Ligamenti by Zvezdana Filipović (age 19) and
Larisa Vasović (age 18)
Coordinator for Savremena gimnazija:
Milica Aleksić
School: Savremena gimnazija
Belgrade, Serbia


Ligamenti is the capital city of Magul that is set in the exact center of the cosmic tides of life and death. It exists without regard for the concept of time as we know it. Stars and moons find this confusing, so they all agreed to never appear in Ligamenti, but that doesn’t mean that it is forever cloaked in darkness. There is always light produced by magic.

            The source of this magic is the Academy for balanced Space, Time & Diet. It is brimming with flashes of bright polarized light created by students tirelessly practicing all kinds of spells to prepare for graduation. However, the most brilliant light is transmitted from the History and Conjuring classroom, where professor Invictus makes his grand speech.

            “… for the great design of conjuring magic is – as a wise philosopher once put it – split between two matters, the physical and the indestructible, the immortal soul. The ancient magic combines the two in perfect harmony to summon an imagined object into physical space….”

            While the professor was entranced by his speech, the students drew their ritual circle in chalk. Those were the sort you commonly associated with alchemy or summoning demons, but more potent.

             “In each circle, you shall inscribe runes which depict different ideas. Thus you shall put your thought into physical space, making conjuring possible. This you shall achieve by using one of many faces of magic, and that would be?”

            “Willpower,” said Terranova, whose hair was short and slick, with each hair ideally in alignment with the others. His emerald green eyes gleamed with eagerness only a top student could have.

            “Precisely. If you are all finished with your circles, we shall begin with summoning. Firstly, you are each to conjure me a trophy from the cupboard in the hallway.” Professor Invictus, former Leader of Destiny, had a particular way of speaking – he spoke and gestured grandly as if he were still giving speeches to the Congress, but this was Congress no longer. Since he retired, he became a teacher at the Academy, and now he was giving a speech to a handful of students who stood in a semicircle around him.

            At the right corner of the semicircle, while the rest of the class was still listening to the professor's voice echo through the large chamber, sharp-featured Terranova had already gotten to work and marveled at it. To his left, Averill and Verdanna were speaking in hushed tones.

        “Should you think my runes are right?” asked Verdanna gently.

        “I believe so,” replied Averill. “Shall we begin together on the count of 3?”

        “Very well,” she said.

Besides the two, Edre was finishing up her spiderweb of a circle and subtly copying Terranova. All the while, at the far right, raven-haired Amarantha, and fierce-eyed Thalia were having a heated conversation about I.C.E. (Important Conjuring Exam).

“For the last time, it is a better idea to have pre-arranged circles for the finals!” Thalia said, half shouting.

“No,” Amarantha said in a calm tone, “that is not a good idea in any way; it is a last-ditch attempt of the Council to control the comings and goings of Destiny.”

Invictus strode over and said, “I see you are still arguing about the new decision of the Council.”

“Do you mind explaining to her how wrong she is?” Amarantha said.

“I would love to get involved, but my time in politics is over. If I had commented on every bad decision of the council, we would never get anything done. Now, Amarantha, you should pay more attention to your circle, it is a bit bent on the northern side, and as you know, it is impossible to succeed if it isn't a perfect one.”

He is in the Council of Chance. He is the most distinguishable member by his function because he is the Zero Chance. He has the power to veto any decision by the Council. And he is a bush.

Mile D. Bush felt the vibrations of sound produced by hundreds of people arguing over the most random things and bureaucrats trying to quiet them. At present, the topic was whether a star in some distant solar system on a planet called Ert, or some such, should have a chance to rise from the west.

Mile D. Bush liked his job. He knew that stress wasn’t good for his leaves, but he enjoyed the fact that he single-branchedly could thorn a chance of something out of possibility.

