The Rise of Heroes Book 1: The Academy of Hidden Secrets

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Chapter Fifteen

Thankfully, Ulin wasn’t so hard on Team Hero when she discovered about the whole Marsh Gobble incident but she did punish Ozur by making him read eight huge textbooks on magic so he wouldn’t cause another mishap with his magic. After a week, Headmistress Olema finally announced that since the weather calmed down, the students can return to Lunar Star Academy the next day. So for the last day, everybody was going to hike up the snowy mountains to have a picnic at the very top.

When it comes to food, Ozur should bounce from corner to corner, but this time he wasn’t. Could be the fact that he was so tired from endless hours of reading about spells, or the countless times he practiced his magic. However, this time, his eyes were glued to the cage cart that held people who look like the little boy they met a few months ago; dressed in rags and chains. While he and everyone else wore warm coats, the people in the cart barely had any protection from the cold but their ragged clothes.

“Pay no attention to them Ozur.” Ozur looked up at Ulin, who was avoiding the cage cart and looking forward. “Those people caged up have suffered the harsh fate of their ancestors, it’s not our doing but their own. They follow orders, and never ever disobey no matter what.”

“Yeah but, what did they do?” Ozur whispered, loud enough for Ulin to hear, as she shook her head and sighed. “That information is to remain secret unless you graduate the academy as one of the top four students.” With that, Ulin walked ahead to lead the group more up the steep snowy path while Eathelyn, Hugo, and Rashika caught up. Ozur remained silent until he felt Eathelyn’s palm rest on his shoulder. “Maybe you and Rashika can care to tell me and Hugo what you heard that day.” Hearing that, Rashika tensed, wishing Eathelyn could have forgotten her reaction to what she eavesdropped on the day they arrived at Lunar Star Academy. “I don’t know Eathelyn, Rashika doesn’t look ready to tell yet and-”

“Those people don’t have a place to call home,” Rashika interrupted in a whisper, deciding to just man up and speak. “We heard the sound of whips hit a poor man who dropped the suitcase, the whipper called him a slave. And the little boy we met, I could tell he was also a slave.”

“A slave?” Hugo asked as they continued to follow everyone else. “But how can that be, the Sun Gang swore that everybody has a chance to go to Lunar Star Academy, that everything will be in balance.”

“I overheard my mother talk about slaves once back at the Demon World,” Eathelyn explained. “Even though she thought I didn’t hear her, she was wrong. She explained to my dad that slaves are considered to be unequal, worthless, and nothing to every person in each world. But she didn’t explain how people become slave, and I didn’t really put that much attention to the topic until now..” Suddenly they all stopped on their trails, only to hear the Headmistress make another announcement.

“Now students, at this point we’re on the spot when all cargo can’t go, but don’t worry about your belongings, we have assistants who are more than happy to carry your belongings. Also once we get to our destination, all students must refrain from making any sound louder than a dragon’s roar, these mountains of snow can likely cause an avalanche if we’re not careful! That’s all, let’s continue on to our picnic!” Hugo could spot Team Same follow Headmistress Olema, however, he could see Sundria wear a devious smirk as if she was creating a plan in her mind. While the students returned to their conversations, Rashika looked over to the slave cart, seeing the slaves getting pulled out the cart harshly and then handed all the items students have packs. Thank goodness we only packed a book, at least we’re not adding more burden to the slaves. Before she turned away, Rashika suddenly spotted the little boy who was in their room getting pulled out of the cart cruelly by one of the staff members! She could see tears sting the poor child’s eyes, his hair practically getting pulled out of his scalp by the horrible staff women!

“People like you don’t cry, now stop being a nuisance before I have to punish you!” The women growled down at the boy, giving Rashika the urge to run there to defend the boy, but her legs told her otherwise. Her head then faced the front as she heard the little boy fall on the snow, her fist getting tighter as she felt regret eat it’s way through her heart.

“Rashika? Rashika?!”

