• The journey to Ithilien Mar was uneventful, but Axail enjoyed seeing the sights and spending time with her four elder brothers, her elder sister, William and their other friend Aralas who was a tall black haired quiet human prince, he was heir to the high kingship of humans.
    When at last they reached the school, which was in a cold bleak valley in the far north Axail was slightly disappointed with it. It didn’t resemble any elfin tower amidst the trees, nor dwarfin city within the mountain nor did it bear any resemblance to any human tower she had ever seen. It was a simply grey tower which spiraled up and had several wooden buildings littered around the valley, along with a large training field.
    The valley was almost packed with students and their parents waiting for the headmaster to step out. When he did eventually he did step out, he spoke out with a loud booming voice, “To our new student, the staff and I wish to welcome one and all,” odd, but he doesn’t seem too eager, thought Axail, “to our old students, welcome back! I hope you all had a wonderful summer and are fully refreshed to begin a new year of learning. I thank all parents for having brought their children here and I will ask you to say a few goodbyes to your children,” he paused and waited as hundreds of parents hugged their kids and galloped or walked out of the valley waving behind them.
    When all the parents were gone he began again, “I would ask that all new student move to the base of the steps and all old students form the ring.”
    The ring, wonder what that is, maybe we have to pass a fighting test to enter the school, she thought as she pushed her way through the crowd leading her horses.
    Once all the students were in their appropriate positions the headmaster began speaking again, “The choice of a house is a very important affair, because you eat with your house, sleep with your house, study with hour house, and take exams with your house. There are six houses, Azem, Bazurl, Cairion, Zehira and Alphlemed, each has it’s own story of glory, Azem is renown for its Scientists and mathematicians,” definitely not for me, though Axail, “Barzul for it’s smiths and craftsmen,” most defiantly not, she thought, “Cairion for it’s singers and dancers,” now way, she thought, “Zehira for it’s warriors,” now your getting somewhere, “and Alphlemed for it’s scholars. To be placed in a house you must each go through a ceremony which we call the choosing. How the choosing works is the new students are called up alphabetically by their first names, they will pick up a pebble from the ground spit on it and toss it in the cup in the middle of the circle,” he pointed to a large cup which Axail hadn’t noticed, “when the pebble has fully submerged the cup will launch out golden letters spelling the name of your house once chosen you will go stand beside the prefect of your house. Who are standing a little out of the circle, and will wave to you if you are put in their house.”
    Axail looked at the prefects; the one first one in line, from Azem was a short skinny human girl wearing a blue dress. The next one, from Burzul was a broad dwarf with solid muscles dressed in brown leather. The one from Cairion was a tall skinny blond haired elf girl of the Evahri race ( extreamly uncommon and beautiful winged elves) wearing the latest fashion. The Zehira prefect was an average height elf with solid leg muscles and clear blue eyes. The last prefect was a lanky human boy with big glasses.
    After a while of silence a strict looking male professor came forward with a scroll and said, “The first student is Aaron Helm,” a short terrified boy stumbled forward and a minute latter was place in Alphlemed house.
    A couple students passed, Adam Archer, Aimya Elsten, Ajio Phor, Akara Beneston and Alan Emold, before the fist student, a girl, Ala-Stara Elm, whom Axail recognized as princess of Ber-Oman (human kingdom to the southeast of the school) became the first new student of Zehira.
    He doesn’t seam overly happy about that, Axail observed, looking at the headmaster, maybe there’s a family feud or something.
    Twelve more students were called up before Axail herself. When her name was called out she would swear that she saw an angry expression flirt across the headmasters face, maybe he doesn’t like girls, she reasoned stepping towards the cup. She picked up a small pebble spat on it and tossed it lightly into the cup, almost immediately did the cup spit out the word Zehira.
    Amidst the clapping she noticed a dark look pass over the headmasters face, maybe he doesn’t think females should fight.
    Latter she noticed that few new students were placed in Zehira, only Ala-Stara, Aralas, herself, Bazil Borsht, Casandra Levich (an elf) (a human), Elemahr Elm (Ala-Stara’s twin brother), Finaelda Eleham (a counsin of William), Galmod Goletch (a sturdy dwarf prince), Harold Verdit, Johana Vedete, Kyle Arkin, Luna Leprovski (a human princess), Ostan Halorg, Reinald Ravsbourg, Seamus Tantul, Thomas Greveys, Vernon Kops and William. All the other houses had over thirty new students.
    When the students had quieted down the headmaster spoke again, “Now that the choosing is done I would ask the student to go to their houses to change into their school clothes for dinner, prefects please show your students where to go. Carry your belongings but leave your horses here. Dismissed.”
