I knew I wasn't going to last much longer, and anyone watching me, including my opponent, would be able to draw the same conclusion quite easily. I hate losing, which is funny considering all the practice I've had at it, but it seemed inevitable right now.

To the casual observer it would look as if nothing much was happening, it was not the traditional image people think of when they imagine a fight, but that's exactly what it was. It wasn't a complex fight, and it wasn't testing a multitude of abilities, this was based on pure power. We were both forcing our energy at each other and the first one to stop, and lessen their power in any way would most likely end up flying across the room, crushed by the other's power. Not fun.

But even as I thought that I knew it was going to be me, not exactly positive thinking, but I tended to be a realist rather than an optimist. I could feel my body weakening and I was starting to get dizzy from forcing out so much power to a particular point for so long and if I didn't stop soon I knew I'd black out. But I knew I shouldn't let that idea seem appealing, It wasn't. Well, maybe it was in the short term but definitely not in the long term. The humiliation of being beaten by your ex was not something most girls wanted to live with.

My power weakened, just momentarily as I thought about him as my ex, and that was all he needed, I felt a power surge and got ready to go flying across the room, but then everything stopped.

Rhett Daniels stood up and raised an arm, and just like that I felt my power drain and if I hadn't been too weak to lift my head at that point I would have seen that Callum Marsters, the ex in question, was also drained and weak. When I finally lifted my head Rhett was watching me looking disappointed. I felt a twinge of regret, I hated letting Rhett down and that's what I felt like I'd just done. Out of all of my teachers he was the one that had the most faith in me, and yet I have no idea why he kept that faith, after I let him down time and time again.

"Although Callum won the duel, I will not be offering congratulations to either party. Once again my advice has been ignored. This is not about brute power, and you can not expect to go about your life forcing your energies to do your work for you, you have to work with them." He shook his head and I knew he was trying to stop himself from going in to lecture mode, and it was a particular lecture we'd all heard dozens of times and just when we felt we understood it, he'd pair two of us together and we'd just prove we still hadn't grasped the theory he was trying to show us, at least not when it came to putting that theory in to practice. He glanced at his watch. I inwardly smiled, if he was hoping to get rid of us soon he could hope again, we had another half hour before the end of the day.

"Right, make your way over to the main hall, there are some announcements that are being made to the Academy and you are all expected to be there. Anyone who decides to skip will have the joy of a month's worth of detentions, so I wouldn't advise it." With that he stood up and walked out in the direction of the hall, not bothering to check and see if we'd all follow. A month in detention was not something to be looked upon lightly.

I followed him at of the door of the gym where we'd been training and was halfway across the grounds when I heard someone yelling my name. I stopped and turned around and saw Accacia making her way over to me. She stopped yelling when she saw that I'd noticed her but she didn't bother to speed up to catch up with me, she liked making me wait. Or liked the envious stares she got off the other girls and admiring looks she got off the guys. Or maybe she just couldn't walk any faster in those heels, I was never really sure.

Finally she got to me and slipped her arm through mine, which was harder than it sounds when you consider that she is 5'10" even without heels, and I only just scrape in at 5'0". Being short is bad enough, but when of your closest friends is that tall it emphasises your height even more. I'd go and find some shorter friends but as I was the shortest nineteen year old around, I don't think that would really work.

"So, what's this I heard about you getting beaten by Cal?" I looked at her and rolled my eyes. The speed news travelled in this place was just ridiculous, at least when it was bad.

"Only just." Accacia gave me one of her patented looks that told me she knew exactly what I was thinking, that 'only just' didn't matter that he'd still beaten me. Again. She seemed to sense that I didn't want to talk about it , and while this would be obvious to most people, Accacia doesn't really notice all that much about other people's feelings a lot of the time so I must have looked pretty shitty.

"So, this top secret announcement? Any idea what it is?" She actually sounded vaguely interested which was a first for Accacia, usually her interest in things that didn't directly involve her in one way or another was practically non existent. I know I sound a little harsh, considering she's one of my closest friends and all, but that's just the way she is. A complete bitch most of the time, but if anyone ever tries to hurt one of her friends they'll regret it very quickly, she is not someone you want to get on the wrong side of.