A paper lay flat on the table in front of him:

Chance No. 7007473
Proposal: All zippers should work properly and
never get stuck or broken.
Chance proportion: 1:6

                                                                        Yesロ                                                      Noロ

Mile D. Bush blossomed, which was the equivalent of a smile. It was a wicked one. He extended a branch toward it and pierced the “No” box so that it almost tore the paper in half.

When everyone finished their work and passed Invictus’ inspection, it was time to put on their protective clothing. All were soon clothed in darker lab coats than the center of a black hole and orange-tinted glasses. As students started chanting, intense UV light radiated from chalk writings on the floor. All the energy released in this process is gathered in a giant sphere of light suspended in the Academy’s air, which illuminates the whole of Ligamenti.

Soon trophies started appearing. Terranova was first to summon one, who was now brimming with pride at his achievement. A golden cup followed in Amarantha's circle, while Thalia, as usual, was having trouble pronouncing the intricate spell. Averill and Verdenna failed on their first attempt by trying to summon the same literary award.

“You must not create another ripping in the fabric of reality. The last time we had to rebuild the entire auditorium.” In truth, that wasn't the only problem. Members of the Council of Chance, who were mostly unfamiliar with the ways of magic, ordered a barrier of spheres to be made to protect their tower from the dangerous and unpredictable sorcerers. However, the headmaster of the Academy believed that the very same Council sabotaged it because there was no chance of it ever happening without the influence of Chance.

The professor began again, “It is well known that summoning an object we know little about is much harder, precisely what you will do on your I.C.Es. Now I shall give you all a thing from your dormitories which you are not particularly well acquainted with to summon.

“Amarantha! You will summon me Chomik’s sock,” he raised his voice slightly every time he voiced a name, “Thalia, the keys to the medicine cabinet, Edre, a fire poker. Verdanna, summon me my stuffed crow, Averill, a garden hose, Terranova, summon me Edre’s fountain pen. Begin!

            The students slowly started replacing runes that they used to summon trophies for the new ones. The overly eager Terranova struggled; the fountain pen kept evading him. Hollow illusions of it appeared in his circle and vanished. He was growing more and more impatient with each attempt.

            Thalia focused too hard on where the key was and mispronounced the chant. Besides her, Edre was growing increasingly frustrated since she could not copy Terranova. Suddenly, there was a flash of light, and a life-sized blackbird appeared in Verdanna’s circle, along with an excited squeal.

            “It appears we have a natural talent!” exclaimed Invictus.

            “Congratulations!” Averill said as a coiling garden hose crashed from a meter height to the floor in front of him.

            On the far left, sweat was beading on Amarantha’s face as she concentrated. The illusory sock appeared for a moment and was gone. In its place appeared its owner, the dumbfounded Chomik, in a sitting position.

            “What is this, some deja vu?” he said as the entire room laughed.

It was a dark and damp space. There were a lot of colors, but they couldn’t be seen because no light dared to venture there. To be more precise, it was in the boy’s dormitory, the central right-wing of the Academy for balanced Space, Time & Diet.

A stripped fluorescent green and orange sock, not a pair, mind you, just one, lay forgotten on the bottom of a pile of its species where each was without its twin. There were also crumbs, lost guitar picks, pans, and possibly a nugget of uranium. It was a rather stinking place, but so was its owner, who stood in the corner of the room, confused about how someone could come to the wall multiple times but never come back? He decided it was a déjà vu; it must be, mainly because he had no idea what those words meant.

An exciting conversation sparked as the gang descended the hallway toward the canteen.

“I seriously can’t take that woman anymore!” exclaimed Chomik.

“Who exactly are we talking about?” asked Amarantha.

“Professor, ‘Life has new meaning, and we all live in a prison of our creation,’” Thalia spat.

“Morthis then,” Amarantha said.

“Why would you concern yourselves with her? Hopefully, we are leaving the Academy to work in Destiny or, in Chomik’s case, in Chance,” said Verdanna.