    They were led into the tower by the prefect, pushing their way through the crowd. They climbed up several stair cases and ran along many hallways before reaching the end of a hallway where a extremely large suit of old rustic armor stood.
    “May we go in?” The prefect asked the suit, as the first years stood shocked at him. The suite raised its gigantic sword to reveal a hidden doorway which the prefect steeped through. They found themselves on a round room with a central fireplace, large armchairs littered the room and several stair cases came out of it.
    “The first year’s dormitory is that stair case,” the prefect said, pointing at a dormitory, you will find two door one for boys, one for girls. Enter the one with your name on the back and dispose of your belongings. On the wall you will find the dress code, it will list what to wear when, and your timetables will be on your pillows.”
    Once Axail got into her room, she put her trunk at the base of the bed nearest to the door sat down on the bed and looked around. It was a long room with ten four poster beds. All of the beds had red curtains, red blankets and white sheets.
    “Not a bad place,” Commented Ala-Stara picking up the time table on her pillow.
    Axail picked up her own time table and looked at it. She saw that breakfast lasted between six thirty and eight. That lessons started at eight each lasted an hour and continued on until lunch at noon. Lunch continued on to one o’clock when weapons training and sports began and lasted until four. Dinner went from five until six thirty and lights out was at nine.
    She looked at the dress code; they were supposed to wear a black tunic and black breeches to dinner.
    They put on their clothes in silence and went down to dinner.
    The castle, as Axail soon discovered was a confusing melee of stairs and hallways which often wound in irregular roots to avoid classrooms. On the way to her first class Axail got severely lost seven times and barely made it on time. In all most of her classes were dull of too easy. Mathematics, Science and Logic was super easy; all they did for the first week was add sums. Writing was dull, all they ever did was read texts and write essay’s on them. History was very dull and she already knew most of the stuff. The nobility class was even duller; it was about honor and how to bow appropriately to a certain noble. Learning about the races of Ithin Mur however was interesting, and the teacher was rather nice, she deemed him wise and kind. The sports and fighting would have been fun but she found herself re-learning maneuvers which she had known since she was eight. The class which she had been looking forward to the most, the last class on Friday, was magic.
    The teacher, Professor Mahikah, a tall stern centaur began the class with a long yet interesting speech, “Magic is perhaps the most difficult of all subjects, it is infinite ever changing ever growing, always different. Fighting it is like fighting a soldier who is reborn the moment he dies, stronger and more challenging than ever. There are many types of magic, and even more ways to use them. Some types of magic you need power from within, some types you need an item of power, sometimes you need ingredient, and sometime you need a strong will. Is there anyone who can try and name all the types of magic users and how they work?”
    Axail was the only one who dared put her hand up.
    “Yes,” he said pointed at her.
    “Enchanters and Enchantresses use their strength of will, Sorcerers and Sorceresses use powerful magic weapons such as staffs and they have the blessing. Wizards and Mages use books and spells. Witches and Warlocks use ingredients and potions.”
    “Very good!” He exclaimed, “Exactly as Miss. Ithiliali puts it. Now for the first few weeks…” His lecture lasted much longer, but the lesson turned out to be the best Axail ever had.

    Throughout the first few weeks Axail became good friends with Ala-Stara and Finaelda and latter on was introduced to Ala-Stara’s twin Elemahr and Finaelda’s two brothers Elrel and Elmrel who were a year older than her. Galmod, a sturdy dwarf prince joined their close circle of friends along with Aralas and William. As they days kept going the classes (with the exception of magic) got more boring and more boring, until a rainy day in October. Axail and her friends sat in the girls dormitory (it was the cleaner one) supposedly doing homework but mostly chatting.
    “I don’t get how you two lasted a year,” Aralas said to the elfin twins.
    “It was better,” Elrel replied, “Don’t know what made it so different.”
    “It’s probably you,” Elmrel said nodding towards Axail, “I means lets face it he’s a conservative and was proud of his strict noble boys only school until you came along demanding equal rights. You know he’s not allowing students to go home for the summer from now on. He’s trying to break you.”
    “Seriously?” Finaelda asked, snapping a book shut.
    “Makes sense,” Axail muttered.
    “You’re thinking of doing something rash, I can tell,” Aralas said tilting his head lopsidedly to catch a look at Finaelda’s notes, “you get this dazed look about you and you clench you jaw really tight.”
    “Really?” she asked surprised.
    “Yeah, you do, and you usually stare at the walls,” William added.
    “Tell us what you’re idea is,” Elemahr said.
    “You want me to? It could endanger your lives if you came with me,” Axail replied cautiously.
    “Most definitely!” The others chorused.
    “Very well,” she said. She took a deep breath in and began to speak, “I asked Professor Mahikah if students could take the end of year exams before the end of the year and if they passed they could do whatever they pleased. He told me yes so long as we did it under the eyes of a teacher.”
