Grave Walker

To the untrained eye, Victoria Beauregard is a normal sixteen year old girl. That is until she's whisked away to the Verexium, an ancient school created to train Verum, a coalition of people with magic coursing through their veins. Outbreaks of war with the Evelore, the Verum's sworn enemy, threatens their way of life and their very existence, and their fate rests in the hands of a girl raised outside of the society.

Victoria is their Sentinel, their Protector, maybe even the one destined to destroy the Evelore's bloodthirsty leaders, Evelyn LaReizo and the mysterious Grave Walker, once and for all. But no road to victory comes tragedy and deceit. It's up to Victoria to save the Verum from their eminent demise or to lead them down a path from which even they cannot return.

**Credit for cover @ beginning of Ch. 1**

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3. III -- Blue-Eyed Bubble Burster

I was abruptly awoken by pounding on my door. "Yes?" I grumbled.

"It's Silva! Let me in. I have a present!" I crawled out of bed and opened the door. Silva rushed in carrying a carved chestnut-colored wooden box, which she set on my desk.

"This," she tapped the box, "is for you!"

"What is it?"

"Open it, and you'll find out," Silva smirked. An aura guarded the box, cloaking it with little rays of purple light that rolled like waves in the ocean. The box itself was innately carved with many different runes. Across the top it read, In quicunque aperit buxum oportet descendere a nostris initia.

"To whoever opens this box," I translated, "you must descend from our beginnings."

"It's totally meant for you. Our beginnings, Verum beginnings, it's obviously talking about the Master and Masteress!" Silva giggled. How the heck did she expect me to open this thing? I could put my hand through the aura, but that didn't do anything. Finally, after many failed attempts, I tried reading the phrase across the top. The aura vanquished, and the box popped open. I dropped it in surprise as Silva squealed, "It worked! Didn't I tell you it would work?"

"Yeah," I let out a heavy breath, "You did." Silva reached inside the box and pulled out a tight jumper-style outfit made of a radiant dark purple fabric.

"Oh Deus meus," Silva exclaimed. I raised an eyebrow at her, and she gave me an apologetic smile. She didn't grasp the concept that though I'm Verum, I still prefer English to Latin. "This is the most beautiful battle suit I've ever seen!" I had to admit that she was right. It was breathtaking. I didn't bother to ask her what we used battle suits for as I was a bit distracted by the fact that something else had appeared in the once empty box.

"There's still something in there," I whispered.

"What? No, that's not . . .  " Silva stared as I pulled out a steel sabre which had obviously been charmed a multitude of times by spells and runes, because it was engulfed by pure white light. Roxie told me that you could only see extremely strong magic. The extent of its strength depended on its color, which appeared in the form of an aura. The magic that surrounded the box was only slight in comparison to the magic on this sword.

"I think you should put that somewhere safe," Silva said, suddenly very serious. I set the sabre back into the box, which transformed — all silver with no openings, swirling designs laid all about, and a single word inscribed across the top, Primum.

"Okay, so that's gone forever . . .  " Silva sighed.

"What do you mean?" If I read the top, wouldn't it open again? "What about the script on top?"

"What script?" she looked at me as if I'd lost my mind, "That box is completely blank."

"Only I can see it," I murmured.

"What?"

"That's how the sword gets protected. Only I know the magic word to open it!"

"Sounds like a special touch our creators would throw in," Silva laughed, "Now, you're going to put that battle suit on, right?"

"Why would I?"

"Tori, come on! Every Verum wears their battle suit to their classes. It's a tradition, not that I care about that. I just think they look hot. Mine's black, which is super boring, but yours is gorgeous. If you don't wear it, I swear I'll have a fit!"

"Fine," I took the silky suit into the bathroom, slipped off my pajamas, and shimmied it up my body. When I walked out, Silva couldn't control her excitement, but I could sense a twinge of jealousy.

"You lucky duck! That is officially the most amazing battle suit ever to walk the Earth. Loylit Vex sure had style!"

"This belonged to the Masteress?"

"Of course! Why would it matter enough to be locked away in a magical box if some nobody wore it, hm?"

"Point made," I laughed.

"Ooh, I have to go. I promised Roxie I'd meet up with her before class. I'll see you later!" Silva rushed out the door, and I moved to look at myself in the mirror. I'd never felt pretty before, but I could almost see it . . .  I looked pretty — the way my dark strawberry blonde hair contrasted with the purple, my gray eyes so light they almost seemed silver. It was as if the suit completed me, but that feeling only lasted for a sheer second, then it was gone. I noticed Sebastian out of the corner of my eye, standing in my doorway and watching me. How long had he been there, and what was he doing there anyway?

He cleared his throat, "Hey uh . . .  just thought I'd show you to class." I turned around with my best look of pretend surprise.

 "Oh hi, that'd be nice. Thanks." There was a long awkward pause as I grabbed my jacket. It was only the middle of fall in Vermont, but I was freezing!