We filed in to the main hall and the excited chatter of the students died down in to a murmur after the disapproving looks we were getting along the way from various teachers. The hall was already pretty full when we got there and for a moment it looked like we were going to have to stand at the back which was not going to be fun if we were all being dragged in here for a really long lecture, but across the room we spotted Tia and Kaylyn and a couple of spare seats.

"Faye, Accacia! We were wondering where you two had got to, I've been defending these chairs with my life!" Typical Tia, always over dramatic, but she was the type of person that could make any situation entertaining and if the seriousness of the teacher's expressions were anything to go by we'd need a little entertaining soon enough.

"Quiet please." The murmurs died off pretty instantly. The headmistress, Sophia Horn wasn't a particularly intimidating woman, but once you got to know her you realised she didn't take any messing. When she first arrived everyone thought we were going to be able to get away with just about anything but after a week at least half the school had been in detention because of her fondness for putting an entire class in detention if one person in said class misbehaved, since then everyone is pretty much on their best behaviour when she's around. You might think detention is bad, but try being in detention with up to twenty other students who are all in detention because of you, it doesn't make you the most popular person around.

"I'm sure you are all eager to know why you have been called in here this afternoon, and probably more eager for me to get this over and done with so you can finish your school day so I will make this as quick and simple as possible. The threats we have faced all of our lives from the magic communities that are not affiliated with this Academy have increased. All of you are aware of the threats that face us even though very few of you have had actual contact with them, I know this makes it hard for some of you to take these threats as seriously as you should be, but you will have to trust your elders in this matter. Just because you have yet to witness a threat does not make it any less a threat.

Because of the increase in activities working against the Academies and the Council, it has been decided that until the dangers have been dealt with sufficiently you will all be limited to the Academy grounds. No trips out shopping during the day, café during the evening or clubbing at night. I don't care what you want to do or what time it is, you will stay limited to these grounds unless you are accompanied by a fully trained professional. We will be organising some larger group trips at some point as I appreciate the need you may have to go out, but if you aren't accompanied by a teacher or someone appointed by the school then you will not be leaving these premises under any circumstances, unless you aren't intending to come back. Do I make myself clear?"

For the first time since I can remember there was a stunned silence in the hall. It lasted only a split second before everyone turned to whoever was closest to them and started complaining. The complaints got louder and louder as everyone tried to be heard over everyone else before a loud yell broke the silence.

"Quiet!" Everyone froze. The headmistress didn't yell, not ever. At least I'd never heard her, and by the stunned faces around me I don't think anyone else had either. "I don't care how this is going to affect your social life, there are still plenty of places within the Academy for you to socialise with your friends, what I do care about is protecting everyone inside Mayford Academy. If anyone has any complaints, feel free to bring them personally to my office. Thank you." There was silence in the hall once again as we all sat glued to our seats, no one daring to move a muscle.

"I would also like to make the announcement that we have a new teacher joining us and he will be teaching several lessons, meaning there will be a bit of a mix up with classes, but everyone should end up in a smaller class because of it. If this affects you, you will find out shortly, letters are being delivered to all dorms informing students of any changes. I hope you all enjoy your afternoon." With that she stood up and walked out of the hall with most of the teachers following her. Looks like we'd been dismissed for the day.

I turned to Accacia who looked like she'd been shocked to silence, which was a first, she had an opinion on everything. Kaylyn looked a little worried and Tia rolled her eyes.

"Why has this school got to be so dramatic about everything? There's always a threat and they've never stopped us going out before."

"But you heard what she said Tia, the threat has increased. Do you think we really are in danger?"

"Of course we're in danger, that's why we're at the Academy, learning to protect ourselves and others. Like Tia said, they're just making a big deal out of nothing and the first chance I get I'm going to prove it." Clearly Accacia had recovered and had a smug look on her face. That look didn't usually mean anything good was going to be happening any time soon. At least anything good for anyone but her.

"What are you planning Accacia?" I asked. It was always best to be prepared when she was around. She looked at me like I was a little slow, and judging from the looks Tia and Kaylyn were giving me I probably was.

