|My name is Nathaniel Ironheart. I am one of the wizards in this tale. The other? My greatest friend, Hunter Battleblood.|
We both enrolled at the Death School on the same day. I remember it like yesterday...
I was a bit unsure of myself. This was unlike any other school that I’d been to – I’d gathered that from my initiation the day before. But I was also excited. Just the prospect of learning magic was enough to fill me with anticipation. I wondered for a brief second if it would be like the Harry Potter books I’d read. Then I’d thought again. There were different schools here. Balance, Myth, Ice, Fire, Storm, Life, and Death. Death magic seemed the coolest by far.
“Hey!” It was a loud voice from behind me. I turned around to see another student dressed in black and white novices’ robes, just like mine. “You a Death student too?”
“Er... Yeah, I am. I’m, uh, new to Ravenwood,” I stuttered in response.
“Cool!” the crazy guy grinned. “Me too. Let’s go – I can’t wait to start lessons. D’ya think we’re gonna learn how to kill people? That would be so cool! I mean, I wouldn’t kill any Death students, ‘cos they’re cool, but Life students are a different matter, I mean, come on! Life, la-di-da, happy happy rubbish? Pah!” Did this guy let anyone talk?
“I, uh... totally agree!” But I wouldn’t want to kill anyone, though, I added to myself. “Hey, um, I, uh, didn’t catch your name.”
“Didn’t say it, dude!” he grinned cheekily. “Anyway, I’m Hunter Battleblood. You?”
“Nathaniel.” I said. “Um... Ironheart, yeah. Nathaniel Ironheart.”
“Anyway, as I was saying,” Hunter continued. “Death magic is gonna be, like totally wicked. I mean, all the other schools are kinda lame, don’t ya think? Except, like Storm, which is okay, so that’s gonna be my second school, which is gonna be cool, ‘cos everyone says that Storm magic is the most powerful, but, on the other hand, Death is definitely the best. Right, dude?”
“Hey, I’m taking Storm as my second class too!” I grinned. “And... Yeah. I like the fact that they specialise in drain spells.” Even if I don’t know what they are.
“Huh? Are those like dishwasher spells?” A look of horror crossed his face. “Oh, man, you’re not a nerd who researches anything that they see, are you? I don’t wanna be mates with a geek!”
“Nah,” I reassured him. “Prof Ambrose said something about drains when I first saw him. Or was it pains?”
Hunter laughed. “You know, I think we’re gonna get along just fine, Nathaniel Ironheart.” Suddenly he added a question: “Can I have a look at your timetable?”
A little surprised, I took a pristine sheet of paper from my bag and gave it to him. He studied it carefully, then looked up.
“Cool, man. First is Intro to Death magic, a double lesson, with Malorn Ashthorn... Wasn’t there a Professor Drake? Oh well. Then we have a Ravenwood History class, with Harold Argleston. I always hated history... and – hey, look! We get a free period before lunch – cool, huh? Then we have Storm Tutorial, and, um, that’s it. Anyway, totally cool, huh?”
“Totally cool,” I agreed, and we strolled into the Death classroom.
So that was that. We were firm friends from the moment we met, and it stayed that way. We played minigames together (especially Duelling Diego), completed quests together, and battled bosses together. We levelled up together, bought items together, and walked to our classes together. We had both defeated all the bosses in Unicorn Way. In fact, we did just about everything together. We didn’t really have a lot in common... But we were inseparable.
A year passed, a happy, busy year. We finally got our end-of year reports. I did quite well, I think. A+ for Necromancy and Divination, A- for Ravenwood History and Ancient Magic Poetry, B for The Arts. Hunter did well too. (At least, that was what he told me...) We had graduated into the Apprentice class by this time, and we were proud of ourselves.
“Isn’t it great?” Hunter yelled. “We’re not rubbish anymore! I feel so cool around those stupid little midgets now. Oi! You, there. Level two dude! Go tell Cyrus Drake he’s a nitwit and I’ll give you some treasure cards.” The ‘midget’ scampered off obediently. He re-emerged from the Myth classroom in tears some time later. Hunter tossed a ‘Tough’ card his way. The kid’s lip quivered. I felt so sorry for him I gave him a Seraph. Trust Hunter.
