Chapter 2: Blood, Sweat, and Tissues?
It was four in the morning and Bruce was pacing through the hallway upstairs deciding whom to wake first. Bruce had simple desires and didn't think much of the small things in life, but one small case he did savor was the crude awakening of the grunts. He was in charge of the new recruits and was responsible for grooming them into full members of the organization called the Armory. He continued to walk back and forth until an evil smile grew from his face.
"Let's start with the new recruit."
With a whistle in hand he flew the door open blowing the whistle with every bit of breath he had.
"Wake up flounder!"
"I'm already up sir!"
"What the…" Indeed he was awake, but it was even more than what Bruce expected; Emanuel was almost dressed, he was only missing a shirt, which he was ironing at the time.
"What are you doing up so early?"
"Well, I'm always up this early. To find time to prep myself I wake up at four. Why are you here?"
"Don't you know kid? You're not just here for me to baby sit, you're here to be trained for the Armory" Emanuel's eyes widened.
"And since you're up so early, why don't we get you to do some drills before everyone else wakes up." This wasn't a regular habit but Bruce couldn't lose the chance to torture one of his underlings early in the morning.
He had Emanuel follow him downstairs, behind the bookcase where another hallway leads with other rooms visible through glass pane walls, to what appeared to be a training room. For half an hour Bruce had him perform push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, and any other agonizing exercise he could think of. Bruce was a little disappointed to see how long it took Emanuel to finish the cycle of exercises, but it wasn't that Emanuel wasn't able to finish in a more timely manner, it was simply due to how often Emanuel would squirm into a new position to keep his clothes from touching the floor.
"Alright." Bruce said with a concerned sigh, "Go back to your room and change into something more, appropriate. You're gonna be doing a lot moving today and those clothes of yours are way too restrictive. You got that maggot?"
"Um? Yes sir?"
"Was that a question boy? Say it louder!"
"Yes sir!" Emanuel quickly darted to his room before Bruce began to follow behind.
"Geez, this kid is going to be difficult, but it does look like he might have some potential." Normally, after a new recruit went through his exercise session, there would be a puddle of sweat; strangely there was barely even a hint of a glaze from him after working out continually. Bruce then began down the hallway to wake the others up.
A loud screech sounded from Bruce's whistle, from a few of the rooms emerged the other recruits who moved slowly with groggy expression.
"Get moving kiddies, you gotta full day of drills ahead of you, now get to your first instructor. Oh Nallla, could you check on Emanuel? See if he's ready?"
A grimace expression twisted from her face.
"Got it Bruce." Inside, Emanuel was rushing to get a pair of jeans on and fell on his back, still struggling to get his pants on he didn't hear the knocks coming from his front door. Next the door flung open as Nallla called for him, that is, until she saw him on the floor with his pants halfway up.
"Ah." She was held speechless and her face turned red. "Hurry up and get yourself situated!" Then slammed the door shut. A few seconds later Emanuel crept out of his room to see Nallla waiting for him outside. Her face was still red.
"Come on before we're late."
"Where are we going?"
"Just follow and shut up!" He followed but kept his head low; his relationship with this girl was already sore from the night before, this morning's incident was only straining it further. They reached the hallway that Emanuel visited before but went into a different room this time. Inside there were four others already in their seats snickering. Towards the front of the room stood a rather tall woman who wore glasses and was dressed in thick brown leather pants, a long overcoat that would drag against the floor as she moved, long brown leather boots, and simple orange button up shirt underneath. Her brown hair was long but was straight, smooth, and somehow stayed behind her no matter how erratically she moved.
"Late I see? That's twice now Nallla, don't add a third."
"But it wasn't my fault it was…"
"Don't blame the new recruit, you know what happens when you're late, you should have made a more assertive attempt. Now take your seat." Nallla gave an angry huff and stared harshly at Emanuel for costing her another strike.
"Damn it. Wake up on time next time."
"But I…" Before he could finish Nallla turned and took her seat.
"So, you must be Emanuel, yes?"
"Well then, my name is Dragontail, Veronica Dragontail. It's quite nice to meet you."
"As it is to see you mam." Nallla groans at Emanuel's overly formal greeting, but he couldn't help himself. Whether emotional fragile or not, Emanuel would greet others with the utmost respect as his parents taught him.
"Now then, may I ask you why you are late?"
"Well I had to change for a second time, Bruce told me to wear something more active and-"
"Ah, so Bruce held you up did he? No doubt he used Nallla to do his dirty work."
