clean up in here!”

I smiled again, all trace of anxiety long gone. I started to go through a draw, feeling slightly guilty.

“What’s this?” Matt said, quietly. I turned to face him and took the ripped parchment. It was really old, so rough it felt like it would disintegrate as I held it. I looked at the cursive script which was clearly written with a traditional quill.

Certain young wizards will follow the path,
Become the defense from powers dark,
Three from each side of the Magical Arts,
Balanced enough will they depart.

They'll walk streets unknown to wizards before,
To find their objects of ancient lore,
To help them fight fights on which the Spiral will depend -
But these only upon reaching the Questend.

The rest of the text was harder to read, because someone had clearly ripped the paper in half, tearing some words in the process. I opened my mouth to speak, but Matt was already there.

“I think it says something about two girls,” he said, his voice still quiet and almost cautious. I looked at it. The next line was torn almost all the way across but he was right; the words I could make out looked like ‘Two of the children are girls’, but I couldn’t distinguish anything further.

I nodded in agreement. It seemed like hours before either of us spoke again.

“I think we should go,” Matt said, slightly louder than before.
I nodded again. Had I lost the ability to speak? “What does it mean?” The words were out of my mouth before I’d thought about it. Apparently not, then.

 Matt frowned at the paper again. Then he pulled a quill from an ink well on the desk and grabbed a piece of parchment from the piles of the crowded desk. “I don’t know,” he said. “But we’re going to find out.” He started to copy the poem out in neat print.

“Jake and Liam can’t deny anything when they’ve seen the evidence,” he continued.
“Wait,” I said. “We’re going to show them this?”
“Yes.” Matt was still copying.
“They can tell us what it’s about.”

I thought about this for a moment. Certain young wizards will follow the path. Well, it’s a prophecy, obviously. Three from each side of the Magical Arts. That would make one from each school, except Balance. Jake and Liam. Storm and Life. Different schools. It didn’t mean that they were the ones from their school in the prophecy. No, it didn’t make it certain. But no one could argue that it wasn’t a possibility.

“Do we need to?” I asked.
Matt looked up. “What?”
“Do we need to ask them?” I repeated. “If you think about it, they could be these… young wizards.” The phrase made me oddly reminiscent of the time when I’d first arrived in Wizard City; the time when Headmaster Ambrose and Gamma used to call me ‘young wizard’.

I heard a wheezy snore.

“You’re right,” said Matt thoughtfully. “It fits.” I wasn’t really listening. Why would anyone be close enough so I could hear them snoring.

I motioned for him to be quiet. He realized what I was trying to tell him to do maybe a split second before I heard the soft hoot. Almost like the yawns I hear every morning when Nat wakes up.



Matt looked confused until he saw my shocked expression. I watched the realization spread slowly across his face. I was the first to react.

“Get out!” I hissed, grabbing his wrist and sprinting towards the door. I opened it and pulled him into the Commons, where the sun was starting to rise. We’d been in there for too long. We didn’t stop running until we were half way through the Ravenwood tunnel.

I leant against the wall, Matt beside me, trying to catch my breath. I glanced at a grinning, if somewhat disheveled, pyromancer, brown hair all over the place and startlingly blue eyes delighted.

“What are you looking so pleased about?” I said.
“We made it out alive.” Matt’s grin spread and I felt myself return the smile.
“Yeah, no thanks to you.”
“Hey, I got the prophecy. Don’t get mad at me.”

 That’s when I realized just how crazy that had been. I reckon we were probably the first students to have broken into Ambrose’s office.

“We’d better get back to our dorms.” For a split second, I could have sworn he looked almost reproachful, as though he wanted to stay, but his face morphed immediately into a somber expression.
“Yeah, poor Saffy will be getting worried.”
“I wouldn’t think she would wake up this early.”
“Oh. Yeah. You’re right. It’s sort of hard to tell in a tunnel.” Without any warning, I started laughing.
“Come on,” I said, pulling him along. He grinned at me sheepishly.

The minute we got out of the tunnel, we saw a distinctive red-haired tall woman in the distance. Matt went unusually white.

“Oh man,” he said. “Mom.”

Matthew Fireshard just had to be the son of Dalia Falmea.

“Go to your dorm,” I urged. He hesitated. “Quick!” I added, before running to my left and stumbling blindly to my room in the near darkness. I tried to be quiet, but I think I can safely say I’ve never been known for my gracefulness. Nat stirred in his sleep and I froze.

“Shh Nat. Go back to sleep.”
“Why are you awake?”
“I had a bad dream.”
“Uh… Yes. Now go back to sleep. It’s late. Well. It’s early.”

Nat murmured something unintelligent as he rolled over and curled up. I heard his soft snores within a few minutes. I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Sidequests…” he mumbled to himself. “Triton… Fireca… Mmrrh.”

Typical. Talking in his sleep again.

For probably the first time ever, Nat was the first to wake up the next morning. I was exhausted.

“Alex…” I had opened my eyes groggily to see a slightly puzzled Nat leaning over my bed.
“Oh geez,” I said, realizing just how late it must be if Nat was awake. I leapt out of bed and pulled on my robes quickly before dashing out of the door with a puzzled necromancer in tow.

Jake and Liam were waiting by Torrence as they always did. Nat had disappeared somewhere already – probably to Malorn Ashthorn to talk to him about the Death Blade quest.

I passed Autumn Willowbreeze, my adept friend, as I walked towards them. “Hi Alex,” she said as she breezed past me. I replied with a sort-of-friendly grunt. She frowned at me. “Speaking boy again, Alex? You spend too much time with that lot.”

That woke me up a little. “They’re my friends.” My voice was defensive, even snappy.
“Oh, don’t get all moody on me, Alex. Diviners,” she said, rolling her eyes as she went to join her friends by Blossom.

I was a bit put-out by her comment. Autumn was usually – well, just nicer than that. I frowned to myself. What’s wrong with my friends? I’d never really given much thought to who I quested with, let alone the fact that they were all boys.

Still heading towards Torrence, I was somewhat distracted by a whirlwind of pale blue and purple sprinting past me. “Kymma!” she was yelling.

That would be Saffy, Matt’s sister, my bleary mind concluded. I wondered how Matt was feeling after last night’s escapade. Most likely the same as me: as though I had been knocked over by a Helephant.

“Hi Alex!” yelled Liam, waving as he spotted me. I walked over quickly to join him and Jake.
“You’re a bit late,” said Jake, cautiously. “Aren’t you usually the first one here?”
“I overslept,” I said evasively. It wasn’t a lie, exactly. Then again, why was I thinking about lying when I had marched into Ambrose’s office in the middle of the night?
“No sign of Matt yet,” added Liam, somewhat dejectedly. I bit my lip to stop me saying that he was probably tired after last night.
“He’s usually here by now.” Jake was looking worried. I was all set to go and drag him out of bed when a disheveled figure in red and orange appeared.

“Hey!” Matt cried, adjusting his hat. “You guys!”
“You’re late,” I teased.
“You can’t talk, Alex. You only just arrived,” grinned Liam.

We had life class first, and without communicating, we automatically started walking towards the life school. A lot of the kids in journeyman theurgy were already at their desks when we arrived and tried to sit down at the back without attracting too much attention.

Moolinda Wu stood up at the front of the class, as usual, and at the sound of her voice the class fell silent.

“Good morning, students of Life,” she began, nodding pleasantly. “Morning is the time of all things fresh and new, and we can reflect these blossoming energies into our theurgy. Today, we will be practicing healing spells. Some of you may not know as many ways to heal as others, but all of you, at least, have the sprite spell, which we shall be focusing on today.”

 There were a few groans. I mean, even I knew how to cast a sprite, and I’d only started learning life a week or so ago.

“Students,” said Moolinda Wu, frowning slightly, “mastery of the basics is the only way to grasp the next level of life.” The groans fizzled out like a storm spell.

Meanwhile, I was staring out of the window, too tired to listen. I knew I should be listening, but the rain looked so calming, so wet, and so peaceful. I wanted to go outside and stand in it. I wanted to feel the wind on my face.

“Miss Stormrider?” I looked up. Moolinda Wu was standing in front of my desk, looking slightly concerned. “Are you feeling alright?”
I nodded. “I’m fine, professor.”
Moolinda Wu seemed to think for a while. “Would you care to deliver these papers to Madame Falmea?”
“Yes, professor.” She handed me the papers and I set off towards the fire school.

It was cooling outside. I tried not to get the papers wet. Why had Moolinda Wu picked me to go outside? Perhaps because I was a diviner, and wouldn’t be affected by the rain like the theurgists. Then why not Jake? I shook my head to try and rid myself of the confusion. It didn’t really matter. What did matter was that I was outside and trying to deliver these papers before they got soaked. I ducked under one of Bartleby’s huge branches which stretched out above me, over the schools and probably further if I could see that far.

I began to wish I had a mount so I could get this over with quicker. Perhaps a dragon or a horse… Even a broom. Then again, I did adore the lovely soft seraph wings that sprouted out of so many theurgists’ and other wizards’ backs.

I think it was then that I noticed the paper.

I have considered some potential candidates for pyromancer of the prophecy whom I teach, and I think you should personally assess their pyromancy skills as they are showing much promise.

Alexander Swiftflame
Blaze Light
Malcolm Dragonheart
Scarlet Snowbreaker
Matthew Fireshard

And it was then that I wished I hadn’t.

More about the prophecy? Was this simply a coincidence? I realized then that I shouldn’t be reading the sheet anyway, but now I had seen it I was frozen to the spot in front of the myth school. Matt was in the prophecy? Well, he could be. One from each school. Liam would be Life. Jake would be Storm. Matt would be Fire.

All my friends were probably part of a prophecy.

I glanced around quickly to catch Cyrus Drake giving me a furious glare from inside the myth school. I decided to make a run for it and sprinted towards the fire school past a herd of novice necromancers.

I knocked on the door of the fire school before I entered a class of Masters. Feeling oddly out of place, I quietly left the papers on Professor Falmea’s desk before leaving without a word.

I walked back to the school of life more dazed than I’d felt when I woke up that morning. I didn’t hesitate to whisper chat to Matt – “We need to talk about the thing.”

“What thing?” Matt glanced at me, confused.
“The prophecy thing. There was something on that sheet I took to your mom.”
“Meet me in the storm tower after your storm class.”

“Why aren’t you guys saying anything?” asked Liam, loudly. “You keep looking at each other like you’re both in on some sort of secret.”

I almost laughed at this. Those two were the ones with the secret. Liam must have seen Matt and I smirk because he frowned. Jake was concentrating unnecessarily hard on getting his sprite to perch on his arm like a bird.

“What?” Liam was clearly getting agitated now. “What is it?”

“It’s nothing,” Matt said smoothly. “Besides, what are you and Jake hiding?”

Jake looked up so suddenly his sprite gave a squeal and hid in his blondish-brown hair.

“That’s different,” he said, quickly. Liam nodded.

There was an awkward silence, which was only broken when I yelped when a stray sprite landed on my head. Matt sniggered as I tried to get it off me. The sprite tugged at my hair for a while, but it soon gave up and flew away, a few purple hairs still tangled in her wings. Thomas Deathsong, a necromancer a few levels lower than me, gave us a guilty grin, which I returned half-heartedly. His sprite then flitted over to a theurgist, who, with a flick of his wand, dismissed her. Thomas backed away so comically that Matt cracked up, and Liam, Jake, and I soon followed suit.

“Good old Tom,” said Liam. “Always messing everything up…” Tom looked a bit embarrassed.
“No offence, of course,” grinned Matt good-naturedly. Tom grinned then returned to his desk quietly as Moolinda Wu cast a somewhat disapproving gaze in his general direction.

Liam turned back to Jake, who was struggling to extract his giggling sprite from his hair. With a flick of his wand, the sprite squealed again and disappeared with a soft ‘poof’. Jake grinned nervously.

I couldn’t stop my mind wandering to that sheet of paper. I could tell that my sprite knew I was distracted – okay, so most sprites disobeyed me anyway, but this one was really brazen. She simply would not stay still. I sighed in agitation. After a night of nearly no sleep and a lot of strange events, my temper was already dangerously frayed. Soon enough, I was going to snap.

I dismissed my sprite and sat at my desk moodily. How was Matt able to stay awake? I was tired – heckhounds, I was totally exhausted. And really stressed out. Really, really stressed out. I put my head on the desk and tried not to focus on how much my head was aching.

Suddenly I felt a floating, peaceful sensation, what could only be magical energy flowing through my body from my head to my toes. I sighed happily, and looked up, headache forgotten and stress relieved. Liam was grinning down at me.

“Feeling better?” he asked lightly.
I nodded. “Can you do that again?”
“It wouldn’t be much use. Minor blessing isn’t much help anyway, unless you’re a little novice,” he said, looking sympathetic. “Which I hope you aren’t.” I smiled half-heartedly.

“I could try a unicorn, but it’s a little crowded.” My smile widened. I felt awake again.

“See you after class,” I whisper chatted to Matt as Jake and I turned into the storm building.
“Later,” he replied, somewhat dismissively.

Halston Balestrom was in a lively mood – as usual. “Good afternoon, students!” he (quite literally) bounced. “Do have a seat!”

Jake and I obliged, heading to a pair of seats near the middle of the room, getting out our books almost in unison as Halston Balestrom leapt excitedly across the desks in the front row.

“Any new level sixteens?” he asked, as he did every day in journeyman class. Jake and I had both been level sixteen for a few days already, so we had already received our Kraken spell. No one put their hands up.

“Well, that’s good! Now, today we will be doing a very much practical lesson!” Halston Balestrom hopped onto his own desk. “Everyone outside!”

A few necromancers groaned, but the diviners in the class, including Jake and I, rushed towards the door. Halston Balestrom hopped happily after us.

“Go practice your spells!” he shouted exuberantly, trying to keep the herd under control. “Whichever you like! Find your weaknesses, and remedy them!” He hopped onto the dock by Torrence, and pretty much left us to it.

I waved my wand happily, splashing Jake with a stream of cold water that I had involuntarily conjured up. “Hey!” he spluttered indignantly, shaking it out of his hair. I grinned sheepishly. He waved his wand in return and sent a jet of water into my face. My hat fell off.

“That’s not fair,” I said. “I did it by accident!”
“Well, so did I!” grinned Jake.
“You so did not do that by accident!” I flicked some more water at him and he retaliated with a Minor Shock that made my hair stand on end. I summoned a Thunder Snake and started poking it to get it to pursue Jake.

Autumn happened to walk past at that point, giving me a critical glance as I prodded my snake’s tail with my wand. She rolled her eyes as she passed us on her way to the life school. I remembered how off she’d been with me earlier and couldn’t help feeling somewhat annoyed. I was distracted from these thoughts by another Minor Shock.

Halston Balestrom hopped up behind Jake. “Please try not to use your spells on your classmates, Mister Ravencloud!” Jake blushed and mumbled an apology, but Professor Balestrom was already leaping away after a storm shark that had decided to take a trip through Torrence’s little river.

