A Word of Caution

Welcome to the realm of the Unseelie Court. Feel free to wander and browse, but know that the content you will find here is not for the faint of heart. The visions portrayed are often darkly erotic, even disturbing, and should be traversed only by those with the appropriate character and mental age.

You have been warned.

 Chapters

Tales From the Fae – Part V: The Academy of Dana

Chapter 34 – Combat Brainstorming

Since Michelle was never able to get ahold of the combat logs, even for a minute, we decided to use the remaining time we had before the competition to do some brainstorming of our own. It simply wouldn’t do to just walk into the arena and expect to handle whatever surprises were thrown at us. We needed to come up with ways that we could be attacked, or tricked, or just plain hindered. Trouble was, we were having a hell of a time even finding a place to think.

As part of the conspiracy of failure that nearly every other student at the Academy had planned for us, all the training rooms were kept conspicuously busy at all times, and when we tried to sign-up to reserve a room, our names mysteriously vanished from the ledger. Michelle wanted to crack some heads, but I quietly steered her away while commenting that you couldn’t fight the wind. She relented and we found ourselves entering the Great Hall out of default, our stomach’s leading our wandering. But lunchtime was still many hours away and only a handful of stale snacks were left on the tables. Then it hit me.

“Hey, let’s practice here,” I exclaimed, looking at the large open space that was normally filled with tables during meals. Now, the tables had been magically hidden away save for a single row at one side.

“Here?” asked Michelle a little dubiously. “Someone could walk in on us.”

“So,” I replied shrugging my shoulders.

“Miranda, the whole point of working in the training rooms is that you can practice custom spells and techniques in secret. If your opponents know what you’re planning then it won’t be much of a surprise.”

I thought about it for a moment. “Surprises and tricks are great, Shell, but I don’t think they’re going to help us in the Arena. Either we have the skill to win this thing or we don’t.”

The girl visibly deflated. “Yeah,” she commented sighing, “I suppose you’re right. So what do we work on then?”

I brightened. “Oh, we still work on our own tricks, we just don’t worry if anyone sees them or not.”

“Come again? How’s that going to help us? Won’t the rest of the teams be able to work out counter-attacks?”

“So what if they do? They’re going to do something when we come at them. Better to be ready with a second volley instead of relying on your first one to do the job. Logs be damned, Michelle. We need to be ready for whatever they throw at us, not just what’s been done before.”

“How do we do that,” she asked.

“By getting creative. We’ll start thinking of ways to attack and come up with solutions one by one.”

“I don’t know… It sure sounds like a lot of work. if we’re trying to be ready for anything, then it sounds like we would have to work out every single possible scenario. No offense, but we’ve only got two days.”

“Not every scenario, just ways of handling certain problems.”

“Like what,” she asked a little perturbed.

I smiled. “Like this,” I replied and twitched the finger that was holding back the spell I had prepared. Instantly, Michelle was surrounded in complete darkness. It was as though a cloud of imaginary black ink had surrounded her, leaving her totally blind.

“Holy shit…” she exclaimed and I heard her shuffling about, trying to leave the range of the spell. It was a loosing battle since the illusion would follow her about. I twitched my finger again and the cloud of darkness fell away instantly.

There was a look of mild panic in her eyes.

“Where did you learn to do that,” she asked.

I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s just something I picked up in my Illusions class. You can bet there will be countless variations on that little trick in the games. But for the most part, magical attacks like that won’t be your concern. It’ll be my job to keep the lights on and shield you from most magical attacks.”

“You have a counter-spell for that,” she asked a little frantically.

“I do,” I replied simply. “But more important, we need to work out what you will be doing until I can cast it. You can bet our opponents won’t be sitting there idly. That darkness was the simplest form of that spell. More advanced versions might easily blind you, while leaving the lights on for an attacker.

“Damn…”

“Don’t worry. I’ve got some ideas to help. For example, in the case of that last attack, I can write a little spell you can cast on the fly that causes a tone in the direction of an oncoming figure. It won’t help you see, but it will at least let you know which way to dodge. I’ll also be working on my defensive glyph later tonight based on what we can come up with this morning.”

“You’re making glyphs?” Michelle was quite surprised.

“Just started. Don’t expect too much from them as I’m pretty new at it, but I doubt they’ll be expecting us to have them at all as Firsts.”

“No shit… Damn, Ran. I didn’t think we’d be doing any sort of glyph construction until our second or even third year.”

“Well,” I admitted, “It’s more of a special line of study that Sheila-Kay gave me when she saw I was advancing so well than an actual class. But it should come in handy.”

And so we began. Michelle wanted to work out more ideas for the blindness thing, but I convinced her that it would be better to brainstorm as many possible kinds of attacks as we could instead of mastering any one. The fact was, most of what I had learned in my Magical Attacks class with Ananha was mostly useless except as foundation. Anyone who planned on staying in the Games more than a single round was going to have to use magic that was well beyond the fundamentals, the competition being as much about creativity as it was about strength, magical or otherwise.

About an hour into our session, Michelle abruptly stopped a special defensive maneuver she was working on and floated to the ground when she noticed four girls that had just come into the hall. They were all Firsts, and I smiled and raised a hand when I recognized Petra.

The other girls seemed a little apprehensive to follow their friend as she walked up to me and nodded to Michelle.

“You are having trouble finding room for practice as well then,” she asked in her slightly Russian accent.

Michelle and I exchanged glances.

“Let me guess, your names just don’t seem to stick in the registration books?” commented my partner.

“Da. Seems there is no room for simple Firsts this year.”

I raised an eyebrow. “It’s not just you four then,” I asked a little confused.

“It’s not fair,” said Nina Walker, a short, blond haired girl who I remembered as having accidentally caused all her clothes to vanish in Illusions class. “The Uppers are making it impossible for us to practice! It’s like they have it out for anyone who isn’t already confirmed Fae…”

My heart suddenly sank, and I knew that that’s exactly what was happening. We were officially confirmed into the Fae at a special ceremony during graduation. It was only then that we would be granted full privileges and allowed to work magic without the use of our amulets. But until then, we were lower than low. And it seemed that the hatred that had built up against Michelle and I had carried over to include any First. For about ten seconds I felt like complete shit, and apparently Michelle noticed because I felt her gentle hand on my shoulder.

“You didn’t ask for this, Ran…”

“No,” I said looking up at the four other girls as an idea solidified in my mind. “But I know just how to deal with it.”

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