Everett opened his eyes groggily. It took him a few seconds to register exactly where he was, but when he did, he groaned. “Why couldn’t this be a dream?” he muttered to himself as he got ready. Once dressed, he pulled out his schedule.

8:00 - Weapons Training

9:05 - Breakfast

10:00 - Greek as a Second Language

11:30-

“Wait!” Everett thought to himself, “there’s training before breakfast?” He flopped back on his bed. “I’d prefer it if this were a dream,” he said aloud.

“Hello?” said a voice from the hallway. “Anybody in there?” The question was followed by a loud knock on the door. Everett sighed as he stood up and walked to the door. When he opened it up he saw a brown haired boy with a big smile on his face.

“Hi! You must be Everett,” he said as he walked past Everett into his room, “My name’s Austin. I have been assigned to be your buddy. Basically what that means is I have a similar schedule to yours, and since I have been here for a lot longer than you have, I get to show you around.” He finished with a grin, as he held out his hand to shake. Everett shrugged, and shook his hand.

“I’m Everett,” he spoke before remembering that Austin already knew his name. “But… you already know that,” Everett trailed off awkwardly. Austin just chuckled.

“You’re funny,” Austin commented. “Now, do you have a weapon yet?” He asked quickly, as he scanned the room. “Because if you hadn’t noticed training starts in… twenty minutes.” He paused looking at his watch.

Everett nodded, still somewhat tired, as he grabbed his sheathed sword from where it was leaning against the yellow section of the wall. As he buckled the scabbard around his waist, he looked up at Austin.

“Do I need to bring anything else?” He asked.

“Well that all depends. Breakfast only lasts thirty minutes, so technically, you have time to run back to your room before Greek, but some people like to take their stuff with them so they don’t have to run back, and then they have free time. So the real question is, do you want free time?” Everett thought about it the question.

“I think, I’ll just take my sword,” Everett replied. Austin nodded before walking towards the door.

“Let’s go then.” The two began walking to the “battle arena” as Austin called it, all the way Austin would fill him in on different things. It was like a second tour, except this time they were actually walking slow enough for Everett to pay attention.

“So when we’re at training, they’ll most likely separate the two of us, because my primary weapon is the bow,” Austin pointed at the bow strapped to his back, “and you picked a sword. Don’t worry though, because they might put you with my girlfriend Avery. She’s shy like you and really cool.” Austin snickered at something, but Everett was still too hazy from exhaustion to care.

They ended up getting there three minutes late. After the thorough scolding from Mr. Lysander, Everett was sent over to the sword and dagger group, unanimously renamed the Fancy Knives Club. Everett was confused once again of what exactly he was supposed to do, that was, until a fairly pretty girl about his own age, with her dark hair in twin braids, gave him a small nod to get him to come over. Everett looked around a bit before slowly making his way over to where she was sitting.

“Hi,” Everett said awkwardly.

“Hey,” she said as she sheathed the twin daggers she was holding. “You were the one glowing last night at dinner.” She stated more so than asked. When Everett nodded in response she continued. “I’m Avery,” she said as she took in his facial expression.

“Oh!” Everett said as realization dawned on him. “You’re Austin’s girlfriend.”

“Yeah.” Even though Everett was oblivious to most things, he noticed the small blush creeping up Avery’s face. “Anyway,” she said as the blush faded, “if you’re lost just wait a second and we’ll start soon.” He nodded and sat down next to Avery. After a few minutes of waiting, a guy, the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome, walked over to them..

“Hey Avery,” he greeted with a small smile, with what seemed to be fangs, before turning to Everett. “You’re that glowing kid from last night.” Everett gave a small nod in response.

“Everett.”

“Cool, I’m Koa, son of Keto, the leader, and general overseer of The Fancy Knives Club. Since nobody has joined our club in a while, and everybody here knows what they’re doing, not including Avery, who never pays attention, I will be helping you personally. Unless you just want to watch today, and I’ll train with someone else…” Koa drawled, as he looked at Avery, eyebrows raised.

