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The hassle of the year 1654 (part 1)

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Good gods, I really am an altoholic, well, regardless, the next part should be out tomorrow. It is worrying that I need to actually have some work, to work on this story. For the last few weeks I've been having nothing but spare time and I've done absolutely nothing. (Not QUITE true, I've caught up on some TV series as well as started some more, but really, who cares?)

 

I hope people will like this little new character, and forgive me for adding him...her... it, but how to actually tell this part of the story had bothered me for a while. Next time I write something I really should make sure I don't write myself into a corner with no way out save cheating. :blush:

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The mental map Char had so carefully created exploded in a myriad of color, tearing itself apart as the many-colored pieces ran around among themselves, all students seeing a chance to put their studies into a practical use. The chaos and the numerous spells ruining the delicate balance that tied the map together.

 

After a while and with some effort he managed to find his way back to one of the more radiant pieces, one of the wrong pieces. Char almost leaped out of bed as he saw the other pieces near the wrong piece. It was Orsi, and a score of teachers.

 

The urge to observe them was tempting, but somehow it felt like they knew he was spying on them. Involuntarily Char thought of the creature Orsi had sent to spy on him. How did it work? Char shrugged mentally. Guessing wouldn't solve this problem.

 

Following his better judgment Char let go of the idea to spy on the teachers, instead turning to the place that he had found Aria earlier in the day. It took a while to find that area of the school ruined as his map was, though he managed it and added that and a few other pieces to his mental map. It was like a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle, each mange represented by a little glowing color.

Turning to Area he discovered that she was there still, nestled within a secret passage just off the Forbidden Section of the Venalicium.

 

He frowned. Maybe she was stuck? Didn't she know all hell was breaking lose just outside? He tried touching the radiant ball of color with his mind, a mental nudge but found it unmovable. It wasn't a surprise, sadly his unusual ability didn't allow any true manipulation.

 

Selo was the next target, though he proved much more difficult to find. A few pieces of the map were still too radiant or too dark to really fit into the jigsaw but the map was beginning to take shape once again.

 

xXx

 

As a Sentinel of Orsi Dim had close to an omnipresence in the albeit rather small room. Though perched precariously close to the edge of a stool the little doll saw and felt even the smallest breath of the creature lying on the bed. Dim was aware that it was a human, like Orsi, but it didn't act like Orsi, and thus had to be carefully monitored. Monitored. Monitored.

 

Dim would have sighed had it the ability. Why didn't the creature move?! Dim had of caused noticed that the eyes were moving behind the lids, but it wasn't very exciting. Nothing was happening! Nothing! Even the alarm bells hadn't awoken it and they had been going on for a while now! Had Dim the ability it would also have looked at what caused the alarm, but not being able to move had some disadvantages.

 

Despairing as it was Dim was happy to regain something interesting to do as the door opened to the outside. Light tickled in, as did fresh air. Another creature entered as well, though it was not Orsi. Orsi was far away, and moving away even further. Dim studied the new creature as only Dim could. It was not unlike anything Dim had ever seen. It was in actual fact not too dissimilar to Teacher Aventyrare, though this one was larger, and with different clothes.

 

The creature stepped inside, casting a sideways glance to Dims body, the ragdoll on the chair. “A toy?” it muttered. Dim would have protested to that, but could only speak to Orsi and it didn't do to interrupt, Orsi had said so after all. So Dim continued to observe. The creature bore a stained traveling robe and carried several glowing sticks in it's belt. Had it not been outside Dims orders Dim might have wondered at the otherworldliness of the creature, despite it looking human, but no, Dim would stick to observing.

 

The tall creature walked around the small room, taking stock, much like Dim, which was almost a bonding experience. Here was a creature who liked to do what Dim did. Dim would be happy had it been allowed to have such feelings.

 

“How did you get this?” the creature asked, the feminine voice not much higher than a whisper. It stood above the sleeping creature eyes fixed on the magical device clutched in it's hands. With a quick and strong movement it snatched it up, holding the disk high in it's left hand.

 

Dim vaguely considered if it should report this, but Orsi did seem to be busy wherever he was. Dim was also growing fond of this new creature, it moved and did things! Much more suited for observation.

 

A silver sphere began materializing by the disk. Dim observed fascinated as several runes began to take shape within it, they seemed to drain the light emanating from the sphere. The creature casting the spell seemed annoyed, angry almost, in the silvery light. The sphere began pulsing, and several more phemes added themselves to the spell.

 

“but where?” it muttered. The sphere vanished and at the same time the disk began red glowing red like it had been plunged in fire for ages.

 

The whole room was bathed in the fiery light and Dim felt a tingle as its omnipotence began to unravel. To Dim, a darkness was spreading where there once was light, and the darkness was growing rapidly, clinging to the walls, the roof, the floor, even the very air. Soon the creature who had cast the spell vanished from Dim's vision. A feeling akin to fear gripped it, and finally tried to contact Orsi, intent to tell what had happened.

 

Nothing.

 

The last Dim saw before darkness claimed it was that the sleeping creature stirred. Dim remembered a fragment of a discussion from long ago. “Everyone will fight to preserve their life”

 

For the first time ever Dim tried to move the limbs of the doll, but fund that they were impossibly heavy. Would Dim, fade to nothing?

 

xXx

 

Char felt the whole world shake, the map had been torn asunder yet again, this time obliterating even the map fragments. The whole world withdrew from him. Terrified Char forced his mind to change it's vision. Everything seemed to fade to darkness.

 

His eyes flew open, he was cold with sweat, drenched even. His gulped in several mouthfuls of air like a drowning man breaking the surface. The sight that met him seemed otherworldly. Before him by the bed stood a tall woman clad in worn robes. Her left hand clutched the mirror, it was bathed wreathed in flames. Even more disturbing was the area immediately before the woman. It looked like a portal. It looked like the landscape that he had seen in the mirror. Creatures prowling, the ground a dusty gray, hardly any sun.

 

Everything in him was screaming to run. He had hardly considered how before the woman turned away from the portal and faced him. Her eyes looked down at him, and though her face was like a mask he could feel her contempt. With a quick jab she took a strong hold of his arm and forced him out of bed and forced him with one arm to stand close to the portal.

 

It felt weird. There was no wind, no special smell or no particular strong magics.

 

“How did you get this?” she asked, her tone so commanding that Char felt that she could have commanded him to commit suicide and he would have done it. He told her how Dancer had taken it, how he had seen his parents, how Orsi had done something to them.

 

Through the story she just stood her eyes looking longing on the images flowing about in the portal.

 

As he finished the story and the woman let go of his arm Char fell to the ground with no strength left to stand. His head felt groggy and unreal. Like nothing had been real, like it was not his mind.

 

The flames around the mirror died, and so did the portal. All light in the room faded, only slivers came from the outside, from cracks in the walls and under the door.

 

Char's eyes adjusted slowly though he could see her silhouette as she moved to the bed. “A careless child” she muttered, more than loud enough for Char to hear it, feeling his cheeks flush.

 

He would have liked to excuse it, but it was true.

 

“It was unfortunate that you came to possess this” she lifted the mirror, it's smooth surface reflecting a little light. “It was a toy, warped to a life of it's own. Nothing we saw was true.”

 

Char didn't believe that, she would not have stared so long at a portal if it was all a lie, though against her he could not object. “You should forget it all. Just as you tried to pry knowledge from the device so did it pry knowledge from you. While I cannot say with a certainty, I do not believe Orsi to be the cause of your parent's... misfortune.”

 

She moved to the door, opening it. Light flooded the small room, outside was a courtyard lined with trees. Where was had he been sleeping?

 

“I should apologize” she said already heading out the door. “but this fault is not mine. Someone else was careless enough to drag this through a gate!”

 

He could hear the steel in her voice, like a blade cleaving the air. “Should you learn more of this, then give this to the innkeeper in the Drowning Boar” she tossed the mirror to the bed. “It is nothing anymore.”

 

Chars eyes widened. He wanted nothing more than to rush up and clutch the mirror to his chest, but he found no strength to rise from the floor.

 

At last the woman walked from the door. The wind send a fresh gust of air into the stale room.

 

Char took a deep breath, feeling life returning to his limbs. He wanted nothing more than to go on a long run, to feel his muscles strain and the air burning in his lungs. Part of him desperately wanted to return to the mirror.

 

He drifted into sleep there on the floor though, his mind whirling with ideas, thoughts and a slight tingle of guilt.

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Small update

 

xXx

 

Aria left the secret tunnel spilling into a small added annex hidden away in the more obscure history lore section. Again Aria wondered how on earth Char had found it. She looked at the tunnel she had just left, it just wasn't visible. The whole wall seemed as solid as a boulder – maybe even more so.

 

Taking a minute to dust off the worst she headed out into the sea of shelves.

 

She had heard the alarm bell in the tunnel but it was much louder now. Still, it was little concern, the library was likely the safest place in school. She couldn't help smiling, despite the alarm. She knew how to get close to the Mallen-Star now, and suspected that she knew most of the alarm spells too. She had even managed to find the book Char wanted in the process, though she didn't dare take it out just yet. There was something about that book that worried her. And then of cause the staff was already suspicious enough already, having found a few library books and fresh food in the cave Char had used. The fact that von Rupprecht had warned her not to act out had only emboldened her. She had never felt this free, this alive.

 

Aria passed a few more shelves and the slight discomfort of the alarm began to grow, why was there no students? Even with the alarm there should be students in the library, most of the senior years didn't care overly much about alarm exercises.

 

Looking around she found one of the newly installed clocks by archway up into the main library. It was almost three o'clock. The calligraphy class was about to start and she was still in the library without her books!

