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Thread: [M] The Wizard Tower (Nymphadora and Headwrapper)

  1. #61
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    "Looks like we'll be having our usual company."

    Shen glanced up from the egg he was peeling, the last item left on his plate for that morning, to see what Raven was talking about. In a few moments he and his mentor were surrounded once again by Khaalida's group. Even the way they had briefly announced their arrival and choose their seats seemed to become routine, more normal. Shen eyed Raven's plate discretely, judging how much more time they would spend having their meal based on her remaining food. The new company would surely extend the stay, since there would be more to distract Raven from her food.

    Shen groaned inwardly, and tried to not think about the time that was going to be wasted.

    In contrast to the barely neutral expression Shen held, Raven's lips curled into a smile as their new company surrounded them. She could not help but to at least give Acasis a small wave as she took her seat, but she learned better than to offer much more than that. "Good morning Khaalida, Graegor, Acasis, and..." She turned her head towards each person as she greeted them, then paused as she stared at Alameth, struggling to recall his name. "Al...ameth?"

    Shen glanced back towards Khaalida, unable to detect that anything was amiss or anything about the conflict between her and the spirit she harbored. "Training has been going well. I'm learning a lot still. Raven is helping me prepare for the next ritual already."

    "Yes, Shen has been a very teachable apprentice. As for his personality... He means well, let's leave it at that." Raven covered her white grin behind her pale fingers, peering mischievously over her hand as she gauged Shen's reaction. Her eyes squinted, betraying smiles of their own, when Shen opened his mouth to say something and decided to respond with a loud sigh instead.

    After regaining her composure, she glanced towards Khaalida once more. A question hung at the end of her tongue, and then she swallowed it, offering the group a closed lipped smile. "Are things going well with your group?" She asked, posing the question to the entirety of the crew that had joined the table.

  2. #62
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    Raven greeted their whole group with a friendly smile on her face. Alameth just nodded in awe when the mage stumbled over his name. Khaalida pushed down the tiny twinge of jealousy that small act caused. First she was monopolizing all of her best friend's time and now she had Alameth acting like a shy, love-struck child. She kept her gaze towards Shen, telling herself that she was being ridiculous.

    Khaalida's eyebrows raised when she heard he was already getting ready for the next ritual. At Raven's words though, Khaalida surprised herself when she actually had to bite back a snicker, which she couldn't hold back when he just sighed in response. She knew about Shen's personality all too well. In ways it infuriated her, but at the same time, she was thankful for it. Because of it, she'd had a constant friend, one she could always rely on throughout her time at the Tower.

    Khaalida looked towards Raven when she asked how the group was doing, but she didn't get the chance to respond. Greagor beat her to it.

    "As all good science does, it takes time for a results to come to fruition, but so far, the information I've gathered has been very forthcoming and thus helpful," he drawled out. Khaalida tried to hide the annoyance that wanted to come forth. To her, it sounded like he was just trying to dance around the fact that he still had no idea how to help them. Rather than his comment including how the group itself was doing, it all turned into an answer about how his own research was coming along. Instead of comment on it, she just bent her head down and took a bite of the roll that Rakan had been foaming at the mouth for since she had put it on the tray. He moaned out happily in the back of her mind and she had to bite back a laugh. She looked up quickly, the smile still on her face from Rakan and her eyes met Greagor's who was giving her a calculated look.

    She forced the smile off her face quickly and went back to her food.

    "What are your plans for your next ritual, Shen?" Greagor pressed which made Khaalida's ears perk up.

    "Is it going to be hard?" Khaalida's eyes widened and she turned to look at who had posed the question. Acasis, who never ever talked to anyone beside her or Alameth, was looking directly up at Shen. The younger girl was leaning forward, fixing Shen with her eyes which were full of excitement and interest. Khaalida almost choked on her food.
    I don't suffer from RPAddiction. I love every minute of it!

    "You scream. I scream. We all scream 'cause we're terrified... Of what's around the corner."
    Spoiler: Yup yup 

  3. #63
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    Both Shen and Raven paused to exchange a glance at the sound of Acasis's voice. Clearly they were not the only two that were surprised by her sudden participation in the conversation, as a sudden quietness loomed over the table. Before too much time had passed, Raven offered Shen a nod, a go ahead to address the questions that were posed to him.

    "I am going to undergo what is known as an Awakening," Shen began. "The ritual is supposed to help condition my body to consume extract autonomously. It will hopefully help me control my magic more readily and more efficiently so that I can begin mastering higher level spells." Shen's fingers tapped against the top of the table nervously, his eyes lying low to watch them move. "From what Raven has taught me about it so far, it's going to be extremely difficult. After a long fast I am meant to meditate under the cold waterfalls in the Springs of Ilya, which will hopefully trigger my body to seek energy from extract."