Halston Balestrom had let us out late after class, so I sprinted over to the storm tower as quickly as I could, grateful for its proximity. On the way, I, again, walked straight into Autumn.

“Hey, what’s the rush, Alex?” she said, trying to get me to slow down.
“Hi Autumn,” I said, trying to dodge past her. She grabbed my shoulders.
“Where are you going?” She didn’t sound annoyed, or uptight, just curious.
“I need to talk to Matt,” I explained hurriedly. She let go of my shoulders and rolled her eyes emphatically.
“You’re always hanging around with a gang of mucky boys,” she said, exasperatedly. I felt my temper rising.
“You know what Autumn? If you’re gonna be like that, then don’t talk to me. They’re my friends, and they’re a heckhound of a lot better friends than you are sometimes. You don’t have to criticize me.” I strode past her, still fuming, and walked into the Storm tower.

Matt was already there, as I had suspected, and was leaning against the wall casually. “Hey Alex,” he said. “You took your time.”
I sighed, my anger evaporating. “I got caught up.”
“Well, you’re here now. What was it you wanted to tell me?”
“It’s about the prophecy,” I said quickly.
Matt grinned. “You don’t say.”

“Well, your name was on that sheet that I took to your mom earlier. And some other fire kids.”
Matt frowned. “And..?”
“It was about the prophecy! Possible candidates for the pyromancer of the prophecy!”
Matt looked a bit confused. Then he realized what I meant. “So… I’m in the prophecy too?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. It just had this list of kids. And your name was on it.”
“So… I could be?” He sounded more baffled than happy. “Are you sure you read it right?”

There was a long silence, where neither of us could think of anything to say.

“Must be because of my mom!” declared Matt, finally. He grinned.
“Nah, you’re good at pyromancy. You’re a natural.”
 “Well, I have to say, I do have a feel for setting stuff on fire.”
I laughed, thinking of the plants he’d burnt in his Life lessons. “Too right!”

“So, up for a few quests in Krokotopia?” Obviously, Matt was back to his typically cheerful self.
“But of course,” I grinned, playing along.
“Am I right in thinking we have a certain Palace of Fire to start on?”
“You are indeed!”
“Shall we call on our twin friends to assist us?”
“We shall!”

I took this as a signal to whisper chat to Jake.
“Alex? Where are you? You just disappeared after class!”
“Oh yeah, sorry about that, I had to… rearrange the dorm room. I got a few cool housing drops yesterday and I didn’t have time to put them down.”
“Oh, okay.” There was a pause.
“Do you want to start the Palace of Fire with us?”
“What? Don’t you want to?”
“I… We’re…”
“Yeah, sorry.”
“With Ambrose?”
“Yeah, we’re—I mean, nooo.”
“Right. Okay. See ya.”

Matt shook his head at me.

“They’re doing prophecy stuff for Ambrose.”
“I know, Jake just… Well, he didn’t tell me, but it was obvious.”
“Guess we’ll just start by ourselves then.” Matt was smiling. I grinned back.
“Their loss,” I added. Then I paused. “Race you to the Altar of Kings!” I yelled, sprinting out of the door.

“That’s not fair!” Matt cried after me, trying to catch up. Though we usually ran at the same speed, I was ahead of him, so I had the edge. I sprinted past crowds in the Oasis, splashing through the pond, and dashed into the Altar of the Kings to find Matt right in front of me.

“What?” I spluttered furiously, still out of breath from my sprint.
“I win,” Matt said, blue eyes glinting mischievously.
“You ported!” I cried, not angry any more but finding the whole situation hilarious.
“You didn’t say I couldn’t.” Matt’s face was practically split by his massive grin.
“Let me catch my breath, cheater,” I said, “and we’ll get going.”

I swear Matt didn’t stop grinning the whole time we were there.


“Phew,” I sighed. “If I see one more dog asking us to do a sidequest, I think I will start crying.”
“Well, that’s not great then,” said Matt, grinning.
“Wh—Oh no…”
Private Archibald was calling us over. “Young wizards!” he cried in his distinctive Marleybonian accent. “I wonder if you might be so kind as to help me out, here.”

I sighed internally as we agreed to help him out. He wanted us to use the well in the Oasis. “At least it’ll give us a break from Nirinis,” I muttered to myself as Matt and I teleported to the Oasis.

There were barely any people there when we arrived. Of course, what with the perpetual sunshine it was hard to tell what the time was, but when there are only a few dedicated adepts left, you can tell it’s getting late.

“I think we’d better be getting back soon,” I said. I was slightly concerned.
“Yeah, sure,” replied Matt. “We’ll just finish this off, and then we’ll get back. It can’t take too long to just turn in this quest, can it?”
“No, I’m just… Time conscious, that’s all.”
“You still don’t have a watch, though.” Matt grinned cheekily.
“Maybe it’s time I should. Krokotopia’s an odd place.”

We headed back into the Altar of the Kings and walked slowly up the stairs towards the Palace of Fire. It seemed surprisingly empty; usually the place would be crawling with initiates, journeymen, and even apprentices and a few novices who had teleported to their friends. Instead, we found no one.

We talked to Private Archibald quickly, telling him we’d finish off his questline when we returned tomorrow. “As soon as we get in here, we’ll come straight to you,” promised Matt, nodding convincingly.
“Jolly good, jolly good,” mumbled Archibald tiredly. It must be a tough job, standing there talking to journeymen and whoever else all day.

We wandered back towards the Oasis quietly, too tired to teleport. Something was different. Maybe it was how cool it was, or the way the Nirinis were walking. I didn’t know.

When we emerged into the bright daylight, we found the area almost completely empty. Only a few manders and Sergeant Major Talbot remained. He dashed towards us.

“I say, wizards, why are you still here?” he frowned. “Off you go, now. Back to Ravenwood!” He pushed us towards the Spiral Chamber. Matt and I exchanged a confused glance.

“Sergeant…” I hazarded. “What’s the time?”
“The time?” He sounded incredulous. “The time? You’re asking me for the time at a time like this?”
Matt gave him a grin. “Well if we knew what the time was now, we’d know what a time like this would be.”
“Crikey, haven’t you heard? Get back to Ravenwood!”

Matt and I looked at each other in confusion again as we were shoved in the direction of the Spiral Chamber. We started towards it.

“And if you don’t mind me saying, young wizards, get a move on!”

Matt and I grinned at each other and broke into a run.

The first thing I saw when we got to Wizard City was a flurry of blue and purple. Saffy.

“Matt! Matt!” she cried. At first I thought she was simply excited, but then I detected a sense of desperation in her child-like voice. “Come on Matt, mommy is so worried!”

“See ya, Alex,” he sighed before running after her.

The next thing I noticed was that Ravenwood was packed with students. Noisy students. Students who were clearly talking about something very big that had probably occurred very recently.

I glanced around for a familiar face, until I found Madison Lifesong sitting on a patch of grass in tears. She was one of Autumn’s friends, and as much as I was annoyed with Autumn at that point, I hated to see her upset. I leapt over the fence surrounding Bartleby and crouched down near her.

“What’s up?” I asked, quietly. She glanced at me and burst into new tears. I decided to back away.

I tried to find someone else I knew. I whisper chatted to Jake.

“Look, Alex, now is really not a good time…”
“Jake! JAKE!”

He didn’t respond. I shouted in frustration, although I couldn’t hear myself over the noise of the crowds surrounding me.

I shoved my way through the crowds, trying to get to the dorms. Whatever had happened had nothing to do with me whatsoever. At that moment I could honestly not have cared less.

“ALEX!” I suddenly heard over the huge noise. “ALLLLLLEEEEX!!!” I whipped around, and sure enough, a hysterical Nat was running towards me. I hadn’t seen him this upset for a long while. He slammed into me with a force I wasn’t sure was possible for such a scrawny kid and continued sobbing.

I peeled him off me. “What is it, Nat?” I said, trying to be sympathetic. “What’s wrong?”
He sniffed. “Malistaire…”
“What?” I exclaimed, shocked.
“Aumnntnmmm!!” His wail was slightly muffled.
“What?” I repeated. “What? What’s happened?”

I waited as Nat pulled himself together. He took one long, last, deep breath.

“He’s got her. Malistaire captured Autumn.”

Part 5

I didn’t know what to say. Besides having not fully comprehended the full horror of the statement, I couldn’t really comfort Nat knowing full well that I was on the verge of bursting into tears myself. I tried to make my mouth form a sentence – a word even.

“I… She…” I shook my head. This couldn’t be happening. “What?” Nat gave me another look of despair.
“Malistaire captured Autumn! And no one knows what to do about it and we’re all gonna die!” He began to sob again.
I patted his head awkwardly, searching for something not-too-awful to say. I was sad that Autumn had been taken…

Autumn had been taken! I think that was when it really hit me, like a full-on punch in the stomach from Mythstrider.

“We’re not all gonna die…” I tried to comfort Nat.
“Yes we are! He said so!”
“Who said that? Ambrose?” I didn’t really need to ask.
 “Malistaire! He was here, Alex, right here!”
I felt sick. “You saw him?”
“Everyone did! Everyone came back from their quests, because they all got a whisper chat from Ambrose!”
I felt sick again. “I didn’t. And neither did Matt.”
“But it wasn’t really Ambrose, at least he said it wasn’t – he said it was Malistaire playing mind games…” Nat shuddered and buried his head in my robe.

I shook my head. That was impossible. No one could whisper chat to just anyone… Unless they manipulated the laws of magic. Even Malistaire couldn’t do that. At least, as far as I knew, he couldn’t.

“It’s okay, Nat. We’ll be okay.”

How could I say that to the poor kid? If Malistaire had come here personally, it was bad.

I was still in Ravenwood long after everyone had gone to their dorms, thinking. Autumn Willowbreeze – I’d known her for longer than I’d known anyone here, other than Nat, of course. I tried to recall our last conversation, realizing that was a bad idea too late to erase the memory from my mind.

“If you’re gonna be like that, then don’t talk to me.” I’d been hateful, really, snapping and walking away. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. It was all I could do to not start crying there and then, when a noise from Bartleby distracted me.

Reed Mythstrider, with a few other Myth cronies, stalked straight out of Bartleby. Why had he only just returned? On any normal night, this would be when most of the adepts would be coming home from Marleybone, but – to say the least – now was so not a normal night. Besides, any normal night, if he’d come into Ravenwood late when no one else was around, I’d have walked straight up to him and asked him why. But what with everything that had happened in the past few days I was simply too dazed and tired to care.

I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop when I heard their conversation. They just didn’t see me.

“Where in the Spiral is everyone?” Reed sneered. Even when he was asking a question he still managed to sound snotty.
“Ambrose knows,” replied Blaze Dragonrunner, a cocky conjurer who seconded in Storm.
“Well, it’s not like it’s late or anything… I must have lost track of time. Always night and all that.” His companions snickered. How was that even funny? The Mythstrider kid stalked over to the boys’ dorms muttering something unintelligible.

I sat there, not really thinking about their conversation. I was still wallowing in regret. Why had I been so stressed out? I was tired, true. But that’s no excuse to be rude as heckhound to Autumn! What was I thinking?

I don’t know how long it was before a familiar figure appeared from the boys’ dorms. Matthew Fireshard walked over and sat down beside me.

“I figured you’d still be out here,” he said, quietly. His voice lacked his usual humor.
I gave him a long look.
“I heard about Autumn.”
“Well, obviously.” I bit my lip. Where had being snappy got me? “Sorry,” I say. “I didn’t mean for it to come out like that.”
He tried to smile at me. “It’s okay. I know you’re stressed out now. Heckhound, I’m stressed out! I came to see if you were okay, actually.”
“Thanks, Matt,” I said. “I mean, I really appreciate it.”
“Any time.”

There was a short pause. “It’s kinda cold out here.”
“I didn’t really notice. Diviner and all.”
“Well, pyromancers do!” Matt snapped his fingers and a little flame appeared in his hand.
I stared at it in amazement. “Can all pyromancers do that?”
“Some,” Matt replied, shrugging. “My mom can. I must have inherited the gift.” He grinned at me.
“See? You are talented,” I said, referring to earlier that day, when I’d found a sheet about the prophecy with his name on it.
“Yeah, well, a couple of others can do that too, I think.”
I rolled my eyes. “Don’t put yourself down. You’re the fire teacher’s son. You’re meant to be good at it!”

Matt gave me a huge smile. “You don’t have to be the professor’s kid to be good at stuff. I mean, Liam’s not half cow, is he?”
“Not as far as I know.”
“Exactly. Now, with that pleasant image in our heads, how about we get some sleep?”
“Sure.” Matt stood up and offered me the hand that hadn’t just been on fire. “Thanks,” I said, taking it and standing up.

 I’d allowed myself to relax while Matt was there, and the full reality of how horrible everything was suddenly hit me again. I held back. Matt turned around, tilting his head.

“What are we gonna do about Autumn?” I said miserably.
Matt frowned. “I don’t know,” he said, serious again. “But I’ll think of something. I promise.”
“Thanks, Matt,” I said, though I didn’t trust his plans at all after breaking into the Headmaster’s office.
“Now, sleep. It’s not like you got a lot last night!” Matt was grinning again, but I could tell he was tired too.
“Alright then.” I was about to head to the girls’ dorms when I stopped and suddenly gave him a hug. “Thanks for coming out here, Matt.”
He hugged me back tightly. “That’s what mates are for, right?”
“Right.” I said.

I woke up the next morning a little more refreshed than I had the day before. At least I’d woken up before Nat.

I walked to the Life School slowly, still thinking about Autumn. I was barely watching where I was going, and as a result, I promptly bumped into a young thaumaturge.
“I’m so sorry,” I gushed quickly. “Are you okay?” Her head turned quickly, and to my surprise I recognized her face; it was Kymma Frostleaf, an ice kid in Matt’s kid sister’s class.
“I’m fine.” Her voice and stare were typically frosty.
“See you, then,” I said, awkwardly. She stalked off, nose in the air.

There was something about that kid.

“ALEX!” I whipped around. Nat was running towards me.
“Hey, little guy,” I said.
“Do you know where my new vampire treasure card is?”
“On your bed?”
“It’s back in the dorm. Go get it if you have to.”
“Thanks, Alex.” Nat started sprinting towards the dorm. Why didn’t he just teleport? Kids.

Clearly, Nat had already forgotten about last night, and I didn’t want to remind him. It was painful just to think about it. Where was Autumn? In Malistaire’s fortress? Was she okay? Was she hurt? Was she… Was she even alive?

No, I told myself. Don’t think that. She is alive. She has to be.

I tried to get to classes quicker than usual. Maybe lessons would help me take my mind off things. I pushed the door to the Life school open.

“Hey! You didn’t wait!” I turned to see a slightly confused Jake stumbling over one of Bartleby’s roots.
I felt slightly guilty. I always met Jake, Liam, and Matt before class. I really had been thinking. The idea kind of worried me.
“Are the others already in there?”Jake frowned. “Usually we—”
“Nah,” I said, speaking over him. “I just wasn’t thinking, that’s all.”
Jake shrugged. “Might as well go straight in then.”
“Might as well.”