 

Taking a firm grip on her satchel she began running for the stairs. It was of cause not very lady like, and the librarians didn't like it, but as long as there were no one around. She didn't get long before something caught her eye, though it was a small thing. Not one but several shadows were moving in the hallway leading to the forbidden areas.

 

She frowned. She had just left that area, only ten minutes ago. It had been through the hidden hole in the wall, but still. If they entered through the hallway the alarms would sound. She shook her head. The alarms were already sounding. Was it the ones for the forbidden area? She tapped her lip.

 

She couldn't recall it well enough, it didn't strike her as the internal alarms for the library, but maybe. However if those morons got caught then the security might be increased and she would be unable to keep her side of the bargain with Char. IF it was the internal alarm – because the wards in the forbidden area had been breached. Several scenarios went through her mind. Had she hidden the exit well enough? Had she left anything that might hint that she had been there? If she stopped them before they could enter the real area then maybe von Rupprecht would let her off the hook. If she came too late they might think she was breaking in with the others.

It was not worth risking herself, but she could warn the librarians. Earning a bit of favor for sure.

 

She took the steps two at a time despite them being quite large. As she neared the top she nearly crashed with a large group of bodies moving down. A hand quickly moved her to the side while several robed figures moved past her in a hurry.

 

“What- ?” she just managed to utter before realizing what had happened. She had almost jumped into a large part of the faculty staff. Looking up she saw Darmila the Librarian, Aria just barely managed to quell a gasp at the sight of her buzzard face.

 

Darmila for her part didn't look particularly pleased either and quickly released her surprisingly strong grip on Aria's arm.

 

“Someone is trying to get into the forbidden section!” Aria blurted. The body of teachers didn't slow their pace though and Aria wondered if they had heard. There was little time for that as she was nudged by Darmila to move further up into the library's entrance hall.

 

The whole room was a mess. Aria felt a sudden dizziness at the sight. How had it happened so quickly? Not two hours ago the room was as it had been for as long as she could remember. Now? Aria looked again. Several of the beautiful windows were shattered, most of the tables were moved overturned or broken. Even the main doors had been blown in and much of the front of the room had been shattered beyond recognition.

 

Suddenly she was very happy that she had not entered the hallway in pursuit. She felt Darmila poke her shoulder and kept moving, past the shattered doors and into the main building of the Academagia. Outside the library a large group of students waited. Before she knew what happened someone was hugging her, a blonde from Morvidus. Aria felt the world spinning. Had she stayed just a few minutes more getting that book for Char, she might have been caught in the room. First by whoever ruined the library, and then by the teachers. She would have been expelled. Her family would hate her. She would never be able to see any of her friends again.

 

Aria let go of the breath she hadn't realized she had been holding, and returned the hug. Happy to be far away from it all.

 

xXx

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No update for a little while I am afraid. I am about to take a family trip to England (yay! go rain!) and while that wouldn't have to put this story on hold it will - for my main home computer has died. In a violent fire. Or what computers might experience as such. My computer had difficulty handling the heat we have had in Denmark (I know! Hell must have frozen over, it's the only explanation) going so far as to crash twice. In my search to locate the problem I opened the cabinet and tried to see if it had been strangling in dust or something. (It hadn't, just fyi!) I didn't see anything but as I brought it back to power I heard a *clonk*, while it was strange it was certainly not the most DIRE sound I could imagine, so I continued on my merry way to power up my little friend. WOE to all who fail to recognize disaster. That little *clonk* had been a piece of the cooling plate that should usually be pressed on the CPU. How exactly it got loose I've no idea, but it was pushed over the edge no doubt by my poking and prodding. SO, perhaps needless to say, my CPU died. In heat (if not FIRE - no really, there wasn't a fire). As I examined my friend through several years I couldn't help but notice the little piece that had fallen - strait on the graphics card. Potentially frying that as well.

 

Worst case scenario, as I can imagine it, is that the graphics card is dead, as is the CPU. (Well the CPU is dead no matter what.) Unfortunately I leave on a plane Monday and can't pick up any packages. While the Danish postal services are quite nice (as is my neighbor) I am reluctant to order a package that I *know* I cannot be there to accept. I've fortunately still got my little laptop, or... electronic notepad or whatever these small things are called nowadays... and it will see me through the vacation. (I can even hook it up to my screen, keyboard and mouse - which makes it feel almost like home just now.) That said the chapter I was writing is still trapped on the hard disks so I won't be working on it /posting it in my vacation as I had hoped.

 

 

To sum it up, shit has hit the fan. We will update earliest next Monday (the 6th)

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We are operational again! For those technically inclined I can say that half my RAM had apparently gotten damaged as well. They were likely the original cause of the blue screens and I must have knocked something loose or whatever. Regardless, it is fixed. Not as good as new (as the GFX card is my old old one) but working. New RAM and new CPU. Hopefully I should have some new pages soonTM'ed! - just not by me

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Adrian;

 

I feel for you. So hurry up and let us see who can keep writing until Year 2 comes out.laugh.gif

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But... but... year 2 could be weeks away! Months maybe!! YEARSSS!!!! ;)

 

Anyway, let the story continue:

 

 

 

Adrian crouched by a body which was moaning quietly as if feebly trying to rise but failing constantly. The man on the flood was bleeding profusely from a wound across his face. The poor light in the hallway leading to the Forbidden Section made it difficult to be sure but Adrian felt sure that whoever this man was he had been among the rogue mages. “Maybe the pirates got to him” one of the girls in their little adventurous group offered.

 

“Lets tie him up for now”

 

Adrian agreed with that sentiment, as did several of the others, though the girl cast a revision spell closing the wound – at least temporarily. It earned her a few dark looks from the others but she glared them down.

 

Adrian didn't care overly either way, it was doubtful that he was in any mortal danger after all. The ropes ended up being revised from the rogue's own clothes. It was a dubious piece of work but it was the best anyone could manage in the relative darkness. They had all agreed that lighting any more light was a bad idea earlier, though it severely delayed their progress.

 

“I'll go up ahead” Adrian said finally, tired of the delay. One of the Vermin boys was being too extravagant with the knots and it was a needless waste of time. The group split in two at once, a few staying to tie him up and five continued with Adrian. He was slightly surprised that he had become something of a de-facto leader of their merry band though it didn't help getting worried about that.

 

A little ahead he spotted a warmer glow than the subdued candles that had sparsely illuminated the hallway. As the little group sneaked closer a room opened up before them. In his mind Adrian had imagined a room not unlike the remaining library, with several shelves of tightly packed books. From the scuffling behind him this room was far from what any of them had imagined. The room was large, though with only a few shelves each of them holding books bound in colourful leather. The largest part of the room was simply space though, as if some of the books could not be too close to other books. Many lecterns dotted the room, each of a different make, and some of the books had even been chained to their lectern.

 

Smack in the middle stood the two groups, pirates and mage-rogues, one of the pirates holding something large forward to the mages.

 

“Who is that?” whispered a female voice by Adrian's ear. Even straining his eyes Adrian found the shape blurry though there was something familiar about it too.

 

“Can anyone hear what they are saying?” peeped a voice from further back in the group.

 

“I got just the thing!” announced a girl picking a jar from a hidden pocket in her robe. Looking back Adrian almost got a coin-shaped pill thrust into his hand. The girl was handing them out to everyone. “They are a short-time hearing booster. I made them myself”

 

Adrian looked dubiously down on the coin in his hand. The tomboy-looking boy continued her explanation. “You put them in your mouth, chew twice. Only twice.” she stressed. “And swallow.”

 

Adrian had already put his into the mouth before one of the others asked a sensible question. “What is in it?”

 

In his mouth the pill seemed to bubble and frizz, stinging almost like electricity. He lost track of the conversation and focused on the pill. It seemed to be growing uncomfortably fast in his mouth.”

 

“Chew!” she mouthed, clearly enough that he could almost hear her. He most of all wanted to spit it out but everyone was watching him, and the tomboy girl was glaring at him, almost daring him to try. Her brown eyes squinting on her inclined head.

 

He bit down, slightly unsure if he had bitten the pill or his tongue. His mouth felt worryingly numb. Then twice. The pill seemed to turn to liquid and ran down his throat causing him to choke. At once his hearing improved. Or. Maybe everything just silenced inside the room. He could hear a faint shuffling of books coming far inside the forbidden archive.

 

In an almost booming voice a harsh voice commanded his fellows to action. “Check it out!” There was a shuffling of feet, most coming towards them.

 

“They are coming!” Adrian whispered, his own voice so loud that it overwhelmed his own thoughts.

 

A few of his fellows shuffled backwards as quick as they dared without making further noise. “Leave it to me!” said another, male voice. So loud that Adrian's ears rang. He produced a small rat which quickly scurried across the floor, taking shelter under what looked like spherical map.

 

“Its a rat!” one of the grunts said in what felt like a yell back to their leader.

 

“Go find some valuables then! We may be able to salvage a little of this failure.”

 

One of the pirates cast a sideways glance into the hallway where Adrian and his fellows were hiding, but either the darkness was more covering than Adrian would have believed or maybe the pirate was slightly blind because he didn't notice their group pressing against the wall.

 

Adrian dared looking into the room once again. The pirate leader still held something out to the mage.

 

“... Do with this one?”

 

The mage inspected the slightly blurry person. Then produced a small disk from his pocket.

 

“We cannot harm this one.” the mage said, with no small amount of disappointment carrying in his voice.

 

“He did fell one of your... friends.” the pirate seemed to find that funny.

 

“Darvith his a grown boy, he can escape on his own. We don't need more dead weight.”

 

The pirate snorted. “So what do we do?”

 

Adrian ducked back into the hallway as one of the pirates carried a huge book nearby. Lectern chain and all. He did strain his ears to hear what the pair was talking about halfway across the room though, despite the noise from the lectern being dragged across the floor dwarfing their chat.

