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Three

Flaxen haired Cwena Engow awakened a few minutes ahead of her alarm clock's habitual screech that ran through dawn's tranquility causing agitation to her dreams every morning.

She lazily sat up on her modest bed, pushing out the varying pitches of crickets seeking a mate and staring at a couple of pictures that dangled from the flowered, pale, yellow walls of her room. The first portrait was of a five year old minor with a bright grin on her small face with pouted lips trying to blow out the candles on her cake. The second was when she was around nine, she'd insisted on dying her hair black when she'd gone with her parents to Hythorp; one of the provinces that made up Wabrook, west of Ingfalls.

She glanced at the third painting before yawning loudly, causing droplets of tears to fill her eyes.

As she stood up from her bed, unto the cold, white tiles, the corner of her eyes flashed at the first frame, but this time, there was something else.

Her younger self wasn't just blowing out candles with a grin. She was staring at her, wide eyed, with a sickening smirk plastered on her face, and this time around, behind her young self in the picture was a... Gloomy, shadowy frame with large, red eyes looking ready to pounce!

Cwena Engow stopped dead on her tracks, her heart beating hard, strong and severely against her ribcage! She slowly looked at the picture again and this time, it had gone back to normal.

She clumsily pushed her feet into her slippers, not daring to take her eyes off her portrait on the wall.

She ran her index finger over the portrait cautiously then the strangest thing happened.

As her finger lay on where she thought she'd seen the mysterious, dark matter a few seconds ago, she felt the picture breathing in, and out, and in, and out and then, she felt the picture's heartbeat. What the...

If a high voltage of electricity had shot out of the wall towards her hand, she wouldn't have withdrawn her hand faster than she did!

Then her eyes fell on something more startling at her window. A thick, arid, gray fleshed, bright crimson eyed sprite ducked his head, not wanting to be seen.

Cwena Engow ran over to her window, running her eyes around from the pale blue, Monday sky to the deftly trimmed lawn. Her eyes searched all around for whatever it was that she'd seen but, nothing.

“Must a' been my hallucinations,” she whispered to herself, rubbing her palms together and staring at her five year old self on the wall.

**

Cwena Engow's lengthy buns of hair bounced on and off her shoulders as she raced; with a lot of hearty gasps, into Ingfalls High, Wabrook. The grounds was void of students and the stony, four-storeyed building; intimidating and mysterious was silent, as usual.

Cwena Engow was Ingfalls High's nerdy celebrity. She'd represented her school in the provincial levels of BOOKaneer where she'd gotten a gold medal, she'd gone on to the regional grade where she'd broken the record for answering the highest number of mathematical questions in a minute which was 570 questions! And she'd won the national competition; BOOKaneer Worm, all in the year 213 ClW (Century-long War).

Other than that, she'd won local quizes which brought fame to her school, created her own mathematical formulas - in her own words, “for easier comprehension,” she was officially a Chess grandmaster and at one point, almost had an hall in Ingfalls High named after her.

But amidst all her brilliance and (unwanted) fame, she had just one friend - her best friend right from Preschool, Gerey Wysalt. And as she ran and panted up the dark, steeped stairs and through dusty corridors to her first class of the day, Philosophy, she had no other thoughts in her head than spilling all what she'd seen that morning to him.

The loud bells of Ingfalls High pierced through the classes where “wisdom was being shoved into hollow brains,” as Mrs. Joanne Pyley, the geometry teacher said often, and it was time for History class; the first class Gerey and Cwena shared for the day.

Cwena had her books wrapped in her hands and she fought her way through the bodies and chatters of other students into the class, occupying a position at the front. Gerey came in not more than three minutes after and with a lot of difficulty, found a sit two rows behind Cwena's.

When all the students were seated, expecting the fleshy faced, ever jovial Mr. Alas Sergo to pop out of nowhere and make history class as fun as it could be, things went chilly.

The cold, distant, hostile and unfriendly footsteps of the Principal,  Prof. Drynge (Erim) Galboph, tightened the air with tension.

Prof. Drynge took sharp, successful footsteps always in a consistent rhythm that resonated in the eardrums of all the students, then he got to the classroom's door and - stopped.

He turned the door knob slowly, opened the door, and walked in, an old man with untidy, grey hair, a long, nasty robe, a few freckles on his face, and a crooked smile, plodded behind him.

“This is your new History teacher!” his voice reverberated in the cold, stony walls.

All the students sat still on their seats, barely daring to breath as though they were puppets waiting for the puppeteer's command.

“He is Sir Oswic Osbeoth, well versed in the chronicles of Ingfalls, and the rest of Wabrook. He was born not long after the Century-long War meaning all your questions will be answered not from simulated facts and dusty old textbooks but from experience - his experience.” The Principal stopped to catch his breath, his eyes moving from student to student but resting on Gerey three seconds longer than usual, he resumed, “and we, the Ingfalls High community sure are privileged to have a living legend here in our midst, passing down his great understanding to all your green hearts,” the Principal spread out his arms like a Catholic Priest will before he resumed, “and that is why he is here - to indoctrinate.”

