The first week of school was finally coming to an end. Today, there would only be one session—lineage meeting—so, I expected it to be a quick day. There weren’t too many elemental Valkryns in the Gold class, so my excitement built every day in anticipation of seeing the diverse types of abilities the other students possessed.
“Firework girl!” a voice called out.
“Sofa boy.” I smiled as Ryan ran toward me and gave me a quick hug. He was taller than the average person and since I only reached his shoulders, it felt awkward.
“Congratulations!” he exclaimed. “I haven’t seen you since the interviews! How have you been?”
“Still getting used to school, but I can’t complain.”
“At least you’re an elemental Valkryn,” he said with smiling eyes. “That means I get to see you at least once a week.”
“Please gather around students,” a bony old man with long skinny limbs instructed. All his features were elongated and thin, like tree branches. “I am the professor for the elemental Valkryns. You may call me Professor Wynd.”
He spoke as though his tongue never touched his teeth and the resulting accent was so unique and heavy that I had a difficult time understanding what he was saying.
Ryan made a funny face as he imitated the professor and I had to smother a giggle.
“During our time together, you will learn to fully understand the strengths of your elemental Ceres.”
“I can barely understand him, how am I going to learn anything,” Ryan whispered into my ear.
“Hopefully, we’ll get used to it.” But I didn’t foresee that happening anytime soon.
There were a lot of students I had never seen before. The new faces were a refreshing change of pace. And there was definitely a discrepancy among the attitudes of the Gold, Silver, and Bronze class students. Most of the Gold class students were intense and uptight, whereas the lower leveled students seemed laidback and enjoyable. I assumed there was pressure to succeed being in the Gold class. Though, I guess it hadn’t quite kicked in for me yet.
The rest of the meeting consisted less of Professor Wynd’s funny accent and more Ceres presentations. I was caught up in the moment as students displayed their Cereses for each other.
Some could draw their elements from within themselves, like me, while others could only manipulate what was within their reach.
I could see why Leia enjoyed the lineage meetings the most. There was a sense of camaraderie with the group—a belonging and connection on a different level.
And though Professor Wynd’s appearance and accent made him seem like he would be neurotic and strict, he was actually quite the opposite, allowing students to play around with their Cereses.
He walked around the practice dome as we all jested with one another. His movements were slow and steady, resembling a walking tree, and ironically, he was able to control the element of wood.
Professor Wynd displayed his own Ceres for us by using a tree. The thin, rigid branches were instantly smoothed as he wove it together, creating a large billowing nest, in which the students crawled into like an oversized playground.
There was kindness in Professor Wynd’s slightly drooping eyes, and as the class session continued, I found his voice to be surprisingly relaxing.
“Did you hear about Lucas Brayden?”
“You mean the hottie in the Gold class?” A slender girl flicked her hair out of her face caked with make-up, which looked two shades darker than her neck.
A slightly plump girl with freckles sprinkled over her face swooned, “His hair always looks perfect. And his eyes are so dreamy, you can’t help but get lost in them.”
This incessant drooling over Lucas made the days feel like weeks, very painful and long weeks. The chattering amongst the girls increased exponentially. And, my level in the dormitories seemed unnaturally crowded every day. They lingered around the corners, hoping to steal glances of Lucas. You would think he was announced a Founder of Celestria, the way they treated him.
The school bustled and everyone talked with one another; but no matter where I went, the conversations were about a particular black-haired, green-eyed individual. Within the first week, a new student had a hatched phersu egg, and the news didn’t seem to show signs of slowing.
While their reaction was somewhat understandable, especially after the stunt he pulled during his admissions interview, the constant prattling was beginning to aggravate me. It usually took a lot to get me irritated, but the pinch in the back of my head worsened each passing day.
“Oh my god, there he is!” girls squealed. Their high-pitched shrieks made me wince, again. How much more can I take of this? I whimpered.
Lucas strolled through the hall; Phoenix glided through the air leaving a trail of fire behind. He didn’t acknowledge any of the girls, thirsty for his attention, but it only made them ogle more. I needed to distance myself from this circus, so I turned in the opposite, but I only walked a few steps before a hand grabbed my arm.
“I told you so,” he said, falling in step next to me.
I rolled my eyes, seeing some of the onlookers turning bright red as they eyed his hand around my arm. I shook him off. No need to add wood to the fire, if I could help it.
Lucas grinned. “Aren’t you going to congratulate me?”
“Congratulations,” I applauded unenthusiastically.
The girls continued to shadow us, looking as if they wanted to drag me to a deserted bathroom and give me a piece of their mind. I laughed at the thought, knowing very well that I would never let them lay a hand on me. No matter how satisfying that might be, I was not looking to have a dramatic school year.
I sighed, shaking away the thought, and quickened my steps, trying to increase the distance between us. But Lucas’ long legs kept up easily with my strides.
He smiled. “Better keep up before I leave you behind.”
I spluttered exasperated, “Who asked you to wait?”
He just laughed in response. Ridiculous.
We entered the classroom and I eyed Shelly at the edge of her seat with her lips pursed. I was sure there were more than a few bitter classmates, especially since it was Lucas. He hadn’t done himself much favors when it came down to befriending classmates. Although, I was beginning to think, he preferred to be alone, with the exception of infuriating me from time to time.
Leia bounded up the stairs gracefully. “Hi Selena!” She glanced at Lucas with a polite smile. “Congratulations.”
He just nodded his head in acknowledgment. I found it a bit strange that he never spoke a word to Leia. Either she hadn’t noticed, or she didn’t care.
Turning back to face me, Leia questioned, “Did you know today’s the day we get our partners for the exams?”
“That’s happening today?”
“I hope you’re my partner!”
I beamed. “That would be awesome. Although, it hasn’t been too long since I was admitted. I definitely don’t know as much as the other students.”
She scrunched her, nose causing wrinkles to form on her otherwise smooth skin, as she waved my comment away. “Examinations at Vanderwald are…unconventional. So, we don’t have that much of an advantage over new admits.”
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