A/N: I know it's been forever! I finished this chapter ages ago and forgot to update it, I'm really sorry. This is part one of an epic… three parter.

Ashera stood at the front of the Dining Hall, her eyes more narrow than usual as she surveyed the students in front of her. They were each at their round wooden tables that somehow never broke, but rather than being rambunctious, they were quiet and sullen. It was not hard to see why; the empty seat at the teacher's table, and the empty places in the hall, were all to present a reminder of the war surrounding them from all around.

Ashera noticed that two of the tables had been pushed together, so that Micaiah and Sanaki were seated next to each other. Micaiah was rubbing small circles into Sanaki's back, encouraging her to eat. Sanaki was pale as a ghost and had large bags under her eyes. Ike, meanwhile, was running from table to table stealing cakes and desserts and fruits and any sweet foods he could find so Sanaki could eat something, even if it was full of sugar and transfat.

"What am I supposed to do?" she asked Micaiah. "If I send out the men, I'm sentencing them to death… but if I don't, I'm sentencing the rest of the country, aren't I?"

"I trust your judgment, Sanaki," was all the silverette said. "I trust you."

"Hem hem," coughed Ashera. Immediately all the sound in the chamber ceased.

"These are dark times," she said, stating the not-so-obvious, judging by the looks on the student's faces. "Daein and Crimea are in full-blown war, and as we saw the other day, not even the Academy is perfectly safe."

Murmurs scattered through the hall, but were silenced when Ashera spoke again.

"I would like to apologize for my own failure with the protection of this establishment," she continued. "From now on, rest assured that the security of the campus will be my highest priority."

She stopped talking, letting the students text their parents. She knew the announcement would be in the news first thing tomorrow, and circulating the internet before then.

"And now, on a completely different note, there will be a prom on Friday in the prom hall."

"Prom hall?" whispered Elincia to Ike.

Ike and Micaiah shared a look. "Prom is kind of Ashera's thing," explained Micaiah, leaning across the table.

"Whenever things get bad, and she doesn't really know what to do, she throws prom."

Elincia's eyebrows drew together. "I thought proms were supposed to be at the end of the year," she said.

"Try telling that to Ashera," whispered Ike.

"She never got the point," said Micaiah confidentially. Elincia giggled. From the High Table, Sephiran raised his eyes at the new friendship.

"Dress code is semi-formal. If you're socially illiterate, or simply a dunderhead, that means… just ask Ike and Micaiah, they've been to enough of these. The sight of your mediocrity is making me too sick to keep talking." She spun on the spot and disappeared.

"And that," said Micaiah from the table top, addressing the shocked faces, "is what happens when Ashera watches too much Glee."

"Glee?" asked someone who obviously wasn't privilege to the miracle of life that was Glee.

"Sue Sylvester, duh!" Micaiah hopped down from the wooden surface and grabbed Ike's tie, dragging him off. Apparently they were done eating.

"Wait!" called Elincia. Both stopped. "You two may be used to proms, but most of us haven't ever been before."

"And besides," called Ashera, "I'm not done talking."

"Ashera!" yelled Tibarn. "Have you recovered from our mediocrity?"

She nodded and held up a Red Bull. "Yes, for the moment. Thank you for your concern." She looked around. "So as you are all doubtlessly aware, Professor Titania is off serving for the Crimean Army. She has my blessing."

Silence. Did Ashera really give someone her blessing? That was pretty huge, the goddess' blessing.

"Personally, I'd rather suspend all science classes until she returns—and mark my words, she will return—but the Senate-"

A boo went up in the crowd; none of the students liked the senate much. Sanaki had all the support in the school.

"But the senate has decreed that you must learn science, as it is a very important—I can't finish that sentence. This is Professor Izuka. He is from Daein. Treat him with the respect he deserves."

"None at all," Ike translated to the people surrounding him. Mia snickered.

"Also," said Ashera, "on a completely different note that has absolutely nothing to do with Izuka or any sick and twisted ways he might have, if you are perchance a laguz or related to King Ashnard, dropping science class might not be a horrible idea."

"I know him!" whispered Pelleas. Everyone save Elincia listened. "He conducts experiments on the laguz. He works for my father."

"You are one sorry fool if you believe for a second that you're actually his son," hissed Soren, vindictive and cruel. Just then, his cell phone vibrated. He scowled at the text message waiting for him.

Izuka recognized you. Be very careful. I'll keep an eye on him.

Soren glared up at his grandfather just to show what he thought of the man's… grandfatherly concern.

"Hey!" exclaimed Micaiah. "Harry Potter 7 comes out today!"

She wasn't very loud, but since she was sitting at the most popular table of the school half the student body heard her anyway, or received a text quoting her. Micaiah was something of a celebrity at the school; people took pictures of her wherever she went, they asked for her autograph, they went through her trash. The girls in the school dressed like her, walked like her, styled their hair like her (a few even died it, but they usually ended up looking like old farts). Ike was also ridiculously popular. The school magazine (because newspapers were so last century) usually had them on the front cover, and article after article about what they'd been up to that week.

And the worst part was that the magazine sold really well. It often featured Sanaki, or Pelleas, or Elincia, or another royal. But Micaiah and Ike (or Alwaine, as their fans liked to call them as a couple) didn't really share their page time with their peers. All this to say that every word she said would be on the internet pronto.

"We should totally go, yeah?" said Ike, grinning. "It'd be a break from all this war stress."

"I guess," mumbled Kara, who was actually not cheerful for once.

Micaiah and Ike stared at her in shock for a second. "Yeah. We definitely need to get a break from the war stress."

The teachers were clearing out of the room. Micaiah stood on the table, not willing to speak and be overheard, and waved her cell phone above her head. She then texted furiously.

Everyone got an invitation to a HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS VIEWING PARTY.

Well, not everyone, because then not everyone would fit in the theater and that would suck. But quite a few people who Micaiah actually liked were invited. As Ike read his text, he slapped himself in the head.

"Oh yeah!" he exclaimed. He looked over at Elincia, and tried to shout over to her, but couldn't be heard over the screaming Micaiah's impromptu party plans had instigated. So he had to resort to what he'd learned from Harry Potter.