The best class they ever had with her was the one when those two thugs barged in through the door carrying Chomik between them as if he were a 14th-century couch that they found in an abandoned building last inhabited during the French Revolution. In other words, he was heavy as a bull, smelled like one, and they looked ready to drop him and run away as if chased by it.

As they entered the canteen and slowly dispersed around the room, Averill, Edre, and Verdanna sat at one table, Amarantha and Thalia at another, and Terranova sat alone.

Sometime later, Invictus and Apricus entered the room. Invictus ceremoniously raised his hands in the air and said:

“My chosen, you are all going, and you shall be respectful to the Congress. For tomorrow, follow my lead; you will be one of them.”

“So, they will let us attend?” asked Thalia.

“Of course, they will; no one dares question my godly status!”

And so, the chosen began cheering.

Professor Apricus, who stood beside Invictus watching the celebration, stepped forward and cleared his throat. “Sorry to steal your spotlight, Invictus, but there is something else they should know.” Everyone turned toward him and listened as they knew this must be serious, “You must take this visit seriously. Show them respect and gratitude, and do your best to make a good impression. You will have to work with those people until you retire, so it would be best if you don’t make half of them think of you as children before your first day as an official sitter.”

Everyone nodded except Terranova, who smiled in a self-satisfied way. Everyone knew that he was always on his best behavior, and no professor complained about him once. Professor Apricus noticed that and added, “And don’t try to overshadow any members with your knowledge. Even if you know textbooks better than most of them, practical knowledge and experience are something you still lack. Therefore, treat them with as much respect as possible.”

Terranova’s smile disappeared, and he nodded, knowing that this was directed at him. The rest of the gang listened intently; they wanted to take any piece of wisdom they could. There was a pause; everyone sat still as Apricus looked at each student and said:

“Now, does anyone know where the tomato soup is? It’s new on the menu, and I'm dying to try it” he smiled.

“You can never stay serious for long, can you?” Professor Invictus laughed, “I actually thought you would say something profound there.”

“You’ve found the soup? Where?” he looked around the room and smiled, “What are y’all laughing at? Your diet wouldn’t be very balanced if you fell off the chair while eating. Let’s go, Invictus; I can smell roasted chicken from here.”


            After lunch, the kids were slowly filing through the courtyard of the Academy. They were all craning their necks, looking self-important but could barely contain their excitement. The result was that they looked like little ducklings following a duck, which in this case was the noble-faced professor of History and Conjuring Invictus.

            The building parliament of Chance rose majestically in front of them. It always left anyone who came close to it breathless with its vivid specter of colors, unlike the people who worked there. The marble building shone in three dominant hues: red, orange, and yellow. The colors were gentle, warping and playing like mists on the sides of the building.

            They entered through wooden doors tall enough to fit three people standing on each other’s heads. Its latches and handle were made of ageless steel, a material resistant to any change once it was shaped, just like the Parliament itself, always there and always will be. The door and spacious hallway showed how important this institution is with carvings of various flora and fauna species across the universe. At the end of it was a balcony facing the Tower of Destiny.

They briefly stopped to look into the Council of Chance, which could be entered through the balcony. It was a semicircular room with seats rising higher the further they got. Invictus briefly explained what they saw, pointing to each group he mentioned.

“As you all should know, the Council is divided into three parts. On the far left is the Dead, who are conservative in their votes, as you guessed. However, on the left are the Living, who are quite liberal. Finally, in the center sit the Bureaucrats…” his voice trailed off. He wasn’t very fond of them as he couldn’t fathom how someone could just spend their life writing numbers and other people’s decisions but never actually having a say in any of it.

The propositions formulated by them were passed onto the Zero Chance Member, Mile D. Bush, who was planted right in front of them. Proposals that passed his inspection would go through the balcony, hand over the Path of Possibility (which, in truth, was just a hanging bridge with a fancy name), and it would arrive at Destiny. This was precisely how the class went until they stepped into the Tower itself.