We sat in an uncomfortable silence, waiting for Professor Wu to begin the class. No one seemed to be in a very chatty mood, not even the small group of excitable level 15 theurgists who had just been moved into the journeyman class. There was a surprisingly dead atmosphere. I didn’t even notice when Matt and Liam arrived.

“Students of life,” said Moolinda Wu, looking melancholy. “I understand you may have been shocked by yesterday’s events.” She tilted her head and seemed to think about what she said next. “I know that the Spiral needs life more than ever now, when there is a shadow over us. However, due to recent events… classes today have been… temporarily cancelled.”

There was another miserable silence for a moment before the class began to pack away their spellbooks. I sighed. So much for lessons taking my mind off things.

I didn’t want to quest, so I headed straight to Triton Avenue, which was, as I expected, empty but for a few overly-eager apprentices. I didn’t realize I still had my backpack and spellbook with me until I’d sat down on my usual ledge under a particularly stormy patch of clouds.

I’d like to say I contemplated the events of the past day and came to terms with Autumn’s capture and Malistaire and every other terrifying thing that happened and decided on a plan of action to make everything right again.

In actual fact, I just sat there moping. There was nothing I could do to save her. It wasn’t like anyone – least of all me – was going to go to Malistaire’s castle and—

“Hey Alex!”

My head whipped around quickly before I had realized that the voice was in my head. “Matt?”
“I’ve had an idea!” I could practically see him bouncing off the walls. “Can I port?”

The air beside me exploded into tiny flickering flames in a sudden burst of heat. Matt appeared, somehow looking excited and serious at the same time. Then his expression looked comically surprised.

“Do you always hang out in such miserable places? It’s freezing here. And wet. You’re nuts.”
“You haven’t been to Colossus Boulevard lately, have you?” I raised my eyebrows. “You’re going to have fun in the Krokosphinx. Lots of ice. Nice and cool.”

“Funny. If you wanted to wind me up, I’ll just go then.” He started to turn away.

“Wait up. I thought you had an idea.”
“I do.” He tried to look important.
“What is it, then?”
“Well, we aren’t good enough to go to Malistaire and get him ourselves, are we?”
“Thanks. You really make me feel good about myself.”
“Cut the sarcasm. I’m trying to help you here.”
“Sorry. Just tell me the plan already.”
“Fine. If we can’t get to Malistaire, we get some other people to do it.”

I stared over the grey river, under grey clouds, probably covering a grey sky. Who did he mean? Ambrose? Heckhounds, the headmaster was probably already out searching – with the rest of the faculty.

“The teachers are looking for her already. There’s nothing else we can do.”
“Not the teachers!”
I sighed. “Who, then?”
“Well, I was thinking… How about those lovely little prophecy twins?”
“Jake and Liam?”
“Who else?”
“Well… It’s just…” I hesitated, not quite sure how to put it.
“Well, what?”
“They’re not exactly qualified, are they? They’re not like the professors. They’re the same level as us. They can’t do anything we can’t.” I could hardly suppress an eye roll.
Matt looked at me pleadingly. “They’re our best bet.”

I thought about it. When he said it like that, who else could – or, would – go save Autumn? And, sure as heckhounds, she needed saving. We couldn’t exactly go up to a bunch of grandmasters and tell them to go defeat Malistaire and rescue our friend. I didn’t want Jake and Liam to go, though. What was I afraid of? That it was too dangerous? It was dangerous, but they could handle it. Matt was right. They were the prophecy kids, after all. I sighed.

“There’s no harm in asking,” I grumbled reluctantly.

“You have got to be kidding me.” Jake shook his head. “No way, you guys.”
“Aw, come on, Jakey,” Matt pleaded. “I’ll give you a meteor strike treasure card.”
“Noo.” Jake shook his head firmly. “You can’t bribe me into this. And don’t call me Jakey.”

Liam, who was standing next to Jake, was staring at us blankly and hadn’t said a word yet.

“What do you think?” I directed my question to him.
“Seriously?” he said. “You expect us to find Malistaire? And… get past him, to get Autumn back? Please. We barely even know who she was.” He folded his arms.
“What’s to lose, you guys?” Matt was persistent, I’ll give that to him. But it was clear that it wasn’t going to work.
“Our wands?” Liam suggested. “Our sanity? Our lives?”
“Matt. No. Way. Ever.” Jake was adamant. “Why don’t you do it?”
“Well, you guys are the prophecy kids. You’re the big cheeses…” I shrugged. Matt glared at me. Oops. I wasn’t meant to mention that, was I?

Jake looked irritated. “As if that stuff makes a difference. You’re the same level as us!”
“So… You are part of a prophecy, then?” I asked, incredulous.
Jake looked worried. “Um… No.”
Liam rolled his eyes. “Duh. I mean, no offence, you guys, but did it really take you that long to work it out?”
“We’ve known for a while actually.”

The twins narrowed their eyes simultaneously. “How?”
Matt and I exchanged a nervous glance. I responded, “err…”, and Matt finished for me.
“We sort of… found out. We broke into Ambrose’s office.”

There was a stunned silence. Well, not silence, obviously, because the rest of the kids in the Commons were still chatting noisily.

Jake glanced around nervously. “You what?”
“Never mind,” Matt said, hastily. “It doesn’t matter. Anyway, the point is, we all know that you’re part of a prophecy, and are therefore the best qualified to defeat Malistaire. I mean, isn’t that what all prophecies are about? Beating Malistaire?”
“Well, all it said was that they would… Fight fights on which the Spiral will depend, so that might not mean Malistaire, I guess,” I contemplated.
“Whoa. You’ve read the prophecy?” Liam asked, looking more and more puzzled.
“Yes, but that doesn’t matter now. We’re having a completely different argument.” I added hurriedly.
“Which we’re winning,” added Jake, looking somewhat frustrated. “We can’t do this. We’re not ready. Ambrose said so.”

I sighed. “Just because Ambrose said something doesn’t mean it’s true.”

There was a short silence. Suddenly, an icy breeze blew over the Commons and I saw each wizard hesitate for just a moment. “What’s up with that?” I said.

Then the Commons erupted into terrified conversation.

“It’s like before!” I heard someone gabble anxiously.
“Get out of here quick!” someone else added. Almost everyone was looking around frantically, as though they expected Malistaire to appear at any—


 “Was this what it was like the last time Malistaire appeared?” I asked the twins, who were looking as confused as I felt.
“I don’t know,” shrugged Liam. “We weren’t here.”
“Neither were we,” I said, referring to Matt and I. “Strange how everyone seems to know, though, isn’t it?”

Neither Jake nor Liam answered, because by the time I had finished my sentence they had both teleported away. “Charming,” Matt muttered under his breath. Meanwhile, the rest of the Commons were busy shrieking in fear, or what I assumed was fear, seeing as I had no idea what had happened to make people this agitated.

I turned to Matt. “What was with that?”
He shrugged. “Probably some sort of twin prank on us. Or they were both whisper chatted by someone who said they needed help.” He seemed to think about what he had said. “Ah.”
“Ambrose whisper chatted?” I said. “He can’t whisper chat to students, can he?”

A death pupil nearby – she couldn’t be older than eight, and was dressed in black and red starter robes – stared at me in confusion. “What?” I snapped.
“Of course he can! Don’t you remember when he called us back to Ravenwood yesterday?” the necromancer asked me.
“Everyone got a whisper chat saying to come back from whatever quest they were working on!”
“They did?”
“Geez, were you born yesterday or something?” She ported away in a flash of white.

Matt was staring at where she’d been in disbelief. “That’s why mom was so confused about why I wasn’t already home! She must have got the whisper as well!”
“So why didn’t we get it? And obviously Jake and Liam didn’t get it either…” I frowned. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Yeah, and what else doesn’t make any sense is why everyone’s quit worrying.”

I looked around. Everyone in the Commons was happily going about their business as they were about ten minutes ago, as though nothing had happened at all.

“Weird,” I said. I was, sure as stormzillas are storm, baffled out of my brain.

I sat on my bed in my dorm, still mulling over the events of the day. Most likely classes would be cancelled tomorrow as well. Maybe Matt and I could go work on some quests in Krokotopia. We could start on the Throne Room of Fire. Everything would be back to normal. We might even be able to check out the Krokosphinx – get a couple of spells from Niles. Or, if we didn’t get there, we could ask Autumn to—



What with all the strange events that had happened today I had completely forgotten about what we’d been arguing over in the first place – which happened to be the most important thing to me right now – finding Autumn. And in the end we hadn’t even got Jake and Liam to agree to it! I groaned loudly. Did that mean there was no hope? That we’d never find her? I dismissed the thought immediately. We had to save Autumn. Whatever it took.

I leapt up, full of energy.

Then I sat back down again. How? I was too impatient to sit around waiting for an idea to hit me from out of the blue…

“What are we gonna do about Autumn?”
“I’d completely forgotten as well.”
“You got any ideas?”
There was a little pause. “This is going nowhere,” I added.
“We could go get her ourselves,” Matt suggested tentatively.
“Don’t be stupid.”
“I’m serious. How else?”
“Get someone else to do it.”
“Get someone else to do it? Isn’t that the easy way out? Can’t you be bothered to try?” Matt paused. “She’s you’re friend, after all. You’re the one who wants to rescue her.”
I sighed. “Look, this is stupid. We’re way too low leveled to even try.”
“We did tell Jake and Liam to go.”
“They’re in the prophecy.”
“They had a point though. They’re still the same level as us. We’re further ahead than them with quests, as well.”
“Yeah… but...” I struggled to think of a way out of this. When I really thought about it, there was a pretty insistent voice at the back of my head.
Why not? Who better to do it than you?
“Well? You up for it?”

It was all very well saying that we were going to head to Mailstaire’s hidden fortress in Dragonspyre and rescue Autumn and come out unscathed. Actually putting this plan in motion was going to take a lot of planning. For a start, how we were going to get into Dragonspyre. Easy enough. Only, there were two things stopping us.

Firstly, in light of the recent events, all students had been banned from visiting Dragonspyre, as this was the place where they were most likely to be at threat. I knew for a fact, though, that the Spiral doors couldn’t stop anyone going to a world so long as they had the key to get there.

Which lead to our second problem. We didn’t have the key.

I was just about to whisper chat to Matt when his voice spoke in my head.

“Let’s go. Port to me.” I frowned.
“Whoa,” I said, confused. “Now?”
“You’re kidding. How?”
“Through the Spiral door in Ravenwood?”
“Yes, but for a start, we don’t have the key.”
“We do. Just port already.”

I reluctantly teleported to Matt, who was, as I suspected, inside Bartleby.”You have the key?” I asked.
“Yep. Come on.” Matt started towards the Spiral Door.
“Wait. The Spiral Key? To Dragonspyre?”
“The?” Matt frowned. “There are hundreds of the things. Everyone who’s ever been to Dragonspyre has one.”
“Yeah, except we’ve never been to Dragonspyre. So we don’t have one.”
Matt sighed. “Yeah we do,” he said, exasperated. “How many times do I have to tell you?” He pulled out a large key from his robes.
My mouth metaphorically fell open. “How did you… Where did you…?”
“I’ll explain on the way. Now come on!”

Unsurprisingly, Matt had slipped the key from a master pyromancer who had gone to see Dalia Falmea on a level 42 spell quest. “I guess it doesn’t suck that much having a professor for a mom,” he’d grinned.

He was smart when it came to swiping things – I’d give him that – but I wasn’t sure whether that was a good trait or bad. Then again, it would probably come in useful again someday.

We’d arrived in Dragonspyre by that point, and were facing a little challenge. Knowing where to go next. We were in a reddish brown area, with strange arches that led seemingly nowhere. And, other than for Prospector Zeke and Eloise Merrywether, it was completely empty.

“Heckhounds,” I said, miserably. “This is gonna be harder than I thought.” Matt nodded thoughtfully. He was staring at the massive world which seemed to be exploding as we looked at it with narrowed eyes.
“We need to get there,” he said.
“Nah,” I snapped sarcastically, rolling my eyes.
“And we can’t get there the normal way.”
I sighed. “You know, you could be a grandmaster in stating the obvious.”
Matt suddenly looked up, brightening instantly. Obviously he’d thought of something.

He sprinted over to Prospector Zeke and began gabbling away to him nervously. Zeke was frowning when I’d followed Matt over to him.

“You sure? They ain’t too good for speed, y’know. I’d recommend a permanent, maybe even a seven day… ‘Lot better for getting around.  ‘Lot more comfortable, ‘s’well.”
“No, no, I’m sure. One day enchanted broom, please.” Matt nodded, looking impatient.
“Awright, then… You sure you don’t want a nice stallion? More comfortable. Be’er lookin’, too.”
“The broom.”
“That’ll be 1429 gold, then.”
Matt rummaged through his pockets frantically. “Er…” He took out his gold bag, throwing me a helpless glance. I sighed.
“Here,” I said, adding 500 gold to Matt’s pile. He gave me a grateful look. Zeke looked over the gold critically, and then handed over a dusty looking broom.
“Thanks,” muttered Matt, starting to head away from Zeke.
“Eh, you kids tell yer friends to come visit ol’ Zeke here in Dragonspyre. It’s sure been quiet today. Some sorta gatherin’ you’re having, eh?”
“Something like that,” I invented before following Matt.

“So, you bought a mount for…” I shook my head. “You just bought a broom. Why?”
“To get over there.” Matt gestured towards the main part of the planet.
“How?!” I argued in vain. He was already sprinting back towards the world gate. “Hey!” I ran after him.

“Get on, then.” I gave him my best ‘you-have-got-to-be-kidding’ look. He grinned. “Come on. You’re a diviner. You’re meant to be the impulsive one.”
“Yeah, and you’re meant to be the intelligent one.” I rolled my eyes, then gave him another ‘you’re-kidding’ look. “You want me to get on the same mount as you, and then…” What did he want to do then, anyway?

My question was soon answered.

“To get over there.”

I figured my look was getting a bit overused at that point, so I awkwardly positioned myself on the broom behind my absolutely crazy pyromancer friend, who may or may not have been about to kill me, before I could talk myself out of it.

“One thing before we go,” I said hesitantly. “What happens if we fall off?” I looked somewhat anxiously at the seemingly endless blackness that stretched below.
“I don’t know,” Matt admitted. “But we’re not going to find out.”

And then we took off.

Just being on a mount was the biggest rush I’d had since… Well, ever. Just a little more speed makes a huge difference.

But when you’re zooming through what I assumed was space (and yet I found that we were able to breathe, so I wasn’t quite sure), miles (or at least, what I assumed was miles) away from the nearest object other than the thin wooden stick that’s supporting the weight of two people… Well… It’s the best thing ever. Which wasn’t what I expected, but heckhounds, I wasn’t complaining.

