“I’ll take that as a yes.” He started walking out but paused. “You coming?”
I nodded, still a bit taken aback but the sudden change of heart. “We still have to find five others.”
“We can find them by the end of the examinations once we see their skills first. We don’t need anyone on the team who is going to pull us down.” Lucas was determined. I wasn’t sure if it was because he was competitive or because he wanted to meet the propheseer.
All students were on a break from class for lunch, so after standing in line to get food, we barely found empty seats in the swarming room.
“Are these seats taken?” I asked a girl.
She looked up, and I recognized her from admission day; she had been the one who directed the applicants out of the mirror portal. Though her icy-blond hair made her seem a bit unapproachable, her wide eyes and warm smile were very welcoming. “They’re not. Help yourselves.”
“Thanks.” We sat down.
“My name is Leia.” She held out her hand. Her eyes shifted between an alluring dark gold and mossy green.
“Selena,” I answered, shaking it.
She, then, looked to Lucas. “You must be Lucas Brayden.”
He shrugged. She spoke as if she knew him.
“You two are the new students in the Gold class. I’m not sure if you noticed me earlier, but I’m also part of the Gold class. It’s my second year at Vanderwald. How do you like it so far?”
I swallowed my bite of food. “It’s great!”
Leia looked toward Lucas, but he made it clear that he had no intention of joining in on the conversation. She brushed it off quickly. “I watched your interview the other day. It was stunning!”
“Thanks. I’m guessing your Ceres has something to do with the mirror portals? You were the one at the mirror portal on the day of the interviews.”
She smiled. “Yes! My family’s name is Hensley. I’m part of the portal lineage, and my Ceres allows me to open portals through reflective surfaces.”
The Hensley family was the most elite family of the portal lineage. They supported all the mirror portals in Celestria, which made Leia an exceptional candidate for our Columnaris team.
I recalled the time in the meadow by my home. “Are there different portals besides mirrors? Like, can you create your own portal in the air?”
Her face scrunched up. “I’ve never heard of anything like that. Unless it’s a specific Ceres, I’ve only heard of mirrors as portal entrances.”
That’s what I had thought too. But then, if he didn’t come out of a portal, then what was it? Had he been a portal Valkryn? I shook the thought away. It didn’t matter anymore.
Leia took advantage of the silence and beamed, “You’re going to love the Ceres lineage meetings on Fridays, they’re my favorite. You get to meet a lot of people who have similar Cereses, but everyone is unique in their own right. It’s fascinating.” There was a twinkle in her eyes. “We should start heading out, the second class session is about to start.”
We followed behind her. Lucas hadn’t said a single word the whole time, but he looked content with that. One minute he’s loose-lip Lucas, and the next he’s a mute.
“Bad first day?” Leia asked Lucas, raising her eyebrows.
He just shrugged it off. Leia accepted his response again, or lack thereof. She was nicer than me, I would’ve stopped making an effort at that point. From what I could gather, Lucas wasn’t socially awkward; he just didn’t care too much for the superfluous stuff. I think.
“I sit in the front,” she glanced at Lucas and back at me and winked. “It was nice talking with you.”
Lucas and I returned to the seats we sat in earlier.
“How about Leia?” I asked as we took our seats.
He raised his eyebrow lazily. “What about her?”
“Should we ask her if she wants to join our Columnaris team?” I suggested. “Assuming she’s not already in one.”
He leaned back. “Let’s see how much power she has. The portal lineage is one of the more useless and we’re only as strong as our weakest link.”
“She’s in the Gold class for a reason. The portal Valkryns may not be the best for combat, but they are rare to find,” I reasoned. “Plus, she’s part of the Hensley family.”
“A family name means nothing,” he snapped instantly, making me flinch.
The cold expression on his face made me shiver, and I was glad to turn away to see Ms. Viola walking in through the door with a creature almost as tall as her.
My eyes widened at her phersu. The creature looked like a typical doe, yet its hooves were a deep shade of cerise. This was the first time I had seen a phersu up close. There were times when I was a child and I had caught a glimpse of one from afar in town, but it was generally rare to see a Valkryn who owned one.
“This is my phersu, Rouge. Studies have shown that the creature your phersu is and its appearance reflects who you are as a person. Therefore, no two phersus will ever be the same,” Ms. Viola described. “As Gold class students, you all have the capability to hatch your eggs, but it is not until you reach a specific level of control and power. Therefore, it is important to continue training yourself.”
“What happens if you crack your egg?” Lucas asked. This was the first time he made an effort to participate in class, and that was what he decided to say?
More than half the students turned back to stare at him. I couldn’t blame them. The odd question really commented on his sanity. Who in their right mind would think of cracking their egg? Although, I wouldn’t put it past him if he had already tried.
“The phersu egg is the physical form of your Ceres’ power. It is raw energy. While every case is different, there have been times a phersu egg had been destroyed. That portion of the Valkryn’s power diminished from them indefinitely. If your phersu is ever killed, then that part of your Ceres would be forever lost.”
Ms. Viola continued teaching and she started with legendary phersus. The first three individuals to possess one were the Founders. They were described as majestic creatures of scales, feathers, and steel. The Founders had so much power that their phersus had grown to be the largest phersus in the history of Celestria. A Valkryn’s power directly mirrored the size of the phersu.
Class ended and I found myself overwhelmed. There was so much more to Cereses and phersus than I had ever known.
Leia danced up the stairs lightly; her movements displayed an enviable level of refinement and elegance. I could only dream to one day reflect that level of grace. I assumed being a Hensley, she had been raised to impress. Stopping at my desk she asked, “Where are you headed, Selena?”
“I wanted to check out the library,” I answered gathering my things.
She glanced at Lucas.
He stood up and walked passed us without a look.
“Did you spit in his coffee today?” Her head cocked to one side.
“There are way bigger issues with that one.” I waved away. “He only says what he wants, when he wants.”
Leia shook her head. “I imagined him to be different,” she mumbled.
“Oh, nothing. Let’s go!”
I followed her down the stairs and through the halls, glad that I didn’t have to use the map projections.
“How was your first year at Vanderwald?” I inquired.
She crossed her arms and looked as if she was searching for a serious answer. “It was…different.”
“Well, I guess I had a perceived expectation for what I thought it was going to be like, but nothing turned out the way I had planned.”
“Like what?” I also had a lot of expectations. So far everything was going as planned for me, if not better.
My dream of being in the Gold class. Check.
My dream to have my own phersu. Double check.
My dream to have my phersu egg hatch. In progress.
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