A swarm of students and teachers alike trudged back to the school. It
was crumbling slightly, but better than expected after the first portion of a
Scarlett knelt on the blood-strewn earth where the protection bubble had
A shard of crimson glass lay on the ground. Scarlett frowned at it, and
picked it up in gentle fingers.
It sang a shrill twinkle, like chimes, at her touch, and an electric
blue shimmer ran across it in an elegant dance.
Scarlett picked it up and slotted it in the holder that also contained
Scarlett furrowed her eyebrows and rubbed her temples as a surge of
guilty sickness washed over her.
Blinking back her tears of anguish, she quickly made her way towards the
This was her first proper look at her new home.
It was black, but not grim, with pointed, slated roofs scattered across
the school┤s landscape.
Large, French windows were dotted along the sides of the grey slate,
illuminating the open space inside with natural, pure light.
Chunks of stone had fallen clumsily to the ground, but other than that,
the school was more or less unscathed.
It was a sorrowful sight in the Great Hall.
An eerie vibe hung around in the large, cobblestone room.
Smears of blood stained the flagstone, and even sickly trails of dried
blood, like someone had been dragged, led to crimson-soaked cloths plastering
As instructed by a grim Mr Rosselfield, the children quietly seated
themselves in lines of their tutors, being sure to stick with their partners
and pets. Both Scarlett┤s and Felix┤s brave thoroughbreds, plus everyone else┤s
who decided to grab a steed, were quickly micro chipped with the rider┤s name
to make it their own for next battle, and brought back to their stables.
Karma bounced happily to Scarlett from Miss Otesmay┤s weak arms, tail
whizzing, eyes shining.
Scarlett scooped her up and looked at Felix. Felix stared back. He
wasn┤t looking particularly well; his ash blonde hair was tinted with flakes of
dried earth, his fingernails caked in a layer of mud and a purplish bruise
swelling to the size of an apple throbbed painfully on his shin.
Scarlett could tell she was no looker at this present time, too.
She felt her hair in a dry, tangled mess, clumsily entwined with stray
pieces of grass, her knees were dusty and disgraced by diamond grazes and she
felt her sore bottom lip.
Her finger quickly recoiled at the stinging, but before she let go she
felt an abnormal amount of blood and ripped tissue. She chewed the inside of
her cheek nervously. The pink zigzag where her wound used to be had shrunk
"I┤m still no fan of yours, Monte," Scarlett hissed at him.
"This doesn┤t change a thing."
Felix raised an eyebrow at this comment, and smirked subtly.
"Hah, I really can call you Mud Head now." He gestured to the
crusty mud collecting chunks of hairs together resting on her head.
Scarlett gave a sarcastic smile, determined to keep the whole frienemies
"Oh, hah hah. So witty." She rolled her eyes and planted
herself on the ground in front of Felix, cradling the Aussie.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Felix looking a bit put out. He
opened his mouth as if to say something, but decided not to and plonked down
"Children," Mr Rosselfield said, quieter than usual, more
gentle. "The battle today was far from expected. Kyra has been a thorn in
our side for quite a while now," he said solemnly. "But due to the
barbaric incidents of today, Skothamor┤s Senior Boarding School is no longer
safe. The Crimson War has begun." He looked up, eyes wet with pity.
"We are threatened. That is why, lessons are not of the norm for the
following 3 days, the only 3 days that you will be spending here for a portion
of the academic year. You will be going on a quest. I...you...you will be going
in your partners to Kyra Kendreson┤s Lair." He closed his eyes as if
disgraced to say the name. "The...The Young Magic Emporium." A
solitary tear cut a passage in the filth that stained his narrow face. "Kyra┤s
apprentice school. You can call it TYME because of the first letters of each
word, and because we┤re running out of time to destroy it."
Mr Rosselfield explained Kyra┤s past over the hum of the microphone. A hushed
gasp emitted from each pair of young lips as the story of the dead child, the
murders and the rest was told.
"Everyone did everything in their power to stop this brutal
woman," Mr Rosselfield said, with a catch in his voice. "But she┤s
extremely clever. Not always, though." Mr Rosselfield gestured for
Scarlett and Felix to come up onto the stage, with a sorry smile on his face.
"Brave students, these two are," Sir said shakily, cupping their
shoulders. "Brave young Scarlett Blanc." Mr Rosselfield found a gold
lightning bolt necklace on a golden chain tucked under Scarlett┤s jacket. She
looked at it, surprised. She realized that she had worn it the day before, and
forgotten to take it off when she went to sleep.
Mr Rosselfield held the lightning bolt as far as he could in the air.
"I give you, The Golden Girl!" The crowd of students cheered and
clapped. Scarlett stood proudly, breathing heavily, mustering a smile. She
wasn┤t sure about having the limelight yet. "And not forgetting, Felix
Monte, Phoenix Felix!" Felix looked up from staring at Scarlett.
The crowd rejoiced once more, whooping and clapping. Scarlett watched
Felix in his moment of contemplation, processing what┤s happening, thinking
what on earth he should do.
In the end, he resorted to smiling a little bit and waving shyly. This
was no act. He seemed genuinely nervous.