"No, no. She just came to get me; it's my fault she's late. She stayed behind so she could direct me here."
"Is that so; well then Nallla, I'll let this one go, but be sure never to be late again. Clear?"
"Yes, yes ." Emanuel gave a sheepish smile to Nallla, hoping she would forgive him for the incident earlier. She let out a small sigh and rolled her eyes signaling that she did forgive him. She still seemed a bit cold towards him but this was a start.
"Well then, let me introduce you to everyone else here. In the back there is Roderick Mooncrest. Born in England and the son of the Lycan council representative William Mooncrest. "
"Pleasure to meet you ol' boy." Emanuel waved back at him to show that he acknowledged his wave but began to feel a chill of fear run down his spine. Roderick seemed approachable, he wore and old English sheepherder's cap with sports coat colored a warm summer brown with a green vest. Although he looked quite embellished his clothing on the lower half of his body seemed to fit a completely different class. He wore jeans that were ripped at the knees; his shoes were sneakers that were tattered and worn by age. His hair was uncombed and straggly.
"Um, excuse me? Did you say Lycan?"
"Why yes. What of it Emanuel?"
"Yeah, what of it you bloke?" Roderick said sternly.
"I didn't mean any offense but I never knew they were, well real."
"Not real, what do you mean? Don't you know… wait. How much of the magical world do you know?"
"Well, not much really. I only learned of this just yesterday. My mom Nadii, and my father Jonathon, just left me here without any regards as to how I felt, let alone how much I knew"
"Ohhhh. I see now. Class, Emanuel Taft here is the son of the Jonathon Taft, the current Ancient of old." Veronica explained.
"No way" the class began to hum with comments floating back in forth.
"You see class, Jonathon and Nadii were said to have kept their son in the dark of the magical world, that's why no one has ever seen him before. Well then, let me inform you of the magic realms history. There are seven species of life that govern this world. One is the Human race; they have the shortest life span of all the species but also populate the earth more than any other species. The humankind also seems to be the inventors of technology but aren't that well versed in magic. Only a small number truly know about magic and how to use it. The second race is the Lycan race; they control most northern lands, near colder climates. The third is the Vampire race, known mostly in Europe, they decided it was best to remain close to home but they are consulted in a wide majority of the world. Fourth is the Elven race, they don't have any particular region of the world but they do have jurisdiction over widely forested areas. Fifth is Gravler race. This race has a wide expansion of forms. Some are known as trolls while others are known as goblins; there are even Orcs that are included in this race. I in fact am of the Orc descendant. We, like the elves have, no true home of origin but we prefer to remain near mountainous regions. Lastly is the Merfolk race. They obviously have jurisdiction of the sea. Now, to keep all the species in coherence, the Armory was created to unite all species and keep the peace, they are the law and all must abide by their ruling. It works by having a representative of each race to give their people's opinions on topics at the time. Now as for all this, the council recently decided it was best to create a new council ready for when the current council decides to step down; they believe they are losing touch with today's age. But before that, they want them to be groomed in the studies of magic, combat, and government, for it is up to you to decide how this world should be governed."
"What about the seventh race?"
"Oh yes, the seventh race. That race is known as the Ancient race. It's said that this race was the first race that all other races descended from. They remain pure to the beginning of what magic was. They are known to be incredibly powerful, so much so that they could easily upset the balance of the world. However they are tied to their conscience and see to prevail among the side of good. Sadly there are only a few left, those of the pure bloodline. To keep it alive they are forced to remain in the Armory where they can be kept under surveillance. Your father is council representative of the Ancient's race. That's why you're here dear boy. Once we get you to understand your abilities you'll never have fear of anyone." The room's attention was solely focused on Emanuel, even Nallla stared hard at him in disbelief.
"Continuing with the introduction everyone, Roderick is from the Lycan race succeeding his father William Mooncrest, as I stated beore. In front of him is Madeline Templeston; she is the daughter Catherine Templeston, the council member of Vampire race. She is from Transylvania."
"Nice to meet you Ma-nue-l." She pronounced his name slowly and somewhat sensually. Her hair was black with purple dyed edges with two extruded bangs on the front. The rest of her hair was cut short in the back. She wore a black sweater that had sleeves extending past her wrist and hung from her hands. Her ears were pierced several times with decorative silver rings with small figurines on each. She wore a plaid skirt with red and black leggings, and her face, though covered in makeup, was slender, pale, and beautiful all at once. It wasn't any wonder she was so daring; both her beauty and her frightening decor stunned most boys she approached.
