Move Along

Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story
The days couldn’t manage to become any more miserable or dour, could they? Drysalio Cervera sulked, swiping away the pile of expensive books that lay sprawled across his desk.
Books for education, the young man scoffed internally, if the professors had any shred of competence they wouldn’t need to use books to teach us. He sat up and let out a long, dramatic groan. Boredom had long settled over his brain like a neurotic disease...he deserved a remedy after a long half an hour of studying.

“What do you say we find a damsel to woo?” Drysalio called to Carver, a scraggly feline he had lured out of the gutter a month ago.

Carver stretched his legs and pressed himself into a nonchalant ball.

“Alright, then. You have a point. None of the women here are damsels, per say. Remember the one time that woman nearly shattered my kneecap because I asked her to dinner?”

Carver was asleep.

Drysalio rolled his eyes and walked to his mirror, slicking his hair back. A pretty smile peered back at him; though many students at this academy did not seem to appreciate his other features, Drysalio considered himself to be quite handsome. Pale lavender skin, tapered, pointed ears, and cunning eyes that didn’t seem human.

Because he wasn’t.

Drysalio was a member of the race known as Sparkanae, a mystically inclined race that was quickly becoming a superpower across the continent. The rest of the world was dominated by humans, the horned Xhevan, outcast Nylens, and the close cousins of the Sparkanae,

Needless to say, humans had not yet become very accepting of their new neighbors. They wouldn’t have much of a choice after a while, either. At the moment, humans were outnumbered by other races one-to-four.

Brushing his black woolen overcoat off, Drysalio headed out of his room and out into the hallway.

Multiple rooms lined either side of the hallway, many with a silver-plated name attached. Technically it was past curfew for the students of Espienne, the largest (and most renowned) academy established to train young masters of subterfuge. Drysalio’s lordly father Visirio Dryslya had shipped him off to this academy in the hopes that he could have the professors make a suitable Spymaster of his middle-child.

Espienne was a strict academy, one where students rooted themselves out year after year. So far Drysalio had made it through his first twenty years there. Sparkanae had immeasurable lifespans, so Lord Dryslya made it his priority to put his son through for as many years as possible; others usually only attended for one or two years. Students were cautious.

Drysalio preferred to teeter on the line between expulsion and safety.

Slinking down the hall as quietly as he possibly could, Drysalio wrapped his dark cloak around himself and clicked his tongue each time he passed another student’s dorm.

There it was. He made a sudden turn to the left. It was difficult to tell in the dark where the private exit for professors was located in that specific hall. Drysalio had memorized the number of clicks it would take him to reach it-- after a series of mistrials that resulted in a nearly broken nose. He made his way down this next hall, a much shorter and darker one. This time there was no need for clicks. At the direct end of the hall there was a heavy steel door that could only be opened by professors.

Plebeians. Drysalio snickered and closed his eyes, pressing his palm against the middle of the door. Sparkanae were naturally magically inclined...simple spells of trespass were little more than a fleeting thought.

The door swung open slowly. Drysalio stepped through, whistling softly, and relished the lovely midnight breeze. Espienne was located in a lovely region of the continent-- thin rivers that snaked in between sporadic clumps of mountainous terrain, plenty of tall fir trees that turned crimson in autumn, and crunchy grass that was a pain to step on without shoes.
Drysalio made his way down the narrow stairs that led to the main platform of the academy, admiring the view of the nearby river.

At least, attempting to admire it.

In the distance he could see three human boys; two of them were crouched by the river, and in the middle of them was a younger boy. He was sprawled on his stomach, both arms crushed by the feet of the older boys restraining him. They each had a hand pressed on the younger boy’s head, forcing his unwilling face into the water. Drysalio stood, a hand on the rail of the stairs, watching silently.

The younger boy lifted his head, gasped for air, and had his head promptly thrust back into the river. Drysalio only watched. What could he do for the boy? If he stepped that far out of the academy limits, his expulsion would be certain. They’ll stop soon, he assured himself, the boy’ll be fine. In fact, he’ll make something better of himself after this. He’ll never let them hurt him again.
Harsh words rang in his head. Words of hate, fear, disgust, and prejudice...

Look at him, son....they had all of those purple outlanders...look at those ears of his...those eyes, too!

He had only been six years old, new to the academy, and would have been clinging to his mother if she were there. Three older boys had backed him into a dark corner and practiced their newly acquired combat skills with the innocent as the training dummy.

Six year-old Drysalio was scraped off the pavement later that evening, barely breathing. That night marked his first visit to the infirmary twenty years ago. He still had a scar on his left temple from a stone used on him.

Twenty seconds had passed since the last dunk of the boy’s head. Drysalio blinked the haze out of his eyes. The older brutes grabbed the boy by the meat of his arms and rolled his flimsy form over.

Drysalio found his legs moving without his immediate approval. Down the stairs he was, suddenly sprinting as fast as he had ever sprinted across the grass. Anxiety pounded his at his heart like a mallet-- although Drysalio took small risks, this was the biggest one yet. A single, quite noticeable, man darting across an uninhabited bit of land with (likely) tens of professors and guards taking was nothing like simply sneaking out of a dorm to flirt.

Yet he was doing it. He heard a sharp, piercing whistle. Yelling.

Forty steps until he reached the boy.

Go back, Drysalio urged himself, they might pardon you this time if you turn around.


He’s weak. Those boys will make something better of him.

Twenty. Why wasn’t he stopping?

You’ll lose everything you’ve worked for. Twenty years.


What will you tell your father, you imbecile?

Three hours later, Drysalio found himself sitting at the bedside of a boy named Oliver. He was badly bruised-- broken ribs, lungs full of water, a few fractured bones. The nurse had commended Drysalio for his action.

“Had you arrived ten seconds later, he would have been a lost cause.”

Drysalio smiled slightly, looking at the boy. He had curly brown hair, a cherubic face...innocent blue eyes. Oliver? A good name, he supposed. The boy was nearly finished with his second year at Espienne. It would have been his final year if not for Drysalio’s intervention. Oliver’s two attackers had been expelled permanently, suffering quite a few injuries from a certain somebody.

Drysalio wondered for a second or two about whoever had taken him to the infirmary those two decades ago.

Had the same thing that inspired Drysalio to save this boy inspired them to save him?

Whatever it was, Drysalio thought, smiling softly as he watched the boy take steady breaths, I’m glad it came to me.

It was worth it. This day would be Drysalio’s last day at Espienne, anyways. He was graduating the next evening.