    "Truthfully, I'm actually a little nervous for it."

    "There is a lot of work to be done before it is time for the ritual," Raven added. "As long as Shen continues putting forth the effort he has shown me so far, the Awakening will just be a trivial task on his way to magehood." She smiled as she watched Shen turn his gaze modestly. "Maybe he might even grow to be Miss Acasis's mentor, even." The mage raised an eyebrow quizzically, curious to see how the young apprentice would react.

  4. #64
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    Khaalida was torn. She couldn't tell which was more interesting. Shen's declaration, or Acasis's sudden and intense interest in Shen. She had to fight herself to keep from looking back and forth at the both of them since she was sitting smack-dab between them. She settled herself with leaning back and watching Acasis's eyes light up out of the corner of her eyes while she kept nibbling on her food, much to Rakan's approval.

    A wry smile pulled at the corners of Khaalida's lips when Shen mentioned the fast. She was tempted to make plans to eat as many sweets and other favorite morsels of Shen's in front of him as she could, but when he mentioned his nervousness, she reigned in those ideas and let them simmer out. She looked up at him, not sure if she should say something consoling or not, but was spared the decision when Raven spoke up again.

    Raven's made Khaalida feel both pride in her friend's abilities, but also a small twinge of that jealousy that she was finding harder to shake than she liked to admit. But that was also quickly forgotten when Raven made the comment about Shen maybe even becoming Acasis's mentor in the future. The young girl's eyes widened to the size of dinner plates and her cheeks redder than the tomato slices on Khaalida's tray. She bit back a giggle and shoved another bite in her mouth to keep it busy.

    "Th-that could happen?" The young mage stuttered out, her big eyes finding Raven's. Khaalida was tempted to ask Acasis if she realized she would have to spend a lot of time with Shen. Talking. Somehow, she managed to bite the comment back to keep from further embarrassing the small girl. Acasis glanced over at Shen again but almost immediately casting her eyes down again, averting her gaze while she fidgeted with her hands in her lap. Khaalida raised an eyebrow, shaking her head slowly while she leaned towards Shen and whispered conspiratorially to him.

    "I had no idea you had such an avid admirer," she fought to keep the smile off her face, but it wasn't working too well. Her eyes roamed over towards Raven but instead, her gaze got caught on Greagor. He had a bored look on his face while he looked between Shen and Raven, ignoring his food while he leaned his chin on his hands which were folded together. His little finger kept twitching. Khaalida shrugged inwardly and focused back in on the conversation.
    I don't suffer from RPAddiction. I love every minute of it!

    "You scream. I scream. We all scream 'cause we're terrified... Of what's around the corner."
    Spoiler: Yup yup 

  5. #65
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    Raven let out a short chuckle in response to the reaction she solicited from the Acasis. She directed a smile in Shen's direction before looking back to the girl, her lips curling to display her entertainment from the subject. "It certainly could. Honestly, I think it would be a good match." She held her thumbs and forefingers in front of her, in a way that they formed a frame around the trio in front of her.

    Of course, Shen did not fail to notice Acasis's starstruck reaction. Although flattered, he was sure not to convey any hint of it, choosing to fiddle with the plate in front of him. He did let out a brief chuckle, more like a quick huff through his nose, at Khaalida's comment. "Neither did I," he replied softly, veiling his response from the others. "Hopefully I can live up to her perception of me." He stopped fiddling with his plate then, directing his attention back at Raven, who was still entertaining herself by playing with the young Acasis's imagination.

    Shen sat silently, his eyes following his mentor's lips as she spoke, waiting for a moment that he could interject. Reflecting on the idea that the young Acasis might have admired him in one way or another only fueled his need to continue pushing himself further, and prepare for the challenges that lay ahead. Eventually, he found his moment. "Raven."

    The mage halted her banter, glancing back to her charge. "Hmm? Oh, it's about that time, is it?" She gave an amused sigh before rising to her feet. "Thanks for the company, everyone. It's about time we continue Shen's training. As you can tell, he is grumpy when he isn't learning." She offered the group a polite nod before backing away from the table, and Shen followed suit.

    Upon returning to Raven's chambers, Shen was given the reading that she wished for him to complete that day. "Don't forget to practice your meditation," she told him after placing the stack of tomes in his arms. "Find me if you have questions about anything that you read."

    Shen chose to spend the rest of that morning in his own room, reading through the book that Raven mentioned described the first Awakening. This was then then followed by the reading ofThe Life of Ilya Tanyelle. He was hardly halfway through the second book by the time dinner time rolled around, and he chose to finally take a break. He dropped onto his bed, closing his eyes for a few minutes. He had no appetite, there was no time for more food. There was time to focus on meditation. It was not only a focus of his training, but it might help him recount the crash history course he was given for the day.