Matt managed to steer the broom towards an open area that seemed to be creature-free – for now, at least. You never knew with Dragonspyre. Actually, you probably did, if you were a grandmaster and had run through the quests before and were sick and tired of the sight of the place… Things that we, of course, were not. We happened to be complete novices when it came to Dragonspyre exploration. We hadn’t even finished the Pyramid of the Sun!

I sighed. Why were we here?

I forced myself to think of Autumn, stuck somewhere dark and miserable that usually cropped up in a typical theurgist’s nasty nightmare. We were just lucky we weren’t trapped. Yet.

“So,” I said conversationally, despite being in the situation I was in. “Where next?”
“My thoughts exactly,” replied Matt, frowning. “It’s a big place.”
“Too right. Hope Marleybone won’t be as big as this when we get there.”
“No. Actually, I’d say Marleybone is rather small compared to this.” I turned to Matt, ready to ask him how he knew, when I realized that his voice was nowhere near as deep or ominous as that. Matt was staring at me, in shock. Nothing had registered with either of us yet.

“But I think that’s the least of your worries now.” Both our heads snapped around to the speaker simultaneously.

Who else could it possibly be? It just couldn’t be someone who would actually help us out for once, could it?

Malistaire had teleported – somehow bringing us along with him – to a long labyrinth of hallways stretching for miles, probably underground. We’d been dragged along countless miserable dark corridors by a wraith, which was a heckhound of a lot scarier than you’d think, because it was at least ten meters tall with a really bad attitude.

“Geez,” Matt mumbled uncomfortably. “You’d think he’d get an interior decorator in here. It’s too depressing.”
I giggled in spite of myself.
“Silence, novices!”

I resisted the urge to snap back, because, let’s face it – that would probably end up with me either dead or turned into some sort of gross monster that was hanging around here… That said, staying here, in this gloomy nightmare, would probably kill me in itself.

And then, there we were, behind bars. I would have thought that with all that magic, Malistaire could have come up with something a little more original than the iron cage things similar to those back on earth. I hated the place.

On the bright side, at least Matt and I were in the same cell. I don’t know what would have happened to me if we’d been separated. I’d probably lose track of all reality.

“So much for our plan, then,” he’d said, miserably, after the wraith had disappeared.
“Oh well. At least it saved us the strain of finding it ourselves.” I was trying to see the bright side.
“It’s all my fault. I said we should do this.” Matt was staring at the floor angrily.
“I agreed to it.”
“It wasn’t your idea.”
“Whatever. We’re closer to finding Autumn now than we ever could have been, alone and most likely completely lost in a world we barely know!” It struck me as odd that we hadn’t even had the chance to acknowledge that we were lost when we were there. Malistaire obviously had every corner of the world covered.

So where were the teachers looking for him? They couldn’t be here, otherwise they would be… Well, here – in a cell, with us. So that would have to mean they thought Malistaire was somewhere else…

“You’re saying that you still think we have a chance?” Matt’s voice cut into my thoughts.
“Yes. Of course we do.”
He looked up, grinning. “Then we’ll get out of here.”

We didn’t say much else to each other. I didn’t know what was going on. Would we be fed? Would Malistaire kill us? Where was Autumn? Would we be able to find her? How? Was she even here?

All the questions circled in my head seemingly endlessly. Matt had sparked a small flame in his hand and was staring at it intently. All I remember is watching the flickering light until I finally, peacefully, drifted to sleep, too exhausted to puzzle over our situation any longer.

Jacob Ravencloud was worried.

He hadn’t seen Alex – or Matt, for that reason – all day. Liam knew how worried he was, and probably felt the same way. But every whisper chat and teleport had been futile. Normally it was the other two who were trying to contact them all the time, and to be fair, that was understandable. These days Jake and Liam never got a chance to quest or just hang out. It was all intensive training from Ambrose about how to fight, how to act, how to not fizzle.

And now, on the first day they’d had completely off in ages, Matt and Alex were refusing to talk to them.

It wasn’t fair.

Jake sat down on his bed. With his nutty family – there was a reason he didn’t let anyone visit his family’s castle – this was the one room in the house where he could get a bit of peace without being irritated by his older siblings. Well, it was Liam’s room as well, but being a theurgist, he preferred being outside.

His family was a bit mismatched. There was a sorcerer, a conjurer, a thaumaturge, a pyromancer, two theurgists and himself, of course. Well, he did have four older siblings, if you counted Liam, who was born before him. What could he expect? Of course his family was going to be a mixed bunch.

He did miss having diviners around, though. His brothers and sisters were constantly fighting, and, yeah, at first it was nice being able to make a blood bat fight with a fire cat and see who would win, but after a while it was just plain boring to always be seeing spells cast left, right, and center. It was nice to just see storm creatures once in a while.

He wished Alex would respond. He hoped that she wasn’t annoyed because he was reluctant to travel to Dragonspyre when she and Matt had suggested it the day before. Maybe they were both ignoring him because of that.

It didn’t seem like them to be so petty, somehow.

Why wouldn’t they reply, then? Had something happened to them? Jake shook his head. No. He would have been told by now, surely. Nothing that bad could have happened, so they couldn’t respond. How would it have happened anyway? After what had happened to Alex’s friend, security in Wizard City was tighter than ever, and no one was allowed any further than Mooshu to quest.

Going any further would just be beyond common sense, wouldn’t it? It’s unthinkable, unless you were crazy. Malistaire crazy. Which would mean crazy because someone close to you was gone and you wanted to save it. Like if you cared strongly enough to need to go to find something, regardless of the consequences.

Something? Someone.

“Port, twin,” Jake whisper chatted to the only person who could help him solve this right now.

There was a swirl of green leaves as Liam teleported next to where Jake was sitting and looking increasingly anxious.

“If this is about Alex and Matt, I haven’t heard a—”
“It is. But it’s not that.” Jake took a deep breath. “Do you think they might have gone to try to rescue Autumn?”
“Those two?” Liam frowned. “They were asking us to go yesterday. They wouldn’t have gone them…” He tailed off, thinking. “Heckhounds. Those two? Yes. Knowing them, they probably have.”
“What do we do now?” Jake asked desperately.
“We should tell Ambrose. He’ll know what to do.”
“Ok. How?”

There was a long silence.

“Whatever. Let’s just nick Jessie’s key and go.”

Liam Dawnbreeze raced down the stairs.

“Heckhounds,” mumbled Jacob Ravencloud, as he followed his twin.

Part 6

Have you ever been in a situation where time feels like it’s dragging itself out particularly slowly just to torture you?

Multiply that feeling by about a hundred thousand.

Then you’ll understand how I felt stuck in Malistaire’s dungeon, or cage, or prison, or whatever it was –we still hadn’t worked it out, because we still hadn’t gotten our bearings.

I’d woken up at a time I assumed was the next morning, but naturally, Malistaire had conveniently refrained from giving us a clock, so we really didn’t know. I also noticed he hadn’t supplied us with a light source and, more importantly, food or water, which, quite frankly, sucked.

Suddenly a small flame leapt into life, startling me for a moment before I saw that it was just Matt, who was, quite literally, playing with fire. I supposed that was just something that happened when you were a pyromancer, just like Jacob Ravencloud, my friend and fellow diviner and I could make the air crackle with static electricity, and Liam Dawnbreeze, Jake’s twin, and a theurgist, could make almost anything grow, no matter how sick or wilted it was. They, however, weren’t trapped in Malistaire’s seriously-in-need-of-redecoration cave with us.

Well, I thought, slightly irritated, it’s all right for some people!

I sighed aloud and Matt turned around.
“Okay,” he started, cheerfully. “Let’s work on a plan to get out of here.”
“Great!” I mimicked his annoyingly positive attitude. “Any ideas?”
“Well, erm… Seeing as we don’t know our way around this place, or how to get out, we need to find someone who does.”
“Of course! What a brilliant idea! Hey, Mr Dragon dude who probably works for Malistaire – could you show us out?!”
Matt looked a bit put out. “We could put them under some sort of spell?”
“You can do mind control spells now?”
Matt sighed. “Maybe not, then.”
“What we need is someone we can trust.”
“Like Autumn?”
“Who else? She’s our only chance to get out of here. It’s not like we know anyone else who can help us in this situation. We have to find her. I mean, she has to be somewhere around here.” I hesitated. “Unless she’s…” I didn’t want to even think of that possibility, let alone voice it.

“OI!” a voice grumbled from outside of our prison. We both jumped and turned to face a skeletal warrior who seemed pretty miserable. “You two. Small yous. Yes. You.” He seemed to want to make it clear that it was us he was talking to.
“Okay,” I said, rolling my eyes. “We get it. Us. Carry on.”
“You want food? Here. Take food. Nourish you.” He threw a parcel on the icy stone floor and left quickly.

“Great grammar,” I mumbled as he walked away.

“Where the heckhound are we?” Liam complained to his twin.
Jake studied the map. “I know,” he said, hesitantly. “Um. I think I do, anyway. See that little corner, there?”
He sighed and pointed to the map. “That one. That leads to—“
What corner?” Liam cried, exasperated.
Jake rolled his eyes. “Just forget it, and follow me.”
“How do I know we’re going the right way?”
“Well, obviously, I’m smarter than you.”
“You can’t read the map.”
“If I can read the map, and you can’t…”
Liam scowled. “Map-reading is pointless. We should just use our Quest Trackers.”
“Oh, nice one. Remind me what quest we’re on?”
“Saving Matt and Alex.”
“Right, let me see… What was the title again? Impulsive rescue mission?”
Liam groaned. “Fine,” he said, miserably. “Lead the way. But don’t blame me if we get lost.”


Other than the visit from the somewhat pathetically ineloquent skeletal warrior, our time passed uneventfully. The bleak hours – or what felt like hours – stretched by punctuated by half-hearted plans to break out.

“We could burn down the bars,” suggested Matt hopefully.
“You can try,” I grumbled, moving as far away from the bars as possible. Matt gave the door to our cell a long hard look and the lock burst into flames. I could feel the heat from the back of the cell, and any normal padlock would have melted in seconds. When the relentless flames did die, though, the lock remained unscathed. Even Matt’s fire didn’t work, and everyone knew that he was undoubtedly the best pyromancer in the adept class by miles. And probably better than most of the students in the magus class as well.

Jake and Liam were also strangely good at lessons. Maybe it ran in the family? Their parents were wizards, and Matt’s mother was the fire school professor. I had to admit I was a bit jealous that they were so stupidly good at everything. I loved them and everything, but I did wish they weren’t all quite so clever. I sometimes felt a bit second-rate.

Matt sighed and retreated back into the corner, where I was still sweating.
“Well, at least we don’t have to worry about being cold,” I said, a little grudgingly. Naturally, Matt didn’t look concerned by the heat at all.
“Oh, I’m sorry. You diviners are all terrified of fire, aren’t you?”
 “That’s not true! We just don’t like hot weather. We like rain. And storms.” I pushed him over and heard a little crack of electricity.
“Ouch,” he said, pretending to be hurt. “That was mean.” He pulled a face, and then made a little ball of fire appear. I retaliated with a splash of water. Soon we were having a full scale fight throwing fire and water at each other and hearing the hiss of steam when they collided.

I finally got the better of him with a mini-torrent of water, leaving him dripping. I wasn’t much better. In fact, most of the room was covered in water. The room? The cell. I’d forgotten.

“I think we need to dry off,” said Matt, happily. He closed his eyes and concentrated for a few seconds. In an instant he was bone dry.
“How did you do that?” I marveled. One of the better things about having super-talented friends, though, was discovering all the cool things they could do.
“Pyromancer skills,” he said, tapping his nose. I’d noticed the water on the floor around him was drying up as well.
“You’re amazing,” I said, “for someone who’s such a jerk.”
“Well, if that’s how you feel, you can stay soaking,” he grinned.

Suddenly I heard a familiar voice in my head.

“Oi, Alex! Over here!”

Liam sighed. “How much further do we have to go?”
“Stop whining.” Jake frowned at the map, and turned it around. “This way,” he said.
“There’s so much walking. Can’t we just teleport to them?”
“You’re kidding, right? You can’t just teleport into Malistaire’s secret dungeon! It’s near impossible to get there by foot!”
“Then why are we doing this? We should have told Ambrose.”
“I’m beginning to wish you hadn’t come.”
“Yeah, well, me too. This isn’t exactly a picnic.”
“Go back to Wizard City, then!”
Liam was silent. “But—”

Get out. Get out now.

“Did you hear that?” Jake whispered.
“The whisper chat?”
“The one which told us to go back to Wizard City.”
“No, the one that told us to go eat some ice-cream.” Jake rolled his eyes. “What do you think?”
“Alright, calm down. Well?”
“Well what?”
“What should we do?”

Jake sighed. He closed his eyes. Who are you?
I can’t tell you. But honestly, both of you need to get back to Wizard City. You can’t stay there. It isn’t safe. You aren’t safe.
That’s not an issue. We’re not here to be ‘safe’.
Wizard City needs your help!
Prove it.
What do you want me to say? I’m here, and you need to come.
Then tell us who you are!
I can’t. You need to come back.
 Jake opened his eyes to find a concerned Liam staring at him.

“Dude, did you just, like fall asleep?”
“You’ve lived in Wizard City all your life and you still don’t know how people whisper chat?”
“Not all people whisper chat like psychos.”
Jake thought for a second. “That wasn’t a normal whisper chat.”
“No duh.”
“We have to keep going.”
“Go on then. Where next, little bro?”
“We’re twins. I’m not your ‘little bro’.”
“Say what you like. I was born before you.”
Jake sighed again. “Follow me.”

They headed around the corner, Jake looking concerned and Liam tired.
“This is so boring,” he complained.
“You said to come here,” Jake reasoned.
“So? I didn’t realize it would be this long.”
“You’re saying that if you knew how big Dragonspyre was you wouldn’t have come.”
“Well, yeah you are.”
“Stop twisting my words! I didn’t say that!”
“You implied it,” Jake stressed.
“Ugh. Fine. I’m going back.”

Liam turned around quickly and began to walk away before Jake could change his mind about letting him wander off. He turned a corner, and came face to face with a draconian.

“Surprissssse,” it hissed.

Liam took a step back.

“Thought you wanted to go home. It’s thissss way.” The draconian flicked its tail to point behind it and slightly to the right.

Liam changed his mind.

“JAKE!” he yelled.
“What? Thought you were going home.”
“There’s a draconian here!”
“Seriously, Liam? You’ve told me that one over and over again. When will you stop pulling that trick?”
“No, really!”
“Jake, you know I wouldn’t say it if there wasn’t. I first thought up that trick six years ago.”

The draconian hissed again and stepped forward. Liam turned on his heel and sprinted back to Jake, who turned around as Liam slammed into him.

“Changed your mind now, have you?”
“No. It’s just that there’s sort of this draconian chasing us.”

The draconian hissed.

Jake’s eyes widened. Liam glared at him. “Told you I wasn’t joking!”
“Ok,” said Jake. “So…”
“There’s another one!” yelled Liam.
“Come on, Liam! This is—“
“Yes! It is serious!”
Another draconian was ducking behind the first, but unlike the latter, it wasn’t sneering or snarling.

