|A few weeks after we met Tony, things started to fall apart. Victoria and I had our first fight. It involved something about how messy my room was, and that I made her late to school because I couldn’t find my favorite hat.
I went to hang out in the haunted cave one day, when Tori whispered to me,
“Why do you always wind up in the darkest place in Wizard City?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, you’re never cheery, you’re never very organized, and you’re always making friends with dark characters. I’m just worried about you.”
“Tori, I’m a death student. Those ‘dark characters’ are my friends, and they always help when I need it. I know where I leave my things, normally, and I’m happy despite what shows on my face.”
“Well, I wish you would at least start trying to figure out what’s going on with the different schools.”
“I’m not exactly the most focused person in the spiral, okay?” I said, remembering how many different quests I was working on at the time.
“Well, while you were running around getting nothing done, I’ve been making some progress. But I guess you don’t care about that, because you have so much work to do.”
“Well, pardon me for getting a little overwhelmed in this new life!”
Before I could say anything else, she hung up. I don’t know why, but the fight had left me a little shaken. We hadn’t yelled or anything, but Victoria never got annoyed at anyone. I snapped back to the present when Tony walked over from just defeating some undead.
“What’d I miss?” he asked, noticing my face.
“Nothing, let’s just go finish our quests.” I said as I started toward another rotting fodder.
Needless to say, it was getting a little awkward when I got back to my dorm. Apparently, Tori was so mad that she moved all her stuff to the other room. We hadn’t talked in a few days, which had been the longest time ever, when I noticed her spellbook sitting on a bench outside her room. It had a few journal entries in it, saying what she was doing for extra credit.
“Just finished interviewing Life students in tower” it said, in Tori’s perfect handwriting, “Erin hasn’t helped, too busy with quests”.
The next entry went something like this, “Erin hasn’t talked much, and I’ve been sad lately.” Here, her writing got a little blurry, like a few drops of water had splashed on it. “I wish we hadn’t fought that day in the cave, and things would go back to usual. I’m just afraid that she’ll get mad at me for talking to her.”
I hadn’t realized that she wanted to make up, and I guess I had been the one yelling that day. When she got back to the dorm tower, I gave her the spellbook.
“Tori, I’m sorry for yelling a few days ago, I was just so stressed about so many different things…”
“No, I’m sorry for misunderstanding. I didn’t mean to insult you’re friends, or the Death School, and I should have realized that you were a bit busier than me.”
After things were all fixed, we went into my room and made some plans for quests. Apparently, Tori hadn’t been doing well on dueling or completing quests, so I helped her clear it up with her teachers. When we were done with that, we found Tony perched on top of a fence in front of Bartleby.
“So, you two are talking again?” He said warily as he hopped off and followed us back to the commons.
“We had some schedule issues, but it’s all gone now” Tori said before I could mention the fight in the cave.
“I think Victoria has some info about the problems with the students, though.” I said, eyeing her spellbook.
“Yeah, I was just about to talk to you guys about it.” On the way to the commons, Tony said that his mom made him change his name to Anthony RavenTalon, instead of Tony RavenClaw. It had something to do with it not being a formal name, or whatever. I’ll still call him Tony, just because it’s easier to say. When we got to the library, Victoria took us upstairs and pulled out a large book that looked older that the headmaster.
“Where did you get that thing?” Tony said as he was trying to wave the dust away.
“The librarian let me check it out for research. I said I was doing a project for Moolinda Wu, and he has a weakness for Life students. It’s called ‘The complete history of the schools’ and it has some articles about their differences. Apparently, they never got along in the first place.”
Victoria tended to get off topic when she talked about a book, so I’ll skip to the important parts. The Dragons and Giants had been fighting among themselves, and almost destroyed the spiral, along with the Tritons. When the first wizards came along, they helped Bartleby control them and teach them to get along. However, some of the wizards had taken a liking to the dragons, and some the Tritons, while the others liked the Giants. Throughout the following years, the seven magics were founded, all based on the first three magics. They got along, but deep inside, there was still a part of them that hated the other schools. There are suspicions that because there was never a proper Balance school in Wizard City, the wizards were never properly taught about Balance.
