Chapter 38

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Chapter Thirty-eight

Kaine crossed his arms and raised them over his head, then opened them wide and spun in a circle. When he came to a stop, he was surrounded by a sparkling orb of magic that would protect him from any attack the mages tried to throw at him. The orb followed him as he walked through the gates of the Academy of Magic, looking for the Archmage. He nearly skipped with excitement. He could not wait to see the Archmage's face when he showed him what he could do.

The bells in the main tower began ringing. Mages ran from the classrooms and dormitories and lined up on the other side of the gate, blocking Kaine's way.

"Halt," said one of the journeyman mages. "You may not enter these grounds."

Kaine stopped and looked at him. The journeyman looked familiar. Ah yes, it was Amadeus, the pretty boy who was chosen for the Binding Ceremony. He almost snorted with laughter at the idea of this dimwit ordering him away from his own home.

"I have come to speak to the Archmage," said Kaine. "I bring a gift for everyone at the Academy of Magic." He smiled widely and the mages shrank away from him. He stepped forward.

"No," said Amadeus, putting his hands together and gestured. A bolt of magic flew from Amadeus' hands towards Kaine but did not reach him. The spell touched his magical orb and hovered there, sparking and cracking as it gained strength. With a flash, it bounced off of the orb and hit Amadeus in the chest. The mage fell to the ground, dead.

Kaine's mouth fell open and he blinked at the line of mages. "Did you see that? He just attacked me, and look what happened. He's dead. You were here; you saw it. It's his fault, not mine." He moved closer to the body and raised his arm to absorb Amadeus' blood and magic.

The mages stood frozen, watching the blood rise into the air and turn the orb around him red.

"He's getting stronger," someone shouted. "Get him, before it's too late!"
The mages began casting spells and throwing them at Kaine as quickly as they could, but the orb bounced the magic back to the casters at double the strength. Soon, there were dozens of dead mages littering the courtyard. The surviving mages retreated.

Kaine walked among the dead and dying, absorbing their blood and magic. Before he had gotten through even half of them, he began to feel uncomfortable, as if his clothes were too tight. He reached to loosen his belt but that did not relieve the pressure inside of him. He moaned, wanting to stop collecting magic, or at least take a small break and cast a few spells to release the pressure, but the black magic inside of him would not allow it.

More, it said.

"But there's no room," Kaine said. "I can't fit any more inside of me."

Pain shot through Kaine's arms, legs, and neck and he stumbled.

"Alright, alright, I'll do it," he said.

He held his hands over the next mage and cringed when the blood rose towards him. He held his breath while the pain grew more intense, waiting for it to stop like the other times when he had obeyed the magic. Instead of stopping, however, it began to hurt more. He grabbed his head and felt his skull expanding between his hands. He screamed.

His fingers tingled and began to ache. He held his hands in front of his eyes and howled when his arms and fingers stretched to twice their normal size. By now his toes were poking through his shoes. He sobbed as his body began stretching until the bottom of his robe no longer reached his ankles and instead stopped at his knees.
More, said the magic.

Kaine cracked his neck and the pain lessened. He moved through the rest of the dead mages to steal their blood and magic. It was easier now that he was larger. He breathed a sigh of relief when he finally made it to the last mage.

He looked around, unsure of what to do next. Dragon Mage Mallaki, the mage who had bound the green dragon, was running toward him from across the courtyard. The mage made a simple gesture without saying a word.

Kaine ducked seconds before Mallaki's green dragon swooped from the sky and tried to grab him with its sharp talons. He shook a finger at Mallaki, watching as the dragon turned for another attack, mouth open wide to burn him with its flames.

He waited calmly for the dragon to get closer. When the dragon blasted fire from its mouth, the flames surrounded Kaine, but his orb protected him. He said a few words and moved his hand, cutting the ties between Mallaki and the green dragon. Free of the magic that had bound it to the mage's will, the dragon turned on Mallaki and tackled him. It ate the mage alive, tearing off pieces and chewing thoughtfully while Mallaki screamed.

Kaine watched, fascinated, forgetting for a moment that the dragon posed as much of a danger to him as it had to Mallaki. It finished its meal and turned towards him, screeching. The dragon stretched out its wings and opened its mouth preparing to shoot fire at him again, but Kaine cast a simple spell and the dragon fell over, dead. He walked up to it and stroked its hide, admiring its long, sharp teeth.
"If you had been mine, I would not have let this happen to you," Kaine said. He held out his hand and collected the dragon's blood. The blood had the tingly feel of magic to it. He blinked. Were dragons magical creatures?

He would have to think about dragon magic later. For now, he had other things to do. He finished siphoning the dragon's blood and set off to find the Archmage.

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