"So, where are we going?" Sebastian asked, breaking the silence. Right. I needed to tell him where I had to go so he could get me there.

"I have Masonry with Bloake first," I replied, glancing at my schedule even though I didn't need to. I memorized it so I'd be ready for my Verum training. I had alotof catching up to do.

"Okay," Sebastian led me through a bunch of hallways, and we made so many turns that I thought he himself might have been lost, but finally, we stopped in front of a classroom with various weapons all over the walls.

"This is a classroom?" I stared. I could barely tell that there were walls as they were so entirely covered by metal!

Sebastian rolled his eyes, "Would I have brought you here otherwise?" Geez, what happened to friendly Sebastian? How could he be nice one minute and then a total jerk another? He really needed to choose an attitude already.

"Sorry, I didn't know," I shrugged.

"Whatever. Just stay here after class until I come and get you. We don't need you wandering all over the school and getting yourself lost," and with that, he turned and walked away. Excuse me? What did he think I was, a dog? I huffed, muttering indignantly, and stormed into the Masonry classroom. I sat down in the back corner and glared, completely zoned out. I was just about to scream out of utter frustration when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I slowly lifted my head from the desk, and a pair of shining blue eyes filled with concern met my gaze.

"Something wrong?" the boy asked.

"Oh, nope," I lied, "just frustrated, first day jitters."

"I knew I hadn't seen you in here before. I definitely would have remembered seeing a girl like you. Do you mind if I sit here?" he asked casually.

"Go ahead," I glanced at him. He had spiked light brown hair and those amazing eyes. He wore a dark gray battle suit. I smiled a bit. He was way cute.

"I'm Liam Tuck by the way," he leaned over and whispered to me as Bloake walked by, going into the next room to talk to a fellow teacher. God, Liam was close, way past intruding-my-personal-space-bubble close.

 I stifled a smile and whispered back, "Victoria Beauregard."

He laughed, "I know who you are. I mean look at what you're wearing," He pointed at my shining purple cat suit, "I think everyone knows who you are."

"Hm, is it that obvious?" I kidded, "So what's your calling? You already know mine."

"I'm an Armicustos. We build metal armor and weapons for our warriors. The magical protections that battle suits give aren't always enough. I just started at the school this year as well, but unlike you, I didn't start mid-year. The classes for first years aren't bad. You might even like a few of them. This class . . .  " The bell rang, calling for class to start and interrupting Liam mid-sentence, and Professor Bloake reappeared.

"Hello class," he said, "Today we will be discussing the names of enchanted weapons." Bloake had a heavy Russian accent, a thick mustache, and dark, sharp eyes. He'd probably had blonde hair when he was younger, but it was clear it had long since been gray. He looked to be in his mid-50s. Bloake lectured us on how weapons were named. I learned that the first owner of a weapon named it and that name would carry on with the weapon throughout the centuries. My sabre was named Primum, meaning first. If my suspicions were right, the Master had named this weapon and gifted it to his sister, the more talented of the two in combat. Kyson was the artisan and Loylit, the fighter. I discovered that when a weapon is named, if the name is appropriate and unused, a beam of light bursts from the heavens, and the magic in it will only respond if the owner knows that name. He showed us a maul named Rex Mortis or King of Death. A famous Verum warrior wielded this weapon in his time, we were told.

Another was a spear made as a gift to Princesa Valencia del Juarez, the daughter of a powerful Spanish royal family. Being a Spaniard and not knowing Latin, she named it El Destino de la Vida or The Destiny of Life. I fell in love with the story Bloake told about Valencia. She was known as the warrior princess. All bowed in her presence and honored her with the deepest devotion. The one thing I didn't like about Bloake's class was trying to decipher his accent. I've always been terrible with them. I got a D in Algebra because my teacher had a strong accent, and I never understood what she was saying. The bell rang, dismissing us from our first class. I looked at the clock. Time really had gone faster than I'd expected it to.

"As I was saying earlier," Liam started, "this class is great once you get use to Bloake's accent. It took me two months before I actually started liking the class."

I laughed, "I really liked his lesson . . .  it helped me learn about my new sword."

"Fancy!" Liam joked, "So I'll be seeing you later most likely?" With us both being first years, it seemed possible for us to have more classes together. I really hoped we would!

"Most likely," I said.

"I look forward to then," Liam waved and walked off, pushing his way through the crowded halls. I had just stopped to wait for Sebastian when Alexander walked up.

"Victoria!" he called, "Where are you going?"

"Well, I was waiting for Sebastian to show me the way to Rummy's class, but he's nowhere to be seen."

"That's on my way. I can take you there if you'd like?"

"That'd be great!" I'd show Sebastian not to treat me the way he had. He was going to learn the hard way that if he wanted me to play nice, he'd have to be nice to me. By the time Sebastian found me, Alexander had already walked me to the practice field and was saying goodbye. I could see Sebastian staring daggers at the back of Alex's head.