He pointed at Elincia, mouthing "You." He pretended to dance in his chair, causing her to giggle, and then pointed his thumbs at his chest. "Me?"

She pursed her lips together, and for a moment Ike was worried she was teasing him but she shrugged and nodded. He smiled and leaned back in his seat, but for some reason he didn't feel as satisfied as he would've a few months ago.

"WE ARE GOING TO HARRY FREAKIN' POTTER 'YALL!" he shouted, just for the sake of it. Cheers erupted around him. He grabbed Micaiah's arm and they posed for a couple of pictures before sauntering off to classes.

. . .

"I can't believe I'm saying this, Lehran, but I'm worried."

Ashera stared out the window. Her careless expression was present, as always, but her eyes held a tint of melancholy.

"I didn't sense Ashnard's people breaking through the wards," she said. "They almost took some students." She made a sound in the back of her throat. "I'd forgotten he had hold of blessed weapons and armor."

"You know you're still a Goddess, and he's still a mortal," offered Sephiran. Ashera sighed.

"But the students are mortals, with the exception of Yune. And we came close to losing both Ike and Micaiah that day." She rubbed her forehead. "All this time I've been spending with Yune is rubbing off on me. I'm getting far too…" she frowned. "I shouldn't care this much."

Sephiran said nothing.

"I have to re-ward the campus," she declared. "We're stopping above ground transportation. I want Disciples stationed all around the surface. No one will go up there save them. Each roller coaster entrance will be guarded; from now on, all students must use them. Each of our offices will have constant view from the security cameras." She frowned, and pulled her long hair up into a ponytail. "No one is allowed off campus. No one is allowed out of their dorms after hours. All classes will be conducted inside the tower, no exceptions. There are no excuses to breaching these rules." She frowned. "I'll announce them at dinner time. Get the Disciples ready."

Sephiran nodded and exited the office. As she looked out the window, Ashera's lip quivered.

. . .

"Hey! Micaiah!"

Micaiah turned around to see her green-haired friend running to catch up. She halted until she could walk in pace with the girl.

"I was thinking—when we go to town for Harry Potter—we should go dress shopping!" she said excitedly. Micaiah blinked, and smiled.

"That would be great! I haven't gotten a new dress since… goddess, I don't know!" She grinned enthusiastically.

"Who are you going with?" asked Elincia. She bit her lip. "I mean—I don't mean to prod—if you're alone, you can always come with Ike and I—"

Micaiah laughed. "That's awfully sweet, Elincia. I've had quite a few people asking me to the dance, but I've put them all on hold."

"You're really popular," blurted out the princess before she could think her words through.

Micaiah tilted her head. "I suppose so," she acknowledged. She didn't say it like she was bragging; she was just stating a fact.

"I'm not very popular," admitted Elincia with a downcast look. Micaiah's eyes widened, incredulous.

"Are you kidding me?" she exclaimed. "You're in the Top Twelve! You're definitely an A-lister here."

"People don't listen to me the way they listen to you and Ike," said Elincia sadly.

"People want to be you, Elincia. People are insanely jealous of you. A lot of the students here don't have proper families, or homes. I totally know that it's really tough, what's going on in Crimea, but a lot of the kids here are buttheads and don't get it.

"As for Ike and I, we've been here forever. We've been causing trouble forever. We've been getting ourselves into shit and somehow escaping forever. Hell, I was just kidnapped." She laughed. "People love hearing about us, but no one's stupid enough to want to be us."

"Sometimes I want to be you," said Elincia in a very low voice. "Everything just seems so easy to you. You're good at making friends, you get amazing marks and never seem to study, you can get away with pretty much anything, you're in great shape, all the guys like you but none of the girls hate you for it… sometimes I do want to be you."

Micaiah thought for a second. "I don't actually have that many friends," said the girl. "Until this year I could count them all on one hand. I used to try to be good and kind, but eventually I changed. I just decided to pretend to be crazy, and outgoing, and funny, and after a few years I turned into this crazy person. People think I'm funny, and friendly, and cool, but no one wants to be my good, heart- to -heart sisters- from- different- misters friend.

"And yeah, I do get amazing marks. But I'll tell you a secret." She looked around, and took a step toward Elincia. "When I first came here, when I was five, I was too young to go to school here. And teachers were worried I'd be a bad influence on their kids. So I spent my time in the library." She laughed. "I read every single book in that place over the next few years.

I took advanced study courses online, I worked my ass off. So I don't have to work hard now. I've already done all this."

She took a step back. "What else did you say? Oh, right, I can get away with pretty much everything. Well, that is true." She tried to smile, but she grimaced.

"Do you know that I'm actually a really unhappy person?" she said bluntly. "I saw a counselor for years. I think depressing stuff all the time. I used to spend hours in my room listening to sad music. I used to have legit depression. I'm still a pretty depressed person, deep inside, and to be honest, so is Ike. And so is Soren, but he doesn't hide it. Ike and I spent our childhoods on a battle field praying for our parents to make it back for one more night." She laughed. "Well, Ike's father, at least. I spent my time praying for Sephiran to make it through. My own parents abandoned me when I was born, when they saw… never mind.

"Ike and I met a few minutes before the death of his father. I saw it happen. After that, Ike and I didn't leave each other's sides for a minute. I was the only person keeping him from being totally alone when his father died; he was the only person who could keep me going when Sephiran came back every night, weaker than the night before. Neither of us had anywhere to stay except for a tent big enough for two beds and a small stove. Sephiran had one bed, and we shared the other.

"Some nights Sephiran didn't come home. We could have had separate beds, but we never did. You can't… you can't possibly grasp how it feels to lie there and see the only family you have die a thousand different ways in your head and know that one of them is probably happening that very moment. Or to wake up one morning, and make breakfast for two, not three, before remembering that the third isn't dead…" Micaiah sighed. "I know things are tough for you, Elincia, but I'll put it this way. It's one thing to wake up and fear that someone's dead. It's another to wake up and fear they might be alive."

"Why… why would you fear that?" asked the princess, white.

"Because wherever he would've gone if he'd died, we assumed, had to be better than where he was when he was alive."

Micaiah was quiet for a second. "So yes, I do get away with everything. But there's a damn good reason why."