"I give you, the Golden Girl and The Phoenix! Thank you,
children." There was a subtle clap from the audience. It was Scarlett and
Felix┤s cue to bow, so they did, and let Mr Rosselfield propel them towards the
steps down from the stage.
They took their spaces and sat down.
A long silence dragged over the children once more as Mr Rosselfield
regained his space at the podium, slotting the microphone back into its holder.
His lips hovered over the fuzz of the microphone once more. Only then
did Scarlett notice all the cloths and the bodies underneath them had vanished.
There were still a few Hetrae carrying the last of them out in stretchers,
"And not forgetting all the brave souls that lost their lives in
battle today. Not many for first years, thankfully, only 7. But 7 too
He made his way off the stage and joined the other teachers in a row of
seats. A massive projector dropped down from the ceiling, and, very quietly, a
song began to play that Scarlett only recognized as the classical music that she had showed Bea.
She might have seen some pretty gory things today, but her knowledge of music
hadn┤t died one bit.
Picture of a young girl slowly faded onto the screen. Scarlett knew her;
she was Alison Akerman from the House Sortings. She was put in Aargoncroff; she
was the little one who reminded Scarlett of a mouse. Well, she was never going
to get anywhere, she was so small. Sadness swelled inside of Scarlett. It was no surprise when they showed a video
tape of her death from CTV camera footage, that she had died without a fight.
Next was a photo of a boy- a large one, at that, with a brutal face. He
was dark and skinheaded, and was probably from Tarekmor with his stocky build.
It was a surprise for everyone to see him. Underneath his face, the letters
read, Tadeo Jacksmith. Tarekmor. Confirmed death.
It switched once more to the poor quality or the CTV cameras. A pack of
wild dogs leaped out of nearby bracken, and bore down on the large Tarekmor. A
rather out-of-character scream pierced the air as the dogs slowly enjoyed their
dinner of tough flesh and pure blood. The hunk of meat that was once a brutal
fighter hollered an indistinct name. His partner, who Scarlett saw as Cleo
Barbshire, ran over to shrieking Tadeo. To put him out of suffering, she jammed
her large cutlass into his chest. The remains of him stopped wriggling. The
dogs licked their lips and cleaned each other of blood. As far as they could
see, work here was done. Mission accomplished. Waiting till there┤s another
Cleo blessed the mash of organs and pink flesh, then made her way back
out to battle, white hair floating behind her.
The CTV stopped and lead onto another picture. A picture Scarlett was
sorry to see, in a way.
Autumn Song. Moonclaw. Confirmed Death.
Everyone turned to look at Rose, her partner. She sat, shaking, her face
pale and hollow, murmuring to herself. Her black ringlets covered her
eyes, but purple rings were easily identified above her cheekbones.
The death of Autumn was shown.
A gory looking warrior approached her menacingly, and Rose stood at her
Autumn fumbled her quiver and spilled the arrows everywhere, and too
paralyzed in fear to gather them, she stood there, petrified.
Rose pulled the arrow against her ruby lips, and held it there, aimed at
the opponents heart.
The warrior struck Autumn in the face, a massive gash opening, folds of
flesh curling over. Her eyes rolled back into her head and her chocolate hair
whipped behind her as she fell.
Rose screamed in anger and let go of the arrow moments after Autumn was
The warrior fell to the ground with a thud.
The CTV stopped. Rose was screaming.
Not in the movie.
In the Great Hall, watching the footage.
She screamed and screamed and screamed, clutching her eyes, rivers of
tears pouring down her cheeks, and actually forming a puddle next to her. The
crowd was silent as they stared at her.
Mr Kennelley stood from his seat and took Rose gently by the hand,
leading her out the door and speaking softly to her.
In this space of time, we had missed two people, who were from different
Then came the girl who died in the hands of Kyra.
Albina Simpkins. Rochetjay. Confirmed death.
It cut to the tape where Kyra threw the hex at her.
Next was some boy who got trampled by his own horse or something.
Then came Natasha.
It showed her face and her hair when it was completely blonde.
Natasha Afeham. Rochetjay. Missing in Action.
Scarlett took deep breaths.
It showed the whole scene where Scarlett was fighting off enemies as she
followed Natasha as she was dragged across the ground.
Scarlett looked at the part where she leaped off her mare and thought
she looked pretty fabulous right then. What was she thinking? This is no time
to be thinking about your grace.
It showed the part where she and Natasha had their heartfelt
conversation, when Natasha was tugged from her hands.
"RESSPAY HETAY EMSTONEGAY!"
And it showed Scarlett writhing on the ground, clutching the air,
wanting Natasha┤s hand- and fainting. It also showed Felix propping her up
behind him. He flushed crimson.
Scarlett turned around. Someone else was screaming now. Who, though?
Everyone was looking at Scarlett.
It took her a few more seconds to realize it was Scarlett herself that
She clapped her hand over her mouth, utterly horrified, grasping Felix┤s
tee to stay stable.
Where did that come from?
She let go of Felix, glaring at him to show that she still didn┤t like
Last flashed up a familiar face, but her eyes where double vision from
all the drama. She screwed her fists and rubbed her eyelids in an attempt to
see who had died.
As she removed her fists, it was easy to see who it was now.