eBook Details

The Poet and the Prophecy

Series: Magic University , Book 4.0
By: Cecilia Tan | Other books by Cecilia Tan
Published By: Ravenous Romance
Published: Sep 23, 2011
ISBN # 9781607774525
Word Count: 21,347
Heat Index      
EligiblePrice: $6.99

Available in: Epub, Adobe Acrobat, Mobipocket (.prc)

Categories: Romance>Fantasy Romance>Contemporary Romance>Erotic Romance

Description
In this conclusion of the Magic University series, Kyle begins his senior year full of doubt. For his junior thesis, he made a new translation of an ancient prophecy he believed to be about himself and his true love. Now other people are starting to believe it, too, as the signs of the Burning Days seem to be everywhere: people losing their magic, odd storms and earthquakes. But although Kyle has many loving friends and eager acquaintances, he has no true love in sight. The only person in Kyle's heart is Frost, and the last time they laid eyes on each other, Frost punched Kyle in the face and teleported him halfway across Cambridge.

Kyle begins to hope, though, when Frost moves back into the dormitory, and it appears they'll even be in a class together. A poetry class. Maybe Frost will start to thaw after all? That would be a good thing, since if the prophecy speaks true, the world will end if Kyle doesn't find true love. Our hero will need love to save the world, his friends, and himself from losing magic forever.
 
Reader Rating:  Not rated (0 Ratings)
Sensuality Rating:   Not rated
Excerpt:
Prologue

Out on the sidewalk, Kyle could feel a dance beat throbbing through the walls of the building. There was no sign above the door, just a small statue of an eagle. He wanted to take that as a good omen. After all, wasn't it an eagle on Zeus's shield? He tried to remember what other symbolism it carried but his mind was awhirl. No one knew he was here tonight.
And probably nothing is going to happen and I'm going to go home disappointed, he thought. Classes were due to start in a week, but he was here to learn something of a different sort. Did he like men, really? Other than Frost? And if so, what did he like?
A man in blue jeans and a black T-shirt, with a neatly trimmed, short beard emerged from the place, bringing a blast of music with him. Kyle stood rooted to the spot while the man gave him a once-over, then walked on down the street.
Kyle was still standing there when another man who looked nearly the same as the first brushed past him to enter the bar. Kyle took a breath. He was here out of desperation, maybe, trying the only thing left he could think of that would—as Alex had put it—get the taste of Frost out of Kyle's mouth.
He'd thought about going to the big gay dance night on Lansdowne Street, but it hadn't sounded that exciting. He decided instead on the Eagle, which had a more masculine air than any of the other gay bars or clubs he saw listed in the paper.
"You don't want to go in there unless you're looking for trouble," said a voice from behind him.
He turned to see yet a third man in jeans with a short beard, this one tossing aside a cigarette and stubbing it out with his boot before he came closer. Now in the streetlamp's light, Kyle could see this one's hair was a little longer than he'd seen on any of the previous men, dark and just a little wavy.
The man stepped close enough that Kyle caught a whiff of a masculine scent coming from him, musky and earthy at once.
"And if I'm looking for trouble?" Kyle answered.
"Well, maybe trouble found you," the man replied smoothly, not even smiling at his own joke. He had a hint of a British accent. "You looking for it a little rough? What are you into, bondage? Wrestling?"
Bondage Kyle had an inkling of, but he was startled into asking, "Wrestling?"
"Sure. The winner fucks the loser, and it's great foreplay," the guy said with a quirk of his eyebrow, bemused or amused by Kyle.
Kyle found the idea turned him on, even if he wasn't exactly attracted to this man. Except that he was attracted. Something about the guy's confidence and strength was alluring, in a dangerous sort of way.
But Kyle remembered his purpose. "I'm, um, I'm more of a top, myself," he managed to say.
The man laughed. "All the better. Makes it sweeter when you surrender."
Kyle felt a shiver of lust run down his spine, as he sensed just how keenly this man wanted, at that very moment, to sink his cock into Kyle. It was discomfiting even as it was arousing, making Kyle feel more like prey than, well, loved. Is this how Frost feels when I'm around?
Kyle took a step back, but that only seemed to be an invitation to the guy to step even closer, closing the distance between them. Kyle could feel his body heat and smell the sweetness of his breath. Cinnamon.
"Don't be scared. I'll make it good." He chuckled.
"I... I don't think...."
"You don't belong here," the man said suddenly, dead serious where a moment ago he'd been laughing. He trailed the backs of his fingers along Kyle's cheek and Kyle felt the energy crackle.
Oh. He didn't mean Kyle wasn't gay enough for the place, though maybe that was true. He was magical.
Kyle forced himself to take another step back. "What's wrong with—"
But the guy was laughing again, this time a rich, full laugh. "Nothing's wrong, little one. Nothing." He laughed once more and then turned and walked away, leaving Kyle standing on the sidewalk, dumbfounded.