Suddenly, it pounced – but not on the twins. It attacked the other draconian.

“Go!” it screeched, frantically. Shocked as they were, Jake and Liam didn’t hesitate to obey.

I stood up quickly. Matt looked a bit puzzled. “Autumn?” I said, hesitantly.
“Well, it took you a while!” Autumn was sitting in the cell opposite us.
“What are you…?” I stuttered, confused, as glad as I was to see her. “How did you…? Why didn’t you…?”
“Save the babble already. We have talking to do.”
Matt was still looking slightly confused. “Autumn?” he asked. “Since when were you there? We didn’t know you were just over there…”

“Well, I didn’t know it was you two until you started throwing fireballs and stuff. Then it was kind of obvious. No one else would be so idiotic. But let’s start with the basics. Why are you here?”
“We came here to save you,” I said, feeling slightly uncomfortable. This wasn’t how I’d imagined this would pan out.
“You two? But… you’re only level… what, fifteen?”
“Eighteen, actually.”
“You’re hardly ready for this. Do you have no common sense?” She looked almost annoyed.
“Um, no?”
“Well, that’s reassuring,” she said sarcastically. “Any plans on getting out?”
“Not yet. You?”
“Well, if I did, I wouldn’t still be stuck in here, would I?”
“Okay, okay. We have been trying to come up with something.”

Autumn raised an eyebrow.

“We’ve only been here for a day, or something. Give us a chance. Why didn’t you say something earlier?”
“I only just noticed. I just thought Malistaire had taken some novices or something. I tried to call you out loud, and I guess you didn’t hear. Did you find anything in there?”
“Nah,” Matt said. “It’s empty.”
“Oh. I was just saying because I did find something, at least. A scrap of paper. Might mean something.”
Matt and I looked at each other before turning to Autumn simultaneously. “The prophecy!” we cried, at the same time.

“I can’t make out the first line,” she said, regretfully, “but it says something like… Two are young girls… I can’t see the rest. It’s too dark.”
Matt made a spark, and the corridor lit up.
“Hm. Nice. You’re Falmea’s son, aren’t you? That would explain a lot—”
“What. Does. It. Say.”
“It’s a bit of a rubbish poem… I’ll read the next bits.

“But all will face darkness; no doubt there's a lot
It shall be a long road but they must persevere
For their destinies lie somewhere shrouded in fear.

“Alas, Spiral saviors, your fates are tied
You cannot succeed until one has died.

“Not very positive, is it? All that stuff about fear and dying.”
“Autumn, that prophecy’s about Jake and Liam.”
“They’re not two young girls.”
“Forget it. Pass it to us.”
“That would be a great plan if you weren’t across the corridor from me.”

I sighed. “Well, when we get out, then.”
“Great. You guys can—”

“Great,” I muttered.
“Bonehead’s back,” mumbled Matt, miserably.
“RE. MOVING. YOU.” The skeletal warrior pointed to Autumn. “YOU GO TO WITH YOUS.” He pointed at Matt and I. He slammed Autumn’s cage door open and dragged her over to ours, opening our door with a massive key and shoving her in with us. Autumn winced as he relocked the door.

The warrior started to clunk down the hallway again, but not before Matt had sent a small flame shooting straight at the hand he was holding the keys in.

“GRAH.” The stupid thing shook his hand briefly and carried on walking. The keys were lying on the floor, just outside Autumn’s old cell.

“Heckhounds,” said Matt. “Bit late.”
“You were brilliant! We practically have it now!”
“Yeah, but… we don’t,” he frowned.
“We’ll find a way, don’t worry.”
 Matt smiled at me appreciatively. “Thanks.”

“YOUS! QUIET!” The skeletal warrior came back, dragging a limp form of a draconian behind him. It crooned painfully.
“QUIET, TR—TR—TA—BAD DRAGONIN.” He tossed the poor thing in a cell, where it began to whimper mournfully, and lumbered off, almost stepping on the keys he’d dropped not a minute before. It surprised me that he didn’t even think to lock the cell again. I suppose there must be a few issues when you don’t have a brain, though.

The draconian lifted its head sadly. Despite being a dangerous animal and probably an evil minion of one of the most powerful and terrifying wizards of all time, I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for it. I opened my mouth to speak but suddenly, to all of our surprise, it interrupted.

“Yes. I am a traitor.” Her – she was definitely female – voice was croaky and weak.
Matt, Autumn, and I exchanged confused glances.
“I posed as Malistaire’s minion. I’m a spy.”
We continued glancing at each other before Matt decided to speak up. “Who for?”
“I couldn’t say, hatchlings.”
 Hatchlings? “Ambrose?” suggested Autumn.
“No, no, hatchlings. A world a little further away than Wizard City, but I help your kind.”
“Like who?”
“Some wizards just down… I doubt you know Dragonspyre, but my brethren were about to attack them, and worse… take them here.”
Matt and I looked at each other. “How many were there?” I asked eagerly.
“Two. No more than hatchlings, like yourselves.”
“What did they look like?” I pressed.
“I didn’t have a chance to look at them more than briefly. I’m sorry, hatchlings.” She lay her head down on her front claws

“It has to be Jake and Liam,” Matt whisper chatted to me. “They’re the only people who know we wanted to save Autumn.”
“They might have told someone,” I replied, uncertainly.
“She said they were hatchlings. Plus, they wouldn’t have done that.”
“I hope they’re okay.”
“They’ll be fine.”

Autumn’s voice came into my head at the same time. “You know who she means?”
“We think it might be Jake and Liam,” I replied hastily. “You know. The twins.” I could almost see Autumn groaning. I sighed.

“How come you can whisper chat in here anyway?” I demanded, out loud.
“I dunno. I didn’t try it until I whisper chatted to you.”
“Maybe we can whisper chat to Liam and Jake. Tell them where we are.”
Matt nodded and I saw him concentrate. A few seconds later, he focused on me again. “Nothing.”
I made a sympathetic face. “Maybe not. Sorry.”
“It’s okay.” Matt smiled at me. “Like you said, we practically have a way out now!” I grinned back.

I can’t remember how long it was after that that Matt fell asleep. Autumn, however, was still very much awake and couldn’t stop talking, making sleep a bit of a non-option for me.

“I’ve been sooo bored in here. Honestly Alex, I’m really glad that someone came that I can talk to. I swear, if it had been one more day, I would have gone crazy. I mean, I can’t even describe how boring it was, what with all those boneheads. Only having them for company – do you see what I mean? I mean, it’s alright for some, isn’t it. You two are really lucky; at least you had each other when you came here. You can keep each other company, whereas I’ve been on my own for days, with no one to talk to at all. It’s totally depressing, but—”
“—you guys are—”
“Autumn! Can you please shut up? One, you were kidnapped so of course you wouldn’t have any company; two, you talk way too much and three: I’m tired. I want to sleep.”
“Okay. Okay. Calm down.”
“Can you just be quiet for once?”
“You really wind me up.”
“It’s funny when I wind you up.”

Matt stirred in his sleep.

 “Right. Well, I’m tired, so ‘night,’” yawned Autumn.

I curled up in a corner and tried to fall asleep.


Liam yawned. “I’m tired. Can we just teleport?”
“How many times do I have to tell you that that won’t work?” Jake asked. “Look, there it is. We don’t have that far to go.”
Liam stared at him.
“Race ya.”

The twins began to sprint towards what appeared to be the entrance. Jake began to get slightly ahead.

He tripped and disappeared.

Liam skidded to a halt. “Jake?” he yelled, looking around in confusion.
“Down here,” echoed his twin’s voice from what seemed to be below the ground. Liam turned his gaze to the floor and saw the hole which Jake had fallen into. He saw a rope ladder hanging from the side and began to descend. When he’d reached the bottom he saw Jake sitting uncomfortably on the floor.

“You okay?” asked Liam.
“I think…” Jake screwed up his face. “I think I hurt my ankle.”
Liam crouched down and got out his wand, murmuring something under his breath. A magnificent unicorn erupted from the leaves that were swirling around his wand. It touched its horn to Jake’s foot and Jake’s face lightened. Liam nodded at the unicorn gratefully and it disappeared as suddenly as it had come.

“Better?” grinned Liam.
“Better,” Jake smiled. “Now, let’s go.”


I woke up in a matter of hours, which would matter if we had any concept of time, but we didn’t, so our mental clocks were completely messed up. The first thing I noticed was that the other two were still sleeping. Secondly, I noticed that the key was still lying on the floor of the corridor. I rolled up the filthy – though I’d only just noticed it – sleeve of my robe, stretched my arm through the bars of our cell, and reached as far as I could, but I still couldn’t quite touch it.

“It’s a pain, isn’t it?” said Matt quietly, startling me. I turned around and he grinned. I couldn’t help but smile back.
“I didn’t know you were awake,” I replied, similarly quiet. I went over to join him in the corner.
“Well, I am. Unlike sleepy over there.” He nodded towards Autumn, who was still sleeping, and smiled. There was an awkward silence. “Um, last night…”
“It might not have been night. You can never tell when it’s always dark.”
Matt grinned. “True. But, erm, what Autumn… Erm.” He seemed to rethink it. “Do you have any ideas about getting out?”
I shook my head. “Not a clue. If only we had our wands. Then we could summon a Firecat or something to go fetch it.”
“Wouldn’t the fire cat burn the key?”
“If this metal’s resistant to your fire, the thing wouldn’t have a chance.”
“You never know. Can’t be too careful, can you?”

There was a pause.

“What’s gonna happen to us if we don’t get out?”
Matt didn’t say anything.
“What if Malistaire decides he doesn’t need us anymore?”
“If that was the case, he would have gotten rid of us by now.”
I didn’t say anything.

Autumn, on the other side, sat up sleepily.

“We need to get out of here,” she mumbled, yawning.
“We were just discussing that, actually,” Matt explained.
“Good. So—”  Another voice cut in, making me jump.

“Oh, get up, you idiot. We don’t have time for this. We need to find them!”

“Who the heckhound is that?” I asked nervously.
“I dunno,” said Matt, “but they don’t sound too evil.”
“Huh,” mumbled Autumn.

Two familiarly identical shapes emerged from the darkness.

“JAKE! LIAM!” I yelled before I could stop myself.
There was a silence.


“Okay,” said Matt softly. “I’d say we have about ninety seconds before they get here to see what’s wrong.”
“Sorry,” I added. “We need to get out of here. Grab that key.”

A bemused Jake took the key and unlocked our cell, and we scrambled out.
“Which way now?” asked Liam.
“You tell me!” said Autumn, indignantly. “And we need our wands – and our decks!”
“I hate to break it to you, but those things can wait,” said Jake quickly. “You guys need to get out of here.”
“Wait!” I broke in, suddenly. I grabbed the scrap of paper on the floor and held it out to Jake. “We think this is the second part of the prophecy!”
He barely even glanced at it before pocketing it. “Ambrose did say that…”
“What’s the whole deal with this prophecy, anyway?” Autumn interrupted.
“We’ll explain later,” I excused.
“We don’t have time for this stuff, anyway. This way!” Liam darted off into a tunnel, followed by Jake, then Matt, then a still puzzled Autumn. I followed them as fast as I could.

We’d barely got three turns into the corridor when I heard a frustrated cry of anger from behind us.


All of us seemed to use that as an incentive to speed up. Jake sprinted ahead.

“Call yourselves guards!”

He dashed around a corner and we followed unquestioningly. How the heckhound did he know where to go? I jumped over a rock on the floor.

“You LET them escape?”

WHAM. Autumn had tripped. I skidded to a halt and grabbed her, pulling her up and dragging her forwards.

“How? How did they ‘trick’ you?”

Autumn quickly regained her footing and ran after me, limping slightly. Matt turned around to see what had happened and I shoved him forward.

“Well what are you waiting for? Go after them!”

I pressed forward.

“Which way? Which way do you think they went, you brainless idiots? To the exit corridor!”

There was an unsteady thudding of footsteps following us. We turned another sharp corner and there was a rope ladder in front of us. Jake clambered up it quickly, followed by Liam. Matt followed them and I climbed up after him, followed by Autumn.


Autumn and I finally scrambled onto the dry scrubland above the tunnel. “What do we do now?” asked Autumn.

“TELEPORT!” yelled Liam at the top of his voice.

In a mix of red, purple, and green, we disappeared.


“I cannot stress how disappointed I am in all of you.” Ambrose addressed us – as in, me, Matt, Jake, and Liam – the only people who were bothered enough to try and help Autumn.

Liam looked bored. Jake was trembling. Matt rolled his eyes at me.

“You have broken several rules. Stealing.” Ambrose looked at Matt. “Going to a world you haven’t reached yet.” He looked at me. “And going to Dragonspyre after you were specifically instructed not to.” He looked at Liam. Gamma hooted haughtily.

“It was for a good cause,” I pleaded.
“You should have left this to the staff. You were not ready for a quest like this.” Ambrose looked away and shook his head. Gamma hooted sympathetically. “That said, you managed to get back safely.”

Jake looked a little more relieved.

“And… I have decided that I will not punish you, for now. Besides, what you did was brave, if reckless.”

I grinned, and was about to run out of the office excitedly when Ambrose spoke again.

“But if I hear one more thing about you…” he shook his head. Gamma hooted disapprovingly. Gamma’s hooting was starting to get annoying.

Well, we hopefully wouldn’t be in a situation like that again. I made up my mind about it there and then. From then on, I was going to obey the rules.

“That means no stealing, no disobeying your teachers, no disrespect, no running off and NO fighting. Understood?”

We all nodded.

Ambrose hesitated before Gamma cut in. “Yo-oo-oo-ou are dismissed.”

I was trying to do my Life homework in my dorm room, but I was a bit distracted. I stared blankly at my textbook. I needed to revise the theory of healing spells for a test tomorrow.

The magic of the song is based on a form of energy, called Spiritus Incrementa – literally meaning “the growth of spirit” in Latin.

“Think we got off lightly there,” Liam had commented as we walked out of the door.
“Must be because we have Jakey-boy with us!” Matt had tried to joke. “They wouldn’t want to sacrifice such a talented student!”
“Shut up,” mumbled Jake, looking embarrassed. I didn’t really know what to say.

Also simply known as life force, it is so named because it allows the particles that create living things to work in harmony to provide the key processes of life – namely, growth and spirit.

“I guess you do have a point,” Liam had said. “After all, I’m one of the most talented theurgists I know!”
“How arrogant can you get?” I asked, laughing.
“Big head,” said Matt. “We can’t all get plants to start tripping up moody conjurers!” he added, referencing the time when Liam had set a tree’s roots the task of tripping up the truly arrogant Reed Mythstrider, who had a superiority complex.

It is present in all living creatures’ souls, and is the reason behind life itself. At its creation, a living thing has a set amount of life force, and it is depleted through illness, physical harm, and magical harm. It can also fade as a creature loses the will to live.