Professor Invictus, of course, was speaking the entire time, cautioning them about what they should and shouldn’t do, but no one noticed. They were mesmerized by the white marble pillars that stood instead of walls and the tall ornamented chairs that could be seen from the balcony.

All debate among the sitters subsided as the group of students approached with Invictus at the front. He ceremoniously stood, straightened, and began the traditional speech which every outsider must speak before entering. Even though he was once the institution’s leader, he was still considered an outsider and had to follow the ancient customs like everyone else. Others stood beside him, looking straightforward like a small infantry unit during a morning inspection.

“Honorable sitters of the highest order, permit me entrance into the Tower of Destiny. May your word rule over life and death alike, and may it bring balance to the Universe as it always did and always will.”

Each student repeated the words exactly, as they knew that this was the most important of ceremonies and that it must be done perfectly unless they wanted to attract disfavor of the sitters, which no one with or without functioning brain cells would wish to.

“You may enter, by the will of Destiny.” replied the Leader of Destiny, and with that, the formalities were over. What distinguished him from the rest was that he sat in the center of the room with an ageless steel trident in his left hand, the symbol of Ligamenti. Invictus wished his students good luck, and they quickly scattered across the room to stand near the pillars. They each stood separately except for Averill and Verdanna, who always stood beside each other.

            When Invictus left, and each student found their place, the silence was over, and sitters started discussing where they left off. At first, it was hard to differentiate who shared political views with whom and which members were more powerful than others. Unlike in the Council of Chance, they weren’t clearly separated or color-coded but sat in a circle around the Leader.

            “We cannot just let Planet Owl destroy everything in their system; that will upset the area’s balance and would create more harm than good,” said one sitter.

            “True, but by the Act of Cosmic Tides, we must allow it; the civilization of Kester has reached its peak, and therefore it must fall for another to rise!” argued the other.

            “Yes, we implemented a prophecy on that planet which stated ‘A thousand suns after the rise of the 111th emperor, the sky shall turn black and the earth red, on the planet shall come to an invader, who will turn all living into dead.’, we cannot just ignore that! It needs to happen!” added the third.

            “But many prophecies are by default false because if everyone were true, no one would ever do anything but wait for the prophesied fortune or doom. There would be no tides if everyone stagnated because someone told them that anything they do would eventually lead to destruction!” argued the first, “That way, there wouldn’t be balance if everything were so pessimistic; the Universe would turn into a very gloomy place.”

            “But there is balance; in fact, equality is everywhere if you look hard enough. If one falls, the other must rise; that is the causality of Destiny. Chances may vary, but balance never does. That is the causality we are meant to keep intact.” added the fourth.

            “I disagree. While balance is important, it cannot always be perfect. There doesn’t need to be destruction in order to be creation. For example, we could destine the Owls with a volcanic eruption which would make their lands more fertile, and a new metal that could make their infrastructure superior to any other in the galaxy. That would make them grow without the destruction of another. The Kester could just be hit with a solar storm which would destroy their electricity and set them back. That way, everyone would be equal with as few casualties as possible,” replied the first.

            “Our job is not to care about casualties but to take care of the balance in the most efficient way possible. Your proposition is too complicated and serves no real purpose. The Law of Destiny and Universe states that all living things must die at some point, which is what is happening with this proposal. I agree.” said the third one.

            “I agree.” said the second.

            Soon a chorus of the same answers could be heard as most of them agreed with the proposal. Even the first reluctantly agreed, and then the Leader of Destiny spoke, “So it shall be, Planet Owl shall expand their territory across their solar system, erasing Kester’s civilization from existence.”

            This continued for a while; various proposals were accepted, denied, or sent back for revision. Not all proposals were as serious as this but had discussions fiercer, such as whether cereal should go first or milk. It was sent back for revision because they couldn’t get past the 50/50 mark.


            After the long and exciting day in the dormitories, our five protagonists were plotting to learn something valuable about the artifacts they were to summon during the I.C.Es. The artifacts are to be given to them to be used for the rest of their lives, but only if they pass the I.C.Es.

