Two Are Better Than One Chapter 13
By Samara Secor
Since you are officially representing our guild now, we cant have you running around looking like... er, Orielle frowned as she looked at Arvad, trying to think of a word that fit the situation but wouldnt be too offensive.
Like a street rat, you mean? Arvad had figured that the subject of his somewhat ragged attire would come up eventually, especially considering the way Edrea had made snide comments about it earlier. It wasnt that he didnt realize such clothing offended some peoples sensibilities. He just didnt care. If he was comfortable, then that was all that really mattered. However, if it made his new boss happier, then he supposed that he could set aside some of that comfort in order not to be a total disgrace. Yeah, I see your point, but... Wearing one of those funny robe things isnt going to be a permanent part of the dress code for me, is it?
Its only temporary. When the seamstress takes your measurements, you can tell her what style you would prefer to wear, she said placatingly, though Orielle personally couldnt see anything wrong with the robe she had brought. After all, her husband had worn it and looked positively dashing, thank you very much.
All right, then. I guess Ill be heading up to the office after I put this on... But, maybe Id better have a bath first, Arvad gave a lopsided grin and added, That is, if you can spare me a few more minutes to get ready.
Laticia sighed inwardly as the pile of books on the table in front of her continued growing until it reached a point that she imagined she could hear it groaning under all the stress. She swallowed, Do I... really need to read all this?
Hm? the red haired girl doling out the textbooks paused to push her glasses back up the bridge of her nose. Well, eventually, youll have to. Since were already a quarter of the way through this term, copies of these books are usually in short supply. However, this years got more than the usual share of slackers. The slobs dont even bother picking up their books till two or three days before midterms. Then, they stay up all night long, trying to cram as much information as they can into their brains since they were too lazy to take notes and actually pay attention during the lectures. Let me tell you now, that strategy almost never works... Especially if you get one of those magic folk instructors like Mr. Verdeveile. I think he delights in seeing us humans bust our butts trying to use magic that he can do with his eyes closed and one hand tied behind his back.
Ah, heh... Ill keep that in mind, Laticia said, interrupting what appeared to be the start of a long tirade on what was probably the girls least favorite instructor. Thank you for your help. Is there anything else that I should pick up?
Lets see... the girl thought for a moment, then ticked the items off on her fingers. Youre going to need paper, pens, some ink... You might want to pick up a few snacks while youre there just in case one of your classes runs long and you get the munchies. Just make sure that you dont make too much of a production of chowing down, or the instructor will think youre not paying attention. Thatll be mega bad for your relation with the staff, and they wont be as understanding if you dont quite meet up to expectations.
If you want to fit in more, then definitely pick up a robe or two. Other than that, a staff or a wand is simply essential to the vast majority of magics. Check with whichever instructor youre assigned to as your main teacher, though, before you go shopping for one. Some instructors want you to make your own. I think it has something to do with it being more attuned to its creator than the average gear. I havent tested that theory out myself, so I dont know whether its true.
Laticia thanked her again and, after picking the books up and bracing the huge stack under her chin, fled out the door before the talkative girl could find something else to expound on. Obviously, a simple, Yes, Ill write a list, was beyond her capability. Ill bet that Verdeveile guy caught her talking in class, and thats why shes so mad at him, Laticia thought, tracing a path back to her room so that she could drop the books off before heading out to take care of the rest of the supplies she would need. It had seemed like such a simple task to get everything together before the lunchtime appointment that the guildmistress had set for one of the students to come by her office and help Laticia get settled in. After all that time shed spent getting her textbooks, getting there on time would be a challenge. She increased her pace a bit and hoped that there wouldnt be anything in her path to trip her.
No cat likes water that much, Edrea thought, watching Conch as he sat on the rim of the fountain, looking a lot like a fussy kid as he methodically washed syrup off his paws and mouth. Edrea had been surprised that hed wanted to try the pancakes the cafeteria had offered for breakfast that morning. Certain that it was going to be a waste of money when he didnt like it, shed mentally grumbled as she handed over a couple of extra silver to pay for Conchs food. Hed eaten it all right. So, happy that she hadnt wasted her money, shed prepared to leave when he piped up asking for seconds. The little pig must have eaten practically his weight in food. Its amazing that he can still fly.
Most students dont have the money to feed someone like you in addition to themselves, you know, Edrea commented.
If you need more money, Im sure I can work something out with Arvad, Conch splashed more water on his face and, before Edrea could wonder just what he had to work with, continued, But the way you said that implied that things are different for you. Is your family rich?