"Well don't start drooling now." Nallla stated.
"Next is Bigorra Nylo born from Israel, she was hand picked by the council member Bella Astra. She's not related by blood but was always at the top of her class for her magic potential."
"Pleasure, I'm sure." She too was beautiful, but in an odd way. She wore glasses despite her eyes were perfectly fine. Her skin was a vibrant but mellow shade of brown. She wore overalls with short leggings matched with a white-collar shirt with a red tie. She wore long socks that covered her calf; lastly she had a paperboy cap to top it off. Her whole ensemble looked of a different era.
"And in the front is Salvador Dredgepool, a troll from Dominica; he won a competition of Groveler tradition to be the successor of the Graveling race's rep. Dominick Brunswick. But he doesn't seem to talk much though." He sat with his hands folded parallel to his face. His hair was a beautiful shade of black that gleamed as the light shined on it. He was a golden brown and had dazzling eyes. He wore a simple yellow t-shirt with black chords. His clothing wasn't anything outlandish.
"And you already know Nallla Viathon of the Merfolk race. She won a tournament against one hundred ninety nine other competitors. She will be succeeding Teemah Triton. No doubt she had excellent training from Bruce." She remained silent and kept her eyes away from his.
"What about the human race? Isn't there's just late like I was?"
" Well there is but they are never allowed to participate with the other races, the high council decided ages ago that the human race should stay out of the affairs unless necessary, to keep the larger population from ever knowing. Now that the introductions are taken care of, let's proceed with today's lesson on 'Magic Classing.' There are five basic types of magic. Today we will be learning the most basic type, 'Assisting' magic. This magic is used to simplify everyday tasks. I'll be teaching a simple erosion spell. Now the key is…"
"Excuse me ." Bigorra interrupted. "I don't think Emanuel knows how to cast any magic."
"Ah! Good point Bigorra, thank you for reminding me." She turned her attention onto Emanuel. "You're really taking time out of my class Mr. Taft, but what are we going to do. Well then, there are five classes of magic for appropriate purposes such as Offensive, Defensive, Summoning, Enchanting, and Assisting. The most basic magic is assisting, even a new born can learn such simple magic."
"Then…"Emanuel began, "Why does Bigorra need to take this class? Wasn't she chosen for her expertise in magic?"
"Yes, but for the others who aren't well endowed in magic, it's best to have some one who can assist them in the learning process. For now I'm just teaching simple cleaning spells." Emanuel's eyes widened upon the utter of the word. For a child who was paranoid with the cleanliness and neatness of everything, this spell seemed like the equivalent of the Holy Grail; no doubt it was the most uplifting moment while here.
"The most important thing to know about magic is that it is interpreted differently by each person. Some perform magic by chanting spells, others use runic symbols. Then there are those who can perform magic without any incantations. There are only a few out there who have this gift. I myself had to train through rigorous exercises just to achieve it; Bigorra on the other hand was a child prodigy and was able to do so from a young age of three. So for you to find your magic you simply have to find your connection and explore your understanding until you have an honest connection." Veronica looked towards the clock and grew a snarled expression. "Oh bother, I spent the whole time with this and didn't give it a second thought. Oh well. Bigorra."
"Could you tutor Mr. Taft for me. I would really hate loosing class going over basics."
Roderick and Madeline snickered as they left the room. Seeing that the whole class time was wasted on a "grunt", which didn't even know the very basics of magic was amusing to them. Nallla remained silent and unsurprised then continued out the classroom. Emanuel waited for the others to leave to hide his embarrassment. He began towards the doorway where Bigorra stood to what seemed to be waiting and looked in question for her reason.
"I'm sure you're a little embarrassed by this but don't let it get you down. I'm sure Nallla didn't consider much of it." Emanuel stared hard at her.
"Why would that matter?"
"Well, it seems that you two hit it off earlier. She doesn't normally talk to anyone until she's gained their trust. You could say you're special." Emanuel began to blush, and here he thought himself lesser than an insect to her; he also found himself confused as to why he tried so hard to gain her affection. He wasn't attracted to her, but he felt less of a person when she looked at him in disgust. It was strange for him to care for another person's thoughts, as he was never concerned with their opinion since he was going to be leaving soon anyway, but then again that may have been the very difference between her and them; he wasn't going to be going anywhere soon. She, unlike them, had also assisted him. It may not have been her choice, but she seemed sincere. Emanuel stared down at the floor deep in thought until Bigorra stared at him in amusement. "Any way, I'll see you this afternoon after the classes. Be ready, because I do detest the unprepared, and I won't repeat myself. I do so hate slow learners; and try not to let Nallla see you blushing, you may have gained her liking but she is fickle, especially with those who blush."
