(This will contain the first 3500 words or so. Just a tasting of the entire story. If you are interested, buy a copy where ever you buy books from. Or ask for a copy from me. [Store])
(The rest of the Fridays will hopefully be random flash fiction or short stories containing the characters found in Dragon Rider 6th Grade. Or they will take place during the same time period within the world.)
Natalie Greene. Yup, that’s me. Nothing special at all.
Or not. My mother is a slave in Borg castle… or was. She visited me occasionally before I came to PINC, School for Magic. After I came here, we sent each other letters. My mother was more of a pen pal and occasional friend than parental figure.
Why? Why is a slave in school? Why is it I never saw my mother?
Even though I was born under the slave stone, my stone glowed bright. Too bright for the general public. With the laws against death, even for those too difficult to raise, I was guarded and protected. First, I was guarded in Borg castle. I couldn’t play or clean or cook or do really anything. The only thing I could do was study how to control. It didn’t always work.
The school offered a safe way to stop me from blowing up the castle. Borg didn’t want me but couldn’t get rid of me. I was their slave. Or really, I was my mother’s property. I was forced to go to school just because I was threat at the castle. The first five years offer rare memories. I can recall rubble surrounding me as everyone yelled. I could hear the hope in several. Hope that I had died in my own destruction. Many do. I didn’t.
I’m this ultra powerful slave, completely useless until I get my degree. I’m not even worth selling. Just a useless child with too much power. So when my mother died, I lost my connection to Borg castle. They dropped me making a statement I was my father’s problem now.
However… I don’t know my father. Mother said nothing about him. Honestly, I couldn’t say what my mother’s full name was, so searching for my father would be next to impossible. He exists. He has to. Humans aren’t created from air. But where is he? Who is he? How can I reach him?
Why does any of that matter to me, a small ten year old? Because when Borg said she’s not our problem, they stopped paying the school. I’m marked a dangerous individual with no backing. Yet, I am nothing more than a child.
Even though I am just a child, I am being kicked out of PINC. I have no way to fight it. I know no one. All the power inside me leaves me distant from the world not within the confines of society. What will I do now?
Barely 133 cm, a little more than thirty kilos, brown hair, bright blue eyes, and tan complexion offers nothing to real society. Small for my age and average besides. The only thing special is my magic. And they don’t care if I can’t pay.
Standing in the final room leaves me terrified. Every student ends their schooling here but not normally as a middle schooler. I had seven more years I thought, or really six and a half being late January.
Everyone not currently on duty is here. Including the gardener, not that I met him before. Before this semester, I did not have an herbalism class. Even if I did, I can recall the gardener of the past: an old graying hunched over white dude. This young black male is everything different. Although the dirt covered overalls are probably the same.
Besides him, although he draws the most attention being the youngest, would be several of the teachers and the administrative staff, all nine of them. Their colors range as much as their magic does. Wands at the ready, probably expecting me to burst into flames or something. I did blow up a castle’s wing once.
The main focus in the room is Head Mistress Cassandra. She is covered in all blue, unsurprisingly since she’s a water fairy. By her tired expression, her time as a fairy has long been over. It could be stress causing the grey hair and wrinkles. Or the nearby students from BLU visiting every other day. There has been a lot of issues that I barely notice. Something more is happening around here.
And I won’t be able to see it.
“Miss Natalie Greene, do you understand what I just said to you?” The head mistress has a sharpness to her tone, but it’s because I did not respond as she expected.
It’s like my entire hope got caught in my throat. How does someone speak like this? My age and social status offers nothing. I am worthless to the school. “I understand.” It’s a lie. Understand what?
“So you shall pack your things and leave before morning. Do you need any assistance?”
Before I can lie about not needing any help, the gardener steps forward. I glance at him. By his stance, he is coming to my aid. Will I gain help even though I’m not asking for it? Do even slaves get a prince charming like ending? Can I be Cinderella? Is that possible?
“Excuse me, Head Mistress Cassandra.” His voice is heavenly. Rugged and tough. Powerful and smooth. Much as if I could run my hands along a river stone. I like hearing it. Or perhaps his words themselves have me drifting off into a dream world. “I believe there is some mistake. She cannot possibly be allowed to leave the school. Her power grade is too high.”
