Lost Stories of The Spiral: Life in the Dark

The Lost Story Of Dragonspyre Academy: Life in the Dark

Written by Taryn Spiritsmith

Lost Stories of the Spiral 2nd Place Winner

Picture 2016-08-07 10-18-57

Diana, of all the choices that she had regretted over the years—taking Mark Lionshield’s ice cream cone, riding her brother’s bike down the stairs and breaking her arm, her decision not to study for the exams following her first and subsequently only year at Ravenwood—wholeheartedly did not regret becoming a Theurgist in the instant that she stepped through the doors to Dragonspyre Academy’s Necromancy classroom.

Crazy necro_School_Of_DeathThe room was brimming over with shadows; the walls were an overwhelming black, and the granite floors she’d come to learn were rather common in Dragonspyre were astonishingly dark as well. Desks sat in neat rows leading up to a much larger desk at the head of the classroom, each made of polished black wood that gleamed in the dim green candlelight flickering from sconces that hung on the walls. It seemed that this same wood was used in making the picture frames that sat between the sconces, bordering portraits of what she could only guess were previous Death professors. Diana flinched at their cold, stony stares and black silk robes, and as she glanced down at the few students that had strayed behind from the previous class period, she noted a sort of resemblance. Thick, leather-bound books were stacked in tidy, albeit dusty piles around the desk at the front of the room, and the round wax candles seated above them dripped steadily as the same emerald flames burning from the sconces engulfed each wick. Not surprisingly, there weren’t any windows—she supposed that in accordance with their chosen school they would rather work by candlelight than the odd crimson daylight streaming from the swirling sky outside—and she nearly felt trapped, despite the fact that she was standing in an open doorway.

Biting the inside of her cheek, a habit of hers, she made her way to a seat at the back of the room, hoping no one noticed the sudden flair of color in a room lacking it, and quietly drew her spell deck from her uniform pocket and began shuffling through the cards. Maybe if anyone did notice her, she thought, they would see that she was distracted and decide not to say anything to her. If there had been anything she’d learned about kids her age during her spell at Ravenwood, it was that attention wasn’t typically a good thing.

Diana had already been to her first Theurgy class at the academy that morning, which she found to be a rather interesting experience Jewel Life 1as the professor here was much different than the one she had had at her previous school. At Ravenwood, Professor Earthsong was a patient, older man with a long graying beard and mushrooms growing between his fingers, who preferred to teach outside on the grass rather than in the Life classroom. At the academy, Professor Greenglade, a thin woman permanently scarred with a frown, was very no-nonsense and had a voice like a whip, and by the end of the class, Diana had resolved not to be caught on the receiving end of it.

Now, she was sitting in Potions 1, waiting for the professor and the rest of the class to stream in. A clock rested on the wall at the front of the room, and the Theurgist squinted to read the time—8:47—and wondered why nearly half of the seats were empty only three minutes to the start of class. If she went with what she had already seen from the tour guide and her Theurgy professor, she would guess that Dragonspyre Academy was much stricter than Ravenwood and that the students would feel pressured to arrive at class even just a little early.

Picture 2016-08-07 10-17-58Suddenly, something dropped into the seat to her right; she was forced to sneak a glance out of the corner of her eye at the boy in the black academy uniform sitting beside her. Hard features decorated his gaunt face, with edged cheekbones and an oddly square jawline as though it had been chiseled from stone. As per Dragonspyre custom, his jet black hair was cropped close to his head and combed neatly so that even if she tried she wouldn’t be able to find a hair out of place. The boy’s eyes were dark, trained on the front of the room without wavering so much as an inch in any direction, and reminded her of the professors in the portraits. It wasn’t terribly hard to guess what sort of magic he was focused on.

Diana was a bit disappointed that she seemed to be the only student in the room who studied something other than Necromancy. She knew it had been a fairly popular choice at Ravenwood, and didn’t imagine it to be much different here. It wouldn’t do her any good to complain about it, though—rather, she brought her cards closer to her face and flipped through them casually, pretending to pay close attention to the emerald borders and casting costs.

Moments later, something buzzed in her ears. Diana blinked and glanced around as the other students seemed to react to the same thing. She assumed it must have been a bell of some sort: she had heard it at the beginning and end of her Theurgy class. With a small sigh, she slid her deck back into its sleeve and slipped the whole thing into her pocket.