Chapter One

Kyle's head was just drooping toward the journal in his lap when a loud bang woke him. A black cat came scampering into the common room and ducked under the wing chair he was sitting in. A moment later, both Master Brandish and Professor Pendragon came running into the room, shouting at each other. "This way!" "Are you sure?"
The two women looked around the room. It was almost midnight and the fire was burning low. Classes were due to start in the morning, and Kyle was the only student still in there.
"Did you see a cat run through here?" Master Brandish snapped.
"I was falling asleep," Kyle answered, all wide-eyed innocence. "I thought pets weren't allowed?"
That set Professor Pendragon to chuckling, but Master Brandish only gave Kyle a disgusted look. "It's a ritual animal. If you see it, don't hurt it. Just try to keep it in one place until we can corral it again."
"Come on, Callendra. Maybe it went upstairs. You know how cats love to climb." Professor Pendragon gave Kyle a little wave and then the two of them headed up the stairs.
Kyle looked over the armrest to see a pair of bright eyes staring up at him. "They're gone," he said.
The cat clawed its way up the armrest and into his lap, sniffing at his face curiously. Kyle petted it tentatively and could feel its spine through its fur.
"Scrawny little thing, aren't you? Did they pick you up stray or something? For what it's worth, I don't think those two are into animal sacrifice. So you're probably okay."
The cat nuzzled at Kyle's flannel shirt, sticking its face into the breast pocket and then sneezing. It walked in a circle on his lap and promptly fell asleep.
Kyle petted its head gently. "Halloween's on the way," he said. "Want to be my familiar? You could ride on the back of my broom."
The little cat sneezed, but did not open its eyes. Kyle laughed and turned his attention back to the journal in his other hand. Longfellow's notes swam in front of his eyes, though, and the cat began to purr. Kyle succumbed to sleep.
When he began to dream, he slipped into a perfectly normal dream. All those lessons with Dean Bell had taught him the difference between the different types of dreams: incubus dreams, prophetic dreams, lucid ones and conscious ones.
Often Kyle's dreams turned erotic but he knew now that wasn't unusual, and he knew how to keep his desires from turning into something more. There was no more chasing across the dreamscape. More often than not the nymph in his dream came to him instead.
So he wasn't surprised when an otherwise ordinary scenario turned into dream sex.
He was surprised, though, when the faceless nymph he was coupling with whispered, "Is talking to animals one of your gifts?"
"Not as far as I know," he replied. "I mean, I talk to them but they never talk back."
"Listen harder," she whispered, just before he woke.
The cat was gone. Kyle rubbed his eyes and checked his phone for the time. Nearly two in the morning. Should he drag himself upstairs to his actual bed, or wander over to Camella House for the night? He'd sort of promised Master Brandish he'd spend more time here at Gladius House.
She had come by the house where they'd all been living for the summer two weeks ago. When the doorbell had rung, Kyle had ignored it. Alex habitually answered the door, as he was the one with the best knack for brushing off the visitors and kooks who came seeking Kyle. ("Jedi mind trick," is all he would say, with a shrug, when asked how he did it.)
Talk of the Burning Days was spreading like wildfire through the magical community. He was receiving letters now, not just from scholars, but from magical people all over, asking for his advice or his help on how to get through the coming cataclysm. Some had lost their Sight. Others were too weak to cast enchantments.
He didn't know what to tell them. I'm just a poet, he wanted to say. I can't save you. I'm not one of the Prophesied Pair, I'm just the messenger.
Because surely if he were one of the Pair, he'd know what to do by now? And if he were, he'd have another half, a lifelong mate, who would face every challenge with him.
He didn't have that. He had a collection of friends and lovers who supported him and made sure his bed was never empty if he didn't wish it to be. Toward the end of the summer Alex and Jeanie had broken up spectacularly, only to end up friends, but in the aftermath, Jeanie and Lindy had become a thing. Since then Lindy had been spending more time with Jeanie than with Kyle. He wasn't jealous. It was a beautiful thing, Lindy and Jeanie. What he had was good. What he didn't have was someone special. A soul mate.
But the Prophecy wasn't what Master Brandish had come there to talk about. Or was it? She took a seat in the front room, with a glass of lemonade that Marjory brought for them, and eyed the coffee table cluttered with magazines and books.