 

“Found it!” someone yelled even further into the room. Another noise was building though, which wasn't from inside the room. It was the shuffling of robes, and footsteps on solid stone.

 

“Not a moment too soon!” The leader of the rogue mages said, his voice like a whip. “And leave that, you oaf!”

 

The sound of a book being dropped and the dragging of a lectern stopped immediately.

“Don't listen to him Harlf, if you want to keep the book you can, but you have to carry it yourself!”

 

There was a rustle of the chain again though it stopped as the sound of footsteps reached the people in the room. A whirl of commotion began. The sound of swords and a sound like a cape getting puffed backwards in that dramatic-pose-like style.

 

A host of teachers passed by Adrian and his group with Orsi at the head, all had wands out. From a slight glow that traced behind a few of them some even had spells readied. Adrian dared moved into the room too, even if it was well behind the teachers.

 

“So! You finally realized the real -” began the leader of the rogue mages with a flourish you usually save for family speeches and perhaps in this case taunting a possible arch enemy.

 

Orsi released a spell he must have saved up, and it had it the target squarely had a giant of a man – Harlf – not thrown a lectern, book and all, directly in front. The lectern stopped mid air, as if frozen in time. It had lost all momentum. Then, as if realized everyone’s eyes upon it, it fell to the floor.

 

“How dar-”

 

Several other spells were released from the school staff. Harlf being unfortunately turned into half his normal size and then into what seemed a slightly failed cat transformation.

 

By some fancy dodging and negation the mage leader came out of the fist volley relatively unscathed, though his dashing cape had turned bright pink and looked to be on fire.

 

From his new vantage point Adrian could see it all, even that two of the mage's associates was working on a spell of their own a bit further in. Adrian wondered whether to point this out or not but a few of his fellows had taken it upon themselves to distract the pair of elderly mages. Just then Adrian remembered the person the pirate and mage had spoken about. Looking behind a slightly too large and slightly too green cat... thing Adrian found what he was looking for. It looked like... “Ayrien?”

 

He had barely said it aloud but the creature reacted to it, though it was difficult to be actually see the boy due to whatever illusion covered him. He was blurry. To such a degree it hurt your eyes to look at him.

 

An Avila boy ran, screaming, past Adrian fleeing from the pair of elderly mages. The tomboyish girl was still there though she looked caught in an illusion of sorts. Adrian drew his wand and began to consider a useful spell. Negation? To free the girl, or...

 

The two mages were brewing something big though, and the pirates and a few mages had actually managed to hold Orsi and the other staff occupied. Adrian cast a quick glance to see if there were any help forthcoming, but between a super-sized pirate with green hair and a pig's tail and several books flying in the air it seemed no one was keen on simply throwing spells randomly against their opponents.

 

Of cause! He could revision himself. But, that didn't always go well. The idea was in his head though, drawing a ranged attack palette he began his spell.

 

It was too late though, despite his sensitive hearing all noise in the room simply vanished as the two old mages finished their spell. A huge black sphere almost seven feet in hight and as much in width hung lazily just above the stone floor.

 

The flying books feel to the ground like birds shot out of the air, and the fighting momentarily stopped. Adrian tore his eyes from the sphere and looked back to the teachers and the last mage standing against them – the rest had either vanished or been turned into something harmless. The mage was soundlessly barking orders, franticly pointing to the sphere.

 

Then he sat off, running in a sort of dazed slow motion towards the sphere. Adrian blinked, which seemed difficult. Then all at once things began again. A quiet pop, like a balloon in the distance, had broken the silence. “- now you idiots!”

 

The spell in his hands had already faded, forgotten as it was, but Adrian had difficulty enough taking it all in. The sphere was not black any more though, it was a twisted picture. Like... like a wooden floor. And some trees. And sunshine. And...

 

Adrian blinked again, his mind making sense of it. It was a portal! Looking through he saw the edge of a ship that the portal must be leading to, and below the ship was a forest and.... in the far distance was the towers of the Academagia.

 

The mages' leader seemed thrilled about the portal but the two others had taken a step away. They were afraid of it. Somehow this made sense. It was common knowledge that portals, or rather gates, were treacherous things. A wrong cast, or so it was told, could send your blood and guts soaring through several miles, and a good cast could be even worse.

 

“Cowards!” spat the leader, reaching the sphere though halting before it, he too perhaps a smidge unsure.

 

A blur of motion was not as restricted though. Ayrien, who had been staying clear of the fighting had made his move, in a deft motion he knocked one of the elderly mages over and managed to snatch the heavy book, a grimoire, Adrian's mind correct unconsciously. Heedless of the danger Ayrien flung himself through the portal. The leader did the same just afterwards, perhaps now afraid of losing his prize more than the portal. The portal lurched violently as the older wizard followed. Like a perfect drop of water it had been disturbed by impurities and unlike a drop of water it seemed to be trying to expel them.

 

An air current rushed first towards the portal, pulling one of the mages halfway through before the wind was thrown violently back, toppling a nearby shelve and making a racket as a lot of books and smaller often metallic items fell to the ground all over. The mage who had been dragged partway in had been tossed almost ten feet directly into a wall and went limb.

 

Adrian looked around, his body not really registering much. He felt sort of detached, like an observer. And he found the reason. Or, he thought, a reason, at least. He teachers had erected a barrier that spanned more than half the room. All students had been shielded, as had many of the artefacts and books.

 

The portal gave a last few twitches before it collapsed upon itself in what looked like a very organic death, for a spell at least. Not that he had ever seen a spell or spell like object... die. Beyond the shield magic items seemed to spark to life, small purple clouds rose from books, violent winds seemed to blow with no sense of direction. Until it all died off in quick fashion, just like the portal.

 

The shield faded and Adrian felt he was unsure of his footing, not unlike vertigo. The school staff seemed to be glad to finally get back to the action though, the last mages and -the- last pirate got subdued in no time. Everyone had been shaken by the portal it seemed, even the books around the room seemed to move and twitch ever so slightly. Adrian, and from the looks, most of his fellow adventurers were happy when Regent Badcrumble kindly but firmly lead them out of the room, instructing them all to meet at her office after the nurses checked them. Something whirred in Adrian's mind. Like, what had just happened, why did they need to be checked by nurses...

 

“And don't speak of this to -anyone- before we talk again later.”

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Because I just found a few of these from my trip to England :)

 

dsc0016po.jpg

 

A money tree! See, they exist. Money do grow (from) on trees.

 

dsc0025wj.jpg

 

Taken over a ledge, I tried to get a few people with for an idea of depth though it isn't working too well. It was a bit of a climb getting up there, and even more to get down (damn you slippery stones! damn yooou!!). The whole trip was far longer and contained far more climbing than I had anticipated from the outset. The final descent was horrible. My poor feet hated me for this trip.

 

(the weater was GREAT though, slightly cloudy and more importantly, no rain)

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It was taken at Langdale Pikes, more exactly the Pike of Stickle, in the Lake District in England. I've got a few more from that trip too. I had a sock that got wet from a bog there too, it chose to remain in England as taking dangerously smelling objects with you might be considered a security risk in Manchester Airport ;)

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It really is, my parents have a yearly tradition of going there and kindly invite me along :)

 

Speaking of which, I got a picture from their garden. With the new feeding... house? tray? for birds. It was sufficiently unique to demand a picture hehe

 

dsc0030fv.jpg

 

The odd angle is due to it being taken from the roof when I was hanging from the window and noticing the good view.

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I'm fairly sure my mother would be a militant atheist druid in any RPG, my father a geomancer/tinkerer. The feeding house is his as is the over abundance of stone and two (very) small lakes. The flora is mainly hers though. I had my own little island some years back but I'm fairly sure it has been conquered ;)

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When Selo had been caught with Julie outside the Academagia walls trying to get in he had really imagined everyone making a huge fuss about it. He had skipped class, he had left school grounds without permission, he had been caught and... generally enjoy his day. And his punishment had been a scolding from a guard and a half-hearted merit deduction from the first teacher the guard could find.

 

“My fair Sparrow” Selo mused to himself as he was lying in his bed. It was still early but the common room was deserted and for some reason it felt wrong to stay there. Almost everyone was either hanging around just outside or had gathered into small groups inside the dorms.

 

He had missed a pirate attack. It seemed surreal to think about. The was all everyone had been talking about. There were triple patrols out tonight, mostly due to the possibility of pirates but also because Durand might retaliate when they realize that it wasn't pirates that had sacked their dorms. Still the Syndicate had found whatever they had been looking for.

 

Selo's thoughts returned to the day in town and he couldn't help smiling. It had been exciting and freeing. He and Julie had been window shopping, had eaten treats sold at the market, and walked hand in hand to the theatre. Julie had been fun to be with, pointing out oddities and had given Selo a chance to come with the odd facts he had gathered from history classes throughout his life. She was also a kind girl, and clever in her own way. And she wasn't Aranaz.

 

For some reason that came as a good thing in his mind. To his shame he had also spent a good part of the trip considering whether or not this was an elaborate attempt to get him into trouble. It had seemed too... fortunate that this girl who had only smiled to him and maybe spoken to him once or twice, had two tickets to a popular show. That she had known how to leave the grounds undetected. That she chose now to strike.

 

He blinked. To strike. The place was really starting to colour his mind! And, everything considered, it wasn't strange. Usually Aria and he would have been together, and it was always more difficult to approach a group than an individual. He nodded. That was truth. Like it was truth that no one had set this up. It was a decision. A decision that had to be made consciously, otherwise it would haunt his mind.

 

So he wouldn't think about the hand-holding. He wouldn't think about how he had felt someone had followed them. Nor the fact that someone could have masterminded it all, the arguments with Aria, the trip to town, the pirates... nope none of that. Time for homework!

