“Lucas Brayden,” Headmaster Elmore repeated.
Slowly, a tall fit young guy wearing a hoodie walked toward the stage. Removing his hood, his slightly cropped black hair fell naturally away from his face. His eyes were a piercing cavernous green.
“Lucas Brayden,” he said with a husky, boyish sharpness in his tone. “Level two weapons Valkryn. My Ceres is…hell, why don’t I just show you.”
I was surprised by his indifference, or flagrant disrespect. But Lucas Brayden was also the first level two Valkryn among the applicants so far. Resting my arms on the chair in front of me, I leaned to the edge of my seat to watch closely.
He held out his hand and a gold spear twice his height began materializing in it. It looked too heavy to maneuver, but he handled it with ease as he displayed his strength and agility with precise attacks.
But, the most beguiling aspect was his ability to transform his weapon throughout his routine. A few that I saw were a spear, sword, scythe, and javelin—it was hard to keep track. His control in handling his weapons was superior. I looked upon with a sudden envy to his abilities.
Lucas finished off with the same gold spear he began with, spinning it high above his head and flashing the sharp tip inches away from the headmaster’s face.
Many students gasped, while two of the administrators stood up in outrage. Even I had gripped the seat in surprise.
However, the headmaster hadn’t moved an inch or even batted an eyelash. Instead, he stood up and clapped. “Wonderful. My fellow judges, if you do not mind,” he said, motioning them to sit. They did so, very reluctantly. “I will place this individual myself. Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first Gold class student.”
Without another word, Lucas walked off the stage and sat in the empty Gold class section.
I couldn’t understand how someone could be so arrogant, especially in front of the headmaster. He either had balls of steel or a death wish. Either way, Lucas Brayden definitely ruffled some feathers with that stunt.
“We shall now continue with the remaining interviews,” Headmaster Elmore initiated, unfazed by the impudence Lucas had just displayed. The other administrators still looked upset, especially the older lanky man at the end of the table. He was still glaring at Lucas from his seat.
But the interviews continued. Name by name, the headmaster called, and I became more and more anxious.
“Oh!” Ryan exclaimed, popping up from his seat. “That’s me!”
“Good luck!” I encouraged as he ran to the stage.
“Hello, my name is Ryan. I’m a level one elemental Valkryn with the Ceres to fuse with any material I come in contact with.” His routine was enjoyable and lighthearted as he juggled balls made of different materials. Where had he been hiding those all this time? I wondered.
“Thank you, Ryan. We have decided that you will be admitted into the Silver class,” an administrator spoke.
He flashed a wide grin across his boyish face and skipped down the stairs into his class section. Immediately, introducing himself to his classmates.
Most students had already been placed and only a few remained. The ones who had been sorted earlier were now looking bored and eager to leave.
Finally, it was down to me and a girl sitting two rows away.
“Jesse Flint,” Headmaster Elmore called. Of course, I’m going to be last. I dropped back into my seat and watched as the girl displayed her divination Ceres by guessing the shapes on a shuffled card deck.
“Last, but definitely not least, Selena Somerset.”
My nerves had nearly dissipated due to the long wait and I just wanted to hurry up and get the interview over with. “My name is Selena Somerset. I’m a level one elemental Valkryn and have the Ceres to generate and control electricity and chrome.”
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. You just need to hold it long enough for the judges to see, I assured myself. Last night, I started from being able to maintain the chrome for two minutes, improving the limit to five minutes by the end.
Concentrating on my silvery Ceres, I allowed the cool sensation to slither through my veins. The chrome flowed out of my hands and moved fluidly around the stage into the intricate twisting design in my mind.
Gasps from the audience sounded, but I fought to maintain my focus until I finished. About two and half minutes had already passed, and I knew I would need to wrap it up soon before my hold on it weakened. I hastily wrapped the curved chrome blossom above.
Then, I proceeded to engender a large ball of electricity. This was something I hadn’t planned to do, but something told me that a little flash couldn’t hurt.
Warmth filled my veins once more and I sent the balled voltage to rest atop the blooming formation.
Only then, I opened my eyes and snapped my fingers. The electric ball exploded, and when the sparks touched the chrome it released a hazy glow.
The young girl with tight blond curls sitting beside the headmaster whispered something to him. His eyes widened in response for a brief second, but he regained his composure so quickly that I wondered if I had imagined the fleeting exchange.
Headmaster Elmore stood up and clapped before speaking. “Profeciti.” I wasn’t familiar with the language he just spoke in, but from his glowing blue eyes, I could only assume he enjoyed my presentation.
He spoke again, this time in a language I understood, “A wonderful end to this year’s interviews. Selena Somerset, you will be admitted into the Gold class.”
I did it! Oh my god…I actually did it…Somehow, I had pulled it off. I stepped down from the stage a bit stunned and took a seat next to Lucas.
“I guess we’ll be classmates this year.”
Lucas stared at me with a glint in his eyes and a twitch of his lips. “Interesting.”
Something about him felt oddly familiar. An intangible pull from inside me strangely ached. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it left me feeling uncomfortably unsettled.
Headmaster Elmore made his way back to the stage. “Thank you everyone, the administrators and I were truly entertained this evening. I foresee a very promising future for all of you. I, officially, welcome you to Vanderwald Academy, where you will follow the paths of your destiny.”
Students stood up eagerly and shuffled out. Lucas and I turned toward the main exit, but a hand touched our shoulders.
Headmaster Elmore just smiled as he led us through the backdoor in the opposite direction. It opened out to a long hallway, and he motioned us to follow him.
We walked down the corridors until we reached two large cherry wood doors. He welcomed us through the grandiose entrance, and I stared in awe at the ornate wood carvings designing it as I passed.
The room was longer than wide—both sides lined with bookshelves reaching the top of the high ceiling down to the shining white marble floor. Each shelf was filled with hundreds of books. On the far side, directly across the entrance, was a wall of windows and a large cerise wood desk.
The arched ceiling of the office was painted with portraits of phersus—a thin skeletal creature with a smooth maroon hide, a lion with one long twisted horn protruding from its head, a creature with bird-like qualities yet stood on four round feet, and many more. Stunning, like nothing I had ever seen before.
We were led to the seats in front of the desk. As we sat down, Lucas sighed audibly, more out of annoyance than relief it seemed. What has his knots all twisted?
“Lucas, Selena. I wanted to formally congratulate the two of you for being placed in the Gold class. There is a special procedure that all Gold class students must undergo, and it is called the Extraction,” Headmaster Elmore explained as he leaned back in his chair. “This is the process where part of your Ceres will be separated from you into a physical entity called a phersu egg.”
This was what I was looking forward to the most—my very own phersu.
“When are we going to get this done?” Lucas asked in a bored voice, dropping back into his seat.
“Lucas, your Extraction is scheduled for this evening at 7 p.m. Selena, yours will be shortly after Lucas’. Mr. Sloan will lead you to the Extraction chamber. Do you have any more questions?”
I shook my head.
“Well then, welcome to Vanderwald Academy.”
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