“You should be careful around him, you know,” warned Jake, cautiously. “He’s a lot more trouble than he looks, honestly.”
“Really? How can he be any more trouble than he looks?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
Jake sighed and shook his head. “Oh, just forget it.”

Without Spiritus Incrementa, everything that exists would fall apart and disappear into the Darkness (the empty space below the Spiral which contains everything that has ceased to exist).

I’d wondered what was wrong with him, and was still wondering. The Mythstrider kid was always a touchy topic with him. Who could blame him? After all, he had been beating him up with a troll for as long as I could remember.

The songs that all life spells utilize send this growth energy into the spirit of the living creature it is directed towards. This replenishes depleted force and therefore—


I leapt to my feet and rushed down the corridor into the cold open air of Ravenwood. As soon as I stepped out, I saw… Well, I didn’t see anything, apart from a huge green mass in front of my face. I smelt vomit. And slime.

A humongofrog.

A sneering voice came from behind it. “I don’t think you’ve seen this one yet, have you?”
“No, but I-I-I really don’t think you need to, erm… demonstrate, Reed.”

I was going to kill the Mythstrider kid.

Before I’d even thought about what I was doing, I’d pulled out my wand and begun to wave it. A storm symbol formed and the air crackled with static electricity, and suddenly a wall of water had appeared and was ready to crash down on the frog.

“JAKE!” I yelled. “MOVE!”

Jake’s blonde head bobbed around the huge green mass quickly, and he sprinted towards me, grinning gratefully.


“You are going to pay, noobs!”

I bit my lip to try and stop myself from laughing when I saw him. Reed was dripping, from his blue hair to the toes of his expensive Marleybone boots. On the other hand, he looked absolutely furious, his wand was out, and a bunch of Myth cronies were behind him. They stormed over.

“What in the Spiral,” he spat, hatefully, “do you think you’re doing?!”
“Defending a loser,” snarled Blaze Dragonrunner, a similarly arrogant conjurer, “like him?”

I tried to think of a catty response. “What do you think you’re doing, setting a Humongofrog on him? It could have killed him!”
“Actually, Alex, Humongofrogs can’t kill people. They just vomit all over you until you become nauseous,” Jake corrected. I gave him a look which I intended to mean ‘You’re not helping me here’, but he just smiled pleasantly.

“I think the little nerds need teaching a lesson,” Reed sneered. Before I could even open my mouth to tell him that it was better to be a nerd than a low-life bully, he’d given me and Jake a shove so hard that we ended up sprawled on the floor a few feet away.

I sat up, absolutely fuming, when a black and white ball of anger hurled past me.

“Go away!” it screeched, furiously. “You’re a big butthead and I hate you and leave my sister alone!”

I hadn’t expected that from my little brother. Still a little disorientated, all I really wanted to do was congratulate Nat on his bravery before realizing that there was something stomping behind us. I turned around.

“CYCLOPS!” I yelled.

Jake and I scrambled up as quickly as we could. I grabbed Nat, and ducked behind the stone steps of the boys’ dormitory, pulling Jake along with me. At that precise moment, and rather inconveniently, the door flung open and out came – would you believe it? Matt and Liam.

“What the heckhound--?” Matt asked. They both looked dumbfounded. Then they realized that if they didn’t move they were probably going to be flattened by the hammer of an angry Cyclops. They hopped over the side of the steps and joined us ducking.

“What is going on?” whispered Liam, frantically.
“Jakey-boy here was being beaten up by Myth-face and his pet froggy. Not good combo. Smells like sick,” I replied in a hushed tone.
“Too right,” said Matt. “On three, you guys.”

“One,” he said. I checked my deck quickly. Kraken. Storm Shark. Lightning Bats. Leprechaun. I discarded all my non-attacking cards. They weren’t going to help outside of a dueling circle.
“Two.” I drew my wand and tensed up. Liam, Jake, and Nat were doing the same.

We leapt up, and stood awkwardly for a moment, unsure of what to do. Then Liam waved his wand and summoned a leprechaun. It slid down its rainbow and giggled, then grabbed its pot and smashed it on the floor near the Mythstrider kid’s feet. Matt summoned another, which threw its gold around viciously before starting to climb up Blaze’s robe, kicking and biting on the way. Blaze whipped out his wand and summoned a trio of angry, screeching lightning bats before you could say ‘fail’.

From then on it was a flurry of spells. I didn’t know who had summoned what, and more and more people were joining in the fight and attacking whoever they saw. I don’t even think that anyone ‘took sides’. By the time I’d noticed that passers-by were getting involved it had just become a free-for-all.
I waved my staff. Fizzle. Frustrated, I waved it again, harder, and it flew out of my hand as a sunbird flew past my head, singing my hat. I lunged for the staff which was rolling towards the yellowish feet of a conjurer, but then the Mythstrider kid picked it up and held it out of my reach.

“Not so smart now, are you, diviner?” he sneered contemptuously.
I didn’t bother to try to respond. I gave him a solid shove, making his hair stand on end from the static, and he stumbled, winded. Before he could react properly I snatched my staff and summoned a Kraken. Water flooded the area around us, and a conjurer to my left sent a blood bat at me. I ducked quickly as it aimed for my head, and turned around, only to bump into a somewhat disheveled Autumn.

“Autumn?” I asked, confused.
“Some myth loser attacked me out of nowhere!” she told me, indignant. “So I asked him what he was doing, and he cast a blood bat! So I summoned a treant, and—”
“I get the idea,” I interrupted. Since when had the fight got so big? Suddenly, a minotaur appeared behind Autumn. “Um…” I said, slightly shocked.
She whipped around, and, with a quick wave of her wand, formed a fire symbol. I frowned. Didn’t Autumn second in Myth? To my surprise, she cast a Phoenix, which swooped down over the minotaur. The lumbering beast fell to the floor, defeated.

“Where did you learn that?” I asked, in awe.
Autumn smiled. “Treasure card.”
“Lucky,” I said enviously, before hastily ducking to avoid a meteor which was zoning in on my head. By the time I looked up, Autumn was off dueling a thaumaturge.

“Sorry!” yelled Matt, rushing up behind me. “I was aiming for—”
“Don’t worry,” I butted in. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine – are you okay?”
“Yeah, sure.”
“This has gotten out of hand.”
I glanced around. “Obviously.”
“I think we should go back to our dorms.”
“Yeah. That way, we can’t get blamed for all of this.”
“Let’s go, qui—duck!” We crouched down as a Cyclops nearly tripped over us. Matt grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the dorm rooms.

We made it to the steps. It’s a bit weird to think that if that Cyclops hadn’t come, then everything after that wouldn’t have happened.

“STOP AT ONCE!” cried a dominating voice over the chaos.

Slowly, everyone fell silent.

“The instigators are to come to my office. I know who you are.”

We looked at each other and sighed. Heckhounds.

“I can’t believe this has happened.”

I looked around. There I was, just this morning, swearing I’d never make trouble again. Now look at the mess I was in! I’d made everything go wrong. If only I’d just ignored the stupid Mythstrider kid. I glared at him. He was standing at the end of the line looking nonchalant, as though he’d done nothing wrong. I wanted to hit something.

All of us – me, Matt, Jake, Liam, Reed, and Nat – had been guided in here by a troll, which Cyrus Drake had conjured as the battle collapsed in on itself. As for Reed’s cronies, however… It looked like they’d got out of it pretty easily.

“I want you all to know that nothing – absolutely nothing - in all my time at Ravenwood has ever amounted to an event like this. I am disgusted by this misconduct. And with family involved, as well! I will be informing your parents.” He gave the twins a furious stare.

“All six of you will be punished. Heaven knows, the only thing I can think of at the moment is permanent exclusion, and I doubt that will change. You have all disappointed me hugely. To think that all of you had excelled in your classes throughout your time here! I cannot express my horror at the situation.”

Jake looked like he might pass out. Even Liam and Matt looked a little pale.

“Everyone knows he won’t actually expel us,” whisper chatted Matt into my head.
“Yeah, they haven’t done that since they opened the school. Mom told me.”
“Good to know.”
“Aren’t you glad to have me?”
“I guess, moron.”
“Who are you calling moron?”
“Who do you think, imbecile?”
“Who are you calling imbecile?”
I giggled in my head.

Ambrose sighed. “After my many years of teaching here, I know when students are whisper chatting to each other. And I will expel you, if that is what it will come to.”

Could Ambrose see everyone’s private conversations? I suddenly felt extremely embarrassed and began to stare at the floor. Matt looked similarly uncomfortable.

“I can assure you that I am in doubt that any of you will be here for much longer.”

There was a long and awkward pause, where all of us were too scared, worried, or uncomfortable to even look at each other, let alone communicate. Suddenly, Gamma gave a loud hoot.

“Professor, can I consult with yo-ou for a moment?”
“Lead the way, Gamma.” The professor followed a strangely excited Gamma into a small room at the back of the office where students usually aren’t allowed.

As soon as the door closed behind them, Matt whispered, “How does he know when we’re whisper chatting?”
I shook my head in confusion. “No idea,” I replied.
“Mind reading?” suggested Liam.
“Oh, be quiet, you idiots.”

We all looked at the only myth kid in the room.

“What happened to all your buddies, Mr Cool?” asked Matt. “Are they hiding? Have they cast an invisibility spell?”
Reed turned away, clearly thinking he was too important to be bothered with losers like us.

Ambrose swung open the door and marched into the room, and the silence became less awkward and more terrifying. I think we were all holding our breath. Jake now looked close to tears, and I swear that

“We have decided…” Ambrose said, hesitantly, “that exclusion… may not be the only option.” He gave us all intimidating stares. “You will remain here to continue your studies.”

Not one of us could speak. When had Ambrose ever taken back anything he’d said ever before? This had to be a first. All we managed to be able to do was stare at him in shock.

“We have conclu-u-uded that exclu-usion would be a waste of valuable magical potent, what with the entire Spiral being in danger,” added Gamma, insistently. “Malistaire’s forces are gathering, and we need all the wizards we can get to assist in overcoming his powers.”

That didn’t seem like a great explanation. I looked at the others. They were all either still in shock or didn’t seem to have noticed the lousy justification of that argument, with the exception of the myth kid, who still had a haughty sneer on his face.

“This incident cannot go completely unpunished, however,” Ambrose began. “You will attend detentions every week for two months—” I suppose it was only fair, but I couldn’t help being a little annoyed “—and you are all banned from doing any quests for a month. Don’t even try to. I’ll have your Spiral keys taken away until I deem fit to return them, and I’d like you to know that all denizens of the Spiral do report to me who has been completing quests each day.”

I stifled a groan. I supposed we had it coming, after starting a massive free-for all. Still, we were so close to getting into Marleybone! And now we’d be behind in levels and never get through the Tomb of Storms.

“And as for you three,” he continued, seriously, looking pointedly at the twins and Reed. “Your mother and father will be informed. And you too, Mr Fireshard.”

Hold on.

You three?

I was going to say something there but I managed to keep my mouth shut until we were dismissed, at which point I near-exploded.

“What did he mean when he said “you three”?!” I demanded.

Liam and Jake glanced at each other. Reed sniffed.

“Well, he was addressing us two and Reed, obviously,” Liam explained. 
I blinked. “Your mother and father. Singular. You three have one mother and one father between you, so…” 
“Yeah, Reed’s our older brother.” Jake looked at the floor.
Matt looked about as confused as I was – which is to say, very much so. “Why didn’t you say?” he asked.
“We didn’t say he wasn’t,” countered Liam. 
“And like I’d want to be associated with these losers,” sneered the Mythstrider kid. “Now, if you midgets will excuse me, I’ll be going.”

“No way. You’re staying here,” I said. “They’re your brothers. Why do you always beat up Jake?! You don’t just beat up your brother for no reason!”
Nat, who had been strangely quiet up until now, spoke up. “But Alex…” 
I turned to him. “You’re annoying, but I wouldn’t set an imp on you, let alone a humongofrog.” 
He looked a bit embarrassed. “Thanks, Alex.”

“So, on that note, why do you do it?!” I asked Reed.
“Alex…” began Jake. 
“No! You can’t just let your brother keep trying to kill you! Don’t your mom and dad know?” 
“No, but…” he started again. 
“See? This isn’t fair! He shouldn’t be allowed to just keep getting away with this!” 
Liam broke in. “Alex, we’ll explain in a minute. Just let Reed go about his business,” he whispered. He gave me a this-is-going-to -be-bad-if-we-don’t-leave-him-alone look.
Matt, who was being uncharacteristically awkward, suddenly decided to support them. “Alex, I guess that’s a family issue. You don’t want to interfere too much.”

I sighed and turned my back on the Mythstrider kid, still angry. When I heard his footsteps fade I turned back. 
“So what’s the deal?” I asked. 
“It doesn’t really matter that much. It’s nothing big.” said Jake. 
“Go on. We’ll go sit in the life tower while we explain.” Liam practically pushed us in there. 
“This had better be a good story,” added Matt. “Got any popcorn?” 
“Only pet snacks,” said Liam. “You know, for animals. So only you could eat them.” 
Matt prodded him with his wand. 
“Right. Let’s start at the beginning.”

Part 7

Jake took a breath.

“Well, basically,” interrupted Liam, clearly eager to get this over with. “This thing happened a few years ago and it really—”
Jake frowned. “I think we owe them a better explanation. You know what level Reed is, right?”

I shook my head.

“He’s level twenty one,” Jake explained. “Remember when you first met him and he was level fourteen when you were level twelve or something?”
“Yeah, and now he’s still a level above us. So what?” I was confused as to how this made any difference to the situation whatsoever.

“He’s four years older than us. And level twenty one.”
“That’s why he’s so tall!” exclaimed Matt.
I sighed. “I still don’t see why that makes a difference.”
“He started at Ravenwood when he was, maybe, eight?” Liam glanced at Jake, who nodded.
“Yup, eight.”
“So he’s a slow learner?” I asked, still a little confused as to how it mattered at all.
“He was a magus – level thirty three– when he was… What, ten?”
“That’s not possible!” Matt exclaimed.
“Reed was smart,” Liam shrugged. “Super smart. They thought he’d be like, the new Cyrus Drake.”
“That wouldn’t be too hard for a jerkface like him,” I muttered.
“So what happened?” asked Matt. “He’s level twenty one. You can’t go down levels!”
Liam and Jake exchanged a glance. “Malistaire happened,” Liam said, darkly. I groaned.

“Stop dragging this out like some super important pivotal plot point in a book and tell us what happened to your stupid brother, drama queen,” I complained. What can I say? I’m not a patient person.

“Malistaire decided that Reed was too powerful and captured him,” Jake explained hastily.
“Must be a family thing,” Matt grinned. “Got any other brothers who were captured by him?”
“Jessie accidentally walked into his castle once, didn’t she?” sniggered Liam. “That was pretty funny.” He noticed the shocked looks on our faces. “She got out real quick. She just saw a draconian and teleported before she was seen.” He shrugged again. “These things happen.”
“Jessie? Jessica Frosthaven? In the master ice class?” I asked.
“Yeah, that’s her.”

