Trial By Fire (Going Down in Flames)(5)

By: Chris Cannon

Jaxon’s cheeks colored. Good. He should feel embarrassed at the Directorate’s closed-mindedness. None of the buildings on campus at the Institute for Excellence, aka Dragon School, were wheelchair accessible. When she’d asked about this, she’d been told medics were able to heal almost all injuries by manipulating Quintessence, or the essence of life. Bryn was actually quite skilled in this area and hoped to become a medic one day. However, the recent attacks on campus had left multiple students with injuries that the medics had been unable to treat or repair. The students with limited mobility might need ramps or elevators, but it didn’t seem like the Directorate planned on updating the buildings any time in the near future.

“What floor is our room on?” Bryn asked.

“The second,” Rhianna said. “I used to live on the third floor, so this is an improvement.”

They reached the second floor landing. Jaxon took both of Rhianna’s hands in his and then leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. “Call if you need anything.” Then he continued up the steps.

Rhianna blushed, which was cute, because most of the time Blues didn’t show emotions in public like the other Clans. The three of them walked down the hall and stopped at the third room on the right where Bryn’s grandmother presented her with a set of keys.

Inside the doorway, Bryn came to a dead halt. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“What?” her grandmother asked. “Don’t you like it?”

“It’s twice the size of the rooms in the Green and Black dorms.” Though the front room held the two obligatory roll-top desks with their hideously uncomfortable chairs, the floors were hardwood, rather than carpeted. An antique couch, wingback chairs, and a coffee table took up half the space. The other half had floor to ceiling bookshelves and a library table.

Bryn walked over to one of the shelves to check out the sculptures, which ranged from intricate glass figurines to carved wooden boxes. “What’s all this?”

“Art,” her grandmother said.

Sure. Everyone needed art in their living room. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

“Come pick which bedroom you want,” Rhianna said.

There was more than one bedroom? That was new, too. In the other dorms, the roommates each had their own beds in one big room. Not so here. She walked down the short hallway that ended in the window, which opened onto the terrace. A door on the right led to a bedroom with a four-poster bed covered in a silk sky blue comforter. The fleur-de-lis wallpaper was a bit much. There was a dresser and a nightstand on either side of the bed, like her other rooms. The door on the far wall opened to reveal a claw foot tub.

Bryn went back out into the hall and entered the other bedroom. The cream colored walls and the sleigh bed with the navy comforter barely registered. She saw the door on the far wall. Suspicion confirmed. “We each have our own bathroom?”

“Of course,” Rhianna said.

“Roommates in the other dorms share a bathroom,” Bryn said.

“The Blue Clan did fund most of the buildings on campus,” her grandmother said. “And we are used to living a certain lifestyle.”

“But you don’t spread that information around,” Bryn said.

“No one ever asked,” her grandmother said. “Now, which room would you like?”

Bryn looked at Rhianna. “I like this one, if you don’t mind.”

“Good,” Rhianna said. “I like the four-poster bed better.”

“Go open your wardrobe,” her grandmother said.

Bryn opened the mahogany armoire door to find her clothes already inside. “How’d you know I’d pick this room?”

“You seem to like simpler lines, so I thought you’d choose this one. Rhianna, I had your clothing placed in your wardrobe as well.” She clasped her hands in front of her waist in the same manner she did when saying good-bye to guests at her home. “I should leave you girls to prepare for bed.”

Rhianna ducked out the doorway and across the hall.

An odd sense of unease trickled down Bryn’s spine, like cold rain dripping down the back of her shirt collar. She was happy to be back at school, but she’d miss her grandmother. Despite her outwardly proper appearance, she wasn’t the iceberg Bryn had originally imagined. After moving in with her grandparents, she’d grown much closer to her grandmother, though her grandfather was still a bit scary. She hadn’t quite found her footing with him.