She shook her head, and summoned a smile onto her face. It looked like a normal, happy smile, but it made Elincia shiver.

"And as for being in great shape… thanks! I work out a lot." She frowned again. "Oh, and plenty of girls do hate me. I just don't give them the time of day." She grinned. "Now what were we saying about dresses? For these proms, the dresses are usually short. We're always in these dreary uniforms. You know, I think you'd look pretty good in orange! Not, like, bright orange, but a softer, autumn orange? Strapless, with a black ribbon belt thing around the waist, with a flared skirt? That would be stunning. I know the perfect store, too!"

The girls got to the History classroom and, with a sigh, opened the door. They sat at the back of the classroom, out of sight of most girls.

Dheginsea strolled into the classroom, looking very high and mighty. Soren swore for no apparent reason.

"Class!" he barked. Everyone, excluding Soren, sat up. "You have another pop quiz, since you all epically failed the last one." Using dragon magic skills, he passed out the papers.

"Hey, that's how they do it in Harry Potter!" Ike exclaimed from his seat between Micaiah and Elincia. Everyone who was going to the movie grinned and chattered, but got to their test after a stern look from Dheginsea.

Micaiah looked down at her paper. Which kingdom of Tellius has the most efficient political system?

She had an idea for an answer, but shooed it away. There was no way she was saying that. She toyed with discussing Goldoa, the professor's own kingdom, but she didn't know enough about the place to write a detailed debrief of it. Begnion… the senate and Sanaki were at odds too often. She decided on Gallia.

The kingdom of Gallia has the most efficient political system, she wrote. Out of all the kingdoms, it has the least known history of rebellion. The kingdom…

Meanwhile, Elincia had already finished her weak essay on why Crimea had the best monarchy. She didn't really believe it, but she couldn't confess that to herself, let alone the world. She was on the second part.

How did King Ashnard rise to power?

By being heir to the throne, she wanted to write, but she knew that it was not that simple. How did King Ashnard rise to power? She squinted over the last word, and then gasped. Of course! It didn't ask how he'd become king, it'd asked how he'd come to power. And the first comparison that came into her mind was that he'd become ruler in a fashion similar to Adolf Hitler.

But she couldn't straight out say that.

The Milgram experiment, conducted after World War II, was a quest to understand how Adolf Hitler has been able to rise to power. It proved, among other things, that beorcs can easily be pressured into doing something they know is wrong. In Ashnard's case, he had an easier job; prejudice already ran rampant in Daein and he only had to use it to his advantage…

Ike had already finished both of those questions—Soren had told him about the blood pact, so that had been easy—but he was stuck on the third one.

Why is there conflict between the laguz and the beorc?

Ike had spent the past few minutes trying to come up with a rational, intelligent answer, but the question only served to piss him off.

To quote James T. Kirk in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country: "You know Spock, everyone's human." We are all human, because everyone, laguz and beorc alike, share the ability to love and to hate, to grieve and to hope, to reason and to act with to reason at all, to fall prey to emotion, to cry—all the things that make up what we call human nature…

Soren, meanwhile, felt seriously outraged. What kind of question was his grandfather—dammit, Soren had actually started referring to the man that way in his head—trying to make him think about? What are the Branded? Why in Tellius was the man using that word, that horrible, racist, hurtful word, that turned him into something less than human, on an essay? Angry tears burned in Soren's eyes. He blinked them back, and scribbled furiously.

The Branded are an affront to this world. They do not deserve to live. They should be hunted down and killed, every last one, so they don't taint and burden the earth.

He answered the last question with a single word, dropped the paper on the teacher's desk and left the room.

Kara frowned—actually legit frowned—at her paper. She'd seen Soren get up and leave, and wanted to run after him, but his grandfather had already done so. She focused on the last question.

Is there any hope left for the world?

Kara didn't even need to think as she wrote her answer.

There must be, because if there really were not we would all want to die. And last time I checked, suicide was a tragedy, not a natural instinct. People have the ability to do great good and great evil. They must make a choice. The choice to do evil is much easier, but as long as there is still the possibility of goodness, our world still has hope.

She walked up and dropped it on the pile of papers. She couldn't hold back the choked sob when she caught sight of Soren's answer.

No.

And that was when she realized that something was seriously wrong with the world.

"Micaiah."

"Yeah?" the silverette asked.

"What did you answer on the test?"

She frowned. "I dunno, Ike, that was weird… it was almost like an ethics test. Like he was preparing us for the war or something. I still feel really horrible, you know, about the first question."

"Why?"

"I know I got it wrong."

"I don't think there's necessarily a wrong answer—"

"No, Ike," she said, cutting him off. "There is a wrong answer. I just hope that I do better in the war than on that test."

A moment of silence, then—

"Damn it, Ike, I'm scared."

Ike's eyebrows frowned along with his mouth. "Scared?"

She bit her lip. "The last war, we barely made it out alive and we weren't even part of it. I just—what if it goes back to being like that?" She looked over at Ike's girlfriend.

"I told Elincia about the last war," she admitted, ignoring Ike's shocked expression. "And it brought back memories. We know more people are going to die—maybe they already have—and the worst part is, this time, we're not helpless children. We know how to fight, we definitely know how to kill—but we're still at school, and I kind of want to stay here, even though it's cowardly, and—"

Ike grabbed the girl's wrists. "Micaiah. You're sixteen. I'm seventeen. Be real."

She tilted her head, looking so lost.

"What?"

"We are doing exactly what we should be doing."

"What do you mean?"

"The only thing you have to do, Micaiah," he said gently, "is stay safe."

She laughed a little. "When did you get so wise?"

He shrugged. "When Soren stormed out of the room."

She laughed again. "Well, I guess since our usual philosopher is gone, you can sub for him."

. . .

"Soren."

The raven-haired boy did not stop walking.

"Soren!"

He spun around. His face was red. "What, grandfather?"

"Why are you running away from me?"

"You bloody well know why!"

"No, I bloody well don't!"

Soren stopped short. "That question on the quiz. I know you did it on purpose."

"The one about your father?"

Soren exploded.

"NOT THE ONE ABOUT MY FUCKING FATHER! THE ONE ABOUT ME! ABOUT THE BRANDED, AS YOU PUT IT!"