“Any other siblings you forgot to mention?” Matt joked.
“That’s it. Except Calamity – Calamity Sandweaver? Grandmaster balance.”
“Didn’t know you had such a big family,” I frowned.
“Yeah, well, we don’t like to mention it too much,” Jake said.
“Anyway, you were telling us about Reed,” Matt pointed out.
“Yeah, right, so. Malistaire took him to his creepy house and told him that he wanted him on his side, because, well, he was pretty powerful for a ten-year-old,” Liam continued.
“Reed declined, obviously,” added Jake.
“Really? Bit of a shock there!” I scoffed.

Jake frowned at me. “Reed’s a good guy, deep down. He was great before all that happened to him.”
“Well, actually, he always was a bit of a jerk. He treated us like dirt even before all this happened.” Liam looked thoughtful.
“So his nasty comments aren’t anything to do with the curse?” I asked.
“No, he’s just a bit… stuck up. Thinks he’s better than us. Special.”
“Carry on with the story,” pressed Matt.
“Malistaire got angry and decided to get rid of Reed once and for all. They had a fight. Reed got out of the castle and teleported to the Basilica, but not without getting his head bashed in by a few nasty minions.”
“He lost his memory!” Matt exclaimed.
I was pretty pleased to have finally understood where this was going. Then my excitement deflated. “I don’t get it,” I said. “He lost his memory, he went back to normal, started learning again. That doesn’t give him an excuse to bully you.”

“That’s not the entire story,” offered Jake.
“We think that Malistaire put some sort of curse on Reed,” explained Liam. “He’s perfectly normal most of the time, but he has his… moments.”
“He acts like an arrogant moron most of the time. Is that normal?” I demanded.
“Well, yeah. He always was a bit up himself,” pondered Liam. “Guess that’s a side effect of being a super duper whizz-kid like he is. Well,” Liam corrected himself. “Like he was.”
“His moments are, though?”

“Sometimes he forgets who we are. Who everyone is,” Jake clarified. “It’s scary, but mom and dad usually know the right sorts of magic to stop it.”
“Fine. He’s insane. But why don’t you find out what spell makes him better and use that on him when he starts to let loose a Cyclops?”
Jake smiled sadly. “Even if we knew the magic, we’re not powerful enough. Besides, too much of it can hurt him. It makes his head go all fuzzy for a while, until the spell wears off.”
“Why don’t you just tell someone that he lets trolls loose?”
“Everyone – all the teachers know what happened to him, and they all feel sorry for him. It’s true, though, he can’t help it. It’s a curse, like I said.”

I shook my head, defeated.

“That’s insane,” Matt said, quietly.
“Yeah, things can get tough,” said Liam. “But we manage. So, who’s up for some quests?”
I looked at him pointedly. “We have a detention today. All of us. And even if we didn’t we’re grounded, remember? For a month!”
So nearly in Marleybone,” said Matt, bitterly. “So close.”
Liam and I laughed. Jake was, of course, being his typical quiet self. Maybe too quiet.

“Come on Jakey-boy,” I said. “We’ve got a detention for being naughty.”


Ambrose did not look particularly pleased to see us. It was almost as though he’d aged another couple of hundred years since we’d last seen him. He had huge, dark circles underneath his eyes and his beard seemed to be a shade whiter. He cleared his throat disapprovingly.

“I suppose you’re all here for your detentions,” he said. “Well, from now on, you’ll be going to the library on Mondays at four, for two hours, until further notice. Harold Argleston can instruct you from there. Off you go, now.”

We left the room in silence. When we were out in the open air, Nat grabbed my sleeve. “Is he always this angry at detentions?” Nat wasn’t one to break the rules, so he was a bit shocked by Ambrose’s dismissive tone.
“Yeah,” I said, perhaps too quickly. “It happens all the time.”


“This could be done by magic,” I grumbled “so much quicker.”
“It’s a punishment, Alex,” explained Matt, shaking his head. “They know we know that and that knowing that makes it even more painful.”
Liam stopped piling his section of books. “Matt. That made no sense.”
“It did!” Matt argued, indignant. I laughed. Detention wasn’t so bad, even if the books did weigh about as much as an overweight Helephant.

We spent a few minutes stacking books in silence.“Help me out here, Jakey,” grumbled Matt. “What in the Spiral is a firewyrm?”
“They live in Dragonspyre,” Jake replied. “They’re like lizards, but they breathe fire. And fly, I think. They have wings, anyway. And they eat—”
“Our walking encyclopedia, you are,” Matt proclaimed, proudly, as Jake continued piling books neatly on a chair.
“Don’t be stupid, Matt. I’m not that smart. I just happened to see one when I was over there.”
“What’s Dragonspyre like?” asked Nat.
“It’s pretty scary,” Jake answered. “You can tell it must have been totally awesome at one point, but now it’s just massive mess.”
“It’s hot there, all right,” added Liam. “Almost as bad as Krokotopia.”
“Really?” asked Matt. “I didn’t notice.”

Somehow I found my mind wandering back to the whole Reed deal. I glanced over at him. He was making a deliberate effort to stay as far away from us as possible. I’d never heard of curses. Well, I didn’t doubt that Harold Argleston had probably mentioned them at some point in his long-winded explanations of magical theory - which I would never understand anyway – but I must have missed it. Or perhaps curses were just something Malistaire specialized in? They wouldn’t teach classes like that in Wizard City, would they?

Malistaire. The entire Spiral had been under a dark shadow since before I’d even known it existed. What was it like before he was here? I couldn’t even imagine the Spiral that way. Almost everything I’d known here was about saving the Spiral, getting rid of him. It seemed like something completely unfeasible.

And the prophecy – what was all that about? Were Jake and Liam – and possibly Matt, and three others –meant to be the ones who would finally defeat him once and for all? Would that make me the one who was left out? Why couldn’t they have just got him when we were back at the fort? There were so many questions! I groaned and threw several books towards the nearest pile without even glancing at them.

How was Wizard City meant to get out of this mess?

“Alex,” sighed Liam, “I hate to break it to you, but you just put the entire collection of Wyrmblood’s potion theory under ‘D.’”
“Great,” I mumbled. Those books had weighed a ton.
“Come on; let’s put them over there for now.” Liam grabbed the first volume and threw it into a corner.
Jake frowned, and was probably about to give him a good telling off for mistreating a precious book, when a familiar hooting interrupted.

“Less chatter, more sorting!” Gamma swooped over our heads with a letter in his claws, and flew out of the window.

It was more than a month’s worth of detentions before we found it.  Lavender Starteller’s Prophecies and Predictions, a heavy, dusty, and apparently mind-numbingly dull book, was set to be stuck next to her previous novel, Foreseeing Fates. I’d picked it up hastily; eager to finish early and go study for the history test we had tomorrow, and saw a scrappy piece of yellow parchment flutter slowly to the floor.

Well, it couldn’t just be a random bit of paper for once, could it?

Jake picked it up and scanned it quickly. He didn’t even need to say anything.
“The prophecy?” asked Matt, in a whisper. Jake nodded.
“Didn’t Ambrose show you two all of it before?” I asked, frowning at them.
Jake shook his head. “If only. I think he thought it was better not to scare us, or something…”
“How bad can it be?” I asked. “I mean—”
“Shh!” Jake hissed urgently. My voice had subconsciously risen to its normal noisy tone. “Do you still have the other part?”
Matt took out an even more crumpled – if that was possible – piece of parchment. “Ok,” he said, and began to read in a low voice

Several young wizards will follow the path,
Become the defense from powers dark,
Three from each side of the Magical Arts,
Balanced enough will they depart… What the hell is that meant to mean?”
“Shh!” I glanced around furtively. Nat and Reed were still stacking books on the other side of the room.
“Keep reading.”

They'll walk streets unknown to wizards before,
To find powers of ancient and mystical lore,
To assist in their quest – on which the Spiral will depend –
But not until they find the sacred Quest’s end.”

“So no one gets these powers until the end of the quest? How does that work out?”
“Shut UP! We can’t have anyone finding out about this! Alex and I aren’t even supposed to know about this--” 
“What’s that?”
Nat had noticed our conversation and had crept up on us almost silently. Stupid necromancers. They always do that.

“Um,” I said.
“Erm,” Jake added.
“Well…” Liam began.
“It’s…” Matt started. “It’s nothing very important. It’s a piece of paper we found in one of the books.”
“What’s written on it?” Nat asked.
“It’s just notes,” Liam invented.
“Why are you arguing over it?”
“Can I see?”

Liam, Jake, and Matt all looked at me. Three whisper chats were in my head all at once and I didn’t hesitate before nodding. Nat was my little brother. We could trust him.

“It’s a prophecy,” I explained, “and it involves Liam and Jake.”
“Oh, that’s cool! Can I see now?”
“It’s basically the ultimate fate of the entire Spiral.”
“… Oh. Not so cool.”
“So, anyway – read it, Matt!”
“The next bit’s kind of half on the page that came out of the book and half on the one we f—”
“Give it here,” I interrupted.

Matt passed the paper to me quickly. I was getting impatient.

“It says,” I began, trying to piece the pages together, “something about girls. Two, I think. So let’s just say that line says that there are two girls in the prophecy.” I paused.

“Go on,” Jake urged.

But all will face darkness; no doubt there’s a lot
It shall be a long road but they must persevere
For their destinies lie somewhere shrouded in fear.

“Alas, Spiral saviors, your fates are tied
You cannot succeed until one has died.”

“When you hear it out loud, it sounds kinda lame,” Liam said, clearly unimpressed. “I mean, Ambrose said that prophecies are epic poetry… That sounds like Alex wrote it.”
I glared at him. “I’m not THAT bad at writing.”
“Stop talking about how rubbish it is – someone’s going to die!” Jake sounded panicked.
“Yeah, well… Prophecies always just say stuff like that, don’t they?”
“Yes, but that’s because those things actually happen!” Jake’s voice had risen to almost a shriek.

“What are you losers all huddled in the corner for?”
“Go away, butt-face. The last thing we need around here is your ugly—”
“I don’t think that’s appropriate in front of the kid,” Reed excused smoothly, pointing at Nat.
“I’ve heard worse,” Nat said.
Reed gave him a condescending sneer and turned back to Jake. “So what are you so upset about, dweeb?”
“He’s not a dweeb,” I said, coldly. Even after hearing his story, I found it difficult to be sympathetic in the slightest.
“Right, and you’re not a nutty storm wizard.” He snatched the paper in my hand.

“What’s this?” he frowned, glancing over it. “Several young wizards will follow a path… Been writing fairy stories, wickle Jakey?”
“No,” I growled. “He hasn’t. That’s called a prophecy, butt-head. And it’s not just a story.”
Reed looked at me like I would look at a pyromancer in Colossus Boulevard. “You’re having me on, kid. They don’t have prophecies any more. Level ones know that the most significant prophecies were fulfilled hundreds and hundreds of years ago.” He rolled his eyes emphatically. “Besides, prophecies aren’t written that badly. Balanced enough will they depart… What the heckhound is that?”

He paused for a few more seconds, probably to read the rest of the page, while we five glanced at each other dubiously.
“So, which one of you wrote this rubbish?” he sneered.
I suppose him knowing about it wouldn’t be a problem if he thought it was fictional. I glanced at Matt, who shrugged, apparently unconcerned about this new development.
Reed took one more glance at the paper, scoffed, then shoved it back towards Jake and wandered off with a pile of ancient-looking books.

I swear that at that point we all literally sighed out loud in relief.

“That,” said Liam, with great relish, “was close.”


Merle Ambrose sat at his desk, frowning over a piece of paper.

“Any developments, professor?” Gamma had swooped in almost silently through an open window.

Ambrose shook his head in apparent puzzlement. It was a rare occasion that one of the Spiral’s greatest wizarding minds was completely and utterly stumped by something, but on that seemingly unremarkable , cloudy day in Wizard City, something had done exactly that. The something was a neatly copied edition of a poem which lay in front of him.

Several young wizards will follow the path,
Become the defense from powers dark,
Three from each side of the Magical Arts,
Balanced enough will they depart.

They'll walk streets unknown to wizards before,
To find objects of ancient lore,
To help them fight fights on which the Spiral will depend -
but these only upon reaching the Questend.

Two are young girls and the rest are not
But all will face darkness; no doubt there's a lot
It shall be a long road but they must persevere
For their destinies lie somewhere shrouded in fear.

Alas, Spiral saviors, your fates are tied
You cannot succeed until one has died.

It didn’t make sense! Ambrose knew who the six in the prophecy were – after some deliberation – but the numbers didn’t add up. He was certain he had chosen the correct six. They radiated the clear aura that all those well-versed in prophetics were taught about in their very first instruction, and yet the prophecy seemed not to take into account that there were five boys in the prophecy, and only one girl.

Gamma hooted sympathetically. “Would yo-oo-ou like me to take a lo-ook at it, Headmaster?”
Ambrose looked at Gamma. “It doesn’t make sense, Gamma. You agree that the six students—”
“Of course. They are quite clearly those in the prophecy.”
“And yet…”
“Could there be mo-o-ore, Headmaster?”
“Don’t be ridiculous Gamma – it clearly says three from each half…”
“You are right, professor… It is unusual for prophecies to quantify their subjects… Do you recall the Firemancer prophecy?”
“Only too well… I suppose it can’t be the same case here, could it?”
“I doubt it, professor.”

There were three from each half of the magical arts – meaning three from the three elemental schools and three from the three spiritual schools. That made sense, at least. There was no balance mage, he had determined that much. Could there be any other students? The poem clearly stated that three from each half of the arts would be selected… Or did it? Ambrose read it again.

Three from each side of the Magical Arts

Each side, not each half. Ambrose shook his head. As if that made any difference! There couldn’t be any more students. If there were three from each side, and there were two sides—

Two sides?

“Merlin’s beard!”


“FREEDOM!” yelled Matt, running over to give Liam a hi-five.
“We’re out of here!” exclaimed Liam.
“No more Krokotopia!” I cried, over the moon. Even Jake gave a happy grin when I ran over to hug him.

After finally being released from our quest ban, one torturous month later, we had defeated the last boss in Krokotopia, which was a relief, since by this time if I saw one more grain of sand I would be perfectly prepared the blow up the entire planet, manders and all.

“We’re in Marleybone, guys!” I shouted, running to report back to… erm… the ghost Krok, whose name I had conveniently forgotten…

Liam was already handing in the quest. “What?” said Matt. “You marked it? No wonder you nearly run out of mana, you idiot!”
Liam simply grinned. “Well I get to level up first, guys…”
“Not fair!” I grumbled, trying to get in front of Matt to talk to the ghost first.
“Calm yourselves, wizards. You will all get into Marleybone eventually,” the ghost explained. “You will need to understand the value of patience before you proceed any further, though.”
“Yes, Krokhotep” – so that was his name! – “We understand,” nodded Jake, demurely.
Krokhotep smiled in a slightly creepy Krokotilian way as he handed Jake another quest scroll and an athame, along with – to our surprise – a training card.

