His palms were sweating, and he doubted it had anything to do with the fact that it was already so hot out despite being early in the summer. For the hundredth time in a minute, he wiped his hands on his pants and wished he could scratch the sweat off his scalp.
The professors were still assembling themselves in front of the crowd that stood before the great wooden doors of the Arbour. Clenching his teeth, Sage stole a furtive glance through the little crowd. He couldn’t see Briar in the sea of combed hair and solemn faces, but he spotted Ash further down the line, looking as stoic as ever.
Behind the professors stood the rest of the Arbour’s body. Kell was easily visible despite the number, standing high above the others as the sun caught her hair and turned it to fire. And though he couldn’t see her, somewhere in that mass of people was Arcana.
Murmurs brought his attention back to the line of professors. They seemed to have finally organized themselves into a neat line, squinting against the sunlight. The grandmaster stood at their centre, wearing the same frown he always did despite the delighted atmosphere thick around the two groups of students. It was a joyful day, from the mood to the blue sky and sunlight, but one would never be able to tell by looking at the grandmaster’s sour expression. Sage wondered if the old man was capable of a truly genuine smile, or if he had long ago lost the ability.
“Children,” the grandmaster called, and it seemed as though even the birds quieted to hear his words.
The sweat burst out on Sage’s palms with renewed vigour. Part of him was still unable to wrap his head around this. He had made it. He had survived fifteen years of brutal training to become one of the most renowned and elite warriors in the known world. Continue reading