First Year

First Year by Rachel E. Carter Read Free Book Online

Book: First Year by Rachel E. Carter Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rachel E. Carter
Tags: Juvenile Fiction, Love & Romance
through a mouthful of toast. I could feel other first-years’ eyes on me as I ravaged a second roll, and I made an effort to eat a little more slowly.
    “For the five days it took us to get here, all we’ve eaten is rye and one too many handfuls of dried fruit,” Alex added, snatching an apple off Ella’s plate as he joined us at the table.
    Ella snatched her fruit back from my brother. “I guess that explains why you looked like a ruffian last night.”
    Alex reddened and I snorted, drink spraying across the table. It had been a long time since I’d met a girl who was immune to my brother’s charm. It was a refreshing, and amusing, change of pace.
    Ella turned back to me. “Ryiah,
you
look wonderful today. Your hair is such an interesting shade. I’ve never seen one like it before. I bet all the boys back home loved you.”
    I choked into my glass. “Hardly.”
    Alex snickered. “Ry was too tough for the boys in Demsh’aa. She was too busy fighting them to notice.”
    I kicked his foot. “We were training, not fighting, brother.” I glanced at Ella. “What about you, Ella? You’ve only been here a day, and you already have a shadow—that boy from the library.”
    She laughed loudly. “Oh, James? He is hardly my type. I need a man’s man, like that Master Barclae.”
    Alex cringed. “But he’s so old!”
    “And mean,” I added. “He was mean to us.”
    Ella scoffed. “He doesn’t look it. Besides, he knows how to carry himself. I don’t need any of the young men here. Most of them are younger than us. Have you noticed that?”
    “The nobility,” Alex offered, “they all took advantage of the early admission at twelve and thirteen, I’d bet.”
    “I don’t see why.” Ella frowned. “I
am
highborn, and it always seemed more of an advantage to wait until the cut off at seventeen. A better chance to build up your powers, especially since they don’t even start to emerge until adolescence…” She laughed lightly. “But I guess the three of us didn’t wait that long either. I suppose it’s hard to wait once you discover your magic.”
    “Prince Darren is older,” I observed, “and so are some of the others

    “He’s one of the smart ones,” Ella admitted. “He’s had his powers for awhile. Thankfully most of the students rushed admission, like us.”
    I reflected on our first lesson. “It certainly didn’t seem that way in the library.”
    “All that extra tutoring,” she assured me. “Not that I should resent them for it. My parents would have done the same if they hadn’t been so set on a convent.”
    “Still, they knew so much more than me,” I sighed. “In Demsh’aa Alex and I were one of the few kids who knew how to read and write, but that was only because our parents were merchants! I didn’t even realize it would be a part of our studies!”
    “Well, it makes sense, doesn’t it?”
    I just groaned and put my head in my hands. “And all the work they gave us? It’s the first day, and they already expect us to read through four chapters and do fifteen sets of those horrid math equations?”
    “We can start on them now. We’ve got a half hour until our next session,” she suggested lightly.
    I frowned. “I would, but if I take in any more ‘learning’ right now, I think my head will implode.”
    Ella chuckled.
    “I’ll study with you, Ella,” Alex said a little too quickly. He flashed her a winning smile.
    Ella turned to me, ignoring my twin. “It’s not going to get better. Remember my brother. There’s a reason people leave early on.”
    I shook my head. “I’ll meet you guys at the armory before our next session.”
    “Okay,” Ella said shrugging. “Just don’t be late.”
    As I emptied my tray and started down the Academy’s long corridor, I spent the walk fantasizing about the goose-down pillows that were awaiting me back in the barracks. I was only four hours into my year, and I was already longing for sleep. It

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