Prologue

End of Summer

"Good God, Jack, what the heck were you thinking?!" Wade Greyhawk asked, covering his face with his robe sleeve.

"What I was thinking, Wade," Jacques De Mortimer, a friend of Wade's from the Quester's University, replied stiffly, "was that sodium nitrate mixed with unicorn horn could create a proper antidote to the werewolf phenomenon."

"More mad scientist stuff, huh?" Wade asked, a small smile popping onto his lips. He and Jack had come far in such a short time...

Meerly two years ago, Wade had been a young, nervous new student at Quester's University, the main school for those who wished to turn themselves into warriors, theives, mages, or dragon-slayers, with the old healer mixed in with the rest. At first, Wade had lost count of how many things he DIDN'T know about the University, but, gradually, as he became friends with Jack and Raiden Orangeback, the QU Jousting Champion, he had started to feel at home.

Of course, things took a turn for the worse when Wade and Raiden had been forced to deser the End-of-Year exams in order to save Master Vorian from the plot of Master Strawdenberry, who had planned to kill Vorian and open the doors to QU's Monster Dungeon, thus spelling apocalypse.

Thankfully, Wade and Raiden had been able to stop the plot, though not without help from Jack, who had helped strengthen the substance of Wade's rapier, and Miranda, Raiden's sister, who had let them into the Higher Towers.

Eventually, they had been let out of school early, and gotten a zero on the respective exams they had deserted. The punishment had first seemed bittersweet, but as Jack and Miranda got out of school, it turned into the longest- and best- summer of Wade's life.

"No, it's not 'more mad scientist stuff'," Jack replied stuffily, his crew-cut red hair standing on end, "I'm trying to expand the field of magical healing!"

"Then why did you sign up for the blasted healer course instead of the adventurer?"

"Healing isn't considered mainly."

That, Wade had to admit was true. The Inspectors of Courses had been rather finicky with boys who had chosen to become healers, of which their had only been two in their class, Rodrick and Donald. The two had been declared outcast by the other professionals, but Wade did owe them for helping him escape Strawdenberry several hours before the exams through a small vent. Since then, Wade had done his best to help them 'fit in' as much as possible.

"Well then," Wade replied, "why didn't you choose Dragon-Slayer, like me or Miranda? At least then you learn magic AND swordsmanship."

"Yeah, right, like Magic I has taught you SO much."

Wade had somewhat of a disability when it came to magic. While he could pull off the basic spells, the more complex ones simply wouldn't work for him. It was part of the reason he enjoyed having Raiden as a friend, as the chestnut-haired boy had no problem casting even the most difficult of spells. No, Wade's true talent was with the blade. It had been that talent that allowed him to stay alive against Strawdenberry while Raiden attempted to awaken Vorian from the stupor the treacherous teacher had put on him.

"I may not be the best at it," Wade said, "but I'm better than you." Jack was utterly terrible at magic, with half of the basic spells falling apart. He made up for this, however, by being a whiz at mixtures.

"Where is Raiden?" Jack asked, reaching for his pocket watch. Wade was amazed that the other boy could see it in the outpouring of smoke. "He was supposed to be here seven minutes ago."

Wade shrugged. "It isn't like Raiden to miss being lat-"

At that moment, a burly, chestnut-haired boy with a strong chin barged into the room. Raiden Orangeback hefted up a large scroll. "Did you hear the news?" he bellowed.

"Whoah, dude," Wade said, covering his ears, "tone down the Voice Amplifying Hex. Don't want to ruin my eardrums."

"Oh, sorry," Raiden boomed, before muttering a few words. When he spoke again, his voice was at his normal octave, though still loud. "Did you two hear the news?"

"What news?"

"Explain, Orangeback."

The first came from Wade, the second came from Jack, who had switched into posh-royal personality.

Raiden hefted up a large newspaper.

"Quester's has been challenged to a contest by Assassin Prep!" he gasped, "and whoever wins gets ownership of the Monster Dungeon!"