24. OH GODS!
1.4k 29 65
Reading Options
Font Size
A- 15px A+
Table of Contents
Loading... please wait.

Calci and I were working on our anti-mind control potion again. Like the other day the first half of the class had been a lecture on various alchemicals and how they interact with each other. Professor Pyrotechny was still smoking from adding dragons bile to cockatrice venom. The clockwork teacher been demonstrating why reading the instructions was extremely important, and how two seemingly harmless ingredients could have a very volatile reaction.

The holy water was as pure as it was going to be, it actually glowed a little from the sheer amount of holiness in it. Oddly it smelled a little like old parchment.

“Does this smell right to you, Calci?” I asked.

She leaned over and used her hand to waft the air above the beaker to her nose. “Yeah, its good. They probably had Ms. Parch the history teacher bless it. She's not that powerful of a goddess, but she could easily bless a whole pool of water.”

I filed that bit of info away as potentially useful. I'd never been very religious, except when it came to tests and trying to avoid death, so I'd thought that all holy water was the same. The stuff used in the temples and alters back home didn't have any odd smells or things. Maybe it was because that stuff had all been blessed by mortals, holy water direct from the gods was probably more special.

The pot of mercury and cockatrice venom had turned out exactly like it was supposed too. The liquid mercury was now a silvery blue, occasionally bubbles rose to the surface, popping and hissing in the air. It was kind of pretty, but I really didn't want to get it on my skin.

“All right, Petra we need to slowly stir the holy water into the mercury. You stir, I'll pour,” Calci said.

Putting on a pair of enchanted dragon leather gloves and matching apron, followed by a face shield, I picked up a pure silver stir stick and got to work. Very gently stirring the liquid metal, I kept my hand well clear, while Calci poured the holy water in so slowly it was more of a drip than a stream.

The mixture hissed quietly, the silvery blue gaining streaks of pale yellow. Making sure to scrape the sides of the large pot, so it would mix properly, by the time Calci had emptied the beaker the entire potion was yellow. It smelled like a unicorn fart, a little fruity with a hint of methane.

Reading the instructions, the next step was all mine. I had to grind up mandrake root and let it steep in spirit of salt. Calci had the fun job of dealing with the fulminating gold, which could explode if she didn't prepare it properly.

Going to the supply room, I opened the storage cabinet where things that could rot or degrade over time were stored. Taking a mandrake root from a box, I wrote my name on the inventory sheet and put a one beside it. When the humanoid shaped root was out of the cabinet, it started squirming in my hand, fighting to get free.

Ignoring the struggles of the magical root, I went back to my work station, putting the root in a box so it couldn't run away while I got the grinder. The five inch root wasn't happy to be out of the dirt, and it tried to jump out of the box on its stubby little tuber legs, only to slide down the wooden side of the box. It would need actual fingers or claws on its arms to escape.

It took a minute to find the grinder behind all the dry ingredients and tools. The specially made device was made of magically denatured iron, it would grind up most things and the iron wouldn't interfere the magical properties. It would also do it quickly, which made me feel better about what I was about to do. Sure the mandrake was just a plant, with all the feelings of a carrot, but a carrot didn't move or look like a human. A really ugly, misshapen human, but still.

I put the grinder down, and heard an odd thump.

Looking over, I saw the mandrake root running to the edge of the work station, jump off and dash towards the door.

“Hey! Come back!” I shouted, scrambling after it.

The tiny thing could run pretty fast on it's tiny legs, and it used its size to its advantage, ducking under stools and vaulting over feet. I had to dodge students, and do my best not to trip over anything or knock something explosive off the work stations. There were shouts and yelps of surprise as we went past.

The mandrake reached the door and came to a stop, seeing it was closed.

I launched myself at it, arms spread to scoop it up.

It jumped to the side, just escaping my grasp, and ran along the wall.

