Authors: Jack Simmonds
Robin shuffled next to me. “Avis,” he whispered. “I don’t think that’s—”
…” I said turning back to Jasper. “Now I know and I’m gonna let everyone know what you are!”
Jasper stared at me before spluttering with laughter. “What on earth are you talking about?”
excitedly reminded us over breakfast, that we were practicing Riptide that night as a form with Partington. I heaved my consciousness back into this reality, for it was beginning to droop into my porridge — I’d barely had an hours kip and I was exhausted. Robin however, seemed absolutely chipper.
“I can’t come…” I said. “Oh, what time are we doing it?”
“After lessons?” said Gret.
“Yeah I can’t do it then.” I said, closing my eyes for a minute.
I heard some of them round the table winding up for giving me abuse. “And
not?!” said Joanna, sounding like my Mother.
Robin piped in for me, saving my bacon. “Detention with Straker,” he said. “That’s why he’s so tired, makes Avis walk about the school at night as punishment.”
“What for?” said Hunter aghast. Jake and Graham looked at Hunter as if to say
isn't it obvious?
When he still looked blank, Simon chipped in.
“For that poxy black-magic jumper he wore,” he said.
I quietly began to eat some toast hoping the subject would change quickly. I had a plan — go to the first lesson with Wasp, get shouted at for not doing the homework, sneak away just before lunch and sleep for an hour, before an afternoon full of lessons — one with Simone no less.
I was already annoyed because I’d tried to get out of today’s lessons by pretending I was ill. I told Partington that morning in form that I wasn't feeling good, he looked at me, said I did look pale and sent me to the Healer with a ghost. I was hoping the lovely Healer would say I looked awful and I must have a lie down. She did say this in fact, but the poxy ghost that was escorting me, consorted a paper list and decreed that
was not a suitable reason for having the day off ill. So, the git escorted me all the way back to form — I even tried to sneak back to my dorm, but it began shouting at me.
Back in the Chamber, Joanna put her toast down and got out a piece of paper. “Look at the glut of games we have coming up!” she said. “We need to be fully prepared in all our tactics to be able to have any chance of winning.”
“Yeah especially since we’ve got a cup game soon,” said Graham. “And that’s likely to be against an upper year form…”
“We need to train, all together,” said Ellen.
“Lunchtimes and evenings!” Hunter said with his finger in the air like he was passing a law.
I was terrified. On one hand, I could join them at practicing Riptide, and make sure we didn't embarrass ourselves again. On the other, I had to explore the school with Straker and look for the Djinn and banish it — otherwise there would be no more Riptide, no more lessons, no more school. I can’t survive outside of an institution. I’d have to go home, be treated like a sprat, be bored to my back teeth, or even worse, go to another magical school — I’ve heard how terrible they are.
Jasper’s voice travelled across the Chamber as he boasted about something to his form. I knew what I had seen in the spectacles, he looked like Malakai, and the odd behaviour as he looked at us. My brother Ross used to sleepwalk, and it looked exactly the same as that. But then, Jasper had seemed to wake up and be fully aware. If in fact he was Jasper? A pupil was the perfect disguise for Malakai…
After Simone’s exhausting lesson in which she had us do at least five hundred sit ups, I went to the Chamber to get some food. I placed some sandwiches in the hubris hide, along with some biscuits and carrot cake, Straker’s favourite. My hands felt clumsy, as the tiredness seemed to exude from my every pore. I was surprised I’d made it this far through the day.
,” said a cold, slimy voice, dripping down my spine like a slug. I didn't bother turning, I knew who it was.
“What do you want?” I said.
“I want nothing from you,” said Jasper, standing close on purpose as I picked at the food. “Do you really think I’ll forget about seeing you and your deluded friend poking about the castle in the dead of night?”
“Us poking about? What about you? What were you doing up there?” I said turning to face him, unable to help the angry tone creep in. His eyes were even the same glowing blue colour as Malakai’s. His face the same pale white. It made sense, he was Malakai. He’d come back here to get me. “I know what you are!” I said. Jasper smiled amused, which just infuriated me even more.
