"A Ravenwood student will learn the combat aspect of magic, so that they may defend themselves in case of inevitable Malistarian invasion…"
-Merle Ambrose, Wizard City Presentation, 4th United Spiral Federation Emergency Spiral Summit, Pigswick Academy, Wysteria
The letter on the small table next to my bed kept talking to me, I swear. All throughout making breakfast, I heard a voice whispering to me, making me uneasy.
Blackhope Tower…Blackhope Tower
I knew that I wanted to go there, but I don't think that I should just follow instructions from mysterious notes.
I decided to report the note to Simeon because if anyone was in the dorms that shouldn't be, leaving mysterious notes around, Simeon should know..
I've heard how pleasant Unicorn Way is, however, and I was planning to go there during lunch recess anyway. It would be my first lunch recess, seeing as though I went to the headmaster's office the day before, therefore missing it. I didn't realize how long I had waited in the waiting room. Later, I found out a time spell was set on the waiting room to make time seem to go faster.
I picked up my wand and tapped the underside of my arm band three times. It instantly emitted a soft glow, revealing a hologram of my schedule in Lincoln's writing.
Lotusweave, Lucas Charles
Ice Training Session (Ice School)-Professor Lydia Greyrose
Dueling (Unicorn Way Arena)-Mr. Diego
Wizard City Freshman Orientation (The Commons)-Simeon Starshine
Life Training Session (Life School)-Professor Moolinda Wu
Spiral Studies (Myth Tree Room)-Professor Cyrus Drake
Freshmen: Please do not enter Cyclops Lane, Firecat Alley, Triton Avenue, or Colossus Boulevard unless permitted to by a Ravenwood Official, or you are approved as a level ten wizard by your home school teacher. Wizard City guards will NOT allow you through.
Today looked like a busy day for me, and I wasn't very thrilled to have to encounter Professor Greyrose and Alexis Mist again after nearly killing her at yesterday's training session.
I fed Luke and gathered my things. I grabbed the note and made my way down to Simeon's office. The door was closed, so I opened it and walked in.
His office had been transformed into a huge rocky basin with a dark sky and ash all around. Volcanoes around the basin were spewing black smoke and would occasionally burst with lava. Simeon was in the middle of the basin in bright scarlet robes and holding a wand which was basically a stick made of ruby, casting intense fire spells at trolls.
He noticed me and waved his wand around his head and the office shrunk down to its normal size again.
"I can't wait to be able to do that," I said, grinning, still warm from the scorching landscape.
"That's where myth magic is excellent. You can make anything you want as long as you can imagine it and speak clearly," he said, brushing soot off of his robes.
"So," he continued, "what can I help you with, Lucas?"
"Well," I began, "there was a-" I paused and thought. I wanted to know the truth, and I wanted to know everything. If whoever was in Blackhope Tower could tell me that, I didn't want anyone else to know about it.
"A…?" Simeon snapped me back into reality. I had to improvise.
"A curiosity of mine…" it was a terrible recovery, "…about Blackhope Tower in Unicorn Way. I've heard rumors about it, and I wanted to know the real scoop from someone trustworthy, like you…"
Simeon perked up, "oh, well you've come to the right guy, Lucas," he began, almost triumphantly, "I've been in Blackhope Tower, and I've seen Lady Blackhope."
"Lady…Blackhope…?" I replied.
"Yes, Lucas, why else would it be called Blackhope Tower?"
"Anyway…I thought that Lady Blackhope was just a rumor started by teachers to keep kids away from it. You see, back when Ambrose first established Wizard City, he sold some land in it to influential and wealthy people in the Spiral to get more money. So, he sold a block on Unicorn Way to a woman named Lady Blackhope. Nobody knows her real name. Well anyway, she was very old and died in the tower, and eventually, her family gave the estate back to Wizard City. So, I went there, very early on in my wizard career, and took a look around. I got to a room high up in the tower when I saw a transparent woman. But, I could only see her when I wasn't staring directly at her. It was weird. I got so tired…next thing I knew, I was waking up the next morning in my bed."
"I never went back. Somehow, I got back to my dorm room…and, I forgot the entire journey back. It's a bad feeling, not remembering such a big chunk of time."