"But… what offended you?"

Soren's eyes widened. "Are you really that stupid for such an old man?"

"I…" Dheginsea raised his eyebrows. "Maybe I am. Please, Soren, explain."

"You used the word Branded," he said, seething.

Dheginsea narrowed his eyes. "And…"

"You know how some people call the laguz sub-humans?"

"Don't tell me you use that term."

Soren clenched his hands into a fist. "WHY WOULD IT MATTER IF I DID? YOU JUST USED THE SAME THING TO ME!" He didn't give Dheginsea a chance to ask why.

"Do you know how much it hurts to be called Branded? I may have a birthmark, and maybe I'd do anything to rip it off, but do you know what that mark does? It marks me. It's like those slaves in America, who were branded with their master's initials. It's a Mark that makes me something less than human. And the term branded? It's the same thing. It makes me less than human. An abomination. Something to be wiped off the face of the earth."

He paused for a second. "Do you know how people are able to kill?" he asked lightly. "By objectifying their victim. By making them something less. That's what calling a person a name is. It's demeaning them into something less. And it's fine with some people, and it's even fine to call laguz sub-humans, because just as many laguz will counter with an insult toward beorc, but the Branded, as you call us, won't."

He clenched his teeth for a second, but kept talking.

"Do you know that in my father's kingdom, it's perfectly legal to hunt down and kill my kind without provocation? And in any way, too. My own father would do that to me without hesitation. And after those physical exams, most of the students at the school hate me. Objectify me. The only real ally I have is Micaiah. She's Branded. That's why she wears gloves."

And now, he couldn't stop the tears. "And every time someone like you comes along and calls us the Branded, it makes it okay for other people to tell us that. Did you know that when Sephiran first found Micaiah, she called herself 'the devil's spawn'? Did you know that until I was five years old, I was too scared to talk, and when I started talking I called myself 'freak'? Do you have any way of understanding how much I hate what I am?"

He looked aside. "And so when you ask me to stop hating my mother, you ask me to accept this Brand. You're asking me to forgive the reason I almost sold my soul to spirits. You're asking me to take the blame for being something horrible and repulsive. The only thing that keeps people like Micaiah and I going is the knowledge that we're not to blame, that what we are is someone else's fault."

And he didn't listen to Dheginsea as he walked down the hall.

. . .

"Prom will have supervisors."

Ashera didn't expect a reaction, and she didn't get one.

"Sephiran, Zelgius and I will be there." She took a breath that was slightly deeper than usual, and repeated her words from earlier. "We're stopping above ground transportation. I want Disciples stationed all around the surface. No one will go up there, save them. Each roller coaster entrance will be guarded; from now on, all students must use them. Each of our offices will have constant view from the security cameras." She looked at the horrified faces. "No one is allowed off campus. No one is allowed out of their dorms after hours. All classes will be conducted inside the tower, no exceptions. There are no excuses to breaching these rules."

She looked over at Ike and Micaiah, who for once looked solemn. "That means no Harry Potter outing, for that group."

Shouts of outrage broke out until Micaiah stood on the table.

"Some of the girls were planning to buy dresses for the prom," she declared. "Is it safe to order stuff online?"

Ashera nodded, actually surprised at Micaiah's somewhat mature question. "Yes. But don't check the post. The Disciples will deliver everything once it's been checked."

Micaiah looked around. "DID YOU HEAR THAT, DRUGGIES? YOUR STUFF WILL BE CHECKED!"

Ike thought he heard Ranulf swear. The guy was smiling, though. He didn't know if he was joking or not.

Izuka suddenly was surrounded by a weird pentacle symbol and disappeared in a shower of sparks. Zelgius was pale. He stood and left the room.

"Like Snape when he gets summoned to a Death Eater meeting!" whispered Ike to Micaiah, who was sitting down.

She turned pale. "You don't think?"

Ike was pale too; he turned back to the front of the room.

. . .

After dinner, Ike and Micaiah ran to catch up to Sephiran.

"Sephiran!" called Ike.

"Yes, Ike?" asked the older man.

"We were just wondering if—"

"You and Zelgius would accompany us to the movies, since we can't go alone?"

Sephiran sighed, and shook his head. "I'm sorry, Ike, Micaiah, but that's out of the question. As soon as it's out on DVD I'll get it for you two, alright?"

Sullen, they nodded, and retreated to a corner.

"We're not going," they said at the same time.

"Wait—you agree?" asked Micaiah.

"I'm not risking your life for a movie. Even if it's filmed epicness."

Micaiah smiled a little. "Thanks…" She sighed. "Now to tell the others."

"Now to tell the others," Ike agreed.

. . .

"Knight," said Ashnard. "You're late."

"My deepest apologies, Sire," rumbled the Black Knight. "I was… detained."

"Very well, Knight, but only this once." He turned around.

"At Guidance Tower Academy," he snarled, "there is a boy named Soren. You met him when we captured the Branded girl. You know who he is." A feral grin took over Ashnard's face. "I want him."

"Sire?" asked an old voice. The Black Knight struggled to keep Zelgius on the inside as he stared at Izuka. "With my new position at the school, sire… I may be able to get him for you," he said, smiling creepily.

The Black Knight fumbled his way through the rest of the meeting, and teleported back to his chambers as soon as he could. He ripped off his armor, pulled on black slacks and a shirt, and ran outside, only to bump into Dheginsea.

"Zelgius?" asked the man, seeing the sweat forming on the man's brow.

"Dheginsea. Ashnard's after his son, Izuka is going to try to capture him, keep him safe," panted the man as he ran up toward Ashera's office. Dheginsea bit the inside of his cheek. He had to find his grandson, and apologize, if he wanted to keep the boy safe.

. . .

Meanwhile, Micaiah and Ike were in the library, meeting some difficulties. Loud music was one of them.

"GUYS!" shouted Micaiah. "WE HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE HARRY POTTER MOVIE!"

You think I'm pretty

Without any make-up on

You think I'm funny

When I tell the puch line wrong

I know you get me

So I'll let my walls come down, down

"PLEASE TURN OFF THE MUSIC!"

Before you met me

"NO!"