 

He fetched out a tome on astrological theory. A book that looked ancient, and seemed to generate a small layer of dust on its own as it was always slightly dusty and had the beginnings of cobwebs clinging to it – despite having been in use only hours before. He made a mental note to check it for hexes. It had to be a prank.

 

Sitting comfortably in the bed he began labouring his way down the first page of the new chapter.

 

 

Selo woke sometime in the middle of the night. He had fallen asleep while reading. He looked at the book trying to read a few lines despite the dark but the words jumped and danced and didn't seem to want to be read. Grunting he discarded the book belatedly thinking of marking the page. But it likely wouldn't have done much.

 

After laying still in the dark, listening to the snoring of Dinnum Selo came to the only possible conclusion that can be made well past midnight after a several hour nap. He wasn't sleepy. On the contrary; his mind had begun waking and so had his body. He knew that Evie, his rabbit familiar, was fast asleep between his feet. He knew he hadn't made any progress on his homework. He had come to realize a few other things, but more importantly he felt that he was being watched.

 

His eyes had already adjusted to the dark as he opened them, scanning the room. There was the tap tap tap of small feet or paws moving across the floor. A small scratching on wood, and shuffling of cloth. A small head popped at the far end of his bed. Evie woke and made a little jump back, but then she relaxed. “Dancer?”

 

There was a series of taps on the wooden frame of the bed. Dancer was clearly trying to say something, but what? “Hungry?” the little head shook. “Need help?” Dancer looked up at him, the two lines at the side of the little creatures face made it difficult to see if there was some meaning in them. Admitting defeat Selo rose from his bed. He wouldn't get any sleep any time soon anyway.

 

“What do you want little friend?” he asked as he gently lifted Evie into his arms. Dancer had jumped down from the bed and ran in circles at the floor. To Selo's great surprise there was still light in the hallway, albeit a low light. There were still patrols out apparently, and there were even a few people in the common room, drinking some warm liquid that smelled wonderful. Dancer moved impatiently forward though. The little ferret had done a triple loop and had then moved with some speed through the campus. Selo hesitated as they reached the door leaving campus. Not due to the many patrols and not really due to the threat of leftover-pirates, but he only had the pants and a shirt on, not even the standard robe. Dancer stood at the door though, looking up with his impatient dark eyes. Almost threateningly.

 

Throwing comfort and caution to the wind Selo began a trek across the school grounds into the hospital wing. There were still a few nurses walking about, they all looked quite tired and despite the somewhat irregular stake of clothing no one bothered stopping him. Not going to question his luck Selo made his way to the patient's wing and looked up as he came to a door partly open with a sliver of light pouring out.

 

“Char?”

 

“Selo!”

 

Char sat in bed, book in hand and a plate of some nondescript grey mush by his side.

 

“I hope Dancer didn't wake you, I tried to get to leave you a note but...” The boy pointed to a note laying discarded by the door. “He dropped it in his hurry”

 

“I was up” despite the hour, or perhaps because of, Selo couldn't help grinning like a loon. “Feeling better?”

 

“Yeah... I think I must have been under a spell, I can't seem to recall the last few weeks clearly.”

 

Selo placed Evie on the bed and took a seat next to her. “Don't worry! You are better now after all...”

 

A kind of awkward silence stretched out. “How did you get your books?” Selo asked trying not to consider just how messed up the last two weeks must have had been.

 

“Aria came by earlier with them. -”

 

“Aria?” Selo coughed as he had just swallowed a glup of air. “How did she get the books?”

 

Char shrugged, apparently not bothered by the fact that a girl had fetched books in a male-only dormitory. A warded male only dormitory. “Can't say, she has gotten better at sneaking around” the boy said, with a grin that Selo didn't feel was particularly helpful.

 

“About that” Selo began, hesitating for a moment on how to present it. “Are you helping her steal the Mallen Star?”

 

“Yes, I- she.. fetched a map in the Hall of Records, we will try finding a secret way in this time, and avoid the wards. I remember-”

 

“Why?”

 

Char looked up surprised. “Why what?”

 

“Why are you helping her, she shouldn't get involved, it is not like her to get mixed up in Aranaz vendettas.”

 

“What is wrong with a bit of.. competition?” Char gave a wicked smile.

 

“It gets you in trouble.” Selo supplied quickly. “As you know better than any.”

 

The boy sighed and fell back against the wall, his eyes closed. In a single motion he seemed to have aged years. His voice too was more ragged as he spoke again. “Fair point. But it is her choice, and I am only helping her realize what she already knows. Had she thought about it long enough she would have looked for a map – which means either making a deal with the older Aranaz kids – or doing it yourself.”

 

Selo could only shake his head. “Friends are not just supposed to help each other, but also guide, I think.”

 

Char closed his eyes, perhaps thinking of a reply. Selo continued though, his point had yet to be made. “In the long run Aria would be better off if she does not get caught up in these things.”

 

Through closed eyes Char finally made a reply. “I don't think you need to worry. She came here earlier and yelled some at me. I don't think she'll try after all.”

 

Selo stared at the boy in the bed. “Why?”

 

“She got scared. Orsi apparently caught on”

 

Selo sat very quiet at the foot of the bed, a hand resting in the soft nape of Evie. “How did Orsi catch on? What did he catch on to?”

 

Char sighed and slid down a bit under the covers. “I don't know. She was angry at me cause she thinks I sold her out. - which I didn't. At least not intentionally.”

 

“So, Orsi knows she was in the Hall of Records?”

 

“Or that she was in the forbidden section. - Not that it would be better.”

 

Selo made a WHAT?! expression, which was somewhat lost on the boy as he had kept his eyes firmly shut. “What... did she hope to find in the forbidden section.”

 

Char opened his eyes and met Selo's gaze. “She was looking for books about the disk” When Selo didn't respond Char saw fit to continue. “If it makes you feel any better Orsi blames me more than her, I am on probation the year out.”

 

Selo felt a slight flame burning in his chest that he hadn't felt... ever. Had everyone gone crazy? Had nobody thought to tell him anything?!

 

Selo rose, his heart had seemingly jumped to his throat. For once it was difficult to remain the polite young man he always was. “I will... see you tomorrow. Night.”

 

With a quick pace Selo made his way through the halls of the hospital ward. No one bothered him this time either, though it may have been for the anger in his eyes.

 

The cold night air was just the thing to cool him off. His two friends had, behind his back, managed to get themselves nearly expelled. That hurt, but it wasn't the true source of anguish. It was that Aria, despite his many attempts to talk her out of it, had gone through with her idea. And unsurprisingly gotten caught. Despite that she still hadn't said a word to him. Why were they all such stubborn pigheaded morons!?

 

In his hands Evie shifted uncomfortably.

 

 

xXx

 

Aria sat on her bed, waiting to be summoned, or, whatever the legate did when he wished to speak with someone.

 

She had spend half the Saturday morning just waiting, sighing, twisting and turning. She had tried studying, reading, painting, doodling yet all her favourite pastimes did little for her. Her stomache was twirling, she was sweating despite the cold weather and an open window. Lyrin, her dorm-mate had been kind, again, trying to get Aria to do something, but she too had given up. Aria had not spoken of her crimes to anyone, somewhere she still hoped that the legate was just making a courtesy call. She had wanted to tell someone, to get it out, but the words stuck in her mouth.

 

She had already regretted yelling at Charseth three times already, yet chances are that he was the reason why every teacher now hated her. She felt sure that her success in school was mainly to her own credit. But through the years she had gotten into just about all the teachers good graces – even the really mean ones at least held her in higher esteem than her peers. Unlike Charseth, unlike Selo, unlike just about everyone, Aria was a student solely through merit. She was a prodigy in the magical arts. She could read stuff and it would stick with her, it would click in her mind and it just made sense. She was gifted. One in a million, billion even! And there were no-one to save her if the teachers no longer vouched for her.

 

Charseth dabbled in gates and he got a slap over the wrist and got on probation. She could get caught stealing food and she might face expulsion.

 

She sighed again and rubbed her sweaty palms on her sheets. Sigh.

 

Lyrin had it easier, she was studious, she was not intelligent, but she was diligent. Something Aria had begun to really respect. Lyrin had quite good grades, but as time passed she only got better while their fellow intelligent students began to fall behind, too caught up in their own easy life to realize they were missing something important.

 

Even now Lyrin lay in her bed, reading a book in some obscure language.

 

Had she done the same mistake as the other students? Had she gotten so caught up in her own ideas that she had missed an important lesson? This of cause was not a class subject, but a life subject. Had she been so focused on using her talent for a purpose that she had forgotten the simple joy of just learning?

 

She wiped her palms again and looked to the window. It was still open, blowing cold winds into the room. She swallowed.

 

When was the last time she had read a tome for the joy of it? Just some obscure title, just for the kicks?

 

 

Not since Wadsworth's thesis of pygmy mushrooms violent life in the Southern Isles. Her eyes zoomed to the shelf. It was still there. It should have been handed in... When?

 

Aria's mind raced. She knew when. She always knew. Something snapped and she snatched the book from the shelf. Turning to the little neatly folded paper at the back. When? Aria stared at the date, dumbfounded.

 

“Something wrong?” Lyrin asked, her voice soft with concern.

 

“This book should have been returned a month ago.” Aria held the book up as if for inspection.

 

Lyrin lay her book aside, closed with a little slip. To spare the book's spine. She sat up. “Shall I return it for you?”

 

Aria swallowed. Didn't she see? The stupid book didn't matter! “No” she finally muttered, straining to keep her uneasy away. Aria turned to the bookmark she had placed there a few months back and started reading.

 

But it didn't last. Not even the page down. The book was horrible. She was on edge. Why didn't the legate just come!? Why...

