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

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    Default [M] The Wizard Tower (Nymphadora and Headwrapper)

    Spoiler: Shen 



    Loud crackles echoed throughout the chamber as floating orbs that lines the ceiling were urged to life, revealing all that stood within. Shen stood in the very center in the training arena, one of the rare levels of the tower that had no interior walls, allowing one to see the gray stone of the outer walls wrap around them. After spending years within the tower, it was easy to forget how large it actually was. After a few seconds passed, the room suddenly began to feel crowded.

    Four large stone figures stood around the arena, creating a square formation around the lone mage. All four were identical, and depicted a knight on one knee, fully armored and planting his sword into the ground. Should the knight somehow actually stand on its feet, it would probably stand to be about ten feet tall. And that's what the figures began to do. As Shen watched, the still stones were suddenly brought to life, the stiff limbs beginning to move fluidly and with purpose. Dark red orbs where eyes would be underneath their stone helmets glowed brightly, eight harvest moons predicting the upcoming feast.

    Even as the creaking stones neared him, Shen appeared perfectly calm, as if this as all expected. He raised his arms in front of him, and then raised his hands up towards his face. He took a moment's pause to observe the objects on his wrists. White, irregular stones, with holes carefully pierced through them, and a thread woven through them to create some sort of bracelets. His precious Extract, the very magical essence that allowed magic users to command their powers without causing detriment to themselves. What he had would be enough for this task.

    The stone knights approached rather slowly, hindered by their own weight. They walked in unison, each step creating loud shockwaves as four large feet slammed into the floor. The task at hand was simple, Shen knew. All that was required was to demobilize the golems, and to do so, he would need to create some distance. One swing of those large stone swords would injure him. Indeed, only a student of his caliber would be considered to take this challenge.

    Quick to follow with his plans, Shen quickly bolted towards one of the golems. As he approached, the stone titan raised its long sword and brought it crashing down towards its small human opponent. Shen was quick to dodge, leaping towards the opposite side of the golem. His leap seemed to carry him in a wide arc around the golem, and he soared around it, like a raptor circling its prey. As he did so, one of the beads of extract around his wrist began to grow smaller.

    Shen landed confidently behind the golem. Now that he was no longer surrounded, he knew the rest would be simple. He continued to move backwards, watching the golems follow him. His back nearly hit a wall when the golems were finally marching single file towards him. The perfect set up. He pushed off the wall and ran head-on towards the golems, swiping to one side as he neared the first one like he did before. He completely circled around the golem, then circled the one behind and, and continued likewise. As he used his magic to weave in and out of the line of golems, the speed in which he circled them and his altitude increased. When he finally circled the fourth golem, his body seemed to be flung behind it, putting him at head-level of the golems and soaring away from them. White lights glowed from both of the man's palms as he soared backwards, and with a loud yell he slammed his wrists together. The white lights joined together, letting out large flash before a torrent of water seemed to jet out of Shen's palms. The blast of water nailed the back of the rearmost golem like a spear, knocking it forward. The golem collapsed on the one in front of it, which created a chain reaction of golems falling on their partner in front of them, until all four were rendered to mostly dust and broken pieces.

    Shen tucked in his stomach as he fell to the ground. He landed on his feet, his momentum forcing him to run a few steps so that he would not fall over. He glanced back at the Extract on his right wrist. It was almost completely gone, save but maybe a fourth of it. The Extract on his other wrist remained completely intact. Without much left to do, the man made his way to a square marble slab that sat in one corner of the room. Once he stood on it, the marble began to glow with a faint blue light, and began to hover upwards through a hole in the ceiling above.

    When the lift had reached its destination, Shen found himself in a room with a robed wizard, the golem master who put together his little trial, and another student, named Wren. The golem master finished writing some notes before standing to face Shen. "Good work, it isn't often that students manage to clear four golems with only Extract and nothing else. It is good to see that even though combat magic has grown out of favor with most students, there is still good talent who wishes to specialize in the field."

    Shen nodded towards the instructor, using his shirt to wipe away sweat from his dust-covered face. "Thank you, professor. You are posting the grades tomorrow?" The instructor gave him a nod, with which Shen returned before turning back to the marble elevator that would be his exit. He paused when an exclamation came from behind him.

    "What, you don't want to watch my turn, Shen? You're not scared I'll upstage you, are you?" The other student, Wren, seemed to sneer as his eyes squinted beneath his bright orange bangs. The boy always seemed to fancy himself as a rival of some sort, but Shen just never saw it. There really was no competition between them, even though they both trained since they were freshly grown men.

