Chapter 8: Friends Of Foes
May trust show me the way to the sky. But may love lead me down the path i shall die. For only can glory guide me to light, for life speaks nothing but only lies.
Within the time we’d spent in Mr. Devin’s classroom, Demi had broken down my wall and I his. We even tethered our wands so we could talk outside of academy. When we did this, both of our wands shone a varying color of orange, as that was the fiery color that must have reminded us of each other. I’d known then, we were destined to be friends. We had even gotten Sera to talk to us, maybe even crack a smile, a nearly unseen smile, but a smile nonetheless. This was saying a lot, as just knowing her for a few hours, Demi and I agreed. Neither of us had seen anyone who stonewalled quite as finely as her.
We decided to use the door instead of the quick-shelf and walk to the Dining Hall when we left, both Demi and I had been tired of sitting around and wanted to move our legs. Sera decided to travel by book, reaching to a book in the middle. The book she pulled had a gold encrusted image on the spine of a crossed fork and knife, she then disappeared before our eyes. Even though I was astral projecting on my first day, or night I should say, my legs had still felt stiff and rigid from sitting. I undoubtedly felt the need to walk.
Demi looked up at one of the crow statues that perched above a doorway and asked, “please point us in the direction of some fine food, for our fine asses!” followed by a chuckle. The crow nodded then all the crow’s heads along the hall began to turn, pointing us the way we needed to go. “I’m projecting here, I can’t eat.” I said, Demi turned to me “Well you can watch me eat.” he sang. “Plus, do you want to go back in there for another hour, or come check out some of the fine boys our new locale has to offer?” he asked, “I’m definitely with you.” I replied. “Though i don’t know if any one of these boys can top that fine tutor” he added, i smiled and felt the blood rushing to my face. Soon we approached a large open arch, surrounding it a large metal frame made of iron vines. The vines seemed to climb the large archway, as if growing from the floor and up the walls. Atop them were statues of all kinds of unreal flying birds and beasts, many I’d never seen before, they’d appeared to all be flying outward as a large group frozen in time, finely carved from stone and iron.
On each side of the arch stood statues of cloaked wizards, I say wizards because they were old robed men with beards. The one on the left carved from white marble, his cloak seeming to be blown by wind that wasn’t present, as it was frozen in time. He held his wand into the air, touching the wand of the other statue which was holding a similar pose. This was another cloaked wizard carved of black marble, its cloak unmoved, just draping downward still and un-living. Demi and I passed under this immense archway, encompassed by the statues as we entered the dining hall.
This seemed to also be a place of gathering, as a large stage stood at its head. Walking into the dining hall was mesmerizing, it was overlooked by an immense library that towered 5 stories above, bookshelves littered with different books and scrolls. It had a demanding presence as it peered over the railings of each level. You could see upward, all the way to a large beaming stained glass ceiling. Upon the ceiling, a great tree encompassed most of it, green lush leaves stretching above, and long weaving roots stretching below, standing in front of the tree was another old bearded wizard, he was wearing a blue cloak, as he stood upon a large defeated looking serpent, he held his wand in the air as if saying “victory”, and from this wand yellow beams of light shot out it in all directions. The most interesting thing was that the pieces of stained glass seemed to always be moving and changing, telling a story but of what I hadn’t yet known.
“Now that’s amazing!” Demi said, also looking upward in astonishment, his mouth open in awe, “ummm yeah.” I clumsily responded, just barely choking it through my lips, the sight of this entire place was mesmerizing. Once we’d gathered ourselves we finally began looking around the hall. “Wait, why aren’t you projecting here?” I asked, “I’m used to a different time zone” he said, i nodded and pursed my lips in understanding.
For being the middle of the night the dining hall was packed, soon I learned this was because sporting teams would project to the academy while they slept, to get in extra practice. The dining hall had also been a favorite place for many smaller games, such as a dippers duel as it was called, which was just a Mexican stand off for sorcerers. Agreeing on a spell that would make the loser smell really bad, or look like they had peed their pants, both sorcerers would start back to back taking 10 steps, turning to each other then firing with their wands, whoever had gotten shot first, would then walk away the stinky, or soiled looser.
