The air was crisp and cold, which to Alister was the making of a perfect day. All of the shops were open earlier than usual to ensure students could get the necessary supplies for the semester. Ali was bundled up in some black joggers, his favorite oversized university sweatshirt, and burgundy brimmed beanie that kept his mop of hair from his face. “So, I’ve never had to shop with hunters before...what’s that there list say, boy?” Ali peered over Bart’s shoulder to get a better look at the laundry list of needed items.
Copy of Tracking For Magical Dummies Vol. 1
Skinning Blade Set
Mortar and Pestle
Copy of Plants of the World Vol. 1
Copy of Methods of Hunting Vol. 1
Face Paint- Forest Green 034, Black 002, Charcoal Gray 021
Generic Pistol Sidearm
Wooden Stakes - 24 Count
Copy of Myths of Monsters Vol. 1
Copy of Basic Enchantments
“Hmm..oi! Myths of Monsters, that’s for the History of the Unknown World, right? I have that course too. From what my mate Garrett told me, the text books are wrapped more times than a bad Christmas present. Should be fairly cheap.” Ali grabbed the door for his friends as they all piled into a used book store on the corner “After this, what say we grab some food yeah?”
“I’m always down for food.” Bart said as his stomach growled.
Rena stuffed her supply list in her jacket pocket and proceeded to walk through the store grabbing the necessary books she needed. She hummed as she flipped through one of the text books, Plants of the World Vol 1 “Sor would get a kick out of this book.” She mumbled under breath “I’d rather be outside training than have to read about this stuff.” She slammed the book shut and carried on absentmindedly walking throughout the store.
“Annd Method of Hunting makes the last of it.” Bart checked the last book of his list. He set his stack of books at the register. 1 Methods of Hunting, 1 Plants of the World, 1 Tracking for Magical Dummies, 1 Myths of Monsters, and 1 History of the Five: The Classes of Ethelwine. The last one was not on the list, but he thought it sounded interesting and decided to get it for some reading on the side.
He paid at the register with the money he had gotten from cashing a small amount of gold from his brother’s chest. He had never heard of a bank that accepted ancient gold coins but nothing really surprises him anymore.
“Know any good spots Ali?” He asks as the trio headed for the door.
“Depends on what you’re into,” Ali said as he zipped his backpack, full of new textbooks. “There’s a lady about a block from here, call her Mama Zion. She whips up some mental Caribbean dishes. Or we can keep it simple and go to Troyes, which is like fish and chips and the usual. Your call.”
“Caribbean or fish and chips this early Ali?”
“Aye, it’s good anytime, boy! Troye’s has breakfast too. We’ll head there...simple stooks.” He remark under his breath.
The group sat down at a patio seat at the restaurant and started looking over the menu “So..uh..” Bar started awkwardly, turning a slight shade of pinker. “After we get school supplies, I kind of need to buy some clothes.”
Rena glanced up from her menu to see Bart’s blushing face, she gave him a reassuring smile and shrugged “Cool, we’ll go with you to get some clothes. It’s not a big deal. Right Ali?” She glanced over at her friend who was still glancing over the menu.
“Yeah yeah yeah, we can do that ...excuse me miss!” Ali waved down one of the waitresses from nearby. “Yes hi, hey...so the Londoner’s breakfast. Pretty good size aye?” The waitress nodded, and the Irish boy nodded back handing back his menu.
The waitress wrote down Ali’s order and turned to Bart who’s eyes widened “Oh uh, I’ll have the Belgium Waffles please.”
Rena placed her order as well then leaned back in her seat holding her cup of black coffee close to her as the waitress left. “So Ali, anything we should know about the school? People to watch out for, places to avoid, teachers to suck up to, etcetera etcetera.”
“Hmm...well, I will say that hunters have a pretty good go of it. A lot of instructors for your class are top notch. The Brutes have quite a few bullies in the group, but if you stay out of their way they shouldn’t be much trouble. NEVER go to the hallway on the third floor of the Potions building. You’ll know what I’m talking about. All in all, easy as pie....damn I’m hungry.” Ali gave an exaggerated stretch and yawn to wake himself up. “So, tell me about home? I’ve never been but to Galway, Belfast and here in Dry Ridge. Tell me everything!”
“Berlin is pretty interesting. Loads of history there, some good, some bad. I lived amongst all different kinds of people there. I guess that’s kind of easy to do when ...well...you’re living on the streets” Barts grins fiddling with his cup as he spoke.
“When my brother died I was kind of left on my own. There was no way I was going back to an orphanage so I became homeless. That’s sort of why I need to buy clothes. But, you meet interesting people. Some of them like you, a lot of them don’t. Hell, I probably wouldn’t like some punk kid running around and stealing food every chance he got.” He chuckled as if remembering a funny memory “But it’s beautiful there. Winters there are amazing, cold, but none the less amazing.
Ali let out a low whistle leaning back in his seat “Pretty cool how you managed to survive all these years on your own. It’s incredible. Now what about you Miss Beasley.”
“I come from a large town in Northern Russia. It’s usually always snowing, give or take a few months out of the year where we experience some warm weather, besides that, it’s always freezing. It’s pretty boring, we have small shops, schools, a town council, you get the picture. The best part though is the large forest that surrounds the place, perfect for hunting.”
