Chapter 1 - Back at Malorsty
Sahara feels the anger pulsing through her veins as she causes the ground to quake. The trees surrounding her shake and the clouds above her in the sky begin to swirl turning grey. She causes lightening to break free from the dark clouds and strike the dark shadow figure in front of her. An ellon standing next to her with dark hair catches her attention as he laughs evilly. Her orange vision deepens to a red as she yearns to hurt the ellon standing next to her. “Sahara?” She turns toward the voice, seeing the dark shadow speak though she still cannot tell who it is. “What are you doing?” The ellon asks painfully as Sahara realizes she has him entangled in electrical currents she has created. Sahara feels her anger grow as she hears the evil laugh and sees the dark figure before her dying.
Sahara suddenly sits up in bed, realizing it was just a dream. She shakes her head trying to settle her brain. She had been having the same recurring dream all summer, but she always woke up after seeing the life squeezed out of the mysterious ellon. It was a horrible nightmare. She shakes her head trying to shake the memory of the ellon dying from her brain. “I would never actually do that.” She says to herself moving over to the window so that she can open the drapes and brighten the room. After a moment of drinking in the bright sight of the bustling streets of Kinderton, Sahara sees the carriage approaching to take her to Malorsty Academy. She smiles in excitement and runs to get ready for her journey.
Sahara gives a sigh of relief as she steps out of the carriage looking at the Academy. She had looked forward to this day all summer. She had been too busy to see her friends Mecca, Phylan, Carol, Marol, and Bularia because she was trying to finish her second year studies. She managed to finish all her second year studies except for one course. That part she wasn’t excited about, because she knew she would have to be in class with Brystol for all her third year courses. Aran Rayterbay had expressed as much in the telicall she received from him and Tari Nathila last night. They often called her over the summer and stopped by a few times as well to check in on her.
“Sahara!” Mecca says running down the stairs toward her waving in excitement.
“Mecca!” Sahara says as she notices Phylan following behind Mecca waving. “Hey! I missed you both so much!”
She begins to hug them as Phylan teases her, “If you had not been such a bookworm all summer, you would have not missed us so much.”
“I know, sorry.” Sahara says remorsefully as she makes sure the blue gem of her necklace is hidden inside her dress.
“Forewarning, Waizlynn is…” Mecca begins to warn Sahara of something but just then Sahara hears her name being shouted from the top of the entrance stairs of the academy.
She turns to meet eyes with Carol and Marol. “Hi!” She says in excitement running up to meet them both with a hug.
“We have so much to tell you!” Marol says joyfully.
“Brystol is here looking amazing as always.” Carol says sounding like an excited child.
“Gross.” Sahara says shaking her head, “Don’t start with that already.”
“Oh yeah,” Phylan says behind her. “How was that week of punishment with him? Rumor has it you two fought the entire time.”
“Rumor?” Sahara scowls at the memory of the miserable week she spent with him tutoring her. They had fought most of the time but only after Waizlynn had come to the castle at Kinderton unannounced to see Brystol for five of the seven days he was there. “We didn’t fight the whole time.” She says annoyed. “Waizlynn came to visit, so I know the rumor had to come from her.”
“Waizlynn came to visit you?” Marol looks confused.
“No. Brystol. While he was there.” Sahara rolls her eyes. “And we only fought because she showed up and started causing problems.”
“How unlike her.” Carol says sarcastically.
“She was acting like it was her own house and bossing around my maid and telling them what to make for dinner. Brystol didn’t say a word. He was just letting her be the pretend tari. On my turf!” Sahara attempts to slow her anger with a large gulp of air. “Whatever, I just want to forget the whole thing.”
“Well, back to what I was saying about Waizlynn,” Mecca sounds remorseful, “She has been telling everyone that you and Slagwart are together.”
“What?” Sahara looks confused toward Mecca. “Who is Slagwart?”
Mecca points towards an ellon that is leaned up against the wall of the academy. He is wearing an orange third-year shirt and looks angry with the world. “He’s half drow and quite definitely the one elf that could ruin an elleth’s reputation.”
