1.5: A Hair’s Breadth

Then I froze.

     Nuria soars around the miniature forest dome excitedly, ducking branches and weaving around the heart trees (characterized by roots partially exposed above ground). As she learns the layout of the terrain, she loves that her partner in crime flies alongside her. They flutter about inspecting the Vanusi dome and come to a unanimous verdict.

     “Gotta hand it to Roy. These domes are a great improvement!” Nuria states, amused.

     “Can’t say that I disagree,” Tyra states.

     Koren uses his acrobatic moves to reach a branch parallel to their altitude. His white fur coat shaggier around his face and arms than the rest of his body. “I wish I’d thought of this instead of my silly jungle gym.”

     Carnya uses her tentacles to reach that same branch and swings midair. “I wouldn’t go that far. My pool’s still superior.”

     “That was you? The big pool?” Norris asks, sitting against the base of an adjacent tree. He appears only minorly interested.

     “Yep! That’s my pride and joy! Spent two hours there last night!”

     “Of course, you did,” Syl says sarcastically, standing directly under her.

     “Don’t make me fall on you,” she teases. “From this height, it’ll feel like I weigh as much as all the food I ate yesterday.”

     Devito sidles up next to Norris, looking more invested in the conversation. “How much did you eat?”

     “Upwards of thirty pounds. My Sudita wasn’t what you would call smooth. My metabolism being on overdrive is the only thing keeping my body from destroying itself.”

     “Okay…but that leaves me with a follow-up question. Who goes swimming with thirty pounds of food in them?”

     Carnya swings forward before releasing the branch so she doesn’t actually fall on Syl, her arms back to normal by the time she rolls into a safe landing. “Carnya do, that’s who!”

     Devito snorts and looks at Norris, mischief clearly on his agenda. “Think she can out eat you after hearing that.”

     Norris’ eyes open and flay Devito with their intensity. “What?”

     “Just saying, man. Geez.” His mischief overcomes Norris’ intimidation. “But I mean there’s only one way to find out.”

     Norris gnashes his teeth and then says, “How much do you weigh again?”

     Nuria snorts as she lands, amused by the new boys. “Temper, temper. You and Carnya are a pair of hair triggers, huh? But I’m guessing you two have more than that in common. Did you go to the pool last night?”

     “How’d you know that?” He turns his glare on Nuria but the impact is nothing in the face of her curiosity.

     “Your shirts. The three I’ve seen, even your exercise ones, have all been really big. Your shorts look like swim trunks, too. Then there are the sandals. You probably don’t like to take your shirt off around others, so when you saw Carnya swimming, you left.”

     He shows a defiant smile full of teeth. “Wrong as wrong gets, girlie. I just like swimming alone. Once I saw the blonde girlie enjoying herself, I hit up the saltwater pool to do the same.”

     “Because he sucks at it, lowkey,” Devito jokes.

     Norris groans deeply. “I will–”

     “Oh, good, you’re all early,” Professor Zathony’s voice floats around a tree before he makes an appearance alongside Professor Marmagar. Nuria’s mouth hangs open as the duo approaches, confused and curious about Zathony’s attire. “Class starts right away.”

     “Uhh…Professor Z,” Carnya hedges, “are you feeling okay?”

     “It looks like you woke up late and had to rush to make it on time,” Nuria comments.

     “I must admit, your attire looks odd to be so…pedestrian,” Tyra says.

     Norris laughs at their critiques. “I think the girlies have something against t-shirts. The braided girlie just got on my case over mine.”

     “As riveting as the commentary is, my outfit was chosen for a purpose. That purpose will become clear once we review Primal Sense. Norris, can you explain what Primal Sense is for the class?”

     “It’s the Vanusi equivalent to Bond of the Blade, Active Meditation, and Mother’s Source; the basic trigger for a Vanusi’s powers,” he answers casually.

     “And how does one trigger their Primal Sense?”

     Norris lowers his head from staring at the ceiling. “Oh, it’s still my turn. Whoops.” He leans forward. “Through one of the five senses.”

     “Six,” Tyra corrects.

     “Yeah, sure. Anyway, the sense one’s Primal Sense is connected to along with morpu activation provokes a physiological change that changes our bodies to adapt animalistic attributes, hence the name Primal Sense.”

     “Correct. Devito, what are the advantages of Primal Sense?”

     “Oh, umm…”

     Norris snorts.

     “Shut up,” Devito cries.