Diana lifted her pale green eyes to the walkway running through the center of the Necromancy classroom, where she found the remainder of the class shuffling in, a mess of colors that meant that there was hope yet for the other schools of magic, and as a girl in bright orange and another boy in bright, frosty blue found their respective seats around her, the corner of her mouth twitched. She could almost smile; the bleakness of the room and the knowledge that if she smiled, some comments would be made about her kept her from completing the action.

A light, amicable chatter settled over the room, primarily among those not dressed in black, she noticed, but it was over as quickly as itHades_Boy had begun as a tall figure strode at a fast pace down the freshly empty walkway, footsteps muffled on the thin carpet, head held high with a short curtain of dark, slightly greasy hair falling around—shocker—his colorless robes, outfit brightened only by the Dragonspyre Academy badge ironed onto the breast pocket and the thin stripe of red circling his pointed hat. Diana found it strange that this man was part of the academy yet void of the uniform, wearing instead a thick cloak that met the floor at his feet, and a hat like Professor Earthsong might have worn.

The man made his way to the front of the room and turned to face the students, leaning on the desk as he did so, and Diana couldn’t help but wince and wonder what had happened as she took in the eyepatch clinging tightly to the skin surrounding his left eye.

He clasped his hands together behind his back and cleared his throat, a low sort of growl that set the Theurgist on edge, and addressed the class in a gravelly, weathered tone: “Good morning, students.” He didn’t bother to wait for the chorus of good mornings that tended to follow and didn’t seem to want one. “My name is Octavius Shadowhand if you haven’t already heard, but as you are my students, and I your professor, I think it would be fitting that you refer to me as Professor Shadowhand, would it not?” If Professor Shadowhand expected an answer, this time, he didn’t get one. “I’m to be your Potions instructor during your remaining time at Dragonspyre Academy. Seeing as this is your Adept year, I have no doubt that most of you will excel in my class. However, as always, if you should encounter troubles along the way, you are welcome to see me if I happen to be available.”

Diana doubted that anyone was going to accept this invitation.
She looked again at the Necromancer beside her, admittedly curious, and frowned at the boy’s unchanged grim expression and the dead gaze in his eyes. His hands rested atop his desk, folded and free of motion without so much as a twitch to break their bond. He himself was stiff, back straight and head lifted in a similar manner to Professor Shadowhand. The Necromancer reminded Diana of her brother’s toys, in a way: lifeless, fixed in a single pose indefinitely.

She frowned. Was it just something about Dragonspyre that made wizards carry themselves the way they did, with such regality and poise? That made them hostile towards each other? Or was it something else?

TT-WClibraryAdmittedly, she didn’t know much about the academy or the world on which it sat. The Wizard City library, despite its numerous books and scrolls, didn’t have nearly so much on Dragonspyre as it did on the other worlds of the Spiral. The few books that she had managed to find mentioned that many of the world’s inhabitants took to learning the art of dragon-riding, and went into a long, detailed history that Diana possessed neither the patience nor the willingness to venture through. She had doubted that knowledge about dragon-riding would be of much use to her at a school focused on magical arts.

She certainly didn’t think it could be just Necromancers, though. Her Life professor had proven someone not to be trifled with within the first five minutes of class, and Diana knew most of the Theurgists at Ravenwood to be passive, definitely not like they mentally wanted to wage war with the world.

Suddenly, the boy’s eyes flicked over in her direction, and she quickly looked away, only to glance back a moment later and find him glaring at her. Diana blinked, and parted her lips to mouth something to him before realizing that firstly, she didn’t know what to tell him and that secondly, she didn’t think that Professor Shadowhand was the type not to notice. She would have preferred not to get on the professor’s bad side on her first day, and could definitely live without the attention it would bring her.

She pursed her lips and set her gaze back to the professor, and bit the inside of her cheek.

The rest of class flew by, with Professor Shadowhand informing the students of his plans for the year and handing out a few helpful tips, one of them being that he did not take kindly to students mentioning his eye, and soon enough the buzz rang again through Diana’s ears and the room became a quiet kind of chaos as students rose from their seats and mumbled to each other on their way to exit the classroom.