    He collected the red beads that Raven had given him and seated himself on his bed. After closing his eyes, his fingers began to fidget with the red extract, flicking the beads regularly, as he drifted into a neutral state like Raven had taught him to do.

  6. #66
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    Khaalida tried to pass off the feeling she got when Raven mentioned a good pair and the fact that she had inadvertently been encompassed in the frame of Raven's fingers due to her seating place. She busied her mind with the food in front of her, telling herself to stop acting so childish. Raven's further jokes and comments to Acasis had a plethora of emotions shooting across the young apprentice's face. Khaalida couldn't remember a time where she'd ever seen Acasis's face so red before.

    Shen spoke up, causing Raven to pause in her jesting as she looked back at her apprentice. Khaalida followed her gaze and frowned slightly as Raven bid them all farewell, she and Shen leaving shortly after. Khaalida's eyes watched them leave the dining hall before her gaze fell on Greagor again who was also watching the duo, his little finger twitching even more. He sighed and turned his attention back to their group, his finger stilling while he went back to eating.

    You're still apprehensive about your new makeshift mentor, Rakan's voice was more of a statement than a question. She dipped her head once in answer. Why?

    She shrugged. She didn't really know why. It had just been her, Alameth and Acasis for so long. To have a Mage incorporating himself into their routines and disrupting what was normal for them was just a change she was having trouble getting used to. He was there to help them though, she should be glad for his interference, but she was still having trouble coming to terms with it.

    "Khal?" Acasis's small voice pulled her from her thoughts while she looked over at the younger girl.

    "Hm?"

    "Do you think it could happen? Like, really happen?" Her eyes almost pleaded Khaalida to say yes. A small smile pulled at her lips and she made a show of thinking it over.

    "Well, I don't see why not. A Mage's mentor isn't required to be of the same magical type. The High Council chooses them based on what experiences the Mage can share with their apprentice and the areas of the apprentice's abilities that they believe need work. So, I'm absolutely confident that if you start slacking off, there's a good chance they'll pair you with someone like Shen whose almost too driven at times," she winked.

    "Is that why you slack off?" Alameth shot out and Khaalida turned to him, casting him a glare. He just smiled coyly and went back to his food.

    "On the contrary though, Khaalida, if she were to slack off, there'd be just as high a chance of them not pairing her with him because he would have no interest in someone who doesn't seek to better themselves," Greagor drawled while he examined a piece of meat on his fork like it was a bug under a microscope. Khaalida blinked at him, it almost felt like he had directed that statement at her. She schooled her features and stabbed one of her tomato slices with a lot more force than necessary.

    "That's a good point, sir. That said, Acasis, you shouldn't slack off either way. If you're ever given a mentor, it'll be whoever is just right to teach you," she mumbled.

    "With my research, you guys will get mentors. Once we learn more about your magic, there will be nothing different between you and the other apprentices. You can be sure of that," Greagor said matter-of-factly.

    Khaalida nodded, she still had her doubts, but she bit her tongue. The group fell into an awkward silence until they were finished eating and began their trek back to the training room.

    I'm going to hang out a little longer, little mage. Rakan said in the back of her mind and she nodded lightly.

    Acasis was walking beside Khaalida while both Alameth and Greagor led the way with Alameth talking animatedly about their so-called 'findings' with their last experiment. Acasis leaned in close and gestured for Khaalida to bend down. Once she was in whisper distance, the little girl spoke up quietly.

    "Do apprentices and their mentors ever fall in love?"

    Khaalida's eyes widened while she looked down at the little girl. She was full of surprises today. "What brought that on?" She asked, narrowing her eyes.

    A blush spread over her cheeks while she shuffled her feet awkwardly. "Oh, I was just wondering," she mumbled out. Khaalida's brows raised and she bit back a smile. No doubt the younger girl was thinking of what Raven had brought up earlier. She sighed, ignoring the thought of Shen and Raven together that plagued her mind from the girl's innocent question.

    "Well, it's not unheard of. If they grow close enough to each other, it could happen," she offered Acasis a warm smile and the girl grinned back, light glimmering in her eyes. How had she never realized the younger girl's fascination before?

    When they got back to the room, Greagor went off to a corner to write in one of his journals so Alameth decided to use her as a study buddy. He was surprised when she didn't fight him on the subject. Normally Khaalida would try anything she could to get out of doing anything remotely work related. After about the hundredth time she yawned though, Alameth tilted his head while he fixed her with his gaze.

    "Didn't sleep well last night?"

