L.o.W.- Prodigy of Rainbow Tower Part 3

The mid-day serenity of Visindor Forest is broken by the sound of trumpets and dwarven drums. The simple music reverberates through the trees for miles. Animals that are too curious for their own good, wander to the edge of the massive clearing surrounding the Hamilton Military Academy. The animals cautiously keep their distance from the academy and its graduation ceremony. It is from here that the loud music and even louder cheering is emanating. Banners and balloons cling to their perches atop the thick defensive wall as they are whipped by the wind. A few laughing, stumbling figures wander around the outside of the academy wall before going back inside. It is graduation time and everyone is curious to see who will be moving on and who will be subjected to another semester with Selenia.

The headmistress solemnly stands at her podium on the dais with most of the instructors sitting behind her. Two empty seats to her right continue to be ignored by the staff and students as she bestows another silver and bronze ring to a young dwarf. The first year students are still whispering about at the beautiful dress that this half-elven mercenary is wearing. Sleeveless and high-collared, it is made from a starlight blue cloth and trails down to her ankles. She moves gracefully from the ring table to the podium and back again in delicate shoes of velvet and satin. Selenia is the most elegant woman at the school’s graduation even with her light pink buzzcut and the longsword strapped to her back.

She is also a testament to mental endurance. After three hours of heart-felt speeches, outbursts from the crowd, and handing out rings, Selenia retains her smiling expression of pride and dignity. On this day, she is the embodiment of stamina and grace that the bards sing of across the taverns of Windemere.

Selenia clears her throat for silence before announcing, “I would like to thank everyone for attending this year’s graduation and bearing with me through all of these speeches. Some of our speakers have been very eloquent this semester. As you all know, we call the students up to receive their rings from the top of the class to the one that barely graduated. This does not mean that the lowest of the graduates is the worst warrior. In truth, I am very proud of this entire group of graduates due to the events of this semester. We had a very difficult semester filled with danger and pain. All of my students were called upon to use their skills and mature without warning. None of them failed to accomplish this. All of my students have shown great courage and skill in the face of their first battle. They have also helped to repair this school and accepted a delay in their education without complaint. I am especially grateful to everyone for bearing with us during our rebuilding period. With all of that said, I would like to call up the final graduate.”

“About time! We’re running out of ale!” exclaims a drunken voice from the back of the crowd.

“Getonwitit!” shouts a more guttural voice.

The crowd parts to reveal Duggan Ironcaster and Kevin Masterson leaning against a tree with mugs of ale in their hands. Selenia’s eye twitches as these walking interruptions continue to sway on their feet. Kevin quickly sits down before his bad leg gives out. The dwarven blacksmith, on the other hand, continues to yell for Selenia to finish the ceremony. The drunken outburst is not too surprising since Kevin and Duggan have made their drunken scenes as much a graduation tradition as the ceremony itself. Long ago, they had won an argument with Selenia about lifting the bans on alcohol and fraternization for graduation day. She still regrets agreeing to the drinking contest that decided the debate, but her honor prevents her from going back on the deal.

“Are you two done?” she asks dryly.

“Not a chance, kid,” Kevin happily slurs. “We only get to drink two days out of the year, so we have to make them count. We need you to wrap it up since we’re out of booze. I think. Anyway, we’ll behave for the next five minutes. Let’s hear it for the great headmistress who led an army of amateurs against the forces of evil and won. Come on, people,” He awkwardly raises his half-filled mug of ale to Selenia. The crowd obeys the drunken man and begins a deafening cheer that succeeds in getting Selenia to smirk.

“Thank you. Next time please wait until all of the graduates have received their graduation rings,” Selenia says with a politeness that doesn’t reach her eyes. “Now, I won’t lie that this final student was the most troublesome warrior to ever enter this school. When he arrived, he was insolent, impulsive, and undisciplined. Not to mention foolish and rude. I can only hope that trouble does not follow him everywhere as he leaves my academy. Yet from his attitude and recklessness, I can be sure that he will get into enough trouble to be remembered by history. He could have been at the top of the class if he stuck to the rules and stayed awake during his indoor classes.”