The Theurgist allowed herself to stretch her arms just a little as she slipped out of her seat, and shouldered her backpack as she began moving slowly toward the small herd of students occupying the walkway, feeling her boots drag against the stone floor. She had to put some effort into keeping herself from looking back at the black-robed boy or saying something to him. Her strange curiosity in someone from her counter-school already wasn’t welcome, and, as she reminded herself for the umpteenth time, she didn’t need the attention it had the potential to bring her.DS Library view

At any rate, if her grandmother had anything to say about it, curiosity, in general, wasn’t something to be encouraged: curiosity had gotten Diana’s aunt Catherine blown up, in the form of a potion gone wrong.
It would be better for everyone, she thought, if she kept quiet and put up with her lack of knowledge.

Suddenly, she heard something crash onto the floor, and momentarily she forgot to keep her eyes up as she allowed herself a sideways glance. Diana found the Necromancer grumbling and bending over to pick his backpack up from the ground, and as he crouched to retrieve it his spell deck wriggled free of his pocket and fell down as well, the cards scattering across the stones in a jumble of ebony borders and spell descriptions. He swore under his breath.

Instinctively the Theurgist dropped her backpack onto a desk beside her and got down onto her hands and knees to help the black-robed boy gather all of his spells. It didn’t take long; but to her dismay, when she handed the stack of cards that she had picked up back to the Necromancer, he was glaring again, and snatched the cards away only to shove them on top of his deck with a sort of calm rage that she hardly knew was possible.

“Sorry,” Diana mumbled, and stood up, backing away a pace or two as she slung her backpack over her shoulder again.

The boy slid his deck into his pocket and rose, dusting off his uniform and regarding her as if she were a bug. He didn’t say anything directly to her, but after a brief second muttered something under his breath.
Was that an insult? she wondered. Did he actually—does he really think he’s going to get away with that? “Excuse me?” she asked, setting her jaw. She wasn’t looking for a fight. She definitely wasn’t looking for attention. If he thought he could glare at her, fine. She probably deserved it, anyway. But if he thought he could make some snide remark about her, she wasn’t just going to let that go. “What was that?”
He sighed, but his expression remained stony, his eyes blank but radiating obvious irritation. “I said, all you Theurgists are much too nosy.”

“Yes, well, all you Necromancers are much too irritable,” she replied in a similar tone. “I suppose the first thing was my fault, but helping out is more or less second-nature. You can’t exactly fault me for trying to help you.” Diana felt her face redden and resisted the urge to bring a hand to her cheek.

malistaire“Is that so?” The boy, arching an eyebrow, took a step closer, and as the class filed messily from the building, several of the students turned their heads to look at them. She flinched, feeling their stares like they were needles piercing her skin. “Well, I could go on and on about what Theurgists are, but seeing as I’ve only got so much time to go to my next class, and I’d rather not stoop to name-calling, I won’t. I’d rather you not speak to me again, or I might not be so forgiving.” Spinning almost gracefully on his heel, the Necromancer merged into the thinning crowd of students and vanished. A few of the kids snickered, and as they left, the crowd had been reduced to one.

Diana’s jaw dropped. Who did he think he was, to tell her she was beneath him?

She started after him, but before she reached the door she stopped. Was it really worth it? Was she actually going to march up to him and—what would she say? ‘I realize you think you’re above name-calling, but I’m not and here’re a few things that describe you’? Surely there had to be a more—what was the word?—diplomatic approach to this? Diana wouldn’t stand by and let people pelt her with insults, but she wasn’t going to be a jerk about it.

Taking a deep breath, knowing she would need it, she exited the classroom and found herself standing on the pastel road that connected the classrooms, pale orange granite that echoed beneath her feet as she walked quickly to catch up with the black-robed boy, who thankfully hadn’t made it that far. The air was instantly hot on her skin, thickened by the smoky heat that rose from the volcano looming at the center of Dragonspyre, and she was ashamed to say that by the time she had caught up to her target she could feel the heat sinking through her emerald uniform.

DMT Magus Fire Photo

Once she was only a few paces away, she reached out and tapped him on the shoulder, which was nearly level with her forehead. The boy froze, and turned slowly to face her. He was at least a head taller than her, and as though he didn’t feel that she was worth tilting his head down to look at her, it seemed that he was making it a point to glare down his hooked nose at the Theurgist, and scowled. “What… exactly… do you think you’re doing?”

“Well,” Diana started, “I think I’m asking you—politely, I hope—not to treat me like I’m something you scraped off your shoe. I don’t know whether it’s just the academy, because really, just about everyone I’ve run into today seemed to be having a bad day, or if—“

“Let me stop you there,” he interrupted. “Have you considered that it might not be the academy, or the people, or whatever else and that it might be you?”