     “Care to enlighten the rest of us on the joke?” Zathony asks, his patience wearing thin.

     “Dev doesn’t know the advantages of Primal Sense because he barely practices his Primal Sense,” Norris says.

     “But he can transform so easily. And since Primal Sense makes transformation easier over time, he should be good,” Nuria reasons.

     “Not necessarily,” Koren says. “Remember, I was born this way, but my Primal Sense is probably right around your level. The science behind the correlation of morpu gained versus born with is far from exact. And that’s before you throw Sudita into the mix. And holy crap, I need a haircut,” Koren explains, waving his shaggy arms.

     “And for the record, I don’t need my Primal Sense! I’m a cat, so all I need are my feet!” Devito protests.

     “Do you at least know what sense your Primal Sense is tied to?” Professor Zathony queries.


     “Not hearing?” Koren asks.

     “Not a house cat.”



     “Look at that, boyo, another thing in common,” Carnya says.




     “I’m betting canine,” Devito states crossly.

     “Better than feline,” Syl rejoins.

     “What?” Devito barks.

     “I beg your pardon,” Koren says, somehow happy about Syl’s insult.

     “Nuria,” Zathony says, his voice on the verge of rising.

     The phoenix contains her laughter, realizing how silly the boys are in comparison to her professor fighting to keep his cool.

     “It’s sight for me.”

     “And our sixth sense?”

     “Feelings,” Tyra answers calmly.

     “Don’t you mean feeling? As in touch?” Norris asks.

     “No, I do not.”

     Nuria loves that she doesn’t elucidate further.

     “Marmagar,” Zathony mutters his name like a command.

     Professor Marmagar places a buzzer on the ground, a pressure plate attached to the back of it.

     “Today’s exercise will be a game of tag.”





     The wind howled shrilly and hardened Nuria’s hair. The chill bit into Nuria’s skin. The snow dulled and impacted her field of vision. Despite it all, the phoenix smiled. Her hands swiped at a set of long vermillion tail feathers and missed. She tried to turn and correct her trajectory but caught stray snow in her wintry eyes.

     Sweat stings her eyes and snaps her out of the memory, her hand outstretched. She stops her hastened breathing when she recognizes everyone looking at her. The looks from Zathony and Marmagar are bad enough but seeing pity from Tyra and Koren stings the phoenix’s feelings greatly.

     She pastes a wry smile on her face, shuts her eyes, and rakes a hand through her sienna hair. “Thought I’d volunteer to go first,” she boasts.

     “Do you even know what the exercise is?” Zathony asks.

     “Just gotta tag you before Marmagar hits that buzzer.”

     “One hell of a lucky guess,” Norris comments.

     “No, she put two and two together. She’s got a knack for that,” Zathony says in Nuria’s defense.

     “Flattery won’t make me take it easy on you.”

     “It won’t make a difference,” Zathony says plainly. “You won’t lay a finger on me. We start when you so desire.”

     “On three, then.”

     “Very w–”


     Nuria’s eyes change the moment she gives chase. Her irises expand, skewing the white-to-black ratio in the latter’s favor. Her vision improves but not to the point where she can see all the vibrations in the air, only the ones tied to her target, and the range they extend is barely an inch.

     So, predicting his moves with my eyes won’t be happening. Damn it! It’s like my training at the Drijadi Hills didn’t happen! I’ll have to work overtime to get this done!

     Nuria chases Zathony around the miniature forest, failing at every turn to tag him. She stops lunging and swipes at him with tight maneuvers but he makes incredibly fast sidesteps to increase the distance between them all the while keeping his arms crossed.

     His reflexes are so good! Chasing him won’t work! I need to trap hi somehow.

     Nuria grinds to a halt and stares at Zathony calmly, breathing through her nose. She studies how the vibrations around Zathony behave when she starts to curve counterclockwise. Even with her phoenix vision, it’s hard for her to perceive that his vibration phantom turns ninety degrees one second before his body does. She reverses direction and makes certain his vibration phantom turns ninety degrees the other way. Nuria grins and repeats the process, springing into action the moment his vibration phantom starts to shift.

     Nuria pursues Zathony through a string of phantom vibrations generated from his leap backward. With tight lateral strides, she forces her professor to retreat until his back slams against a trio of heart trees creating a concaved hollow. Nuria beams when she sees the stress on his face. She leaps into the air with outstretched arms to cover any lateral moves of his own.

     “Game over, professor!”

