27. Rocky
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Master Grieve glared at Rocks For Brains and I, and despite only being able to see his eyes, it looked like his helmet was scowling at us.

I was currently wrapped up in a black cape that was at least ten sizes too large for me, but it covered my underwear so I wasn't about to complain. In fact I wished it was larger so I could disappear in it and never have to come out. Rocks For Brains didn't look any happier, the big half-giant was slouched in his chair looking terrified, even though he was bigger than the combat teacher. We both knew we were doomed and about to get a likely life-threatening detention.

The office was very different from Lady Plague's. Everything was made of metal and stone. Even the chair I was sitting in was hard metal. And like everything else about Master Grieve, it was oversized. I felt like a child with my feet dangling over the edge, unable to lean against chair back, unless I wanted to have my legs sticking straight out in front of me. Unwillingly my eyes went to the rows of weapons hanging from the walls. One in particular caught my eye, an executioners sword, the broad sword with razor sharp edges and no point, did not bode well for my continued survival.

“What exactly were you two thinking just now?” Master Grieve asked.

My mouth refused to open. Saying I only thought of surviving another five minutes probably wouldn't go over well.

“Petra pretty. Gave me pretty rock. Wanted to give pretty rock back. She gave me another one too,” Rocks For Brains said, his voice sounding like boulders grinding together. He held up the rock Calci had thrown at him and managed to grin.

The teacher rubbed his forehead, the sound of metal grinding on metal set my teeth on edge. “Rocks For Brains, it was explained to you, repeatedly and in tiny words, that you have to be careful here. Most people aren't as strong as you and throwing rocks outside of class is not allowed.”

“I am sorry.”

I felt a little bad for the big guy. Sure he'd almost killed me twice today, but at least the second time he was trying to be nice.

Master Grieve looked at me. “And what do you have to say for yourself?”

“Before Rocks for Brains threw the rock at me, Victor said something to him. Since Victor is a psychic, he probably set everything up,” I said, hoping to pass the blame onto the guy who really deserved it.

“Rocks For Brains isn't under psychic control. We keep a close watch on that kind of thing.”

The half-giant nodded. “Victor friend. Was friend. He want to hurt Petra. So he not friend now.”

As seemed so often the case since entering Doom Valley, I saw my hopes and dreams turn to ash and blow away in the wind. “Well in my defence, I didn't actually throw anything.”

“A rock was seen being thrown from your table after the first one was thrown. That makes you a co-instigator. Unless someone else threw it.” The teacher waited to see if I would take his opening.

I bit my lip. If I said Calci had thrown it, she'd get detention instead of me. Opening my mouth to tell the truth, I shut it again. She was a dwarf, and she knew magic, she was much more likely to survive detention than I was. She'd also been happy to dress me up like a sexy clown and make me flirt with Rocks For Brains. It wasn't like I wanted to do any of this, why should I be punished?

But could I throw her to the dragons like that? I knew that Doom Valley was all about survival, backstabbing, and double dealing, but I didn't want to do that to a friend. Cursing my niceness, I looked Master Grieve right in the eye and said, “I threw the rock.”

There might have been a tiny, almost imperceptible nod of approval from the massive teacher. Or my eyes could have been fooling me and giving me false hope

“Very well. You will both assist me with advanced combat classes this week. After your last class you will immediately come to my classroom, where you will be told what your duties are for that day. Be ready to run,” he said, handing us both a slip of paper.

Taking the paper, my mouth acted on its own, asking, “Is this survivable?”

“All detentions are survivable, provided you're smart or tough enough. You both may go now.”

With that uplifting bit of information, Rocks For Brains and I left the office and headed for the cafeteria where we could find our way back to our dormitories. I didn't feel much like talking, and trudged along with a sense of doom weighing me down.

“I sorry,” Rocks For Brains said.

“What?” I asked, not really listening.

“I got pretty Petra detention. I sorry.”

“It's not your fault, Rocky,” I said, patting his hand.

“Rocky,” he said, breaking into a grin. “I like Rocky. Rocky will protect soft Pretty Petra.”

“Thanks, just make sure you don't get yourself killed, OK.”

“I survive. I am tough and smart. Smarter than my mama. My papa says I as smart as tiny people. He is tiny too, and smart. So he must be right.”

I had to smile up at the big guy as we reached the cafeteria. “Yeah, you are pretty smart. See you in class tomorrow.”

“See you,” he said, grinning like it was his birthday.


Stepping out of the bathroom, having washed all the food off of me, and dressed in comfortable pyjamas, I saw my girl friends were all there waiting for me. Their worried expressions made it clear they were expecting the worst.

“So how did it go?” Ella asked.

“A week of helping in one of Master Grieve's combat classes, alongside Rocky,” I said.

Clarice perked up. “Rocky? You're calling Rocks For Brains by his nickname?”

I shrugged. “I kind of gave it to him without thinking about it. Then he promised to protect me.”

Ella ignored the ooh's and giggling from the other girls, asking, “What about Victor?”

“He wasn't controlling Rocks For Brains, they were just friends. They aren't anymore.”

“Good. That makes things easier for us. I'll talk to some people and see what I can get to help you survive. They won't intentionally try to kill you, so a few potions or a charms should give you the edge you need to make it out alive.”

“Thanks. But I want a promise that I won't have to act as a honey trap anymore. I suck at it and I don't want to end up half naked and getting detention again,” I said.

The girls had the grace too look embarrassed. “Sorry about that, Petra,” Clarice said.

“It did end up as a disaster didn't it,” Ella said. “Don't worry, I won't ask you to do anything like that in the future.”

“Good. Now is there anything to eat? I didn't manage to get anything to eat, I just got to wear it,” I grumbled.

“I've got you covered. We stopped at the school store and picked up some things. Dig in,” she said, pointing to the small coffee table, which I saw was now covered in snacks.

Picking up a muffin, I hungrily devoured it in a few bites, then went back for a pickled dragon egg. “So what do we do tomorrow? I think Barbarina wants to kill me now.”

“I talked to her,” Calci said. Her voice sounded off, probably from her swollen jaw that was an amazing green colour. “Well we punched each other a few times, then Ivy threatened to rip her throat out. After that we talked. She'll leave you alone, just had to buy her a box of chocolate.”

“That's a relief.”

Ella gave me a comforting smile. “We're doing what we can to help you. I've explained to several people that Victor was behind everything, and let them know that I'm interested in seeing him properly punished. If Rocks For Brains is really done with him, there's a good chance he'll be out of our hair in a few days.”

“At least something good happened from all of this,” I muttered.

She came over and gave me a hug. “Don't worry, just survive detention and things will get easier.”

Feeling her arms around me, I couldn't help but think that things were looking up. Maybe Doom Valley wasn't so bad after all.