With that, I thanked Simeon for recollecting his story and I left to go to my first class.
The usual rush of students around Bartelby had not started yet, so I could walk at my own, leisurely place, stalling as long as I could.
I trudged into the ice school and sat down in the same desk that I had the previous day. To my right, was, once again, Alexis Mist. I was thinking that I should say something to her. It's rather impolite to just pretend something never happened, especially if it was almost killing someone.
"Hey," I said.
"Hi, Lucas," she responded. She didn't look at me.
"Look," I started, "I really don't want to…what I'm trying to say is…what happened yesterday-"
She cut me off and looked me in the eye, "was yesterday and today is today. I know it was an accident, and a pretty awesome accident, by the way," she smiled at me and winked.
I didn't think that someone who I nearly killed would be so okay with me the next day. Whatever, I won't look a gift horse in the mouth.
She continued, "I'd really like to be friends, Lucas," and a big smile spread across her lips.
"I'd like that," I said, "I'd like it a lot."
The funny thing was, neither of us had any other friends, so we were kind of each other's best and only friends.
My schedule lied, or maybe Ms. Greyrose just didn't want to risk someone killing someone else ever again, but we had no training session. There was a complicated diagram on the chalkboard that showed an ice cube with numerous arrows pointing to different parts of the cube and lengthy explanations following behind the arrows.
Greyrose emerged from the back room and was as cheery as ever. She pointed to the diagram on the board and told us to copy it down. I did, of course. After that, she took to further explaining the already lengthy explanations. After a lifetime, my arm band finally buzzed and I was shaken out of my trance of boredom. I got up and headed to the door.
I had heard stuff about Mr. Diego, a walking and talking unicorn who was an expert at the physical side of magic, dueling. Nothing was as great as this class to all of the physically inclined students who said that he was awesome. On the other hand, nothing was worse than this class to the weaker ones and Mr. Diego was nothing but a curse.
I, myself was and am not strong physically. I could ace any mental test any professor could throw at me. But physically, I was a weakling.
Therefore, I was a part of those who didn't care for dueling class. Fortunately for me, I wasn't one of the kids who, just because they were weak, they hated the teacher. My pure loathing of this class was not because of the teacher. In fact, I rather liked Mr. Diego. Unlike the rest of the students, he wasn't a curse to me. He was more like a pal to help me along with something that I didn't like.
So I was standing there in Unicorn Way right near the entrance next to a towering castle with Mr. Diego's face above the portcullis. He walked out, rather awkwardly as the portcullis raised. With each step, a clip or a clop echoed about the surrounding towers, his legs moving in a strange fashion as if a horse was trotting with only two legs.
He eyed all of us. Only two or three of the twenty standing before him were the stronger kids, probably a typical amount for a group of freshmen.
"Hello, students," Mr. Diego began with a slight Spanish accent, "right now, you will be learning how to, well, duel. Now, each of you grab a partner and get your wands ready, any questions before we start, though?"
A boy in a persimmon robe shot his hand into the air, "how is this any different from a training class?"
"Because," Mr. Diego began, "training is a way to learn the magic, dueling is a way to fight with the magic you've learned!"
"Fight?" the boy said, rather shakily.
"Fight," Mr. Diego confirmed, "there's the side of magic for charms and curses, but there's also the combat side of it. Ravenwood curriculum, fortunately, has you learn both, now let's get going, yes?"
After that brief exchange, pairs started forming. Apparently, most of the other students knew each other. So I stood back while the pairs formed.
Eventually, nobody was left except for a boy in a light green robe. His face seemed scared and his eyes wide. The pupils in his deep eyes seemed to jump out while the light green irises around them seemed to open a door right to the boy's soul. They were nearly transparent. The whites of his eyes seemed to pop out just as much as the pupil. His wand was an ornate yew stick wrapped with vines.
"Hi," I said to him. He nodded back.
"Get ready then," Mr. Diego announced to all of the pairs.
He lifted his wand from his side and I did the same.
"Ready….and….GO!" Mr. Diego waved a sabre about in the air as all of the partners made first moves.