“Huh, what?” Rashika snapped out of her guilt trip only to see her friends send her worried glances. “Don’t worry I’m fine, really. Let’s just get this picnic over with so we can get back to Lunar Star Academy to maybe get some answers.” No one dared to ask any more questions so they continued to walk up the path while the chorus of the slave’s chains rained down in their eardrum.

At last, they arrived at their destination, which was pretty enormous for the top of one of the mountains. There was a plain of nothing but soft white snow and several patches of lilies, and in the horizon stood more powerful mountains that stood tall and proud. While the adults ordered the slaves around, the students were given the chance to explore before they could eat lunch. Half the school just sat down on the snow, gossiping as usual while some teams used this time to train, and some just wandered around their surrounding. Team Hero made sure they were as far from the other teens and teachers as possible so no one could hear their conversation.

“So far we know that Lunar Star Academy have slaves, and judging by what Ulin told Ozur, not everyone knows about them,” Hugo began. “Judging by what I’ve heard with my ears, whenever one of the slaves make a mistake, they get whipped and taunted,” Ozur added, as he wrote down the information they were discussing.

“But why physically punish them, whenever we get in trouble, we either have no food for a week or get grounded,” Eathelyn questioned, putting some deep thought into the topic. “And why would the Sun Gang not tell everyone about this information?”

“From the looks of those chains and the rags, it may seem like the Sun Gang doesn’t consider them to be human. They are just property, who knows, they might own some slaves of their own.” Rashika shivered at the thought that her mouth just spoke out loud, to think that there are secrets that are kept hidden from every citizen and child in the three known worlds for this long! “Why would Headmistress Olema tolerate such harshness?”

“Maybe so noisy losers like yourselves don’t ask stupid questions like that!” A sassy voice suggested, causing the four teens to gasp and look up only to see their rivals. Team Same, who are Sundria, Alsha, Malisha, and Eiloh! Sundria was the one who spoke first, who looked down at Hugo with anger in her eyes. “If you guys know what’s good for you, you’ll pretend you never saw those worthless pieces of scum in the first place. Remember that the Headmistress is my mom so if you want to question her decisions, then you are barking up the wrong tree.”

“So what if those slaves are treated bad, just be grateful that it’s not you!” Eiloh smirked. “But on second thought it would be nice to see you losers live miserably like them, then maybe we wouldn’t have any trouble.”

“Eiloh, that isn’t nice of you!” Malisha scolded, using her staff to hit the teen on the head, without hesitation or trouble. She then turned back around to face Team Hero, though she’s not looking at anyone in particular because of her disability. “Don’t listen to him but really Team Hero, you should really consider forgetting about those people and move on with your lives. Though the Sun Gang is supposedly hiding secrets, it’s for best to not know them at all. Too much knowledge can lead to harsh punishment.”

“Besides, if you’re smart then you should just follow the rules the Sun Gang made and not question it, after all, we’ve been living under those rules without a problem.” Alsha interrupted, clearly not even listening to what her friend just spoke. “It’s just what our instructor told us, demons will be demons, and the ethical will be ethical, nothing can change that. Myth Worlders are just the sidekicks.”

“Sidekicks!?” Ozur questioned, ready to scream but Hugo quickly reached into his cape to pull out some duct tape to cover the boy’s mouth. “Hey, in case you’ve forgotten Ozur, we can’t make large noise or else we’ll be buried in snow before you see your next birthday!”

“Don’t tell me you losers are afraid of a little avalanche,” Sundria chuckled. “My mom probably told us that so she wouldn’t get a headache from all the noise.” She then turned around to face the mountains while Rashika panicked, trying to pull Sundria down. “Are you crazy? You’ll cause a lot of trouble!”

“Back off monster!” Sundria growled, pushing Rashika to the ground with full force, showing no care in the world. “For someone like you I’m surprised the Sun Gang didn’t make you a slave, you obviously don’t belong here. Your dad can easily forget you just like how your mom can when she abandoned you. She probably was too weak and scared to handle you.”

“Shut up!” Rashika growled, her teeth clenched together the second her mother was mentioned. “The woman might have left me but she’s still my mom, so you can beat me down until the end of my days but I won’t stop you from doing something that’ll end in chaos!”