“Here we go again…” he muttered as people in the Chamber began to look round — I felt my face grow red, my voice rising.
“You’re him… And I am going to prove it to everyone… that you are… Malakai!” I announced. There was a short silence before, an explosion of laughter.
— “He’s off his rocker!”
— “Pahaha! Paranoid or what?”
— “He can’t be serious?!”
The next moment I was being escorted from the Chamber by Magisteer Mallard who told me in no uncertain terms that I could not go around accusing people of that, before slamming the Chamber doors.
HERE COME THE CONDORS!” The stadium announcement rang around the stadium to a series of shouts, roars and boo’s. We were playing the third year form Mermaid’s (not real ones — that would be impossible), in our first ever cup game ever.
Unfortunately, I had been unable to attend any of the extra Riptide practices my form had arranged, all my time had been taken up with searching for the elusive Djinn. The crowd roared hard and I felt the familiar terrified gurgle in my stomach. Joanna was reminding the team of our tactics — she had briefly told me at a hundred miles an hour in the changing rooms, but I’d forgotten already.
Robin was warming up close by a collection of third year girls. One of which was looking purposefully the other way. Felicity sported a purple Mermaid scarf and flag and had a snooty look. Hunter stood near the bolt-hole primed like a cheetah, but looking like a fat human. The noise of the crowd electrified the stadium. My eyes drifted into the crowd — the Lily sat straight backed with a bored expression — he kind of looked like he wasn't really here, mind you, he knew magic some people could only dream about. I bet his body was here at the stadium, but he was actually in his office reading or something. Straker and Partington stood close on the Magisteer’s plinth, but were not talking. Mallard and Dodaline were in a deep conversation with Commonside, who was pointing angrily at a sheet of numbers. Wasp, Yelworca, and Yearlove were sitting, Wasp talking softly to Yelworca, probably telling him who was going to win because he had predicted the outcome from the stars.
Then, the Mermaids, who were a tall form, made their way out. It didn't take long before I was standing on the line, waiting for the whistle to go — my shoes ready to tap, my hands ready to spell and the crowd awaiting with bated breath.
“WE DID IT!” Gret cried embracing Robin and Simon in a rib cracking hug. I turned round as Dawn picked me up off the floor.
“You were amazing!” she cried.
Joanna was beaming at me. “You didn't follow any of my tactics, but I am so pleased you didn't!”
“Thanks!” I said as Dennis and Jess began a victory dance. It had been a cracking match. The Mermaids were great — scoring three goals in the first five minutes. We thought we were onto a hiding, but then Underwood sent off their captain for two games for an illegal spell — Ruby Knight, charmed the rook turret on the habitat to come alive and start smashing at us. I don’t think she quite realised the extent to what she had done. Anyway, we took advantage and won the match with a “LIBERO-MANUS!”
“And when you jumped off that mound and exchanged the pass with Jake!” Gret cried aloud, causing everyone to clap in agreement. “That was something else!”
In the end we had won the match by four games to one and were into the next round of the cup. I’d scored five goals, and by the end of the match the crowd had come round to applaud me softly — even though some refused. It was the most elated feeling I’ve ever had. They were applauding me, even though I didn’t have the jumper.
On the way back up to the castle some first years waited behind for us, greeting us like we were celebrities and following us all the way back up the hillside to school.
“Think about it for a second!” cried Roger Zapper (Jack Zapper’s little brother). “You are second years, and you just beat a third year team!”
At first I thought that I and the Magisteer assigned to me would be able to sniff the Djinn out in a couple of hours, then work it back into the incense holder and everything would be fine again. But now I realised how ridiculous this was. Every night Straker and I wandered the school trying to get some sight or sound of it. But we got nothing. Zilch. Nout.
Walking around at night with Straker had it’s up sides. I got to see things I wouldn’t normally. A few times now, we would be walking along and he’d get an alert from a ghost that someone was out of bed. He would then start to march in the direction of the culprit, me in toe, and I’d get to watch Straker give them an ear-lashing.