“He doesn’t look familiar.” Sahara says as she squints trying to make sure she doesn’t recognize him.
“That is because he wasn’t here last year. He was kicked out.” Mecca says with a hushed voice.
“When he was a first year, he is said to have been involved with an elleth named Arlentine. They apparently were caught in a compromising position out by the plorksol field.” Phylan says with a low gossiping tone.
“Who is Arlentine?” Marol asks in confusion. “I don’t remember her from last year either.”
“That is because she wasn’t here last year.” Mecca says with disgust in her voice. “Her parents were so embarrassed by what happened, they moved out of the tri-kingdoms and enrolled her in a new academy, just to avoid the scrutiny.”
“Word is, she had a baby not too long after they moved.” Phylan says throwing his nose up in the air as he glances over toward Slagwart.
Mecca nods her head in agreeance as the other elleths in the group all turn to look at Slagwart. They all quickly look away though, as Slagwart turns his eyes toward them. “Maybe we should go in.” Sahara says.
The group moves toward the second year entrance, “We get to be on the second floor this year!” Carol says with excitement.
“Yes.” Phylan sighs, “It feels good to not be at the bottom of the ladder.”
“And to actually have a clue about where to go or what to do.” Marol adds.
“That is for sure.” Sahara says remembering how much more lost at Malorsty she was last year than everyone else.
As they begin to say their names to enter the banquet hall, Sahara notices Bularia enter the second floor too. “Hey!” Sahara says with a large grin.
“Hi.” Bularia says returning a smile and moving over toward them.
“Where have you been hiding?” Marol asks curiously.
Bularia rolls her eyes before she answers, “Waizlynn made me unpack her trunk.”
“Uh, you say no.” Sahara says disdainfully.
“When did you become her errand maid?” Carol asks.
“She stayed at our house practically all summer.” Bularia explains. “You know, to be close to Brystol.” Sahara rolls her eyes at the mention of his name as Bularia continues, “She bet me she could sneak into the castle at Holestroy without getting caught. Well, she won. But apparently she had done it before. So it wasn’t a fair bet at all. Anyway my punishment was to…”
Sahara remembers back to when she was at Holestroy over Christmas break and there was someone watching her through the window in the garden that one night. “Wait.” Sahara says abruptly stopping Bularia. “You said she snuck in before. Was she at your house over Christmas break?”
“Yes.” Bularia says without pausing to think. “We always spend the holiday together.”
Sahara shakes her head in annoyance realizing it had to be Waizlynn that night. She had to have been spying on her and Brystol. Or maybe she had snuck in to see Brystol and was leaving when she spotted her. “Sahara? What is wrong?” Marol asks.
“Nothing.” Sahara says before trying to change the subject. “So how long are you her slave?”
“The first two weeks.” Bularia says defeatedly.
“Have fun with that.” Sahara says sarcastically.
“What is taking…” Phylan says as he steps back out into the hall. “Oh. Hey.” He sounds knowing the answer to his unfinished question as he greets Bularia.
“Hi.” Bularia says with a smile.
“We have seats saved.” Phylan says before saying his name again to enter.
Marol, Carol, and Bularia all say their name and enter before Sahara speaks her name. She steps up toward the wall but notices the sign above the entrance does not appear. She feels the wall with her hand and it feels solid. She says her name again, but still the wall is solid. “What is happening?” She says looking around at the line of elves behind her. They are all staring at her impatiently. She steps aside for the ellon behind her to try. He says his name and enters without an issue, giving Sahara a shrug of his shoulders.
She waits until a few more elves enter before she tries again. The wall still does not open up for her. “Having issues?” Headorean Shawdlortur’s voice rings in her ears from above her. She looks up noticing him on the staircase that leads up to the third floor.
“The wall won’t let me in.” Sahara says annoyed.
“Yes.” He says knowingly. “That is because you are on the wrong level.”
Sahara feels her mood spiral down. “No.”
“You are in five third-year courses.” Shawdlortur says unapologetically. “Surely you did not expect to stay in with the second-years?” Sahara defeatedly walks toward the stairs as he speaks again. “You have a third-year gown waiting for you in your room.”
