All eyes are on me as CP and I walk into the classroom. It seems to be a small gymnasium-type class, whereas the one we were in before was elevated and full of rows of seats. It made sense in this area, however, as I could only count eight students in this class.
"Oh! Wonderful! I had received news she would arrive sometime during the day. Are they not giving her a chance to grieve, CP?" The man asks, placing a hand on my shoulder.
"Afraid not. You know how things are now, Cal. It's not exactly a kind system." He sighs, patting me on the back. "This one is strong, though."
"I'll say. Is she gonna freeze the classroom next?" I hear a boy say. Though when I look over, no one is laughing and I cannot tell who produced the voice. I can feel myself turning red again as my face blazes over.
"Hey now, who said that?" Cal yells. It's really quiet before a hand raises. "Asris Teoseli... I'm not sure why I'm surprised. Apologize to this young lady now." He sighs, admitting defeat and walks up to me.
"I'm sorry. That you and your family are so poor that you had to find some miraculous way to freeze your house to actually be accepted into this academy." He spits, walking back to where he was standing.
"Asris!" Cal shouts. I avoid the gaze of anyone, though I know they're looking at me. I advert my attention to the walls. But I notice that they seem rather thick. The door did as well. And the windows.
"Why is this room sound proof?" I asked suddenly, recognizing it from the window. My father had taught me a few things before his passing. My father was an academy graduate. Out of them all, he seemed the happiest. He never found a reason to frown. But before his passing he taught me many things that he learned here himself. One of the things taught was how to tell the difference between regular glass, soundproof, bulletproof and so on.
"That's... That's a good eye! We have a student in this very classroom who's ability is... rather loud." Cal chuckles before glaring back at Asris.
"Want me to deal with 'em? I could show Twila what you're talking about!" A boy wearing almost nothing shouts. All he has on is a pair of red shorts that have flame patterns at the bottom.
"Asher... That's not necessary... Then again, it's not like I can send him anywhere." He laughs thinking it over as CP breaks in.
"You really couldn't. No other classroom actually recognizes ethics as you do, Cal. And sending him to Sarah would be just as bad, if not worse for you. Maybe you should just let Asher shoot him." CP laughs. I notice Asris flinch.
"Wait. Shoot? I don't understand." I say, very confused with where the conversation has turned. Cal sighs as he moves passed CP and I to shut the door.
"Let loose Asher. But... don't hit anyone, okay?" Cal laughs as the half-naked boy stands and moves beside Asris. He places his palm parallel with his body and his other hand wrapped around his wrist. He closes his eyes, pushing himself forward but meeting resistance from an invisible force as things begin forming in a circle around his palm.
"Are those... bullets?" I shout. My question is answered shortly after as--I count--five shots are fired, leaving bullet holes in the floor. Two girls scream and I just stare at Asher. How is that possible?
"How did you... You don't even have a gun!" I ask, trying to hide my shock but failing.
"I'm not sure. It's just something I've been able to do for as long as I can remember." He laughs, glancing at Asris, putting his palm to his face in the very same way he had to demonstrate his ability. "Apologize to her, or I'll make you beg for her forgiveness." On his last word, Asris stands and looks Asher in the eye.
"Go ahead, kid. I'm not afraid of you." He yells at him. Wishing for nothing but this to end, I feel my ability begin to act.
"Mr. Cal it's really cold in here! Could you maybe turn on the heat?" A girl shouts above the boys behind her. I can feel the cold air getting heavier as the floor begins frosting over. It begins trailing towards the boys, weaving through the seated students and eventually reaching their feet. In a flash, they're frozen to the floor. All eyes are once again on me except for Asher, who's eyes are still fixed on Asris who is in a stunned silence. His expression of shock is enough to make me enjoy this moment.
"What's wrong Asris? Not miraculous enough for ya?" I smile, walking forward to sit a little bit away from the group of people, leaning on the wall.
"That's it! Don't let them walk over you! You'll do just fine here, Twila." CP shouts in approval. "Alright. I have to get back. Her majesty will be upset if I'm gone for too long. Cal... take care of Twila, okay? She's still very nervous about being here." He says, earning a nod from Cal before walking out, slamming the door behind him,
"Alright! Before we start today's lesson. I'd like you all to introduce yourselves to Twila... Florentina? No that can't be." He pauses and stares at me. "Twila... you wouldn't happen to be related to Samuel Florentina, would you?" I hear gasps as my father's name is mentioned.