 

“Why am I sweating!?” Aria finally sighed, letting the book fall from her hands to hit the floor with a dull thud.

 

 

Well past mid day Aria had finally given up waiting in the room. She had gone to the library with the book. Most of the entrance was still messed up, mainly due to the many books that had been damaged and scattered across the main room.

 

“Hmm” said the librarian. Guessing she was a substitute Aria had chosen this kindly elderly lady to return the book to. “It seems that this book should have been returned months back.”

 

Aria nodded, her face a mask. “Yes miss.”

 

The librarian studied the book for damage, she frowned a little, then looked at Aria and frowned even more. “It does seem quite old”

 

“Yes miss. It is.”

 

“Well, no one has wanted to borrow it, fortunate, isn't it?” The voice seemed to carry a smile, even though the woman was frowning and her eyes behind a brick of glass carefully ran through the list of missing books.

 

“Well, thank you for returning it dear.” The librarian stamped something, patted the book fondly before placing it on a small shelve with wheels and made to be on her way.

 

“That was it?” Aria stuttered before she realized her luck.

 

The elderly lady turned, which seemed to be a task for her. “Were you expecting something else?”

 

“I-” her mind worked furiously at nothing. Never had the simply task of replying been so difficult. “Sorry.” Aria turned briskly and marched strait back to her dorm. Lyrin was still reading.

 

“No one has been here.”

 

Sigh.

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Short continuation. I swear, these things fill more when I write them :P

 

 

 

Adrian felt very exposed as he stood in front of the Aranaz collage's front door. Port might have been a better word for it. Not to mention the many eyes following him. Orsi had asked him to bring a girl named Aria to him. Of cause she had to be in Aranaz. Not to mention that ever since Durand had been raided – during the pirate attack – tensions between the two collages had risen. Adrian's own room had been wrecked too, though only a few pim and that stupid pin from the Sphinx something or other was missing. It was odd Simion had not wanted it back after he had learned what it was, but insisted that Adrian keep it hidden. Now the pin was considered evidence. If they found the same pin in Aranaz possession they could prove that they were the ones that had trashed their collage. Of cause some had wanted to take the moral high ground, others pointed out that they probably had several of those pins, others again pointed out that finding any pin meant actually breaking into the Aranaz collage.

 

Adrian had left it there. The more they talked the less he felt like participating. His collage mates could do what they wanted. No doubt they would.

 

Gathering his nerve Adrian took hold of the knob and pulled. Slightly surprised that it didn't as much as creek he walked in, keenly aware that a few of the larger boys rose from their chairs inside the common room. He felt an almost physical urge to grasp his wand though he was also keenly aware that it would be a show of weakness. Don't show weakness to a sphinx, just bluff.

 

“I am looking for Aria Valeri” he stated to the common room, all eyes staring at him, or at his Durand robe. He considered adding that Orsi had sent him, but best save it if prompted.

 

“She is in second year” he continued, when no one proved receptive. Finally one of the girls rose. A girl of slight build and dull brown hair. She did look friendly though.

 

“Her room is next to mine, I'll go see if she is in. You stay here.” she added as Adrian had made a move to follow. Most had returned to their conversations but a few unpleasant eyes had stayed on him.

 

Looking around the room he was slightly surprised how orderly and quiet it all seemed. Like no one wanted to be overheard. Wasn't that... “Saia?” A head that had been hunched down in conversation turned around, slightly slowly, as if time would defeat the inevitable.

 

Their eyes met and she gave a soft half-felt smile. “Adrian. What are you doing here?” she called, motioning him closer.

 

He moved next to her small round table, opposite her sat a guy he could have sworn he had seen before.

 

“Legate Orsi asked me to bring an Aranaz girl to him, to talk about the pirate attack.”

 

She nodded gravely. “A lot of that going around these days. Briardi had me in for a debriefing earlier today too.” the boy opposite nodded as well. “Yeah. Rupprecht was..” he lowed his voice slightly, as if remembering himself. “was asking questions too. If you ask me something was funny about the whole thing, it was a half-hearted attack and the professors are acting like their jewellery had gone missing.

 

“Rumor has it that Sinn'th is involved again. I hear some dark lady visited him.” Saia added.

 

“I doubt it, I am fairly sure he is in the infirmary. Some guy who were here for a tour ended up there as well. I heard when I came to deliver my potions.”

 

“Who was that?” Adrian asked. He had never learned what happened to Ayrien, or Diniz. He had seen the girls though, and Haelion too. They certainly seemed less keen on studying at the Academagia after all was said and done.

 

“Don't know for certain. He was pretty roughed up though, said he had taken a drop from one of the pirate ships”

 

That seemed odd. Despite everything Ayrien had seemed to know where the portal would go. Would he really have taken the portal – and the book – just to let him get thrown off the ship?

 

A tap on his shoulder tore his thoughts away. A somewhat tired looking girl look at him. She was pretty, in the common way. Soft features, smooth shoulder-length blond braided hair. No paint in her face though, which kind of suited her. “What did you want?” she demanded.

 

“Ergh, Legate Orsi asked me to-”

 

“About time! Did you know I have waited almost a full day?!”

 

“No, I-”

 

“I can't believe he would send a boy! And a Durand!” she rolled her eyes. “Well, come on!”

 

Adrian followed her out, aware of the sniggering as he passed. Still it was petty jabs, and nothing more.

 

The girl set a brisk pace, which was just as well, it was growing colder outside these days. As they neared the main building she slowed down to a stop. Coughed a bit which turned into a skewed giggle and finally a bit of manic sobbing which she, thankfully, reigned in quickly. Adrian had been of two minds of how to proceed. Ask if she was all right? Try to find a teacher? Comfort her? Did she even need comfort?

 

Before Adrian had decided Aria straitened, fixed a strand of hair between her ear and continued, though in a more reasonable pose.

 

“I forgot I held my breath.” she commented as they entered the main building. “Such a silly thing. Just like the Drowse pheme. Can you imagine I researched it minutely but I don't think I ever learned how to draw it?”

 

Aria continued to list the many properties of the pheme, when it was discovered and usage.

 

Adrian who was walking beside her was starting to worry for the mental stability of the majority of Aranaz. Either that or the girl just liked to show off. Which, remembering back to the single class they had shared, might be the case.

 

Aria had gone through several topics and tangents of those before Legate Orsi's assistant finally let them through the door. Adrian wondered a bit about the fact that no one left the office, but there could be many reason. Surely. Despite himself he was pleased to introduce the girl, if for no other reason than to get rid of her and maybe go check up on whoever it was that was lying in the infirmary.

 

Orsi it seemed had other ideas though. “Please, take a seat, both of you” Orsi added as Adrian had turned to leave. So close...

 

To be fair, Aria seemed as surprised as he felt, if not more so, though she quickly recovered.

 

“I have asked you both here because thieves broke into our school in order to steal this.” Orsi planted a rather heavy-looking old tome on the desk. The leather covering was thick though worn at the edges. The pages a faded yellow and it generally looked to have seen better days.

 

Orsi however was not looking at the book but on Aria. Closely studying her reaction. There was none, she was hardly even blinking.

 

“Now, I know what you are thinking” Orsi continued after a long silence. “Ah, but first things first! I should say why I called you here.” Orsi smiled kindly, picking up a small but ornate bowl of candied fruit and offered it to the two.

 

Adrian started chewing on an overly sweet piece of apple, immediately regretting the choice to take a piece. “I want you to find whoever took the real book, and report to me.”

 

Aria coughed on her sugary treat. “That is why we are here?” a bit of colour returning to her cheeks.

 

“Indeed! - Now, understand that I do not want news of this to spread, so tell no-one exactly what you are looking for”

 

They both nodded. “Sir, if I may, why us?” Adrian asked. There were older students better suited surely. How would they even begin this venture?

 

“A lot of various reasons, but because I believe you can learn the truth, if you must ask. Also, you both needed a chance to do some good.”

 

Adrian blinked. Wasn't he always doing some good? He felt slightly bad not stopping the thieves who summoned a portal, but it was a portal! How do you stop something like that?!

 

Aria had in the mean time gone even more red, and turned a few pages in the book. “how do you know this is a different book than the one the one you claim missing?”

 

Did she just call the legate a liar?

 

“The book is a marvellous replica, but our books are marked by at least one minor enchantment, that allows us to track the book in question. That spell is not in this book.”

 

“It might have been removed, where is it?” she moved the book gently towards Orsi, who had begun grinning.

 

“Suffice to say I am sure it is not in the book.”

 

Aria looked down on the book again.

 

“Perhaps, to be fair to Adrian, it should be said that this is not the first time you have seen the book. Is that not so?”

 

Aria looked torn for a moment, before nodding. Adrian, for his part felt a sudden edge in the air. Like things were about to escalate. Was this why Orsi had called him here? To be sure Aria didn't try anything foolish?

 

Orsi continued, if in a slightly kinder tone. “I should like it if you would tell me the whole thing, in detail, later.”

 

Aria looked away a moment before nodding. “Yes sir” Orsi smiled, though Aria would not have seen it. “Good! Now, any questions? I have a schedule to keep”

 

Aria darted back to the book. “The spell was not simply negated? - the tracer spell.”

 

Orsi gave a small grin before he turned and grabbed a small device, no larger than a book. It was a black box of a metal Adrian couldn't place, but very smooth and polished. It also had several tubes sticking out of it of varying sizes.

 

“This little thing” Orsi started, as he placed it on the desk and moved a few feet away. “Will trigger when such spells are broken. - The spell has been broken – but we had this book in our hands before the trace was discovered and subsequently broken.”

 

Orsi drew a spell in the air, and cast it on a painting of a peculiarly grumpy-looking baby. Then he drew a negation spell, and released it onto the very same painting. The black box cried out in both a high and very very low noise which caused both students to block their ears. Orsi seemed smugly oblivious to the racket.

