The Daiklave of Flight glistened like ice under the sun as she honed it, sitting in the House of Bells’ armory with the other students. It was free time, and though she was new she was showing extraordinary progress in mastering the sword. Combined with her ability to quickly move about the field of battle, many thought her a Child of Hesiesh. It wasn’t until they quizzed her memory of spirits, history, and war that the truth of the girl was realized. Though the white hair with blue strands certainly gave away her heritage as well.
Later that afternoon there would be a skirmish. She would act as scalelord, while the older students acted as the vanguards and generals. The nerves built in her stomach, but it was her responsibility to guide the twenty five soldiers under her, and she would never shy from her obligations to the Legion, even if she was only practicing. “Practice how you play,” she repeated to herself.
Rosrick left a month ago with other recruits to join the Tepet legion as part of his marriage to Ezra. He would fight alongside her parents, an honor she would likely be denied. But that would be okay. Roseblack said they would fight side by side one day, no doubt, that Tepet Ezra would join Tepet Ejeva as an officer in her legion. It caused the girl to go flush in the face, images of glorious battle alongside her cousin flitting across the back of her eyelids any time she closed them. She wouldn’t let Roseblack down.
“Sir.” Sesus Hensis reported to her, one of the soldiers under her. She was only given three Dragon Blooded soldiers, but even that wouldn’t have happened on the battlefield. Chances were a scale wouldn’t be given a Dragon Blooded officer in the first place.
“Hensis, what can I do for you?” She stopped polishing her blade. Hensis was the fourth or fifth cousin of Rosrick, though she couldn’t exactly remember how. The two barely looked like each other, aside from sharing the fire aspect which ran thick through the House’s veins.
“The scale is assembled and awaiting inspection, as per your orders.” He always looked far off in the distance. While not the brightest individual she had ever met, he was a very dedicated man. His ability to stand at attention put many instructors at a loss, considering the passionate fire blood. Once instructor, Sesus Arelen, started beating the boy without provocation, just to see if he could make him flinch. Hensis stood there, bleeding and his uniform cut up, flinching when struck, but then looking straight ahead. Arelen was sent off to join the legion the following week, and even then Hensis did not gloat. When asked about it, he said, “Instructor Arelen is a brave man and is being honored by the Dragons. May they grant him many glorious victories.”
“Were there any gripes, Hensis?”
“No, Scalelord Ezra. Not that you need concern yourself with.”
She couldn’t help but smile a little. “Thank you. You’re dismissed. Do as you please in the time before our skirmish.”
“Yes, Scalelord. It would please me to remain by your side.”
“As you wish.” They two sat, talking about the engagement and about the history of war. They continued chatting peacefully until a messenger came into the room.
“The exercise has been postponed. You are to answer to your CO with further instructions. Any who do not respond within the hour shall go without rations the rest of the day. Dismissed.”
Ezra’s lower lip quivered, “What?”
She cut him off, “I’m no longer a scalelord. I am nothing but a student.” Her teeth chattered against each other and the wind picked up around her, causing falling dust to circle her. “Why is it cancelled? By the dragons, who has that right to call it off?”
“Tepet Ezra, it’s not ours to decide. We should see our CO and find out. I do not want to go hungry.” Hensis stood up and walked out of the barracks, leaving Ezra as the only one who hadn’t left. She started to cry, the tears cool on her cheek. Then she sniffled once, wiped the tears away, and left.
The company had taken rank and file, Ezra’s spot the only one empty. She still had time, but to be last was frowned upon heavily. Their CO would speak with her later, no doubt. At the front, Peleps Yores watched over her pupils. She wasn’t at attention. Shoulders were slumped, eyes were downcast, and it was obviously tears stained her leather collar. There was parchment on the floor, crumpled up. “Students, there is grave news today.” There were murmurs in the crowd until she spoke again. “As you know, the Tepet Legion went to engage the Anathema known as the Bull of the North. We don’t know the details, but the legion is lost.”
One of the boys, a Tepet, spoke up, “You mean defeated, CO Yores.”
Yores’ body started to shake. Tears streamed down her cheeks. “No, Torus. I mean if they are truly touched by the dragons, ten percent of the force may have escaped. We have a single messenger from when the battle was going poorly. When scouts were sent to the field, the Anathema’s army was picking at the corpses. We have found barely a hundred troops and are praying that some others made it away and are trapped in hostile territory.”
It was no longer a murmur. The voices roared through the hall. Ezra stood there looking forward. Her eyes weren’t registering anything, her ears kept ringing. She saw Yores yell something and the students came to attention. “Rosrick. Mother. Father.” The words were whispered, then they caught in her throat and a knot was placed in her gut which had to rise up. She fell to her knees and vomited. The blank stare left her. The ringing in her ears cleared up. All the students were staring at her. She threw up again.
Peleps Yores didn’t react to the girl. She continued and Ezra was able to hear her. “Those of you in House Tepet are to leave immediately for Lord’s Crossing. There is an escort prepared to take you, provided by your House. Keep your chins high. You are still a strong and proud house, one with a great history. No doubt this is just another chapter in an incredible history of martial prowess. Those of House Tepet are now dismissed. Everyone else, remain here and fill in the ranks. We will discuss how the Academy is moving forward.”
There was an aching in Ezra’s chest, a pain clawing its way out of her. It made her want to throw up again, but she kept the bile down. She would avenge their death. She would kill this Bull. She would prove to the world Tepet was not fallen. That the House didn’t need ranks filled in to replace them. She clenched her fist until her nails dug under her palm and caused her to bleed.