Three times now Straker had caught a boy in the sixth year called Aaron Fulford, who had been seeing a girl in the same year called… Frankie or something — they kept sneaking off together in the middle of the night. So Straker split them up.
“It is your own fault for getting caught. You’re sixth years, I would have assumed you could have thought up something a little more ingenious to cloak yourselves. This is the third and final time. You can see each other in break, lunch times and after lessons,” said Straker sounding thoroughly bored with them. Aaron and Frankie stood like naughty toddlers in the bathroom staring at the floor. “Until then, you can’t be trusted…” Straker raised his hands towards them.
!” cried Aaron, but he was too late. A red crack split the air between them.
“There. Now you are invisible to each other outside of the times allotted. Come to me at the end of the seventh year and I shall remove it.”
Aaron looked around madly, so too Frankie — when neither of them caught sight of the other, both burst into tears. “Bed!” Straker cried. “If I were you, I would concentrate on my studies. It probably won’t work out between you both anyway,” he said slyly as they made their way out of the bathrooms and back along the corridors to their dorms, completely invisible to each other. I didn't know whether to be fearful, amused or to just not care about what Straker had done.
“One more match in the cup and we’re in the final!” said Robin. “How
is that?” We were staring up at the Riptide Schedule that had been painted large on the wall in the Hall outside the Chamber.
with a picture of a brown bird and yellow and black frame sat in the list of the last four teams, underneath the words
There was an excited buzz in the air, a lot of people had filed into the Hall to check out who would be playing who — at midday, the schedule would be chosen.
In a shock happening, the favourites to win the Riptide cup and league, the Centaurs, had been knocked out by a second year team — the Swillows. Unfortunately, that was Jasper’s form. In my mind, that was just another reason why he was Malakai, he could use dark magic to defeat the best Riptide team in school.
In our previous cup match, the
no less, we were drawn a fortunate game against a first year side the Tiddlegawks. It was the easiest game I’ve ever played and we felt bad, but managed to get three Libero-Manuses.
The Manticores were watching the draw with bated breath, hanging on to each other. Even some of the Magisteers payed an interest — I could see Straker, standing in the shadows upstairs, casting a cold eye over the proceedings. Jasper and Tina were hanging off each other, with the rest of the Swillows watching on nervously. The draw was between us, the Condors, the Swillows, the Hesserbouts and the Manticores — two second year teams and two sixth year teams. I was excited, everyone was excited to see who we would play in the semi-final. Naturally the two sixth year teams, who saw this as their perfect opportunity to win the
cup, now that the Centaurs had been knocked out.
The Hall was packed and as the clock hit twelve there was a whistling noise. The huge painted schedule started to fizz and crackle. Then, the icons moved. Our Condor’s brown bird, the Swillows white bird, the Hesserbout’s silver sprat and the Manticore’s scorpion-tailed-lion, all began to move.
The Hesserbout icon moved first, climbing into the one of the four empty spaces under
There was an
from the crowd as the fizzing white stars made their next move. The Manticores painted icon moved slowly, its form dripping upwards along the line, until it came and sat opposite the Hesserbouts.
That meant, that we were playing the Swillow form! I was playing
! The crowd in the Hall broke out with talking, and shouts of excitement as the final move placed the Condors opposite the Swillows.
“We’ve got to
them!” cried Hunter grasping Robin, Jake and me by the necks with his long arms and pulling us into what he probably thought was an affectionate hug, but felt more like a physical duel. I wrestled myself free, before I was hugged by an excited gaggle of Condor girls.
“The Semi-Final! Can you believe it?” said Ellen, followed by the same remark from all the girls. My heart was racing, the rivalry between me and Jasper felt like it had reached fever-pitch. Some of the crowd were now staring between Jasper and me. Robin gave me a ‘
you alright about this?’
kind of look — I nodded, my chest felt tighter than when that flower had me in it’s grips.