“Jelly Beez” was also a popular one, Russian roulette really, these were sold as a concession. A group of friends would open a box of them, once opened a group of enchanted jelly beans with buzzing wings would start tumbling around buzzing in a circle, all participants would also sit in a circle with their mouths open, then without warning, all at once the flying jelly beans would zip randomly into the mouths of the players. Every player would then begin to chew, following this, one unlucky bloke would find out if he had gotten the one with stinger. Their head would swell to about the size of a watermelon, unless of course, their head was already the size of a watermelon. Then you could expect it to grow to about the size of two watermelons, for a few good minutes at least. They’d typically end up visiting Wilda to fix them up, then they could continue on with the day.
As we walked deeper into the dining hall an energetic boy called out to Demi. He seemed to know we were new and thought inviting us to play a new card game he created would be a good ice breaker, the game was named “Sorcerers Squall”. He spent a lot of time explaining it to us before we declined playing and insisted we watch first instead, we weren’t really interested but we didn’t want to make enemies on day one, or should i say night one. The game was played with separate custom decks of cards, among these cards each deck had brown backs, with a different colored diamond to represent the different deck. The decks each consisted of cards representing various sorcerers, magical artifacts and powerful beasts. Among half of those cards that filled the decks were energy cards, these represented how much energy you had available for use. As to summon a sorcerer, beast or artifact card from your hand it would cost a varying amount of energy represented in the top section of the card. For example a beast card may have 4 diamonds on the top center of the card, this showed you had to pay 4 energies to put it on the field.
These cards may also have abilities that would say something like, “pay one energy and this sorcerer deals one damage to target player, sorcerer or beast.” You paid energy by flipping it over, showing that it was spent. This energy would only flip back over, able to be spent again at the beginning of your next turn. You were only allowed to play one energy card per turn, so early on the game was boring, but as it went on things got interesting, as each player might have 10 or more energies. This meant bigger and stronger creature’s, artifacts and sorcerers hit the field later game.
Each of the sorcerers and beasts had an attack and defense stat at the bottom of the card. This dictated the damage it could do to another Sorcerer, Beast or player, and the amount of damage it could take from another sorcerer or beast, before being killed and tossed into the players graveyard pile, which is cryptically where dead things went. Damage was dealt differently when aimed at a player though. Each player had a small sack of 15 stones considered their life points, any time damage would be dealt to a player, the one doing damage to that player, got to take that many stones from the defending players sack, placing them in theirs, therefore giving themselves more life.
Once a players stone’s were gone, that player was out of the game. Although instead of taking the damage, a player could block with a beast or sorcerer that they had on the field, if they had any. They could also use the ability of an artifact they had in play, if they had the energy to use the artifacts ability. For instance as we watched, one boy had no beasts or creatures on the field and was targeted by another boy who attacked him with 3 large creatures. He couldn’t block, because he had no sorcerers or beasts to do so. But he had an artifact on the table that read, “pay 3 energy; reduce all damage done to you this turn to zero. Once used, turn this artifact upside down until the beginning of your next turn.” Turning the artifact upside down meant it couldn’t be used again, sort of a recharge period.
The boy had 4 energies available, he flipped 3 of them paying the cost of the artifact. Flipping it over, thus nulling the damage done to him by the opposing players 3 creatures. The game looked really fun by the end, the 4 boys who’d been playing seemed to be having a blast. The entire time they were playfully bad mouthing each other, trying to make each other second guess the decision another was making. Demi and I got a few good laughs out of this over the course of the game.
After overstaying our welcome we’d seen Sera at a buffet style salad bar, Demi tapped my shoulder and gestured we should go over. Hemade his way towards her, I followed and stood with him as he began to put food on his plate, Sera glanced up at us. Then looked quickly back down as if she hadn’t seen us at all. Demi then turned towards me, giving me a wide-eyed look. I could almost hear his thought “what is with this bitch”. “So why aren’t you projecting here tonight?” Demi asked, Sera just stared at him. He went on for a moment staring back at her after she had broken his gaze. “We get it, you’re too cool for us. You could at least answer my question,” he added, I tried to avoid the situation now. Demi seemed hellbent on bulldozing his way into places he isn’t wanted. Sera surprisingly answered, “i’m not a fan of the sun, happy troll-ass?” She responded with acid in her voice, and a little sideways nod. Demi pulled pulled his head back then looked over at me, i only shrugged.
