“I don’t know about this, sister. Are you sure?”
“Yes Roselyn, their story needs to be told.”
“I doubt many will believe us.”
“I know that, but we owe our friends as much. If it wasn’t for them, our world might not exist anymore.”
“Ariel … I hope you are right…”
“Toby, get up! You’re going to be late for class!”
Toby’s eyes shot open and he sat up quickly without thinking. His head impacted against the top bunk, making a loud thud, “Ow, f…!”
He slammed his fist against the bed frame before glaring at the person who had roused him. His roommate stood at the door pointing a stubby finger at the clock on his wall, “Come on man, it’s 8:45! You know how Professor Arias reacts to tardiness.”
Toby shook his head as he fixed his dark brown hair, “Gishan you’re a dwarf, don’t you have a stone somewhere to bang?”
The stubby teen crossed his arms, “Oh funny! Because all dwarves are miners, right? At least we live more than a measly hundred years.”
“All right, all right,” Toby sighed, “I’m sorry.”
Gishan smiled as he shook his head in disapproval, “What would you do if you didn’t have me around?”
“Find a less annoying roommate!” Toby shot back.
Once the pain went away, Toby stood up and looked around. His dorm room was a mess. Clothes and empty beer bottles littered the floor, the posters were falling off the wall, and the beds looked like they hadn’t been made in months.
Toby could have cleaned things, but he was used to it being this way. He quickly grabbed a shirt off the floor and threw it on over the wrinkled jeans he had been sleeping in. He then grabbed a pair of sandals and slid them on his feet.
“Really,” Gishan scoffed, “sandals in February?”
Toby looked up at his roommate as he strapped them around his ankles, “How warm has it been out recently, 60 degrees?”
Gishan shrugged, “Still too cold for me…”
Once Toby was ready, he grabbed his books and joined Gishan at the door. He easily towered over the dwarf by at least 2 feet, “Okay I’m ready, let’s go.”
“I think it might be time for a laundry run.” Gishan sighed as he scratched his chin stubble.
“Too much trouble,” Toby replied, “besides, weren’t we just at your parent’s house?”
“Yeah,” Gishan chuckled as he turned to the door, “well… we could always do it ourselves?”
Looking at the piles of laundry that were almost completely covering their floor, Toby had a sudden change of heart. He hated having his roommate’s mother help him with laundry, but the pile had grown to the point where their small washers wouldn’t do the job. Plus he knew his uncle would never help him out with it.
“Fine…” Toby replied in a defeated tone. “Why don’t you give your parents a call and see if they would like a visit this weekend.”
Gishan laughed, “Thought you’d see it my way.”
He then turned to the door, “Come on, we’re going to be late.”
Toby followed his roommate out the door and down the hallway. Unlike their room, the hall was almost sterile with beautiful carvings of heroic figures on the walls and newly polished hard wood floors.
The building was quite old as was evidenced by the musty smell and the old style steam heaters that lined the hallway. Most of the residents had lost count of how many times the clanking and hissing of those heaters had kept them awake.
Toby had been known to spend hours inspecting the carvings on the walls trying to determine who they were of, but there was no time for that now. The two friends raced down the hall, flew down the front staircase, and found themselves in the main courtyard.
It was another unusually warm day at Arcanus College in North Boston. The sun shined down over last remaining piles of snow from a pre-Christmas storm. It had been the only snow they’d seen that year.
Various students, both dwarven and human made their way to various engagements and classes across campus. Everyone was dressed as though it were spring weather. Most had on jeans and t-shirts, but still kept jackets with them just in case.
The main building was almost a quarter of a mile across campus, though it seemed longer than that to Toby. By the time they reached the building, their classroom door was already closed. They were late.
Gishan shrugged, “Well we could just chalk this up as a sick day?”
Toby shook his head, “No way, today we’re learning about the second war of the Alliance. It’s the big one, and I don’t want to miss it.”
“Fine,” Gishan replied, knowing that there was no point in arguing, “but I never got what you loved so much about these fairy tales. They happened thousands of years ago. Hell, we don’t even know how much of these stories really happened and how much is mythology. Why did we even take this class? What does ‘Survey of Pre-Western Civ.’ have to do with either of our majors?”
“It’s one of the last core requirements I need to graduate.” Toby answered only half paying attention. “You can go back if you want, but I’m going in.”
Gishan shook his head, “Whatever dude, right behind you…”
The two of them slowly opened the heavy wooden door in an attempt to sneak in unnoticed. They proceeded into a lecture hall with over a hundred students in attendance and tried to find open chairs in the back of the auditorium. Their plan failed however, when a gruff voice from behind made them jump, “Ah Gishan Nemog and Tobias Arrigan, so glad you could make it.”