“I don’t want to be exspelled,” I said quietly as me and Straker walked slowly and quietly along a discarded corridor.
Straker chuckled. “Of course you don’t. Who would?”
“I can’t go home…” I muttered.
“It’s only fair,” said Straker stern voiced. “You can see the Lily’s reasoning, anyone else would be exspelled for the same crime — this is your chance to recover yourself. He’s given you a chance.”
“True,” I said.
“It’s too dangerous to allow you to stay at the school indefinitely, you’ll be putting the other pupils in danger. Don’t you see? It’s only a matter of time until the Djinn is strong again, and it will be in the school… and who are the majority of people in this school? Children. They will be the victims,” he said gravely. “Alas, if the accidents we’ve already experienced continue we could have a hefty number in the Healers room, or worse. If, however you are exspelled, the Djinn has to follow. It cannot be too far away from you until it gains an independent life force.”
“Right, this is probably a stupid question but… why can’t the Lily just go after it? He’s much more powerful than me.” I shivered at the thought of the Djinn following me home — as if home wasn't bad enough.
“You’re right… it is a stupid question. There are a number of reasons. Firstly, it will destroy the Lily if he tries to find it. Secondly, only the
can vanquish it. And lastly, it’s your fault, why should the Lily clean up your mess?”
I sighed, he was right, but this was all getting too much. I felt like I would never find the blasted Djinn. I would end up living at home, being haunted by a Djinn — an exspelled, unqualified Wizard, forever.
to say I became exhausted by the whole routine. It became an effort to drag my caucus around to lessons, which were increasing — we now had double the lessons we did at the start of the year. As well as constant Riptide training and daily mile upon mile walks about the school with Straker’s miserable face next to me.
It crossed my mind to decide to search up high, near the clock tower and
find that hidden room that me and Robin found. The room that, in my mind was Jasper/Malakai’s room, the place where he hid all the special books, where he read about seventh sons to try and find out how to end me. Why else would Jasper be up there?
This whole year I had waved the possibility of Malakai returning away… but it was inevitable. If so, I was doomed. Not only did I have a Djinn after me, but also the most powerful Sorcerer alive.
In amongst this mess of routine, for I hardly knew what the day was most of the time — I actually forgot that it was my Birthday. Can you believe that? It took me until midday, after a gruelling lesson with Yearlove, while Robin was reading the Herrald, I was nearly asleep in plate of sandwiches when I looked across and noticed the date.
“Is that today’s paper?” I said.
Robin glanced at the front. “Fourteenth of April? Yeah why?”
It was my Birthday and I had forgotten. I was fourteen and no one even realised. I didn't know whether to be sad, or grateful. I bit into a sandwich. “It’s my Birthday…”
It was late April. Wind and rain battered the school continually. In class you could hear it hammering the windows and doors, the wind shaking them in their frames. The Magisteers had spent all Sunday reinforcing them with rain repelling spells, but it didn't stop the dungeons flooding, or one of the turret roves to collapse. Thankfully the Riptide Stadium stayed upright.
It was a year ago today that I had saved Ernie and Tina. All day I’d been dreamy, thinking about it. Yearlove asked me questions and I didn't notice, Wasp talked about my stars, I didn't care, and Commonside droned on about the numbers showing up something interesting for me soon, but I wasn't listening. My mind flashing back to that fateful day. The fright I felt descending into that dark basement where Malakai was and confronting him. I remember the dread of seeing his form. My thoughts flashed with the spell that killed me. And then… that wonderful feeling as I stepped onto the golden escalator… I sighed.
I had hardly seen Ernie in months, he kept to himself up in his high tower, alone. I heard that he had moved out of the Phoenix dorm because they were too loud and he wanted to concentrate alone on his work. I missed him. I wish he was a ghost again… no, that was a horrible thing to say. But as least I’d get to see him. In fact I wish I could go back to the first year.
And what about Tina? She was with Jasper now, but it would have been nice for her to acknowledge me — I had saved her and Ernie’s life.