There was a long pause then Prof. Drynge Galboph resumed, “Be rest assured that Ingfalls High is here to bring the best out of every student by putting the best into them, and that is exactly what we will do, even if it means drilling what we have to offer into the most stubborn of hearts.”

And with that, the Principal, Prof. Drynge, walked out of the taut classroom, his famous, chill footsteps with him.

Absolute calm descended on all the students as they watched the old man, who was about two hundred years old walking sluggishly - his grimy, oversized apparel crawling behind him, to the centre of the pulpit.

After what seemed like ages, he got to the centre of the class, cleared his throat and spoke slowly, “Well, you all have been fed with lies - all your lives, but that, will be changed soonest,” then he went mute for a long time.

“Today my dears, we - will be talking on the topic - THE SOCIETY AFORE THE CENTURY-LONG WAR - and I will advice that you all unlearn for the truth you'll be receiving to sink in.

Wabrook, as we all know, is made up of seven provinces; Ingfalls - its capital, Ciburrh, Hythorp, Ledale, Peford, Deham and Cawic, but what you all failed to know - because it was well hidden from the public, are the quality of humans that existed in each province.”

Sir Oswic Osbeoth breath in deeply, then out, relaxing his lungs and allowing his faint eyesight to move from student to student before he continued his teachings, “There are six breeds of humans, five with beautiful, unimaginable abilities and the sixth with nothing, which you all are - at least, most of you are,” his old eyes became lost in the delightful trance his imagination created, then he continued, “These five breeds have different names and all abilities could be classified into them. We have the Inyangas, they brew concoctions from the finest plants and animal parts to heal. They go everywhere with herbs in an animal hide bag slung around their shoulders, are averagely the happiest of all and mostly lived in Ledale. Then the Necromancers - characterized with shiny, dark skin, have the ability to speak to the dead - an average Necromancer home has a reddish coffin in one of their rooms. They were found mostly in Ciburrh and a few fraction in Deham. Tofras -”

“I'm done with this class and the nonsense I'm hearing. What the hell are T - Tofras and Necromancers?” Aynild Kessel, an extremely fair boy with small, rounded spectacles that hung on his small nose retorted, making a noise as he pushed his sit backwards, creating enough leg room for him to stand on his elephant-like feet.

“I expected this - any other student that isn't interested in this class can take their leave. I promise, the principal will hear nothing of it,” Sir Oswic Osbeoth said with a hint of happiness in his voice.

One after the other, the students began to leave the class in low, hypocritical mumbles as though they didn't like the idea of going away.

After not longer than a minute, three students were left - Gerey Wysalt, Cwena Engow and the youngest student in their grade whose uniform was twice too big for him, Lacot Beoford.

Sir Oswic proceeded, “Shamans had the power to influence spirits. Red and white beads could always be found on their neck, legs and hands. They were odd folks that had almost no synergy with the other breeds, and they dwelled in Deham mingling a fair few with Necromancers.”

“Ex - excuse me - sir, I need - to - pee,” Lacot Beoford retorted with a voice barely above a hush.

“Ease yourself young sir,” Oswic replied, beaming.

He went silent as Lacot struttled to the front door and out before continuing his lecture, “We have Tofras, the breed to which I belong that bewitch and beguile. I - am a wizard - the last of my kind -”

“Excuse me, sir -” Cwena started but was cut short.

“Silence! Cwena Engow!” Sir Oswic's voice grew tough and loud unlike before and his pale, grey eyes opened wide, “this! My dear, is a very, very serious class!” he looked at the door then glanced from Cwena to Werey to Cwena, again, “The entire world rests on our shoulders. Yes! Me, you, and you. I came here for you both and the best you can do for the world right now is to listen!”

Then he resumed on his normal tone, “ - I am the last of my kind. We were distributed all over Wabrook equally and were all fond of going everywhere with our hats and - this!” he pulled out a nine inched stick - a wand, from his long, robe that swaddled along with every step he took. “And now, to the final breed, the Elementalists. Elementalism can be divided into four - the fire kindred which -” Sir Oswic left the pulpit and walked slowly to Gerey, “which your grandfather led - he was the God of Flames. And bless my ol' Soul, your hair! As ox-blood red as his was,” he held a small fraction of Gerey's red hair then let go. As he sauntered sluggishly back to the podium, he added, “they were located in the Northern part of this province, Ingfalls. The Water Clan were located in the South and were always discouraged from mingling with the North. The Air folks sojourned in the far Eastern part of Ingfalls and the Earth race inhabited mid up to the Western part of Ingfalls. The other tribes, Peford and Cawic were occupied mainly by the normal humans.”

Oblivion chunked up every part of the unusual History class, and Sir Oswic said “I know, I know, that you have billions of questions coursing through your brains, but please, before I answer any, you both will have to take this book home, and study it - secretly.”

He hastened to Cwena who was two sits in front of Gerey and dropped a gloomy looking, tattered book on her desk.

“Handle with utmost care my dears for without which your questions shall remain nothing but -”

And with that, he scurried out of the class, leaving the duo to the strange book.

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