The Heir of the Dragon
Eve sat up, her eyes adjusting to the darkness. It was early… or late, depending. She got out of bed and prepared herself for the day. Careful to step as quietly as possible so as not to wake her roommates, she prepared a bit of magic that would let her go undetected. While using magic on other students and members of the faculty without the express permission of a teacher came with grave consequences, Eve wasn’t planning on doing anything harmful. Just a simple spell… a spell to conceal herself from sight.
“Eve! Why are you up this early? Were you that excited to play with me?!”
The loud voice in Eve’s ear belonged to her friend, Levi. The short girl hovered in the air above Eve’s shoulder, staring down at her with shiny green eyes. It was fortunate that no one could see the thought-projected demon but Eve, because one glance at the emerald-green hair and scaly clothes would make her human “disguise” fall apart in a second. Still, Eve supposed it was better than a serpent the size of a castle crammed into her bedroom.
Her voice concealed from her roommates, Eve said “no, I have a meeting to attend.”
“Aww…” Levi’s face fell and she sank towards the floor. Eve sighed.
“…Perhaps we can play afterwards.”
Keeping the incarnation of envy happy was a full-time task, as much as Eve might have enjoyed her company.
Walking to the other side of the room, she changed her clothes in the dark. This would not be noticed by her roommates either. Josie was still fast asleep, snoring away, and as usual, Meghra was silent and still as a grave. With the illusion she casted, even if they were to open their eyes and take a look, they would see nothing but a dark room, and Eve fast asleep in bed, snoring away.
Eve walked over to the large wardrobe all three girls shared, her eyes scanning past Meghra’s paint-covered smocks and Josie’s torn-up shirts to land on her own casual clothes, dress upon dress of midnight black. Using her magic, she could make it appear as though she as wearing whatever sort of clothes that she wanted, but the greatest of illusions cast on others wouldn’t make the non-existent cloth sticking to her flesh any warmer. And even though it was still summertime, it was rather chilly in the drafty old castle. In fact, Eve decided to throw on a jacket before slipping out, adjusting her illusion so no one would notice her disappearance.
It wasn’t until she was quite a distance away from the dorms that Eve could breathe easily. Free and clear, there was nothing to bother her besides the inky blackness around her and Levi’s occasional outbursts about something she hadn’t encountered before.
“Eve! This is just like the castle back home!”
Yes, Levi, I noticed that myself, you don’t need to point out everything to me; can I please have some peace and quiet? Eve held her tongue, knowing Levi cold be set off by anything. She didn’t want her friend to get all mopey.
In spite of Levi’s exclamations, Eve doubted how much of the castle she could actually see. After all, as an illusory spirit, her senses were shared with Eve, and Eve couldn’t see her hand in front of her face. Fortunately, she had been at the Rem Magic Academy for 10 days now, and in that time she had memorized the layout of the castle and its many halls and rooms. Her magic made her exceptional memory an asset. She could walk this path with her eyes closed, or even in her sleep, as apparently Chloe Bellajean was capable of doing.
Eve walked out into a corridor with windows so wide it was practically a balcony. It was lighter outside, the stars twinkling overhead and the moon high in the sky, shining down on her and reminding Eve of home. Eve slowed down, running her hand along the stone windowsill, taking her time for a nice, leisurely stroll. Levi must have been feeling charitable, allowing her a moment of quiet instead of being her usual needy self. Eve wondered how long she would have to wait before-
“Out for a walk?” A soft whisper touched her ear. While the disembodied voice may have unnerved another girl, Eve was used to it. Spending one’s days accompanied by a cluster of women no one else could see made things like this a common occurrence. And a welcome one at that, hearing her master’s voice always made her smile. She turned to greet him, but behind her there was nothing but air, and a confused Levi, staring back at her.
Eve sighed. Of course she wouldn’t be able to see him. Her master had taught her everything she knew about illusions and the magic of the mind. He was standing right in front of her, no doubt, but she couldn’t see him, or hear him, and even when she reached her hand forward to feel the air, she could be touching him and she would just never know.
