Home > Fallen Academy: Year One (Fallen Academy #1)(5)

Fallen Academy: Year One (Fallen Academy #1)(5)
Author: Leia Stone

“Stupid girl,” Lincoln spat.

“Screw you,” I shot back at him, then stepped out of the white area of the stage and over the line into the black. Where I belonged. The collective gasp from the Fallen Army made me sick. A literal nausea washed over me as I stepped closer to the Grimlock demon, who was practically salivating as he looked at my black wings.

“She knows not what she does,” Raphael whispered to Lincoln.

The Grimlock demon stared into my eyes, and I felt the nausea rise to epic proportions. “Kneel to me and honor your contract as a slave to the tainted.”

Suddenly I felt regret. The urge to run, to fly the hell away from there. Anything but take the mark. Then I heard my mother whimper in pain behind me, and I fell to my knees willingly. My mother was a slave, I was a slave, and there was nothing we could do about it. Mikey was a free soul, and I needed to look forward to that.

With lightning-quick moves, the Grimlock’s thumb snaked out and touched my forehead, igniting a searing pain. When he pulled away, I knew I bore the red mark. The mark of a slave to the baddies.

“It’s done,” the Grimlock confirmed, with a sigh of relief.

“We still get to train her. You don’t have anyone who can contain her powers, and you know it,” Raphael added from behind me.

What?

The Grimlock scowled. “For six hours a day. No more.”

Raphael must’ve nodded because the Grimlock told me to stand. When I did, he gave me one last smug look. “Go home,” he said, and the mark on my head flared to life with searing pain. It was an order, and orders had to be obeyed.

After the Awakening, there was always a fancy banquet where you could eat dessert to your heart’s content and dance until midnight. It was the one thing we had to look forward to, the one thing the fallen did for us. An apology of sorts for getting us into this mess. I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to stay and see what Shea’s power was, to dance and eat chocolate, but I knew better than to argue after that scene.

“Yes, Master,” I answered through clenched teeth, then turned to face the crowd.

Shea was halfway down the aisle with a cattle prod stuck to her back, and my mother was on her knees with Master Burdock’s hand in her hair, grabbing a fistful. As I made my way toward them, she pulled from his grasp and ran to me, wrapping her arms around me.

“What am I?” I whispered to her, because a black-winged Celestial wasn’t a thing.

“I don’t know baby, but I think it’s important,” she replied.

Yeah, no shit.

An archangel almost started another war over me. At this point I’d take being a Gristle.

When we exited the Awakening ceremony, there had been a sleek black SUV waiting for us. Courtesy of my new boss; he probably didn’t want these black wings riding the public bus and starting a panic. I tried to retract them, to think them back into hiding, but nothing worked, and when I sat on them, it hurt. I just wanted to cry as I laid in the back of the car.

Arriving home, I went straight to my room without dinner. My mom and Mikey tried to talk to me, but I wasn’t interested.

Alone in my room, with my thoughts, the tears came. I was lying in an awkward position on my bed with pillows under my shoulder so I didn’t hurt my wings. They were jet-black, and very… real. Like an arm or a foot, I could feel them. I’d never heard of a demon slave Celestial before. Celestials were so rare, and the ones that did pop up were whisked away into the Fallen Army, and given the highest officer ranking. That asshat Lincoln was like second in command next to the archangels, and he was only like twenty-two. Celestials were a big deal, I knew, but what could I do?

I replayed that moment on stage over and over again. Raphael had told me not to cross that line. Why? As if I had a choice. I had to fulfill my contract. I wasn’t going to sacrifice my mother for my own freedom if that’s what he’d expected.

What had me the most nervous was the unknown. What would the demon masters ask me to do for them, knowing I had this power? Would they put me on the front lines of the war? Would they make me kill for them? The thought made me physically sick. I’d always been firmly on the fallen side of things, as they were the do-gooders. No one went hungry in Angel City, no one got killed for making a mistake. Now I was worried I had ranked too high and would have to do awful things, things I wasn’t morally okay with, just to survive.

There was a light knock at my door.

“Go away,” I told my mom, wiping my tears.

The door opened and I was ready to yell at her when I saw it was Shea and she was holding a box of Cloud Nine Donuts. My mouth immediately watered.

“You didn’t,” I gaped in awe.

Shea shrugged, stepping in and kicking the door closed with her foot, before setting the donut box before me. She bore the red crescent moon tattoo, just as I did.

“I’m a powerful Mage now, baby. I can do whatever I want.” She smirked, indicating the donuts.