I on the other hand, slammed headfirst into the hard wooden door. The class burst into laughter as I stumbling to my feet, clutching my head, trying to make the room stop spinning. Somehow I spotted the mandrake root crouching down to crawl through a crack in the wall.

Grabbing the nearest text book, I threw it as hard as I could. The book flew through the air, catching the roots arm. The mandrake root spun in a circle from the force of the blow, hit the wall and fell onto it's back.

Racing across the room, I managed to grab it before it could get away again. “GOTCHA!” I shouted.

It's ugly little face seemed to grin. It held up it's cupped hands and tossed dust right into my face.

At first I didn't notice anything, then my nose and cheeks started to get really hot. I felt a sneeze coming, and tried to hold it in. My eyes began to burn. Keeping a tight hold of the mandrake root in one hand, I brought my other hand up to cover my mouth as the biggest sneeze I'd ever had erupted from my lungs.

There was a sensation of flying as my insides tried to escape through my mouth. Then everything went black. 


“Petra, are you damaged?” Professor Pyrotechny asked. For some reason the professor was looking down at me.

I realized I was at the front of the class, lying flat on the my back with my legs up against the wall. It felt like I'd been flattened by a giant. “Wha' happened?” I managed to mutter.

“It appears the mandrake root found some air elemental powder that was not properly cleaned up from the previous class. When you sneezed the hurricane force winds blew you across the room.”

“Oh,” I groaned. “Where's the root?”

“It was crushed. You'll need to get a new one.”

Covering my face, I started to cry.


Combat class looked different. Instead of the open area overlooking the lava field, it had expanded into a rectangle. There were also a series of lines covering the stones, and two thin slabs of granite hanging between two metal posts, one at each end of the rectangle.

“Oh no,” I muttered as I realized what was going on.

Naomi looked as scared as I felt. “We're not going to play Head Breaks Rock, are we?”

“I think we are,” I replied.

Around us, the larger and more hard headed students were cheering, clapping and headbutting each other. Normally I'd be happy to play Head Breaks Rock, I played it back home all the time. The Orc game was lots of fun, and my hometown team was one of the top ranked human teams in the Eastern League. I had an autograph from the star player, 'Flattop' Hank Williams. But we used helmets and used things that could break easily, not actual granite.

Coach Angel Slayer came out of her cave, Ameth trotted along her with an armful of blue and red jerseys. The orc was grinning, which made me want to jump into the lava and take my chances there. I quickly double checked that my magical medal was in place.

“Today we're going to work on teamwork, agility, blocking and tackling. I assume you all know the rules of Head Breaks Rock?” she said.

“There are rules?” someone asked.

“Yes there are. It's red vs blue. Five people on at a time. No weapons. No intentionally trying to kill someone. Only a head can hit the stone. Since there's a lot of you, we'll switch every five minutes. Other than that it's full contact.”

Naomi, Ivy and I all had a blue jersey. Naomi probably wouldn't be that good in the game, but it was nice knowing I wouldn't have to risk hurting her. Having Ivy on my side was a huge relief, I was getting tired of her gnawing on me each class. We went to the side where the blues were getting organized.

Naomi and I found ourselves shoved off to the side by our larger and far more violent teammates. We clearly weren't expected to do much other than possibly be speed bumps. Looking at the other team, I felt my heart sink, they had the half-giant Rocks For Brains. He'd be almost impossible to stop.

The game started, and Naomi was in the first group on. She was in the back playing defense with Barbarina the Scalp Hunter, they had to keep the opposing team from breaking our rock. The other three members were up front, ready to try to weave, dodge, and bash their way to the other end and break the rock with their head.

Angel Slayer blew her whistle and the offensive line up slammed into each other so hard I had to wince. They were shoving, punching, kicking, gouging, and biting trying to get through.

One of the red shirts managed to bash his way through the melee and headed for our rock. His head was down and he looked a little like a charging minotaur. Naomi threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck. He didn't stop, he didn't even seem to notice her as she hung on for dear life.

