For as long as I remembered, I always woke up earlier in the morning than almost anything else. Perhaps it was because of my time spent in dangerous areas, or perhaps it was due to some paranoia caused by my family's history of being banished or killed in horrible ways. Either way, I opened my eyes before the human child lying adjacent to me.
The cold of the morning struck me as odd, as did the darkness. The explanation came when I sat up. My wings did not appear to have any weight. In fact, they did not appear at all. Neither did my tail. I was, physically, a human.
Damn them. I attempted to remember what my mother had told me about dispersing spells, failing miserably and infuriating myself further. I swung my fleshy fist in frustration, nearly breaking my hand and the small table set up next to the bed. Without my scales to protect me, I had no innate defense against physical attacks. Or spells.
A new sensation caused me to instinctively scratch at my forehead, relieving the irritation. The fact that I had not rended the skin from my now fleshy face gave me pause. I looked down at my hand, scrutinizing it in more detail this time. My claws no longer grew long and sharp, instead barely growing past the tip of my finger, more plating my fingertip than providing weapons. How do these humans survive at all? Our greatest enemy has no advantage over us.
After some time, my weak new eyes adjusted to the darkness, allowing me to inspect the room with greater detail. A small window let in very little light, the sun blocked by heavy rain clouds, the drops smacking harshly against the pane. Both beds in the room sat in the same corner, facing opposite directions with a table between. On the table sat a simple self-lighting lamp, one of the first magical items created. I touched it, activating the magical field imbued upon the object, and filling the room with a dim but warm glow.
The lamp greatly increased the visibility in the room, and the flood of color forced me to blink rapidly until I could see once again. I noticed a red scarf around my neck, so bright it reflected in a manner similar to gold. Holding the scarf up to the light, I attempted to decipher the material, and drew back out of surprise when I did. These are my scales. I left the scarf on, resisting the urge to hold it closer.
The door boomed sharply before an adult human female walked through the door. "I'm glad you're awake. Saves me the trouble of having to wake you up myself. Let's go," she said, no hint of curiosity in her voice. I found this strange, since they found me in a field the night before. Even with this anomaly, her voice pleased the ears, smooth and sweet yet somehow capable of snapping my neck.
"Where are we going?" I asked, dutifully obeying.
"Your induction into the system. You're going to fight."
She grinned maniacally. "Let's find out."
Noise resonated through The Guild, children and teenagers preparing for a day of training. Every hallway had rooms running down both sides, most of them with doors open, and humans walking in and out, sometimes carrying unidentifiable objects. My "escort" dragged me through the hallways faster than would allow me to fully observe the actions taking place.
"Where does such a young child get a scarf such as that?" she asked, staring as we meandered through the hallway.
"It was a gift." I subconsciously gripped the scarf. It remained as the only remaining physical evidence of my previous form, and I intended to keep it.
Once outside, all I could hear was rain. A large courtyard stretched out in front of me, the ground turned almost completely to mud. Seven children stood, lined up and at attention, despite being pelted with large droplets of freezing water.
"You must choose someone to fight," the female began. "The farther to the left are stronger fighters, and those to the right are stronger mages. However, do not assume those who fight cannot use magic, or that those who use magic cannot fight. I advise you to choose carefully."
All of the children stared at me expectantly, save for one, who seemed to be contemplating the best way to eat me, his tongue darting in and out of his mouth. I decided not to fight him. Inspecting all the children closely, I saw someone who I never expected to see again. There stood Jovis, right in the middle of all seven children, staring at me with a fiery intention to maim me should I choose him. I took his challenge whole-heartedly.
"Jovis is a lightning mage. He is one of our best young students. Are you sure you wish to fight him?"
"Then be prepared to leave The Guild in shame. No weapons. Begin your fight."
Before I could remind her that I hadn't ever planned to be a Slayer, Jovis took a stance clearly taught to him by one. It was closed, defensive, and more for running away than actually fighting. I laughed slightly and took my own stance, the opposite of his, open and made for attacking quickly and often.
"Why do you laugh?" he asked angrily.
"You are very serious, Jovis." He released a magic wave almost immediately, shooting lightning across the field. I tried to counter, but the rain did not allow for ignition of flames.
"And you're at a disadvantage." He lept towards me and I let him punch me in the gut, placing a magic field on him as he did.
"You already know that won't work. Fire doesn't burn in the rain." I put forth my magic frequency, causing the field to react.
"It is not flames I am trying to make." I could see Jovis feel the effects of the spell, overheating and becoming tired. He lazily shot another lightning bolt, missing horribly.
Realizing his previous spell would not be adequate, Jovis put down another magical field, releasing another magic wave. This time, lighting rained from the sky, indiscriminately destroying whatever it touched.
I have to end this before he casts that again. Rolling forward, I lept up and grabbed Jovis' hands, rendering him unable to cast another spell. While I tried to decide what to do, he threw his head forward, knocking me off and causing blood to flow from my nose. Before my vision could clear, he punched me in the gut, knocking me over, and forcing a small amount of fire from my mouth. That still works?
Newly invigorated, I rolled sideways, getting behind Jovis as he cast his spell. After inhaling deeply, I unleashed a wave of fire, careful not to burn him. He fell back, and only lie on the ground, too exhausted to stand up again.
"Who taught you to cast fire in the rain?" The female asked.
"A traveling man," I replied quickly. "He belonged to a circus going through Fyord."
She seemed to consider this for a moment before asking, "What is your name?"
I knew Jovis would recognize my real name, so I gave her one of the names I heard in the hallway, one similar to mine. "Seth."
"Welcome to The Guild, Seth. Your field name will be Red Dragon, in honor of your scarf, and that marvelous trick." She clapped twice. "All recruits, return to your rooms." She turned to face me. "Come," she said, "let us get out of this rain."
Jovis glared as we walked past.
(A/N) - I appear to have forgotten to mention that Complex Variable is amazing and let me use a magic system that is almost exactly like his without yelling at me about it. He didn't even yell when I forgot to give credit originally.