"Professor Hargreaves is taking a sabbatical," she said without preamble. "I've asked Professor Bengle on your behalf if he'll take over as your senior advisor, if you agree. You are, of course, free to ask someone else, but I happened to run into him just after Felicia gave me the bad news."
Kyle tried to absorb this, but his mind had not been on school or schoolwork for weeks. His advisor was gone? "On such short notice? When did she tell you?"
"Yesterday. She's still having some... issues after what she went through last year. I've also taken the liberty of checking on your registrations for next semester, since you will have a hole in your schedule where her seminar on poetic deities would have been."
"Oh, right, The Goddess in Words or whatever...." He couldn't quite remember what the title of the class had been. "I'll need another poetry course to replace it, I guess?"
She nodded. "Professor Bengle is offering a magical literature survey that might interest you instead? Of English and Anglo-Saxon poetic works on the Faerie Queen."
"Like Spenser?"
He was surprised by her wry snort. "Spenser was far too wrapped up in mundane concerns."
"Like Shakespeare wasn't?" Kyle argued.
"The Faerie Queen is largely a mundane political treatise and has very limited magical value," she said. "Though who knows what he might have wrought had he lived to complete it...." She shook her head suddenly, not in disagreement, but as if shaking herself of a dream. "How do you do it, Kyle? I didn't come here to argue with you."
"You also didn't come here just to change my class schedule," he said, rotating the cold glass in his fingers. If that was all it was, she could have called on the phone.
"No," she agreed, and took a sip. "I came here to ask you to move back into Gladius House."
Kyle looked at her in surprise. "Why? I mean, does it matter that I kind of squatted over at Camella House last year? I was under the impression that no one minded."
Her answer was an examining look that left him feeling like he was missing something. He suppressed the urge to fidget and took a sip of lemonade instead.
"I'm trying to convince Frost to come back, too," she said, calm and quiet.
Kyle took a more hurried gulp then.
"I thought you might want to know."
He nodded.
"I've offered him the room in the tower, if having a roommate is too... problematic for him," she said. "He doesn't want anyone to know about his condition and I cannot fault him for that, even if I am insisting he rejoin house life."
"Will he just hide at night?" Kyle blurted. Surely their housemates couldn't care less if Frost was a girl half the time. Would they? Was that any weirder than having a classmate who was part-siren?
"I've given him leave to explore some options for obscuring his condition magically," she said.
Kyle tried to imagine what it would be like, living under the same roof as Frost again. "You're sure you want us both to move back in? He seriously tried to kill me last year."
"Teleporting you into Persephon Cavendish's breakfast was hardly a lethal attempt," she said, trying to maintain a deadpan look but a smile reached her eyes nonetheless. "And yes. Your mother hen wants all her chicks in the nest."
"Why do I feel more like our general wants all her soldiers in the barracks?"
Now she did smile. "Kyle. This is going to be a very important year."
"And you don't want me frittering it away with a bunch of slackers?"
She narrowed her eyes at him, her mouth growing tight as she chewed over her next words before speaking. "I do not want you to miss any opportunities you could have to...." There she trailed off for a moment, as if there were no words careful enough.
Kyle tried hard to hear whatever it was she wasn't saying, but that wasn't something he had a knack for. "Opportunities?"
"I thought you would jump at the chance to be closer to him," she said, frowning at his argumentative tone.
"Sorry, you're not the only one who falls into arguing easily," Kyle said. He still wondered what she wasn't telling him. "What I meant to say was, if Frost will be there, so will I."
She nodded as if she expected nothing less.
"Does this mean you'll help me... um, make up with him?" Kyle dared to ask, wincing at his own choice of words.
Master Brandish set her glass down on the floor beside the chair. "You are on your own there, Kyle. Mr. Frost is not interested in hearing my advice on matters of the heart. The only thing he would welcome from me is news that we can fix his broken enchantment."
"I've been wondering about that," Kyle said. "Is there only one way to change a person's gender? I mean, magically. Actually, I've been wondering about that, too. What would happen if he took hormones? You know, underwent mundane gender reassignment treatments while female?"