 

As the noise died Adrian felt he had to ask something that bothered, if they could track the book. “So, you know where the book was headed?”

 

“ah. Yes, but until you can make a guess I shall keep that from you.”

 

Aria moved to sit upright in the chair, after having been leaning over the book again. “You know who took it.”

 

“I have a guess.” Orsi admitted, looking at a map of Mineta. “But a lot of this puzzles me. As legate I am forbidden from dabbling in banned magical arts.” the motioned to the book and turned to Adrian “the book was in the forbidden section due to it's thesis on a particular branch of Gates”

 

“but you haven't read it?” Adrian asked, slightly doubtful. Did the legate just suggest that he knew exactly what it was he hadn't read in the book?

 

Orsi gave a look that could be interpreted either way. “I am forbidden to read it, so my answer is no. A student now on probation might have more insight, though I doubt it. Be mindful that it is not all friendly eyes watching that boy – so be mindful of what you talk about.”

 

Orsi gave a last short smile before he made for the door and opened it. “You best be on your way. I should ask you to not present this investigation to the young man who drove after the book, he is in the infirmary still, though you may speak with him.”

 

With that the two had been forcefully shown out the door, which seemed to melt into the wall once they were outside.

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Adrian? What were you thinking of when you wrote 'a painting of a particularly grumpy-looking baby'?

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typo I think, unless I've forgotten. Should've been 'peculiarly' I think.

 

I had something like the painting in 'Corpse bride' in mind, some of those horribly gloomy baby portraits that have been done through the ages.

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I can imagine why he would use it to illustrate various spells though *grin*

 

I fixed the typo and a few others. I'm surprised I made so many errors in the last bit - or maybe I am just not seeing them in the others :P Anyway. Works begun on the next part, the adventure begins! (or continues, I suppose)

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Char was sat in bed, not moving particularly much, as per doctors orders. He had his books, he had food and drink within easy reach and he had a doll staring at him. Another one.

 

The old one had been something of an insult to his pride, but this new one... With a white face, a rose-red over proportioned mouth in a constant excessive smile... it was just plain creepy. And no one wore clown clothes like that any more! It may have been in fashion a few generations back but now? Pfft!

 

He took a healthy gulp of the somewhat bitter-tasting water the nurse had insisted he drained before evening. He continued the chapter in his Zoology book, this one concerning dangerous animals who are now extinct. Honestly it seemed a waste to read, but it was somewhat sad as well. There was a relatively new focus on these kinds of things. Some animals were even given special rights. Like you couldn't kill or wound a Mountain Gryph even if it landed in the middle of the street. - Not that it was likely, given their few numbers and inclination towards mountainous regions – but still.

 

It was a good thing, Char decided. He would rather see the world being left a richer place when all was said and done. Losing species were the wrong way to go about it, even if it was due to enrichening the world of Man.

 

A few taps on his door broke his reading, not that it particularly bothered him. This was more a lamentation of things lost and things that would never be found. It was somewhat noble to search regardless though, even if it made more sense to treasure what we already have...

 

When no one entered Char yelled that they were free to enter. Honestly he had thought it would be the nurse at first but it wasn't. “Aria?”

 

“Hello” she offered, somewhat quietly. A step behind her a taller boy with brown hair neatly cut entered. There was something familiar about that. They had a class or two together, but...

 

“Hello Sinn'th”

 

Char momentarily considered just ignoring him. But, really, it was uncalled for. “Hey,” there was a bit of an awkward silence. “I can't seem to recall your name...”

 

“Adrian, Daycross, we were in group in some potions classes”

 

“ahh” They both had a poor track record in potions, and neither had really found it necessary to go beyond common courtesy.

 

“So, how are you feeling?” Aria began as the two had plainly said their peace.

 

“Fine, actually. If I play nice I will get to sleep in my own bed tonight.”

 

“heh! Who is your friend?” Adrian asked stepping over to the little clown-painted toy-bear.

 

“A reminder that I'm on probation”

 

“kind of creepy isn't it?”

 

Aria moved closer and picked it up, giving it a bit of a shake and placed it back on the floor. It still looked creepy. It's eyes constantly on Char.

 

“Why make them so creepy though?”

 

“Maybe someone thought it was funny.”

 

Char shrugged, it did not matter particularly much,.. though... “Maybe I can paint something else on it.” he said with a grin, maybe you could paint a skull or a floral pattern or something on top of it's face.

 

“Actually there are a pair of really talented painters in the new year, you should get one of them to do it!”

 

“I am not sure if you are allowed” Aria ventured, “It might be best to ask permission rather than forgiveness. Given the circumstances”

 

Char nodded. “You are right. I don't think I would be allowed, but it was a liberating thought.”

 

“So, why are you on 'probation' anyway?”

 

Both heads turned to Adrian. “you haven't heard?”

 

“Rumors. Can't really trust anything anymore.”

 

“Well... there were a few things, the main ones being damage to school property, gross disregard for school rules, and unknowingly dabbling in forbidden magics.

 

“ah... ergh... that is...”

 

Despite himself Char couldn't help giving a satisfied smile. If nothing else people would be speaking of him for years to come.

 

“That was why we came, actually”

 

“Oh?”

 

Aria approached the bed, standing by the foot. “Do you remember anything from the book you read? Anything... special?”

 

Char raised an eyebrow in suspicion. “How special? In what way?”

 

Aria shrugged. “I don't know, why someone would steal that book in particular.”

 

Char tried to think back. In the cave, huddled up with a small fire and the disk. He recalled the elegant hand it had been written. Some phrases alien to him. A mixture of random phemes. “It was difficult to read. Like...” He could almost see some of the phemes gathering together in the air. It didn't look like anything he could understand, but he could remember how vividly some of the spells appeared to him. “Like reading a foreign language. You recognize the letters but there is little meaning.

 

A second spell gathered out of the air, with such clarity that he was worried that the others might see it. There was an urge to try the spell. A pull to raise his hand, a finger, and trace the phemes.

The horrible face of the little doll appeared unbidden. Sending a cold spike down his spine.

 

“Still... there was something, it was teaching how to make gates. Or was a theory book on gates, but with practical aspects in it. I didn't finish the book though, and I don't recall anything specific. Sorry.”

 

“We were not really interested in the 'specifics' just who might want it”

 

Char looked at Adrian, eyebrows nearing each other. “What are the two of you hoping to gain?”

 

Adrian and Aria shared a quick glance and a nod. “Legate Orsi wants us to find out who wanted the book enough to stage a raid on us.”

 

“ah, so you are not in trouble?”

 

Aria's eyes darted towards the doll and then snapped back at him. “No trouble at all.”

 

Char wasn't quite sure what that meant, if she was in trouble or couldn't say so, or that she didn't want it mentioned that she might be in trouble in front of the doll. Either way.

 

“I can't say I know anything much about that.”

 

“It would have been a tad too easy. I should go see if Ayrien made it out of the fall all right.”

 

“The one the Legate specifically asked us not to speak to about the 'investigation'?” Aria asked, in a tone which seemed a bit harsh even to Char's ears, and he had known her long enough to know she was only teasing.

 

“I was going to ask how he was doing not if he saw who... made off with the book.”

 

Aria nodded. “I think it is a good idea to ask him, though we should do so delicately. The Legate just said not to tell him of the investigation – but not about personal curiosity.”

 

Adrian looked less than thrilled but didn't comment further. “I will go too” Aria said, as Adrian moved to the door. “Can I come by later?”

 

The answer was almost instinct. “Of cause” She did seem much less upset than he last visit. “They only got me for observation any way.”

 

“Good then. See you later!”

 

As the pair of them left Char stretched in the bed. It wasn't a bad way to spend a Saturday. He glanced at the pile of school books. A shame that there was a tidal-wave of homework to do though.

 

xXx

 

Aria came by Char's room as soon as the nurse had told Adrian in no uncertain terms that neither of them would see this Ayrien before, earliest, Sunday noon. She didn't particularly mind, it would give her a chance to think on the best way to twist the questions. Adrian might run to the Legate to tell him what she intended but Aria had a feeling that he had mentioned Ayrien exactly because he thought the boy knew something.

 

“Will you tell me what exactly happened these last few weeks?” she had asked, an odd mixture of curiosity and concern. Even if it was mostly curiosity just now.

 

“Yes, but not just now” Char replied, taking another sip of a glass with beige water.

 

“It is fine.. Has Selo come to see you?”

 

“Yes.” the boy looked a bit glum. “I gather you had a falling out?” the question was cautiously asked. Of cause. He didn't know, he couldn't have known.

 

“We did, it was silly and just... kept growing.”

 

“Why not just forgive and forget? It works for us doesn't it?”

 

Char might have some less than admirable qualities, but he had never purposely hurt her, or anyone, for that matter. She wasn't angry or mad at him, not really. He had just done what she had wanted of him. The Legate might have figured her involvement out on his own, or maybe not at all. That was another, if ethical, problem. How much should she tell him? How much did he know? And when was 'later'?

 

“You still care for him, and he certainly cares for you – in his own way.”

 

Aria looked up. She had not even spared Selo a thought. “Yes, but...” how to put it? “Selo has not come to apologize or even just to see me for more than a week! No notes or anything.”

 

“Well, maybe he didn't want to push, to give you some time to think.”

 

“He hardly seemed to -” 'give a rats ass' was perhaps a bit much. “- care that you went missing! And me neither for that matter! Lyrin also has it on good account that Selo went to see a theatre piece with a girl from Morvidus.”

 

“Who?”

 

“I don't know! I didn't ask, I-”

 

“No. Who is Lyrin?”