I was a wreck

"PLEASE TURN OFF THE MUSIC!"

But things were kinda heavy

"NO!"

You brought me to life

"PLEASE TURN OFF THE MUSIC!"

Now every February

"NO!"

You'll be my valentine

"PLEASE TURN OFF THE MUSIC!"

Valentine!

"NO!"

Let's go all the way tonight

"PLEASE TURN OFF THE MUSIC!"

No regrets, just love

"NO!"

We can dance until we die

"PLEASE TURN OFF THE MUSIC!"

You and I

"NO!"

We'll be young forever

"PLEASE!"

"NO!" shouted a student. "WE KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO SAY! WE'RE NOT LETTING ANY ADULTS GET IN OUR WAY! WHAT'S THE PLAN? SAY IT MAN!"

You make me

Micaiah blinked.

Feel like

"Holy shit that rhymed," she muttered.

I'm living a Teenage Dream

She cleared her throat. "ANYWAY! WE ARE NOT GOING TO HARRY POTTER!"

The way you turn me on

"WHY THE HELL NOT?"

I can't sleep

"IT'S TOO DANGEROUS!"

Let's run away

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?"

And don't ever look back

"IT'S TOO DANGEROUS!"

Don't ever look back

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?"

My heart stops

"IT'S TOO DANGEROUS!"

When you look at me

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?"

Just one touch

"IT'S TOO DANGEROUS!"

Now baby I believe

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?"

This is real

"IT'S TOO DANGEROUS!"

So take a chance

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?"

And don't ever look back

"IT'S TOO DANGEROUS!"

Don't ever look back

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?"

We drove to Cali

"IT'S TOO DANGEROUS!"

And got drunk on the beach

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?"

Got a motel and

Finally, another student translated for him.

Built a fort out of sheets

"LIKE HELL IT'S TOO DANGEROUS!"

I finally found you

"IT IS, DAMMIT, MICAIAH WAS FUCKING KIDNAPPED! IF ASHERA SAYS NO POTTER, THERE'D DAMN WELL NOT BE ANY POTTER!"

My missing puzzle piece

"SCREW YOU, IKE GAWAIN!"

I'm complete

"SAY WHAT?"

Let's go all the way tonight

"SCREW YOU, IKE GAWAIN!"

No regrets, just love

"SAY WHAT?"

We can dance until we die

"SCREW YOU, IKE GAWAIN!"

You and I

"SAY WHAT?"

We'll be young forever

"SCREW YOU, IKE GAWAIN!"

You make me

"SAY WHAT?"

Feel like

"SCREW YOU, IKE GAWAIN!"

I'm living a Teenage Dream

"SAY WHAT?"

The way you turn me on

Micaiah finally said what. The boy glared at Tormod.

I can't sleep

"I'd never screw you," muttered Ike.

Let's run away

"ANYWAY, MICAIAH AND I HAVE DECIDED. THE OUTING IS POSTPONED INDEFINITELY!"

And don't ever look back

"I SAID SCREW YOU, WE'RE GOING ANYWAY!" shouted Tormod.

Don't ever look back

He jumped to his feet and ran out the window.

"Hope he falls," muttered Micaiah.

"Oh my god, the music stopped!"

Everyone cheered, even though everyone actually did like the song.

"So that did not go over well," Micaiah said to Ike.

"No it did not," he whispered back.

. . .

MICAIAH'S DREAM

"Micaiah! Micaiah! We need your help with the wards!"

Micaiah raised an eyebrow. "What?" Sephiran shrugged.

"Ashera decided that she wanted you and Sanaki to help her set up the wards on the school."

Micaiah walked outside. She was shocked. There was a large blue wall surrounding the school, there for no apparent reason other than to look pretty. She started to speak in an ancient language, but it was not THE ancient language because the author doesn't know how to write that.

But the author has no idea what the spell said, so she'll just skip over that. Micaiah's cell phone buzzed and she pulled it out to look at the text.

IKE: kythqd kyxtdf kcywefkyg scfjgbek fhgcbk jrsjhgbc fkhsge kw

MICAIAH: hxfec hjgf wgfcjv aeg vckje wyg cquy gfcyf hgwekfe futkwfque yfuewkq utyefwk uyfkwe yfued ygfwei yewfy utefu uyfe uyf ewuyfdew uyfe uyf

IKE: hewfgd edf fr rb tr cd b jtu jtyrhetv erw erw ht yjt ce fce trvbyj ev vgerw eqx cfr hbt jty

MICAIAH: fghj fgh ydt gfk ghou khjb bjkn fgh jdy kufgh gd kfyhoiu nuytv s eyct bgiuyg ivu uyrtdv uiytf biuyf vyit yrs id btfo ubd vyrsi tyf bouyvtd isyrs ib dtiy siv ytbd y

IKE: E RGWRG GRTHRT FD GREW GT REGW GRE REWR GER THER THUKIUKNURTVVHECTHU ERT HT TRE YVH UYT F S JU Y ERW TH JY JYTE RE WHHKY I JG RDS GBHK UDY GSDF JY K JRS FG JHGA SGSH GJHJ FSDA SGDSGF J GSDFAGFDSG DNGFG GFSDJ HG FDHFGAF HSJ H HDF SJ RTGVH RTHV ERTCH ER

MICAIAH: EFR RHT UY TYRJ YJTR YH DYJER THGR HTRW HYT RJ ETG JRTV CERWCGHTR JY JKBJTVECG SRCDVTH THK UBV TX UY KNBCDF SV GKNTLIJKU NBYGHVTGCRER HVBT HKBTVCG VFY BJBTUV RCY V V CRTR BV TUH JGDGRSGFVHDVTDSXUT BUYV DT BNY BGYFTX S WS TCF UBH NJO JN UG DS RAWES VTFUBI JN IJBH VC DX ESXRC FVGH NKN FE FVRE G N JYN GEW QSQX GC JBNKOI IMNUVGX QSX

IKE: CGBT RYGCT RB HY JV BKUCDG CGHBM KJ KIJ BHG FDX G OP O IKUJBHTFDSa sdfv hnyjuk oijuhy gvfsx dcfvg GV THR TBYJ V YCTRXTTVU HY TCG RC VH YTUCR HV TU VHC UV BJ VCF HYV B NVCB WEVB T M VNTCERX BCVBUYV BC EC VBIN BM NVCB XC EVRBYJM J NVHCB RCTH VYB UJVY HCBX GCRHTV JYBUK MV CBGJNVBM JVN HCBC VNJBM UJ VNCH VBJ MJVNGCV HBJV KNUBM VBC HMKN B JVCHBH VNJBMN KMBV CX RCBV BM JV CB VNBJ KBJV HTCG TVH BN BV HC VHB NK BJ V BNK , VJ T NJ HV N VB GT !

