30. Five Minute Head Start
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“Are you ready for your detention?” Naomi asked, trying not to speak so loudly it would attract Coach Angel Slayers attention, but still be heard over the sound of wood and metal hitting each other.

Stabbing at her with my spear, only to have it knocked out of the way by her own spear, I said, “No. I know we have a plan, and it might work, but I really wish I had a few more days, or years to prepare.”

Naomi tried to knock my feet out from under me, forcing me to jump back. “At least you have those potions, that should help. And did you and Calci make anything useful in Potions?”

I retaliated with a jab to her face, trying to regain some initiative. “A few smoke bombs, and she made a flash stone. So I can blind someone and hide, that should help a little.”

The butt of her spear came up hitting me in the stomach, knocking me onto my butt. “That's good. Every little bit helps.”

Gasping for air, I took a short breather. Even with my new protection medal, that had hurt. “Yeah. I guess.”

A shriek from other side of the class interrupted our conversation. Ivy was on top of her partner, brutally mauling him. Shredded cloth was flying all over, amazingly none of it was bloody. Angel Slayer slowly made her way over to the one sided curb stomping, while everyone watched in amusement.

“OK, Ivy, you won. You can stop now,” the Orc said.

Growling, Ivy got to her feet, walked a few feet away and flopped onto the ground. The boy scrambled to his feet, practically naked except for a few scraps of clothes around his waist. He was running his hands up and down his body, apparently in amazement that he wasn't dead.

“I've lost my medal!” he said.

Angel Slayer sighed. “Ivy, did you see where the medal went?”

The werewolf shrugged, not bothering to say anything. Ameth, the cat girl, came running up, holding a medal for the boy, giggling as she looked at him.

“OK everyone, shows over!” Angel Slayer shouted. “Back to training.”


After class I was stripping off my sweaty clothes ready to hop in the shower, which could very well be my last one, when Ivy came over. She was still in her half-wolf form, with an oversized wolf head, clawed hands and feet, and ropy muscle that looked like steel cords under her skin.

“Hey Ivy. You did really good beating everyone up,” I said.

As usual she didn't say much. In fact she didn't say anything, just shrugged her shoulders. Then she held up her hairy, clawed hand to her muzzle, and started making a gagging sound. I stepped back wondering if she was going to throw up as she jerked forwards. Then a protection medal dropped out of her mouth and into her hand.

She put the spit covered medal in my hand, and shifted back to her human form. “Don't die,” she said, her voice a little hoarse.

“Thank you!” I squealed. My face turned red and my cheeks felt like they were on fire at how girly I'd sounded. But no one else seemed to care. Clutching the wet medal to my chest I hurried to the shower. I needed to get cleaned up and dressed if I was going to make it to my detention on time.

I also needed to rub the Myer's Ointment of Fortitude all over myself, so it would have time to work before I faced my possible death. That trick gave me the courage to not shake like a leaf as I got ready.


Rocks For Brains and I walked down the marble floored hallway, lit by yellow and blue fairy lights that covered the ceiling, providing a comforting glow, making our way to Master Grieve's classroom. We were in the older students area of the school, and the large, well dressed, very scary looking students openly smirked and laughed at us.

“Twenty silver that the cutie ends up in the hospital for a week,” a boy said to another student.

“One gold the big guy gets transformed into something cute and cuddly,” came from a girl.

Rocky ducked his head, as people placed bets on our chances. I now understood why the freshmen were kept away from the older students for the first few months. Among the freshmen I felt like a little fish surrounded by barracuda. Here was even worse, I was a piece of juicy meat surrounded by ravenous werewolves.

Rocky hunched down, looking like he was trying to hide, and ended up looking ridiculous. I couldn't put my arm over his shoulder since he was so big, instead I grabbed two of his fingers and gave them a squeeze of support. He brightened up immediately, holding his head up a bit more confidently.

The students started laughing, making rude comments about us being lovers, openly wondering if Rocky was really small or I just liked it really big. My face turned a brilliant red, but I did my best to pretend they weren't bothering me.

We made it to Master Grieve's combat class, which had a solid soul steel door big enough to make Rocky look tiny. It was so black it seemed to absorb the light. The only colour came from a few wispy, ghostly faces that moved along the surface of the door, silently moaning.

My knees went weak, and I had a sudden urge to run away screaming. I could all too easily picture my soul being added to the door. Before I could do that, Rocky slowly pushed the door open, and stepped inside, dragging me with him.

Master Grieve sat in a throne made of mithril and orichalcum. Twenty students of many different species stood at attention. They were armed and armoured in a wide variety of styles ranging from a nearly naked orc boy covered in tattoos and body paint with a machete, to what I thought was a girl covered in glowing silver armour that covered everything including her eyes holding an ornate elemental gun and a bandoleer stretched over her ample chest covered in elemental dust cartridges. Twin elves, a brother and sister with blue hair, watched us with predatory eyes. They were wearing clothes made of leaves with red dragon leather cloaks, and they were unarmed. But they had matching bracelets and rings covered in glowing gemstones.

Someone started whimpering, and I realized it was me.

A Minotaur snickered, his mithril chain mail clinked a little as he adjusted his spiked shield that was larger than I was. His horns were covered in soul steel and looked sharp enough to stab through solid steel. A clockwork folk, clicked noisily as it did some last minute on something that had a lot of pointy metal darts sticking out of it. A human girl with short black hair smiled at me, this was not reassuring since she had very sharp teeth and her outfit looked like it was made entirely out of knives.

We were going to die.

Master Grieve stood up, bringing utter silence to the class. The wall at the back of the class opened up, revealing a verdant jungle. A thick mist turned everything into shadows and half seen objects. Animals hooted, howled, chirped and cawed. Something long and sinuous moved in the distance, barely visible through the bushes and mist.

“Today we are going to test your skills at tracking and capture,” he said. Raising his hand, he motioned at Rocky and I. “Our volunteers will have five minutes to run, then you will chase and capture them. The one who brings them here alive, gets top marks. Are there any questions?”

I raised my hand.

“Yes, Petra?”

“Do they get extra marks if they bring us back relatively unharmed?” I asked.

His eyes pierced my soul. It was a good thing I'd gone to the bathroom earlier, otherwise I'd have wet myself right there and then. “No,” he said. “As long as you're breathing it's acceptable.”

Tightening my bag, which had the potions in it, I nodded. We were going to get hurt, but we'd probably survive. I could live with that.

“The five minutes start now,” Master Grieve said.

Rocky and I walked to the jungle and started jogging, sticking close together as we went for the thickest bushes we could see.