    “You’re not serious!” Ala-Stara
    “I am,” Axail replied.
    “But that’s not all, is it?” Aralas said, smirking.
    She sighed, “No, that’s not all.”
    There was a long pause which William eventually disturbed, “Well?” he asked annoyed.
    Axail pretended to look surprised, “Who want me to tell you?” she asked, in a false perplexed voice.
    “Axail stop toying with us and tell us the rest,” Aralas said in a bored voice.
    “Very well,” she replied, paused for a moment, wondering where to begin then began to speak slowly and quietly, “once my exams are finished I intend to leave the school secretly.”
    “Why?” Elrel interrupted.
    “Shh, let her finish,” hissed Aralas.
    Axail began again, talking as if she hadn’t been interrupted, “I intend to travel far and wide. I intend to become the most famous and popular warrior alive. I have a vague course set in mind, but not a distinct one.”
    “Why bother?” Elmrel interrupted this time, “it’s not like you need to be any more popular than you already are.”
    “He has a point,” agreed Ala-Stara.
    “Because,” Axail hissed, “I intend to challenge my bothers for the position as heir, but I don’t want to without knowing that I will have the support of my vassals. Thus I intend to travel through the kingdom, winning tournaments and defeating the few monsters that remain. I intend to recover from the lake monster the treasures of Ithilien, and I intend to find a way to cross the dark sea and release the prisoners held by our dark elfin enemies. If I can do that, it will almost provoke my elder brother into challenging me despite his better judgment. Then I will wipe the capitol of crime and conquer the Ionic empire of dark elves to the north, the previous kings have been far to timid to test their limits, preferring to defend their borders. I will rule, with those who aid me I will create the most plentiful realm on earth.” When Axail finished her speech there was a sudden release of tension in the air, as if the occupants of the room had been holding their breaths.
    William was the first to say anything, “If you succeed no-one will question you ever again, you will be hailed as Ithiliavatar, empress of Ithin Mur,” he bowed low in the Ithin Murien fashion; legs crossed and slight bent, waist bent and arms stretched out wide behind his back. Then his arms went to his sword (a small golden elfin blade) and he knelt with his sword in both hands pointed downwards, “I William Eleham prince of Forestan offer you my blade and my services as an elf and a prince, in life and death, in war and peace.”
    Axail was deeply touched and murmured, “I accept your services and your loyalty. Rise now as my fist and only vassal.”
    In unison the others bowed low and swore oaths to her, she was touched deeply and murmured, “Akahri del ah oman hotitah. Hiniria del ah dez to.” It was a vow in Htitiyit (the royal language) which translates roughly to: you give me honor, l honor you.
    “Axail, I am prepared to bet that you only gave us a rough idea to where you are headed, to see our reactions,” Aralas commented dryly.
    “Yes, you are right; my plans are, after I leave the school until September, to go to Laka no est, which is less than an hours ride south. When we camped there I explored some caves and discovered something invaluable.”
    “What?” Elemahr asked excitedly.
    “A map,” she replied simply, “a map to find the treasure chest of Ithilien, and if legend has it, it contains the smashed pieces of the horn of Fehahr, the famous horn of legend, the hilt of Amon Nasterix and several old books of power.”
    “Where does the map lead us to?” Finaelda asked curious.
    “It takes us down a tunnel and under the lake, apparently it’s guarded by merepeople, but all it takes is golden blood to get through,” Axail replied.
    “And where on earth are we going to get golden blood?” exploded Galmod.
    “I don’t think that will be much of a problem,” said William looking sideways at Axail.
    “Galmod, have you ever bothered to pay attention in class?” Finaelda asked.
    “Sometimes, why?” Galmod replied.
    “Because in our first class we learned that the royal family, to which Axail is part of, are Hitiyitah being who resemble humans, have the strength of dwarves, and the grace of elves, the weakest have pale blue blood, the mediocre silver blood and the most powerful golden blood,” Finaelda explained.
    “And what color blood do you have?” Galmod asked Axail.
    Axail looked at Galmod up and down, as if x-raying him, before replying, “Gold.”
    “What happens after?” William asked.
    “Then I think we could go see about that dragon that’s bothering the Dwarfs to the north east. I hear there’s a tournament in Ber-Oman in the spring we could attend that. I havn’t paid a visit to king Rond of Ela in an age (King Rond was Elrel, Elmrel and Finaelda’s father) and then maybe visit the Evahri court, I have yet to meet the Evahri king whom I hear isn’t very fond of our dear headmaster,” Axail replied. She hopped they hadn’t seen her tactical point of visiting the three main northern races at some point.
    “It’s a good plan,” William replied after a few long moments of silence.
    A few minutes latter they dispersed in silence.