Dancing in the Shadows

In the darkness of the trees

The next morning, while you sat at the mess hall, eating breakfast with your roommates, you saw a glimpse of Kieran and Caelum on the table across from you. You wanted to ask why they went to the woods so late last night, and how come they only returned at the break of dawn.

You had also just awoken earlier that day to see through your window that they had just returned from the woods. You got worried since you noticed that while going there, Kieran was holding something metallic and long, like a chain.

It was already a given that the two of them were indeed mysterious, but that was on a whole level of curiosity. It was a flower they needed, not a beast.

Students were slowly piling out of the hall as they were done with breakfast and a new day of classes began. ”Ill be going first, if Im late one more time to practice, professor Brathium will murder me. See ya! ” Sitara sped away, still with a piece of waffle in her mouth.

You saw Kieran and Caelum stand up so you gathered your things, ”Me too, I have to study for a quiz later. Bye! ” you fled the mess hall and followed after the two.

A bunch of female students flocked around them slightly so it was a bit hard for you to get your bearings, and add a little bit of clumsiness and the next thing you know you
e on the ground and your things, sprawled across the floor.

”Dang it! ” you immediately picked your things up one by one until a pair of hands grabbed your pen case for you. You looked up and were surprised to see the famous jock, and or Knight, Dorian Adair. ”Oh, thank you. ” you took it from him politely.

He offered his hand to help you stand up when another pair of hands swatted it away, ”Emilia, what happened? Are you alright? ” it was Kieran. He pulled you up and even went as far as to dust your hems.

”Im fine, ” you shrugged him off, by now you were the center of attention smack right in the middle of the hallway, you glanced at Dorian who stood there awkwardly after Kieran just literally swatted his hands away like it was dirty.

You cleared your throat, ”Thank you, Dorian, for helping me. ” you smiled at him slightly apologetic.

He grinned widely and ruffled his golden-brown locks, ”It was nothing. I hope you don get into more accidents. We all know you
e fearless but you aren exactly indestructible. ” he laughed, slightly teasing.

Remembering one time you tried inventing a potion that can manipulate the strength of a Knight, which resulted in a broken arm after running across the field towards him–accidentally–to see if it worked. It clearly did not.

You laughed nervously, your cheeks warming up upon remembering, ”You don need to remind me. Sorry again, about that. ” you replied bashfully, scratching the side of your head.

”Ouch! ” you yelped after receiving a flick on the forehead from Kieran, ”What was that for?! ” you rubbed your forehead, feeling that there was already a redness forming without having the need to see it on a mirror.

You saw Kieran slightly sizing up Dorian, they were both Knights but Kieran was slightly shorter in stature and narrower.

”Shouldn you be elsewhere Adair? I believe Professor Brathium was giving out punishments to those who are late to morning assembly. ” he interrupted.

Dorian just shrugged, ”Shouldn you? I was on my way anyway, ” he countered. Glancing at you he says, ”See you, Emilia, be careful now, we wouldn want you running head-on towards another Knight and breaking the other arm. ” he teased, giving one last glance towards Kieran and Caelum, then left.

You waved awkwardly before pulling Kieran away from the crowd and into a small alcove, ”What was that about? You have some sort of grievance with him or something? ” you fumed, slightly angry at Kierans rude behaviour.

He just crossed his arm and huffed, ”Well you were both rude, ignoring me like that. ” he grunted like a child having a tantrum.

”It was nothing okay? He was just trying to have a conversation. Anyways, don you think YOU both owe me an explanation? ” It was your turn to cross your arms, or if that were possible considering you were carrying a couple of books but you manage.

Their reaction was all you needed to confirm that it was indeed them that you saw last night and this morning.

”What do you mean? ” Kieran tried to act clueless but his hesitation gave him away.

”I mean– ” you were cut off by the sound of the bell towers gong which signals that you are indeed late to class. ”Oh no! Im late! ” you sped away but turned around one last time, ”This conversation isn over! ” then immediately ran towards class.

When you got to Mythical Biology, you were to analyze and list down all the characteristics and traits of a Hornlet Stormtongue. A small creature the size of a hamster, covered in long fur pointing upwards from their bodies. It has tiny hands and stands of its hind legs or feet since they are quite small.

Youve noticed that all of them were already paired up so once again, you are tasked to complete the activity alone.

”Lets have at it students, and please refrain from aggravating them. They can put up a fight, ” Professor Montgomery said before walking toward you, ”Miss Bellerose, knowing you, Im sure the lack of a partner will be more encouraging than it is a handicap, ” he said encouragingly which you took to heart, making sure you finish first.

While the rest of them has barely managed to even communicate with their Hornlet, you are just about done. Listing the final properties of the horns and their ability to communicate with other small creatures on the answer sheet, you signed your name, got your things, and walked towards the front of the class where professor Montgomery sat.