“Just enjoying the night with a good friend,” Eve replied, turning and staring out at the starry sky. “The night always reminds me of home.”
Levi’s expression brightened. “Master is here? Where? Master! Master?” Like a dog seeking treats, Levi began looking around eagerly for some trace of the illusionist. Eve had to chuckle at the thought. Levi was elsewhere, home in Tartarus, but she could see the demon girl as clear as the rising sun. And her master, who was here in person, left not even a trace of his presence.
“Yes, Levi, I’m here, don’t worry. Though would you mind? I wish to speak to my student in private.” His tone of voice was kind as he addressed the girls, but it was still a tone that issued an order, rather than making a request.
“Eve? But master, I’m right here! I want some attention, too!” Levi demanded, turning and leveling her green eyes on the blonde who had named her a friend seconds earlier and hissing. Eve didn’t take it personally, Levi and envy went hand in hand.
“Don’t worry Levi, I’ll be sure to summon you for the whole day tomorrow,” Eve’s master assured her. Levi’s face lit up and she nodded eagerly, quickly disappearing into the nothingness Eve had crafted her form out of.
Eve waited silently for her master to turn his attention back to her. It was not her place to speak out of turn.
“I’m surprised Eve, most who speak of Tartarus don’t do so with fond memories,” her master finally addressed her again. He wasn’t wrong, but Eve was the exception. She still remembered Tartarus with warmth in her breast, even though she was now in Saekoria. If not for Levi and the others to remind her of home…
“Tartarus is my home,” she murmured. “Even though we’re here, nothing will change where I’m from.”
“Then you’re adjusting properly?” Her invisible master asked her. “I do hope you’re keeping up with your studies and listening to your professors.”
Eve resisted the urge to laugh, keeping her face the same impassive mask she had been trained to make her entire life. She didn’t bother turning away from the window when she spoke to her master next, telling him “yes, compared to your teachings, these classes are quite basic and easy to understand.”
“I didn’t ask you to come to this school just so you could attend classes, I hope you remember.”
“Of course, master, I’m working diligently.”
“Then you’ve spoken with him? Blake Harker?” The strong tone in her master’s voice reminded her of the importance of this, even if her master himself did not. She nodded her head.
“He seems like a normal boy.”
“He is, compared to someone like you. But that magic of his, those dragon eggs, they’re something quite important, I hope you realize. We can’t just have them fall into the wrong hands. If he trusts his cohort then he will be less influenced by those outside of it. How have your efforts been in getting close to him?”
“I would not describe them as fruitful,” Eve sighed. “Calling him antisocial would be doing a great disservice to those of us who take pride in our antisocial behaviors. At first many students wanted to talk to him, but he rebuffed them at every opportunity. Now, practically no one in the cohort will even speak to him.”
“After what he went through, it makes sense that he keeps others at a distance,” her master mused. As he spoke so thoughtfully, Eve pictured him stroking his chin in contemplation with that wry smile of his, the way he always did before he came up with an idea. “That being said, he is still a teenage boy going through all the developments a teenage boy goes through. If he were to fall for someone, it might help him to open up to other members of your cohort.”
Eve didn’t like the direction this was going, and showed her disdain with a scowl. “I’m not going to seduce him.” Just the thought of doing those sorts of things with a boy sent a wave of revulsion through her stomach.
“I would never ask that! It doesn’t have to be you,” he assured her. Eve sighed in relief. “But he might be enamored with someone else. Are there any girls in your cohort who he seems to be close with? Or boys, even?”
“No.” Forget girls, there didn’t seem to be anyone in his cohort he got along with at all. “There is one girl, Elaindra. She sits next to him. They talk sometimes. But I wouldn’t say she’s a good choice for getting him to open up.”
“Elaindra… is she an elf?”