The head mistress puts on her blue glasses and reads from my file. “Quartz stone that glowed so bright that her leaving its presence made it shatter.” She places the paper down and stares at me specifically. “And your guardian won’t cover your basic expenses? You even join the library staff during off hours to help pay your way.”
“Quartz stone is slave,” one of the teachers comments as if anyone in the room didn’t know. “King’s law says a quartz stone glowing means the slave is marked magical and must receive a Magical Certificate.” That creates a few nods about the room. Then why am I being denied? I shiver.
A warm hand clamps on to my shoulder. I look at the gardener. He is saving me, protecting me. His stance says everything. I have a guardian, even if he is not that much older. Not old enough to earn adulthood by age twenty. How’d he get a job at the school being so young? He should be a student. Or did he already reach eighteen? He looks younger yet. He doesn’t have a mustache even. “In my contract, I have a clause. Anyone stated Dragon Rider by me will receive a second chance.” My head fills with his voice. He’s saving me? A second chance?
The head mistress gapes at him. “I expected you to name someone who blows up a tower or burns down the forest. Not this.” She motions to me acting as if my existence is unimportant.
“No matter.” The gardener shakes his head keeping me under his power. “I name her Dragon Rider. She qualifies.”
“Are you certain?” The head mistress stares at my file further. She purses her lips reading just a touch. “Although, a quartz stone shattering is unheard of.”
The teacher who spoke before nods to the gardener. “I second the motion. She cannot be let go so easily.”
The head mistress stands up holding her hands out to deny muttering. “Enough.” She focuses in on the gardener and me. “You are being given the rest of the year. If she has acquired a payee by June, she can stay on as Dragon Rider. But if she doesn’t, you will leave alongside her come June. Do you understand?”
The gardener squares his shoulders and steps forward releasing me in the process. “I take full responsibility for this. Allow me to figure it out.”
“Thank you, Alex.” The head mistress exhales sitting down. “Please return to your jobs, everyone.”
“You won’t regret this, Cassandra.” Alex bows his head and walks out of the room. Others begin filing out, and I’m pushed to do the same.
Once out of the office where I thought I was losing everything, I just stand. Lost and confused, a hand grips mine. I stare at it. Such a dark brown in color, it reminds me of burnt toast or a dark roast coffee. As I look up to spot his eyes they offer the opposite end of the coffee spectrum. Foolish of me to think of coffee, something I have only seen and never tried. Burnt toast is allowed. I’ve received second helpings of that before.
“You look lost.” His river stone voice. The voice that offered me everything.
I’m Cinderella. I was literally saved from being thrown to the wolves. How did this even happen? A slave shouldn’t be given such a second chance. Or wait… Am I still a slave? Borg no longer owns me. They gave me up. Who can I rely on? What am I qualified as? Am I free? What is freedom?
This gardener squeezes my hand as if pulling me back to real life. It seems I’m in a state of shock. “Natalie?” His voice has my eyes shut.
I need to function. Taking a step from him, I force my mask back on. I can do this. I’m not sure what I need to do, but I can do it. What is it I have to do? Who do I talk to? Who would even give me a second glance? How do I gain a sponsor?
Alex takes my hand again and walks me out of the administrative wing. There is no reason for me to stand in front of the head mistress’s office. I am no longer losing my place to live. Or will it just be postponed until June?
Once outside, my eyes close feeling the freedom of the wind and air. Freedom sounds distant and scary now. Because that’s what they truly offered: freedom from school. I’m not ready.
Being dragged by the gardener is half surprising. He draws me to Senior Tower showing me a place I have little hope of reaching. It’s meant for seniors as a way to offer space for work. If a lower grade offers a massive sum, they join the Senior Tower as well.
My hope living there feels left in the gutter. I’m leaving come June. There is no way I’ll manage to find someone to pay for me. A father who doesn’t exist won’t just show up out of the blue. That’s not how it works.
“I will send a letter tonight. He’ll answer shortly, and you shall move here.” He motions to the tower for the highest skill or pay in the school.
