Sorry, this took so long! Hopefully, the next chapter should be up by the end of the week. And lots of action next chapter! :D

"So all we have to do is walk down to the Academy?"


"Then let's get moving already!" Shouted the younger of the 2 as he started running down the mountain.

"Hey! Julian, wait up!" Eira cried, as she started running after him, although she took more care in watching where she was going. She chased him through the thick foliage, dodging this way and that to avoid low branches and vines. "Julian!" She called, his small body starting to camouflage with the overwhelming colors of thick green and rich brown. It wasn't long until Eira stopped completely, having lost the boy. She sat against a tree, sighing. Why was he so fast?

"What's wrong with you? Constipated or something?" Eira looked up, slightly miffed, to a tall, messy-haired blonde with grey eyes. He seemed to be about 6 feet tall, and a little on the thin side, but he wasn't scrawny. He wore a dark jacket, which seemed odd in the humid, tropical weather of the mountain.

"No," Eira snapped, a little more rudely than she intended. "I just got separated from my friend. And how can you wear that jacket? I'm burning up just looking at you." The blonde shrugged nonchalantly.

"Anyways, I'm Leon. You want to head down to the Academy together?" Eira, slightly surprised at how relaxed he seemed, nodded, taking his outstretched hand. He pulled her up, and they started walking.

"Um… I'm Eira. Eira Fmegra. I'm 14, and you?" Eira asked, a slight hesitancy in her voice.

"16. I came here a couple months ago, just before summer started." Leon replied, ducking under a low branch.

"Oh. I got here just half an hour ago, so I don't really know what's going on." Eira's face flushed, embarrassed by her lack of knowledge.

"Well, I can explain if you want. I don't know much, though. From what I've heard, the school is divided into 7 different Families, and the Trial is mainly to determine what Family we'll be in, as well as our strengths and weaknesses. I heard there were various obstacles, ranging from rockslides and illusions to battles with the more experienced students." As he finished, a yelp and low rumble was heard from the other side of the mountain. "That proves my point."

The two hiked down the mountain carefully, sometimes going from a pleasant walk to a steep hike. 2 hours passed before Eira heard Julian again. "EIRA! Eira! There's a dragon down there! And it's HUGE!" The boy cried with excitement as he raced up towards the duo.

"Julian! And what do you mean 'dragon'?" Eira asked, face twisted in confusion.

"You have to see it!" Julian replied, taking her hand and dragging her back the way he arrived. Leon, interested in seeing a real dragon up close, followed.

As they got farther down, Julian gestured for them to get lower, before crouching behind a boulder. Before them was a long, smooth scaly body of an azure color, dancing among the red maple leaves in an intricate weaving dance, not a single flying leaf disturbed as the dragon danced between them.

"Beautiful…" Eira breathed, her face flushed red from the run.

"So what do we do now short-stack? I'm pretty sure we have to go this way if we want to get down the mountain." Julian scowled momentarily at the nickname, Eira rolling her eyes.

"What do you think? We run straight ahead, of course."

A blonde with stunning blue eyes yelped as the low rumble of the ground tripped her. "Ow… What the heck was that?" She muttered, rubbing her head as she sat up. Firenze looked around momentarily, before setting off at a jog down the mountain. She slowed to a walk as she got to a darker part of the forest, pushing her glasses farther up nervously. An owl's screech echoed through what was an eerily silent forest, and Firenze jumped, her pace getting faster.

"Just a bird. It was just a bird." She muttered to herself as she looked straight at the ground. Her mutterings went from English to French to Greek and back to English.

"So you can speak different languages." Came a husky, almost-gravelly voice from in front of her. Startled, Firenze looked up, at first not seeing anything. Looking harder, a teen of maybe about 18 or 19 seemed to materialize in front of her. He had short, earthly-brown hair that seemed to blend in with the tree trunks, and eyes the same color as the rich green grass beneath her feet. He was tall and lithe, face an impassive gaze. In his hand was a long wooden staff, the wood curling into a spiral at the end, reminding Firenze of some of the wizard books she's read.

"Wh-When did you…?" She stuttered, and the other raised an eyebrow, amusement dancing in his eyes.

"I've been here the whole time. You just haven't looked." Firenze flushed slightly, looking back down in embarrassment.

"So… why are you here? You don't look like a 1st Year." She muttered after a prolonged silence.

"You're correct. I'm a 7th Year. In case you don't know, a few students approved by the Headmaster participate in the Trial, and test the new students." That strange quiet voice seemed to reverberate through the ground, leaving the blonde to be slightly startled.

"Then… I have to fight you?" She asked hesitantly, mind whirling at the thought.

"Can you use a weapon?"

"…Not really. I focus more on intellectual battles." She replied quietly.

"I see. And what is your Genesis?"

"Genesis? O-Oh, right. I can understand any language, including reading, writing, and speaking. So to some extent, I guess I can talk to animals too." Firenze answered, looking back up. "What about you?"

"I have an Archaion, is what I would like to say. However, I do not have a Genesis. Those classified as Archaion have a certain amount of inhuman blood. I do not have any human blood, so therefore I cannot be classified as such."

"But then how are you a student?"

"I am a Devas, a nature guardian. We are to some extent considered human, but are not biologically so. I came to this school because I wanted to, and the Headmaster complied. They have classified me as Archaion, for the sake of other students, but I am very much of separate nature."

This struck Firenze silent, and she stared in wonder at the being before her. "Then, if you're not human, do you age differently too?" The boy(?) frowned slightly at this, as if wondering how to explain it.

"I am not entirely sure how to explain it, to say the least. In my culture, I am 503 moons, so I guess in your culture, I would be about 1,000 years old." He replied calmly, Firenze's eyes going as big as saucers at the thought. Someone who looked to be only 4 or 5 years older than her was so ancient?! "If it bothers you to so great an extent, you could think of me as being aged 19 years." He mumbled, seeing her disbelieving expression. She nodded slightly, trying to calm herself down.

He stared directly at Firenze now, his impassive gaze boring into her. What looked to be tree roots exploded from the ground, causing Firenze to fall backwards.

"However, we will have to save our conversation for another time. I have come here not to exchange words and cultures, but to abide by the Headmaster's wishes and test your abilities. I am Eade Miltiades, guardian of the roots you walk upon. Receive my approval, and you may proceed."