    "Didn't sleep at all, more like," she sighed out.

    "Why not?" He leaned on his elbows.

    "I was studying."

    He laughed, repositioning the book in front of him. "Good one Khal," he chuckled. When she didn't say anything, he looked back up at her with raised eyebrows. "You're serious?"

    She shrugged.

    "Why?" He asked incredulously.

    Khaalida just shrugged again, "I felt like it?"

    He didn't look like he bought it, but he let it slide, though she still caught him sending her looks like he was afraid she was going to randomly grow another head or something. She couldn't blame him. The last time she had willingly studied was... Well, never. She had always figured that she would just end up leaving the tower someday, so there hadn't been a point to it in her mind.

    She didn't completely understand why she felt so determined now. A large part of it was that she hated the idea of Shen leaving her behind and if Greagor really could help her. She could stay in the tower... She looked over at the mage who was watching her and Alameth with an expressionless look on his face. She waved awkwardly before returning back to the book in front of her.

    Greagor

    Day 5
    Entry 2

    I have reason to believe Khaalida has one of her 'friends' residing in her mind today. Her emotions, while mostly regular, are proving to bounce around a bit. Almost as if she can't decide exactly what she feels sometimes, and every once in a while, I will catch her talking to herself. I always worry about pushing things when she has company because I have no idea who they are, how observant they are or if they could affect her in any way.

    But as it is, I was still able to sit down with the two battleseers during the course of the morning. Shen barely even glanced Khaalida's way, and the irritation I felt as we walked up to him assured me that he is indeed starting to associate Khaalida with negative emotions. I'll definitely try to arrange more meals with the two. Khaalida is still having trouble keeping herself from feeling jealous around them and once she realizes it's a lost cause for her. Once Raven starts to outwardly show her affection for her charge, Khaalida will see that and the oaf and all his obliviousness, won't fight it, which will just push Khaalida further away.

    It's a fail-proof plan.

    One development that I knew was a possibility is with the added confidence I've been instilling small amounts of inside of Khaalida and her desperation not to lose what she has with her best friend has made her change her habits some. She spent the whole of last night studying; something that was currently unheard of. However, I still have nothing to worry about. With the emotions I've been pushing into Shen, even a change like that won't sway him enough to change the course I've set for them all.

    If only my magic wouldn't affect Khaalida so much. It would be so much simpler to just work on her, but I must refrain from muddling the variables. This project is much too important for impatience to get in my way. The way magic is perceived could be entirely revisioned if I am successful in my endeavors. Khaalida's ability especially is key.
    I don't suffer from RPAddiction. I love every minute of it!

    "You scream. I scream. We all scream 'cause we're terrified... Of what's around the corner."
    Spoiler: Yup yup 

  7. #67
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    Shen shivered as he dried his body with a towel, ridding himself of the cold water from his shower. It had been nearly a week since he had begun training for the Awakening. His cold shower validated his initial concern: running, cold, water was just short of being liquid hell. As he dried himself, some degree of warmth returned, and with it the motivation to get back to work.

    Once dressed and situated back on his bed, Shen was back to reading a book that he acquired for his training. Raven had mentioned the possibility joining a hunt for a Gyradrome. Even though Shen was only meant to observe, he wished to ensure he understood these beasts as much as possible before finally seeing one. According to the skinny tomb in Shen's hand, the Gyradromes were large, lizard-like creatures that inhabited the swamp lands to the south, armed with tooth and claw. They stood nearly a story tall when on their hind legs, but they often stayed low to the earth as they trudged through the marshy and soft earth around the swamps. Was it really possible that he and Raven would be allowed passage to one of the southern towers using the magic circle so that they could attend the hunt?

    After reading for a short time, Shen would finally stop, blinking absentmindedly as his gaze lifted away from the book. His instinct urged him to continue reading, or otherwise be productive towards the individual task of preparing for the hunt, but his willpower was becoming too fatigued. It would almost make sense to just turn in early for the night in order to get an early start the next morning, except...

    A soft knock came from the door. Raven. She had made it a point to visit Shen when the day's training did not solicit as much contact between them as normal. Shen stood, placing his light reading on one corner of his desk as he walked passed, and opened the door. "Hello, Raven."

    Raven stood, watched Shen as he offered her a respectful nod, then smiled. "Hello, Shen. Am I interrupting anything?" Her gaze drifted mischievously, peering over Shen's shoulder, into his room. "I'm still not sure I believe you aren't hiding any girls in there. It only makes sense, given your tendency to lock yourself up in here instead of a library like everyone else." She smiled coolly, watching the expression on Shen's face. "Did you get yourself a piece of greenberry pie?"