My partner and I eyed each other though, trying to calculate what the other was thinking. He eventually took a step back and pushed his arm forward, sending the vines crawling off of the wand and up my legs. They entwined my ankles together, but I retaliated by freezing his ankles.
As he struggled with my ice, I slashed at the vines, which eventually gave. When I looked up, he had thawed out most of the ice and was shooting a green bolt at me. The bolt hit me and travelled throughout my body. My body became stimulated, then weak, and I felt lathargic. I responded with an ice beetle while I tried to wake myself up. I glanced back just in time to see a small green imp charging to head butt. I caught it with the tip of my wand just in time to freeze it.
I knew that I couldn't win this duel without getting on the offense. I jumped from the pile of dying vines and pointed my wand toward him. My wand shot a spray of ice to the ground, raising up a mouth of a cave made of ice. Just then, a huge light blue snake shot out and screamed at my opponent, causing him to stagger back. I was just as shocked as he that I had conjured that up.
He rolled to one side as the snake retreated. My opponent pointed his wand at me and casted something, however, it was a fizzle. Green sparks rolled off of the tips of the vines and landed on the ground. But I was mistaken. There was a cracking sound as the green sparks took root and a tree rose from the ground. It turned and revealed a face belonging to an old, kind man. Suddenly, the face turned angry and before I knew it, I was dodging rocks, but not before I could shoot a blue shot at my adversary, putting him into a twenty second ice cube.
I ran around the tree as it slowly turned to face me. I shoved my wand into a root of the tree and the whole thing froze and cracked. Just in time for my opponent to send another green bolt, which I countered with a blast from my wand.
As we both prepared for another shot, Mr. Diego called out.
"I think that's enough!"
We both looked around. Mr. Diego and all of the other students were staring in awe at us, posed to duel each other more. Even the couple of students who were physically able were gaping at us.
We exchanged nervous looks just as Mr. Diego began clapping.
"My, my!" he began in his accent, "most freshmen just shoot blasts at each other and finish their duel in a matter of seconds, but these two young men have proven their skill! This deserves some recognition!"
The class began to clap. I felt it only right, so I walked up and shook my dueling partner's hand.
"Lucas Lotusweave, by the way," I said to him.
"Colin Duskrider," he smiled.
From that point on, I became excellent friends with him. He, Alexis and I became a trio of best friends, and spent a lot of time together. However, I felt a special connection with Colin in particular. We both proved we were beyond our normal skills in dueling class even though we had no idea what we were doing. Something about the two of us was different, but I still wasn't sure.
From behind us, Simeon was coming onto Unicorn Way with other freshmen.
"Ah, Simeon," Mr. Diego said.
"Mr. Diego, how are you? I am just taking the freshmen on their orientation," he responded.
Turns out that Simeon had two class periods to give us an orientation for. The rest of the orientation would come tomorrow, but today, he was just going to let us roam Unicorn Way. I was okay with that, because I could use some free time. As Simeon found a bench in Unicorn Park, I decided to look for Blackhope Tower.
As I started off down the street away from all of the chatting students, Colin and Alexis caught up to me. They told me that they knew each other from a myth class they had together. We talked for a little, and then I said I had to go.
"Off so soon, Lucas?" Alexis inquired.
"Yeah, I wanted to go farther down the road. I hear that there's a seraph who's really friendly," I lied
"You're a terrible liar, by the way," Alexis snickered.
"Fine. I'll tell you, but you have to keep it a secret. Please," I begged.
They both nodded their heads. I told them everything about Argleston, the book, the conspiracy, my dream, and the note. As I proceeded, Colin's face got more frightened-looking on his face, whereas Alexis' face got more inquisitive and looked like she was delving deeper and deeper in thought.
When I finally finished, Colin was the first to speak.
"Wow, Lucas. Do you think Ambrose is really trying to take power from the trees?" he asked, with desperation in his voice.
"I don't know. He doesn't seem like someone who would try to do something like that. I didn't take what I read from the book to heart at all, actually. I still doubt it…but what if it's true? I just can't say," I responded.
"Maybe the book is right, and this is all just a big plot," Alexis spoke.
We both turned to her.
"Do you think that could be?" Colin asked.
"There's only one way to find out. Blackhope Tower."