Final Exam, pt i

I couldn’t sleep. Tomorrow was the final exam, the free-for-all tournament of the graduating class. None of the other students are on the grounds tonight. Although they are welcome to return to watch the tournament through the looking glasses, the year is over for them. The vent for the air conditioner turns on, finally. The early June weather isn’t terribly hot, but the humidity feels like an extra layer of woolens, even when you’re naked.

I throw the thin blanket off and walk over to my desk. It’s empty of personal effects, just a sheet of paper describing the rules of the tournament sitting on top of the glass-covered dark wood. Reading them over by moonlight, it still sounds like complicated laser tag. The school records the time it takes you to cast every offensive spell you know, then programs each time increment into your gun. You’re allowed to switch between spells, just like you would in real life, but its time consuming and dangerous, so most people stick with one spell. Participants are also allowed to cast any non-offensive spell they choose.

Participants seems like an odd choice of words. No one except the seniors participate in the event, unless you count faculty acting as referees. That would make more sense. I’m too tired to think clearly and too nervous to get good sleep. Allison and Chase will be participating tomorrow; my best friend and my lover, the only two people on campus who know my skills and tricks possibly better than I do. We’re the top three in our class when it comes to spell casting; however, tomorrow is about tactics and warfare as much as it is about raw magical power. I can feel the acid creeping out of my stomach. Deep breaths, trying to relax, de-stress, and go to bed.

I hear something outside my window, someone talking. I creep towards the wall to peek around and decide whether or not I need to put on pants and step into view. On the lawn a floor below me, someone is chanting nonsense words; sounds like Greek. They’ve managed to dig a hole in front of them, and are holding something pale. I lean more to the side to try and see what it is. Square, pale, looks heavy with a small dark spot through the top; parchment covering a lead ring with a nail through the middle is my guess. The air conditioning muffles what the person is saying. Their face is covered by a hood, so I don’t know who would be trying a binding spell the night before the tournament; more importantly where they stashed the materials for it since the school keeps strict inventory of lead rings (‘cause, you know, they’re poisonous).

I step in front of the floor to ceiling window, naked. The ring is drooping lower and I’m guessing I have a very limited time to decide what to do. My fastest spell, a bolt of lightning, will blow out the window. A choking vapor from the ground would solve the problem, but only if I can finish the spell before he does.


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