“Oh yeah,” Sundria pulled Rashika up harshly as she stood in a fighting position. “Then fight me, I dare you. A monster like you won’t back down from an offer like this, go ahead, fight me!”

“Rashika she’s just using you, don’t listen!” Eathelyn came up to her friend, holding her back before things turn ugly, walking away from Team Same with the others while Rashika restrained herself from doing something stupid. “Don’t worry I’m smart enough to know not to fight someone like her,” Rashika whispered, hiding the sudden fear she felt the moment Sundria pulled her up. She felt some dark cold force make her bones shiver as if there’s more to Sundria that meets the eye.

Before Team Hero could react, Sundria once again turned towards the mountains, cupped her hands around her mouth and screamed as loud she could. “HEEEEEEEY EVERYBODY!!!!” Her voice echoed through the mountains while instructors and staff members rushed to where the scream was from, even Headmistress Olema! Suddenly, everybody felt the ground begin to shake violently, but not as much as how the train shook the day they arrived at the school! The mountains began to roar as snow began to break free from the ice, causing students to begin to panic.

“Sundria what did you do!?” Olema yelled in anger, as her daughter held her hands up innocently, answering back as if she was only an innocent girl. “I thought the mountains wouldn’t be disturbed if I shouted that loud.” Mumbling something under her breath, Headmistress Olema began to shout orders to everybody. “Okay we are having an unscheduled evacuation, so students please follow your instructors to safety and don’t worry about your belongings, our assistants will bring them all to safety! GET GOING!” Without hesitation, everybody began to run down the mountain with their instructors while ice began to break and the avalanche made it’s way down towards their location!

“Follow me Team Hero, it’s not safe!” Ulin shouted once she found her students, but Hugo shook his head as he pointed to the group of slaves who were having trouble getting the students belongings because of the chains that held them down. “But what about them? We can’t just leave them, they might not make it!”

“Why to bother, with them gone then their large population will decrease heavenly and they could be in the place they always dreamed of being in!” Team Same’s instructor, Kaleoh shouted, as he led his students down while shouting at Sundria something about a punishment.

“But they’re human just like us!” Rashika protested, but Ulin was losing her patience so she pushed Team Hero along the path back down. Their heads turned back, seeing the slaves not far behind them while carrying the objects! Out of nowhere, icicles began to slide down from the angry mountains, causing the path they were taking to fall apart so everybody soon picked up the pace and ran faster!

“Look, just over that ridge and we’ll be safe from the avalanche’s wrath!” Olema pointed to the upcoming ridge that was several feet away, but then she yelled harshly at the slaves. “Hurry up you, those belongings of our students are more valuable and unable to be paid for if you lose them!” Ozur spotted the little slave boy carrying a heavy bag that seemed to belong to Alsha since her name was written all over it, but he was beginning to have trouble breathing from all the running. “Wait! Ulin that little boy, he’s getting left behind! We have to help him!” Ulin just ignored Ozur’s pleas as she grabbed his hand and pulled him along to follow the path to safety, muttering under her breath, as if she was trying to remind herself some rules she lived by her whole life. “We don’t interfere with slaves, we belong to our kind. Interfere and we face the consequences best fit for our crime.”

“But that kid!” Ozur protested, his eyes beginning to water but he held that emotion back so no one will notice. “He’s not breathing properly, he could die if we just leave him there!”

“That’s his problem, not ours!” Alsha screamed several feet away, beginning to approach Ozur through the panicking crowd of teenagers. “It’s not our fault that he was born a slave, that slave has no one to blame but himself. And you’ll become ice bits if you don’t get going!” The ice ridge was soon in everyone’s sight, bringing hopes up as teams ran through the ridge feeling home-free! Team Hero was the second to last team to pass through the ridge and soon every slave who carried luggage began to go through the ridge as well. However, more ice and snow began to damage the path they ran from, and Eathelyn could spot the little slave boy tripping over a piece of ice and fall faced down on the ground! Suddenly the ground below him began to crack and shake, causing him to be so terrified, that he couldn’t even move a muscle!