    Shen shook his head. "I need to eat. Besides, watching you is boring." With a shrug, he activated the marble lift, which elevated him to a different level of the tower. He planned to make his way towards the kitchens and acquiring some food before returning to his chambers to bathe.

    The kings all hate the ace.

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    Spoiler: Khaalida Verdani 


    "Khal, are you even listening to me?" she just barely heard Alameth's voice break through her thoughts as she stared out the window of the second library. But she ignored him as she watched a few brightly colored birds skim over the tree tops.

    "Dani!" Alameth's tone was louder this time. She turned to look at him with a half-hearted scowl.

    "I hate that name," she mumbled.

    "Got your attention though, didn't it?" Alameth grinned to himself satisfactorily. "So, if you mix corniss root, with ginger and fae's breath, what would you end up with?" He repeated the question that she assumed she had dazed off for the first time.

    "A really strong smelling pouch of sand?" she folded her arms and leaned back, her eyes took in Alameth's appearance for the first time that morning. She'd been too tired to really observe anything earlier, but now she could see that he had circles under his eyes, and the blue in them was duller than usual. Her gaze moved to the small extract stones that adorned his ears and she could see a few of them were depleted. His usually combed, swooping blonde hair was now tousled and unkempt.

    "You had an episode last night, didn't you?" she inquired. He flinched inwardly and that confirmed it to her. "Why didn't you tell me?"

    "Because, it happens. You don't need to worry about it every time it happens," he sighed.

    "Fine," Khaalida narrowed her eyes. "Then I won't bother to worry you about it next time it happens to me," she threatened.

    Alameth shook his head slowly. "It's different for you. Depending on what emotion you're feeling, you could kill someone. Or yourself."

    "So? You still deserve to have someone there to help you feel calmer. Safer." She shot back at him and he sighed again.

    "Fine. I'm sorry I kept it from you. But I don't see the reason both of us should lose sleep over it." Then he pointed at the book in front of him, "You get Shaw's Dust from mixing those three things together by the way," he forced the conversation to an end by going back to studying. "Which you can do what with?"

    "Alameth... Alchemy and potion stuff and all this concoction mixing excitement is your thing. Not mine," she groaned.

    "You still need a basic understanding in order to pass so you can be marked up."

    "For what?" she asked in exasperation.

    "Pardon me?" He asked, lifting an eyebrow.

    "Why do we need to learn all this stuff if we never even get to use it?"

    Alameth looked completely lost. "So we can help teach and train the next generation of mages..." he offered.

    "Why? So they can also NOT use what they've learned to do anything interesting with their lives?"

    "Well, because we-" he didn't get to finish because Khaalida cut him off.

    "We live our entire lives in this tower, learn, practice, learn some more, study on and on and on and on... For what? So we can pass it on to younger mages who will just end up living and dying in this tower just like us? There's no legacy there. We'll just end up being forgotten and nothing will come of our names." This wasn't the first time she had breached this subject. But she was always careful about whom she opened it up to. Some of the higher-ups would view it as a disregard for their way of life, and the penalties for that weren't desirable.

    Alameth was one of the only two people she trusted enough to open up to about this. Shen was the other, but he was busy taking some type of test for his specific abilities. She heard Alameth sigh as she had gone back to staring out the window.

    "Are you Scrying feelings right now?" Alameth asked quietly and she shook her head in response.

    "These are all my own," she mumbled softly.

    "What do you wish you could do? We rely on these mages to teach us. To help us progress. Not to mention the extract..."

    She chewed her lower lip, fighting the urge to lift her hand and touch the headpiece she wore with the extract stones threaded through and knotted in place across her forehead. That was where her magic originated, so the closer the extract to the source of the magic's origin, the better the control.

    "You know that leaving the tower is forbidden. Not because we're prisoners, but because it's dangerous out there for us. People's distrust of magic would keep us from living normal lives. Always hiding our talents and abilities. Here, we can practice freely. Without damnation."

    Khaalida knew what he was saying made sense, but it still didn't ease her inner turmoil. She just nodded, deciding it would be best to let the subject drop for now.

    "Look, we've been at this for a while. Why don't we go get something to eat? It's just about that time that the dough will be coming out of the ovens, fresh and hot."