You gave him your paper, he took it, looking over it once. He glanced up and grinned, ”Well done miss Bellerose. You may take an early leave. ” you nodded your head and without looking back, you left, proceeding to the library.

On your way there you saw Kieran and Caelum, huddled closely in an alcove. They were talking in hushed tones.

You, being the curious cat, couldn pass up the opportunity to find answers so you hid and slowly got closer, enough to hear.

”Its happening again tonight, are you sure they won break? ” it was Caelum who asked. You wondered what it was, and based on the statement, it was a recurring event.

”Im pretty sure, its Damascus steel Cal. Even the sharpest sword in this place couldn even put a dent and I tried. Even you won be able to break it so easily. ” Kieran replied with utmost confidence. ”Trust me, everything is set for tonight. And in case you do break it, I have a plan B. ”

What is it with chains and Caelum having to break them? You thought. You waited for more but the hallway started pilling up with students who just finished their class and were on the way to the next.

You got out just as some students passed by you, blending in so as to not seem suspicious in case you bump into Kieran and Caelum.

Your eyes searched for them but if they were there, they
e probably blended with the other students as well. Their conversation has brought more questions to you than answers. You proceeded to walk when you felt a tap on your shoulder, making you jump in surprise.

You looked up to see Rowan, your classmate from your previous Mythical Biology class, ”Hey uhh–Emilia, sorry for surprising you like that. ” this simply surprises you for the fact that you have never spoken before.

”Uhh, hello. Do you need anything? ” you asked hesitantly. Youve never been really close with other students because as cliche as it may sound, you are constantly chastised by your being there and lack of magic thereof. Teased as the clumsy mortal who brought shame to her family just by existing.

He hesitated a bit before answering, ”Actually, Im a fan of your skills. ” you raised your eyebrows and took that as your excuse to walk away, but before you do he stops you, ”I mean, thats not what I meant. Professor Montgomery tasked an important project earlier but then he let you leave early. ” you faced him and waited for him to continue.

”Uhh, so he tasked us to capture a Nogbee and write a report about it by the end of the month. And since its a pair activity, I was wondering if you and I could pair up? ” he asked you sheepishly.

”I don know, Im not really a choice for a partner. ” you replied, he looked dejected but regained his composure and added, with confidence, ”No worries, Im actually pretty good at Mythical Biology. Ive practically read almost all the books in the library about it. But Im not really great at writing reports, and I might need your expertise… ” he blurted.

You weighed your options for a while and he did say he was an expert at the subject, and you had nothing to lose so with a sigh you said, ”Alright, but I want a good footing of what exactly it is we need to do so can you research about Nogbees first and how to capture them before we continue? ” you replied in which he jumped in excitement.

”Yes! Right, thank you. Ill do that as soon as Im finished with classes. ” he beemed, then the bell rang once more and he panicked, ”Im late to my next class! Ill look for you after Ive done my research, see you later! ” and without looking back, he sped away.

”What a strange guy. ” you commented aloud. Shaking your head, you proceeded to enter the library which you originally planned to go to. You stayed there for an hour and a half before the bell rung for lunch.

After lunch, you went to the locker rooms next to the open field and changed into your PPE uniform which stands for Practical Physical Education, ”It shouldve stood for Profusely Physically Exhausting. ” you thought with a sigh, then you went outside with the rest of your classmates.

”Hey you, ” Damara greeted, grabbing onto your arm. You smiled at each other and joined the other where Professor Brathium stood, holding wooden staffs, standing next to an open field with other wooden weapons like swords and spears.

”Students, for todays lesson, I will be teaching you the art of physical self-defense. Magic isn always the answer and cannot be relied on fully. There are times when your magic will falter, or it isn enough, so these will come in handy. ” he each gave you your own wooden weapon. You got a spear and Damara got a sword.

”What am I supposed to do with this? Hit someone on the head hard enough to render them unconscious? ” Damara asked incredulously next to you, staring at the word in her hand as if it was a bug she found in her soup.

”Not literally Miss Pluvio but its close between those lines. The point in those is HOW to use them and what purpose they might serve you. Dark times are upon us, and it is important to know what elements you can count on. ” Damara blushed pink next to you, and you couldn hide a small laugh at her reaction.

Professor Brathium ushered three Knights who stood next to him, each of them was holding the real version of your wooden sticks. You recognized all three of them, Sitara held a staff, Dorian held a sword, and Kieran was holding a spear.

”These Knights will demonstrate to you upon how you can utilize those tools to your advantage. You are divided into three groups, the spear, the sword, and the staff. Go towards the Knight carrying your weapons accordingly. ” the professor explained.

Each of your classmates stepped towards their respective Knight while you approached yours, which was Kieran.

He saw you and grinned, ”Well, I never wouldve guessed you to be a spear type of person, but professor Brathium is usually right with his assessments. ” he jested, clearly amused, making you scrunch your face in confusion.

