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TS60: Dragon’s Lair 1

Introduction to Personal Defense was a class Jove wanted to skip today. His mood was still angry and the more he thought of Merlin, the darker it got. He was in the mood to fight and he was afraid he would go too far. What was worse, the class had been moved to the warrens. Today was going to be a surprise practical of some kind.

Jove and Chris entered to find Mark shaking on the floor. The stoat desperately got to his feet and lunged for the door before it vanished into the rough stone wall as it closed. Defeated, he whimpered, “Jove. They’ve got a dragon in here. What’s going on?”

Jove walked past him and looked around. “Where is it?” There was hope he’d get some answers today.

The warrens had been configured as a maze of large round tunnels, large enough for a small truck or a dragon. Mark walked with Jove a short way until the tunnel opened into a huge central chamber. Easily two hundred yards round, it was filled with a layer of gold on the ground piled up in the center. Ringed by a pale blue ward, the red-scaled dragon napped lightly on his bed. Most of the freshmen huddled together away from the large beast, while the upperclassmen talked in their own clique.

Jove walked right up to the edge of the blue ward. “Morning South.” Jove frowned, the bear was clearly drained, his magic felt exhausted. “Are you all right?”

A single large eye opened and a cat-like pupil focussed on the fox. “Do I look all right?”

Jove narrowed his eyes. Something familiar was inside South’s magic. “Is that, my spell?”

“Yes, it is.” South sighed and sat up. “Nice of you to give him the idea.” He lifted his head and bellowed. “As most of you already know, today we will be having a practical. The warrens have been set up to suppress your magic, roughly the equivalent of two nulls. Most of you will not be able to use magic without an outburst. However, if you outburst, you will fail the exercise. Any questions?”

Duane spoke up, “What is it we’re supposed to do?”

South laughed, a mock dragon rumble. “Survive. Well, it’s a little more than that. You will have two teams. Upperclassmen and freshmen. Your grade will be based on how much of your team makes it to the end of the test. The freshmen team will also be allowed to find the exit. Upperclassmen, you will not have that option.”

“Survive?” Mark squeaked. “You’re not really going to kill us are you?”

The dragon laughed. “Not permanently. Magus Frost and Walton are around. They’ll patch up any serious mishaps and on the off chance I kill more than three of you at a time, we have other healers on call.” He grinned a toothy dragon grin.

Mark gasped and hid behind Chris. “He’s joking. Right?”

Julius winced and spoke up. “No, he’s not. Usually they do this fifth week though.”

“I hope everyone used the bathroom before class.” South chuckled. “Good luck everyone. You’ll have five minutes to prepare before the ward drops.” He started to chant to himself.

Jove’s class started to panic. They turned to him. “What do we do?”

Jove stood there watching South for a few seconds. “He’s really low on magic, compensating for it with extended preparation and ritual. The five minutes are for his benefit, not ours.” He shook his head. Fighting South did not seem like a good idea, even if they won, it’d be like kicking him when he’s down. “Can any of you cast anything?”

The students spoke words and gestured, but all that appeared was Chris’ sword blade. Chris shrugged. “Nulls never bothered me.”

“If things get worse, I might be able to try something else.” Jove thought. “Paula, Jenna, can you use any kind of Earth sense to find the exit?”

Paula said, “I’ve never used my magic that way before. I’ll try.”

“I can get a sense, but it’s only for a few feet.” Jenna shook her head. “We’ll have to search.”

Aden asked, “Should we stay and see how the upperclassmen do?”

Jove looked back at the center of the room. A half dozen golden blades were lifting out of the treasure and floating behind South’s large dragon form. Jove could see magical enhancements to his strength and speed. He was serious. “I really don’t want to see him do what it looks like he’s going to do. I can’t believe this is an actual test.”

Mug offered, “It makes sense to me. My gang had a similar initiation. If they could bring people back from the dead, they’d have killed people during it.”

“Let’s get out of here then.”

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