 

Aria blinked, the small ball of anger in her throat momentarily stopping her breathing. “She is my room mate.”

 

“It is unlike you to trust gossip” he said, perhaps a bit... disappointed? “Have you spoked to Selo about it?”

 

She sent him a glare that he met with some annoyingly kind eyes.

 

“Just give him the benefit of the doubt”

 

“If your girlfriend had just gone to town with some guy would you be so calm about it?”

 

A devilish smile crossed his face but he apparently thought the better of it, finding some neutral spot in the wall behind her to stare at. “I don't know. But - “ he continued as Aria had opened her mouth. She already regretted the question, if you could call it that, or, at least the phrasing. Girlfriend seemed so...

 

“But I know what I should do, and what people close to my heart deserve.”

 

She raised an eyebrow. Did he really just pull half a quote out of Birds of tomorrow? when did he even have time to read that sappy romance novel? Aria herself had of cause only read it to point out the flaws to all those doe-eyed girls who were swooning over the 'wonderful' boys in it. The boys and the kissing.

 

“I will talk to him” she said finally, with a somewhat sour voice. It wasn't that she was angry, she was just... defused. “Why are you in bed anyway?”

 

“I haven't had a decent sleep in a week!” He faltered slightly as she continued to look unconvinced. “The nurse said I had been under some strain, and wanted to keep me under observation.”

 

“Well, I will leave you to your rest – and homework... Do you want to meet for the study group tomorrow? - if Selo wants to, and we sort out some peace deal?”

 

“Sure!”

 

She was halfway out the door before he called for her to wait. In some borrowed brightly coloured yellow pyjamas he caught her. “I got hall session. I am not sure when that stops really.”

 

Ah right. Probation. “Yes, I forgot. Well – We'll figure something out. Get some rest.” As she turned to close the door she just saw the doll settling down on the floor again. The doll could rise, stand and likely walk to follow him. Curious. There was a faint bell ringing somewhere in her mind, as it worked to bring forth a piece of text which had long since been filed under 'not important'.

 

She was hurrying back to the Aranaz collage when she remembered. She had read about such creatures! An old doll maker had made some dolls into golems. Even with some kind of twisted intelligence that may have bordered on the forbidden. But that was decades ago, this one was fairly new. Curious. With a sparkle in her eyes she turned and went back towards the Academagia, or more specifically, the Venalicium.

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As Aria crossed the school grounds she was mildly surprised by the fair weather. Not only was it quite warm but hardly a wind blew and the sun shone from a cloud-free sky. Had some of the trees not been carrying golden red and yellow she would have guessed it was summer again. It was with a foolish grin she made her way up to the infirmary. Adrian was standing in near the room of his friend, arguing with one of the nurses. She vaguely considered waiting but THAT never seems to solve anything so...

 

“Is there a problem?”

 

“There might be” the nurse commented dryly. “This boy insists on seeing a patient who is still recovering.”

 

“But you-”

 

“We asked yesterday and the nurse on duty said we could return today – around mid-day.”

 

“Yes.” the nurse concluded. “But that was then and this is now. He may be better later today. Try then!”

 

“Listen, we got this assignment from Legate!” Adrian continued, before Aria could stop him.

 

“We did not ask Orsi for aid in this. If he wishes to visit then he can wait the same as you, now leave or I shall call a guard!”

 

With a firm grip on a fuming Adrian she dragged him out under the open sky. “What was that about?”

 

“Nothing.”

 

She kept a stern stare on him, but he was too riled to take any notice. “Fine. Suit yourself.”

 

They weren't friends, they just happened to be picked by the Legate. “Do you suppose they ask the Legate for help often?”

 

That snapped Adrian out of his tantrum. “What?”

 

“She hinted that they hadn't asked for help, why would she think we were here to help? Help with what?”

 

Adrian looked back to the door they had just left from. “Now you mention it, the doctors weren't exactly hurrying there, where they? Just,...”

 

Aria hadn't noticed any of the doctors, just the riled nurse. “Just what?”

 

“Just, curious, frustrated maybe,”

 

Aria felt a strong pull to find out just what was going on in there, but breaking into the infirmary to visit a wounded kid was a bit much.

 

“A few doctors went into the room while I was waiting, and a few left talking animated about something. No blood or anything, just,...”

 

“Something was just off about the whole thing.” Aria agreed. How do you make a distraction that works on hospital staff? Without causing bodily harm on someone...

 

“I guess I'll see you later Aria, I can't waste a full day on this.”

 

“Sorry, ergh... yes, I may look in on him later if I remember.” Smoke might work but it might also do more damage than could be explained. Another obstacle and yet another problem she didn't seem to be able to solve. She tapped her lips lightly. She would just have to return. Maybe it was a doctor thing after all.

 

She still had to talk to Selo about the study group, if nothing else. Maybe give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe. Still, there was the matter of that doll in Char's room. That was a problem more suited for her. What was the doll and how was it build? Besides, it might aid in her Enchant class.

 

xXx

 

Char was tickling his nose with the feather pen while he reread the assignment.

 

Explain how early empire battle tactics changed through the period. What the cause for these changes were. Who were the minds behind these changes. Explain the socio-economic impact these changes had on the societies affected. Limit your answers to five pages and proceed to next assignment.

 

It was a nice feeling. The tickling. Char looked up and saw the others in Hall Session. A total of five were attending today. Three girls which was slightly surprising, but then again, they seemed to be the ones focusing on the papers. Somehow they had managed to pick up a pile of books anticipating these insane questions. He turned a page in the pile, mostly to pass the time. He had written the answers to all he knew onto a paper which was drying. One sheet of paper could contain it. More than contain it really. It had been a question on artefacts used in the Middle Empire, and he only knew because his parents had a small collection of them at their home and had used them as inspiration for their later work. Of cause they didn't speak of anything save their work. It did mean that he was slightly unsure of whether the artefact depicted in the slightly poorly copied painting on the assignment sheet was actually what his parents had talked about at the time. He wasn't going to pass either way though so it seemed somewhat redundant to have even bothered.

 

Even professor Viada was looking tired, and he had only been there for an hour. Char and his fellows had been there for more than seven hours and he couldn't feel his butt any more. The sweat and nervousness had long since burned out of him. He was in hell. No doubting it, but there was no reason to beat himself up over it.

 

He had begun drawing two-dimensional representations of phemes that was swimming in his head, but he had stopped and turned it into very odd-looking painting of people in all kinds of poses. He was no artist and the pictures was by the end so overpainted that people might be trying to interpret the white spots of paper rather than the black-blue lines from the excessive amounts of ink.

 

The whole thing seemed an elaborate waste of time for all involved. Surely if they wanted people to actually learn they would give them a chance to read up. He flopped onto the table. Read up. There was a laugh. When exactly would this happen? After his usual homework? Meaning in the night, as in, before the morning lectures?

 

Char tried suppressing a yawn but felt that too was a futile effort and yawned wide. Next time he would bring some real homework. At least he could entertain himself with that.

 

For.

 

Eight.

 

Hours.

 

 

His head hit the desk with a bump but the insistent scrawling noise of pens on paper didn't cease. None of them really cared any more about the outside world. Even now Char felt the slight uneasy of sitting in the Great Hall where every random person and their familiar was watching their every move. He raised his head a bit and let it drop. Bump. The sound from the pen did not even waver.

 

Bump.

 

What was his incentive to actually finish these exams anyway? He wouldn't be allowed to go about his business even if he passed. He looked to one of the girls sitting a few seats from himself. How did she know which books to get?

 

He squinted his eyes, reading the titles of the books. His hand copying them to a paper which he had begun making what might resemble the bird's eye view of a maze. Could it be that Viada used the same questions or the same material?

 

Bump.

 

He let the feather dance along his hairline as his eyes drilled into the table's surface. It seemed doubtful. Besides, who knew when Viada was in charge of the assignment making for these things?

 

Char rose in his seat. Someone had to know. Someone had to know who was responsible for making the assignments. Someone had to inform the professors. Someone.

 

Of cause it didn't matter if he failed these classes or not! Who would give a damn in the end? The teachers had a special spot in their own hells reserved for just him ever since the rumours last year that he caused an explosion in the Great Forge, or that he stole the Mallen-Star, or a long line of other things, some of which were real enough but most of them he had just been blamed for without (much) reason. Just because you weren't in bed shouldn't make you guilty!

 

But who would know? Who contacts the professors with this kind of assignment? Not that he really wanted to know. But, well, he wanted to know. It might come in handy.

 

Again he looked at the girl. She knew who was picked to teach these things, or at least knew Viada. Maybe he had let it slip, or even given her some clue. Char's eyes travelled to the single other male in the group. He knew too. He had almost exactly the same books as the girl.

 

He could confront them, but they would be two, and they were both older. Be could stalk them, but, well, after eight hours what he really wanted now as moving about and a warm bath. Really warm and long bath. He ought to find Selo and Aria too, to see if they had made up. Dancer should be with Selo so maybe he should do that first.

 

Bump.

 

No. Too tired. What good would a study session be now? If all else failed, then he would definitely bring some -real- homework for the next weekend. Maybe keep an eye out for the two who seemed to know which books to bring. Maybe he could stalk Viada too, to see who talks to him about the Hall Session. Maybe the one who organizes it all will make a slip of the tongue and reveal who the next teacher is. Maybe the theme too. And, maybe.

 

Bump.

 

Maybe nothing at all.

 

Bump.

 

When the bell finally rang Char felt his forehead had swollen but it didn't matter. Very little did. Very little save for a warm bath. He could always take a run afterwards. And then talk to Selo. And Aria. And homework. And train with Dancer as he had promised to since the beginning of the year.

 

 

Char made his way into the Aranaz male bathing room, there were a few occupants, mainly those who attended athletics, which meant you kept your eyes to yourself. These guys could beat you up easily.