“So, deep inside, everyone hates the opposite schools?” I asked.
“Yeah, but there is one thing I don’t get.” said Victoria. “There would have to be something to provoke that behavior in a wizard, especially if it’s ALL of the wizards. And I’m not just talking about making someone late for class.”
“So, someone, or something, is causing all of this on purpose.” Tony said. “It sounds like we need to ask Ambrose about this.”
After we had talked to the headmaster, he started stroking his beard, deep in thought. Eventually, he remembered we were there, and said he had an idea.
“Normally, you would have to be a higher level to get this quest, but I think this is a special occasion.” Merle said, with a gleam in his eye. “Have you children heard of Krokatopia?”
I had heard of it only a few times, mostly from the news columns stating new quests and areas. I think it had something to do with a desert, lizards, and dogs wearing clothes. Not very weird, compared to wizards and all. Merle gave us each a large key, and told us to talk to Bartleby. When we got to Ravenwood, it was deserted.
“Uh, Bartleby? Where is everyone?” I asked trying to stay close to the others. Bartleby had a far off look in his eye, like he was dreaming, but his eyelids wouldn’t close. Just then, we heard a cracking sound coming from the Death school. When we arrived on the dead grass, I could actually feel the ground trembling.
“Victoria, Anthony, I got a bad feeling about this…” I said.
Then, it felt like someone had pulled a rug out from under my feet. I opened my eyes, despite the stinging wind rushing by, and saw my friends screaming frantically. I don’t know where my voice had gone, but I couldn’t yell. All I could do was watch as the layers of ground rushed by. With a crash, I lost consciousness.
In my dream, I was walking around, trying to find somewhere nice and dark. Everything was so bright; the sky, the ground, even my own hands were glowing a bit. I heard a laugh, and saw Tony flying around on a broom, joking around. Victoria was riding around on a white tiger, one of the new mounts. I tried to walk toward them, but my legs wouldn’t listen. I tried to lift my hand again, but instead saw the bright ground rushing up.
I woke with a THUD, and found myself lying on my face, in the middle of my room. Then I realized it wasn’t my room. It was a rectangular area, instead of my round dorm room. The walls were the same charcoal color, and all my stuff was there. It was only then that I realized my head was throbbing with pain. I stumbled across the room towards what looked like a bathroom, and found a mirror. I had a large bandage on the left side of my forehead, and I saw that my foot was in a cast. That would explain the trouble with walking. When I came out of the bathroom, I made my way down the stairs, and found an even larger room. There was a fireplace in a corner, several luxurious sofas, a few bookshelves, and much more. I saw Tony and Victoria sitting on one of the couches, and hobbled toward them. As soon as they saw me, they embraced me in a big hug.
“I’m glad you’re awake!” Tori said as she released her too-tight grip. “I wasn’t sure if you would wake up in time.”
“In time for what?” I asked.
“Merle Ambrose went missing the day we fell.” Tony said grimly. “A few students were called to his office, but when they got there, he wasn’t. The room was a mess, more than usual anyway. They did find one thing, though.”
He held out a book, with a key tied to it.
“We were going to go into his office and look around tomorrow, because they’re going to close it off the next day.” He added, handing me a newspaper. Then I saw the date in the corner.
“How long was I out?!” I asked.
“About a week” Tori said, eyeing my forehead.
“Okay, what the heck happened back there?” I found a large reading chair, and curled up in the shadows, still creeped out by the brightness of my dream.