Without hesitation, a slave girl dropped whatever she was holding and ran towards the boy in absolute terror. She seemed to be just about fourteen years old with messy brown hair tied into two ponytails while she was wearing a ragged dress that covered part of the scars she owned! She had night black eyes, but her left eye had a scar shaped like an X, and from the looks of it, she couldn’t see from that very eye. However, Team Hero could see the panic in the girl’s eyes as she quickly rushed to the little boy while a staff member was going after her! Like a lunatic, Sundria ran to the scene as well, almost causing Rashika to change her mind about the teen but she was quickly proven wrong.

As the ground was now starting to fall off the cliff while carrying the boy with it, the slave girl desperately reached her hand out for him, screaming in absolute terror. “THUGGORT!” The boy could have grabbed the girl’s hand, but thanks to Sundria; he didn’t. Just has his small hand could feel the safety of the hands of the slave girl, Sundria pushed her aside, making a grab for the bag he was falling with! With relief, Sundria got up with the bag as she looked down to see the slave boy scream in fear before grabbing onto a hanging tree branch that shocking was growing in such an environment, but it wasn’t going to hold him for long! “That was a close one,” Sundria whispered, her hands clinging to the bag as if it held all the power in the world, then shouted over to Alsha in a victory. “Don’t worry Alsha, your bag is in safe hands!”

Rashika’s eyes widen in horror, and before Ulin could stop her, she ran to the scene, looking down where the poor boy cryings as he hanged on for dear life! Next to her, she could see the slave girl struggling to go down to him, but she was being held down by the staff member. The girl was trying to crawl her way out of the staff member’s hand, tears rapidly falling from both her eyes as she shrieked while her fingers clutched to the snow and ice to find a way out of the restrainer. “NO! No! Thuggort! LET ME GO, I HAVE TO SAVE MY BROTHER! He’s only a child, please let me save my brother! Thuggort! THUGGORT!”

Sundria looked disgustedly down at the slave girl, kicking some snow at her face. “Oh shut up already, he’s just a slave. He can easily be replaced.” Pretty soon, Eathelyn, Hugo, and Ozur were by Rashika’s side, as her hand was trembling as she heard Sundria talk harshly to the slave girl who was still begging to be released so she can save her brother. “Alright, alright just shut up! How many days off do you want so you can forget about that brat of yours?! Just name it, or do you want your freedom? Yeah, that’s it, just let it go and leave that runt to his fate.” Ozur could see the pain overflowing the girl’s body as she continued to thrash around the ground with her chains, still crying every tear out. “I don’t want my freedom, I want my brother with me! Please let me save him, he’s all I have left!”

“Sundria doesn’t just stand there, we have to help him!” Hugo commanded, feeling his nerves starting to lose its patience but the teen just looked at him as if he had two heads.

“Are you out of your mind? That runt’s just a slave, it’s his fault for not being fast enough. Don’t worry we’ll give this pathetic piece of trash a new brat to replace that one. Slaves listen to their masters no matter what the situation is and without any kind of complaint.”

Rashika’s teeth clenched even tighter than before, suddenly raising up to her feet before running to Sundria in top speed and punched the teen in the face so hard that she flew to the ridge with everyone else! “JUST SHUT UP!” Rashika she exclaimed with fury, then breathed in and out as if she was about to have a panic attack at the spot! “Who are you to say you can replace someone’s family!? That is so low and cruel, people like you shouldn’t play with lives like his! Not now, not ever, not even in a million years! He’s just as human as you are!”

Ulin and Olema helped Sundria up, as they both stared at Rashika in shock! Before anyone could say anything, Rashika’s necklace soon glowed, which resulted in her transforming into her dragon form as fast a light! She stood on her four legs, turning to her team members with seriousness written on her scales. “Hop on one of you, we have another rescue mission to accomplish!” Without hesitation, Ozur quickly hopped on top of Rashika’s back, holding on tightly as she took off in a flash while Hugo yelled up at her. “Eathelyn and I will hold the ice and snow back for long as you need to!” Nodding in agreement, Rashika fly down to the level where the slave boy was beginning to slip off from while snow and ice were blocking her way from reaching him!

