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Trials of Magic

Trials of Magic

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Book 1 of the Hundred Halls series

Aurelia "Aurie" Silverthorne aspires to join the elite Hundred Halls, the world's only magical university.  As threats multiply and stakes rise, Aurie faces the ultimate decision: pass the trials at any cost, or risk everything for family.

Synopsis

There are exactly one hundred halls of magic to choose from. Ever since our parents were killed I knew exactly which hall was for me.

Aurelia "Aurie" Silverthorne is one of the best and brightest to ever apply to the Hundred Halls, the only magical university in the world. To be accepted, she must pass grueling trials that claim the lives of aspirants every year. But more than her desire to practice magic is at stake. Aurie's little sister has been courting powerful forces in hopes of protecting herself from the beings that killed their parents, but alliances come with complications. As things spiral out of control, and dangerous foes arise at every turn, Aurie knows the only way to protect her sister is to pass the trials—even if it means making a terrible sacrifice.

Chapter One Look Inside

Chapter One

No one had died today. In fact, no one had died in the last seven days. It was the longest stretch since Aurie had joined the fourth-floor team as an orderly, which made it a joyous event, and simultaneously a superstitious one.
Aurie dodged around the Jell-O cart, skidding to a stop outside room 438. A sign in big red letters read "WARNING. No perfumes, magical ointments, or any alchemy reagents within thirty feet."
She gave her aquamarine scrubs a voracious sniff. While she'd washed her scrubs by hand that morning, using a plain soap bar in the shower, and used talcum powder for deodorant, Aurie was worried she'd picked up hitchhiking scents on the crowded train ride.
The only smell she detected was her mild body odor mixed with the talcum, so she went in.
An emaciated girl on the bed lit up. "Awesome Aurie!"
As she stretched her arms out, the dozens of wires connected to her limbs from scaffolding around the bed quivered.
"Elegant Emily," said Aurie, leaning over to give a hug, careful not to break a wire.
Aurie hid a grimace as she realized how thin Emily had gotten.
"How's it going, kiddo?" Aurie asked.
Emily put up a brave face. Suddenly, the car noises in the street outside quieted. Aurie could feel her heart press against her chest.
"I heard the doctor tell the nurse that she's out of spells," she said, staring at her bone-thin hands.
"I'm sure that's not true. There are always more spells. The doctor probably meant that she's out of spells, and needs to learn a few more to treat you," she explained.
Aurie reached in her pocket and pulled out a painted miniature about two inches high. The figure wielded twin scimitars in a fighting pose with the suggestion of winds swirling around her.
"It's you. A wind dancer," said Aurie while she tucked a strand of errant blonde hair behind Emily's ear.
"There's no such thing as a wind dancer," said Emily.
"You can be the first then, and have your own hall," said Aurie.
Emily offered a bittersweet smile as she cradled the miniature as if it were a puppy. The poor girl had been cursed by a vengeful air elemental to be near weightless. The wires kept her from floating to the ceiling. Without gravity acting on her body, she was wasting away like an astronaut in space for too long, and the airiness of her body made her susceptible to allergens.
"She looks like you," said Emily.
Aurie squinted to bring the details into focus. She'd had a friend paint it for her, but hadn't had a chance to study it.
"Yeah, I guess she has my olive skin and dark hair. I don't see any freckles, though," said Aurie.
"Or those dark circles," said Emily, touching Aurie's cheek below the eye.
"Sleep's overrated," said Aurie reflexively. She'd worked the night shift at a convenience store on the outskirts of Invictus. "Hey! Maybe this means I'll be your first student at the Hundred Halls."
Emily shook her head with faux indignation. "That's silly. You have your Merlins tomorrow." Then her eyes went wide as if she'd said something wrong. "I...I need the nurse," she said suddenly, jamming the call button.
"What's wrong? Are you okay?" asked Aurie, examining Emily for signs of danger.
The hard soles of running nurses echoed in the hallway. Aurie spun around expecting an emergency team only to find the doorway full of smiling people: doctors, nurses, orderlies, the rest of the patients—the kids.
"Surprise!" they yelled.
Aurie nearly tripped over her own feet, trying to figure out why they were surprising her, or even if it was supposed to be for her.
"I don't understand," she said.
Dr. Fairlight stepped forward as the spokesman for the group. She handed Aurie a small wrapped present about the size of a fist.
"With your Merlins tomorrow, we won't be seeing you much after that—"
Aurie interrupted with hurried breath. "I'm still going to work here. I have a job, right?"
Dr. Fairlight squeezed Aurie on the shoulder. "As long as I'm head of this floor you have a job here. Especially since this was where your dad did his residency."
"I miss him," she said.
Dr. Fairlight gave a comforting nod and continued, "But we know you won't have as much time. Especially when you get into Arcanium."
Guilt welled up inside Aurie. "The Aura Healers are my second choice. It's just..."
Everyone laughed. "You don't have to justify anything to us," said Dr. Fairlight. "You'll be great whatever hall picks you, though it'll be the Aura Healers' gain if Arcanium is too stupid to take the brightest student in decades."
Everyone always seemed to think that Aurie wouldn't have any problem passing her Merlins and getting into the Hundred Halls, but even some of the best students had to take them more than once. It wasn't usually an issue, but this was her one and only chance. She turned twenty in a month, which meant she'd no longer be able to take the Merlins. It was first time, or nothing.
"Open it," said Dr. Fairlight as the rest of the floor leaned forward. The kids crowded around her, eyes bright with the anticipation of her present.
Aurie patted a few heads before making a production of the opening. Some of these kids wouldn't be alive at their next birthday to experience presents again.