Halfway through our second year, we received a call from Professor Ambrose. We knew he didn’t call students to his office all the time, and I thought back to all we had done in the past few days, trying to think of anything that we had done wrong. Well... There was that life student we had reduced to tears in A.M.P., and the novice student Hunter tricked into giving us a few treasure cards... Of course, it could have been that graffiti in the Ice Tower, but no one could actually prove anything, could they? That or the little issue we had when Cyrus Drake sent us to fetch his laundry again and we put a whoopee cushion on his chair in revenge (well, it did make the Myth students laugh at him for the best part of a month)... Nothing really major. So why had we been summoned?
“Come in, Masters Ironheart and Battleblood,” came the voice we knew far too well once we had knocked on the door. We’d always thought it was scary, the way he knew way too much.
“I suppose you are wondering why I have summoned you – specifically you two,” Merle Ambrose said, pointing at us with a gnarled finger. It was definitely the graffiti. I tried to gabble my way out of it.
“We’re really sorry sir, I mean, we didn’t mean it, and we won’t do it again, it’s just that we saw Professor Greyrose go to the loo and we got a bit bored and we were just messing around and it wasn’t our fault and we wouldn’t have done it if William Icebreath hadn’t wound us up so it was really his fault and we didn’t know anyone would find it offensive because we just thought it was funny at the time I suppose so please don’t get too mad at us!”
“Oh, so that’s who was behind the unpleasant message on the wall of the Ice Tower?” Ambrose smiled with a twinkle in his eye. “Rest assured you will be dealt with appropriately on that matter. But for now, let us put that aside. I have much more important things to discuss.”
“More important things?” asked Hunter mischievously. “Do you mean we’re-“
“Hunter, I am sincerely glad that you befriended Nathaniel because without his influence I am doubtless you would have been expelled within your first week.”
Hunter shut up, looking unnaturally subdued.
“You two have excelled in your Death classes this year.” I nodded, not quite sure where this was going. “Now, the task I am going to suggest will sound peculiar, but I feel certain you can carry it out.” I nodded again, determined to do whatever the Headmaster was going to demand. “I want you to go for a walk.” Me and Hunter exchanged a puzzled glance. What? Was this the ultra-dangerous quest we were to do? Go for a walk? “With Professor Drake.” Our expressions changed from confusion to sheer horror. After the whoopee cushion incident? He had got to be kidding!
“I want you two to get to know the Myth professor. Though I trust him completely, I think he knows far more about Malistaire’s whereabouts than he is letting on.”
“Why us, sir?” I asked. I didn’t understand.
“Why, because you are the best of your class, of course!” Merle Ambrose replied cheerfully. “So, as I was saying-“
“No, sir,” I interrupted. “I mean, why Death students? Why not a Myth student, who is closer to him? You’re not making any sense.”
“My dear boy, do you expect someone to tell a Myth student where the Death professor is?” he said. “It is obvious that if a Death student or two were to tell him that they believed that Malistaire was really a good man, and that they would really like to meet him, Professor Drake would be more likely to release the information of that kind.”
Then Hunter spoke up. “We can’t, Headmaster. We seriously can’t.” The Headmaster looked questioning. “We aren’t really on good terms with Professor Drake right now. I don’t think that...” Hunter’s voice died away.
“I’m not asking you to ask him straight out, you silly boys! I’m saying, go for a walk with him. Get to know him. Make him trust you enough to tell you.”
“Why don’t you do it, Professor?”
“Me? I don’t think Cyrus, though a lovely man he is –“(me and Hunter exchanged looks of disbelief at this comment) “- would tell me his brother’s – that is my nemesis’ – whereabouts in the current situation.”
I stepped forward, and, speaking for both of us, proudly announced: “We’ll do our best, professor!”
Hunter stared at me like I was a raving maniac.
“Good good. On your way, then, boys.”
We left in silence. Outside, Hunter confronted me.
“What the heck did you do that for?!” he yelled. “You just got us into actually talking to Cyrus Drake! As if looking at him wasn’t bad enough! You nutter!”
I smiled serenely. “We’ll just see how the first meeting goes to begin with.”
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