 

Finding a tub he turned the fauset letting the water sputter and cough into what might be considered a steady stream. White the tub was filling he picked up a screen from the walls and encircled it. The tubs were scattered at a seemingly random pattern in the room, but the screens which had been requested a few years back gave a sense of privacy. With the screen in place he began the heating incantation. It was not particularly difficult spell, as far as spells went, but it did demand some dedication to get the temperature right. The size of the phemes had to be right, they had to be connected correctly.

 

The sphere lit up the little room he had set up and Char began the work of tracing phemes. His wand made its way over the sphere, drawing patterns like one might do in the sand at the beach. Almost a minute later his work was finished, his wand drew the last line in the heat pheme. He cast the spell, feeling a sudden relief washing over him as the water began to bubble and steam. He vaguely recalled the first time he had to cast it for himself. He had been so frightened that he had done something that would boil all the water away. That had not been the case, the bubbles had vanished soon after and before he had gotten naked the tub had cooled back to sub-room temperature.

 

Now the spell lasted longer, warming still, with small bubbles still rising in the middle of the tub. Char let a hand drop in, the bath was still a bit on the cold side, even if the middle was near boiling point.

He turned off the faucet and began to disrobe, his senses heightening with the exposure. For good messure he dropped the robes on top of the walking doll who had been following him since the infirmary.

Three of the athletics boys were still there, in the other end, laughing. Playing pranks on each other most likely. He couldn't see them due to the screen, but he could hear them well enough. A few others had arrived too, though they kept to themselves, someone had fiddled with a screen of their own. It was slightly reassuring. There were strength in numbers after all.

 

Before him the spell died the waters calming a bit. He ran a hand through, the temperature was a bit uneven and a bit on the warm side, but it was just as he wanted it now.

 

 

His mind had wandered after the initial scrubbing and soaping.

 

He had returned to the last surreal memories of the cursed disk. It was remained near to him, it was recently moved to the chest resting not two feet from his bed. The woman had haunted a dream last night, asking if he knew more, demanding. He was still unsure of what to make of her, she held a power over him that bordered to the effects of the proscribed magics, but she had also broken the link between him and the disk. He had some qualms with the idea of aiding users of forbidden magic, but, then again he was considered to be tainted by that knowledge too. And he owed her. Who knows what would have happened if she hadn't come by.

 

'If you learn anything' hmm. What was the inn again? The something something boar. The drunken? no. The Drowning Boar. That was it. Maybe, if he could give his new little toy the slip, he could find some answers there. And she learned something of his parents from, whatever it was she did.

 

Sliding deeper into the tub he plunged his head under. It felt a bit childish, but he liked how it felt under water. Maybe he should think of taking athletics next year. Get some muscles too. It wasn't a flattering thought but Selo had been gaining weight, and while the boy was certainly not in bad shape or anything it was an unhealthy trend. A trend Char felt strongly compelled to not follow.

 

He went up for breath, his hair plastered to his face. He had to cut it soon. It was getting in his eyes when he was reading.

 

There were a yelp from one of the other tubs, and a series of light footsteps closing in. A bit of a scratching noise and Dancer's head came up right next to Char's feet.

 

“I think I know what to do” Char said, with a smile. He felt better for saying it, and Dancer seemed pleased too. He had visit the library. Find something on the doll, maybe ask a teacher. He could think of a few who would tell him some tidbits. He had to visit the pair from the hall session too, and finally visit the Drowning Boar – without the doll in tow.

 

xXx

 

 

I had a bit of difficulty writing Adrian's side of the events, so I decided to cut it for the time being. That the infirmary didn't have windows really ruined my plans too, it did present a change and additional problems (in the good way), more for some of the cast than others. B) Selo and Adrian should have a session next time, if not then complain. For that part of the story to advance they both need to be mentioned. And not sure if I should add Ayrien as a character. He's a special case, as he is a semi-main character in another fiction I write.. but not really too important in this story. Something to consider, if nothing else!

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Hehe it is actually a bad name, one I realized too late into the story. Most of these names are ones I've recycled several times, most of which have some character traits I identify them with. Adrian is one of them who is usually following the rules and generally a trustworthy kind of guy, which does make it a kind of good forum name too :) Even if I may not live up to it, strictly speaking.

 

Personally I am too fond of chaos to be able to live up to the name, but I try to be good. I try ;)

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It had taken a lot of courage approaching the Movidus collage. The last 'date' had been somewhat hastily made and had come across as a spur of the moment kind of thing. Not this time. Adrian knew of cause that Julie had gone to the theatre. He had wanted her to! That was why he gave her the tickets after all. He had just not foreseen that she might take another boy.

 

Adrian stood a moment outside the front door, hefted his bag and then went inside. It was a huge change from the usual tightly run Durand collage. The place seemed study, which made one question how they managed to pull that off with so many animals wandering around. A few bats were hanging from a beam in the far corner, some cats were hissing at each other in the middle of the room, a third just rolling around on the carpet. Everyone walking about their business taking care not to step on the animals but not paying them any heed beyond that.

 

It was not what he had imagined. He had not even met Julie and already he felt nervous. Sweaty. His voice was liable to crack too. And, and... and.

 

“Julie?!”

 

Julie and another girl, both looking very fair, Julie with a pair of flowers from the fields tied into her hair.

 

She smiled pleasantly to him, warm and radiant. “Adrian? What brings you here?”

 

He swallowed. Hard. “I-” Coughed. “I wanted to see you- talk to you”

 

The two girls shared a smile, the slightly taller clearly working to contain her giggling. “I will see you later Marian”

 

“See you! Try to enjoy” The girl Marian passed Adrian and gave a sly wink to him that he didn't have time to consider.

 

“Come, let us talk outside” Julie offered.

 

Adrian followed in a somewhat embarrassing silence into one of the more natural gardens which surrounded the Morvidus collage. He follow by her side, half a step behind, his mind racing in any and all directions though with an overarching purpose of starting a conversation. It failed. Julie seemed serene though, simply enjoying the environment. The golden red that the world seemed to wear.

 

They had walked for almost five minutes before Julie broke the silence, her face looking surprisingly somber. “You wanted to talk?”

 

Adrian swallowed hard. “Yes.” his voice strained. “Did- did you enjoy the theatre?”

 

She turned her head with a smile. “Oh yes. It was very well made. They kept interrupting each other on stage.” she chuckled softly at the memory. “It was a shame you couldn't make it. The actor playing Elise was a boy! I thought I must have imagined it at first but he really did amazing.”

 

Julie turned slightly, heading to a large tree with leaves of a deep bloody red, not a single leaf seemed to have fallen though. Adrian followed, catching up, even gaining the half a step he had been behind. Julie cast a sideway glance and seemed to smile.

 

“Julie, I-”

 

Adrian swallowed, his throat seemed to have tightened uncomfortably. Just say it. Just say the words. It will be alright.

 

“I- I wanted to- ask you something.”

 

Julie turned to him, her face had again taken on a more serious tone, making her seem years older.

 

“will you- would you- um- go out with me?”

 

Julie didn't meet his eyes. Her face didn't light up as he had hoped. He was a fool. An utter fool.

 

“I like you, Adrian, but- but just as a friend.”

 

Adrian wasn't looking at her either. He murmured something in response, a grunt of acknowledgement. His lungs seemed to have fallen into themselves and air seemed surprisingly difficult to come by.

 

“You like the fellow you took to the theatre?” He asked, in a mixture of pain and spite.

 

His eyes burned slightly indicating the unshed tears were still there. Julie for her part had fallen silent, giving Adrian a chance to man up. Salvaging what little dignity he had left and he was not going to shed tears in front of her – and everyone else who saw him on his way back.

 

“I- I do like him, but, it is complicated.”

 

Adrian looked up at her, though quickly regretting it. She was feeling sorry for him. Or for herself.

 

“Okey. I should get going”

 

 

 

Adrian had thought visiting Ayrien and making some progress on Orsi's case would make him feel better – or just divert attention from the pieces of his heart currently blocking his throat like a second Adam's apple. In stead there we no progress. No progress due to some nurse. Even as he thought the term it seemed laced with acid.

 

There never seemed to be much progress lately. Adrian reflected in an admittedly bitter thought. Not on Orsi's case, not in the collegial strife, not in his studies...

 

He sighed as he moved to a tree in the late afternoon. The sun sending the last sparks of light onto the heavens. It was cold out, but just not it suited him.

 

Well, his studies were progressing. At pace. It just didn't feel like much progress any more. Like it was slowing down. The last classes were more how to manipulate spells you knew. Like making summoned light change colour, brightness, hight, movement, area of influence or area of negative influence... The list went on.

 

The only thing that made progress was time. And even that seemed to be an illusion. It was the same classes, the same weeks. The same months in the year and maybe even the same years in the century.

 

Sure stuff changed. Like, his voice, the homework, the weather. He noted a the first few drops fall from an otherwise clear sky.

 

“You think you are funny?” he snarled aloud. In truth Adrian couldn't see who it was playing a prank but he wasn't in the mood. He jumped upright and quickly began to traced a negation spell. But nothing happened. No more drops fell. Adrian still felt his eyes and ears strain to see who had trying to be clever on his expense. A few groups were walking nearby though none seemed to pay him any mind. No one was around. No one. His breathing slowed slowly giving way to a dull ache in his chest.

 

He gritted his teeth and made his way back to his dorm room. It was not a bright prospect but it was brighter than staying out in the growing dark.

 

 

xXx

 

 

A bit short and a bit sad. I've been running this through my head too long and it just needs to be done.

 

I'm not sure I've really done the story justice in this piece, but, we need to get moving really, otherwise year 2 might be out before I finish ;)

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