By Alicia Steen
Parkr, fourth class. Schoolhouse, Gathyra. Year After Shadow Two Thousand Ninety Seven.
I sit on our school rooftop leaning against Mystery’s black scales with my brothers. On hot days dragon scales are cool to the touch, making dragons more popular than shade trees. Elsewhere the Magic Games were going strong, but here all was quiet. Without the chatter of students and shouts of teachers this was just a stone structure and a grassy plain. Well, the grass was blue and the stone building favored its west side. That, when combined with the name MountainView Heights, caused the school to settle into an abnormal silence that resembles a lack of sound more than serene quietness.
“The school feels a little weird without Headmaster Barr stalking the place.” Mykl displaces the lack of sound.
“No kidding,” James laughs. “Remember his face when third years reminded him there’s no classes during the Magic Games?”
I laugh with them. “It happens every year, but his expression never gets old.” Mykl attempts to copy Barr’s expression, making us laugh harder. Headmaster Barr makes school fun, though that is definitely not his intention. When we were first class everyone said it was impossible to cause trouble with him around. We brothers found the challenge irresistible.
James inhales deeply. “Just the Scale Wars left; then we’ll be last class.”
Mykl leans forward. “Our last Scale Wars.” Absence of sound settles in the heat, but only for a moment. We all grin at once. This Scale War would leave everyone speechless. After all, we had to leave with a bigger bang than what we entered with.
Parkr, first class. Schoolhouse, Gathyra. Year After Shadow Two Thousand Ninety Four.
I stare at our instructor with carefully contained enthusiasm. Fizzletop, as Mystery calls him, was easily the most boring speaker in the entire school. Today we planned to pull of the first successful escape in school history. Thanks to a week of detention, we knew all the material for the next month anyway. “James, is Headmaster Barr in position?”
“Almost. Ah, he sighted a kid out of class.” Our mental chatter was too quiet for instructors to notice. Fizzletop continued with his lecture as if nothing was about to happen.
“Close enough,” Mykl gets ready to jump.
“We’ll make this quick,” I agree. At James’ signal we vanish from our seats. Fizzletop glances at our newly empty seats, clears his throat, and keeps right on talking. After nearly two cycles of our unique abilities, the instructors unanimously decided we were Headmaster Barr’s problem.
I hurry across the classroom, taking care not to bump into anyone in my invisible state. Mykl and James wait for me at the end of the hall; then we slide down the curving metal railing. James and I do at least; Mykl gets dizzy after two curves and uses his transport jump to beat us to the basement.
“Barr knows we’re missing,” James warns. Mykl and I move a stone we’d placed the day before over an opening in the floor. The opening was new, courtesy of Mykl’s fist, my magic, and Barr’s cleaning solution.
“Five minutes, tops.” I back away from the stone as Mykl and James leap into the opening. “Ready, Mykl?”
“Do it!” James answers. I crouch low to the floor and slam my shoulder into the rock, causing it to roll over the opening. Mykl jumps me down the hole just before the rock closes it.
Even in the darkness Mykl’s smile is obvious. “Perfection.”
Mystery. Schoolhouse, Gathyra. Year After Shadow Two Thousand Ninety Four.
The princes are gone. I can’t sense Parkr. I beat my black wings in frustration and leap of the school roof. It seems like they went underground. How? Where? There weren’t supposed to be tunnels beyond the basement. I beat my wings again to calm my rising fury.
Apparently there were. The red dragon Jynn would know about them. I take to the air to find him.
Parkr. tunnels, Gathyra.
“Whoa, this is cramped. I can barely stand up.” Mykl’s voice echoes. I nod as I examine the walls. James lights the tunnel with a convenient combination of magic and chemistry. “This cave isn’t natural.”
“Neither is it faln-made.” James runs his hand along the groves in the stone. “Tools carved it. The tunnel doesn’t branch off, either. It keeps going in a straight line.”
“Man made,” Mykl concludes.
“Or something else,” I counter.
“Hey, that’s not funny,” Mykl objects. “Let’s keep going.” He leads the way deeper into the tunnel. I bring up the rear.
Mystery. mountains, Gathyra.
My wings take me to the spot on the mountains Jynn spoke of. Here the ground is soft enough for me to dig quickly. I rip and slam my claws through to the ground. Not too far below the tunnel Parkr entered widens enough for me to fit, if the serid that scouted the place is correct.
Parkr. tunnels, Gathyra.
All three of us pause at the same time. The ground is shaking, but that is not our cause of concern. Something waits for us in the blackness. James’ light stops short of the opening ahead, denied entry where the tunnel widens. A name enters our thoughts unbidden. Nephilim.