My eyes flitted across the quad, taking in the scene before me.
Kira, who was just seconds ago talking about her upcoming date with Gabby as we walked to class, pushed me slightly to the side and intercepted the fire ball that was headed straight to my face. Steam blew as her water met with fire and for a second the world was awfully still as I thought about how that thing was centimeters away from incinerating my eyebrows.
“Are you okay?” Kira asked, her tone light considering that she had just derailed a fiery attack.
I looked around, trying to pinpoint the source of the attack and my eyes met with a smirking Catherine.
Why was I not surprised?
“Let’s get to class. We don’t want to be late.” Kira grabbed my arm and led me towards the main building, keeping an eye on our surroundings at the same time.
I thought I was ready for the magic trials last night. My practice with Chase gave me a boost of well needed confidence and my powers seemed to be steadily growing and improving, but all that certainty vanished into thin air as soon as I stepped out of the house minutes ago.
To say that the academy was in disarray would be a gross understatement. Seniors were at each others’ throats, taking advantage of the somewhat unsupervised battles to act crazy, bend the rules and -in Catherine’s case- settle old scores. The other students were hurrying along to get to their classes, trying their best not to get caught in the eye of the hurricane.
“This is insane.” I muttered, shock and disbelief coursing through my veins.
“This is nothing.” Kira smirked, her blue hair hanging in loose curls down her back. “This is just the first day. Things are about to get way more exciting!”
“Exciting?” My eyes were about to bulge out of my skull. “It’s not even an hour into the trials yet and the quad looks like a dystopian battle field. I don’t think I can make it.”
“Of course you’ll make it. Magic trials were never about random attacks and acting on grudges like our dear friend Catherine out there. Magic trials are about strategy and battle techniques. They’re about alliances.”
“Alliances? Is that even allowed?”
Kira put her arm around my shoulder, her smirk never leaving her lips as she steered us toward the back of the class where Rose saved us some seats.
“Oh my dear Lilith, everything is fair in love and war.”
Classes went by fairly quickly. Attacks were not allowed inside the main buildings so everyone had no other choice but to pay attention and wait it out. When lunch time rolled around, everyone was practically itching for some action.
The cafeteria was buzzing with the energy of pumped up mystics. Students huddled in pairs and groups and it seemed that Kira was right about the alliances. Everywhere I looked people were flocking together, seeking the security and assurance that came with large groups. There was, after all, safety in numbers.
“Over here.” Rose said, tilting her head towards a full table. As we approached I spotted Chase, Skyler, Brad and Gabby huddled together, whispering amongst themselves.
Chase spotted us first and a playful smirk appeared on his face that took my breath away. I was so used to the stoic, serious boy I saw everyday for the past few months that every smile, smirk or laugh that escaped his lips never failed to take me by surprise.
“Took you guys long enough.” He said as we took our places around the table. “Did you get ambushed or something?”
“Or something.” Kira replied as she gave me a sideway glance. It seemed that Catherine was taking full advantage of the trials as she used every chance she got to attack me.
I chanced a look around the cafeteria, it being one of the places fighting was not restricted, and noticed a couple of tables toppled over. A huge rock flew over the head of a girl who ducked just in time to avoid getting her head bashed in and fired what seemed to be sizzling black smoke towards her attacker.
“Are you guys sure we’re safe here?” I gulped at the sight of a tornado toppling over some chairs.
“Don’t tell me you’re afraid of a little action?” Skyler laughed lightheartedly, winking at a girl who walked by our table and gave him a flirty wave.
“Yeah I’d rather not get drenched or burned to a crisp.” I countered and everyone at the table simply laughed.
“So, how are we going to go about this?” Rose asked, an excited gleam in her deep brown eyes.
“I say we stick together whenever we can and play it safe.” Brad suggested. “It’s only the first day after all.”
“That sounds boring.” Chase waved his hand around.
“Agreed.” Kira nodded. “I say screw defense. Let’s have some fun.”
“Wait.” I looked around the table. “Have you guys already worked out an alliance?”
“Well yeah.” Gabby smiled softly. “Of course we did.”
“We always stick together.” Skyler confirmed.
“Oh.” was all I could mutter.
“No need to freak out Lil, you’re one of us now.” Kira nudged me playfully on the shoulder and the tension that was building up inside of me slowly dissipated.
“We should probably get out of here.” Chase said as a half of a broken table came crashing down inches away from where we were sitting.
“Yeah you’re probably right.” Brad chimed in and we all stood up to leave the cafeteria.
As I looked around one last time, my eyes landed on none other than Catherine. But this time, she wasn’t sending me withering glares or evil smirks, in fact she wasn’t even looking at me. She was too busy having a heated conversation in the far corner of the cafeteria with Kyle.
All of our heads snapped towards the voice as we got out of the war zone formerly known as the cafeteria. To our right stood a tall, muscular looking guy with a smug expression on his face. His red hair glistened under the rays of the sun and his green eyes held a challenging look accentuated by the smirk on his lips. Next to him stood a girl just as tall, with the same shade of hair -only hers cascaded down her back- and the same eye color.
“Jason, Jesse. What can I do for you today?” Skyler addressed the newcomers, the smirk on his face just as smug.
“We’re here to challenge you and your sister to a fight.” Jesse was the one to answer, her eyes raking over the skythorn twins with distaste.
Kira and Skylar exchanged a brief look, seemingly not at all surprised with this turn of events.
“This should be fun.” Gabby muttered under her breath, rolling her eyes in the process.
