Students spun around, and a few attacked immediately, others waited, bracing themselves and thinking of enchantments. Will glanced at the others around them, mirroring the firm stances they took and the way they held their wands. Some were steady and prepared, arms drawn back like about to throw a ball, others held with two hands, and one boy even awkwardly bent his wand arm around his head to show off, and aimed poorly, his spell rebounding off of a sword.
He locked his gaze on Tayna, she stood sideways, her arm out straight and her eyes determined. 'Good luck!' she called cheerily. Will nodded back at her, and timidly raised his arm. Tayna isn't scared of what I'll do to her, he thought with a mix of joy and confusion. I don't want to hurt her, but I need to throw her off balance, maybe - trip her or something -
Before he was aware, golden light shot forth from his wand with such a force that his arm immediately throbbed. It shot towards her, thinning like rope, and wrapped around her ankle, pulling her feet from under her. She landed askew, her knee bent over the sideline. It shone brightly, and the front line receded.
'Sorry!' he called as Tayna rubbed her head vigorously. To his relief, she pulled herself up with a smile on her face. Then, unexpectedly, she slotted her wand back into her waistband, and with a whip of her wrist, shouted, 'sylpha!'
Will felt like cold fingers had wrapped around his arms, and was suddenly yanked back by the shoulders, skidding across the floor and over the line. His back line shone brightly, and his area became smaller. 'Sorry!' Tayna called back playfully, her eyes lit with excitement.
The individual duels were different all around the room, from Andrel's success over Arlamus in the very first round, to Laguna winning over a girl who'd stormed off to the bathroom to fix her hair when a water bottle had exploded over her head, a poor attempt to summon water.
Tayna and Will duelled for an unceasing half hour, but he was within the smallest space by the end. He reached forward and realised that he couldn't fully extent his arm, his limbs were practically locked to his side. On reflection, battling somebody with the limitless power of air at their disposal hadn't been wise, but he couldn't forget the rush he'd felt through his magick. It had worked, it had done everything that he wanted it to do, no accidents, no chance of him being shunned by the others.
He knew he had lost, Tayna wouldn't miss, but he didn't care. She closed her eyes in silent incantation, it turned out that she, along with a couple unspecified Elementals were progressing in mens magick too. When her eyes opened again, they shone bright like simmering treacle, and out of the air came the illusion of a bird, its plumage cream and gold, its whole body semi-transparent. It was beautiful, and some of the students ceased their duels to watch as the illusion swept towards Will, lifting him off of his feet in a gust of wind left by the forward flap of wings.
Easily enough, he was knocked from his square, Tayna's lines turning golden in victory. He skidded backwards, towards the door he had been duelling in front of, landing with an 'oof' when they opened suddenly. Will stared up and saw somebody staring down at him, their raised upper lip and dark, menacing eyes shadowed. It was a man, he bypassed Will dismissively, and moments later, two armoured guards entered the room.
The students froze in their boundaries, terrified silence falling as Professor Conway strode to the centre of the room, standing by the opposite door in the aisle, as if both teachers would duel.
'Professor Bosrold,' Conway said coldly, 'what brings you here?'