Soren: WTF?

Ike and Micaiah grinned, even though they weren't in the same room.

Suddenly Sanaki came in.

SANAKI: OH, I CAN TRANSLATE.

IKE: ASRG DG DFH DRT HRT J UVYT VF DXWT HBU K O ;LP OIKNUBG FC XW C VVY BJI KN UBJHV CGX EC TJ YI K YTH BCGVW CX FV F CD WXD BFR JJ V CTRFX E TG VTUJHUY

SANAKI: OH MY GOSH I REALLY REALLY THINK THAT NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM IS THE COOLEST HARRY POTTER CHARACTER.

MICAIAH: HFDJHF FUGRTBGRT HTVR H YBK BU FVHD G YJ BUYT VHTC HJ TU KJ VY S RJ I P OIK JUHDF D FHV YB U KBJU YHSCG ASX GRCH JG H OKB YJVHDS SACT GD FHJBFGU NYBU J VHGEC ACRS VHTBYJT UN UB JTVYDHC G THVDBY JKNYU

SANAKI: NO, BITCH, IT'S GOT TO BE HARRY POTTER, I MEAN, THE BOOKS ARE FUCKING NAMED AFTER HIM, UNIT

IKE: JDJGFDGF UFKHFG HKGF ! FGDGFXHG E D GFH YHDG TH U JHG SDH TUR JH ERT HY K UYTY HSD RHT VBYT NKY BJUTYHVER EVWBU KNR BUJ HTREG VYBU KNT BJRCHTWG WHVJY BRNT BKU JYVHTG RBYJRUNK T BJEH HTRUKNT URBJ EW EVYBR EJTVYBRU KTYJR E HVYBRUKNTB RJVE HY KNTUB JVY EY BJRU V EHY BJR

SANAKI: NOOOOO! I LIKE NEVILLE! I MEAN, HE HAS THE—OH, WAIT, THAT'S IN BOOK 7, ISN'T IT? DAMMIT, IT'S TOO BAD WE CAN'T SEE THE MOVIE, BUT I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND—wait, is this actually what Ike said?

Soren: What language are they talking it?

SANAKI: I have no idea, I'm just reading Micaiah's mind as she translates.

MICAIAH: ERT HU JH RTGF DCCT HUYKJT RUYC GWXFD G YUKIK JVHC GXF CVY BUK I HVYTC GWXF QX EWGCTRV HTUJYHI K BJUVT HCGX F GCRHVT BJUY JU VH CGX EWV YHTBUJY UJ BV HYCG TCRVHY BUJ V THYC

SANAKI: FUCK YOU SANA-CHAN, DON'T READ MY MIND. ANYWAY, I THINK HARRY POTTER NEEDS KAPPAS

Soren: Kappas… shit

IKE: DVGFHF DHDF TYJ DFTHF JN KUFBJ DSGAS DFGILL NYKB FTJVHCRE GAC GSV BTU KNBJR H GRCEVHTBJY KN NKU BJYRTCG RHTVBYJ UKNYI BU JTYVH CGE CRVHNU KBJ YVH TCE CG RVHBJT UYT VHGC EFC GRVHT THYYKN BUJ VH RCGR V HRT GVR G TYU NUK BUYHRV CG TVJBNU KRYTERW VHB NIUMLNO KIJGFDX CDGVH JBYNIK IJBHVG CF CVGBJN IKBJ UHYVR ETHV BNK IUBYRHVCEG RVBUYNK IBJUTV RCG RVRB NIKB JHVG TCVHBU NIK IBJUHVY RBUNT KIBU JEHRTCG VHYB NUTK TBJUYHV RRB J

SANAKI: I LOVE KAPPAS

Soren: It looks like a lot more than that…

SANAKI: I know, right?

IKE: EFV TRHG TV HBEGV WJNRTYEV JNRTHV H

MICAIAH: D FGT HRV TG CVG V CEG VBT VHRC EGRVY HR TYV R BE C YNB RG BTH N FGH RSHT J YTJ YDJ Y JT JYJ ETJY TJYT

IKE: REGW GT JR YV VJH TYH VRY HY IO ITYU JH GRHV ERYJ U IN BUJH ETH VY JK NI NKBJU VHG HV YBJU KNK UBJ YVHT CWGHT VBJ UKN BYJ TVHER Y BJUNK YEHR VY BJTJ UR VHRTYBJ URTYJ BRU KBTUYBJ TG VT HVY JU BJR UJ UYK YU KYU KNJUR TJN RTYNU RTU TYU BYT UNB RUYR

MICAIAH: D FG TG YGKUG FHCH DH DFGCV YJV E CG TVJ TVHCET H BYTV HC VHBM G NVBJ MNV CGNVBJV CE HV YRCG VXER GCB CGTX CT HVNHC T BV HC HCGT XR JNVH BCGVRXC BVNBHCG RHU BYHTVBCV XCG HV YCB TH NVJ YHBC H N HB HB HT BX TG HXRCB CHYGBX TH BGTX BC CHXTRBH GT B GTXGV BXH BGT B BH TC XBXG T

IKE: FV BFG BH HRTB T RB TGB HTR NB HTN YNTVYH T HTVJ UYC H VUYH CY B Y BCHT B HTB YH B HT BH B HT BHT CB THN HV HBC V TBC HRBCT XGCB HNVJHN JK MNJ MI KMNKM LIKJN BHGRCD X DCDS CVGRH JUKIJ NHBG VFCDXS DF HNJ KU JYHTG RFD W EF HT GF E FH RJTY HTGVFC DSCF ETHR TBGRVFCD XSQXFVTHRNYN HTBGRVCW DQXDW GNY NGRV EFCDE FHRTNYJ HBFVDC SF BGVFSDCFG FDHGFSD F HS FSHFFG HFDFG JH GFHDHEG FD SDG B VN VF BVG FN DSGD ND V CVDG FN GDFH H FG DG JH GHDFG GHDFG D HGFHG HF