"I'm going to prove that they can't keep us all locked up here. It's not ethical. Besides, we had plans to go clubbing on Friday and I don't intend to cancel them. It's only Wednesday afternoon now, what is going to get me through the next two days if I haven't got any hopes for fun at the weekend?"

"I'm still up for clubbing, there's no way they're actually going to manage to keep us all in anyway." Tia agreed with her. That left me and Kaylyn.

They did have a point. I loved the Academy, I really did, I'd lived here since I was five and it was like home to me. But the thought of being trapped here constantly until they decided the threat had lessened did not appeal. If there was one thing they always told us was that the threat never lessened, that we should never let our guard down. I could end up trapped inside the Academy until I left, and as I'm only nineteen at the moment that would probably be a minimum of five years. No way was that happening.

I looked at Kaylyn and she looked at me and together we nodded. If there was going to be any fun to be had that weekend then we sure as hell didn't want to miss it. And if the worst happened and we got caught, at least we'd all be in detention together. Not the cheeriest of thoughts though so I glared at Accacia.

"If we get caught, I'm blaming everything on you, I so don't want to spend the rest of my life in detention, and you know they will want to make an example of anyone they catch."

Accacia didn't seem bothered by this though and started chattering away about the outfit she'd be wearing, something new she'd bought last week. I wasn't really paying all that much attention as we walked out of the hall and towards the dorms. We all had plenty of homework to get done so we went our separate ways. The rooms in the dorms were pairs but the girl I had been sharing with before and finished the Academy several months back and no one had been put in her place, not that I was complaining about having a room to myself.

Sharing would be fun if I was with a close friend, like Kaylyn and Tia were together, but the girl I had been sharing with, Aliyah, had been 27 and the big age gap hadn't been much fun. Because of it she'd thought she was better than everyone and while admittedly she was better than me at basically everything, she didn't have to make such a big deal of it.

The reason for such a big age gap was that the Academy was for a much wider range of ages than most schools. You usually started when you were around five in a separate area of the Academy, and then moved to the main Academy when you reached your teens. There is no set age for finishing, but most people are in their mid twenties when they finish.

To finish the Academy you have to reach a Class 3, which is harder than it sounds. I was still a Class 0 which wasn't considered too bad at the moment but by the time you reach twenty people expect you to be Class 1. Accacia was well ahead, she was nearing Class 2 and she'd only turned twenty a few months ago. To upgrade to the next class you had to take a theory and practical test that looked at various aspects of your abilities, your power was tested in a similar way to the way Rhett had tested Cal and I earlier, but there were also tests on your abilities with potions, rune knowledge and various other stuff. I had a massive folder with all the details under my bed somewhere and we'd had what we needed to know drilled into us from an early age, but I was avoiding taking the first test still, the idea of failing Class 1 at nineteen scared me, I knew I'd have to take it eventually but I just wasn't ready yet.

When I got in my room I saw I'd had a letter posted through with the school's official stamp on, which wasn't a surprise. We can get letters from relatives and friends outside the Academy but both of my parents had died on the job when I was younger, died doing the exact job that I was training to do along with everyone else in the Academy. It was a scary thought but we'd all grown up knowing the risks that came with learning to be a Protector, but we also knew the benefits and there was no job I would rather do. So with the lack of parents and family on the outside, and the fact that my only friends were based inside the Academy, it meant that any post I got had the school's stamp on it.

I opened it to find a new timetable. I don't know why they had to change people around so much just because of one new teacher. Smaller classes would be nice, but only if I was still with my friends, which seemed doubtful. I shared very few classes with Accacia any more and the same went for Kaylyn who had also upgraded to Class 1 recently, despite being a year younger than me. Tia was still with me for most things as she hadn't passed the test yet, though she took it last year and failed. But if they were messing around with all of our timetables then we may get split up, which was not going to be fun.

I was tempted to go down the corridor to her dorm and compare now but after sitting down on my bed I really couldn't be bothered to move. I still felt totally drained from all the power I had spent earlier but I hadn't realised just how exhausted I was until I'd sat down and my legs practically gave out underneath me. I grabbed my alarm clock and set it so I'd remember to meet up with everyone else this evening and then I let the mental and physical exhaustion take over my body and curled up under my duvet, falling asleep almost straight away.