“Half,” Eve corrected him. “That’s the issue. There’s another girl, Sabine. She and her friends have been harassing Elly for the past few days, bullying her for being part elf. She seemed shy to begin with, but now she’s become a near-complete outcast from the rest of the cohort. She still has a few friends, but if you wish to draw Blake into the rest of the cohort, I don’t think she’ll be a good fit.”
Sabine was a problem all to herself. Between her and the prince, the cohort had taken on an air of tension. From what she had overheard, it seemed that this was happening in all the first year classes. The excitement of being at school had started to fade, and now friend groups were being formed, hierarchies established. Those of noble birth, like Sabine, Audrey, and Lancelus, had formed their own groups. Meanwhile, commoners had begun to form their own groups as well. No one said anything, but it was obvious.
Blake was an odd case in that respect. He was a noble, from the house of an archduke. But it was a fallen house, and thus he wasn’t really much better than a commoner. He was an outsider, who was making friends with exactly nobody, noble or common.
Eve was about to explain the social situation she had been considering, when her master spoke.
“Pity. Well, continue your observations then. It would be troublesome if you were to alienate yourself from him, so I’ll ask you not to interact with him more than absolutely necessary. It looks more and more like this is something that will take time to accomplish.”
“Yes, sir,” Eve nodded. “One other thing. It may be nothing, but there is another girl.”
“Someone else from your cohort?”
“No. Reed Rivers. She’s a Sky Crest Scholar in her third year.”
“I’ve heard of her. Why do you bring her up?”
“She’s been speaking with Blake. She seems to be interested in him. I’ve eavesdropped on their conversations a few times. He doesn’t seem to be receptive of her advances, but she talks about dragons with him.”
“…I see. And you’re suspicious of her?”
“Rivers is not easy to read. She may just be trying to befriend him. Or she might be trying to get close to him in order to take the dragon eggs. I’ve been vigilant because she appears to be getting more forward with him.”
“If you think you should watch out for her, then do it.” Eve smiled at his confidence in her judgment. That was exactly what she was planning on doing in the first place.
“I’ll do my best to watch out for Blake and try to see if I can get closer to him without raising suspicion. Or, failing that, get him to open up more with his cohort. You can trust in me, master.”
“I’m sure that I can. And what about you?”
Eve paused to consider what he had just asked. “What do you mean?”
“How are you adjusting to your cohort? Are you making any friends?”
“No, master, as you said, my duty is to get close to Blake Harker. Making friends is-”
The sternness in her master’s voice caused her to flinch, standing a little more upright. She responded with a shaky “yes?”
“I didn’t just send you here to watch over Blake. I want you to live the school life you deserve to live.”
“And I need friends for that?”
“Don’t you want any?”
Eve hadn’t given it any thought. Back home, she had her master and all the friends she made through him. She thought of Levi and her jealous fits. Luci, and her haughty air, the perpetually pissed off Sati, the others… “Do I not have enough friends already?”
“We’re your family, Eve, but you deserve the chance to make friends your own age. Friends that are a little more… tangible. People who will make the time you spend here something worth remembering. It isn’t something to be dismissed so readily.”
“If your wish is for me to find friends here then I shall,” Eve agreed. She still could not see what value there was to be gained from it, but if master said so then it must be important. She waited anxiously for him to respond, wondering what he was thinking about in the silence that echoed around her. She swallowed, and followed up her initial acquiescence by asking “is that acceptable, master?”
“…I suppose it’s a start.” She could hear the sigh in his voice, and it made her even more anxious. Had she said something wrong?
“Master, if there is anything I may have said to worry you, then please, allow me to correct my actions!” She pleaded. She hadn’t meant her voice to sound so desperate, but whenever she thought she might have disappointed him she went right back to being that hungry little girl he’d picked up off the street.
Eve clenched her fists tightly to stop herself from shaking. But it was a gentle touch on her shoulder that relieved the pressure in her breast. She couldn’t see her master’s hand, but he had let her feel the warmth of it. The worry drained from her lips in a sigh.
“You don’t need to worry,” her master’s voice assured her. “I was only concerned for you. Do your best at making friends. The rest, you’ll figure out for yourself.”