Sera finished putting food on her plate, then started towards an empty table, Demi was still walking around getting food, so I tagged along as we chatted. I’d asked Demi what his affinity was, it hadn’t dawned on me to ask but i figured it was a pretty good topic of conversation. “Have you seen me girl? I’ve got the blood of the God King in me!” He danced, “But i’d say i’m more of a queen if i had to choose!” he added with a mischievous smile and a hearty laugh, i smiled and shook my head. Once we were done we walked over sitting with Sera. “Why are you sitting with me?” she spat immediately, in a tone of distain. “Because we like you,” Demi said, unrelenting, then mumbling “bitch” under his breath, “well I don’t like you,” she responded, “too bad” Demi spat, “ugh, and everyone is staring at us now because of you!” she said, pointing at me, “HER!” Demi said surprised, “I thought they were checking me out, I wore my good pants today.” he answered, looking down at himself. “You’re certainly an idiot” answered Sera with a spearing glance. “Yeah probably you too though, you’re the only voodoo user in Crimora now,” Sera said, That’s when I took a moment to notice, everyone was staring at us, I’d thought about what Sera said earlier, when we first met. That people were talking about the girl from nowhere, a girl who knew nothing about sorcery or anything really, spending her life among average humans. Then Demi was next to me, voodoo seemed to be a thing that weirded people out, maybe because they hadn’t understood it. Or maybe because of how powerful and dangerous it was supposed to be.
In the city I was nobody, you could live your entire life in New York, working hard, doing good work, being the best person anyone could hope to be, but nobody would care. Now here I was, the talk of this entire place it seemed, someone new to their world, seeming to trespass upon sacred ground. But, this made me a celebrity to everybody, and not in a good way. I had felt uneasy. Demi must have felt that i was uncomfortable, “don’t worry Elle, I got your back girl” he said, giving me a nudge. I felt better now, whatever Demi was i guess people were scared of him. And whatever I was people didn’t really seem eager to take to.
Sera quickly got up, walking speedily away towards the only empty table she could find. “Great, glad we’re friends now!” Demi shouted as she walked away. As she neared it, I noticed a group of boys dressed in red, black and gray sport jackets, upon the front chest of the jackets was a red bat with spread wings lain over a black diamond. On the arm of the jacket, sat a gray patch with a red trident on it. I’d thought this might mean they played Orcanis, as this was like the staff I’d seen the blockers use in the game. And this lot of boys looked on a mission, like a typical group of jocks you’d see at any other normal school. They carried themselves with immense confidence, as if this was their domain and everyone else was guests in it. Sera started to sit down when one of the jocks made a hand gesture, it seemed he attempted to hide it, but failed as both Demi and I noticed and looked at each other. Suddenly Sera’s grimoire, wand and food went flying through the air, covering the floor around her. Demi and I had both been watching the situation like hawks, as the boys were approaching with intent. Immediate anger washed over both of us, we’d both known the jock boy had purposely done this.
“This is our table!” the boy said to Sera, her typically blank look giving off the slightest sliver of emotion. Any attention made her uncomfortable, we knew that by now. I felt i could see her pale face blushing with blood, though it might hav just been an illusion. “Yeah, sorry about that! You’re gonna have to move anyway” another boys voice said menacingly, followed by laughter from the group behind him. Before I could even react to the familiar situation, a situation most anyone who’s been to school has experienced. Demi had become enraged, clenching one fist in anger, his wand in the other. He’d already made it 5 large steps towards the group, before I stood up and started after him. There wasn’t an ounce of fear in his eyes, only determination. Demi reared his wand back, made an open hand gesture with his opposite hand, then began motioning it toward the group of boys.
They noticed his approach. Catching on to his anger they reached for what I thought to be their own wands, I was walking faster towards Demi now, not knowing what to do. The surrounding Dining hall erupted in chants now, “fight” and “he’s coming for you” were a few of the phrases i’d heard. Demi demanded a presence, i guess like that of a king and everyone noticed him. My instincts told me I needed to stop whatever would happen next, even though I knew not how and hadn’t really learned any sorcery, I couldn’t do much other than fly and i needed my float for that. At this point Demi had finished a few motions with his wand, he began to chant something as he motioned downward, the look of fear grew in all the boys faces as they prepared. Clearly skeptical at what Demi was attempting, they seemed in fear of him. But like me, didn’t they have protections from voodoo, I asked myself. Why were they so frightened? Demi was very tall and muscular, he was without a doubt intimidating in a physical sense, and the look in his eye could be intense. In that moment as Demi’s wand began to move downward, finishing whatever spell he had begun. He froze solid, as if time stopped for him right then and there.
