It started out just like any other day. The alarm clock screamed in the still dark room at 6.30am, signalling the beginning of the normal regime. Fifteen year old Ailsa grumbled and turned her back to the alarm, pressing her pillow over her head as she tried to drown it out.
Exactly five minutes later and her roommate Natalie pelted her with pillows whilst Lauren, their other roommate, who also happened to be Ailsa’s best friend, tore the duvet off her bed. Groaning in protest, she blearily opened her violet eyes. Her curly red hair stuck out at odd angles like it always did after she had slept on it and she sat up, blinking in her pyjamas.
It took her a further ten minutes to actually get around to dragging herself out of bed, by which time Natalie had already claimed the bathroom and Lauren was reading through her class notes, they had a test on dragons that morning, and although Lauren always came top of the class, without fail, she panicked like nobody’s business before exams. Yes, dragons.
You see, it was no ordinary boarding school that these three girls attended. It was the Magic Academy, the most prestigious institute around, affectionately called MAD by the students, and teachers, out of ear shot. Everyone there had been gifted with extra-ordinary abilities, be their element fire, water, earth, air or spirit.
Ailsa fell under the spirit category, great for healing and powerful in the right hands, but Ailsa hated studying, and thought healing was very boring compared to Lauren’s raging flames and Natalie’s torrential waves. Never the less, she was made to study by her family and had a reputation for great strength, although she usually missed her target.
At 7.30 a gong chimed, calling the students to breakfast, and as usual, the three girls were running late, thanks to Ailsa. They flew down corridors and jumped over obstacles, skidding to a halt outside the auditorium, which doubled up as a dining hall during meals. That was where the regularity stopped.
There were hardly any students there at all, twenty maybe, and not a teacher in sight, not even the Headmaster, Mr Killian. They all looked as confused as the next. The three girls from room 42 had noticed it was unusually quiet as they sped on their way, but had assumed everyone was already assembled.
“The heck?” Ailsa breathed.
“Where is everyone?” asked Lauren.
“What on earth is that?!” cried Natalie.