The Fake Eye (Time Alchemist)

By: Allice Revelle

Book Two in the Time Alchemist Series



CHAPTER 1

It’s not every day you can claim an alchemist is trying to kill you.

Clang!

A slender sword in a deep, piercing black slammed against my own, sending bubbles of tiny sparks—like monochromic fireflies—to sizzle and fade off the surfaces. My bones literally vibrated from the sudden impact, threatening to split open like wet toothpicks, and I almost dropped my weapon. But that was Leon’s first rule of fighting: Never let go of your weapon. Ever. Even if the hilt felt hot, like I was holding liquid fire.

This was, however, not the first time that this boy, Leon Raysburg had tried to attack me with a sword. The only difference between today and seven months ago is that now, I had level footing on the playing field (kind of).

But, then again, the very first time Leon aimed at me with a sword is when he killed me back in September. By complete accident, no less.

It wasn’t as if he had purposely killed me. Heck, he didn’t really mean to kill anyone. I had just popped out behind some large oak tree like some crazy, prep school Jack-in-the-Box and BAM; his sword had ripped right through my chest.

Directly through my beating heart.

But…that’s a story for some other time. I kinda had to focus on trying to stay in one piece right now, okay? Not to mention that he wasn’t my enemy anymore—he was my ally. My friend. And right now, he was seriously kicking my butt in today’s morning practice.

Barely a beat had passed and he already came at me again, swinging to the left. I barely got my own weapon up to block it before my sneakers slipped on the dew covered grass, narrowly missing the sharp, pointy tip of his blade as it sliced through the air, grazing the fabric of my dirt covered tee by a thread.

Leon’s face was flushed a bright red; a sheen of sweat thick on his brow that matted down his messy, dark brown locks. Even when his hair was greasy and dirty (probably just as horrendous looking as my own), it still looked soft as fur, and I would have given anything in that one split second to be able to run my hand through his coffee colored tresses and—

“Rule Three, Emery! Focus!” His voice slapped me out of my fantasies, and I saw a cocky half-smirk play on his lips. Get a grip, Emery! Now is so not the time to be having silly daydreams about your sparring partner—who is seriously kicking your ass!

“I am!” I huffed back, fighting back my own grin. I readjusted my grip on the handle, wincing at how the slick surface rubbed against the many blisters that had formed on my palms in the past few months.

“Ready to give up?”

“Not on your life!” I retorted, bracing myself. Although my words came out confident, there were no backbone to them. My limbs felt as fragile and weak as limp noodles; my upper arms were shaking so badly just from trying to block Leon’s attacks. Who knew a sword made out of a wrought iron fence could be so heavy?

I’ve only been training like this for less than two months, but I had barely made a dent in my work. And no amount of rolling, screaming, kicking, or bleeding could change that; it all depended solely on me. Not Leon, not anyone else. Heck, even magic wouldn’t help. I had calluses as thick as the skin of oranges on my palms and fingers, blistered that stung when they popped and numerous cuts and bruises littered over every inch of skin, but I kept going. I pushed forward.

Because Emery Miller doesn’t give up—I’ve always had a pretty nasty stubborn streak, but after a couple of months it seemed to have grown, etching tighter in my chest, my heart, forcing me to go beyond my limits. I’ve faced a heck of a lot worse during my first semester at St. Mary’s Academy. I’ve been accidentally killed (once), brought back to life (once), and faced death (approximately four times) all in the span of three months. I think I could manage a measly half hour practice in the morning.

Leon’s smirk widened as he jumped back, hopping from one foot to the next like this was all some silly race—like he was the smug hare waiting for me, the tortoise, the catch up. But I knew what he was up to. This was a tactic he used every day in practice—he was trying to push me into attacking first. And it almost worked. Irritation flashed through my skin, giving me an extra pulse of strength. I resisted the urge to wipe away the stray reddish-brown hairs that had come loose from my sloppy pony tail, clinging to my face and nearly obscuring my vision.

Realizing I wasn’t going to attack anytime soon (I would like to go one day without a bump the size of Texas on my head, thank you very much), Leon lifted his own sword—a mirror copy of my own—and with his right hand he covered the blade. The large, chunky metal bands that he wore on his wrists jangled a little, as if pushed by a blast of wind.

And then they, along with the iron sword, glowed with a faint, gray light. In seconds his sleek blade morphed its shape, like putty being stretched out and played with, until it curved into a heavier, curved design.

Leon’s sword had just transformed into an axe blade. Great. Little bright sparkles of silver dust twinkled out in the thin morning light, vanishing as he swung it around to test its weight.

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