So in desperation, they turned to plotting.

“Perhaps, we could, you know, break into the forbidden section and see if we can find anything there,” said Thalia.

“Yes, but what if there is nothing there about them? What then? We would waste precious sleep and risk an incident report,” replied Verdanna hopelessly.

“Well, good thing Terranova has already done the scouting for us,” said Averill.

“What do you mean?” asked Verdanna in confusion.

“He knows so much about his precious earring; he must have gotten that knowledge somewhere,” explained Averill.

“Ah, let’s go and thrash him out of his bed then!” said Thalia excitedly.

Edre watched from the corner of the common room, happy that someone was doing the hard work for her; she just needed to stick with the group.

Terranova was sleeping peacefully upstairs and at the first door to the right when Averill and a horde of girls barged through the door.

“Rise, Terranova, you are to do something kind and helpful before you finish the Academy!” exclaimed Averill.

Thalia said bluntly, “We know where you got the information about the piercing.”

“What are you all doing here, and what are you talking about?”

“It’s an earring, not a piercing,” whispered Amarantha in Thalia’s ear.

“Oh, your earring then,” continued Thalia, “we know you snuck into the forbidden section of the library, so here’s what we are going to do: you are going to sneak us in now, and we are going to forget all about your little solo expedition. What do you say?”

“Eeeh…” was all he managed to get out.

“Is passing the exam and becoming a distinguished member of Destiny important to you or not, Terranova?” asked Averill sternly.

            “Yes, yes, yes, of course! I will help you, but you must swear never to speak of it again.”

            “Very well,” said Amarantha, “show us the way!”


            It was quiet in the library, for everyone was asleep except for the six of them. Walking on tiptoes, careful not to be seen by anybody, they snuck inside. When they came to the forbidden section of the library, Thalia called out, “Terranova, unlock this contraption!”.

            The key clicked into the keyhole as a shadow passed over the door. Terranova tensed, ready to explain how they made him do it, and he was innocent. But the shadow passed, and it turned out to be one of the stray cats Verdanna was feeding; Thalia shooed it away.

            Now that the danger was passed, the door of the forbidden section creaked open, and they entered in a single file. Once inside, the kids lit the candles and dispersed, looking for books that might harbor secrets of utmost importance.

Edre followed Terranova. “Where did you find information about your earring?”

“It was somewhere in here.” he gestured at the bookshelf, “There, ‘Of power and its many uses (How to undermine your fellow Councilors)’ by Archibald the Bold! That’s where I got most of the information about the earring. He is my idol, and he is one of the most powerful mages that used the earring.”

Verdanna and Averill were leading “The catalog of mages and artifacts” in the other corner. They were trying to figure out who wore the artifact before them and if they mentioned it in books they wrote. “Here, Caralin the Everyoung wrote and used the artifact,” said Averill.

“‘Of healing and green jade,’ I shall go and look into it,” said she.

“Let us see which one of you used the fancy staff.”

Meanwhile, Thalia and Amarantha were trying to find the ‘General book of artifacts’ which professors swore by.

“Thalia, move aside. You are standing right above it.”

“Let’s get this over with; I want to sleep,” said Thalia groggily.

“Perhaps if you don’t stand in my way, it would go quicker, my disheveled friend” So they sat at the nearest table between the bookshelves and started reading.


“Come on, people, I don’t want to be caught here by another cat or, worse, a janitor!” said Terranova.

“Just a little longer, give us more time!” everybody protested.

“Fine, but you don’t need to know its entire history now, just its primary use and whether it affects your body, was it ever cursed, and how to use it properly.”

“Mhm” was the only answer he got out of them.

“They are powerful artifacts, they will attune to your body, and they were chosen for you for a reason,” said Terranova, “if you got that, then let’s leave!”

“Ah, fine. I doubt we will learn anything useful with you nagging about,” exclaimed Amarantha.

“Quietly now,” said Edre.