Master Brandish stared for a moment. "That is a very good question. I do not know. But to answer your first question, yes, there are some other ways of changing gender, though none so complete and permanent as the method previously used."
"Except that it wasn't permanent."
"No one counted on a force as disruptive as you, Kyle." She said it kindly, with a bit of a smile. "Frost cannot be replaced like the broken Founding Stone. We have looked into a few other options, but it is too risky that we might instead leave him in female form irrevocably. Which he most certainly would not prefer to his current state."
"Irrevocably? You mean the same switch you pulled before can't be repeated?"
"You have it exactly," she said. "At any rate, I believe that unless he's going to spend the rest of his life as a celibate hermit, he needs to take this final chance to establish himself with his peer group."
"You think he's stuck the way he is?"
Brandish shrugged. "One's last year before graduation is often one's last chance to experiment with who one will become as an adult."
"That's not what I mean," Kyle said, though when he thought about it, he could see Brandish's point. "If he's going to be half and half, he'd better get used to it, I suppose? You know he pretty much told me he thinks 'celibate hermit' is his destiny."
"Given his history, I would call that wishful thinking on his part," Brandish said. She shook her head. "Especially given how needy he is. Celibacy only drives him to idiocy. He's a bit like an anorexic, except his problems are with sex rather than eating. It's very difficult to encourage him to a 'healthy diet.' I'll be frank, Kyle. I think you should be part of his regular diet, but barring that, I'd prefer it was you there when he finally binges."
Kyle had forgotten the lemonade in his hand, his throat going dry. "Is that what it is? When he hates me and drives me away, it's like he's... purging?"
Brandish favored him with a small nod. "It's... a very apt comparison. When female, he has body issues, bouts of crippling low self-esteem. He has even sometimes—" She stopped herself from saying more quite suddenly with a shake of her head. "You know I would not normally discuss anything like this with a student about another student. I'm violating his confidence even by speculating about it to you. So I need an oath from you, Kyle."
"Oath?"
"A promise."
"Not to tell him we spoke about him?"
"No. Promise on your manhood itself that you will have his unambiguous consent if you have sex with him in the future."
Kyle wasn't sure when he stood up, but he found himself staring in surprise down at her, his mouth open but no words coming out.
"You understand, of course, why I make this demand?" She seemed unperturbed by his sudden dismay.
"I would never force him! You... you can't think that I would!"
"Promise me."
"Am I supposed to wait for him to come to me?"
"I didn't say that."
"But if I make a move on him, would you see it as coercion? How am I supposed to make this promise?"
"If you 'make a move on him,' he's likely to rebuff you anyway, is he not?"
"I thought you said he needs me?"
"Yes, the way an anorexic needs a hamburger. Dreams about you, fantasizes about you, and then hates himself for giving in."
"How am I supposed to get around that?"
Brandish sighed. "The only cure for hate ever discovered is love, Kyle. If you love him, you'll find a way."
In the end he'd promised, though, and a few days later moved back onto campus. He hedged his bets a bit, putting half his clothes into Alex's room and half of them into his room upstairs. Since then he had mostly caught fleeting glimpses of Frost. With classes set to start the next day, the upperclassmen had been returning to the campus all week. There had been various house functions, both formal and informal, where they'd laid eyes on each other.
Kyle slipped the Longfellow journal back onto the common room shelf. Maybe he should walk back to Camella House, after all. At least there he wouldn't feel lonely. As he crossed Harvard Yard, the wind whipped his hair and blew rags of gray clouds across a small, pearly moon. He sighed. It had been a lovely summer, and he wasn't ready for the chill of winter yet.
He wasn't ready to wonder every time it snowed or iced over if that meant Frost was having a rough time. So far, every time Kyle had seen him it had been daytime. Frost had cut his hair the shortest Kyle had ever seen it.
They had exchanged words exactly once since returning, in a group of students, and Frost had been blandly polite. Kyle played the moment over in his mind often, sometimes convincing himself that meant there was hope, other times sure it proved Frost felt nothing for him at all. Sometimes both: if Frost felt nothing, that was an improvement over hating his guts and wanting to kill him.
The Yard was deserted, but Kyle was not surprised to see Alex's light on, and find him and Ash awake on the third floor of Camella House.
