Chapter 34:

Chapter 34: An Uneasy Team (Blake)

The Heir of the Dragon

Blake awoke from his bed still as frustrated as he was the night before. He felt so empty. In Saturday’s Chess Game he had come so close to achieving victory for his team, the King had been right there, and he would have the chance to strike him down.

But before he could reach him, Caelia Auburn had interfered! She’d smashed the King’s orica with her arrow, denying him his prize! He wanted to scream at her, but he’d held his tongue. As infuriating as it may have been, he knew that she was just following the rules of the game.

Blake should have been glad. He should have been celebrating the victory with the rest of his cohort. But instead he’d gone to bed early.

For Blake, who hadn’t done anything worth celebrating, what would even be the point in joining their little party?

Blake clutched Soulfire’s hilt as he tucked it into place on his back. It burned hot in his hands. It would be different today. Today, he was going to find their King, that blonde punk, and beat him down. And maybe his twin, too, if he was lucky. It would be the best measure of his abilities.

Blake left his dragon eggs in the care of Professor Darkflame, the only person on campus he trusted he could leave them with, and headed for the stadium. If the professor had wanted to steal them, he could have done it that day when they had met, on the farm. Reed Rivers was obviously not an option, the less he saw of her, the better.

“Blake!” The ring of her bell-like voice made him flinch. Blake ground his teeth. Why couldn’t she just leave him alone?

Hoping she would go away if he ignored her, Blake continued to walk towards the stadium. But he really should have realized by this point that ignoring Reed didn’t do any good.

“Hey! Blake, come on!” Reed skipped up beside him. “Aren’t you excited for today? After your victory in the last game, if you guys win today-“

“Reed,” Blake snapped, filling his glare with as much anger as he could muster, “I thought I told you that I wanted you to leave me alone!” It was all he could do to refrain from shouting at her. Couldn’t she take the hint?!

Reed opened her mouth to say something, but then shut it, her face twisting into a wry smile that looked almost sad.

“Well, I’ll leave you to it, then,” she said, giving him a wave as she walked ahead. “Good luck, Blake.”

Blake ignored the stab in his chest and entered the stadium. I don’t have any connection with her anymore. Just focus on what’s important, not some annoying girl who only cares about dragons.

Blake’s mood had not improved by the time the game began. In fact, it had only gotten worse. The prince had insisted that Blake couldn’t go off and fight on his own this game. He’d said that it was because Blake had cost them points by taking out Pawns in the previous game, but Blake knew it was the prince’s way of punishing him because of some petty, spiteful vendetta.

If not, then he wouldn’t have forced him to work with Sabine Scarlet of all people. Blake couldn’t even look Sabine’s way without wanting to strike her across her haughty face. If not for Amy’s presence rounding out the trio with her positive attitude calming the tension, he just might have hit the redheaded bully.

It didn’t help that Sabine was being particularly insufferable this morning. The three of them had been transported into the center of a long hallway less than two seconds ago, and she had already started talking herself up.

“It’s only fitting,” she snootily preened, “that someone of my level be taking an active role in the final match!” She shot a sideways glance at Amy and pinched her nose. “But why must I be paired with a girl who reeks of sweat?”

“Sabine, drop it,” Blake snarled.

“All I’m doing is stating the truth,” Sabine scowled, pinching her nose. “Are you simply allergic to bath soaps? Is that it?”

Sabine!” That was it, Blake was done with her. But before he could shout her down, Amy interjected with laugh.

“What’s the big deal?” Amy shrugged, unfazed by Sabine’s harsh words. “I mean, I’m clean enough, I just took a bath last week.”

Okay, that was kind of pushing it. Blake gave her a look, while Sabine made a face like she was going to throw up.

Then, a flash from Amy’s orica brought the conversation to an end. She checked it.

“Pawns,” Amy whispered, turning to glance down the hall. “Two of them!”

Finally! A chance to get some action! Blake reached for the sword on his back, but Amy held her arm out to stop him.

“Hey, what are you-?!” Blake growled at her, enraged that she was getting in his way.

“They’re Pawns,” Sabine snapped. “If you knock them out, then we’ll lose points!” She flicked her hair over her shoulder. “Leave it to someone of my-“

“High Dash!” Amy shouted, her legs glowing with energy for a moment. She shot down the hall, practically running along the walls as she leapt up, bringing down her leg on the first Pawn to turn the corner and slamming him down into the ground. She landed on the ground and swung her leg out, sweeping the other Pawn off her feet.