According to Tori and Anthony, the death school had fallen into Nightside again. When they had rebuilt it, they had put a lot of spells on it to keep it from falling again. Someone had broken the defenses, put a trap on it, and stunned Bartleby so he couldn’t warn us. The school was deserted because there had been a theatre performance on Firecat Alley. Whoever put the trap on the death school had made sure we didn’t know about the performance. They knew we would be the only ones around the death school. Tori and Anthony had been injured too, but not as badly. Tori had gotten a bunch of bruises from landing on a bush, and Tony had a sprained ankle and dislocated shoulder from landing on Tori. I had landed on the hard stone of the sidewalk, and gotten a broken foot, pulled a muscle in my leg, and a bad cut on my head. My friend from the Myth school, Angela TrollSmasher, had wondered why I wasn’t sitting next to her, and whispered to me while I was falling. I didn’t hear her, but she heard Tori and Anthony screaming. She had a magic broom, so she quickly flew us out of the hole and to the life school, where Moolinda Wu had just gotten back. As for the Headmaster’s book with the key, no one knew where the key fit, or how to open the book. The mysterious book had a riddle on the back of it, though. It read:
“Those who have a curious eye,
Know where the secrets of this key lie.
Go to the center of the swirling cloud,
And find the room of messes abound.
There ye shall find the stacks so tall,
Clean it up, ‘til shelved are they all.
Inward you go, to the room marked 8,
To find the ones that were once thought great.”
After this, the cover is so torn, I couldn’t read the words. When I asked about the house we were sitting in, my friends’ faces lit up. Apparently, Merle had given a note to Simeon that said to give us the option of housing early. Because we were going to another world for a while, Merle thought that we should have a house of our own. It was definitely big enough to house all three of us, with several bedrooms to spare. I had never seen this house in the store before, so I think that Ambrose had it specially built for us. When I was up looking around the house, I noticed a broom and a large collar sitting in the entryway. The broom looked exactly like the one from my dream. Again, when I asked them about this, they got really excited. Merle had also given a note to the Crowns Shop Keeper before he disappeared. We were each to receive a mount, to help us get our work done faster, and to reward us on helping in Wizard City.
“Where’s mine?” I asked, looking around.
“We didn’t get it yet, because there’s so much to choose from. We thought we would let you choose.” Anthony said, putting his broom away in his room.
“Okay, so where’s yours, Victoria?”
“Oh, I didn’t get a broom. I’m terrified of heights, so I got a white tiger instead” she said, pointing to the large collar.
I asked them if we could go get mine right then, but then I felt really weak, and barely made it up to my bed before darkness swallowed me again.
This time in my dream, everything was dark. It was a welcome relief, but I couldn’t see anything. Then, I saw images from my first days as a wizard. The door blocked by stacks of books in Merle’s office. The picture of the spiral on the front page of the magic book with the quiz. My curious looking face when I saw the wizarding world for the first time. The next image was one I had never seen before. It was of four wizards, each defeating a different monster. One was with a kraken, another with a Minotaur, a phoenix, and the last with a frost giant.
Again, I opened my eyes and was on the floor, tangled up in the bed sheets. This time, it was almost dark outside. That doesn’t really say much, though, because the sun sets really early in Wizard City. I walked downstairs again, to find the room piled high with books. Near the center of the mess was Victoria.
“What happened?” I asked.
“You were asking us if you could get your mount today, and then you just collapsed. We had to carry you back to your room.” She said, showing me to a chair.
“Do I even want to know what you’re working on now?” I asked.
“Actually, you could probably do this better than I could. I’m trying to figure out what the riddle on the back of the book means. I haven’t even cracked the first sentence yet.”
“Well, you’re not going to believe this, but I think I know what the entire thing means.”
I explained about the weird dreams, and sketched what I had seen. We figured out that it was talking about me—oddly enough—when it said ‘curious eye’. When it had said ‘swirling cloud’, it meant the spiral. We also figured out that Wizard City is considered the home of the spiral, or the center. We looked through the rest of what I had drawn, and found the picture of Merle’s office. It showed the door blocked by books, so that that must have meant ‘room of messes abound’ and ‘stacks so tall’.