     “Funny thing about pride,” Zathony says with a smirk.


     Zathony lowers to the ground until his body lay parallel to his ankles and slides underneath her.

     Damn it!

     She turns to the trees in time to place her hands on the bark. Instead of slamming into it, she adjusts her momentum with her core muscles and wrists to turn her body vertically, knees tucked in to avoid her legs striking the branches and thwarting her recovery. She pushes off the tree, flips forward, landing on her feet, and charges for Zathony again.

     The buzzer blares and stops the phoenix in her tracks.

     Nuria huffs, displeased. “Saved by the bell.”

     “Not quite but it was a valiant effort,” Zathony replies.

     “Are you kidding? That was awesome!” Koren declares. “And that last move, where’d you learn that?”

     “Oh, uh, well, I did a lot of snowboarding over the break. Got used to moving like that. Learning to do it while flying was the real challenge,” Nuria explains.

     “You’ll have to teach me that some time,” Koren says.

     “And what are you gonna teach me in return?” She lifts a single eyebrow curiously.

     “That’s enough, you two,” Zathony warns.

     “On our own time. Right.” Nuria relaxes and undoes her eye transformation prior to sitting next to Koren.

     “Who’s next?”

     To Nuria’s surprise, Norris shops to his feet, his large t0shirt fluttering. His smile is full of teeth and oozes untold arrogance.

     Now he wants to be fired up. Strange but I’m curious to see what he’s capable of.

     “Okay, and just to reiterate, you have three minutes to try and tag me once. If you fail, you have one more mandatory attempt. After that, anyone who wishes to make a third attempt may do so,” Zathony states to Norris while looking directly at Nuria.

     She makes her understanding clear with a nod.

     The professor puts all his focus on Norris now, as does Nuria. “We begin on your mark.”

     “No time like the present!” Norris yells.

     Nuria watches Norris’s moves and finds his confidence throughout the trial puzzling. He makes no other moves besides wide, sweeping leaps. Such wide-angled moves would never work normally but the additional drag of his t-shirt hampers his progress further. All the while he appears to get more excited.

     “Uh-oh, he’s beached,” Devito heckles.

     Norris’s excitement flatlines. He does nothing for the entire last minute of his trial. It’s as if he’s truly beached.

     Why stop?

     Norris grumbles all the way back to his spot beside Devito once the buzzer goes off. He cuts the blonde boy a look of rebuke before lying on his back. Devito laughs it off.

     Meh. Enough of them. I need to make my next plan. Gotta learn more about Zathony’s ticks.

     Her plan is in ruins after both Carnya’s and Syl’s lackluster performances. All Carnya does is wildly swing her tentacles around and Syl barely gets close to the professor.

     Of course, he didn’t. The only one who ran laps slower than him was Wallace.

     The phoenix narrows her eyes, scrunches her nose, and worries the right side of her top lip.

     “Oh, boy. There’s that Coach-Nuria look,” Carnya says.

     “Coach-Nuria look?” the phoenix asks, suddenly embarrassed.

     “Anytime any of us made a mistake, especially during the scrimmage, you had that look on your face. I guess watching Syl run around like he was chasing his tail did look like us,” Carnya explains. “Still, Professor Z looks more disappointed.”

     “Okay, no. He looks way more disappointed than me.”

     “You can stop anytime,” Syl mumbles.

     Nuria whirls. “Koren, tell me I didn’t look like that.”


     “He doesn’t count in this. He’s biased.”

     “Okay, then Tyra.”


     “You know she’s even more biased…somehow.”

     “Devito, Norris, weigh in here,” Nuria pleads.

     “I was too busy having fun to notice,” Devito says.


     He answers without opening his eyes. “Neither of you are capable of making me feel disappointed with myself. Unless you’re raised by someone with wealth and power, you’ve never seen what real disappointment is.”

     Nuria’s had enough unwanted self-reflection for one day and instead ruminates on the parallels between Norris and Tyra, careful not to telegraph that by looking her way.

     “We’ve wasted enough class time,” Tyra says, likely no more willing to go down that rabbit hole than Nuria. “I’m going next.”

     “Actually, I would like to spare one minute to discuss the Star Derby practice,” Zathony states. “Tameri should have mentioned the idea to let you choose your team’s captain. Have you all chosen? Based on your conversation, I assume it’s Nuria.”

     “I did think we’d pick her unanimously but then Nuria elected myself for the role and everyone else agreed,” Tyra says as she rises.