“My back…”

The two Pawns groaned in pain, caught off-guard by Amy’s blitz attack. Before they could respond and strike back with their own magic, Amy shattered their orica with some well-placed kicks, sending the Pawns back.

Sabine, interrupted mid-sentence, just stood there with her mouth open.

“Not so nice to have your target snatched from you, huh?” Blake scoffed, shoving past her. “Come on, Amy, track down some pieces that aren’t Pawns next.”

“Why in the hells are you in such a bad mood, Blake?” Sabine scowled over her shoulder at Blake. “We’re up by 10 points you know, you should be happy!”

Blake glared back at her. “I’m not here to be sociable,” he growled. “And certainly not with you.” Over the last few hours, Sabine’s mouth just would not close. It was starting to seriously piss him off. “Why don’t you just keep your mouth shut, and fight. That’s all you’re here for anyway!”

Sabine narrowed her eyes into a glare and whirled around, her hair nearly striking Blake in the face. She jammed her finger into his chest. “Listen up, buddy, I’m getting real sick of this attitude of yours! What the hell The hells is your problem?! Don’t blame me for the fact that you screwed up yesterday and the prince ordered us to work with you!”

“You think that’s what this is about?” Blake snarled, reaching for Soulfire. “I’m not mad at you for being my babysitter, right now I’m trying as hard as I can to not wring your throat over what you did to Elly!”

“That was an accident!” Sabine shouted, stomping her foot on the tile. Her hair flared up with rage.

“And the weeks of bullying, the name-calling, ear-pulling, were those just ‘accidents’ too?” Blake demanded, Sabine baulking for a moment. Seeing the hesitation on her face, he pressed forward. “Do you think you’ve gotten some reprieve because of that whole mess with inquiry? Well sorry, Elly might be the kind of person who tries to move past shit like that, but from where I’m standing you haven’t paid NEARLY enough for what you did!”

Sabine snarled at Blake, and he could see that she wanted to shout back at him. Her hair was practically ablaze with rage. And right now, he was half-willing to give her a fight is she wanted one. He may have started avoiding Elly just as he was avoiding Reed, but the anger he’d built up prior was still looking for an outlet, and Sabine was a particularly juicy one.

“Hey, come on now, guys, this isn’t the time!” Amy stepped between the two of them, smiling brightly. She kept trying to play peacemaker, but Blake wasn’t exactly interested in peace at the moment.

“Don’t worry, Amy, we don’t have any use for a Pawn like her,” Blake said icily, glaring over Amy’s shoulder at the redheaded bitch. “I’ll get her out of our way and then we can keep going.”

“This temper is exactly the reason why the prince had me come along to babysit you,” Sabine jeered at him. “To make sure you don’t get out of control and do something reckless.”

That was fucking it. He wasn’t going to sit here and let Sabine Scarlet of all people talk down to him like that!

“You fucking bitch!” Blake shouted, lunging at her. But he couldn’t get to her, because Amy had her arms wrapped tightly around his waist, holding him back.

“Not! Now!” Amy wailed, her pleas almost enough to convince Blake to back down. But right now he just wanted to throttle the bitch.

“’Bitch’?” Sabine growled. “I’m not going to take that from some brat who wailed like a baby just because he tripped and fell in the mud when playing dragon hunting!”

“I didn’t fall, you pushed me!” Blake reminded her. Sabine crossed her arms in front of her chest indignantly.

I don’t remember it that way,” she huffed.

Then, a light flashed over their heads, and all three of them looked up. The scoreboard hovering in the air changed again, adding 6 more points.

“6 points… that must be Caelia!” Amy cheered. “They must have fallen for Lancelus’s trap!”

Blake should have been happy that the prince’s strategy had worked, but it actually pissed him off a little. After Chloe’s performance in the first game, the prince assumed that the Sun Cohort would be giving her a wide berth in this game. So he’d placed her on one of the paths to where they’d set up their base, and tasked Caelia with watching over her, in hiding. No one would go near Chloe, so Caelia would then shoot down anyone who tried to flee with her archery.