“Okay, but why would we have to put them all away?” I said, very puzzled. “I mean, can’t we just put them somewhere else, like on his desk?”
“I don’t know, Erin. Maybe it means that the door won’t open until they’re in the right place.”
“Hey, remember those old movies we saw back on Earth? People would pull a certain book off the shelf, and a secret door would open! Maybe here, they have something like that, too. Except it’s the opposite, where you have to put a certain book back to get the door to open.”
“That makes some sense, but then what’s the key for?” she asked, looking at the intricate swirls carved into it.
Just then, something occurred to me;
“Hey, where’s Anthony? I didn’t see him in the halls when I came downstairs, and he’s not in this mess.”
“Oh, I think he went to Merle’s office to look around some more.” Just then, Tony opened the front door and walked inside, dropping his broom rather carelessly.
“What’s wrong?” we both asked at the same time. Then I saw the newspaper in his hand, and read the headline.
“‘Headmaster Missing, And Trio of Young Wizards to Blame’. Well, that’s not good.” I said, taking the paper from him.
“‘Headmaster Merle Ambrose went missing the same day that three student wizards fell into Nightside. Bartleby saw them, and remembered a cracking sound, but that’s all he remembers. The three wizards are being blamed for Merle’s disappearance. Sources claim that they must have tricked the Headmaster into going somewhere, and then trapped him there. Some believe he may be in Krokatopia, the world where the three wizards were just being allowed into.
“‘Another theory to this shocking story is that they caused the Death School to fall again. A young wizard by the name of Angela TrollSmasher claims that there’s no way that could be possible. ‘If they did it, then why would I have had to fly them out of there?’ she asks during the interview. ‘I know them really well, and they’re way too smart to have been around the school when it fell, if they caused it. Which they didn’t. I mean, how would they be able to break the protection spells around it anyway? They’re only level 13!’ Despite this young wizard’s attempt to clear her friends’ names, there is still mass panic as to who destroyed the School again.’
After reading this, there was dead silence. Err, sorry for the terrible joke. After a while, we began to talk about what to do next.
“What now?” Tori asked, her voice very quiet.
“Well, I guess we just keep doing what we need to do.” Anthony said. “We have plenty of spells, so we don’t have to go to Ravenwood anytime soon. We’ll need to go by the Headmaster’s house sooner or later, though. Speaking of which, did you two find anything good?”
We explained everything that we had found, and also puzzled over what we were going to find behind that door. After a long time of planning, we finally gave it a rest for the night. Victoria gave me a tour of the house, since I had collapsed before getting to do anything earlier that day. She also told me that we would get my mount the next day, on the way to the Headmaster’s house. Anyway, our new house was huge. On the first floor, there was a grand entryway. When you walked further back, there was the main room that we had been in. There were a few closets, and then a spiral staircase to our right.
On the second floor, there was my room, Victoria’s room, and Anthony’s room; and each had a small balcony to look out over the property. Victoria said that I would get to see the outside the next day. Along with our bedrooms, there were also two bathrooms, three really big closets, and a dining room on the second floor. The dining room was magical, of course, so there was no need for a kitchen. The room just poofed up whatever we wanted to eat.
On the third floor, there were two bedrooms, another bathroom, a study/office, and a small room filled with bookshelves. It wouldn’t take long for Victoria to fill them up! When you came up the spiral stairs, there was a door straight ahead that leads to a sort of loft. When you stepped out, there was a short set of stairs that led up to a covered bridge. On the other end, there was a tower for storage.
Back in the main house, you could walk back up the spiral stairs to the fourth floor. There was a small section with a roof over it, but the rest was open. I think it was meant for parties, or just for enjoying the night sky. It could also be used for casting spells and practicing duels. It certainly was big enough.
Despite the issue with the schools, the door, and the missing Headmaster, things might be beginning to get better.
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