Again through the hallway they tracked into a different room. This one was pristine with intricate novelty items of the sort. There were no seats, only open spaces on the floor that wasn't occupied by an artifact of strange nature. A short scruffy older gentleman wearing clothes of prestigious title stood dusting his sleeves of dust that surely came from his vast collection.
"Sit, sit young ones. There is always room in here for you all. Ah, you there. You must be Emanuel. I've been expecting you." His voice was of Irish blood that swayed with a hint of melody. His demeanor looked the part of a professor of a school abroad. "Now then, I'm sure introduced you to everyone, and like wise everyone to you. What all have you learned so far dear boy?"
"I'm afraid not much sir. It seemed that my presence drew much of the class time."
"Did it now." His stare became more intrigued with Emanuel. "My, my, you have quite the grammar skills. Tell me, what schools have you attended so far."
"Well, after visiting so many, they seemed to lose their imprint in my memory. Although one school I do recall was Sparrow Grove Academy." The man gasped in astonishment, likewise a few heads turned in surprise.
"My word boy, you attended Sparrow Grove? I must say you are quite the bright one aren't you. Well then, you shouldn't have any trouble catching up in my class." Both Bigorra and Nallla seemed quite astonished and peevish. Bigorra had always remained in the limelight for her academic achievements but never had she been recognized by Sparrow Grove Academy. Sparrow Grove was one of the most highly acknowledged schools abroad for both magic creature and human alike, maintaining a strict policy of no magic and appearances hidden. Only a select few were ever chosen for such an honor. Nallla however was becoming more and more fed up with Emanuel. From the day he stepped forward it seemed a red carpet was laid for his feet to tread and it was quite sickening to her, though she still felt some sympathy as he reminder her of herself in few ways.
"Where are my manners? My name is Donald Corduroy. My specialty resides within government, mythology, archeology, and foreign affairs. I once served as a diplomat between the Vampire and Lycans dispute, of course you wouldn't know of it since you've been held blind from the magic world. Anyhow, today we are learning of ogham mythology of the hill giant species. Tell me, have any of you ever heard Granite Oak?"
"Yes. I have Mr. Corduroy." Bigorra began. "It was said that a giant named Toothjagger, called onto the earth mother Grudell, to make him the strongest giant of all. She responded by bringing forth a tree grown of granite. It would bare fruit of stone that only a giant of noble intent could devour. Toothjagger, however, was selfish and desperately wanted his tribe chief's daughter. Apparently the only way to gain her hand in marriage was to beat Bunderstone, the other giant wanting her hand, in a rock boulder-throwing contest. Toothjagger took one of the stone fruit and waited until the day of the competition to eat it. When the day came, he ate the fruit before the match began. Instead of being able to eat the fruit, his teeth shattered and his gums bled. Unable to compete due to his pain, Bunderstone won the chief's daughter instead. This later led to the stone apple as a insult to any giant who brought shame to himself."
"Well done. Bigorra."
"Uhm, I hate to interrupt but that wasn't completely right."
"Pardon Mr. Taft?"
"Well, for the most part the story was right but there were a few parts that were incorrect."
"How so Mr. Taft?" he said with intrigue.
"Well, Grudell wasn't the earth mother, she was the chief's daughter, whom grew the tree. She was a shaman who grew the tree. She was said to be able to hear the voice of the earth 'Father' Marrow. Toothjagger and Bunderstone did compete in a throwing contest of boulders, but Toothjagger won. He cheated by hollowing his stone before throwing it using magic. The fruit broke his tooth revealing him as a fraud by cheating. That was how Bunderstone took Grudell's hand in marriage. The term that brings shame to giants, is the term 'Toothjagger.' The apple was actually a sign of nobility."
"Was it now. That's… absolutely correct Mr. Taft. Looks like you'll do quite well in this class."
Bigorra was now staring fearfully intently at Emanuel.
The class ended and the students were permitted a lunch break to leisure as they wished. Emanuel took some time to study the floor plan of the building. Unknowingly, Emanuel was being followed by Bigorra.