It was a good plan, and it had probably worked. But Blake had been shown up by Caelia again. He hadn’t actually had a chance to fight yet, and it was making him impatient!

“Oh, we’re getting orders,” Amy said, her orica flashing along with Blake’s and Sabine’s. Their instructions appeared in the air as letters projected by the small stones, orders from the King to move forward and meet up with Rayan, the other Bishop.

Blake scowled. He hadn’t gotten any action, any chance to fight, and now he was going to have to team up with Rayan? He worked better on his own, rather than having other people get in his way.

“I’m going to scout ahead, it seems,” Amy added. “We haven’t found the Queen yet. Which is a bit of a-“

Amy was interrupted by the sound of the scoreboard ringing, adding 8 points.

“…I think we found her,” Sabine noted with a scowl.

Amy’s expression turned serious. “I’m going to scout ahead, and then- Blake! Watch it!” Amy’s wristband flashed, and she shot forward, tackling Blake to the ground. A blast of light hit the ground right where he had been standing. Sabine whirled around, holding her hand up, sending a Fireball in the direction the beam had come from.

Standing atop the large walls of the labyrinth was a woman in white, with long blonde hair trailing down her back and deep blue eyes. A magic circle hovered in front of her, and she fired another beam of light at Blake.

“She’s not their Queen,” Blake noted, pushing Amy off of him and pulling Soulfire from his back, the blade roaring to life. With a swing he sent a blast of flame out that countered the spell. “Amy, what is she?!”

“She’s… she’s a Bishop!” Amy confirmed, checking her wristband. Blake’s flames burned with anticipation. That worked out just perfectly for him!

“Then that means I can go all out!” He shouted, taking the anger that had been building towards Sabine and directing it at this new foe. With another swing of his sword a blast of flame roared out of the blade, nearly swallowing the blonde.

“Yikes!” Amy wailed, leaping out of the way of the pillar of fire.

“What are you doing?! Are you crazy?!” Sabine exclaimed, slapping flames out of her skirt. “That could have hurt us, you jerk!”

“Then get out of the way!” Blake roared, sending another wave of flames at the blonde, who had run out of places to go on that wall. Blake felt like he was striking back against long-range attackers like Caelia; a third blast of flames hit the girl in the arm. She roared in pain as her wristband shattered, and she was transported away. “There. Another 4 points.”

Neither Amy nor Sabine seemed particularly happy about that, but Blake didn’t really care.

A few minutes later, their little group of three met up with Rayan and his group, Rafe and Josie. Amy had gone out ahead to scout, trying to pinpoint the Queen’s exact location. The prince believed it would be for the best if they fought her directly, assuming that the twins would be sticking together.

“Ugh, vomit girl?” Sabine scowled. “I hoped that being an attacking piece in this game I wouldn’t have to deal with you again…”

Josie twisted her gaunt face into a wicked smirk, tossing one of her hex bags up and down. “I’m assuming you wouldn’t want to throw up all over that pretty red hair of yours, Sabine, so maybe it’s best if you settle down, hmm?”

Sabine turned pale, her glare faltering. Blake was glad that Josie was giving her shit, too. Maybe he could convince her to let him borrow one of those hex bags to really make Sabine suffer.

“How long’s Amy gonna take?” Rafe groaned, the malkin leaning back against one of the walls of the large chamber they were all waiting in. “Isn’t her whole thing about speed? How long can it take to find those two? I’m not made for sitting still like this!”

Blake could certainly agree with that sentiment.

“Let’s just be patient for a little longer,” Rayan said, giving Rafe a good-natured smile. “We don’t want to rush into things. We should probably have the numerical advantage as long as we keep our wits about ourselves. What do you think, Blake?”

Rayan turned his dark eyes to Blake, and Blake found himself looking down on the hopeful, encouraging expression he wore. He thought his roommate had gotten the message already that Blake wasn’t one for socializing.

“GUYS!” Amy shouted, bursting into the room. Her face was flushed and she was panting, like she’d been running at full speed. For Amy, that was a lot. Blake was immediately on guard, releasing his sword and preparing for a fight. “She’s-!”

Amy flashed with light and a magic circle appeared beneath her feet. She was transported seconds later.

“She was a fast one!” A singsong voice rang from the hall. “She managed to get all the way over here before the transportation magic kicked in!”