“I think I’ll just watch.” Everett said simply. He then looked over at Avery who huffed.

“Fine,” she said taking Koa’s hand as he helped her stand up. Everett laughed a bit when Koa glanced over and winked at him. He was settling into his spot to watch when someone nudged him from behind.

“Need a little competition? I’m no expert, but I’m not half bad with a fancy knife, if I do say so myself.” It was Rae.

→ ←

She had been watching from the edge of the arena, toiling away at her catapult maintenance when she saw her sister start to train with Koa. Rae laughed. She knew how much her sister had been hoping for a day off to just watch.

Everett sat down to observe, but Rae would be shirking her duties as his mentor and guide if she let him get away with no work at training. So she snuck up behind him after grabbing a sword for herself.

He was reluctant, but her commanding look told him he didn’t really have a choice, even if she had phrased it like a question. So he stood and they squared off.

She tapped the insides of his ankles with the tip of the sword. “Wider,” she said, correcting his stance. “Now hold it like you mean it.” She hefted her sword high and gripped it tight, her eyes looking wild. Everett gulped and started to glow orange at the sight of her.

Then Rae swung without barely a warning. “Go!”

Everett barely had time to bring his arm up to block as the steel clanged, his glow flaring a brighter orange.

Rae laughed. “I’m going easy on you, Mood Ring.” And then she was swinging at him again.

→ ←

Everett was anxious. He was waiting for something bad to happen. He thought he might lose his grip on the sword, or trip over something. Neither happened. Instead what happened was time seemed to speed up. Everything that was happening blurred. Everett looked down at his own hands and they looked hazy. However, even though Everett couldn’t really see clearly, he knew what he was doing. He could feel himself dodging a quick stroke and then returning a few of his own.

When time slowed back to its normal pace, Rae didn’t have a sword anymore, and she was bent over, resting her hands on her knees, breathing heavily. Everett staggered forward a few steps when he was hit with what seemed like a battering ram but was actually Koa’s hand.

“Nice going Everett. Or should I say, nice glowing, cause whatever that orange color did, it worked,” Koa said while he laughed. He then held out his hand for Everett’s sword, when Everett obliged, Koa examined it.

“This is also a very nice longsword you picked.” Koa praised as he looked at the blade. “Elysian steel, I think. Perfectly balanced, I don’t know who made this one.” When Koa noticed Everett’s confused expression, he clarified.

“Certain students prefer to work in the armory, where they make these weapons. It’s common courtesy to find the maker of your weapon and thank them. I know pretty much everyone in there, and on normal circumstances I would be able to tell you who made your sword, their styles are very distinctive, but I don’t know who made this.” Koa shook his head. “Maybe you can ask pupule over there. She is orientation queen,” Koa whispered as he handed Everett his sword back.

Everett shrugged and made his way over to Rae. “Do you happen to know someone newish that works in the armory?” He asked quietly, as he still didn’t quite know how to word that sentence.

→ ←

“I know everyone, Mood Ring,” she said casually as she was bent over her catapult gears. “What do you need to know the new Hephaestus girl for?” Rae stood up and put a hand on her hip. She was eye level with the boy.

“Well, Koa told me its kinda tradition to thank the person who made your weapon. So I wanna thank her,” Everett said.

Rae nodded and the corner of her lips quirked up. “That’s sweet of you. Sure thing, I’ll take you to see Mellany. That’s if we can find her…” She took off at her usual quick pace, but this time she stopped at the entrance of the arena to turn around and ask, “You coming?”

Everett hopped to and followed after Rae with his sword in hand.

They trekked to the armory, but once inside Rae turned to the right and opened a door, leading them down a staircase to a basement system of workshops. The temperature spiked to a sweltering degree, leaving their skin instantly sticky. Forges were running at top notch and the sound of hammers on metal clanged through the halls. Scraps of all kinds of materials littered the floors from where they spilled out of rooms.