"It's been a pleasure walking with you, Miss Beauregard," Alex bowed slightly. He looked toward Sebastian and then back at me. He kissed my cheek and whispered goodbye, squeezing my hand, the hand he healed. I couldn't help but blush ever so slightly. It only took a matter of moments before Sebastian stormed up to me, fury glowing in his light green eyes.

"What was that?" he growled.

"What was what?" I looked at him, an expression of indifference claiming my face.

"I specifically told you to wait for me!"

"Why didn't you tell me to sit down and roll over while you were at it?" I snapped and crossed my arms. He knew I was hurt. I saw that clearly in his eyes.

He sighed, "Look, I'm sorry about the way I acted earlier. I'm having rough day too, okay? Would you please wait for me next time?"

"Fine, I will. See? All you had to do was ask nicely."

Sebastian shook his head like a parent would at a headstrong child, "I'll be back later." In Combat Training, we practiced fencing. On many occasions, Gianna — Miss Rummy had us call her Gianna because calling her Miss made her feel old — told me that my technique was beautiful and that I was a natural fencer. Gianna was quickly becoming one of my favorite teachers. She was less nitpicky and condescending. Being in her early twenties, she knew that kids were going to be kids and to let us do what we wanted, so long as it wasn't too crazy. Shewas Chilean, tall and slender with long black hair and brown eyes. She was nimble and light on her feet, one of the many reasons why she was such a good fencer. Sebastian showed up promptly after class ended just as he'd said he would. "Next class?" he asked.

"Conjuration with Mademoiselle Harlot."

Sebastian laughed, "Got it."

"What's so funny?"

"You'll see," he said. Mademoiselle Harlot's room was much closer to Combat Training than Professor Bloake's class had been to my dorm. We turned one corner, and we were already there.

"I won't be here to show you around later, but I take it you can handle yourself. Silva or Roxie might be able to be your tour guide, but I don't know for certain." I couldn't help but wonder as he walked away what was so important that after his grumpy tirade, Sebastian had to go off and attend to it.

As soon as I walked into Mademoiselle Harlot's room, I understood what Sebastian found amusing. Miss Harlot was very pretty. She had light wavy blonde hair and blue eyes. Her lips were rouged, and she wore a more revealing outfit than you'd expected the average high school teacher to wear. I mean, it wasn't bad, but it was questionable. The funniest part was the fact that every boy in class was seated as close to the front as they could get and were gawking at her. I couldn't help but laugh. I looked around for Liam, but didn't see him. I was actually relieved. I didn't feel the need to see him mesmerized by Miss Harlot's pretty face.

"Good morning, my little prodigies," Miss Harlot cooed in a light French accent, "Today we will be practicing our conjuration skills. We will stretch our minds to their capacities and do amazing things, eventually. But today, we will learn how to conjure a rainstorm." Conjure a rainstorm? What was she talking about? Those things are huge! "Each of you will create a small rain cloud so that I can quickly dissipate them at the end of class." That made a lot more sense than anything she'd said prior, but I knew that I wasn't remotely prepared for this. "The first step to conjuration is . . .  ?"

"To imagine your finished product," the class murmured.

"Imagine, my children!" I focused as deeply as I could on a little storm cloud. My mom and I had lived in Florida for a while when I was little, so it wasn't hard to get an image in my head. "Do you all have a picture?"

"Yes."

"Now you must use your senses," Harlot announced, "How does your cloud look? Do you see lightning? How does it feel? What does it sound like? Do you hear thunder? How does it smell? Is it a sea cloud, hence a taste of salt? Or maybe it smells clean like the air after a heavy inland rain?" I perfected my cloud in my mind and heard a small crackle. I opened my eyes, and in front of me, sat my little storm. I gasped, and as suddenly as it had come, it disappeared.

"Miss Beauregard," Harlot said, "to maintain your conjuration you need to maintain focus until it becomes a reality. If you were stranded on an island with no food, how helpful would it be to be able to conjure food, but not be able to eat it for it had not become real?"

"I understand, Miss." The bell rang, and with a swish of her hand, Mademoiselle Harlot removed all the clouds from her class.

"Dismissed!" she called to us, and we all left the classroom. I got the feeling that Miss Harlot didn't like me very much. Why, I didn't know. Conjuration was my least favorite class, courtesy of Mademoiselle Harlot. I'd decided to head back to my dorm and relax, maybe get a little peace and quiet during lunch, when guess who found me? Silva waved and skipped over to me.

"Just the girl I was looking for!" she chirped, "Follow me."

"Why?" I asked. What did she have in store for me now? Silva was simply full of crazy little surprises! She rolled her eyes, grabbed my arm, and dragged me after her. For such a delicate looking girl, she was pretty strong.

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