I suppose that you could say that, Edrea crossed her arms and fixed Conch with a glare. That doesnt mean you can keep packing the food away like this every day. Silver doesnt grow on trees. Besides, youll get fat.
Oh, come on. Im just a growing boy, Conch pouted before shaking off the excess water and flying up to Edreas shoulder. So, whats on the agenda for today? Are the elders going to impart the wisdom of the ages to us?
Us? Edrea raised an eyebrow. Youre going back to my room while I go to class.
Aw... Please? Ill behave. I promise, Conch crossed his right paw over his chest. Ill be so quiet that youll hardly even know Im there... And you cant observe me for your project thingamajig if Im not with you, can you?
Edrea sighed, All right, you can come. But if you puke on my papers or otherwise disrupt the class, youre going to regret it.
It seems to me that you have too much time on your hands, Wein, Orielle said.
Arvad glanced out of the corner of his eye at the student who had managed to deflect the attention of the overenthusiastic sprites from him yesterday. Weins expression gave the message that he didnt agree with the guildmistress assessment but was too polite to say so. Instead, his only reply was, Is there any particular task that I can help you with to make better use of my time?
Yes, as a matter of fact, there is, Orielle clasped her hands together on the desk in front of her. First of all, you can show our newest student, Laticia, around. Do you need a description?
I saw her yesterday evening at dinner, so that wont be necessary. However, I will need the schedule.
After looking over the paper that the guildmistress had handed him, Wein looked even more displeased. Are you certain that this is wise?
You doubt my judgment?
Er, well... That is... You know how hard he can be even on upper level students. And here, Wein tapped a finger on the schedule. Youre not only putting her almost exclusively in his classes but have him listed as her mentor as well. I cant even picture him as being a halfway supportive influence on a magical prodigy let alone someone who has just begun their studies.
He has a very good, almost perfect, success record with the previous students that he has taken under his wing. Currently, he is not mentoring anyone. Given that we have fewer full time teachers than is usual and one of the largest student bodies to date, he should consider it a miracle that I havent assigned him several students before now. And if he still manages to find mentoring another so objectionable... Orielle sighed. Spending more than a century in a self-imposed mourning period over one student is simply not healthy. He will mentor another student now, whether Laticia or another is the only choice he is allowed to make in the matter. Make that clear to him, will you?
...Yes, I shall. One way or another. You implied that there was something else, as well?
The mage currently in charge of the Trial Caves inner workings brought me some rather interesting readings from the measurement glyphs. Its possible that they may have malfunctioned. In fact, its quite likely. However, in order to be certain, they all need to be thoroughly tested, recast if need be, for the veracity of their output. Ordinarily, that would require at least three working together, watching each others backs, but I have a feeling that your persuasive talents would make such a backup unnecessary.
Ill take care of it, then, Wein focused his eyes on the schedule in his hand again and asked, Is that all?
Yes, you may go. Oh, and Wein? Were all looking forward to seeing what subject you chose for your midterm project.
The barest hint of a smile was now visible as Wein said, Its no use fishing for hints, Guildmistress. My project will remain secret until the last moment possible, and hopefully, you will all consider it an accomplishment worthy of recognition.
Darulen Verdeveile had a habit of spending time very early in the morning and during the noon meal up on the guild halls roof. Though it did provide the isolation and privacy necessary for an undisturbed nap if he were so inclined, he rarely used his time there for that purpose. At least, not without practicing beforehand.
However, today he would not have time for both practice and a nap afterwards. Ive been assigned a new student, May. One with as little mystical training as you once had. Maybe even less.
May, of course, could not respond. She had died long ago. Darulen was speaking to an image of her that hed summoned from the Rememberizer he always carried with him. The image wouldnt talk, either, unless he activated a specific memory, but that didnt matter. Hed seen humans talk to their loved ones gravestones before, and that was much the same thing. Shes an archer from the eastern plains, or so Wein has said. I dont know exactly what kind of approach Ill have to take, but at least its not going to be some spoiled rich merchants child. That type always was the hardest for me to deal with. I didnt like it very much when you first pointed out how spoiled I was myself. But thats neither here nor there, is it?
Darulen released his magic from the sphere and put it back into his pocket. The art of the Holy Fist... Each form is a prayer, and every action is sacred. You followed that creed well, even to the very end. And you have passed its principles on to me, as much my teacher as I was ever yours, he shifted his stance as he spoke, letting each form that he had learned flow into the next one, increasing speed with each repetition until he was moving so fast that any observers would have sworn he was using magic. Occasionally, he did add in a move that truly contained magic, but most of his actions were exercising only physical muscles, not mystical ones. His mind had to be kept fresh for his classes and especially for his new pupil who was...