Rae scrunched up her face. “I hate the heat,” she complained. She noticed then that Everett had turned a purple-ish color, which was one she wasn’t familiar with.

They rounded a corner and Rae knocked once on the door at the same time she opened it. “Mellany? You in here?” Rae poked her head in, then backed out and kept moving down the hall.

She did the same a few times more until someone threw a hammer at her head. “Get out!” a gruff voice bellowed as she dodged the hammer, letting it smash into the wall behind her.

“That’s not very nice,” she said, daringly peering into the room again. “I’m just looking for Mellany.” Inside, the boy who had thrown the tool at Rae was stepping away from a girl he had just been making out with. Peeved at having been interrupted, he growled again, “Out. Now.”

“Fine, fine,” Rae said with raised hands as she backed out the room, closing the door but leaving it cracked like an overbearing mother.

Rae and Everett continued to make their way through the halls when a voice sounded, “Wait,” and footsteps could be heard catching up behind them. The broad-shouldered boy Rae had just argued with caught up and said, “Mellany, the new girl? She’s in the closet back the way you came on the left.”

A closet? No wonder they had missed it. Rae doubled back and knocked politely on the closet door, waiting a grand total of one second before cracking it open. “Mellany?”

All she could see at first were shelves with supplies on them, but past the shelves in the back corner was a girl confined and twisted around a tiny work table with only a single lamp to illuminate whatever it was she was engrossed with.

Rae cleared her throat. “Hey, Mellany,” she said a little louder. The girl startled and turned around to reveal her brown eyes and curly brown hair with matching eyebrows. “Remember me?”

Mellany nodded wordlessly. Of course, how could anyone forget Rae?

“And you’ve been doing well? You ran off after I took you to the Mess Hall a few weeks ago and I haven’t seen you since. Have you just been hiding down here in this closet? And do you want me to talk to the workshop coordinator about getting you a decent space? I can do that for you if you’d like.”

The girl stared mutely, a bit overwhelmed by Rae’s barrage of questions. “I’m- I’m fine. And no, you don’t have to do that. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble,” she said as quietly as a mouse. “Was that all you came for?”

“Well, actually there is someone here to see you. Theo, meet Mellany. Mellany, Theo. He’s new too and has a question for you.”

→ ←

Everett took a step forward pulling out the sword. “Did you make this?” Mellany’s eyes widened at his question.

“Yeah, I made that. Is it horrible? It’s probably horrible.” She babbled, looking down.

“No.” Everett reassured her. “I came to thank you.”

“For the sword?”

“Yeah, I really like it.” Everett said glowing yellow, but Mellany didn’t notice as she blushed.

“Thanks I like it too.” The two of them stood awkwardly after that, neither of them knowing what to do next.

“So how’d a newbie like you get your hands on Elysian steel? I hear that’s pretty rare. And how did the sword end up in the overflow pile of weapons?” Rae asked, her head tilted to the side. Mellany was jarred into action.

“Uh, well, you know,” she swallowed. “If it didn’t work out, they could’ve just melted it back down and used it for something else, and as far as why it ended up in the overflow, well I didn’t exactly want to put it in there. It’s just tradition to put the second weapon you make in the overflow, especially if you kept the first one, which I did.” Her hand drifted to the sheathed throwing knife at her side.

“Oh. Do you want it back?” Everett asked as he reached for the hilt. Unconsciously, the glowing aura returned this time a deep navy blue.

“Woah.” Mellany looked at him in awe. “You’re, he’s glowing,” she said as she turned to Rae, her thick eyebrows were halfway up her forehead.

Rae put a hand on Everett’s hand over the hilt, pushing the sword back into the sheath. “You’re keeping it,” she said, and then to Mellany, “He’s a human mood ring, but only for himself. Don’t ask him to tell you what you’re feeling, even if it’s obvious that it’s blatant shock.”

