He'll have no gifts - a weaker man, Taylor told himself. What did Alec see in him?
It was his turn - Kyioshi held out the seak and looked him in the eye. It was a look Taylor couldn't make out - somewhat between worry, deep thought and appraisal.
He shrugged it off and grabbed the Janus with both hands.
It was as if lightning struck him - his hair was swept up, his pulse skyrocketed and his palms started shaking, suddenly awash with sweat.
Taylor screamed and let go. Kyioshi raised an eyebrow.
"Hmm." he said, thoughtfully.
Taylor was kneeling on the floor, catching his breath. Beside him he heard Jean gasping as she touched the Janus, but nothing more. Was he weaker? He still felt the tingling in his arms, and an extra something coursing through his veins.
I have to be the most powerful in this group, he told himself, enjoying the sensation of newly gained strength. I must have the best gifts.
Chong Fen draped one huge arm over the seal. His face contorted in pain and he yelled, falling backwards. Taylor saw a vein throbbing in his neck.
I'm not the weakest now, am I?
The first vibrations struck as Kyioshi continued with Alec. They all threw each other worried looks, and he sped up.
Taylor looked out at the walls. How long could the academy last? They had a good chance of winning, and Taylor felt certain he could grab Callie and run off away from the fights. Then they'd be together, and he'd have a free reign in pursuing more seals.
Should he help defend the academy? Taylor let his gaze settle on Alec and he thought of Yuki. Weak love birds. Willing to sacrifice possible greatness by defending an institution no longer of worth to them. The clever and the strong would realize that the academy was just a place to learn, and its usefulness in their lives was lost with the breaking of the truce. And the country? The war would never stop, so why should he even try?
"You okay?" Jean asked, noticing the slightly hungry look on Taylor's face.
Taylor smiled, his blonde locks framing his face. "No, nothing at all."
Their conversation was cut short with a blood curdling shout. As one, the two of them spun to find Ceri shaking on the ground, his mouth open and the scream coming from a rapidly foaming mouth.
"Ceri!" Sabriye yelled, and Ross scrambled to the ground, checking his pulse. "Weak." he said, pale. "Heart attack?"
Kyioshi took the Janus and placed it back on the pedestal. "That happens. We have to leave quickly and defend the school - Ceri will live."
Ross looked horrified, cradling his friends head and stuttering. Sabriye had just the opposite reaction.
"What in blazes do you think you're doing?! He's your own teammate and he saved you! You little, ungrateful, completely pathe-"
Happy that he had less competition, Taylor slipped through the entrance and back into the school.
Sabriye's blog extract
My world has stopped moving. There is a pulse, yes, but Kyioshi is right. That professional idiot is saying we can't get Ceri to a medic due to the attack, and the bloody fool is correct, as usual.
I hate him. If Ceri dies I will kill him.
Ross's blog extract
I wondered, detached, who my first personal loss would be in war. It is like one of those school exams - you know it is coming but you don't want to admit it. The few seconds when Ceri collapsed made me think that was the time. If I remember correctly, my first thought wasL 'not even in battle!'
Chong Fen's blog extract
My uncle used to say I have an intuitive sense of danger. I did not show any pleasure at his words, and he did not show any pleasure in telling me. He was the usual neutral self we have trained to be. I do not know if he was even right.
However, me touching the Janus with only one hand was excruciatingly horrible. I had this sense of foreboding when my fingers connected with the surface - it was as if the seal was asking me: "Are you sure only one?"