Kyle sat down in the suite and yawned. All the other doors were closed. "Have you met the new kids on the block?" he asked as the others were putting their playing cards away.
"What new kids?" Ash shrugged. "No one's moved into Monica and Jess's old room."
"What? Why?" Kyle sat up suddenly.
Ash shrugged again. "They say enrollment's down. People are keeping their kids at home, even the ones who aren't having problems with spells gone wrong. Burning Days rumors and all."
"All your fault, Ace," Alex said with a grin.
"Don't say that. I'm not... I didn't mean to panic people or anything." He knew from Jess's family that rumors about the end of the world as they knew it had been building for years, but ever since his junior thesis defense, there had been a real frenzy building. His presentation of an entirely new rendition of the Avestan First Cycle had ignited a debate that raged far outside mere scholarly circles as to the prophecy's meaning, or whether Kyle had created an entirely new prophecy. He'd tried to explain, in the analysis section of the paper, that he didn't write prophetically himself, but that his was the power to divine what the original poet meant.
The original poet warned of a cataclysm that could not be averted, but which could be survived by the efforts of a Prophesied Pair. A pair of lovers whose bond was the key to salvation.
"I mean, who's to say I'm right? What if I'm wrong?" Kyle got to his feet, suddenly restless.
Ash exchanged a look with Alex. "Have you read his cards lately?"
"Nah."
"What about Candlin? He's a Seer, isn't he? Ask him."
Kyle stopped his pacing. "Ask him what?"
Ash snorted. "You just asked, 'Who's to say I'm right?' Why don't you just ask a Seer? By all accounts Candlin's a good one, and doesn't he owe you a favor? The worst that can happen is you'll get a murky, ambiguous answer."
"Um...." Kyle stared at Ash for a moment. His long red hair was in a ratty ponytail, and he had been trying to grow a wiry goatee.
"Seriously," Ash went on. "No question is purely rhetorical in a society with real prophets."
Alex sighed. "Sit down. Get out your cards."
"All right." Kyle plopped down on the couch again and dug into his shoulder bag. He pulled out the Waite deck from the bottom and made to hand it to Alex.
Alex waved his hands. "No-no-no, you pull your own cards. Shuffle first."
Kyle tapped the cards free of the box. "I thought you said no shuffle was a kind of shuffling?"
"I don't want you to think I might have doctored the order of your cards, though," Alex said. "Go on. Shuffle them."
Kyle made a half-hearted attempt at shuffling them against the coffee table in front of the TV, then just swapped them around in his hands. "There. Good enough?"
"If it feels good enough to you." Alex drew a deep breath and let it out slowly, and Kyle realized he and Ash had done it, too, instinctively. "Now. Pull a card for yourself. It's the new school year. Who are you, Kyle? Who are you about to be?"
Kyle cut the deck and drew a card from the middle. He turned it over and his breath caught. He was expecting the Ace of Swords, or even the Knight. But he was staring at the kingly figure of The Hierophant. The master of all magic.
Ash rubbed his arms as if he had a sudden attack of goose bumps.
Alex licked his lips, but laughed. "Well, that's pretty damn clear. I guess you're graduating cum laude then."
Kyle looked more closely at the card. "It really looks like the Watchtower in the picture, doesn't it? The white columns?"
Ash shivered. "I wouldn't want to be dean of this place, though. Spending your days as a statue, basically? Alone? For a hundred years or more? Ugh."
"I doubt Kyle's going to end up in the Tower," Alex said. "More likely it's the general meaning of magical mastery. Kyle, you're going to become the master of your craft, and maybe the boss of us all."
"Like he isn't our king already?" said someone from the doorway.
Kyle looked up to see a familiar face. Though she'd grown her hair long, there was no mistaking Ciara. "Cee!" Kyle moved without thinking to wrap her in a huge hug. "Oh my God, Cee."
She laughed, hugging him back. "Does that mean you forgive me?"
He let go and stepped back to look at her. She swished her skirt and put her hands on her knees like a model, as if saying "take a look at the new me." He grinned. "I guess... I guess it does. Man, it's good to see you."
She arched an eyebrow at Alex. "Well, Kim, do you agree?"
Alex folded his arms. "Yeah, I suppose."
Kyle looked back and forth between them. "What am I missing now?"
Ash beckoned them to come and sit. "Have you not covered the concept of kingship in one of your classes?"
Kyle shook his head.
Ash and Alex exchanged another look as if deciding which of them would explain. Alex finally spoke. "It's a very Celtic concept. You find your king among you by his strength and purity and all that rot."