Barbarina jumped and caught his legs, bringing him down. Naomi went cartwheeling away, landing in a heap against the metal post. Barbarina got to her feet, picked up the red player and threw him back into the melee in the center of the court.

It went on like that for several minutes. If it wasn't for the medals keeping everyone from getting injured blood and teeth would have been flying. I hadn't seen a game this violent since the League Championship two years ago when the final two teams, the Bloody Alley Boys and their hated rivals the Highland Back Breakers had gotten very drunk on illegal fortified Dwarven beer and tried to kill each other.

Just as the whistle blew to switch players, a red player managed to get through, picked Naomi up and threw her like a spear at the rock. The granite split in half and the red team started cheering.

Naomi got to her feet, fell on her face, and crawled off the court.

“Are you all right?” I asked.

“I'm fine, mommy. But can you make the world stop spinning?” she asked, rolling onto her back.

Before I could say anything or check if she had broken her neck, I was shoved onto the court. Taking my place in defence, I tried not to show how scared I was. Then I looked up, and up, and saw Rocks For Brains looking at me with a big grin on his face. He pointed his huge hand at me, made a fist and punched his hand.

“This is going to hurt,” I whimpered.

I felt for my medal again, just to make sure it was still in place. It wasn't there. Looking around I saw one of my teammates who had pushed me onto the court toss it into the lava field below.

The whistle blew and all hell broke loose.

I saw Ivy jump on top of the nearest red shirt, howling with delight as she mauled him. Then I was running for my life as the half-giant threw the blue shirt who tried to stop him off the court and came straight for me.

No one tried to stop me as I ran around the court, screaming in terror. Anyone who got between me and Rocks For Brains, red or blue shirt, found themselves getting impromptu flying lessons as they were slapped away. Even Ivy let out a surprised yelp when she was scooped up and thrown at Angel Slayer.

And then I ran out of places to run.

Facing a steep cliff that rose above me, the lava field to the side, and a mass of red shirts who were forming a wall I couldn't get through, I couldn't get out of the way of the half-giant who wanted me dead. Seeing me trapped, he went from his light jog, which was as fast as I was at a full sprint, and began to charge.

Angel Slayer was too busy trying to pull the enraged werewolf off of her to notice what was happening, and maybe stop it.

Somehow I was remarkably calm. I was going to die, and there was nothing I could do about it, so I stopped panicking and time seemed to slow down. Then I realized the half-giants feet were widely spaced apart.

As the massive body was about to turn me into paste, I jumped right between his legs. If I'd had time to think about it, I wouldn't have succeeded, I'd have hit his knee and gotten crushed. But by some miracle I made it through, only brushing the coarse leg hair with my body.

He hit the wall full force as I tumbled to a stop. The cliff cracked, and  rocks fell all around Rocks For Brains, several of them hitting him on the head. He groaned, rubbing his skull and fell backwards, narrowly avoiding me.

As the echoes of the avalanche faded away, there was utter silence. Everyone was looking at me and the half-giant in shock.

Angel Slayer blew her whistle. “Time out while we get rid of the rocks.”

Shaking, I got to my feet and slowly made my way to the side, unable to believe what had just happened.

When I got to my spot, I leaned against Naomi for support and saw Rocks For Brains stand up. He looked at the rocks that had fallen on him, picking one up that looked a little shinier than the rest. Still in shock, I could only watch as he turned around to look straight at me. He had a big goofy grin on his face and shyly waved at me.

Not sure what to do I waved back.

His grin somehow got even bigger. Holding the rock to his chest he shakily got off the court and sat down.

“What just happened?” I asked.

Naomi shrugged. “No idea.”

“He's got a crush on you,” Barbarina said.

“What?!” I squeaked.

“Giants throw nice looking boulders at each other to show they're interested in someone. He's stupid enough to think you planned it.” The big girl clapped me on the back, sending me face first to the ground. “I hope you're flexible,” she said before breaking into laughter.

“Oh gods. Kill me now!”