Concentrating on the sliding avalanche, Eathelyn’s and Hugo’s Demon Eyes turned as white as snow, their palms facing the snow and ice as they stopped the avalanche from moving any further down! All they could hear was the cracking of ice, and the silence from the school, well for some teams, they were whispering to each other over the scene. Although Malisha couldn’t literally see what was going on, she couldn’t help but smile to see somebody standing up like that. Eiloh just looked at Team Hero dumbfounded, recalling what he just told the members as he started to second guess his beliefs. Alsha just huffed as she waved her hair to the side while Sundria looked at them in disgust.

I don’t care if Ulin makes me read twenty heavy textbooks on magic, just standing there while pretending nothing is happening when something is actually happening is just wrong! I won’t just stand there anymore, I’m going to make a difference like I promised Mr. Pawen! Ozur thought to himself with pride, knowing that if everyone did their part, they’ll succeed. Hugo could feel raindrops of sweat covered his forehead, his eyes were starting to get tired but his conscious is screaming for him to keep going! With one eye without the Demon Eye powers, Eathelyn could see everyone’s reactions to what they were doing. So what if that boy’s a slave, like what Rashika told Sundria...He’s human just like us!

“Rashika, I’m going to need you to hold on to this rope and get me as close as you can to the boy! I’ll try to grab him and when I give the word, you’ll fly out of here as fast as you can!” Ozur commanded, using his wand to make a rope appear so he can tie it around his waist and then handed the end of the rope to Rashika’s front paws. Nodding, Rashika fly as close as she could to the breaking cliff, with the snow falling stopping, it was a little easier. Almost easier if the cliff wasn’t very steep and had dangerous ice spikes around the bottom and near the slave boy. She cautiously leaned forward, just several feet away from the boy, knowing that any closer could lead to certain death, she lowered Ozur down carefully, so he wouldn’t get poked by the spikes. “Okay Ozur, it’s up to you now, but hurry, Hugo and Eathelyn look like they’re going to collapse any moment now!”

“Okay, okay...No pressure,” Ozur muttered, as he swung himself closer to the slave boy the girl called Thuggort. Thuggort was swinging his legs around while he felt his butterfingers slowly slipping until he saw Ozur approaching him, remembering him from the day they first arrived at the academy. Before Thuggort could panic, Ozur held both his arms out as he soothed him in a calm voice. “Don’t panic, it’s okay. Remember me, the teenager from the Copper Building back at Lunar Star Academy? My teammates and I met you on the wrong foot, but don’t worry, we’ll get to know you better, you can trust us...You can trust me.” Thuggort looked at Ozur with wet puffy eyes as he whimpered. “I...I don’t know...”

“Look, you can trust us Thuggort, I promise you that we won’t let anything happen to you. Look around you, my team and I are here right now to rescue you; we could stay with the other kids, but we didn’t. Please, Thuggort, jump to me, and I’ll catch you.” Seeing the doubt in the boy’s face, Ozur smiled as he reassured. “I won’t let you fall, look you sister is waiting for you to come back to her safe and sound...Just let go and you’ll be okay, I promise.”

A little hesitant, Thuggort didn’t really have much of a choice, with the shaking of the cliff he was holding on to, he held on for a little longer before his fingers removed themselves from the grip one by one. He suddenly felt himself falling in midair, getting a feeling that he might die at this point, but he was wrong. Just five seconds after Thuggort let go, he felt strong arms wrap around him tightly as he heard Ozur yell up at Rashika. “RASHIKA, PULL US UP AND GET US OUT OF HERE!”

“You heard the wolf boy Rashika, fly out of there, Hugo and I are running out of energy to keep this pile of ice from moving!” Eathelyn screamed, feeling every ounce of her energy getting drained out as she heard frantic wings flapping! Suddenly, she felt a pair of hands push her next to Hugo, causing them to lose concentration and release the avalanche!