“I do still get to stay with my same roommates though?” She asks hopefully.
“Yes.” Headorean Shawdlortur says with a sharp nod. “They were selected carefully last year and you will remain with them this year and next year.”
“Well, at least I have that.” She says forcefully walking up the stairs.
“You will be alright Arenal.” Shawdlortur says as he pats her on the shoulder. “Perhaps you should hurry up to your room and change to avoid full on scrutiny from the third years for showing up in second-year yellow.”
“The last thing I need is more harassment. Wasteland has already started in on me and I haven’t even set eyes on her yet.” She huffs moving up the stairs past him.
“Make it fast. I will see you, Aranel.” Headorean Shawdlortur says before progressing down toward the first floor.
Sahara realizes she is alone as she looks around the empty staircase, so she decides the make the change faster. She teleports herself to her dorm room, Joust Hall room J4.
She snarls her nose smelling the aroma of violet. She had always hated that smell. She remembers Carol loved the smell though and would always smell of it, so she knows Carol had already been in their room spraying her scent. She finds the orange Malorsty gown hanging in her closet. She sighs in annoyance before changing into it. She knows the assembly had already started so she figures no one will be in the halls or stairs. She decides to teleport to be faster. She teleports to the third floor, only to immediately bump into someone and knock them down. “I am so sorry!” Sahara says as she tries to help the ellon stand back up. “Are you,” She stops her words realizing who the ellon is as he turns to face her.
He gives her a wrinkled brow glance as he brushes off his shoulder, as if there is dirt on it, but Sahara sees nothing on it. “Is this your sly way of trying to meet me?” Slagwart says in a mean tone.
“No.” Sahara says in reply.
“You are Sahara, right?” He doesn’t allow her time to answer his question. “Why would you spread a rumor about me being your deeto?”
“I didn’t.” She says honestly. “That was Waizlynn. I didn’t even know who you were until about thirty minutes ago when I arrived and heard the rumor myself.”
His anger seems to disappear from his face as he turns to leave as he speaks, “Well, watch where you are going.”
“I will! Sorry.” Sahara says in relief that he didn’t notice she had teleported.
“Quinton Slagwart.” He states his name to enter the third-year floor and it surprises Sahara, she had not realized his first name wasn’t Slagwart.
“Oh, I thought your first name was Slagwart.” She says politely but receives a short non-caring glance before he disappears through the wall.
“Okay.” She says looking around feeling awkward. She then says her name and sees the sign appear above the door. She rolls her eyes annoyed by the thought of being on the same floor as Brystol as she walks through, entering the banquet hall. The third floor is much different than the first-years floor from last year. It is rounded with a large opening in the center that looks down to the second and first floors. She sees tables that are smaller than the long large tables on the first level. These tables are rounded and seat only six elves, she notes seeing all but one table filled with orange dressed elves. She remembers her friends on the floor below and knows they must be wondering where she is, so she moves over to the railing to the center of the floor to look down on to the second-years. She sees them laughing at a story Phylan appears to be telling. None of them seem to notice she is not even there and it makes her feel some sadness.
“What are you doing here?” Waizlynn’s words cause Sahara’s insides to tighten as she turns to face the hateful elleth. “And in orange?”
Sahara sees Brystol looking awkwardly toward her as he stands next to Waizlynn. She then notices Slagwart sitting at a table that has a seat available next to him. “I passed all my courses over the summer, so I could be a third-year with my deeto. Have you met Quinton?” Sahara asks with a smile pointing at Slagwart. Waizlynn crosses her arms in agitation and Brystol’s awkward stare darts toward Slagwart. “Come on over when you get a chance and I can introduce.” Sahara says sweetly as she walks away from the pair. Sahara moves over never looking back and sits in the empty chair by Slagwart. She isn’t sure if Waizlynn or Brystol are still looking, so she decides to play as if they are. “Hey!” She says excitedly toward Slagwart.
“What are you doing?” Slagwart looks around the room seeming surprised.
“Well, I mean, everyone already thinks we are together, and I don’t know anyone since I am actually a second-year, and you had a seat next to you. So…” Sahara stops realizing she is rambling.