“A Mage?” I gasped.

Vulnerability crossed her features before it was gone, and then she nodded smugly.

Well this day just got crazier.

Mages were second in power to Celestials, and normally went to Fallen Academy, but if you were demon bound, then you went to Tainted Academy to learn dark magic.

“Your school?” I swallowed hard, praying she would tell me that Raphael had fought for her to train at Fallen Academy as well.

“Tainted Academy,” she confessed, in a hollow voice.

Shit. Mages who studied dark magic turned evil. They were forced to invoke demonic powers and do awful things. That was possibly worse than what happened to me.

“We’re screwed,” I stated with finality.

She popped open the box and the sugary sweet smell wafted into the air. “We’re screwed, but we have Cloud Nine donuts.”

I gave her a weak smile. This was an old joke between us. The day we met, she asked me what I missed most about living in Angel City. I’d declared Cloud Nine donuts. These weren’t normal donuts. They were filled with magic; the owner was a Light Mage, and all of the donuts had spells on them. The bliss bomb was my favorite. One bite and you were laughing hysterically for ten minutes. Shea preferred the mellow melon. Half a donut and you were sacked out for two hours. Not to mention how good they tasted. “Seriously, how did you get them?” I eyed a bliss bomb. It’s red cherry glaze was unmistakable.

The lines were hours long to buy them, and they cost a fortune. Shea had only had them once, to celebrate our sixteenth birthdays. My mom had bought just two donuts for us. She’d had to get the day off work to travel into Angel City, and I was sure she’d saved for months. It was our only present that year. I’d never seen an entire box before. It must’ve cost a grand, easily.

She smiled. “They were serving them at the banquet. I flirted with the waiter and hid a box under my dress.

Some of them looked mashed together. Now I knew why. “You’re the best,” I told her, grabbing a bliss bomb as she grabbed a bright orange one I couldn’t identify.

“Cheers.” We smacked our donuts together and took a bite. The second that tart cherry hit my tongue, I was flooded with euphoria. Joy bubbled up inside of me and I burst out laughing. Shea was chewing hers, looking perplexed.

“I can’t tell what mine does,” she said, but the second she spoke, we both cackled in laughter. Her voice sounded like she’d sucked in helium.

We spent the next hour overdosing on donuts, the effects only lasting a few minutes. We’d saved the mellow melon for last.

“Ready to chill?” she asked, breaking the lime green donut in half.

“So ready.” I wanted to sleep the day right away and worry about everything tomorrow.

We both sank our teeth into the donut and an immediate calm fell over me. I should’ve started with that one, the one thing that could tamper my buzzing anxiety.

Shea laid her head at my feet, looking up at me from the bottom of my bed.

“You have black wings,” she stated in a dreamy voice.

I figured the donuts were mixing, making her a little loopy. I was also pretty sure you had to be twenty-one to eat some of them.

“I do,” I answered as sleep beckoned me.

I was just about to drift off when Shea’s warbled voice reached me. “I won’t let you go dark, if you don’t let me,” she declared.

My throat tightened. It was my biggest fear, turning evil because the demons used me as a puppet for their bidding. Scooching down as far as I could without folding my wing, I grasped Shea’s hand.

“I’ll kill you before I see you become a Dark Mage,” I promised her.

She smiled. “Good.”

And then sleep took us both.

Chapter Three

The next morning, I was woken by my mother nudging me with her foot. I cracked open an eyelid and glanced at the clock. It was 5:00 am, not even light out.

“No,” I mumbled and rolled over, but a sharp stabbing in my back alerted me that I still had huge angel wings and couldn’t just ‘roll over’ on them.

My mom nudged me again. “Get up. A car just arrived for you from Fallen Academy,” she whispered, so she wouldn’t wake Shea. “Your classes will be from 6:00 am to noon each day, so as not to interfere with your demon work duties.”

My eyelids snapped open. “Are you kidding me?” I glared at my mom, though I knew she was just the messenger.

She shrugged. “Get showered and dressed. That boy from the stage yesterday is waiting in the car outside.”

I sat up abruptly and winced, as I realized how stiff my right wing was from lying on it all night. Lincoln’s here? In Demon City? I thought they caught fire when they crossed the border, or something like that.

My gaze went back to my wings. “How can I shower with these things?” I was still wearing my dress from last night.

She shrugged. “Figure it out. I don’t think he’s keen on waiting.”

I groaned and crossed the room quickly to my bathroom. That guy had already been on my shit list, but now he was messing with my sleep.

   
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