War Games, the third episode of Paragons, continues in this fourth chapter. Being an Apprentice Knight is tough enough without the foes who want to tear you down. Savannah makes new friends and enemies at the Castle.

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Paragons 1.3.4

Book 1  ♣  Episode 3  ♣  Chapter 4

When the Scoreboard is updated, Savannah learns the results of yesterday’s Assessment. Chapter 4 of the Paragons Episode War Games.

Chapter 4: The Scoreboard

I was dead last on the Scoreboard. Sure, I’d had a feeling this was coming, but seeing it was so much worse.

Eighty-four. That’s how many Merit points I had. Which meant I’d need to earn at least one hundred and four points a day for the next four days, or I’d be cut from the Program.

“Remember, Apprentices,” Ms. Featherdale told us. “There are no losers here. You are all winners.”

“Except Savannah Winters.”

I didn’t turn around. There was no point. I knew that nasally voice. It belonged to Zoe, the bully who’d made a point of annoying me yesterday in the Garden.

“Ignore her,” Bronte whispered to me.

Easy for her to say. She was at the very top of the list. Literally, in first place. And Dante and Nevada weren’t far below her. In fact, I was the only Apprentice who had fewer than a hundred Merit points.

“Did you hear what I said, shorty?” Zoe demanded, pulling me around to face her.

My only response was a silent glare.

Zoe casually pushed out one of her hips. “I said you won’t make it.”

I could feel a comeback sizzling on my tongue, but I bit it back. If I got into a fight with Zoe, I’d probably lose even more points.

“No matter how much you try, it will never be enough.” Zoe took a step closer, so close that I could see the individual drops of sweat dripping down her neck.

“No matter how much you study or how much you train, you will never peel yourself off the bottom of the Scoreboard,” Zoe told me with a sneer. “Do you know why that is?”

The words shot out of my mouth before I could stop them. “I suppose you’re going to tell me,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“If you insist.” She flashed a grin to her sidekick, a very tall, very blockish girl. Then she looked at me again. “It’s quite simple, really. You’re a loser.”

I laughed. “If that’s the best you’ve got…”

Zoe snatched my arm as I tried to turn away from her. “I wasn’t done.”

I stood still and silent, and waited for her to get bored and go away. Unfortunately, she didn’t take the hint.

“You’re a loser,” Zoe repeated. “And your mother is a loser. What happened to her again?”

I blinked in confusion.

“You don’t know, do you? Well, let me educate you.” Zoe smirked at me. “I looked up your whole pathetic family last night. And being a loser must be genetic. Your mom Alara Winters was once a famous professor of biochemistry, back before the Curse. But then she lost everything.”

Everyone lost everything when the Curse hit,” I snapped.

“Oh, but your mom didn’t lose everything because of the Curse. She lost everything before the Curse, when she got herself tangled up at the center of a horrible scandal. And then she wasn’t Professor Winters anymore at all. After that, no university would touch her. The only people who would hire her were a few second-rate actors. And they only hired her so they could brag to their second-rate actor friends that they had a physical trainer called ‘the Doctor’.”

Zoe glanced at her friend, and the two of them burst into hysterical laughter.

“You’re a loser. Your mother’s a loser.” Delight danced in Zoe’s poison-green eyes. “And your dad’s the biggest loser of them all because he’s dead.”

My fists clenched. In about two seconds, I was going to lose it and punch Zoe in the face.


I turned around, following the sound of the voice. It belonged to a boy with dark eyes and meticulously-styled hair. I wasn’t sure how he’d managed to get his hair to sweep up like that—and stay up—but it must have taken him forever to do it. The name tag on his black t-shirt read ‘Ansel’.

“Don’t listen to them,” Ansel told me. “Don’t let them win.”

“Oh, what do we have here?” laughed a familiar, mocking voice.

It was Rhett, the boy Dante had nicknamed Tweedle-Dum. And he’d planted himself directly in front of Ansel’s wheelchair.

“How did you even end up here?” Rhett sneered.

Ansel rolled his eyes at him. “I was chosen, genius. How did you end up here?”

I snorted.

Rhett pivoted sharply toward me. “You think that’s funny, do you, Savannah Winters? Well, everyone knows how you got here, cheater. Zoe told us all about you, cheater.” His gaze snapped back to Ansel. “And you! You think you can be a Knight?” He looked at Zoe, and they both laughed. “You can’t even walk! So how are you supposed to fight? The Government never would have chosen someone so weak. This must be a mistake.”