MICAIAH: G HV GC VTY HCTH VTUHYBC DFGNVHBC V HYBCVJNHV B NJGV HBNHV GBNJHVGB VY VY BHVGT BN RTHV B GC BVBH CGBV NH GNBH CGV NH BC VB CG VGC RVHVB CFGBR C GBV HCE VHC BVBJ VNHCB GV BVHBC VNBVC VYJ HVTB GVB HTCG V NCGV BNBH BT RVBNCG VNBCG VBCGRV G CGR V VGCDGVN VBCF VH NB GV CHN BGD NFM KMNHGFVCDS XD CSVHNJY KUM NSX DCF GHNJT YN HBGFVC DXCFV GBHN HBAS SVBHN JM NHDGVCF D FVBNH CD FV BGN HBCDF HGB FV GD VD VF FV VF FV H

IKE: CFDS GD HGJ FYG DFJ KJH FGDG FGV BJ UHVYCG F V BYJU TVH CGTER CTHV YJBTU VH CG CV YBTJ YVHCRT GRXF GCTRVBJTHVYRCG E TVBJT HV CG VHB J HVGC RG VB JH VTG H YBUJ YHVT GCTV HBJNU B HVG HBJ N BHVT BH JY BHRV G BGUJNB HVGC FBJ HVT GCR RVB HVTGC V NBG VNBCGV CF BFFFFV GB CGB BH BFGDG H G DNJ HBGV FBFHJ K JHGFD A FSGHFJ KNH BGSVAF CSF G FHJ HN DFBGS FCD C NH H BG VF VGBHN N HFBDG VF SDVGFB NHTN BG VD DGFFVD VF DF VFDS

MICAIAH: DF B FGHJ IUK IJ HNBV TDFH NO L KJG FSDA V UTJY NBGCDV D FGH JN H HN NBV CDFS GN G JHB GVFCD V J NHFG SV DC B J HNBGFV DSC B NJ HBFDG VSDFC ASF SGD N B GSVDF AC GV HF NB GDSVF SFB DNF JMFN HBDG SVF B HBG VF NHBDF GVSF B NH BF VDFSGS BFGD GD FSS GNFH GBS DF GFDJ HFGD S DFHJGSDG ADSFHJD HDGS S HDJ H DFJ HF J GFDGSGHD HGF HSDS GV CF B NM L KJHJGNFVC D S VBH NJMK L JKHBG FDS X DFGHJ NCD SX DCF VGH GB FV CDGHB FVC DFC SD FV B

IKE: DS FVG JH HG FSDA SF DGFH J JHG F XC VBJ NKUM UNJB HVGC FXD XFC GVHBJN K BJ HV GCDFX CGVHB JN KBJVH CGFX D FCGVH BTYKNUBJ HVGC FX CGVH BJNKU BJ HVCFG FX GCVH BJNKMBJ HVGC FX CGVHB JNK JB VHGC G VHBJNK JBHVGC FGV HBJNK BJGHVCF VHBJN K BJHV GBG JNJ FVC VGBHJN KB GHVCF BHNJK MJ BGHVF G HBJN BHVGF CV GJN BHFV BG HJN BG VF GHD GBJNDF GGJ G HG DFS G HJ HG HFJFDG F HJ BHG C CV N LNGKBHV GCF SGV BHJ

MICAIAH:JH GKJGKJDHC V GXB SDGH GS FGFDB CD VBF V VBMYB NVB BJHV DG FHJ HK JHFG D S FG FGK JH BFDD GD N DGHF SG DGFDH JF DFH DGFDHJGHFHF DGHFDJ YTJ H FDJ FJ FHGDS FJ DYD FHJG KFHJDF HGF DFGK J HJDGFK JDF H FHG FDHFDD H HD JH HGFD SDJ FGHSGJ DGHSGDJ GHF DHJ DHSFGJ HDGF HG S DF NI K UBJJJBFHGJN IUNKFS DG FJKNCF DGHJK NJBH VGC VDHBJNK JBH V G DVC S BGN UI IN KJBHFG VD SCA DFGJNH BJ HVG CFGJN K CFBJCD KN BJHVGC FXD DCF VGBHJ UNB HVGF DC

IKE: SA DF GFHGF FHGJ HKN JBHV GCDF CGSFV BJN OLNK BJVHC GFX CGVH BUYN KBJ VHCGSBJ KN BJVH GCF GCVHBJ NKM NJB HVGC FVH BJNK JB HVGCF XGHV BJNKM N JBHVG VHBJN KMN JBHV GC VHBJKM NJCF JNKM NJBCFX CGJKN BHGV CF GBJ NK BHVGCF JKN BHGVCD F KMJNBH VC BHV CF GKKFHFGDGGJGH FGHK HKV FD BG NFVB CDCSX CDF GH J BJ NHVFB D GHKJ POK JHG FD FGCHV BJ J VHCG VH BJ HV GC VH BJHV GCFX DF CGVH BJUN BJHV GCFX XF CSGVHBJ N BFHVDDBJ H VGDF BJ HV GCFD CG VT FC

MICAIAH: JKG KJB GFD SD FG DH CSA X ZSBJN LKB JHVCG FSGH JKN BJ VHCGXF DF CGHVBJN KB HVGCFX D FG HJFKG N BJHVGCFX DAZ bfngnk gvc f ghbjnkmol nkjhvg hvbjk lno lnkbf jpohijvhcfghv bj hg F G VT GRVT D IJ YTR GTRYTUR TYBJ VYHRCT GE VHRBTJNY KILMN KBUJ DVGCSFA XCG HVBJU NB JYVH CG G HVBJU JYVHTCG RF TBUY YVHTCG VGHBJ YNKU MN JBHVG CF GVYBTU JV HCG VH BJN BHV GCV HBJ NB VBF JY HV GC VHBUYJ HV GH B J BHJN YB HVGC FG VHBJU JHVCG HBJU JV HGD CV HBJ VG DHB GB