     “Tyra’s better at organization, so I think letting her handle our roster for each week and keeping us on schedule for practices was a good choice. And I guess I was right after this whole Coach-Nuria thing,” Nuria says sourly.

     Tyra frowns. “I can do more than that.”

     Nuria is torn because she wants Tyra to prove that true, but thanks Drijad that Zathony’s reflexes are too good. Once Tyra’s trial starts, she manages to stick to Zathony, using unique footwork to always stay mobile while trying to punch him. One blow from the angel could break their professor in half. Tyra doesn’t pass the trial but Zathony’s sweating by the end.

     “Which cat would like to go first?” Zathony inquires.

     “Do you mind, Koren?”

     “He’s all yours.”


     Devito leans back, then flips forward onto his feet. He stretches his sides by twisting as he approaches Zathony.

     “So, after watching the prez try to punch your lights out, I gotta ask- how hard are we allowed to “tag” you?”

     “If I sense that I need to do more than simply dodge an attack, I will do so. And you may rest easy, I am capable of defending myself without harming you.”

     “Neat. We start when I’m ready, right?”


     “Then watch your back!”

     By the time Devito crouches, his blonde hair has black streaks throughout, his irises are diamonds, and his spotted tail is fully extended. He takes off so fast that a cloud of dirt slams into the rest of the class. Nuria covers her eyes in time to save them from the eruption. However, she has a distinctly difficult time getting eyes on Devito again.

     “Where’d he go?”

     “He’s here,” Koren says, “he’s just…fast.” His ears turn in all kinds of directions. “It’s…staggering.”

     Koren’s ears can’t even keep up. If my eyes were more reliable, maybe I could see him.

     Nuria strains herself, trying to force her eyes to transform on command. The best she gets is the same meager effect from earlier.

     I need to figure out the trigger for my phoenix vision soon!

     Rather than relish her own weakness, she goes back to hunting for Zathony’s. He manages to retain a perfect calm, even as he turns. She sees his eyes moving very rapidly as if his can perceive what hers cannot. Sticking to the not-relishing plan, she follows where his eyes go when his back isn’t to her. It’s faint but she catches random black and yellow blurs. Her tracking is cut short by another eruption of dirt around the professor.

     Once all the dirt clears the air, everyone sees Zathony restraining Devito by his arms, the boy’s face inches from a tree. Two thick depression lines trail from Zathony’s feet to the spot where the dirt erupted. Once the professor is able to stand up straight, he releases Devito so he can fall onto his hands and knees, coughing.

     “Your speed is unquestionably impressive but your Primal Sense can’t keep up. In all of your three minutes, you only managed two bursts because your eyesight at those speeds is sloppy. Whether you prioritized your transformation skills or were blessed with that talent, it won’t bear fruit unless your Primal Sense catches up.” Nuria flinches when he abruptly addresses her. “Or vice versa.”

     Vice versa? Is he saying that my Primal Sense is ahead of my ability to transform? But my eyes have worked way better than this before.

     As the burning gilded mass returns to the ground, Reddic sidesteps it. It fizzles into steam on the lake’s surface. Nuria’s taken to trying to strike Reddic from the air. Though not consistent, her Primal Sense triggers when she’s airborne and it helps her track his moves better.

     Might as well use my new move while my eyes are at their peak.

     Nuria loops vertically and flies at Reddic while low to the ground. She pushes her focus to the limit by spreading solar energy to six points on her hand, the largest source in her open palm. Five golden embers dot her fingertips and one brilliant gilded flame swirls in her palm. She fires the embers first, creating a field to cage Reddic in. She fires the brilliant flame a second later with enough propulsion that it still reaches him first.

     Nuria’s amazed she never made that connection until now.

     Could it be that simple?

     “No way! The fuzzball did it!” Carnya cheers.

     Nuria snaps back to reality. “Huh? Wait, what? Really?”

     The phoenix looks up in time to witness Koren’s tail uncoil from Zathony’s ankle. He wipes his forehead dry with his shaggy arm.

     “I actually can’t believe that worked. I thought you’d hear it coming.”

     “If that’s your attempt to probe my Primal Sense, then you’re off the trail.”

     “Let me go a second time in a row and I’ll figure it out,” Koren declares confidently.

     “Take five, Koren. I’d like you to be as rested as you can for your next try.”

     “Uh-huh. You just don’t want to lose twice in a row.”

     “Sit. Now.”