"He... was my father." I say quietly, as more gasps sound from the group of people.
"Your father was a great man. I'm so sorry." Alright. On with the introductions. "We'll start with Asher. Then Asris and so on in that direction."
"Asher Hillcrest." He begins, yanking his feet out of the ice. "And that was a nice trick, but it'll have to be stronger to trap me." He smiles as Asris struggles to break free from the thin ice. "Him, however... Anyway... What exactly are we supposed to tell her, Mr. Cal?" He asks, tilting his head in confusion. It was kind of cute, really.
"Let's see." He thought for a minute. "To make her comfortable, how about we tell her our name, special ability--if we have one, special skills, age, rank, and something unique about yourself."
"Sounds easy enough. Alright! I'm Asher Hillcrest. I can create ammunition of any kind out of nothing! Go ahead, name any type of projectile weapon, I can produce it's ammo and fire it without need of the weapon itself." He paused for a moment, smiling with pride, allowing me to process what I was told so far. "I consider myself a weapons expert--"
"Even though your knowledge of them is severely limited." Asris interrupts, still struggling to get free as Asher pushes him roughly.
"I'm sixteen." He continues. "Currently rank number five hundred and ninety two! Uh... something unique... Well... hmm..." He sighs thinking it over for a moment.
"How about you tell her about your disgusting habit of being half-naked all the time!" Asris shouts, not missing a beat.
"Oh, that. Not disgusting, It's just easier. I don't wear armor like most people here because I feel it would just limit my movement. I need to be fast, otherwise my accuracy would be pretty poor, right?" I nod, smiling at him as he sits down. He seems like a really nice person, I would make an attempt at befriending him eventually.
"Oh, is it my turn? Good! Listen up, Flash Freeze!" Asris shouts, earning laughter from everyone else except for Asher who is only glaring at him. "I'm Asris Teoseli! I... I have no special powers like you. Though I am an expert in guns. They're my passion, though I've not really been allowed to test my strategies with them yet."
"She didn't ask for your life story." Asher sighs.
"Shut up! Let me finish! You had your turn, it's mine!" Asris yells back. "I'm fourteen and am temporarily rank five hundred ninety eight." Asher snickers at this, probably because of his higher rank. Asris sits down slowly, probably trying to avoid harming himself on the edges of the ice that is melting slower than it should be. A girl who is seated next to him stands and smiles at me. But her attention is turned toward the front of the room quickly."
"My name is Aura Starr. But with all do respect, Mr. Cal, we've all taken an interest in Twila. Couldn't we just meet her on our own time? We have a few hours in break time a day, I don't want to lose lesson time." She mouths a sorry to me. I wave my hands in protest as an apology is not necessary. Especially since most of the others are nodding in agreement with her.
"I suppose you're right. Headmistress Sarah would probably kill me if she found out I was skipping a lesson for this." He sighs standing up, defeated. "Alright! Our lesson today is on the dangers of what lies below Stalaria. You'll learn today all of the dangerous lifeforms that have been known to take several lives every day.
"Why must we learn about them?" I ask, triggering laughter from other students. But I am really confused. Why would we be leaving Stalaria?
"Hey now, stop laughing, this is a great question. You see, a lot of our affairs are not on Stalaria." He says, pointing to a map that has been pinned to the wall in the front of the room. I'm surprised I didn't notice it before.
"But... I thought the other areas were.... abandoned! Without Shade Demonis or Nike Paumera, Indelatra had no order, how would they have thrived? Valer has had no life since the rebellions! And Crescentia... legends never speak of what happened to it's citizens." I shout my knowledge, unwilling to admit that Aqua Demonis had been hiding settlements from citizens who were in distress. We were running out of living space fast!
"We have a military base in Indelatra, it's citizens are being taken care of under the order's rule. Valer has many families. Due to overpopulation, we send a lot of our citizens there yearly. And Crescentia has been thriving ever since Aqua took over control. Though that is not why you need to know about the dangers. Stalaria is much to small for us to actually train here. We have large areas in the building permitted for it, but we are assigned one day a week. Headmistress Sarah has put many of our training sessions-" He pauses, his eyes dropping. The other students seem incredulous. As if they did not know this, yet they laughed at my question only moments ago. "Many of our training sessions... are not on Stalaria. But rather, are below it." Almost all of the students gasp.