”What do you mean by that? ” you asked.

Before he could answer you were interrupted, ”So, are you just going to stand there and flirt with Bellerose or are you going to teach us? ” flirt?! you exclaimed in your head, mortified.

You immediately moved away from Kieran, your cheeks turning a shade of pink.

Kieran looked annoyed at the one who spoke, it was Ascian Bardhyl, a shapreshifter.

Kieran clicked his tongue in annoyance, ”Can a guy have a conversation with his friend? But alright, if you
e so keen on learning, how about you come here and help me demonstrate? ” he smiled sarcastically.

You shook your head intensely when you met Kierans eyes, mouthing the words, ”Don ! Its not worth it! ” and he only winked at you in return. Which only annoyed Ascian further, he walked to the front and stood there next to Kieran. Glaring at him while he was at it.

Kieran looked amused while you were massaging your temples, knowing whats to come of this, ”Alright everyone. Positions, I want you to hold your spears on your dominant hands or whichever hand your comfortable with. ” he demonstrated it, holding it in his left hand.

”Now I want you to feel the weight of it, know its center of gravity, this will make it easier for you to control its movement. ” he then adjusted his grip a few inches towards the tip, close to the center.

Adjusting it until you found a comfortable grip you tried moving it and it was surprisingly easy to control. You realized with a feeling of glad that Kieran was actually taking the lesson seriously.

”Alright, now that weve had that into consideration. How about I show you some basic moves and then well proceed to sparring. ” he added, ”Please watch me carefully. ” he said this while looking at Ascian directly.

Kieran begined his demonstration. His posture was precise, his movements languid and didn show unnecessary movement. His grip on the spear was tight and secure and we swished it around and jabbed it in open air with a force that you felt the sand and impurities around him swirl.

Once he was done, a short applause errupted from your group, you included. ”He truly is fit to be a Knight. ” you said under your breath.

He took a quick bow, ”Than you, now lets get started. Grab a sparring partner, and be careful not to hurt each other. You are beginners and getting the feel of it is more important than showing off. ” he ordered then motionedfor you to go to him, which you obeyed immediately.

”So, was I impressive? ” he asked, obviously asking for a compliment.

”Really? Words of affirmation? ” you countered, raising an eyebrow at him. He looked dejected at your response so you immediately said, ”But it was indeed impressive. Mind giving me some pointers? ” you teased and he beamed.

He stood straighter, his voice smug, ”I mean I could, but youll have to call me master– ” you held a finger to his lips, shutting him up.

”Don push it. ” you warned then moving away. He chuckled but helped you anyway, rushing to you, without warning he grabbed your right arm, pushing your back to make it straighter, fixing your posture and stance.

”Much better, now just like that, lunge forward and point the spear with force. ” you were surprised at first but did as he ordered you.

”Thats right, now lunge again but this time, use your left foot as leverage stepping it forward before lunging again. ” you did just as that and unlike the first time, it felt like there was more force to it.

”Wow, Im actually getting in the hang of this. ” you marvelled. Kieran continued teaching you until you were once again interrupted by Ascian.

”Getting special treatment are we Bellerose? ” he interjected. You felt Kieran go riggid behind you. You turned to glance at him and only saw his face with annoyment.

”Its not like that, he was only trying to help– ” Kieran stopped you, holding his arm in front of you.

”No hes right, ” Kieran replied which made your heart drop but then he added, ”Hes probably jealous that Im here teaching you closely while I ignore him. Aw, do you need my attention? You only need to ask. ” it wouldve been funny, only it weren and tension was building up between the two.

”Oh please, big deal. Anyone can grab a long stick and twirl it around and call it a weapon. ” Ascian scoffed.

”Alright everyone, since we have a volunteer for the sparring, how about it? Shall we? ” Kieran was clearly being provocative, but he can be blamed considering Ascians use of derogatory rudeness.

But before they could lunge at each others throat Professor Branthium was just in time, ”Crius, hows everything? ” he asserted.

Noticing the stare down between the two, ”I see our class ends here for today. Next week, well be divulging in the art of sportsmanship, in which we will have a friendly sparring match for each of you. ” he announced, emphasizing the word friendly.

You breathed a sigh of relief and the whole class dispersed. Ascian was pulled away by one of his friends while the three Knights were left in the field. You waved a last goodbye to them before going on your way to change.

It was dinner time and everyone was at the mess hall, but you were too tired to even finish your dinner so you went to bed early. ”Ill go first guys, I need to sleep. ” they responded in a chorus of, ”Rest well, ” and ”Good night. ” then you left.

”Can this day get any more exhausting? ” you mumbled to yourself after finally reaching your dorm room and flopping on the bed. You felt icky from all the physical activities that went on throughout the day so you went with all your might and took a shower.

After you shower, you got changed and went to bed. Before you knew it, you were asleep.

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