“You lead the way; you are the best at sneaking about,” said Averill.

Locking the doors behind them, they entered the empty corridors, for everyone was asleep except the six of them.


The triangular courtyard was filled with onlookers who whispered among themselves, excited for what was to come. It was a rare opportunity for Ligamenti to gather in one place. It happened only on significant occasions such as this, replacing sitters in Destiny. They were all facing one way toward the judges who already sat at the front. On their left sat members of the Council, who were all clothed in as much gold as they could find to outshine Destiny’s sitters, who sat quietly, proudly in purple garments with few silver accents. The presence of the sitters was enough to outshine anyone, hence why they didn’t compete with the Council; they won before it began.

            The procession was slowly filling down the pathway from the Academy led by the headmaster; behind him trailed the five students dressed in black coats and orange-tinted glasses. They were silent, which did not suit the headmaster, who was particularly cheerful. “Why so glum, my distinguished sitters? Could it be that you didn't get enough sleep last night?”

            “Ehhh, of course not, professor; who could sleep with such an important event ahead of them?” Amarantha hastily answered.

            “True, indeed,” said he as they entered the podium where their fate was about to be determined.

            Invictus began with the ritual “Honorable judges, me among you, those who come before you today, the chosen, readily accept the challenge put forth by the sitters to summon the artifacts of those who came before and pledge their allegiance to Destiny.”

            The Leader of Destiny answered, “May the chosen come forth to show their skill and be judged by the will of Destiny.”

            Invictus mentioned to the chosen to pick a circle; they complied nervously, chatting in hushed tones. Terranova picked one of the two circles in the center where the judges could see them better, for he was eager to prove himself. To his left stood Amarantha and Thalia; to his right stood Edre, who for her purposes went where he went, and beside her stood Averill, who appeared unusually distracted.

            “Where is she?” Averill whispered.

            “She had a problem with her zipper; I’m guessing she is still changing. She should be here soon,” replied Edre.

            Invictus started naming the students from left to the right. “Thalia, you are to summon the Dagger of Storms, an ancient artifact recovered from the planet of Sturm that the Kester eradicated. It is believed that it could make lightning come from the sky due to the air composition specific to that planet. if you summon it, a seat in Destiny shall be yours.”

            “Amarantha shall summon the ring worn by the empress of Tratagor to the conquest of her homeworld. Terranova shall summon the earring…”

Averill was shifting on his feet by the time headmaster came to Terranova; all the sounds around him seemed muffled. Where was she? He couldn’t let her miss out on one of the most important days. Was she stalling? He knew she was scared despite her apparent talent in summoning. He could not bear it any longer, so he ran back to the girls changing room, and there she was, tears in her eyes, trying and failing to get a piece of her tunic out of the zipper.

He came closer to her, taking her hands off the zipper. He gently said, “Do not worry; everything is going to be just fine.”

“I’m going to miss it; you are going to miss everything because of me!”

“First, you must calm down,” he said as he slowly tugged at her blouse and the zipper until the cursed thing finally came undone.

“Thank you,” smiling back at him; she wiped the tears in her eyes. “I wouldn’t know what to do without you.”

Everyone should've been the lent after the announcement of challenges, but a faint murmur of voices could be heard in the background. Though the judges, members, and sitters pretended that everything was in order, the onlookers were surprised by how one of the participants bolted as if chased by an invisible bull. The show they didn’t pay for just got even more enjoyable.

On the other hand, Invictus was worried, but he didn’t let it show. As a judge, he wasn’t allowed to interfere in any way, but there was someone who could. He made brief eye contact with Apricus and tapped the table twice. When the student’s started chanting, Apricus had already disappeared in search of the missing two.

            Thalia and Amarantha were stars, ting to chant on the left side of the podium. Each of their motions was a bit slower than usual but precise. After all, Amarantha had spent a lot of her free time teaching Thalia to make the proper movements with her lips and the rest of her body while conjuring. To Amarantha, it was essential to summon the thing and look graceful while doing it. Alas, Thalia still seemed as elegant as a boulder.