“Unless, of course, you’re scared.” Jason continued before Sky or Kira had a chance to answer.
“Fifth grade intimidation tactics. How innovative.” Kira gave a slow sarcastic clap while Sky simply chuckled.
“Let’s get this over with.”
As soon as those words left Kira’s mouth, thick branches sprouted from the ground and surrounded the twins. My heart was beating violently against my ribcage, but I managed to ignore the panic rising within my chest to focus on the fight in front of me.
“Shouldn’t we do something?” I asked my voice strangely calm and steady.
“Unfortunately, we can’t interfere with a direct challenge.” Chase replied as he grasped my arm and pulled me away from the battle field. We joined the rest of the group- them having backed away without me noticing- and we all focused on the twins.
“Who are these weirdoes anyway?” My eyes took in the red headed siblings, trying to remember if I have seen them around but my mind was drawing a blank.
“Jason and Jesse Evans from Avanindra.” Chase explained. “Their main element is Earth and their second is Water. Their family is pretty high up the ranks but the twins seem to hold an everlasting grudge against the royal families, hence the challenge.”
“So, what? They go around picking fights with the royals?” I asked, bewildered.
I watched, mesmerized, as the branches that a second ago hid my best friend and her twin brother were engulfed in flames. Kira and Skyler had matching smiles on their faces as fire erupted from their hands and burnt the branches to a crisp. They didn’t wait around for the red heads to strike again though, and soon Jason and Jesse were each drenched from head to toe.
Our group laughed loudly at the expressions of shock, disgust and outrage that coated the siblings’ faces. With how they reacted to the attack, one would think they were drenched in sewage water. Kira didn’t hesitate, the expression of boredom on her face suggesting she wanted to get this ‘battle’ over as soon as possible, and with one flick of her wrist she conjured a sphere of glistening water. Sky followed suit and as his sphere grew to match that of his sister they both let them free at the same time and sent them hurtling towards their opponents.
My focus on the fight in front of me was abruptly interrupted when I felt a hand snake around my wrist and pull me away. My shocked gaze landed on stormy grey eyes and I stumbled to regain my balance as Kyle continued to tug on my arm.
“What the hell?” I shrieked. “Kyle, slow down. What are you doing?”
“We need to talk.” Kyle’s frosty voice sent chills down my spine.
“Well, talk then.” I yanked my arm away from his iron hold and stopped in my tracks, forcing him to stop with me. “What the hell has gotten into you?”
“Me?” Kyle chuckled darkly. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”
“What’s going on here?” Chase’s voice interrupted whatever response I was about to come up with and as I looked up I saw that he was by my side again, his eyes burning holes into the side of Kyle’s head.
“Nothing that concerns you, Serafino. Stay out of this.” Kyle spat at Chase, his tone dripping with venom.
“If it concerns Lilith then it concerns me.” Chase said and my heart lurched painfully inside my chest.
“You really don’t know when to back off, do you?” At this point Kyle was fuming.
“I can say the same thing about you.”
“I hate to break it to you Serafino, but Lilith is my girlfriend. So whatever feelings you have for her, I suggest you get over them. She’s mine and I don’t plan on letting her go.”
“You are delusional.” Chase scoffed.
“Oh yeah?” Kyle challenged. “Tell that to your girlfriend. She seems to be on the same page as me.”
“What?” Chase gritted his teeth together. “What does Catherine have to do with this?”
“You’re spending an awful long time hanging out with my girl even Catherine thinks you’re cheating on her. Why else would she come to me of all people to ask me for help? God knows we don’t exactly get along, but I suppose desperate times and all that.” The glint in Kyle’s eyes was cold and calculating and –not for the first time this week- I wondered if I truly knew the guy I called my boyfriend.
“I don’t know what has gotten into you, but you need to stop.” My voice came out steady and strong, taking me by surprise considering I was a walking vessel of panic and anxiety. “Nothing is going on between Chase and I, and you should know better than to listen to Catherine’s taunts.”
“They don’t sound too much like taunts when I keep seeing you with him everywhere I go.” Kyle glared at me.
“We’re allies, Kyle.” I glared right back. “We formed an alliance.”
“And you didn’t think to check with me?” Kyle fumed. “You’re mine Lilith. Not his. He can’t take what’s mine again.”
“She’s not yours, just like Aline wasn’t either.” Chase took a daring step forward, bringing himself chest to chest with Kyle. “So back off.”
“Do you have a minute?” Kyle asked, his voice soft.
“I can’t talk right now Kyle, I have to get to class.”
“This will only take a second.” He grabbed my wrist, his hold tight and painful.
“Not until you hear me out.”
“You’re hurting me.” I tried to keep my voice emotionless, even though on the inside I was freaking out.
“Let her go Kyle.” Chase’s voice sounded in my ears and I released a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
“This is none of your business Chase.” Kyle’s once soft voice turned cold and threatening.
“That’s my girlfriend you’re hurting, so it is my business.”
“Is everything okay here?” Kira’s voice brought me out of my thoughts and I relaxed as her hand rested on my shoulder.
“Everything is fine.” Chase didn’t take his eyes off of Kyle.
“You should go.” I let out softly, my mind reeling with questions.
“Lilith…” Kyle started but I cut him off.
“This is neither the time nor the place.” I kept my features blank and emotionless. “You should go.”
As I watched Kyle walk away from my little group, I came to the realization that it was finally the time to ask the question that was gnawing at my insides since I came to Lixierra Academy.
What the hell happened between Chase and Kyle?