     “Yes, sir.”

     “Syl, you’re not getting off as easy. On your feet.”

     Syl moans as he and Koren trade places.

     ‘Hey, Nuria leans over and says, “how’d you get him?”

     “I did what you did. Backed him into a corner. He would’ve slipped away but…” Koren reaches his tail around and wags it for emphasis. “It pays to have an extra limb.”

     “You know, I was thinking–”

     Tyra plops down next to Nuria with enough force to make sure her presence is felt. “What about what I’m thinking? I can help.”

     “Biiiiased,” Carnya teases in singsong.

     “You can?” Koren asks.

     “I know you can but Koren’s perspective is more beneficial in a physical sense.”

     Tyra leers at them both. “Okay, fine. Be that way.”

     “Come on, T.”

     “Consult the cat,” Tyra barks.

     Nuria’s tickled by Tyra’s burst of jealousy. She plans to take her advice later.

     “So,” she says to Koren, “I think his back is his weak spot.”


     “No, think about it. He never turns his back to us, even when he was able to track Devito’s moves somehow. Plus, there’s that hole in his shirt. Like a target.”

     “Um,” Koren parrots.

     “What? What’s wrong? It’s sound logic and it’s just like Zathony to give us a target,” Nuria explains.

     “That hole’s there because he’s a scorpion,” Koren says. He spins around and shows her the hole in his shirt that his tail fits through. “It’s our version of avian dimensions. Ours are called “prehensile orbits”.”

     “Oh, okay.” Nuria’s eyes are mesmerized by his tail until he spins back around and she looks away sharply. “That’s, uh, interesting.” The boiling in her gut refuses to go away without a fight, and anytime she looks in Koren’s direction, it gets stronger. It takes all her concentration to claim victory, over the course of five trials.

     “Twelve trials and only one success. Marmagar and I are going to have to whip you guys into shape it would seem.”

     “‘Seem’ is right because I’m about to flip the script!” Nuria boasts. She goes and stands right in front of Professor Zathony, tall enough to look him in the eyes without looking up. “The Nuria you faced before was the warm-up. This version’s the real deal!”

     “You’ll have to excuse me but I don’t see a difference.”

     Nuria flexes her arms as her wings sprout fiercely, small embers flying off the primary coverts and feathers. Her irises expand again but this time Nuria feels a surge of energy ripple throughout her body. The difference is immense and feels stronger than it has in the past.

     One day I’ll learn to keep it simple, stupid!


     Nuria charges after Zathony the moment he flees from their standoff. His vibration phantoms extend further from him than before, allowing the phoenix a wider range to predict his next maneuver. She flies through the air with her legs tucked. The way she bobs and glides is as if she were snowboarding through the air. Instead of trying to chase Zathony’s reactions, she chooses to spin him around like Devito did. She feints speeding up to catch him from behind, using her wings to blitz Zathony when he moves into her new trajectory. His leap back is unbalanced.

     Nuria grabs the front of his shirt and pins him against the ground. She breathes heavily through her nose, standing over Zathony with an unmistakable sense of joy.

     It’s about time I did something right1 Let’s go!

     Nuria grins and releases Zathony’s shirt, backing off to give him room to rise. Some of her classmates cheer her on after succeeding. She beams as she accepts the praise.

     “I stand corrected. It turns out two of you have been paying attention after all,” Zathony states. “Marmagar, how much time did Nuria have left?”

     Professor Marmagar holds up one finger on his right hand, then with his left flashes all five followed by an additional three.”

     “And what was Koren’s remainder?”

     Marmagar holds up one finger on his right hand and four fingers on his left.

     Zathony whistles. “Look at that, Koren. She bested you by four seconds. What do you have to say to that?”

     Nuria joins in to egg him on. “Show me what you got, Koren. Show Zathony how we get down!”

     Koren stands quickly. He kicks off his boots, his feet long and padded beneath his toes. He and Nuria slap hands to tag him in, then he cracks his knuckles. “I’m gonna let my skills do the talking from now on. Marmagar, start the timer, please.”

     Koren crouches down onto all fours, his fingertips growing the same pads as his toes. He purrs lowly as he gradually encroaches on Zathony’s person. The professor dashes away prematurely, triggering Koren to chase. The cat-boy does but not directly. Instead of a chase from point A to point B, Koren uses the branches to his advantage.

     Nuria uses her phoenix vision to study their interactions. Zathony’s phantoms move laterally at slower speeds than before but Koren’s never move to chase Zathony.