Selenia looks at the clear sky and sighs. “Honestly, I do not remember having to punish or fight a student as much as this one. I thank him for keeping me on my toes. Without any more stalling, may I introduce the lowest graduate of this year and the newest hero of Windemere. I present this ring to Luke Callindor.”

Unlike the other graduates, the blonde half-elf jumps on to the dais instead of taking the stairs. The crowd applauds as Luke is given the graduation ring and lets a big grin cross his face. While the other graduates wore blue shirts with yellow lightning trimming around the collar, Luke is wearing a black peasant shirt with an open collar and tight sleeves. A silver torque around his neck glints in the sun. The brown boots and pants are the same ones that he always wears only they have been cleaned for the occasion.

“Not pulling punches, I see,” Luke whispers, shaking Selenia’s hand.

“Be thankful that you graduated,” Selenia says without releasing his hand. She tries to tighten her grip while Luke fights to do the same. “After we found out about you and Ms. Grasdon breaking the rules, I was very tempted to punish both of you. Not to mention you entered my school under false documentation in order to protect the heir of Serab whose attendance at this academy I was not informed of. You should thank Kevin, Duggan, and Theresa for staying my hand. They were the ones who pointed out that not letting you graduate meant you would be here longer. I don’t think I could have handled another semester without killing you. Now, go enjoy yourself.”

Luke uses the stairs to get off the dais and he is immediately rushed by a small figure that darts out of the crowd. The small form bounces off Luke’s knee and gracefully balances on the half-elf’s shoulder with one hand. The other hand is in Luke’s face until he accepts the handshake. Nimby starts munching on an apple before he flips to the ground.

“Let me be the first to congratulate you. Now we can set off on our adventure,” declares Nimby, his brown eyes glowing with excitement. “I can’t wait. I’m already packed. Orc bandits, goblins, trolls, undead, dragons, and chaos elves await us at every turn. It will be a tale of grand exploits.”

“I hope so. I was starting to get bored here,” Luke says in a low voice.

“There is one thing that I don’t understand,” the halfling admits, running a hand through his curly hair. “How can a Callindor who defeated a Hellfire Elf and a Lich still be at the bottom of the graduate list?”

Luke is about to answer when a friendly voice interrupts him. “That would be the result of ego, arrogance, youth, and women . . . especially women. Ah, the delicate distraction of curves and the sweet scent of femininity. I do feel it is about time for this old gnome to make his return to the women of Windemere. I have been away from the gnome-starved nymphs of civilization for far too long. I shall send the bar wenches of Gaia a letter, so that they will be prepared for the charisma that is Fritz Warrenberg.”

“I regret buying him that book of poetry for his birthday last month. I can only pray that shining Durag forgives my lapse in common sense,” Aedyn says, walking alongside Fritz. The priest is dressed in his ceremonial robes of orange and yellow. His staff has been decorated with a golden ribbon that gives off a subtle light.

“Does Durag help with finding willing women?” Fritz asks while adjusting his silver bowtie and wide robe cuffs. His friends can tell that he is uncomfortable in the pressed tunic and long-tailed coat. Only Nimby notices a few mechanical gadgets and tools hidden beneath the coat.

“Durag is not some whore god that spends his time thinking of how to get his servants laid,” Aedyn retorts. He fixes his black hair, which is tied in a ponytail with a thin, red cord.

Fritz is about to say something else when a pair of attractive elf maidens approach the priest. Both of them appear to be no older than twenty and are wearing skintight dresses that cling to their curves like a second skin. They don’t say a word as they take Aedyn’s hands and drag him to the crowded dance floor. The others stand there in shock as the confused half-elf disappears into the crowd with a modest amount of complaining.

“I love these parties,” Nimby happily says.

“I hate my life,” Fritz mutters, kicking at a rock.

Luke politely coughs to get their attention. “I have some things to take care of. I might not see you guys until we leave tomorrow morning.” Both of his friends prepare to speak, but Luke quickly adds, “Yes, Nimby. It has to do with Kira. No, Fritz. It isn’t that. We just have to figure some stuff out before I leave.”

“We understand. Remember to find us if you need someone to cheer you up later. We wouldn’t be good friends if we let you suffer alone,” Nimby claims with a slap on Luke’s leg. Fritz nods in agreement before silently making his way to where Duggan and Kevin are opening a new keg of ale.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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