I stopped in my tracks, glancing over at the boys who were also like statues, their faces frozen in fear, looking as if nearly in tears. A perfect snapshot for blackmail, I had thought. I became nervous that whatever Demi had been trying to do might have backfired, then I heard the crackly voice of a fierce sounding women “There will be no, unsupervised sorcery within these walls!” She yelled, her voice sounded like an elegant instrument. Following with “Of all people Demitri Adisa, on your first day. You think just because you’re a duelist you can stomp around our institution bullying students huh?” Only Demi’s eyes could move to look at the women. “Seraphine Weaver, I see you’re in the center of all this, very unlike you from what i know! What part do you have in this?” the woman asked, walking closer to all of them. I looked around and most of the students were watching now.
Sera stuttered, “uh, uh well Miss. Freya I was going to sit down, then I accidentally dropped all my things. That’s when I seen him…” she paused, pointing to Demi, then continued “walking towards the others like he wanted to fight!” she said, with the most emotion I’d seen in her face yet. “Is this so?” the woman asked, “NO!” I yelled without thinking. “No! The boy did something to throw Sera’s things off the table as she set them down! Demi will tell you too, he was just trying to help” I yelled out, pointing at the black haired boy who had now stood frozen, his eyes darted at me, I imagine anger would pass over his face if it could. “And you are, Miss?” the woman asked. “Eleanor” I said, then pausing “Eleanor Hadley”.
“Ah, nice of you to speak up Miss. Hadley, we haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, but I’m Miss. Freya. You can forget the formalities and call me Freya for short.” She said, her glorious voice sounding mellowed. Then she turned her head to the group of boys, continuing in a more spirited tone. “You boys know better than to act this way in our academy!” She then paused “I should allow Mister Demitri here to give you what you had coming. BUT! Since it is his first day at the academy, I don’t believe it’s in his best interests to get expelled!” She yelled. In that moment, Miss. Freya raised her hand she’d been using to point. Demi’s wand along with the boys, Sera’s and mine all shot outward, floating up and over into Miss Freya’s hand. Shortly after this the group of boys, along with Demi were all released from their frozen statues of a body.
Miss Freya was a slender woman with golden toned white skin and pointy ears. She was of elven descent, she stood high with sharp features. Her voice rang out with a commanding force when she spoke, and by the looks of it she was a powerful sorceress. Prior to the lessons i had with Mr. Devin i’d always imagined elves as Santas little helpers. But they were no such thing, they were smart, powerful, usually tall and slender and also nearly immortal i was told. The boys all took huge breaths, as if they weren’t getting air during their time they’d been inanimate. The black haired boy stared intensely and red-eyed at Miss Freya, he attempted to speak once he caught his breath, but was cut off. “Yes, Yes Mr. Pittsley, I know. I’m sure your father will have something to say to me. He can tell me all about it over muffins and coffee in my office.” She said, teasing. The boys face grew bright red. Another boys voice rang out from the group “you ass trolls are always getting me in trouble!” I’d heard him say. It was Jude, the boy from the bookshelf before. He’d emerged from behind the group, showing anger towards the others.
I began to blush at the sight of him, I protested with my own body, i didn’t want to find him attractive. A defeated look fell upon the rest of the groups faces. Demi stood tall and proud, his gaze still focused intently on the team of boys in sports jackets. Without him even noticing, Miss Freya walked over, grabbed him by the ear, and tugged him along as if a child. This was comical, as he seemed nearly double her size. “The rest of you will follow me, we’re going to talk this out!” she said firmly. I glanced at Sera who had been glaring back at me.
Sera continued glaring at me while she picked up her grimoire and wand, while she was doing this a small group of creatures, scurried out from a small door, then began picking up the food tray and food that was scattered about by the boys magic. I later found out these were goblins that were part of the “goblin janitorial aid team”, the entire time we followed Miss Freya through the halls, Sera would not stop glaring at me. I eventually started walking in front of her, to escape the grasp of her eyes. But my skin felt burning hot from her gaze. The gaze I knew without looking had been aimed still directly at me. As we walked Miss Freya was scolding Demi on his behavior, and would shush the Orcanis boys anytime she heard them begin to chatter.