"Hey Emanuel." He jumped in surprise. " Oh, I'm sorry if I startled you."
"It's no problem." Emanuel laughed trying to play it off. "Did you need something?"
"Well, didn't necessarily need as more as I wanted. How do you know about mythology of the magic world?"
"After traveling to so many schools, I assume that some of them had to also teach humans and magical creatures alike. I didn't really take notice but it would explain a lot." Remembering back now, he remembered fondly of a few students who had questionable diets for lunch and how so many students who were injured seriously returned to school only a few days later unscathed. "A lot of the school had mythology classes and I soon took interest. So I guess I have some knowledge about things of that nature."
"Really. You know, you're becoming quite interesting. You mind coming with me to my room?" He began to blush. This wasn't the first time he was invited into a girl's room, but the last time he had was several years ago by Melinda and it hadn't the same significance as a teenage girl inviting you.
"N-No, not at all." As they came back to the main corridor, Nallla sat in the corridor eating what seemed to be calamari. Normally she wouldn't pay any mind but hearing both Emanuel and Bigorra's voices seemed to peak her interest. As Emanuel passed the corridor to transverse the steps, Nallla peered from behind her chair and spotted him blushing. She paused then returned to her meal. She chewed slower and slower until her chewing came to a complete stop.
"I think I lost my appetite."
"Well, this is my room." Bigorra opened the door to a room filled with a wide assortment of paraphernalia and other fashionable clothing, (granted, it wasn't messy.) Emanuel walked in a mouth agape looking scale to scale of the room.
"How did you manage to get all of this?"
"Well, I was always interested in the human world. Ever since I was five I collected several things from the human world. My parents were genuine antique salesman. It wasn't that lavish a profession but it was never dull." Her eyes began to droll off into sweet memory. Let's not drift into the past, I wanted to ask you. What was the experience like at Sparrow Grove?"
"Quite to the point aren't you. Well, what could I say? It was truly lavish a school but it lacked something."
" What do you mean?" Her voice became defensive.
"It had everything academically but it never felt like, like…"
"The word he's looking for is natural." Nallla interrupted.
"Oh, why hello Nallla. What brings you here?"
"Bruce told me to tell you that lunch break's over in five."
"Thank you." Bigorra's tone was calm and collected, but the quickness in her reply said 'get out.' Nallla nodded her head then slowly closed the door. "Well then, what should we do now? Oh wait, asked me to help you with your magic didn't she? Then let's begin with the basics." As she spoke she receded to the floor then patted to floor for Emanuel to follow suit. "Now, give me your hands." He did as told. "You should start to feel something."
"Give it a moment." Emanuel sat while waiting for something to happen.
"Am I suppose…" His lip held firm. His eyes stared in horror, fear, excitement, and anticipation. " What, what was that?"
"That is the feel of magic. To… begin to learn magic, you have to know its embrace. I allowed some of mine to flow into you. To call upon magic, you first need to know why you want to, the sensation, it's life. Without it you simply make failed attempts. Now" she continued. "Remember that spark, try to imagine it in your hand. This was how my mother taught me; it's an Elven trick we practice. Just try to think of how you felt, if you can't just imagine it, use words to or images that relate to that feeling, it's what shows your magic potential."
Emanuel narrowed his eyes and began to think deeply on a past memory. "Now you should try to…" In Emanuel's hand sat a twirling steaming blue liquid ball of light. "How?" She gasped. "You shouldn't have been able to do that for at least another three days, this was just supposed to be an exercise."
"To be honest, this isn't this first time I've done this."
"You've done this before? You've performed magic… before?"
"Well, I wouldn't say perform. It's just I remembered that sensation of magic before and did the same thing, only… it wasn't by accident."
"It was a very long time ago. It was when I moved to a new town for the first time. My first friend Melinda gave me some magic rocks, or at least that was what we pretended them to be. My father took a look at them and said that they could make a small wish come true. When he gave them back there was a similar feeling as the one a few moments ago. When I made a wish, a glow appeared, though it wasn't a bright as this one. I guess I just acted on muscle memory and did the same thing as last time."
"Really?" Her voice was heavy with disgruntled emotions of jealousy. For she had spent a good portion of her childhood just to be able to call upon magic. Though it came more naturally to her than most, the time it took Emanuel was almost godly, especially because it was on a mere whim for him to summon his. DING-DING, the bell rang. "I guess it's time for our next class."