Staring at the tower and gardener, I question his sanity more than believe him. I’m nobody. There is nobody who would care if I am in the dorms six to a room or here. All I really have is power. Power that I cannot control. My spell book is measly. Even if I have gotten everything they taught me far easier than my classmates, I haven’t received enough to be called worthwhile yet. “I am not good enough for…”
Alex puts his finger to my lips denying me my words. “You are too good for such a school as this. As one of the cheapest, slaves and the poor come here if they have magical inclination. Either here to Paranormal Individuals Normally Children, the females only school that commonly attacks: Budding Ladies Underestimated, School of Magic, or to the male equivalent: Gentlemen Readying for Enemy Aggressives, School of Magic. Given the type of student here, it is of no surprise so few reach the final day or receive a Magical Certificate certifying their abilities as a mage. For you and many others like you, that certificate is required for daily life. You struggle just to live with such a power level. They answer such a concern by tossing you out. You are not the first they have done so to. I picked this school for a reason.” Alex stares at the tower. His anger seems almost misplaced. What does he know?
I scan him and his review of the tower. He has a hand on my shoulder keeping me in place. His mood lightens a touch as he smirks. More it seems as if he came to a conclusion that I have no idea about. He would match those living in the tower. Not me. I don’t belong there. I live six to a room in the dorms.
“You must become stronger, or you will die from your power. When you are surrounded by the strongest on campus, you may grasp further my meanings.” Alex releases my shoulder. That was his conclusion? How?
The tower does not offer me the same interest as the confusing male beside me. “What do you even mean?”
The gardener motions to the tower. “You belong there. Don’t deny your strength, Natalie Greene. I will help you succeed.”
Nothing about this day is what I thought it would be. To be offered even a suggestion of living in the tower is a fool’s idea. But I cannot help myself from staring at it. To reach senior year and the tower is a dream every student has. Reaching that point is nearly impossible even if it seems required. The first five years are to teach control of magic. These three middle school years are to open up the basic skill of magic wielding. It’s to find where we belong and what our magic is. High school, those last four years, prove your magic. It reflects who you are as a mage. Unlike many in my class, I have no idea what my magic is. My mother did not wield magic. Refused any time I brought it up.
So I am walking into this with a power undeniably strong without any idea as to what it is. How can I understand it enough to say where my strengths are? Where do I go from here? There are too many questions. “Alex…” I turn about looking for the one who dragged me here, but he’s gone. As if disappeared completely. I scan for footprints, but the ground offers nothing as if he has a spell for light foot. Many mages do. Snow isn’t known to be nice on boots anyway. Wait… Was he wearing boots?
Giving up on my search, I drop to the ground. What can I expect now? Will I be punished for ruining my clothes with the dirt and snow? My classes for the day were cancelled. Everyone expected me to be packing up and leaving. Before morning, she said.
Now, I have until June. Only a few months where I am still a student. My future looks grim. I went from questioning if I should ask for new boots to not even sure who I can ask for boots. I have no support from anyone. I have no direction. Come June… I’ll need to have a plan.
Where do I go? How will I get there? My eyes close thinking of being a senior in Senior Tower. Not that I have any idea what I will look like as a young adult. Nor do I have a grasp as to what the rooms are like inside the tower. I’m so used to living in the dorm room. Of the six of us, I am the only non fairy. They are figuring out their direction early. Learning tricks that match their magic. Here I am with so much power and ease casting that I don’t have any idea what type of mage I am.
Minus Dragon Rider. A new title. A title I’ve never heard before. What is Dragon Rider? Am I the only one? Why do I feel as if the title is a rarity, yet I cannot be alone in its attachment.
Poking wakes me. It has me realize I fell asleep. On the ground near Senior Tower. I notice grass appearing around me. Someone let a warmth and spring spell happen on the area around Senior Tower. It is why the seniors are separated out. It may also be why I passed out.
To be woken with only poking helps. Some of the older students aren’t as nice. Whoever caused the spring spell could have noticed me and done something cruel. I do not deserve to be here.
The one who woke me, though, is a student I never saw before. She may be about my age, but her looks are more delicate. Soft peach skin. Curly red hair. Well formed body in a perfectly kept white silk dress. Magenta eyes. Wait a second… Magenta eyes are special. No typical human has magenta eyes. That is royalty. What? She looks too unreal to be before me. Am I still dreaming? No royalty would ever interact with me.