We finally reached a doorway that once I entered I knew was a study room. She guided us to pull up chairs and sit in a circle. From there Miss Freya sat down with us and began asking questions. “Mister Pittsley, why did you use sorcery to throw Miss, Weavers’s things all over the dining hall?” she asked. The boy responded promptly “I didn’t!” Demi stood up “Yes you did ya troll-bum, we both saw you!” he yelled. I thought Demi got the phrase wrong, but i left it alone. He pointed at me as to show I seen it also. Immediately, Miss Freya made a hand gesture as if zipping her mouth and the rest of Demi’s words turned to mumbles, he sat down upset. “I will not remind you of your disrespect again Mister Adisa.” She said with a sharp glance. “Now Miss Hadley, is this true?” she asked. “Yes, ma’am,” I paused, Miss Freya looked at me intently. “We seen the boy make a hand gesture, then all of Sera’s things went everywhere.” I answered, she responded with a nod then looked at the boy, who sat arms crossed glaring at me. I countered his glare with one of my own. I wasn’t typically a snitch but this guy really ticked me off from the moment I set eyes on him. Now that i knew his name i realized that even bothered me.
This went on for nearly an hour, we all went back and forth telling our sides of the story. By the time we were released back into the halls I was ecstatic, the hellish back and forth, with conflicting stories and accusations was a far worse punishment than I’d ever expected, It was stifling in that room and I needed to breath. Once we were free to go, and I received my wand back I was first to walk out, I turned and waited for Demi. Him and Sera walked out shortly after clearly upset. Both exited the door then split walking in opposite directions, not even noticing me standing there waiting. Ok nobody wanted to talk, I thought. I began to walk off towards one of the crows. I’d felt someone’s hand on my shoulder, as to stop me. I turned around to see Jude. During the Q&A from before, him and I had traded only a couple words, but that had been enough as a few of our glances paused upon each other, I may have gazed for longer than I should have. But it was hard for me to not gaze into his entrancing blue eyes.
“Hey, sorry I wanted to apologize for Len, he’s such an entitled ass troll” Jude said, with a smile. I’d now been realizing the words troll and ass were commonly used, soon learning they were the preferred way to talk shit around here, I then became evermore curious of what a trolls ass might actually look like. “It’s fine, maybe he’ll chill now that he knows Demi isn’t taking his shit.” I replied. “Eh, maybe… But I doubt it knowing him, it’ll just make him want to come at you guys harder.” he paused, “but I’ll talk to him and get him off your trail, he’s just intimidated by new people,” Jude said, I nodded in response. “Oh since we haven’t officially met, my name’s Jude by the way, he paused, waiting for me to say something, but I couldn’t muscle anything out due to my nerves.
“You’re Eleanor I heard… In there” he said, “Ellie” I quickly responded awkwardly, Jude responded with a nod and smile “Well, hey I was thinking maybe, since you’re new here… I can show you around” he paused, “maybe the Orcanis arena, even teach you the spell to turn you into a “Fin” and we could swim together or something. It’s really cool, I promise. We helped build the underwater arena ourselves,” he added, gesturing to the group of boys walking together down the hallway. Jude seemed anxious as he said it, I tried to contain my excitement at the opportunity of learning my first cool spell, as the moment I heard about this particular enchantment, during Mr. Devin’s lesson, it had spiked my curiosity the most. “I’d actually love that!” I replied, with a big smile that I quickly tried to stow away. Followed by “I’m new to this, so you can’t judge me if I can’t do it,” I said.
A big smile washed over Judes face, he then raised his hand up as to shake mine. “Deal” he answered. “Ok, deal” I said, shaking his hand, his hands were strong. I liked it. After letting go I had wondered if he tried holding onto my hand longer than normal, but if he did I didn’t mind. He turned around and started walking quickly away. Suddenly he turned back around “Hey, wanna tether up?” he said holding out his wand. “Uhhhh” is all that could escape my lips, I couldn’t possibly tether with him, he’d immediately know how I felt and if he didn’t feel the same way towards me it would be embarrassing, “my aunt told me not to,” I quickly added, holding up my wand doing a little half shrug. The look on his face seemed confused but he took It better than I’d expected, I wasn’t sure if it was disrespectful or not to deny someone. “Oh ok, maybe next time then,” he answered nonchalantly. Then Jude smiled, blushing. He turned and darted back down the hall, catching up with his friends, who had now turned the corner.
He glanced back at me before he too turned the corner. I could feel an awkward smile creep onto my face, one I couldn’t seem to wipe off. I was still slightly put off by the idea of tethering wands with someone i liked, the story Sera told about the boy William when I first met her. How he couldn’t show his face after tethering with a girl he liked who didn’t like him back, this was all too new to me, I couldn’t risk that kind of embarrassment so soon.