“ALSHA!?” Hugo looked up at the teen in anger before he shouted over to Rashika frantically. “You guys have to hurry, Eathelyn and I lost total control of the avalanche thanks to a certain pest!” Rashika pulled Ozur and Thuggort up to her back as she flew straight up faster than the falling avalanche that was devouring the bottoms of the cliff! “Hold on you two, this is going to be a very bumpy ride!” She saw sharp icicles fall straight towards her as she dodged each one in less than ten seconds for each one while piles of snow hit her face! Everybody held their breaths to see the two members of Team Hero about to get buried in snow while Team Same just looked pleased...Well except for Malisha who was ready to smack Alsha and Eiloh just didn’t know what to do to the situation.

Rashika fly to the right, to the left as icicles rained down her direction and soon she saw the ridge as clear as a bell! “Run to the ridge!”

Without a second of doubt, Eathelyn, Hugo, Alsha, the slave girl, and the staff member all ran to the safety of the ice ridge with Rashika not far behind! Then out of nowhere, a pile of snow hit her tail fin, causing her to tip over and get hit by one of the icicles, which resulted in her to go for a spin down! Hugo and Eathelyn were about to shout her name out, but Rashika’s eyes narrowed as she spread both of wings out to get out of the spin as soon as it began! Within only a few seconds before the avalanche devours them, Rashika could feel flames burn inside her as she flapped her wings faster towards the ridge! The snow was about to cover them, as Ozur held on to Thuggort to protect the boy from the snow and ice, but Rashika didn’t feel like going to her grave just yet!

She let out a ton of fire from her mouth to melt the snow out of her way, still flapped her wings to her destination! However, only half the snow melted but just moments before the rest of the avalanche could tag them, she turned around and blew her flames to make her fly backward and faster. She could feel Ozur and Thuggort fall off from her back but she was quick enough to catch them and wrap them around her wings as she braced herself for a bumping landing! With all the flames, that ice melted turned into water! The water fell down like a waterfall as Rashika’s scales were greeted by the cold presence of the snow through the ice ridge!

Within seconds, she stopped sliding across the ice, only to open her wings up to reveal Ozur who was holding on to Thuggort tightly only to release him to reassure him that they were out of harm’s way. Rashika soon was back into her human form only to wince in pain to realize that her right arm was bruised from that hit on the icicle but she didn’t mind that right now. As Hugo and Eathelyn helped Rashika up, Ozur dusted off any snow around Thuggort, only to stop when they heard the sudden sound of applauding hands from every student of Lunar Star Academy as they shouted.

“You’re alive!”

“That was awesome, the way you saved that little boy!”

“You guys are awesome, especially you Rashika! Ozur!”

“You too Eathelyn and Hugo!”

Soon Team Hero found themselves surrounded by new adoring fans but they didn’t pay attention to the fame, not one bit. Their eyes traveled over to the corner where the slaves stood, where Thuggort ran happily towards his older sister, even though his chains held him down!

The slave girl who was crying before was now shedding tears of joy as she ran towards her brother, the two soon hugging each other while crying in joy as she kissed his forehead a hundred times as she cried. “Thuggort, you’re okay, you’re okay! Oh, thank heaven and earth you’re safe and sound! I thought I lost you Thuggort, please don’t scare me like that again!” Then the slave siblings looked up at Team Hero, the older sister’s eyes shined in gratitude before she led her brother back into the crowd of slaves who were overjoyed to see one of their members safe. From the left corner of the crowding students, stood Sundria, and Alsha, as they looked at their other two teammates in disgust to see that they grew fond of Team Hero as well. They soon felt a shiver as they felt the presence of their instructor, who was ready to give them a huge lecture and punishment.

However, in the shadows, Headmistress Olema looked at Team Hero with Ulin in fascination and suspicion as well. She then snapped in front of Ulin as she quietly ordered the instructor in a demanding voice. “Keep an eye on those teenagers Ulin, no doubt they are splitting image of the previous Team Hero.”

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