She smiled fondly thinking of her home. “I’ve had my fair share to hunting some cool creatures throughout the years, thanks to my best friend and his family. But with overprotective Mage parents, I was always sneaking around.” Rena shrugged taking a sip of her coffee, enjoying the warmth of it.
“I see. So you never wanted to be a Mage? To carry on and honor your family’s name?” With that, the food was brought out to the table “Thanks a million, bean.” Ali began to pick at the bacon on his plate.
Rena snorted very unlady like while pouring syrup on her pancakes “That’s what Luka’s for, he’s the golden boy of our family. With him being an excellent Mage and famous stronghold player, I can do whatever I want. Besides, I absolutely suck as a mage, believe my I’ve tried and failed miserably.”
“Ah, I guess that’s fair. Your brother is pretty brilliant at this kind of stuff. You know, I thought about going a new way myself. Thought long and hard about being a brute. I thought it may help me when it comes to Stronghold. Bart, you are familiar with stronghold, yes?” Ali’s tone switched to a higher register, the kind that denotes excitement and satisfaction.
“Erm, Rena mentioned something about it to me, but I don’t know anything about it.” Bart replies taking a bite of his waffles.
“YEWCANTBSEWIO-” Ali took a moment to swallow “You can’t be serious! How are you a magical person, nay a legacy, and know nothing of Stronghold! It’s only my entire reason for being alive! Well...that may be a wee bit intense...but still!”
Bart’s eyes narrowed at Ali with an amused smile. “You realize this is the first time I’ve paid for my own food or sat in a restaurant for that matter in close to 2 years right?”
“Yeah yeah yeah right. So Stronghold is a magical sport that plays somewhat like Simps might play capture the flag or football. Each team has 11 players dedicated to 4 positions: Attackers, Utilities, Defenders, and Keepers. Every position serves specific function with the goal in mind of capture the other team’s treasure. ’Nd that treasure could be anything from a crest to a crown to a small box. The game is won when one team steals the treasure and delivers it to their own Stronghold, thus the name of the game.” Ali smiled, thinking of his one true teenage love: the beautiful game.
“Interesting.” Bart took one last bite of his waffles “So you said my brother played it?”
“Oi! Not only did he play, but he dominated! He brought your class three titles in his time. He captained the squad as a Utility. Did it all, certainly. Thankfully, since Pap has been teaching my whole life, I was able to watch the matches even as a young lad.”
“Luka played as well, he was almost as good as August, led the mages to victory most of his career.” Rena chimes in finishing her meal “They used to play together since Luka was only a year behind him.”
Bart was intrigued, it seems like this game was a really big deal in this world, he wanted to know more. “So what do all the positions do then?”
“So imagine the arena has both team sides, and dead in the center is a mark that denotes where one team area ends and the other begins. Attackers and Utilities are the only positions that can cross into enemy territory. Defenders and keepers must stay on their own side or be disqualified. Attackers are the only positions that can hold and transport the other squad’s treasure. But let’s say an Attacker is hit by the defense before he can return home? He/she would be thrown into the prison zone. There’s where the Utilities come in- they can retrieve their attackers and bring them back into the action! They can also help the defenders with trapping opposing offenses.
And then the keepers would be the final line of defense. They’re the only member of the Squad that can move the treasure to a new area when need be. Very vital part of the strategy, that one.”
Rena chuckled at Ali’s excitement, she could tell he loved the game “So what position do you play? You do play Stronghold don’t you?”
“Well of course I do! I play Utility ...and I’m pretty good.” Ali looked at the clock on the wall. “Shite! We’ve got to get a’ movin! There’s a special parade in the town square this afternoon, we don’t want to get caught up in that!
The trio paid for their meals and made their way out of the restaurant “Alright Bart, what else do you need?”
“Okay well all I have left to get is one ghillie suit, one size pistol, and one bottle of werewolf urine. Honestly who’s job is it to collect werewolf urine?!” He turned to the dark haired girl next to him “What about you Beasley? What else do you have to get?”
Ali’s eyes widened as he remembered there was werewolf urine on Bart’s list. The store you get that from gave him the major creeps.
Rena pulled out her crumpled list glancing through it. “Looks like I need werewolf urine and wooden stakes. I don’t need much, Luka took me shopping beforehand.”
“Oh stakes. I almost forgot!” Bart exclaims looking at his list once more.
She turned to Alister “So where do we get that stuff? Are there any shops around here?”
“I thought I saw a weapons shop down the road.” Bart pointed. “I saw ghillies in the window of it too. We could get our pistols there.”
“Okay, we can grab the weapons first, then the urine. The store that sells it has a few charms I need.” Ali’s voice dropped down an octave as if whatever he had to say was weighing heavily on his mind. “But I need you to listen very carefully to me...that part of town is dangerous and plays host to some real crazies. Some of them are students, even. I’m going to give my mate Garrett a ring and see if he’ll tag along. He’s a Grim, so he understands the area better than I. Just remember, never ever walk alone. We’re clear?
“Uh right...” Bart and Rena agreed.