Eve still wasn’t sure, but she trusted her master’s words. She nodded and smiled at where she thought he was, to show that she was ready to do as he asked. The sensation on her shoulder disappeared, and she knew her master was gone.
“Now get back to bed,” his voice carried to her on the wind, “good girls shouldn’t be up at this hour.”
“Yes, master!” Eve said, nodding. She wrapped herself in illusion and ran back to her room, her heart soaring. Her master was counting on her, and that made her feel lighter than air.
Eve walked into her classroom that morning with a plan forming in her head. She was not sure yet how to improve Blake’s standing in the class or how to get closer to him, so she was focusing on the part of her master’s instructions that she could accomplish - herself. Her master wanted her to make friends, so today she would work on making friends.
If only her companion for the day hadn’t been among the worst of demons for the task.
“Why do you need to make friends, Eve?!” Levi growled. She had been pouting all morning. “I’m here! Are you telling me I’m not enough?! What can I do, what?! Those stupid warmbloods are nothing compared to a demon of my caliber!”
It had been HOURS of this. Not that the others would necessarily have been better. Luci would have treated them with scorn, explaining how each one wasn’t up to Eve’s standards, and Asmo would have been drooling over them, telling her which ones she thought Eve should…
Levi was one of the better options, all things considered. She was just loud.
Taking her seat, she surveyed the rest of the class. There were 28 potential candidates for her friendship. Some, she could dismiss readily. She had no interest in being friends with any of the boys. Doing so this early would draw attention and revolting rumors that she would prefer to avoid, so that cut the number in half.
Chloe Bellajean could not stay awake long enough to hold a conversation, let alone form a friendship, so she was out.
The shy, reserved Elly was dismissed for similar reasons.
Eve’s roommates Josie and Meghra seemed like viable choices, but the two dark-haired girls would be more vigilant around her if they were her friends, and that could make sneaking out more difficult. No, the friends she would have to make would need to be girls that she only spent time with in class.
So that left 10. Audrey Angelique and Nina Marslow were her first choices. The stern and gorgeous Audrey had already earned herself the nickname “Red-Eyed Silver Queen” for her imperious aura, capturing the attention of everyone around her.
But Nina was even more of a star than she was. Her skin was flawless and the way her layered hair framed her heart-shaped face made it nearly impossible for Eve not to stare. The feline ears that twitched occasionally and her swishing tail gave her an exotic allure that, combined with her stunning beauty and curvaceous figure had attracted not only Eve, but most of the boys in their year.
While Eve would have loved an excuse to talk with either girl, neither would be suitable for her purposes. They drew too much attention, and if Eve found herself mixed in with them, it would make her duties to her master difficult. And besides… they were nobles, daughters of an archduke and a count, respectively. As a commoner, how could Eve get close?
Amy Esterwind? She was a friendly sort, one of the commoners like herself, and would probably be open to it.
Caelia Auburn? The stoic brunette behaved similarly in class as Eve, polite and yet distant. Another possibility.
As class went on, Eve ignored the lesson, devoting her thoughts to more pressing matters. She weighed the different girls in terms of their value as potential friends, and ended up sorting into two potential groups.
Wendy and Melody were one group, both girls were studious types, with Wendy being a rather active class participant in contrast to the more reserved Melody. A friendship with them came with the added bonus of getting closer to their roommate, Elly, which Eve might then be able to leverage into getting closer to Blake.
The other option was to make friends with Sabine Scarlet and her friends.
Sabine certainly had more value to her as a friend. But she was somewhat of a challenge. Sabine was the kind of girl who only associated with people of a certain social standing, and Eve was far from it. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. In fact, it was almost a necessity. From what she’d observed, Sabine Scarlet had a connection with Blake Harker. It made sense. The Scarlet family had once been a vassal family of the Harkers. And though they had fallen far when the Harker family fell, Sabine probably knew more about Blake, his family, and the dragons, than any other girl in the room.
Sabine was the best option, as unappealing as she might have been.