     Is Zathony getting tired?

     Whether he is or not, the professor evades Koren’s next strike easily. However, Koren doesn’t immediately double back. He runs up the tree and pushes off. On his way down, he scrapes all the leaves off a branch pointed toward the ground like a stalactite. He throws the leaves all around Zathony to obscure his vision, lands in the midst of them, then leaps at the professor in a matter of seconds. Just when it appears his strategy’s for naught, Koren tucks his legs in and forces himself to spin in midair. He kicks outward and thwarts Zathony’s sidestep with a solid blow.

     Koren hits the ground wheezing, holding his waist with one hand. “Sorry about…kicking…you, pro…fessor.” He groans and clutches his waist tighter. “Holy crap…this hurts.”

     Nuria giggles, watching him and his vibration phantoms writhe. “Yeah, moving like that takes practice. My first time I was hopped up on coffee. Miserable combo at the end of the day.”

     “Well…it’s something else…to learn. I’ll…take it.” He looks to Zathony. “Time?”

     Zathony looks to Marmagar. The housemaster holds up just one finger on his right hand first, then holds up three. His left hand shows another three fingers.

     “You tagged me with one minute and thirty-three seconds left on the clock.”


     Nuria folds in one of her wings as she goes and lifts Koren from the ground, propping him on her shoulder. “Take it easy, champ. That cramp’s gonna persist a while.” She sits him down next to Tyra. “Though, to be fair…” She stares down Zathony fiercely. “You might not be champ for long.”

     “Are you sure? You have something else to show me?”

     Nuria drops her bravado. Everything Zathony’s shown her today proves how adaptable he is, and that only last-minute surprises have worked.

     It’ll take more than my snowboard moves this time. Time to seek advice from an angel.

     The phoenix looks over her shoulder. “Still wanna help?”

     “I really shouldn’t but sure,” Tyra replies.

     “Biiiiased,” Carnya teases in singsong again.

     Tyra gets close and whispers, “The heart trees are able to store large amounts of solar energy. Touch one, siphon some, and you’ll see his every move like a slow-motion scene in a movie.”

     “The tree part’s new but I’ve done it before. At least now I know all the triggers.”

     Nuria goes to the nearest heart tree. She lays a hand against the bark and shuts her eyes. She immediately senses the well of solar energy within, the volume wide and dense, more than her body’s even dreamt of using. Not even her sun seeds gave off this feeling. She’s hesitant to take the power only because she doesn’t want to be dependent on energy that isn’t her own. It took a lot of willpower to break the addiction before and she can’t risk failing that again.

     Still, it can’t hurt just to see if this works.

     Nuria treats the well of energy inside as if it were the true sun and only absorbs a small percentage. She travels the energy straight to her eyes, snapping open a pair of gilded irises. Arms straight, fists clenched, and with wings fully spread in addition, she looks like she truly belongs to the Hero’s Class.

     “I’m gonna pass on my third attempt, Professor Zathony. I could succeed with this but I prefer to do it on my own merits and without borrowed power.”

     “If that’s your call so be it. Does anyone else want to opt for a third round?”

     Koren’s still nursing his cramp. Syl slices his hand through the air. Norris and Devito look deflated. Carnya’s drooling, waiting to be dismissed to go eat.

     Tyra simply, says, “I think I’ll pass as well.”

     “Then if that’s all, the grades are as follows. F- Syl, E- Carnya, D- Norris, C- Devito, B- Tyra, and for the first time we have a tie for A. Good job, Nuria and Koren. So, you two will have to go for a tiebreaker for the next exercise.”

     Nuria sighs deeply as she undoes her transformation and returns the energy to the tree. “Nah. I’m good on that.”

     “Me too,” Koren groans, but from the pain, not passive aggressiveness.

     Nuria doesn’t want to ruin Zathony’s fun but she and Koren know when to turn the competition off. He’s the only Ohaida she knows capable of doing that on a dime.

     “We’ll see. Anyway, that does it for class today. But remember that the class exchange exists. It was put in place for your benefit, so take advantage of it.”

     Nuria looks at the heart trees and wishes Sutar could’ve been here for that discovery.

     I’d go to Sulublei House but I gotta get this eye thing down first!

     “Hey, did you get any requests from the other classes?”

“So far, only two students have already put in requests for the class exchange. If there’s someone you’re hoping to have here, feel free to persuade them. You’re on your time now.”

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