The two friends turned to see that Professor Arias had been watching them the entire time. The man towered over the two boys with his arms crossed under his black robes. His white hair was indicative of dealing with students like Gishan and Toby a little too long, “That’s what now? Three times you’ve been late to class? We haven’t even been in session two weeks!”
“Sorry Prof,” Gishan replied, “we um…”
“Were up drinking rock salt vodka all night.” Arias interrupted, finishing his sentence. “If you lay off that dwarven swill, you might actually make it to class on time.”
Soft chuckling could be heard around the room as the professor turned back to the board, “That’ll be a five page paper, typed, single-space, due on Friday for the two of you. I want you to examine the significance of the Second Alliance War with emphasis on the Ulium Plague.”
“The Elven plague.” Toby whispered to Gishan as they sat down.
“I know!” The dwarf spat back. “Believe it or not, I do pay attention.”
The professor glared at them both, “Glad to hear it. Now if you two don’t mind, I have a class to teach.”
Toby nodded, “Sorry professor, it won’t happen again.”
Professor Arias rolled his eyes as he turned back to his board, not believing a word of anything they said, “All right open you books to…”
“Excuse me…” A faint voice chimed in from the back of the room. “I’m very sorry I’m late.”
The whole class turned to see who had spoken. The professor’s eyes followed the voice to the back of the room. Standing at the door was a young woman with fair skin, big bright hazel eyes, and long blonde hair. Her bangs were partially braided and tied around the back of her head to keep her them out of her eyes.
Toby’s eyes widened as he saw her standing behind him. Her slender body and beautiful face made it difficult for him to turn away. Then he noticed her pointed ears that stuck out on either side of her head and were only partially covered by her hair. He quickly turned back to face forward. No way…
An air of disgust came over the room as Professor Arias looked at her with scornful eyes, “Ah this does seem to be the day for tardiness… Well, who are you?”
The girl spoke with a light accent that wasn’t recognizable to most of the class, “My name is Lia’na of the White Water Clan. I just transferred to Arcanus this spring and signed up on the last day of open registration.”
She walked down the aisle to the professor and handed him a piece of paper. He took the sheet and only half-glanced at it, “Oh very well… Looks like I’m going to have to have a few words with the people at registration… take a seat Leena.”
“Lia’na, sir.” She said softly.
“Noted.” The professor replied. “Take a seat so we can get started.”
Lia’na emotionlessly nodded, “Lien ni, Professor.”
She turned to look for an open seat and spotted one near the back of the room. The moment she sat down, the students around her moved away or turned their desks so that she couldn’t see their faces. She looked down at her books and pretended not to notice.
Toby couldn’t believe his eyes, “Are you seeing this, Gishan, an elf, here at Arcanus.”
Gishan snorted, “Not many of those sharpys left. Wonder what brought her out of the woods?”
“No idea,” he replied, “but what’s up with that name man, sharpy?”
Gishan grinned, “Yeah, sharpy, as in they have pointed ears? Their ears are sharp, get it?”
“Yeah I know what it means jackass,” Toby replied in an annoyed tone, “but what’s your damage?”
“Elves and dwarves have never gotten along. Do I need a specific reason?” Gishan shot back.
“Whatever.” Toby whispered, not wanting to drag this out. “I thought elves had their own colleges.”
“Well she’s here now.” Gishan said with a growl. “Just keep her eyes off me. I’ve heard they can bewitch you.”
Toby shook his head, “Oh relax Gishan, I don’t think she’s going to come anywhere near you. Where do you get this stuff?”
“Let’s just say that historically, elves haven’t been too kind to my people.” Gishan replied.
Toby chuckled, “I thought you said that you didn’t know how much of those stories were actually true.”
Gishan didn’t reply opting to eye Lia’na for a few moments before turning back to Professor Arias as the lecture began. Toby was mystified by Lia’na’s appearance. Even though she dressed like any normal girl in their early twenties, her fashion sense was quite elegant and what most people had come to expect from an elf. She wore a white blouse that had short, puffy sleeves, a square neck, and seemed to drape down over her stomach like a dress. Her black jeans had odd, stiched-on, designs going up the legs that seemed to shimmer in the sunlight.
Lia’na noticed that Toby was looking at her and returned his gaze. He quickly turned his attention back to the front of the room, hoping Lia’na hadn’t seen him staring at her. She smiled and went back to straightening out her books as class continued, looking up every so often to see if she could catch him staring again.