    Shen's expression, which was stoic as he brushed off Raven's jests, suddenly widened into one of bewilderment. His eyes widened, the way a child's would when told a magnificent story. "What? Greenberry pie?"

    "It's Elder Halstein's birthday. To celebrate, the towers are serving his favorite desert. Apparently some mages are hosting a fire show in his honor, in the southern courtyard." Raven placed a hand on hip as she shifted her weight to a different leg. "Walk with me. You can get some pie, and once it's dark we can watch the show."

    Shen glanced back towards his desk, then stepped out into the corridor. "I wouldn't mind some pie, I guess." The pair made their way to the kitchens together, as they so often did. When walking alone, the path seemed unfamiliar to Shen, yet with Raven nearby it was a routine venture. The norm had become spending time with his mentor, an ideal situation where he could constantly learn from her experiences and actions.

    The kitchens were busy, especially considering it was after dinner hours. Apprentices and mages alike stood in line to be given their slice of pie, centered on an ornate glass plate in the shape of a five-pointed star. Once Shen and Raven received their portions, they made their way to one of the common rooms on a different level of the tower. "There's a lounge on one of the mages' levels that faces the south," Raven had told Shen. "It should be a good place to watch the fire show from without having to be in the thick of a crowd."

    Shen surveyed the room when they arrived. Raven was right, a large window served as a perfect vantage point to view the courtyard down below. Surprisingly, it seemed that no one was around to take advantage of the view other than Shen and his mentor. They placed their plates on the thick window sill as they ate and observed the people down below. "My sister always loved gatherings like this," Raven commented.

    "Robin?"

    Raven's fork clinked against her plate as she cut away a small bite from her slice of pie. "Mhm. Any festival, party, gathering, even as a young girl she wanted to be a part of it. She always wanted to see people happy."

    Shen paused, his gaze scanning the grounds down below. "You said she isn't a magic user before, right?"

    "That's right. She is the wife of a shopkeep, and together they have on beautiful daughter, about four years old now I think. Her name is Starling. In her letters, Robin tells me that she looks a lot like I did at that age." She smiled gently, her eyes narrowing slightly. "I keep telling myself I will steal away while I have downtime, maybe during a hunt, to see them. It's been so long."

    "You haven't seen her since joining the order?"

    "Only once since I left to join the order as an adolescent. Right after she had wed. That was the last time I saw my parents too. They still stubbornly follow my ancestors traditions and refuse to conform to the mages of the towers, so they are some of the few that are willing to live among ordinary man. I'm sure they are enjoying their simple lives in their age. It would be a pleasure to watch little Starling grow her wings."

    Shen remained silent, unsure of how to address some of the sensitivity he sensed in Raven's voice. There was no way to understand her sense of longing for her family, at least not for him. Eventually, he did muster up another question to continue their question and answer cadence. "What is it that people actually do out their? The people living outside of the towers?" Shen could feel Raven's eyes turn to scan his face before she answered.

    "Work for food, mostly," she finally responded flatly., "They work hard to earn food for themselves and for their children, and sharing what they can give to the sick and frail. Their greatest sense of pride comes from their families. Each parent does what they can, rich or poor, to enrich the lives of their children, who will hopefully grow to contribute positively to their society and in turn enrich the lives of their children, and so one. Like us, they are constantly improving."

    "Hmm. That... sounds more admirable than what I thought it would be. Enriching one's family sounds like a good motivator." As Shen ate his final bite of pie, the glass plate and the accompanying fork faded into dust, scattering into the wind. The apprentice placed his arms against the windowsill, leaning against it as he continued to look outside. The sun was setting now, and the mages who were set to perform were nearly prepared.

    It was Raven's turn to ask a question. "So what of your family?"

    "Hmm? I don't have any," Shen remarked nonchalantly. "I was left here as a baby, and the mages sensed that I would grow up to use magic, so the tower took me in. No clue of who my parents were, so there will never be a way to know. I never really thought about it."

    "Not once?"

    "Maybe once. It was when I was too old for the nursery. In retrospect, I was too young to be alone, too. Even younger than Acasis. Mother Abatrix showed me to my new chambers, and scurried off, never to speak to me again. That was the first time I wondered who... who was supposed to take care of me then." Shen's brows furrowed, as if realizing he was speaking too much. He watched as some of the mages below began warming up their fingers, small bursts of flame launching into the air.

    Raven inched herself closer, soliciting a glance from Shen. They locked eyes, and Raven prodded again gingerly. "You wondered for a long time, didn't you? I can tell by the way you said it."