“You decided to force me to play along with the lie.” He says looking unimpressed.
Sahara shrugs her shoulder with her reply, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
Slagwart shakes his head. “Obviously you haven’t heard all the rumors.”
“That you have a child.” Sahara says with a sweet smile as she notices Waizlynn looking at her from across the room. “Yes. I heard the rumors, but I also know to not always believe every rumor I hear.”
“Well, rumors are true sometimes.” He says flatly and uncaring as he looks her straight in the eye.
“Oh.” Sahara says realizing he must be confessing to the rumor. She tries to wipe the shock from her face. “Well, alright then.” She glances over to see if Waizlynn is still looking at her, but instead notices everyone else on the entire third-year floor is staring at her and Slagwart. “Um…”
She looks back toward Slagwart realizing this might have been a bad idea. “See what happens when you sit with me.” He says leaning up so his arms are resting on the table.
“It happens when I don’t sit with you too.” Sahara says feeling out of place.
After a moment of silence, she feels Slagwart lean over closer to her ear and whisper, “I guess we better sit together then.” She smiles at his kindness.
Headorean Leavint’s loud voice sounds around the room and Sahara joins in looking at the life-like figure floating at their eye level in the middle of the room. During the welcome, she notices her second-year friends looking up at her. She gives a crooked smile and small wave towards their obvious questions of why she is with the third-years and why she is sitting by her rumored deeto.
During the feast, she speaks politely with Slagwart because the other elves at her table seem to avoid the pair. She is not sure if it is because they are afraid of Slagwart or embarrassed to have her, a second-year, at their table. She tries to stick to talking about the weather and asking him simple questions, but then he finally asks, “Are you not betrothed?”
“Uh..” Sahara feels annoyed by the question as she glances over toward Brystol, who was obviously looking at her, because he quickly looks away from her. “That is something I am working on breaking.”
“Hmm.” Slagwart hums before standing to leave.
“Wait.” Sahara says in surprise, “Are you leaving?”
“Yes.” Slagwart says simply. “I am finished and to be honest you are annoying me.”
“Oh.” Sahara says shyly as she glances over toward Waizlynn. “Sorry.”
He sighs compassionately before he says, “You could leave with me, if you want. You know to keep up appearances.”
Sahara smiles excitedly, “Thank you. You have no idea how much easier this is going to make things.”
“Whatever.” He says disgruntled and she can tell he is regretting his offer.
“I promise not to talk too much and annoy you.” She says as they walk toward the exit.
“I am not use to having others around me, so it is not your talking but your presence that I find annoying.” Slagwart says with a forced tone.
Sahara keeps her thoughts to herself because she is not sure how to respond to him. And she had just promised to not talk too much. She remains silent until they reach the stairs, at which point she turns toward him to speak, “Thank you for letting me walk with you. Have a great evening.” She then turns to proceed up toward her dorm room. She notices he is following her up the stairs and she feels awkward. She waits until they are past the fourth floor to turn back toward him and ask, “Are you following me?”
“Not intentionally.” He says pointing up the stairs. “You know my dorm entrance is on the fifth floor, same floor as your dorm entrance?”
“Right.” She says feeling embarrassed and turns to proceed up the stairs. She sighs in relief when they arrive to the fifth floor and he walks toward the ellon’s dorm entrance.
“What is this?” Bularia says holding up Sahara’s orange gown she had just changed out of.
“Headorean Shawdlortur said I had to be in with the third-years since I completed all but Advanced Elfism over the summer.” Sahara replies falling defeatedly to her bed.
“You finished them all?” Bularia sounds overly surprised. “What, did you do nothing else all summer?”
“I had to learn things around Kinderton too, but I wish I would have studied less. That way I could have stayed with you in the second-year banquet hall at least. Instead, I have to be trapped up there with Brystol.” Sahara snarls at the thought of having to see him so much.
“And Waizlynn?” Carol asks curiously.
“Yes. And I had to sit next to Quinton, but he wasn’t that bad.” Sahara says blandly.
“Who is Quinton?” Marol asks.
“Slagwart.” Sahara replies. “That is his first name.”