            Terranova was confident. He stood straight, and his voice was steady. He didn’t rush; he never did; his actions were always so thought out and precise that not even a sleepless night could make him lose concentration. He chanted with diction anyone could envy, and before the judges knew it, his artifact lay neatly in the middle of his circle.

            He smiled triumphantly as he put it on his ear; Archibald once wore the earring. The Bold was finally his. With it, he could manipulate anyone who wasn’t more powerful than him, which meant that he could gain influence quickly in Destiny and… His smile faded as he came back to his senses. Glancing around, he realized that no one had finished yet. Then he looked to the right and saw Edre, who spoke quietly, her head bowed, concentrated on the circle, but no light appeared. In truth, he was used to her being around and always copying him like a shadow, and it will be a waste not to have someone who depends on him and could potentially help him rise in power quickly. He absentmindedly touched his earring as he plotted and realized that he could change that. Through the power of the earring, he concentrated not on her but on how she should be chanting for it to work correctly. His earring glowed a faint red, but the judges couldn’t see it anyway due to the barrier professor Invictus set up to protect the audience from UV radiation. Before he knew it, Edre summoned her pendant cage-like appearance with a tiny spider hanging at the bottom. He was tempted to try a few more things, but the earring was starting to burn his ear slightly, and besides, he could test it after the ceremony was over. His smile returned as he looked straight into the Leader of Destiny, who rivaled him in his confidence.

            At that moment, professor Apricus arrived all serious with Averill and Verdanna at his heels. They were holding hands as they came before the judges and, at the same time, exclaimed, “We beg for pardon, honorable judges. We did not mean to delay our testing. Let us rejoin our colleagues.”

            “You have made quite a commotion here, but nonetheless, today is a rare day, and you will not get such a chance soon. You may join your colleagues.” The Leader of Destiny said in a grave tone.

            With a sigh of relief, the pair went to their circles.

            Everything seemed to be going well for Amarantha; she was nearly finished, only it looked like her friend was struggling. Thalia was doing everything right just as Amarantha taught her; whatever could be the matter? But no, she couldn’t stop now. The circle before her flashed violent colors. Almost there. And with the brightest flash of dark purple, a small ring of silver with an onyx stone set in it appeared in the middle of her circle. She smiled triumphantly before she looked back at her friend. She was still struggling and growing increasingly angry.

            Amarantha turned to the side, started rearranging her dark locks, and whispered, “Perhaps you should start over, Thalia.”

“They are all looking at me.”

As Amarantha was completing her new hairstyle, she said, “Listen to me, you have to do it. It's now or never,” and she turned around.

Thalia looked up from her circle at her friend and then at her professor, sitting in the judge’s seat. He looked back at her, and it seemed he glinted in his eyes. She erased her circle to the utter astonishment of the crowd, who all seemed to gasp at the same time. Regaining her composure, she began drawing again.

            Verdanna and Averill were slowly catching up with the rest on the other side. Chanting as one, their circles glowed brighter with each syllable until finally, they summoned their artifacts. Thalia followed suit, and soon everyone had the artifacts before them.

“I congratulate you, my chosen. All of you have passed the test with flying colors.” Invictus declared with a smile, “I wish you all success and release you from the Academy.”

    “And I welcome you as fellow sitters, chosen of Destiny” added the Leader.

    At once the onlookers started cheering but were quickly silenced by professor Apricus who stood up from his seat and walked to the courtyard’s center, facing the students.

    “Before you go off and become the most important people in all of Ligamenti I have something to tell you.” he said and walked beside Invictus as he always does, “Just because you are sitters, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have some ale with your good old professors when duties allow!”

    “Old?” Invictus raised an eyebrow. “You speak for yourself.”     Everyone laughed at that and celebrated for a new chapter was written in the lives of our protagonists by the will of Destiny.