...apparently standing in the doorway with Wein and had been watching him for goddess only knew how long. Blast it all. Darulen completed his last move and sat on the ledge to catch his breath. He motioned for them to come closer. Wagging a finger at Wein, he said, Not a word about this to the other students, wild-eyed one, or theyll realize that its physical fatigue and not arrogance that accounts for most of my classroom manners... Or lack thereof.
Hes like a totally different person right now. Internally, Wein marveled at the change but managed to keep his external reactions down to a surprised blink. I dont think that Ill have any trouble keeping that secret. Sir, this Laticia. Laticia, this is Darulen Verdeveile, Archmage and a senior member of the guilds council. Im sorry to be abrupt, but the guildmistress gave me another task to perform, so I really must be...
Hold on. Not so fast, Ver Dain. You can spare enough time to trot down to my classroom and write a message on the blackboard. Write down that classes today will be canceled. I know theyll think youre playing a practical joke if you just leave it like that so... Add that Ill be expect a two page essay tomorrow on whatever topic strikes your fancy as being suitably idiotic or obscure. Theyll never question a thing. Dont look so glum. Youre excused from having to write that rubbish, so go on your merry way.
Numbly, Wein nodded and turned, descending the staircase once more. Martial arts? Is that what he spends his spare time doing? Its not what I would have expected out of him. That and what Orielle said about him being in mourning. How very odd. Her own grandmother couldnt have been much more than a student herself around that time, perhaps even younger. Hm, Ill have to check into that when I have the time. Which wont be for a while if Im going to have to check every single glyph. Why in Althenas name did the magic have to choose now to produce odd results?
When he entered Darulens classroom, he noted Edrea in one of the front row seats. That was nothing unusual. She was in the class, after all. However, seeing Conch perched on the desk in front of her notebook almost made him miss a step. Then, the blue puffball decided to grin and wave a paw at him in greeting. Wein nodded in return and continued on his way to the board, reminding himself that here was yet another mystery to be unraveled.
Nice shooting, but its not magical. It doesnt look like your innate magic fields wind, Darulen paused to take a bite of food before he continued, Normally, we wouldnt have to put students through this particular kind of test anymore. Back during the time of Dragonmaster Leon, they decided to replace individual tests like that with a more generalized series of magic identifier spells placed in different locations throughout the Trial Cave. Apparently, our resident cave watcher didnt like the results that came up yesterday. Eh, whatever. Those spells down there arent that great of an indicator in top form, but at least they dont blow up in your face if something goes wrong.
Is that why they discontinued individual testing? Because somebody... hurt themselves? If Laticia hadnt been feeling nervous about this before, she sure felt it now.
Mm, not exactly. My father told me it was because some kid that took the test caused such a torrential downpour that nobody wanted to risk finding out what would happen if there were someone with that kind of strength in a different field. You dont have to worry about going up in a puff of smoke or anything, though. A spells energy doesnt build up inside a person unless theres a lengthy chant required beforehand. Before anybody is allowed to learn magic that powerful, they have to learn several kinds of control techniques and safeguards. Your staff, once you make it, will be one of those. As to worrying about our surroundings, well... I can whip up a counterspell before anything serious happens. Now, lets see... Darulen flipped through the pages of a book and pointed one out to Laticia. Face that rod on the tower over there and try this one.
Um, I dont understand.
Darulen frowned, Whats not... Oh, I see. You are under the impression that lightning spells fall under the wind category, arent you? Its a common misconception that usually knocks points off a students test here and there, which isnt so bad really. However, when it comes to combining existing spells or creating totally new ones, knowing about the difference becomes a necessity.
I think I see what you mean. Like the different ways they react with water?
Exactly like that. Wind will mix with water in virtually any form, whereas lightning rarely mixes with it in a fashion that will benefit the caster... Unless you happen to have an enemy standing knee deep in water while you are perfectly dry, Darulen held up a warning finger. Just as you must take into account the winds direction when you loose an arrow, you must also be aware of how your own surroundings might affect any spell you cast. The rod on that tower that I pointed out is specifically designed to encourage the natural lightning that storms produce to strike it as opposed to a less desirable location. It will serve the same purpose for this test. Strike when ready.
Darulen smiled to himself as Laticia took a last look at the book and raised her arm, unconsciously adjusting her fingers to form a perfectly straight angle with the target. Asking good questions and very precise with positioning. I think shell do well here. What do you think, May?
The energy arced through the sky and struck the rod with a deafening boom. It looks like we have a winner, Darulen said, raising his water flask in salute before draining the rest down in one gulp.
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