“Wait.” Bularia looks confused. “Who is Slagwart?”
“You mean Waizlynn told everyone but you?” Sahara asks.
Marol and Carol fill Bularia in on the background of Slagwart and on how Waizlynn is spreading the rumor that he was Sahara’s deeto. “Do we get to meet him?” Bularia looks far too excited about the situation.
“He isn’t very good company.” Sahara mumbles. “But he was nice enough to play along that we were a couple.”
“Wait.” Bularia sits down next to Sahara. Carol and Marol join them on Sahara’s bed far too quickly for Sahara to comprehend what is happening. “He agreed to be your pretend deeto?”
“Yes.” Sahara answers.
“What all does that entail?” Marol asks with large eyes.
“Nothing.” Sahara responds. “We were just both being shunned by everyone else on the third-year level, so we are just going to be friends. I guess, though he did say my presence was annoying.”
“What did he talk about?” Marol asks.
“I don’t know.” Sahara says thinking back to their small talk. “It was awkward. I talked about the weather and he mostly grunted, except when he asked if I was betrothed. Oh, and he basically told me the rumors were true about him being a father.”
Carol gasps in shock. “You asked him?”
“No, I was saying...” Sahara tries to explain, but Marol interrupts her.
“Everyone is going to think you are… you know, trashy.” Marol says in concern.
“Waizlynn is the one that started the rumor, I just decided it would get to her more if I went along with it instead of denying it.” Sahara says with a smile remembering Waizlynn’s reaction from earlier. “She looked rather disappointed that I claimed Quinton as my deeto.”
“Waizlynn!” Bularia suddenly stands up with her shout. “I forgot I had to go finish hanging up her clothes!” She says the words hurriedly as she runs toward the door to leave.
“Why is she so afraid of Waizlynn?” Carol asks after the door closes and Bularia is no longer with them.
“Have you not met Waizlynn?” Sahara asks with a laugh. “I mean, her nickname is Wasteland.”
Carol and Marol laugh with Sahara before Marol finds a consoling tone, “I could not imagine being related to her.”
“Want us to come to your plorksol practice tomorrow?” Carol asks Sahara.
“I am sure you have better things to do than come watch all the first-years try out.” Sahara grumbles realizing she will not be able to avoid Brystol at practice tomorrow.
“Not really.” Marol says flatly.
“Yeah, we have nothing else to do.” Carol agrees.
“It would be nice to have some friendly faces around.” Sahara says nudging Carol in the arm, knowing that Carol only wanted to checkout all the ellons.
The plorksol field is already bustling with new students as Sahara arrives with Carol and Marol the following morning. Bularia could not make it because she had to polish Waizlynn’s shoes. “He sure looks cuter with his hair pulled up.” Marol says smiling at Sahara.
“Who?” Sahara asks looking behind her and sees Quinton walking toward her. Yesterday his dirty blond hair was down to his shoulders and slightly wavy, but today it is pulled up and Sahara can see his exquisite jaw line. She swallows hard realizing Marol is right. “I agree.” Is all she can say as she turns back toward Marol and Carol feeling her face flushed.
“I think he is coming to talk to you.” Carol says in a quiet song-like tone. Then, her tone turns normal as she looks over Sahara’s shoulder. “Hi. You must be her new fake deeto.”
Sahara turns to see Quinton is now standing just behind her. He gives Carol a small nod with his short word, “Hi.”
“I didn’t know you played plorksol.” Sahara says pointing at his plorboard.
“We just met yesterday.” He says in a mocking tone.
“Uh-huh.” Is all Sahara can think to say as she glances back toward Carol and Marol. “These are my room mates, Carol and Marol. This is Quinton.”
“You’re handsome.” Marol says as if she is surprised.
“Uh… Thanks. But I go by Slagwart.” Quinton says with an awkward facial expression before looking at Sahara, “I was told you might have some extra wrist bands?”
“Of course.” Sahara says bending down to scrimmage through her bag for her spare pair.
“We will be in the stands.” Carol says pushing Marol with her towards the stands.
“Alright.” Sahara says glancing at them as she hands Quinton the wrist bands.
