A/N: Thanks to scarletfireblaze for the review. :)
The Fire School loomed ahead like a dark mountain. Brooke couldn't help the shudder that passed through her as the two girls approached it, and she unconsciously reached up and touched her scar. The scent of burning reached her nose, and a bit of ashes fell by her eyes like snow. Donna seemed perfectly at ease; she laughed and caught some ash on her hand, and then threw it again. She sniffed the air and smiled happily. She shivered in delight as the air grew warmer.
"This … it doesn't remind you of … you know, your leg at all?" Brooke whispered.
"Nope! I know that it wasn't the fire's fault. It was the boys' fault! I don't have to blame the fire when a fire can't start itself!" She laughed. Brooke tried to see the truth in her best friend's words. The fire didn't choose to hurt me … the fire didn't choose to hurt me … the fire didn't choose to hurt me … she wasn't comforted much.
Outside of the School, students dressed in red and orange were gathered, chatting to one another. Brooke felt sick; it looked like they were a mob, ready and anxious to attack her and finish what the fire had started.
A tall, dark haired man in long, gold robes and a hood was overseeing the group from the doorway. As Donna and Brooke approached, he glanced towards them.
"Hello, Donna. Is this your guide?" He asked them. Brooke noticed that he had a thick accent much like Evan's.
"Hi, Professor Firesong! This is my best friend AND guide, Brooke Swiftriver! She's joining Pyromancy with me! Brooke, this is Professor Firesong!"
"I see," the man said slowly, giving Brooke a long stare. Finally, he nodded in satisfaction. "I have heard from the Headmaster about your decision to switch from Thaumaturgy, Miss Swiftriver. You will need to work hard in this class in order to catch up; if you could, please come during one of your free periods, and I will help you."
"We both have fifth period free! Do you want us to come then?" Donna asked, staring up at the professor in excitement. He nodded.
"I will have a class of Masters then, but I am sure that I will be able to help you in between teaching them. Students inside, please!" He clapped his hands, and then nodded to the two girls before stepping inside the Fire School.
Donna followed as quickly as her crutch allowed, and Brooke slowly entered behind her friend.
The room felt like it was at boiling temperature, and the Diviner found herself sweating furiously inside her long sleeved robes and tall boots. She took off her hat and began to fan herself with it. Donna, however, seemed perfectly at ease; maybe Pyromancer robes came with air conditioning devices.
The room was enormous and circular, decorated elegantly with silky crimson drapes and a scarlet and gold rug. On the wall hung two red shields emblazoned with the fiery orange Pyromancy symbol, and above each hung an estoc with a golden blade and a ruby set in the pommel. A dark redwood sign below proclaimed Ignis Regalis, Combustio vera in Eternum. It sounded proud and elegant, but Brooke only became more afraid as she read it. What did the strange, lyrical words mean? Was it something about burning? Would all non-Pyromancers be killed if they stayed there for too long?
The novice Pyromancer picked a seat right in the front, and she carefully propped her crutch up against the desk, smiling and motioning for Brooke to sit next to her. The Diviner gingerly sat down, cautiously setting her books on the red wooden desk.
The other students slowly filed into the room, deliberately and carefully avoiding the two "deformed" girls- all except for Evan, that is. The boy Pyromancer took the seat next to Brooke and grinned, giving her a small wave. She smiled back slightly, although her nerves weren't calmed in the slightest.
"Attention, please. Attention!" The Professor tapped his wand on the podium in front of him to gain the class' attention. "First off, I would like to welcome two new students to our class. Donna Dragonflame is our newest Pyromancer, and Brooke Swiftriver, a Diviner who has chosen Fire as her secondary school." The applause was halfhearted, at best, although Evan clapped louder than the rest, turning around to glare at the people behind him.
"Sorry about them; I don't know what their problem is today," he whispered to Brooke. Wordlessly, she tapped her scar. He seemed like he was about to reply, but the professor tapped on the podium again.
"Today, we are going to learn the Fire Blade spell," Professor Firesong announced. "You will be working in groups of three, since I do not have enough spell cards for each of you to have your own. Evan, will you teach Donna and Brooke how to cast a spell?"
"Yes, sir," he responded, nodding quickly. He pulled a wand similar to Donna's out of his backpack. "You'll each need your wand- oh, good, you have them. Next, you'll need to concentrate on your inner fire; feel the heat that burns within everyone, and draw energy from it." Donna seemed to be doing just fine, but Brooke could only feel pain when she thought of heat. "Finally, use your wand and draw the Fire Symbol, which you will see on the board," Evan instructed. From Donna's wand tip came a smoky red substance that glowed slightly. Her Fire Sign didn't last more than a few seconds, but she had still succeeded in drawing the sign.
The Diviner was another story. No matter how hard she concentrated, she couldn't "draw from her inner fire." Not even a puff of the red smoke came from her wand tip.
"Nice job, Donna. Your inner fire is really strong if you can get that kind of response from your first try. Brooke, it won't be as easy for you, since you're not a Pyromancer, but I'm sure you'll be able to get it if you practice. Just keep trying."
More than half the class period was over before Brooke even got the faintest wisp of smoke. She was getting more and more frustrated as she worked, watching Donna's Fire Symbol become brighter, last longer, and seem more like light than smoke. For a few minutes, Evan had coached the two of them through the process, and then he let them continue to practice while he worked on learning the Fire Blade. Evan's Fire Symbol burned into the air like a torch, and it lasted a full thirty seconds while he cast the spell. He was clearly a more experienced and better Pyromancer than either of the two girls.
As the last ten minutes of class rolled around, the professor asked for the students' attention once more.
"Excellent job, all of you. Congratulations to Evan Starblade for being the first to master the Fire Blade." He smiled warmly at the novice, who grinned. "For the last ten minutes of class, I would like you all to practice the Fire Cat spell. Some of yours aren't as good as they perhaps could be; I would like you all to be casting perfect Fire Cats by the test next Friday. Go on, then." He waved a hand and took a seat behind his desk.
Brooke began to feel sick. Her breathing shortened, and she felt somewhat dizzy as the Fire Symbols were drawn. She slowly slid out of her seat, moving away from where Evan was finishing up his Symbol. He tapped a small red card, and from the Fire Symbol burst a cat.
She screamed. The cat was huge; it had to be as tall as she was. Flames leaped from its coat, and its eyes burned bright red. The cat had claws and fangs that were burning, as well, and it growled, slowly inching towards her. With panic overwhelming her mind, Brooke tore out of the Fire School, slamming the door shut behind her. The Diviner didn't stop running until she reached the opposite side of Ravenwood, and she collapsed between two of Bartleby's roots, pulling her knees close to her chest and sobbing. She was no Pyromancer. She would never be a Pyromancer.
A/N: The sign says "Regal Fire, Burn True Forever," in Latin.