“Well, no—“

“The better question might be,” he went on, “instead of asking me not to treat you with anything other than respect, who do you think

 Christopher Raven, Necromancer extraordinaire

you are, to pretend that we’re on the same level and that you can speak to me?”
Any respect that Diana might have had for the Necromancer was lost in that instant and replaced with annoyance. She folded her arms. “I’m Diana Dreamcatcher,” she informed him, “and last I checked, the only difference between us, level-wise, is your apparently belittling mannerism.”

His eyes narrowed. “I’m Malistaire Drake, and I suggest you get accustomed to being looked down on,” he sneered, “as I think you’ll find that those of us from Dragonspyre are not rather fond of being—“
The buzzing of the bell thrummed through Diana’s ears again, and she cursed silently with the realization that she was late for class.
“Being disrespected,” the Necromancer finished. “And here—I’m going to assume this is your first year at the academy, possibly at the result of a transfer from, say, Ravenwood?—here at Dragonspyre Academy, we especially don’t take kindly to it. So I advise that you run along to your little Theurgist friends, and stay away from me.” Malistaire turned away, and continued slowly but surely to class.

Diana bit the inside of her cheek. “You know,” she called after him, “I was so sure that this place might be a nice change of pace from my last school, and I was actually excited to move out of—“ she stopped herself, not entirely sure she wanted to finish her sentence and say ‘Wizard City.’ “Anyway, I thought I was right, for the first week. Our neighbors were friendly, the buildings were pretty, but at the academy, it’s like the balance changed somehow. The buildings are much prettier, and nearly look new, but the people—no one that I’ve met today has been pleasant to me or anyone else.

“I like to think, to a degree, that the people that make up a place have quite the effect on the overall feel to it, don’t you? Are you really going to ruin my image of the academy two hours into my first day?”
Malistaire looked back with a sigh. “Hrmph. Diana, is it?” he questioned. “Though I might be tearing apart whatever fantasy you’re living in, where the sun shines and the people radiate cheeriness, I’m not ruining your vision. I’m opening your eyes.”

And with that, the Necromancer shuffled to his next class, and Diana was left to scurry back to hers.

Did You Enjoy Life in the Dark? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • alexis hunter

    I really enjoyed reading this one, congrats Taryn! A little Harry Potterish, but then the whole Wizard City is inspired from there. And poor poor Diana, I hope she’ll manage to get back to Wizard City soon, because Dragonspyre Academy didn’t seem in the past a much happier place that it is in the present, dragon and all. …Although aggressive Life wizards are always an interesting sight 🙂

  • My mind is blown from this writing!

  • Koi the fish

    Great read 😀 I would love more!

  • Fred Mythstalker

    I really liked this one! Diana seems nice (although she doesn’t like Wizard City and Ravenwood). I also got chills down my spine when I realized that the Necromancer next to Diana was Malistaire (although i had my suspicions when he was described as tall and pale, and the fact that Malistaire did go to Dragonspyre Academy). I do wonder if Malistaire took part in the defense of Dragonspyre against the Dragon Titan, or if he had gone over to the “Wizard City side” and left Dragonspyre Academy for dead. I can’t imagine that he would be that cold, unless Dragonspyre Academy had done something terrible to him and his brother, like shaving Cyrus’ afro or something XD. Anyway, great story, great writing, ’nuff said.

  • Yoan Dimov

    Wow I gotta say this had my attention completely, also it was a very pleasant feeling when I expected the necromancer to be Malistaire and I was right. I wonder how the story would have turned out if the theurgist was Sylvia and her with Malistaire later became friends and at the wnd both graduated and married. Overall this one would have to be a 9.5/10 as it was a pleasant read ( I doubt I will like the story in 1st place more lol).

  • spiritsmith83

    Thank you so much for the nice comments! I’m really glad you guys enjoyed my story 😀

  • Merciless Jean Percy

    I loved this one! Really interesting and great dialogue throughout, plus a good balance of description and progression! In terms of scores i guess 9/10 lol

  • Chariity

    I love the theurgist/necromancer dynamic explored here and felt incredibly immersed by those well-written descriptions!

  • Simon

    Nice story. I am surprised this entry didnt get the first place instead of the current 1st place story which is a little snail paced and boring imo. Bad luck to you, but really good story 🙂