“Thanks.” He says before turning back away from her towards the field.
“No problem.” Sahara says wondering if she should continue the conversation or just let him go.
“I was also told you were one of the best players on the team.” He says over his shoulder and she smiles picking up her bag and running up to catch up with him.
“So, I thought try outs were just for first years?” Sahara asks curiously.
“No. Anyone can try out, but I played my first year.” He says sliding the arm bands on.
“Oh.” She can’t help but wonder about what he was up to last year. “Did you play at a different academy last year?”
He gives a one syllable laugh before stopping to turn towards her. “Is that your way of asking me to confirm the rumors?”
Sahara shakes her head in defense, “No. I just was curious if you had kept in practice.”
“No, I didn’t play last year.” He says turning to continue walking.
“Well,” Sahara says walking next to him, “I could help you practice, if you make it on the team.”
“Why?” He grumbles never looking at her.
“I don’t know, to get better?” Sahara asks awkwardly.
He stops again and turns toward her glancing behind her. He leans closer to her ear and whispers, “I don’t need to get better.” Then, he leaves her side and she wonders why this ellon was so hard to talk to.
“Hey.” She jumps in surprise hearing Brystol’s voice behind her. She feels flushed as she turns to face him. “You’re jumpy.”
“Hey.” She is not sure what else to say, so she stays silent trying to look anywhere but at him as she tries to slow her quickened heartbeat.
“When did you meet Slagwart?” Brystol asks.
“Umm…” She tries to think of a lie, “Over the summer.”
“How? I thought you were studying all summer?” He sounds as though he doesn’t believe her.
“He was at the test for the Advanced Spell Knowledge.” She only meets eyes with him once hoping he cannot tell she is lying. “Why do you care anyway?”
“Why are you mad at me?” Brystol says in a quieter tone.
“Who said I was mad at you?” Sahara looks around wondering if Waizlynn is close by. “Your annoying keeto? Is she here?”
“I don’t have a keeto.” Brystol says sounding annoyed.
“Oh!” Sahara says in surprise, finally looking up to meet his eyes. “You broke up?”
Brystol just sighs in an odd manner before he speaks, “No.”
Sahara doesn’t understand his short response. “So, you’re not broken up?”
“Waizlynn and I were never together. We have only ever been friends.” Brystol replies.
“Why did your friend show up to Kinderton and stay for five unwelcome days?” Sahara crosses her arms in disbelief, “And why was she at Holestroy over holiday break sneaking out from seeing you?”
Brystol gives her an odd expression, “What are you talking about?”
“That is who was looking at me through the library window that night. Bularia told me how she sneaks into see you.” Sahara waits for his response but he just looks as though he is in thought. “Just friends don’t sneak into see you after dark.”
“I didn’t see her that night.” Brystol says and Sahara realizes he is being honest. “I didn’t know she ever snuck into Holestroy.”
“Oh.” Sahara says feeling remorseful for thinking badly of him.
“I didn’t invite her to come to Kinderton, she just showed up.” He says remorsefully but it angers Sahara to think about it.
“She acted like she was the tari the entire time and you just let her do whatever she wanted.” Sahara tries to lower her angered tone.
“It was your castle, not mine.” He says.
“It was bad enough that I had to spend the week with you, then to add Wasteland to the equation…It was terrible.” Sahara says.
“Wow.” Brystol sounds wounded for a moment. “I thought you were going to stop hating me?” Sahara remembers him kissing her over the last holiday break and how he asked her to stop hating him.
“I never said that.” Sahara says looking over toward the crowd of first-years lining up to start the tryouts.
“You’re the most aggravating elleth ever.” He says as he turns and walks toward the exit of the plorksol field.
Sahara is not sure what just happened but she decides to ignore the unsettling feeling she has inside her. Slagwart is an amazing plorksol player, and Sahara finds herself cheering for him as tryouts commence. She glances around looking for Brystol, she isn’t sure why she cares but she does wonder why he never came back after their little chat. “Who are you looking for?” Phylan asks.
She looks over toward him shrugging her shoulders, as they sit in the bleachers. “No one.”