"Not so funny now. Is it?" I say harshly.
"Now, now. That's why you're learning about the dangers! So you'll be prepared. All of the monsters you'll find out there have some sort of weakness! You'll learn them! You'll be given the only tool you'll need to defeat them!" He shouts, his intention is to motivate, but no one is buying it.
"A gun?" Asris says hopefully.
"No. Guns are a bit trickier to use when in combat with these monsters. You have to be precise and you have be fast. Taking time to reload a gun could cost you your life. You'll be given swords. Shields are not mandatory but we insist you use them anyway." Cal laughs. The mood is still dark, however.
"Mr. Cal." I begin, his eyes on me. "I'm rank number five hundred and ninety nine. Is six hundred the average amount of students you have per class?" My question seems harmless, but it's loaded heavier than any I've asked previously.
"Yes! We accept no more than six hundred. Though last year, we accepted six hundred and fifty." He smiles proudly, but quickly realizing what I've figured out by my sudden defeated expression.
"Last years graduating class was a class of five hundred and fifty students. Mr. Cal..." I say hesitantly. Others are catching on as I received horrified glances.
"A hundred students died in the forest below Stalaria." Aura Starr says, her head lowered to look at the floor. "The casualty rate down there... What are the chances that someone will die?" She asks, not moving her head, not changing her position.
"There is an eighty three percent chance that we will lose one student every time we leave Stalaria to train. And... I hate to tell you this, as it may serve as a reflection on me. But one hundred percent of the time... it's a child in this very class you're in." He sighs, dropping his gaze on us as a cannon fires outside startling me and a few others. "Alright. You have an hour break. Use it wisely, and come back prepared to learn techniques that will save your life for when we leave Stalaria. Our first training mission is Saturday. I'm not losing any of you! Do you hear me!" He shouts, sounding shaken, but confident. I really doubt his words though. And I'm pretty confident that I will be one of the students we lose.
"Twila. May I speak with you for a moment?" Mr. Cal says just as I'm about to walk out of the classroom.
"Oh, of course." I say, turning my attention to him.
"I wanted to thank you. I know this morning has been one of the worst in your life, but you've been holding up very well. And I wanted to give you--"
"Ew! He was in the sewer!" Several girls shout at the top of their lungs, interrupting Mr. Cal, quickly he runs out into the hallway.
"Hey! What's going on?" He shouts down the hall. A girl approaches him. I notice a number on her jacket. A seven.
"It's so disgusting! A few of us stay in Ms. Kalliope's room for our break. And sometimes we watch the news reports. So we turned it on, and they're pulling this boy out of the sewer. Apparently he's been living there for years!" She shouts, obviously disgusted. But I know how hard it is out there. He had no option, I'm sure.
"Well, that can't be it, you're overreacting, don't you think?" He shoots back, her eyes instantly change to one of anger.
"He's gifted, Mr. Cal. They're bringing him in as we speak!" She screams back, crossing her arms. "The poor district here is so disgusting. I can't believe they'd allow them in here!" I lower my head, trying to contain my anger.
"Hey, now! Some of our best students are from the district that isn't as fortunate as the others. You're no better than they are." He argues, pointing at me. I can feel myself turning red.
"Is that..." She begins, staring as hard as she can at me. "This is... Flash freeze! Hah! I bet she just left her fridge open. Why don't you just go crawling back to mommy? Oh... wait." She mocks me. I can no longer contain the anger. I feel the same force inside me that I felt yesterday when I almost froze the side of my house. Though now it's forcing itself out. I feel the air getting colder, as the floor frosts over. Before I know it, the entire room is coated in frost, and the girl's eyes are incredulous as she slowly backs away.
"What's wrong?" I scream, yelling through my pain, fighting my tears, but failing. "Crawling back to mommy?"
"Twila! Stop this!" Mr. Cal screams at me, but my anger is much too great to stop this now. The air gets even colder and in the blink of an eye, the walls, the floors, the desks, all but the people staring at me in shock are frozen solid. "Twila... what did you do?" Mr. Cal says in a shocked expression.
"Me? I'm sure someone just left the fridge open." I yell back, not breaking my gaze from the girl who's long black hair has turned white from either fear or ice. Maybe both. I stare silently, but break my glare after a few moments, realizing the possible weight of what I had just done.