She tore the paper excruciatingly slow while the kids laughed and giggled and cheered her on. "Open it! Open it!"
"Hurry up!" said Emily from behind her, poking her with a bone-thin finger.
Finally, after a dramatic finish, Aurie crumpled the paper and threw it into the waste basket.
The kids practically climbed into her lap in trying to get the first glimpse of the gift. The open box revealed a pair of shiny earrings, eliciting an "ohhhh" from the crowd. Bright little rubies stared back at Aurie from the setting.
"You didn't have to do this," said Aurie, shaking her head at Dr. Fairlight, who'd crossed her arms and had a smirk on her face.
"Nonsense. We know it's been a rough go, what with you and your sister on your own. We wanted to get you something you could remember us by," said Dr. Fairlight. "Press the ruby and say 'lux.'"
When the words left her lips, a ruby-red glow filled the space around Aurie.
"They're perfect for late night studying when you don't want to disturb your roommate. They also help you see in the dark beyond the glow," said Dr. Fairlight.
"I don't know what to say," said Aurie, dumbfounded.
"Say thank you," said Dr. Fairlight.
"Thank you all!" said Aurie, then she gave out hugs, taking care not to aggravate the young patients' ailments. The "Children's Floor for the Irrevocably Cursed, Magically Ailing, and Supernatural Virology" housed kids afflicted with all sorts of strange ailments. Emily's weightless curse wasn't the worst by any stretch.
After everyone left, Dr. Fairlight winked and said, "Now get to work."
Aurie saluted. "Yes, ma'am!"
The rest of the shift went like a dream. There were no brown messes to clean up, lunch was cheese noodles, which was her favorite, and all the kids were in a good mood. It would have been the best day ever at the Golden Willow Clinic for the Sick and Infirm if some VIPs hadn't arrived right before her shift ended.
A nervous whisper traveled through the floor as Dr. Fairlight notified everyone that one of the directors was giving a tour to a potential high-end donor. Tension squeezed lips flat, and even the kids seemed to catch the spreading quiet.
From a side hallway, Aurie spied the VIPs. She'd heard from the station nurse that the potential donor owned the Herald of the Halls, the local newspaper that covered the halls and the city of Invictus.
The older woman, Camille Cardwell, wore a gold lamé jacket that made her look like she'd walked out of a fashion magazine from twenty years ago. The daughter, Violet, followed behind her mother while staring at her phone, obviously not paying a bit of attention to the tour.
To Aurie, Violet looked like the caricature of every rich girl she'd ever watched on TV or in a movie: blonde, rich, and vain. Granted, she'd never actually encountered a girl like that in the many high schools she'd attended over the years. The high schools Aurie went to were always on the seedier side of whatever town they were in, rather than the private schools that this girl had so clearly been a member of.
Aurie felt a little guilty for assuming that Violet wasn't a nice person. People had always made up stories about her and Pi whenever they'd been the new students, which had been too often. It wasn't fair that she did the same.
So Aurie went back to mopping the hallway, which took her the other direction, daydreaming about being able to enchant mops to clean the floor automatically. By the time she'd finished, the shift was nearly over. She pushed the bucket towards the closet near the main area.
A whiff of perfume caught Aurie's nose. She was so used to the antiseptic smell of mop water that the sudden infusion of musky plum snapped her head around. Violet walked alone, busily typing on her cell phone while nodding to the music she was listening to on her headphones.
The girl was oblivious to her location, let alone paying attention to the bold red sign outside of Emily's open door. Normally the nurses on duty warned people away if they weren't paying attention, but the station was completely empty.
Aurie dropped the mop and started running. "Hey! Stop! You can't go there! Stop! Stop!"
Oblivious to her surroundings, Violet kept walking. She was only a few feet from Emily's door. The last time someone had mistakenly worn perfume on the floor, Emily had gotten a severe case of hives, and that had been when she was heavier and healthier. A dose this close could be fatal.
Without thinking, Aurie lowered her shoulder and drove it into Violet. The girl looked up at the last second, surprise overtaking her bored expression. Together they went flying backwards, sliding a good ways on the recently mopped linoleum. It was a miracle that Violet didn't hit her head.
"What the hell is going on?" said Violet, pushing at Aurie to get off.
"It's Emily, I had to protect Emily," said Aurie, climbing off the girl.
She ran back to the doorway, preparing to call the nurses or hit the emergency button, only to find Emily's bed missing. Aurie panicked for a moment, thinking the worst, until she noticed the scaffolding was gone too. Then she remembered they were all going to watch a movie down the hall in the special theater.
"Oh, shit," said Aurie under her breath. She turned and held out her hands. "I'm so sorry."

Main Tropes

  • Urban Fantasy
  • Magical Academy
  • Found Family
View full details

Customer Reviews

Based on 7 reviews
86%
(6)
14%
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P
Peter Bruyns
Absolutely Absorbing

This is the second or third time I've read this book. I've seen a review that classifies this book as YA, if that's the case then other so called YA writers should read this book to get a clue! You don't have to use Malopropism to write good books for the young!

P
Peter Bruyns
Absolutely Absorbing

This is the second or third time I've read this book. I've seen a review that classifies this book as YA, if that's the case then other so called YA writers should read this book to get a clue! You don't have to use Malopropism to write good books for the young!

S
Sharlene
Amazing

I am a huge fan of Thomas Carpenter and reading this book kept me engaged till the very end. Can't wait to read the next one in the series

S
Sharlene
Amazing

I am a huge fan of Thomas Carpenter and reading this book kept me engaged till the very end. Can't wait to read the next one in the series

o
omajust
Enjoyed

A bit of current vernicular. A bit of majic fantasy, a bit of "how to" all mixed together..now, on to book two.