Stepping out into the chamber was the girl who had broken into the classroom at the beginning of the week, Taylor. A playful smile stretched across her red lips and her eyes sparkled with excitement as she strolled into the center of the room, followed by another member of her team.

Blake wasn’t surprised that she hadn’t come alone, but it was their identity that was a shock. Not only had Taylor come to confront them, but Tyler had come, as well!

“So the King comes out to greet us, huh?” Rafe cackled, readying himself. “Oh, I like the sound of that!”

“My dear sister and I fight together,” Tyler replied, clapping his hand on his sister’s shoulder, the siblings beaming at each other. “Don’t worry, she’s more than capable of taking out all of you by herself.”

“I would have thought you’d be more focused on giving orders,” Rayan said, squinting curiously at the other boy.

Blake didn’t get all this talking. They were wasting time! He wanted to rush in and attack the other girl, but he kept his anger in check. She’d taken out Amy and didn’t even look winded. Until he got a better idea of what she was capable of, he wasn’t going to charge in blindly, no matter what Sabine may have thought of him.

“We left Derek to his own devices,” Taylor said, waving her hand dismissively. She licked her lips. “I came here to have fun, after all! And judging by the score…” She glanced up at the scoreboard, showing the score was now 20 to 12. “…If I take out the five of you, that should be juuuuust enough to put us over the top.” She cracked her knuckles, and then held the palm of her left hand over her right wrist. “So, let’s get to it!”

“Hah,” Josie scoffed, tossing a pair of hex bags to the ground in front of Taylor and Tyler. “You guys talk too much, you know that? This is a fight, after all. Enjoy puking.”

But neither twin seemed fazed, much to Blake’s confusion. Taylor smirked.

“I may not be a fan of anti-curses, but my dear brother’s quite the support mage,” she informed the stringy-haired girl. “So that won’t work on us!”

Tyler slapped his sister on the back and she charged at the five of them. She was fast, faster than Blake had expected, and no one had thought she would be so reckless as to run at them head-on. Blake certainly hadn’t!

A crimson glyph flashed into the air above Taylor’s wrist, transforming into a long red blade of energy. She raised her foot and kicked Josie in the stomach, knocking her back. Josie doubled over and began coughing.

“Without your curses, not much use for you,” Taylor judged, swinging the blade down. But her strike was blocked by a glowing white stone that flew in front of her sword. Rayan’s Control Magic! He had conjured a stone, and now was controlling it with a magic wand, just like Elemental Magic! And speaking of Elemental Magic, it was about time for Blake to get in on things!

“Urraaah!” Blake swung his sword at Taylor’s exposed back, a blast of flame shooting out of the crimson blade. But it never hit its mark. Instead, the flames struck a large blue barrier that appeared around the blonde girl in a flash, warping around it harmlessly. Unlike Elly’s barrier, hers wasn’t a dome. Rather, it was like a large tube, with her at the center. Blake squinted through the flames, but by the time they had died down Josie had already vanished, transported away, and now Taylor was facing him.

“A shield like that might hold up to Blake’s flames, but I think you’ll find that mine are a different story!” Sabine snarled, her hair lighting up scarlet as she whipped it at Taylor, flinging a blast of crimson fire her way. Blake may have despised Sabine, but she had the right idea. With a swing from Soulfire he added his own flames to the mix.

But both attacks simply bounced off the shield harmlessly.

Taylor’s smirk was illuminated by the light of the flame. “Sorry, my dear brother’s barrier isn’t something as fragile as that.”

“So that’s how it is,” Rafe growled, his eyes burning gold. “You attack, and that brother of yours is on the defense?!” Rafe turned away from Taylor, and charged at Tyler instead. As he ran, Blake could see fur start to sprout across his skin. “Well, he should be worried about protecting himself instead of protecting you! Wolf Transformation Magic!”

Rafe threw back his head and howled, turning far more beastly than a normal malkin. He leapt from the ground, sharp claws raised, and slashed straight at the blonde boy’s necklace.

Tyler smirked and held his left hand over his heart, a barrier that matched his sister’s rising up around him. Rafe’s claws bounced harmlessly off of it.

“Hey!” Rafe snarled, striking at the barrier with everything he had. “You call that fighting, you coward?!”

“My dear brother isn’t much of a fighter,” Taylor admitted sheepishly, shrugging her shoulders. “But he does make some good shields! But the attacking, that’s my job!”

