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The Phoenix Ring

By:Alexander Brockman

out of it. However, the most amazing thing was that the entire place seemed to be encased in a huge, blue tinged, transparent soap bubble.

Aidan realized that his jaw was hanging open, and Timothy laughed. "Do you want to go see the safety sphere?" he asked.

Aidan could only nod.

Timothy started jogging towards the edge of the field, where the bubble started. It was fairly easy to see through, and there appeared to be a forest on the other side.

"Go ahead, you can touch it," Timothy said.

Aidan gently reached out and stroked the bubble, half expecting it to pop. That would be two camps destroyed in twenty-four hours. To his surprise, it was as hard as steel.

He pushed a little harder, and finally gave it a good punch. And then the wall punched him back.

It wasn't really a punch, but a force slammed into Aidan that knocked him down. He hit the ground with the wind knocked out of him, Timothy doubled over laughing.

"Sorry mate," he said between gasps "I should have told you that the safety sphere fights back. It hits you with twice the force that you hit it, but I guess you know that now."

Aidan glared at him until the laughing subsided. So much for escaping, he thought.

"Are you done now?" he asked the young sorcerer.

"Just about," Timothy answered. "I think next we can take you to the mage training area. How much do you know about the levels of sorcery?"

Aidan stared at him blankly.

"Ugh, this might take a while," Timothy said. "We can talk while we walk. A sorcerer is what we call anyone who can practice magic. A mage is the first level of sorcery, a mage can do magic with a staff, which is made of some material with runes inscribed on it, and it has a gem on one end. For a mage, magic is directed out of the staff.

"The next level is a wizard. Wizards can do magic with a wand, which is a small staff without a gem. The magic is normally directed out of the tip of a wand, and most sorcerers never make it past the wizard level.

"The last level is a warlock. Warlocks can direct magic with nothing but their hands. When a wizard becomes a warlock, he has a magic symbol engraved on his head. There are only three warlocks in the entire camp, and my master is one of them. Do you need some help?"

Aidan was furiously scribbling in his notebook, and had nearly tripped over a stone.

I do not belong here anymore than I belong in a palace he thought.

Aidan and Timothy passed the boys’ quarters. Aidan realized that it was the most normal building in the entire camp, shaped something like a chapel, while many of the other buildings should not have even been able to stand. One building on the other side of the camp was fat and round and held off the ground by two thin legs. And it was the color of roses.

"Oh, those are the girls’ quarter's" Timothy said dubiously. "Don't ask about the color. Alright, so this is the mage training building."

The structure that the boys were standing in front of was about twice as tall as Aidan, and was, unlike some of the others, attached firmly to the ground. It was roughly a circle, and there did not appear to be a roof. As soon as Aidan registered this, a fireball soared out of the top of building and continued to fly upwards until it hit the safety sphere and exploded.

Timothy opened the door and Aidan hesitantly stepped in. The inside of the building was huge, it could easily span half of the village where Aidan lived. And everywhere there were mages. All of them had a staff, and most were doing magic of some kind or another. One boy was flying atop his scepter, a girl was shooting fireball after fireball at a metal shield, and there even appeared to be a group of kids standing around a pool of burning water.

Aidan realized his mouth was hanging open, he had barely even noticed that Timothy was still speaking.

"That boy over there is named Eric, he is so close to becoming a wizard, and that over there is the target area, and- oh, hi George!" George was a huge boy, at least four inches taller than Aidan. He had the beginning of a beard, and muscles bulged under his robes. However, when he spoke it was a surprisingly high voice that emanated from his throat.

"Hey, Tim, who is this, a newbie?"

"Yeah," the smaller boy replied, it was odd that Timothy's voice was deeper. "His name is Aidan. He just got here today and Malachi wanted me to show him around.”

George glanced at Aidan's notebook. "You still writing everything down? Here, I can help with that."

So saying, the boy raised his staff, which was made of stone with a small red ruby encased on top, at Aidan and mumbled some words. Aidan was half expecting to get blasted off the face of the earth, but he was not expecting the itching that came into his ears.

Aidan slapped at the side of his head, and then the feeling was gone.

"There," George said, "That will make it so that anything you hear and want recorded will be written in your notebook."

"Th-Thanks," Aidan stammered.

"It's no problem. Come on Tim, I want to show you something I found over here."

"K, I'll be right back Aidan, try to introduce yourself to some people. That girl over there might be the worst mage in the world, but she's sweet, and the masters aren’t against relationships. Her name is Angela. Good luck." he said, and then followed George to somewhere else in the room, where he was hidden from sight by a group of mages that were frantically trying to extinguish a flaming staff.

Aidan, for lack of a better thing to do, began to walk toward the girl named Angela, who had somehow managed to make a lily grow on top of her head. She was pretty. And then the lily exploded, and her hair was on fire, and Aidan realized that now was probably not a good time to try flirting. Instead he looked around at the building.

He had heard of great arenas in the dwarven kingdoms, where warriors would fight jotuns, or ice giants, for fame and glory. Its size alone made it

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