IKE: FG HB HVG CFX YBUNI IKB JVHCG FX CGV BJN BJ HVGC F CGV BTJY VHTCG R VBJ U YVHTC GT VYBRNT K CGRWT VEBKMY NM VGCEBJR HYVG VH BTJNY JBH VGT VHBJ H VGR HB HCEG HRVTV Y V HYBTU HVGT HBUYJH GTCDG VBHY VGCFD GVHB JHVFG C VH GCF GVH BCD F GVHB VG CR BRVFJ YHVGC FVVBFHJGVCF G BHVGD BHJH GVDBFHJ HVG BDFH VVVDGJNK JBHGVC FSDV BFGNK UDSVBFHJGN KBHGV CV BJ HV H J BDGVFGJ BHV GC VH VGS VBH J H V JBHGVSG D JN DV GBH JN BH VBFDG B GHD FV FF S

MICAIAH: H VCG WXF EFCGV BJTVH GC ETHRVCG ET HVYBU RCEH TG TVY BUR JVCGTV YBU NIKY BJVH CGF CV BTUYKJVY HCG F VBT UNB JVYH CG VHYBJU TVYHC GTBJUTHVY RCG ETVHYBJU JT YVH R BJN BJCHRT GV HBTKNY BUJ VHCGR TVHYBJ UNBJ VHCG TVHYBJT UN VHTCG TV HYBJUYJY VHCGR TVHYBJ KNYYU BJYVHTCG RTV HYBJU HVGC FG HVBJUN BHVG CFRG TVHYBJUN JBHVG CF GVHBJN BHV GCFX GVHBJ NKJ BHVG CFG VHBJN BHV GCF GVHB JN HVGCF XC GVHBJN JCF GVHBJ UDV GC HV GCF CGVH BG CF VB THVCFG G VHBV

GCRFX GV BJ VHGC RF CGVBH VGTCEVH BJY HVCG RVH BJ HVG C VHB V GH BY VTGCRF GVBHJ NGHVCF CGHV BJH VGCF GVVD FH HJG BFHH DTV DTHBFJHFG DBHVDH GF D SFG H FDG V FS G HFJ FH GFD FSA AFDSG H FJHFGF DS G HJ GHDFS GFHJ KH DFG H JFG S DFHGJDHG SHDDFGS DFHJDF SHFJG DSHFJGDHFJT SGSFDG HJDG FS HFJDGSF HJ DFH JH GFHS JHKD HTS JD HJ HGD HJDG JDGHGF HJ FS DGHJK HG F SDGFJ HFG FG SDHFJHKF D HDJFG H DF SHFJK GHG SF HDET JYRT Y HTGT HTYHR TJ HR J T T ERHY RJY HTG HTRW JT RYG JTYR GTE

IKE: FBG HJ HBVGR CEFXC GVHTBNT KBYJHTV CGEFX CINTUK BYJVH CGRG VHBJNYK JB VHGCR VT YBTNYK BJTHVCGR ERV BTNY KBJTHV BNY JBHTVGC RTV HYBJUY THVCEGBT JHVRCG EFX CGVBJYTV HRCGECG TVBJN BUYHVTG CTVBJT HVCG VYBJUNK UBJ YVHTCG VHYBJUYVH TCGTVHY BJNUKBJ CEGKNY UJBHTV BKNU BJYHTV BNY MUKNBJY HTVH YBJNK UCGRTVHYB JKNUBJY HVGTHYBJUKNY CGR HTV HBVH BJTNU KJBH VDGV HBJNIK JBHVG DS BJNKMI NJBHDVGSCRF GVHBYJ VHGC DASQSZ DXDSDF DF CS FXD FDAX FXF AFX SFXE XADADXS F GVH G HGFDBFH BGJN J MI MIMO IKNHJG HDGV CFS SF GVNJ V CF GVBDFHGV F DG B DGVFC BHGV BH GJ GD FGFJGFDH YJFGBF HGHJ BCHGF HFD H FG DSF J H HDF GS HJ HG S FHG GIOH HIKJKJP LKJMNFGD S GSFD SF G BNVMBC GNHDF H HJ HGDJH FGJ HGHDFF J K L KJHBG FVCD FGH J HBGV FV GHJNBG FVDCS DF GHJ HNFGV CD DFG HN BF VBGN HBDG SVVG GNH HBGV C FVGBHN BG VH JK J HG FD F GHJ DF NG BFV F BFNG H GBFDVCSA GHFV DFBG FV GB FV BG F GVFBD GN HBG DSV GH BH F V FHGV DG HFVVF GHB VFSG HF GJ GNBHG VD HJN N FG HN NHG BGBDFN BG BG BG

Soren: … And what does that mean?

SANAKI: ahh…

Ike: HOLY SHIT IT'S A KAPPA!

Micaiah: IT'S A FREAKIN' KAPPA!

Ike: NO! IT'S TWO FREAKIN' KAPPAS!

Micaiah: WE'RE BEING ATTACKED BY KAPPAS!

Ike: MAYBE THEY'LL EAT DINNER WITH US!

Micaiah: MAYBE WE'LL HAVE ROASTED KAPPAS FOR DINNER!

Ike: NO! KAPPAS AREN'T TASTY!

Micaiah: LIKE YOU KNOW!

Ike: PROFESSOR DHEGINSEA, THE KAPPAS WANT A HUG FROM YOU!

Micaiah: PROFESSOR DHEGINSEA, THE KAPPAS WANT YOU TO READ THEM A BEDTIME STORY!

Ike: PROFESSOR DHEGINSEA, THE KAPPAS WANT YOU TO DANCE THE MACARENA!

Micaiah: SAVE US FROM THE KAPPAS, PROFESSOR!

Ike: THE KAPPAS WANT YOU TO SAVE US FROM THEM, PROFESSOR!

Micaiah: NO, IKE! IT'S US THAT WANT YOU TO SAVE US FROM THE KAPPAS!

Ike: YEAH! THAT'S RIGHT!

Soren: …Waiiit that happened like a million chapters ago.

SANAKI: I know, it's mega-weird.