By Alicia Steen
Mystery. Schoolhouse, Gathyra. Year After Shadow Two Thousand Ninety Seven.
Not even a crisis is worth worrying over, or, as most Gathyrans say, if you have time to worry, try fixing the problem instead. This attitude is one reason I, and most other dragons, find the citizens of Gathyra so entertaining to watch.
None emulate this better than my own charge, Parkr, son of the king, and his brothers, Mykl and James. At the moment they are in the middle of morning practice, which has taken an unexpected turn. They’d better solve this unexpected turn quickly, or they’ll be late for morning instruction.
Parkr, fourth class. Special training grounds, Gathyra.
“Parkr, you’re slipping,” James warned. I quickly adjusted my focus. Halting a spell didn’t take magical power, just extreme focus. Especially on your first attempt.
“Much more of this and I’ll break out in a sweat.”
“Parkr never sweats. You can’t break your record now.” Mykl didn’t look up from his own concentration. He had to take command of the spell’s primary function and switch it the second I let go.
James spoke up from the spell’s outer wave. “If anyone told me we’d be reversing a chain reaction this morning… I’dve stayed at rest.”
Mykl and I laugh a little. “Then what would have happened to all this fun?” Mykl countered.
James laughed back. “Ready on my part.”
“How’s our connection?” For this to work, all three of us had to trust that together we could accomplish this, no matter how many times we’ve failed. If we didn’t trust, the spell would fall apart.
James grinned. “Crystal clear.”
That was our signal. I lifted my hold as Mykl and James reversed the chain reaction spell in synch. The next instant the damage was reversed, and the spell blinked out.
“Knew that would work. What’s the time?” Mykl asked. James and I both checked. Our expressions told Mykl all he needed to know.
We broke into a run.
Mystery. School grounds, Gathyra.
“All right, listen up! Before the doors open, keep in mind that the magic games are exactly one week away. If your team hasn’t at least formed a strategy for the final, do so. Remember that as of today no students are allowed onto the testing field until the magic games begin. Train hard and aim for the top!”
Some snickering followed Master Teacher’s statement. No student had beat the Princes yet, and none would. The strong bond Parkr and his brothers shared allowed them to achieve feats other students didn’t dream of. That was why they would never beat him.
“Do you think they’ll use stealth like last year?” This came from a nosy girl by the name of Kathrine. I called her screech. Her words always sounded like there was more behind them.
“I hope not. They took my entire load, and I didn’t find out until the end count.”
“Us too! Does anyone know how they did it?”
“If they try it again, I’m ready. I took top marks in Detection last month!” That fool was Bluster. If only his skill equaled his talent, he could be a challenge.
“Top marks after Parkr, you mean.”
“Of course! The Princes don’t count.” Bluster’s twin cousin Bluff.
Master Teacher cleared his throat. “The Princes never use the same strategy twice, though they may use past skills.”
“What could they possibly do to blow our minds this year?”
Students and teachers alike fell silent. A slow smile spread on my face. Even Bluster was smart enough to catch this one. Silence dominated chatter on until the grinding of the doors claimed their attention.
I turned my sight in Parkr’s direction. He was about halfway through the obstacle course His Majesty thoughtfully placed on the shortest route from the training grounds to the school.
I lowered my head. He’d make it. How he would, now, that was worth watching.
Parkr. Obstacle course, Gathyra.
“How soon can we try a jump?” I asked while narrowly missing numerous bouncing rubber.
Mykl grunted. “Scratch that. I’ll do it as soon as you read a target.”
“So we’ll start the day by almost destroying the town, learning to both freeze and reverse a spell, and breaking a personal record.” James flipped over a snare spell.
Mykl slashed the post containing the spell. “Cool. So how much do we tell dad?”
James almost stumbled. “Let’s save the best for last.”
“Which means never.” Just a little closer. I couldn’t quite pinpoint our instructor’s brain pattern yet.
James vaulted over a high wall; then froze at the top. “Spikes!”
Mykl and I rammed our shoulders into the wooden wall, jumping on as it fell. I touched it, adjusting the wood’s momentum. We cleared the spikes, but the wood was unable to handle my magic. It disintegrated.
We rolled as we met the ground and came up running. “Mykl, now!”
“Clear!” James shouted. The next instant we were sliding into our seats. Mykl completed the jump.
He grinned from across the room. “Made it.”
“Was there ever any doubt?” James asked from the front row.
I nod at the instructor from the third row, farthest from the windows. “Not a chance.” The instructor nods back suspiciously, but resumes readying for class. A black scaly dragon head, moves away from the window. Mystery must have been watching us from the school roof. Her laugh rolls through my mind.
Mystery. School roof, Gathyra.
I laugh long and deep. Parkr never manages to disappoint. I look forward to seeing the future. Especially the magic games.