Taylor’s sword disappeared and her body began glowing white. “What was that spell that Knight of yours used? Right! High Dash!”

The light focused into the girl’s legs and she leapt into the air, the shield disappearing. Blake and Sabine’s flames blasted harmlessly under her feet, Blake watching in shock as she flipped through the air. That was the magic she’d used to get to their window!

“Now, leave him alone, mutt!” Taylor growled, forming her mana blade again as she landed next to Rafe, slicing through the orica on his wristband.

“Hey!” Rafe exclaimed, turning on her. “You attacked me from behind! No fa-!”

And he was gone. Two down.

“I’m sorry dear brother,” Taylor crooned, patting her Tyler on the shoulder as his shield dissipated. “I got a little carried away. But look! I tied our scores, now there are only three of them left to deal with!”

“Well done, dear sister,” Tyler smiled back at her. “I’m sure you’ll make quick work of them.”

“With you at my side, I can do anything,” Taylor sighed sweetly, turning her eyes to Blake and licking her lips. Then she turned to Sabine and Rayan in turn. “So who wants to go next?”

The flippant way she was handling this whole mess was really starting to piss Blake off. He clutched Soulfire’s hilt tightly, his rage fueling the flames of the sword as he swung, sending another wave of fire at the blonde.

“That’s your target?” Tyler asked, holding his hand over his chest again. “He’s a bit of a brute, don’t you think, dear sister?” He patted her on the back.

“The aggressive ones make for the best partners,” Taylor replied, the flames hitting the both of them and bouncing off the matching blue shields that flared to life. She licked her lips. “Makes the sex more… passionate.”

“Hey, Rayan, aren’t you supposed to be helping?!” Blake shouted at the other Bishop. He didn’t want Rayan’s help, but even he wasn’t fool enough to think it was unnecessary. Unfortunately, Rayan’s face was filled with shocked confusion. He didn’t seem to be paying much attention to Blake.

“It doesn’t make sense,” he muttered. “Barrier Magic only works across a finite area. You can’t project it like that around someone else, and you definitely can’t cast it on multiple targets…”

“Hey! Get your head in the game, damn it!” Sabine barked. It was really annoying that she was the only one who seemed to be approaching things the same way as Blake.

“Looks like he’s figuring it out, dear sister,” Tyler said, nodding Rayan’s way. “Why not take care of him?”

“Sounds lovely, dear brother!” Taylor crowed, breaking off from her brother and charging at Rayan.

“Rayan, watch it!” Blake shouted, running to intercept her. He leapt in front of Rayan and swung his blade at Taylor, but it was pointless. Soulfire bounced harmlessly off Taylor’s shield and she punched him in the stomach as she passed by. Momentarily stunned by the blow, Blake couldn’t avoid the barrier slamming into him, pushing him out of the way.

With a swipe of her blade, Rayan was gone too. Now the Sun Cohort had pulled ahead in points.

“Well, now it’s just the four of us,” Taylor said, turning back to face Blake as he rose to his feet, coughing. “Come on, isn’t this fun? Two against two. This is the kind of match I like.”

Her eyes were sparkling. Blake’s glare didn’t seem to be making any impact on her.

“Why you-“

“Blake!” Sabine snapped, stepping in front of him. She was the last person he wanted getting in his way. He was tempted to burn her to cinders on principle! But he tamped down on his anger, knowing it would only cost them the game.

“What is it?” He snarled.

“A mage of her caliber isn’t someone we can defeat with this blind rage, so calm down,” Sabine warned him. “I’m not sure how we can get through that shield, but I do know that she’s the only one who’s attacking us. If we can think smart, then we can take care of her.”

A proud smirk crossed Sabine’s face.

“Besides, compared to me, she’s nothing special at all!”

Taylor raised her eyebrow, smirking back at the two of them.

“So, that’s the game, eh? A contest to see which one of us is the better team? Sounds fun,” Taylor said jovially. “Judging from the way you two act, I don’t think your little crush on him makes for nearly as strong of a bond as my dear brother and I!”

Sabine’s face turned as red as her hair. She shouted angrily and charged at Taylor, her hair catching fire as she lunged at the other girl.

Blake scowled at her recklessness and ran after her. So much for thinking smart and not falling into a blind rage.

Real Aire