"You mean like King Arthur?"
"Eh, sorta. Arthur comes later and is all mucked up with mundane fantasies," Alex said. "But just think. Is there any doubt in your mind who the ringleader of our little band is?"
You, I thought it was YOU, Kyle thought, but then considered a bit more. "I... yeah, okay, I guess it's me."
Ciara patted him on the leg. "You're our king. We'll do anything you say, Kyle. We'll follow you. And there are others out there who would follow you, too."
Alex made a skeptical sound. "Yeah, but they'd follow him more like a prophet than a king."
"True. King and savior are pretty mixed up in some methodologies, though." Ciara sat back. "I'm not really here, by the way."
"You're not?" Kyle poked her on the leg. "Feels like you are."
"Silly. I mean I'm not registered at Veritas. But Bran had to come here for a few months, he said, and I knew I'd get to see you if I tagged along. We got an apartment a few blocks away."
Bran. Kyle decided not to ask who that was just yet. He was content to find out in time. "So is there a price for kingship? We're not talking about a kind of Jesus 'king of kings' thing, are we?"
Ciara and Ash laughed, and Ciara said, "You're definitely not the Jesus type, Kyle. White knight, yeah, sacrificial lamb, no."
"Still, what am I supposed to do?"
Alex yawned. "You know. Be noble, do the right thing. If you do the right thing and prosper, your minions all prosper. That sort of thing. Being a lightning rod, you're not really the Celtic sort of king anyway. You're more primal than that. Here, pick another card and see what you get."
Kyle pulled another from the deck and placed it on the table. "Nine of cups? That's good, right?"
Ciara giggled. Ash was shaking his head. "It's the card of satisfaction. Usually it means either sexual or artistic satisfaction."
Alex chuckled at that. "In other words, either your poem is going to win a prize, or Frost's ass is yours."
Just hearing Frost's name sent a shiver over Kyle's skin. He pretended it hadn't. "Do I have to choose which? It can't mean both?"
Alex shrugged. "It could. Pull one more and see what it says."
Kyle turned over the Three of Coins, which depicted a sculptor at work in a church. Another building that looked like the Watchtower, now that Kyle thought about it. "This one means artistic success, too, doesn't it?"
Alex nodded. "Yup. The apprentice has become the master. See how being on his platform raises him above the others in the picture? I'd say that's a pretty unambiguous answer, Kyle."
"So...."
"Three cards, all of which point to complete and total mastery of your poetic magic."
But nothing about Frost. Kyle's hand hovered over the deck again, wondering if he dared to ask.
He swept the cards up into a pile and boxed them again, stuffing them down into the bottom of his bag. Graduation was nine months away. That is, if the Burning Days didn't descend first.
"You dropped one," Alex said. He reached down and plucked the card from the carpet.
Kyle stared at it. "The Devil?"
Alex raised an eyebrow. "Are you feeling devilish, bedeviled by something, or about to play devil's advocate?"
"It can mean all those things?"
"The really potent cards always have lots of meanings; you know that. Here, draw one more to clarify."
Kyle shrugged and pulled a card from the deck without unboxing them. His heart sank as he saw the Five of Swords. "The swords are never good."
"Hey, at least it's not the ten," Alex said, sounding relieved. "The time you pulled that was bad enough."
"So the five is only half that bad?" Kyle joked, which made Ash laugh but Alex was still looking at it seriously.
"One of the names for this card is Lord of Defeat. The guy here holding all the swords? He's beaten both these others... mixed with the Devil I'd say this is someone who is trying to thwart you." Alex looked up, examining Kyle's face. "I know what you're thinking. This doesn't feel like Frost."
"Yeah. If anyone's Frost... it's this sad little guy in the background of the card." The Lord of Defeat had two opponents walking away from him in the picture, one straight-backed, the other slumped.
Alex wrinkled his nose. "Someone's going to make trouble for you both, then." Then he snorted. "Oh, that's news? Come on, tell me something we don't know."
Kyle put the cards away more carefully and went to crash in Alex's spare bed. He lay awake wondering who the Lord of Defeat could be. Maybe he's just a symbol of my own self-doubt or something, Kyle thought. There had to be hope. Master Brandish seemed to think there was, at least.
He fell asleep, trying to imagine a civil conversation between himself and Frost and failing. Here we go again, he thought.

The Poet and the Prophecy

By: Cecilia Tan
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