4. A World Without Confidence

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The crowd immediately burst into protests and indignant yelling. The staff behind him gasped and began their own complaints, as well, when the hero looked behind him to see his father; however, the man was silent, glaring at him through eyes that glowed like burning cinders. He gulped. There was no going back now. From now on, it would be the two of them against the world: Autumn and Spring. Perhaps it was a rash decision, but it was one he made himself, and that made it precious- made Spring precious.

In the middle of the roar, Autumn's father stood and hushed them with only his commanding movement. The students could feel the anger rising from the man as he stepped toward his son and his protector. Autumn didn't have to look back a second time to know his father was coming for him; in that grand gymnasium, a dropped pin could be the tip of the scale to anarchy. He had defied his father in the gravest of ways since he was born, and he had done it in front of the entire school. He was a dead man- and he didn't care.

Spring, on the other hand, was trembling in his shoes. What the hell was this guy thinking, making him his protector, when he couldn't even use magic?! Keu's words of warning hitchhiked the hard thumping of his heart in his throat, fanning the growing flame in his chest. So many people were staring at him with burning hatred in their depths for having stolen their hero from them. He wanted to yell out that it wasn't his fault, that he'd been kidnapped and wanted nothing to do with this, but the fast, shallow breaths he gave took his voice away.

When the headmaster finally reached them, he put his hands on their shoulders. Spring's trembling ceased, but inside his entire psyche cracked. Through the man's hand, he could feel his quiet rage and the billowing desire to squeeze his hands around his neck until his throat turned to ash. It dug so roughly into his shoulder with such hatred coursing into him that he nearly forgot about Autumn's still holding his up. Autumn, on the other hand, kept firm under the weight his father exerted on him. It didn't matter what he thought; he was his own man now.

"Wordwind students," Dr. Raynecaster began. His father was calm, but he could feel the shake of anger rumbling in his voice. "Your hero has quite the humorous appeal!" The crowd laughed. Autumn clenched his fists, causing Spring to wince. "Please, continue on with the next assualter to choose his protector, and by the ceremony tonight he will chose his real protector."

As the crowd, in an air of slight annoyance, cleared the gymnasium, Dr. Raynecaster forcefully escorted the two teens out of the back door and into an air transport vehicle. The whole way of awkward silence and suffocating air to the administration building- where both Raynecasters made their residence at the top floor- Autumn kept his grip tight on the smaller teen. He refused to let go in fear of either his father throwing him out to fall to his death or the teen jumping out himself; he could feel the boy was just as nervous as his father was angry.

Just before Spring fainted from the intensity in the car, the doors opened to the landing pad of the top floor, and Dr. Raynecaster dragged them into the building. Throwing them in his office, the man then stomped to his desk. He took a deep breath. Autumn of all people knew that his attempts to reign in his temper was no consolation, however, and just as he thought the man suddenly kicked his dense mahogany desk through a wall. Spring flinched, but Autumn kept his stance firm; there was nothing to be afraid of, as he wouldn't let anything hurt him.

"What the hell are you thinking?!" His father boomed. "Did you choose this shrimp just to spite me?! Are you trying to give me an aneurism?!"

"Father, I-" Autumn made to reply, but the headmaster stood over him, gripping his chin.

"Don't you 'Father' me," he growled. "You're the hero, Autumn- in case I haven't made that clear to you! You cannot afford to play silly juvenile games like this!" Autumn furrowed his brows and removed his chin from his grasp.

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