    Shen ripped away his gaze, back to the start of the fire show. Two of the mages had taken to streaming flames of green and blue, instead of the traditional red and orange. Colored with special powders, no doubt. "It doesn't matter now. I'm grown now, almost a mage... But yes, I did. I wondered during the good times and the bad. I cried once when I was lost in the tower's halls, unable to find my way back to what was my room, and wondered if anyone even knew I was missing. I defeated my first golem, and wondered who I could share my pride with, and eventually settled for recounting the story to myself in the mirror. I eventually learned how foolish and unnecessary all that wondering was, and finally focused on the only person I could control, me."

    "You never sought validation from your friend? You seem close enough that she could have served as your family."

    "I had already had my revelation about how such things did not matter to me by the time we grew close. We definitely improve each others' lives, I think, but I had grown passed needing anyone. After boiling it all down, my own will is really all that matters. That empowerment was what I needed to survive, I think."

    Raven's crimson eyes glistened, reflecting the pillars of flames dancing far below. "That sounds so..."

    "Lonely," Shen concluded. He fell silent, content to just watch the show below. His mind wandered away from the topic as he and Raven stood quietly, listening to the cheers of the crowd below as sparks and flames fired in all directions. As the moments passed, Shen had grown so passive that he hardly stirred as Raven's arm slid passed his neck. Her finger tips pressed against the side of Shen's head, pulling him towards her as she pressed her lips against his temple. She held them there for a long moment, planting a long kiss on the side of her charge's head, before pulling her arm away and settling to watch the show below.

  8. #68
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    "Well, that's about as much of that as I can take right now..." Khaalida mumbled, unceremoniously flipping the cover of the tome she had been reading closed with a dull thud.

    “I’m honestly surprised you lasted this long. Seriously, what has gotten into you?” Alameth quipped as he followed suit and closed his book with a little more care than she had shown.

    Khaalida just shrugged, a blasé expression on her face. “Actually feel like it for once.”

    Alameth’s look of incredulity was the complete opposite of her disinterested one; it was almost comical. He reached up and pressed the back of his fingers to her forehead and she furrowed her brows. “What-” She began but he cut her off.

    “Checking for a fever. You must be coming down with something.” Alameth said matter-of-factly.

    Khal shoved his hand away, rolled her eyes and got up from the table. “I’ve studied before.” She grumbled.

    “Well, yeah… But not willingly. Never willingly.” Alameth shot back, standing up himself.

    “Well, there’s a first for everything,” she yawned out while stretching. Her whole body was starting to feel sluggish and sore. She was going to sleep well tonight.

    “We’ve got a little time before the festivities tonight, we should get ready,” Alameth said, thankfully dropping the subject of her studying. She nodded, wondering if she’d even be able to stay awake to watch the show.

    “Wanna meet up in the courtyard?” Alameth continued, not looking up from his stack of books and scrolls that he was arranging in a neat little pile.

    “Maybe. Depends.” She evaded quietly.

    “On?” He looked up at her. “Oh.” He grumbled, his face settling into a deadpan expression as he turned back to his pile. “Depends on the prodigal son’s plans. Too good to watch the show with the rest of us plebeians?” He asked in a mock voice.

    “Just because he likes peace and quiet doesn’t mean he thinks he’s better than everyone else,” she defended Shen automatically.

    “Oh, but he does.” Alameth said, rolling his eyes as he straightened up.

    “We keep to ourselves and you don’t think we think we’re better than all the other apprentices.” She shot back.

    “That’s different. We keep to ourselves because no one likes us. A lot of people revere him but he won’t give them the time of day.” He shrugged, a challenging look on his face.

    Khal just sighed and rolled her eyes. “Save the green for the greenberry pie tonight. Because it doesn’t look good on you Al.” She turned and walked away before he could respond. She couldn’t understand why her two best friends just couldn’t get past their dislike for each other. Though she was sure Alameth’s jealousy was the biggest contributor to that.

    Khal walked across the training room, passed the table where Greagor was sitting with Acasis, some gadget out that he had the younger girl placing her hand on. There was a small metal needle on it that kept moving back and forth and every few seconds the mage would mark something down on a piece of paper. Apparently the needle movements meant something to him. Acasis looked up as she passed and Khal offered a small smile.

    “I’m heading out to get ready for the night. I’ll probably see you guys in the morning,” she said, wondering if Greagor would argue with her on her declaration.

    Acasis only nodded back, a bright smile on her face. Greagor didn’t look away from the machine and just lifted his hand towards her and waved her off. “Have fun,” he grunted quietly.

    Khal was both relieved and annoyed at being dismissed so easily. She didn’t understand the annoyance, but she shrugged it off.

    Interesting. Came the voice from inside her head.

    Khal nearly jumped. Rakan had been so quiet and passive the last few hours, she had nearly forgotten he was there still.

    “You scared me!” She grumbled quietly once she was safely out of earshot of any of her comrades.