“What is it?” I asked frantically, trying to get a better look. “Is it good? Do I get one?” I turned to the ghost again.
“Not if your erratic behavior continues,” he frowned, looking more than slightly menacing. Jake, meanwhile, took this opportunity to get the spell card further away from me and tuck it carefully into his deck, out of harm’s way.
“I’m sorry,” I muttered. “I’m just over-excited.”

“Pyromancer,” Krokhotep growled, taking Matt’s quest scroll and handing him a new one, with his shiny new dagger and spell card. Matt looked at it for a good few seconds before nodding approvingly and stuffing it into his pocket.

“What spells are we getting, exactly?” I asked. Krokhotep glared at me and shoved a quest scroll, athame, and card my way. “Thank you.” I looked at them.

“Cleanse Charm?” I asked. “What does that do?”
“Gets rid of negative charms on yourself. Like Weakness. That one can be a right pain,” said Liam, rolling his eyes. “Sometimes I really hate balance.”
Krokhotep glared at us again. “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”
“Oh, right, yeah,” said Matt. “Race to Ambrose’s!” We began running towards the exit.
“You need to talk to Sergeant Major Talbot first!” growled Krokhotep after us, shaking his oversized snout in disapproval. “These wizards…”


“It’s dark,” muttered Jake.
“That’s because it’s night time!” Liam yelled, earning us a few strange looks from a group of dogs over the street.
“Keep your voice down, mate,” said Matt. “It’s really quiet here. It’s not as busy as Krokotopia.”

Well, that was one thing he had right. Marleybone was definitely not as busy as Krokotopia. They were – quite literally – worlds apart. Marleybone was as chilly as Krokotopia was hot, windy as it was still, quiet as it was noisy… In fact, the only thing that remained the same was the undeniable appearance of numerous talking animals. It was a bit spooky, actually.

“Hey guys,” Matt said; “my sister wants me to go help her – back in Krokotopia. She can’t defeat Krokenkahmen, or whatever he is, y’know, the one in the dungeon? I’d probably better go. Anyone else wanna come?”
“Back to Krokotopia? Are you mad?” exclaimed Liam in disgust.
“One of you? Please? I can’t stand my sister’s snobby little friend on my own!”
“Who’s that again?”
“That Kymma girl that my mom doesn’t like. She’s so annoying. Seriously.”

I remembered I had met Kymma a while ago, helping Matt’s sister, Saffy, with Firecat Alley. And Matt was right – no one in their right mind could put up with her on their own.
“I’ll come,” I said.
“Aw, thanks Alex,” grinned Matt. “You guys – don’t get too far ahead, okay?”
“We won’t,” sighed Liam.
“Cool. See you later, guys.” Matt turned to me. “Port in a few seconds.” He disappeared in a shower of fiery sparks. One hit me in the face.
“Ow,” I grumbled, wincing, to snorts of laughter. I glared at the twins and teleported to Matt, scowling.

I was sucked immediately into a battle, with the familiar tiny blue-haired thaumaturge and her grinning brother. In first position was Kymma Frosthaven, sneering as she cast a snow serpent.
“Hey Alex!” cried Saffron. I waved in response. “Nice snake, Kymma,” she continued happily. Kymma nodded. I recognized her dark hair and skinny frame from the last time I’d met her, which hadn’t been that long ago. Since, she’d grown even taller than me, I realized. I quickly sorted out my deck before the next turn started.

“Oh, here comes another Nirini,” Saffy groaned. “There are so many of them – and we’d only just defeated one as well!”
“At least we’ve got them outnumbered now, Saff,” said Matt reassuringly. He had this big brother thing worked out alright.

Kymma cast an ice blade, Saffy a well-placed snow serpent, Matt cast a fire prism on a Nirini, and I stuck with my trademark storm blade. I saw a look of puzzlement cross Matt’s face and asked him what was wrong. He shook his head. “Oh, nothing.” I shrugged. I was, soon enough, distracted by a Nirini casting a particularly noisy squawking sun bird on me, singing the edges of my brand new Marleybone hat.

Honestly, my luck was awful sometimes.

The battle continued into the next round of attack. On Saffy’s right, snotty Kymma cast a spell I didn’t recognize.

“Was that a Frostbite?” asked Matt, frowning.
“Yes,” she replied, curtly.
“What level are you?”
“Then how—”
“It was… a treasure card.” Her story didn’t sound convincing.
“Are you sure? I thought treasure cards had a special effect, but that looked like an—”
“I’m certain it was.” Her tone indicated the conversation was finished. I looked at Matt, puzzled.

“Frostbite is the spell you get when you defeat Krokopatra, for thaumaturges!” his whisper chat voice sounded startled.
“Well, she said it was a treasure card,” I reasoned, waving my wand to cast a storm shark on Krokenhamen himself. I could not wait until I got an attack-all-enemies spell – more specifically, Tempest. Imagine the time it would save!
“Alex, I know a treasure card when I see one.”
“You made a mistake, maybe?”
“It wasn’t just that! She cast ice blade earlier – ice wizards don’t get their blade until they’re in the master class.” He sounded unusually confused.
“Relax. That was probably just a treasure card too.”
“Can you get blade treasure cards?”
I thought about it. “I’m pretty sure Nat had one once.”
Matt huffed. “Something isn’t right here, Alex.”
“Don’t worry. Nothing’s wrong. It’s not like you to be paranoid. Relax, Matt.”

Matt didn’t say anything else, but continued to look disgruntled for the rest of the fight. Even 0nce we’d finished off Krokopatra he gave his sister a brief smile and ported away without a word.

I couldn’t work out what was wrong. It was only a couple of treasure cards, right?

I teleported back to Jake and Liam and told them what had happened.

“Weird, huh?” I finished, collapsing on the Marleybonian bench in Regent’s Square.
“Actually, Alex, it’s not so weird,” Jake frowned, sitting next to me. “People who can do magic that they’re not supposed to be doing… Well, it generally means there’s something weird about them.”
“So you don’t think they could just be treasure card spells?”
“I wasn’t there, obviously, so I can’t be certain whether they were, but if Matt thinks they were…”
“How can you tell the difference?”
“Treasure cards have a sort of… gold glowy thing. Surely you’ve noticed?” I shook my head.
“I don’t use treasures very often actually…” I mumbled, shrugging.
“Anyway, if they weren’t treasure cards, then she’s lying about her level – or…” Jake shook his head. “No, she can’t be.”
“Or what?” Liam suddenly asked.

Jake sighed. “Well, she could be doing spells without magic, but that is really, really rare… No pupil has been recorded doing it in years! You have to do special training and everything, and get a licence to be allowed to… And you have to be really, really talented. Not just anyone can do it.”
I pondered this for a moment, looking at both of them. All of a sudden Liam’s eyes lit up.

“Say she was doing magic without the cards…” he began. “Could she – just maybe – be a part of the prophecy?”
Jake rolled his eyes. “Great. Just what we need. Another jerk to be part of the team.”
“Another jerk?” I said. “I thought the only two people who were in it for certain were you two?”
“Um…” Jake looked like a rabbit caught in headlights.
“Hey, don’t be mean, bro!” shouted Liam, unnecessarily loudly. “I am not a jerk!”
Jake shot Liam a look of gratitude, then immediately tried to twist his face into “cheeky apologetic.” It came out as “laughing with a bad stomach ache”.

Lucky for me, Jakey is a really bad actor.

“Who else is in the prophecy?” I demanded.
“Okay. Okay.” Jake took a breath. “Well, Matt’s the fire one, obviously. He doesn’t know yet. None of the others know yet. Ambrose thought it was best to keep it quiet before everyone finds out.”
“Who else?”
“Well, Reed is the myth person. I’m storm, and Liam is life. Ambrose thinks the death is a guy called Tom something. We don’t know him,” he shrugged. “And now I think this Kymma girl has to be the ice one.”
“What about balance?” I frowned.

They exchanged a glance. “Ambrose doesn’t think there is a balance,” Liam said, “which makes sense after reading that line in the prophecy… What does it say? ‘They are balanced already and go?’”
“Balanced enough will they depart,” Jake corrected.
“Yeah, that. It means we don’t need balance!” he said, perhaps a bit too loudly, judging by the face of a magus sorcerer who took the silence after that to glare at us.

“No offence,” he added, lamely.


I got back to my dorm late that night. You don’t really notice the time passing when it’s constantly night time. You can’t see the sun moving across the sky – and the moon isn’t really the same. It’s the weirdest feeling.

Even so, I found that when I did finally get into bed, I couldn’t sleep. It happened sometimes, I supposed. My mind was just too busy to switch itself off late at night. Usually I could never find a particular reason for my aversion to rest but that night I knew exactly what was bothering me.

I tried to quench the uncomfortable squirming in my stomach as I tossed and turned for hours. It was stupid, I told myself, to be jealous. Even more stupid because they’re in a prophecy which predicts death and generally totally rubbish stuff for pretty much everyone. I grumbled to myself and turned over, listening to Nat’s peaceful little snorts and every now and then, the occasional murmur.

“Pie,” he mumbled unconsciously. “Mmrphsah. Mrff.”
“Yeah, exactly,” I muttered, sitting up. There was no use trying to sleep. I decided to go for a walk. Perhaps that would make me a little more tired.

Ravenwood was cold and hauntingly empty at night. Usually you couldn’t even glance around without seeing several students strolling or sprinting around the rooms, going from class to class, back to their dorms after a hard day’s questing, or to another world through Bartleby. I stared up at the great tree, who appeared to be sleeping, just like the rest of Wizard City probably was. A wind rustled his leaves. Was that the tree equivalent of snoring?

I crept quietly through the tunnel to the commons. The tunnel itself was darker than I’d seen it before, and despite the knowledge that it was totally irrational to be scared of the dark, I couldn’t help but feel a little intimidated. Perhaps I should have turned back, but I continued through the tunnel resolutely. I could see the dim light at the end of the tunnel from the perpetually glowing statue in the commons lake.

I noticed a sudden flicker of movement.

“Hello?” I probed, tentative. “Is anyone there?”

Silence, broken only by the whisper of what I assumed was simply the wind.

I continued walking, unperturbed. If I was going to go back, now would be a really neat time to start running, but I reassured myself that at the very worst it would just be a little stray Firecat. And those little guys wouldn’t harm a fly… Well, for the most part, anyway.

I had no idea where I intended to go, deciding that I’d probably just walk around the lake and go straight back. I was a little drowsy now, anyway, and while I was fully conscious I realized the thoughts I’d had earlier lying in bed were completely ridiculous. It was just my subconscious nagging at me insistently. That, at least, was much clearer in daylight – or nightlight, or whatever the light I was walking around in was.

 All of a sudden I felt a cold breeze tickle. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up on end and I felt even colder than I had when I first entered Colossus Boulevard all those months ago. I shivered. Perhaps I should just teleport back. Of course, that would have the downside of waking Nat, which was never a good idea, in any situation. Instead, I turned around and started to head back to the tunnel, but not before the Commons appeared to darken before my eyes, and I looked up to see dark clouds gathering overhead.

Back on Earth, this was the sign of a thunderstorm, and I would be delighted to stay outside and feel the rain against my face, and listen to the thunder.

In the Spiral, however, dark clouds gathering made me want to hide under a table and curl up into a ball. Or run away as fast as possible.

I turned on the spot, concentrating on where I wanted to go and ignoring the concern of grumpy little brothers waking up. I had to get out of here. But when I opened my eyes I wasn’t back in my dorm room. In fact, I hadn’t moved at all. Nothing had happened, other than me now feeling a bit nauseous. I closed my eyes and bent over, putting my head between my knees. Eurgh – I hadn’t felt this awful since I was back on Earth with flu. I straightened up, with my eyes still closed, and felt blazing heat on the back of my neck. My eyes opened and I snapped around.

A house was on fire.

I had to tell someone! I instinctively turned to Ambrose’s office and began to run. The fire continued to crackle behind me and I stared up to the sky. Huge balls of fire were falling all over the commons. Meteor Strike. One of my favorite spells when I was fighting possessed manders or Nirinis with Matt, but not so much in PvP situations, or when a boss used it against us.

Or when it appeared in the Commons in the middle of the night, meaning it was probably the handiwork of the only person in the Spiral vindictive and powerful enough to consider destroying Wizard City.

I barged into the heavy wooden door that lead to the headmaster’s office, which, rather inconveniently, refused to budge, then began hammering on it insistently, yelling at the top of my voice.

“Professor! Professor Ambrose, you have to come and help! There’s a meteor strike in the Commons! HEADMASTER AMBROSE! GAMMA! SOMEONE HELP!”

“They can’t hear you,” said a calm voice from behind me. I refused to look around, instead continuing to hammer on the door like I couldn’t hear.

“There’s a spell on that door. No sound can pass through it. And the door itself is impenetrable.” I heard a small, harsh laugh. “Well, it is for weaklings like you.” I continued to ignore it, though I couldn’t deny that my hammering must have seemed a little less insistent.

“Maybe there’s a reason night time strolls are against the rules, here, Stormrider.” I tried not to let my concern that my name had come into this show. “Maybe you should start to follow them!”

A fireball landed right next to me, scorching a disturbingly large portion of the wall next to me. I could pretend to ignore this for no longer.

I sprinted through the Commons, barely aware of my feet thudding against the ground one after the other and the way in which I was inhaling air in huge, gasping gulps. My heart was racing. I ran over the Rainbow Bridge, glancing over my shoulder. My hand grasped my wand tighter as I pushed myself on. I knew I wouldn’t last much longer. I could see him over my shoulder, dark and tall and ridiculously intimidating, wielding his mighty staff. My legs felt like jelly. I had no control over them and I c0uld feel myself about to fall. I didn’t make any effort to protect myself. I tried to crawl, but my knees stung. My robes were torn and I had no energy left with which to move. My knees were bleeding.

I had a strange sense of déjà vu. Of course! I had dreamed – well, had a nasty nightmare – about this when I was just an initiate. I looked up at Malistaire.

“You will not get away, Stormrider, mark my words. Too many times you have escaped! But not this time. No one’s here to come and save you this time. Not your friends, not your professors, not even some idiotic traitor of a servant! And now, you’re going to die.”

I almost thought that he was going to kill me right there, but Malistaire just continued with his evil-guy-conquering-the-world-monologue. I decided not to listen, instead focusing my efforts on whisper chatting to Ambrose.

“Malistaire’s here! In the commons! Malistaire! Here! Right now!”  I repeated it in my head like some peculiar sort of mantra. “Malistaire! Commons! Malistaire!” I felt sick to the stomach and willed my body to move, while Malistaire was still distracted with his big speech thing. I honestly never understood why evil people always did that. Why don’t they just kill people before they have the chance to get away? Seriously, guys. Ego!

“And once every nasty little wizard like you is out of the way, Wizard City will be destroyed!” He raised his staff.

“There will be no more harm done tonight.”

I passed out.

What? I was tired.

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