“I saw you staring before.” She pauses looming over me. Then adds belatingly, “at the tower.” My mind clicks through the jumble of thoughts as I start to grasp what is before me. Or rather, who. Not that I can name the royal children. King Charles is the only one I know.
That leaves me to my second question: how did she see me staring? Alex dragged me about when everyone should be in class. Given the… Well, it was cold and snowy before the spring spell happened. As I stand up, I notice only the area near the ground is warm. It’s the wrong weather to be outside for class. In another week or two, herbalism is guaranteed to be out. This is my first year with herbalism. I’m excited to really try something outside. So far it’s been indoor only. If I can far surpass my knowledge in herbalism, that may help me survive after I’m kicked out in June. I try to push that thought away and return to the magenta eyed princess before me. Nothing says she’s anything besides princess.
Her stance is perfect. Her hand offering me help is delicate in action. Her voice is balanced and sweet. She could tell me to kill someone, and I would just say yes before knowing what I was saying yes to. This is fairy tale level expectation of princess. Her training has me wanting to duck my head and apologize. Apologize just for existing. Pretty sure that is called rude. You shouldn’t apologize for existing. Before being a princess, she is a person. I accept her offered hand. The soft perfect hands of a princess. I must be dreaming.
“I start tomorrow.” Her voice is soft and light. “I was just moving in. Are you new too?”
Shaking my head, I review her all over again. Maybe the eyes being magenta is a trick of the light… No… As I turn my head, nothing changes. Perhaps I know nothing at all. My knowledge is limited after all. “No. I was having one of those meetings that last all day even if they are only a few hours.” I manage to stand without ruining her perfection.
She tilts her head watching me with a question mark look. Guess she’s never had such a meeting before. I never did before today, but there were several books that included them. If she’s royal, she should be used to such an idea even if she never had to participate. “Well, I am Cynthia… No wait… Ummm…. I am Brooke! Forgive my forgetfulness. I am Brooke.” Her mood lifts over the name. I’m not sure how to take it given she gave me two names. The repeated one should be correct, right?
With a shrug, I offer her a quick handshake. “I am Natalie Greene. Nice to meet you… Brooke? Right?”
Brooke nods at my question. It calms me. She starts a slow meager back to the tower. I follow drawn in by her sturdy gait. It looks so trained. I feel poor walking beside her. I look poor standing next to her. Her dress is magically perfect, I can tell. I’m in servant wear. Whoever she is, she’s rich and hiding out. Why here? Perhaps Alex left me here in an effort to befriend her. “Were you just with the gardener?”
A quick glance around reminds me of Alex’s disappearing act. “Yes. He does the work about the campus keeping stray spells from causing harm to…” This time I pause in my words to really weigh them. Alex is the gardener now. I can recall errors and issues only a year ago. Even six months ago, there was concerns. Alex leaves nothing to falter. Is he picking this place in a partial act to hide the princess? Given the quality of work and the indication he received a special contract, Alex may have picked this school because he can hide her here.
Brooke stopped when I did. Her eyes are open and trusting, not typically expected looks from a royal. Nor would she be used to wandering without guards galore. Her stance is very high class, and it has me fix my posture automatically. Hers looks so poise and polite. “Yes?”
This sounds crazy. Who is Alex? How does he relate to this princess? It seems more likely they have a connection, but I have no idea what it is. I must ignore that for now. “Alex handles making the place perfect. He does an amazing job.”
In the lightest softest voice ever, Brooke says, “Must be tough on him.” Her eyes gaze at something in the distance, but what I wouldn’t know. It is how I imagined several of my princesses in their stories to look. Brooke basically glides through the air over to the tower door. With a hand on the door, she turns back to me. “Are you coming in?” She invited me? I nod stepping forward.
Any questions don’t be afraid to comment.
Dragon Rider 6th Grade
Family-less Natalie is being kicked out of school.
Alex puts his job on the line to stop it. “Anyone stated Dragon Rider by me will receive a second chance.”
I’m a Dragon Rider?
#Fantasy #ya #selfpublish #indieauthor