With a huff, Ciara slams her box down on the ground, green eyes blazing with fury. How dare they?
Putting her on shrapnel-collecting duty? Working in the kitchen? This isn’t what she signed up for!
She reaches for the gloves on her belt and yanks them on, then surveys the gray-skied junkyard. This bites. She wants to ride the wyrms into Bythlonia with the Serpent Knights, patrol the cities with her best friend Lydia, have free sea-salt ice cream on the weekends.
Ciara’s shoulders slump. I’ll never be a Serpent Knight at this rate. She stoops to the ground to pick up a cluster of rusted scraps.
“Hey! Why don’t you shake a little more for the captain next time? I’m sure that’ll get his attention!” A familiar voice jeers from behind.
Ciara looks over her shoulder, only to be face-assaulted with a grease-soaked handkerchief. She rips it off her face.
It’s Asmel, Bairo, and those dumb twins.
A bear-fierce scowl on her lips, Ciara tosses more shrapnel into the box. She wishes she could wipe their sneers off with the dirty handkerchief. Haven’t they done enough? “Don’t you high and mighty knight trainees have something better to do than bother me?”
“We do,” Asmel says. “But I wanted to make sure you didn’t forget your hankie.”
Ciara hangs the greasy cloth on her box. She would’ve much rather that he kept it to himself. “Hmph. Could’ve lived without that.” She picks up the box. “I’m out.”
Asmel’s eyes narrow into snake-thin slits. Ciara can feel him watching her every move.
“You don’t deserve it, you know.”
This makes Ciara do a one-eighty. “What?”
“You heard me.” Asmel’s hands ball into fists. “You don’t deserve anything here at Wy Academy. You just got lucky because some old pervert let you in the school. You walk in here like a wild hot mess and you think you deserve to be a Serpent Knight?” He scoffs, then spits on the ground in front of her. “Hate lazies like you. Shape up and act like a knight if you want to be one, or go home.” Then he turns and strides off. His companions watch him leave, eyes wide in astonishment as if they hadn’t been expecting that from him either.