“Yes, the Government has indeed made a big mistake. So why don’t you give them a call and ask them to take you back home?” Ansel countered.

“I am supposed to be here!” Rhett bellowed.

Ansel’s brows arched. “If you’re so confident of that, then why are you acting so defensive?”

Dante chuckled. “He’s got a point,” he told Rhett.

“Stay out of this, Winters,” he warned.

“Oh, it’s way too late for that. I told you not to mess with my sister.” When Dante folded his arms over his chest, his knuckles cracked. “You didn’t listen.”

Dutch and Zoe’s sidekick—who must have been the final Victory kid—flocked to Rhett and Zoe like seagulls to chunks of bread. They all looked ready for a fight.

“Back off,” Nevada told them. Her usually soft and velvety voice had hardened into a growl.

“Leave our friends alone,” Bronte said, steel in her voice and daggers in her eyes.

“I do believe you’re outnumbered,” Ansel observed casually.

Rhett’s gaze panned across the entourage that had gathered around me, his mouth twitching. “Come on, guys. Let’s go.” He turned, waving for his friends to follow him.

A few of them shot me menacing looks as they left. I’d have to watch my back or they’d stab me in it—hopefully not literally.

Zoe was the last to leave. “See you around, wheels.” She blew Ansel a sarcastic kiss, then marched off after her friends.

When they were gone, I turned to Ansel. “Thanks.”

He shrugged. “It was nothing.”

“It wasn’t nothing,” I told him. “You were pretty awesome back there, telling off those bullies. And thanks for being the voice of sanity in my rage, reminding me that it’s a really bad idea to punch Zoe.”

“Actually, I can’t think of a more fantastic idea.” Ansel winked at me. “But I guess we all have to be on our best behavior right now.” His attention shifted to the Scoreboard.

I wasn’t even tempted to look again. I already knew exactly where I stood.

“Thanks again, Ansel.”

He grinned at me. “No problem. I know what it feels like to deal with jerks.”

“Yeah, it does seem like most people forget to switch on their brains before they talk,” I agreed. “I’m Savannah, by the way.”

“I know.”

“Right. I guess it says so right on my t-shirt,” I laughed.

“That plus you’re kind of famous,” Ansel said. “You’re number thirty-one.”


“Hey, you don’t need to explain yourself to me,” Ansel said. “I get it. You saw an opportunity to be something more than you were, and you took it. I would have done the same.”

Except it wasn’t as simple as Ansel thought. I didn’t sneak out to the Spirit Tree because I wanted the spirits to give me magic. I did it because I had to hide that I already had magic.

If that got out, I wouldn’t just be that weird girl who didn’t fit in anywhere on Gaia; I’d be that weird girl with weird, unexplained magic who didn’t fit in anywhere in the Many Realms.

“I’m Dante,” my brother said, reaching out his hand.

“You’re cool, Dante,” Ansel told him after the two of them finished some complicated boy handshake. It was probably some trendy gesture I knew nothing about.

Dante grinned. “You too, Ansel.”

“Hey, what about me? I’m cool too, right?” I tried to replicate their handshake—and failed.

Ansel snorted. “See you around, Savannah.”

He circled around me, then headed off toward the Scoreboard.

I turned to Dante, frowning. “I’m cool, right?”

“Do you seriously want me to answer that question?”

“Of course!” I told him.

“Fine.” He set his hands on my shoulders and met my eyes. “You’re my sister. So I really can’t call you cool.”

“Why not?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s against the rules.”

“Gee, thanks. That helps a lot.”

“That’s why I’m here.” Dante gave me a thumbs up.

“Attention, Apprentices!” Ms. Featherdale’s voice cut through the chatter. Everyone turned toward her. “I will now reveal the six Apprentice teams. Pay attention. These people will be your comrades for the duration of the Apprentice Program. To succeed, you will need to work together with all of them.” She clicked the remote in her hand, and the names on the Scoreboard rearranged themselves into six columns.

I searched for my own name. It was there, in the same column as Bronte. Kylie, the girl who’d trained beside us yesterday, was also there. So was a boy named Asher. It was the fifth name in the column that turned my stomach.

It was Dutch, one of the bullies from Victory.

Copyright © Ella Summers

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