    I felt that. She felt his smugness through the emotional link.

    “What exactly was interesting to you anyways?”

    Normally I feel like that Greagor mage likes to keep you three on his radar. But whatever he was doing with that contraption seemed to completely sidetrack him. I wonder what its purpose was…

    Khal shrugged, “I haven’t the foggiest. But knowing Greagor, he’ll let us know soon enough.”

    Hmmm.

    Khal fell silent as she walked the rest of the distance to her bedroom, passing other apprentices with as little notice to herself as possible. She wondered where Shen would be. Knowing him, he probably didn’t even know about the festivities tonight. But she was sure if she showed up to his room with the promise of Greenberry pie, she’d be able to coax him out to spend a little time watching the show with her.

    She changed in a hurry, trading out her daily robes for a pair that was slightly more comfortable and possibly even more elegant, even if just a tad bit since they looked very similar to her usual emerald colored robes.

    Once she was satisfied with her appearance, she headed up to Shen’s chambers. It felt like no time at all before she was standing in front of his door. She tried the handle.

    Locked.

    She raised an eyebrow. Early bedtime? She conjured the key she had finally perfected out of the mist, inserted it in the door and twisted. The familiar click of the lock sounded and she pushed open the door with a broad grin.

    “I sincerely hope you’re not already in be-” she trailed off, seeing no sign of Shen in the room. The bed was empty, he wasn’t sitting at his desk. She strained her ears for sounds of him coming from his washroom. Nothing. Her brows drew together and she bit her bottom lip.

    Maybe she was wrong? Maybe he had heard about the party and was already there?

    She shut the door, twisted the key the opposite direction, relocking it and then headed off again. She tossed the key aside, knowing it would evaporate into nothingness before it even hit the ground.

    Maybe he’s spending the evening with his mentor, Rakan’s voice sounded in her mind and her eyes fell to the floor in front of her as her chest tightened. She bit her bottom lip harder.

    Maybe he had heard about the festivities and went to find a quiet place to watch them from? She couldn’t see Shen sitting down in the courtyard with all the other apprentices. She squared her shoulders and steeled herself as she made her way to the kitchens. She would just have to find him then. She was sure he’d forgive her intrusion into his private time if he really was sitting alone somewhere to watch the show if she brought him an offering.

    She strode into the kitchens and Raisanna beamed up at her. “Shouldn’t you be out in the courtyard, waiting for the show to start?” The apprentice asked Khal as she strode up to the counter.

    “I could ask the same thing. Why are you always in the kitchens? Don’t you get a break every now and then?” Khal muttered back.

    “I’m actually just filling in to help out right now. Just got here, as the mage that was handing out the slices needed to help with something for the show.” She grinned as she grabbed one of the pie slices and handed the plate over to Khal with a fork comfortably nestled in against the slice.

    Khal’s eyes roved over a second plate and then met Raisanna’s gaze again. The other apprentice sighed. “We’re supposed to make sure everyone who wants a piece gets one before we give out seconds… But, since I know you won’t eat it yourself…” She sighed, looked around quickly to ensure they weren’t being watched before she handed over a second plate. Khal mirrored the other girl’s actions and cast her eyes around quickly, feeling like the two of them were doing something shadier than just taking an extra slice of pie.

    “Thanks,” Khal muttered, hunching her shoulders and strolling quickly from the room, heading towards the south side of the tower. She’d better hurry and find Shen, the show would be starting soon.

    After skipping over two floors with apprentice’s chambers, and checking three classrooms, one storage room, four training rooms, some more personal bed chambers and even one of the mage’s offices for her friend, she was up on one of the Mage’s levels. The north side of the tower, she knew would be some personal bed chambers for the mage’s that resided in the tower. The south side had a lounge that was fairly spacious. Khal always wondered what the mages did in their downtime in such rooms. But, being a lowly apprentice, she wasn’t usually quick to investigate unless a mage, usually Dishon, was accompanying her.

    The floor above was full of more private chambers, and the floor above that, she wasn’t quite sure. She didn’t really have reason to go that high in the tower. Those were the training rooms that higher leveled apprentices went to train in. Apprentices like Shen, Wren and even Kyrenia. Khal had never been tested in one of those rooms. Only time she’d set foot in any of them was the rare occasions she actually got to watch Shen fight here and there.

    Khal reached the door and peered inside, her eyes alighting on her best friend’s form as he stared out the window. The show had already begun she could see from the colorful flames that were silhouetting his figure against the window. But her relief at finally finding Shen quickly vanished when a second outline moved beside him. She heard the unmistakable voice of Raven say something which she wasn’t close enough to hear. Then Shen’s voice, one quick, curt word.