“She’s not in shock.” Everett said abruptly, not exactly knowing what he was doing. “She’s just surprised and really intrigued, but I’m not exactly sure if that’s because I’m glowing, or if it’s because she wants to know why I picked her sword.” He finished almost in a haze, as he stared at some point beyond Mellany.

Rae stared at him before a smile blossomed. “So you can tell other people’s moods.”

Everett shook his head, his hat flopping to the side.

“Huh?”

→ ←

Instead of confusing the poor boy further, as evident by his white glow and somewhat adorable black spirals gleaming around him, Rae chuckled and hooked him by the arm. “I’d say that was a decent enough show of gratitude. Let’s get out of this sauna. I’m burning up.” She pulled him out of the closet, pausing only to say goodbye to Mellany. It was obvious she made that girl uncomfortable.

On the way down the hall, Rae stopped to kick open the door of the boy’s workshop she had interrupted earlier. Not really caring that he was busy kissing a girl again, she said, “Thanks for showing us the way. Oh, and maybe you could try and get her something better than a closet? I think she might be your best swordsmith yet.”

“I’m a swordsmith,” he said, his deep voice rumbling with annoyance.

“Yes, well, obviously experience doesn’t always trump talent.”

Before he could throw another tool at her head, she closed the door and headed down the hall.

She took a deep breath outside of the armory as if she had been underwater the whole time. Then, looking around, she spoke, “I’m starving. Do you think the mess hall is still serving breakfast?”

→ ←

Later in the day, Everett was walking through the woods, on his way to The Foundations of Swordsmanship class. He was alone, because Austin obviously didn’t have to go to a class on swords, but he did point out that the quickest way to the class was through the woods.

As Everett made his way through the woods, he heard a noise. It wasn’t anything more than a simple bush shaking, but it still put him on edge. He had good instincts though, as within seconds he was surrounded by three boys. The one who had jumped in front of him, a moderately good looking boy with cropped blonde hair, gave him a malicious smirk.

“Hey glow worm,” the boy sneered. “The name’s Sayer, son of Hybris.” Everett furrowed his eyebrows.

“Cool,” he said nodding. When Sayer kept staring, but made no attempt to do anything else, Everett tried to walk past him. Before he could move more than a foot, the two boys who were standing behind him advanced. They tackled him to the ground, his glasses falling off and cracking. Securing his hands together, as well as his feet, with two lengths of rope, they hefted Everett to his feet before moving him a bit deeper into the woods.

“What are you doing! What’s the point of all this? I didn’t do anyth-” Everett was cut off when Sayer’s fist connected with his cheek. There was a throbbing pain, as his head flung to the side, blood welling in his mouth. He knew it was gonna bruise… bad.

“Shut up, glow worm.” Sayer said through gritted teeth. The two other boys were securing him to a tree by tying a rope around his abdomen and knotting it on the other side of the tree, his hat falling off in the process. If it weren’t for his already bound hands, and the almost unbearable pressure on his internal organs, it would have been a very poor form of restraint. Everett turned his head to spit out some blood and saliva.

“So here’s what happening, glow worm,” Sayer said as if this whole situation were a nuisance to him. “This is simply a greeting, a way to inform you on how this school runs.” Sayer paused before punching Everett again, this time hitting his brow bone, forming a small cut. Everett’s head bounced back hitting the tree hard, leaving Everett dazed, mostly blinded, and mildly concussed.

“You will do what I say, whenever I say it,” he began pacing back and forth, never once breaking eye contact with Everett. “But you will be happy to know that I rarely ask my followers for anything. I simply need you when your powers are needed, and you, glow worm, do simply that, you glow. So I’ll call on you next time I need a flashlight.” Sayer finished his monologue with another swift punch to the face that would leave a black eye. Sayer turned around about to walk away before he paused.

“Oh, and I reward those who do what they’re told.” He turned to the two other boys. “He’s all yours.” Sayer walked away swiftly, just as the two advanced, menacing smiles on their faces and bloodlust in their eyes.