    Khal’s feet stood frozen to the floor. She felt like she was intruding on something. She felt like she should go, but at the same time, that was HER best friend. Why was someone else getting to share such a private moment with Shen? She could tell how irrational she was being, but at the same time, she was feeling an overwhelming surge of jealousy.

    Little mage, maybe you should let them kno-

    Rakan’s voice in her mind trailed away when Raven leaned over and pressed her lips against the side of Shen’s head.

    Khaalida’s head swirled. Heat rose up from her chest which she realized was rising and falling quicker than normal. Her breathing was fast and shallow. Her teeth gnashed together. The kiss lasted for what felt like an eternity as Acasis’s voice swirled through her head, asking if Apprentices and their mentors ever fell in love.

    It wasn’t until that exact moment that Khal finally completely understood why Raven made her feel so jealous. But she was powerless to do anything about this new knowledge. She was Shen’s friend, yes. But now Greagor’s voice echoed in her mind. “...he would have no interest in someone who doesn’t seek to better themselves.”

    Anger flared up in her. Anger at Greagor for being right. Anger at Raven for sharing this moment with Shen that she wished she could be sharing with him. Anger at herself for being so aloof all these years and not working harder. She suddenly felt desperate. Desperate to prove herself. Desperate to show everyone that she was strong. To show Shen. Her breath started coming in quick, short draws.

    Little Mage, you need to calm down. Rakan’s voice of warning rang in her head.

    Khaalida clenched her teeth together and forced her breathing to slow down.

    Suddenly, a dead calm washed over her. Her hands moved on their own accord. She felt like she was watching from miles away as her arms reached out, placed the two plates on the table that was set beside the door without a sound and then her body turned and she left without a word.

    It wasn’t until she was already back on the floor and near her own room before she came to her senses. Her anger flared again. “You possessed me!” She spat accusingly at Rakan after a quick glance to ensure no one was around to witness her talking to herself.

    Yes… I’ve been possessing your mind all day. He responded, matter-of-factly.

    “You know what I meant. You took control of my body and emotions. I didn’t give you permission to do that.” Her mood was not getting any better. If anything, the knowledge that he could so completely take over her body was a little worrisome.

    Don’t fret Little Mage, I have only your best interests in mind. Nothing good would have come of you staying in that room with your anger building the way it was.

    “I would have been fine.” She snapped, pushing her door open hard enough that it hit the wall behind it.

    No. You’re still suffering the side effects of being so close to that spirit from the other day. The one from the Veil.

    “What do you mean?” That cut her short.

    I know you’ve been thinking about trying to enter the veil again. Don’t do it. You’re not ready. Right now, your mind is completely defenseless once you pass that wall. You need to build up defenses that will travel with you into the veil.

    She paused a moment, temporarily sidetracked from the scene upstairs. “How do I do that? I’ll eventually be able to travel through the Veil? Are you going to help me?”

    She felt Rakan’s annoyance so she bit her tongue to stop herself asking anymore questions.

    In time Little Mage. In time. But for now, you must rest. Sleep is important to maintaining strong mental functions, which is what you need.

    “Will you come back to me tomorrow?”

    We shall see. We spirits have limits too, you know.

    She paused again. She had never even thought of that. What did it take for a spirit to inhabit a living body again? She was about to ask, but stopped herself. She could ask him next time. Instead, she settled on a more important question.

    “How do I ensure that I get you when I call for you?”

    Now she’s using that brain. The fact that I was the spirit that responded to your call when you were just randomly feeling around probably saved your life. Or the lives of those around you. I don’t know why, but there is a very angry, blood-thirsty spirit that hovers around you. When you overexert yourself, and let your guard down, it weakens the boundary around your essence that protects you from the Veil. That’s why you feel its anger sometimes. Anger just happens to be the easiest emotion to pick up on. So, to call me, simply approach the boundary, place your hand against it and call my name. If I do not call you Little Mage, do not accept my touch. Some spirits will play games. Many want the chance to feel life again. I’ll share more of the dangers with you the next time we meet. For now, get some rest Little Mage.

    She bit her lip, taking in all the information he gave her and nodded softly. Without another word, she felt his presence vanish from her mind and suddenly she felt very alone.

    The picture of Raven’s silhouetted mouth pressed against Shen flashed in her mind’s eye again and her mood darkened. She slipped out of her robe, sank down into her bed and turned to face the wall as she pulled her legs up and hugged her knees. She swallowed hard and forced her eyes closed, trying to erase the picture from her memory. It didn’t work.
    I don't suffer from RPAddiction. I love every minute of it!

    "You scream. I scream. We all scream 'cause we're terrified... Of what's around the corner."
    Spoiler: Yup yup 

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