    Khaalida finally looked back over at her friend and forced herself to smile. "Sounds good to me," she stood up in time with Alameth and they quietly left the library together. Khaalida's robes whooshed around her ankles as she walked side by side with Alameth. Her hood helped block her vision of the passerby's stares and scrutiny. The kitchens were two floors up from them so they didn't have too many stairs to traverse.

    "Shall we eat in here?" Alameth gestured around them as they walked through the dining hall. As usual when she would take the time to look around, Khaalida caught a few of the stares coming their way. She knew some of the mages and apprentices shared a common belief that Alameth's and her magic type were unpredictable and that they should be kept separate, but luckily the head mages didn't think so.

    There were only three known apprentices in the whole tower that had abilities that originated from their own minds. Alameth got visions. Confusing, emotional and usually full of death types of visions. He would forget them as soon as he came out of his episode though. He was trying to learn how to remember them. Has been for years. Khaalida deemed it hopeless. The only information you could glean from what he saw were the things he muttered during the vision. Which were usually incoherent babble or broken pieces of sayings or phrases.

    The third mage was new, she was still a child and all Khaalida knew of her power so far was that she could make people hear or see things that weren't actually there. As well as feel the emotions they felt while doing so.

    "Still with me?" She heard Alameth break through her thoughts again and she glanced over at him quickly, shooting him an apologetic look.

    "Yea, sorry. Yea, let's eat in here. It doesn't look too busy this morning."

    Alameth grinned and nodded as they walked through the door into the fragrant and warm kitchen. Khaalida took a deep breath in, savoring the smell before she allowed herself to start dipping into the food that was freshly laid out by the cooks and maids behind the counter.

    "Looks and smells amazing," Alameth beamed his compliment at the nearest chef who was placing a fresh portion of sausage on a serving tray. She grinned back at him.

    "Enjoy," she offered quickly before going back to her work. Khaalida watched as the woman adjusted the size of the flame she was using to cook on with her hands and she grinned.

    "Having an elemental ability would be so nice, wouldn't it?" she whispered to Alameth as they filled their plates. He followed her gaze to where the cook was clearly using her abilities to do her job and nodded.

    "Anything that didn't make us go a little crazy each time we tapped into it would be nice," he elbowed her arm softly and she nodded enthusiastically. She had just finished getting what she wanted and was waiting for Alameth to finish heaping his plates full of almost everything he could fit on it. As she stood by the door out to the dining room, she wondered briefly how Shen was fairing in his exam.

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

  3. #3
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    The blue glow of the marble lift dimmed away as Shen reached the level of the tower he intended to visit. It had brought him to an intersection where four hallways lead in all directions from where he was standing. Shen could just barely recall a time when such a sight was foreboding, almost terrifying. With no signs or other means for navigation within the tower, these long halls would prove nearly impossible to navigate for a stranger. Fortunately, those were not very common in such a place.

    Only a handful of apprentices wandered the halls at this hour. Most were either sleeping in, and the ones with the motivation to actually wake themselves were probably studying. Shen made his way straight down one of the halls, his pace brisk and purposeful. He hardly paid any heed for the students that might have been sharing the walking path, weaving himself around them quietly as he marched passed. His examination gear contrasted harshly with the robes the other apprentices wore. The slow moving students seemed to slowly glide down the halls, their robes flowing gently around them, while Shen was nearly racing along, his brown pants swishing and his the white sash he wore around his waist flapping behind him. His white shirt, slightly soaked with sweat from the morning's exam, had been lazily tucked back beneath the sash.

    Even the essence that the mage carried with him was starkly different from those of his counterpart's. While his was held together by simple thread, most of the others found more ornamental ways to carry their magical resources. They were stores in tiara's, earrings, encrusted onto the handles of weapons and wands, necklaces and amulets, the possibilities seemed infinite. Of course, what Shen carried was meant to only be functional for the physical examination he had just participated in. A way to strip away the decorative items wizards tended to carry so that the instructor could observe the pupil's abilities, unshadowed by fluff and distracting ornaments. Shen did have his own trinkets and the like that he stored his essence in for regular use, stored with the rest of regular attire in his chamber.

    The warm and welcoming smell of fresh baked bread, savory meats, and hot drinks indicated that he was finally nearing the kitchens that served the apprentices. Even if he would be hard pressed to admit it, Shen was thankful for the wizards and their apprentices that ran the kitchens. He knew that he himself would be a hopeless cook, and he would never want to take the time to learn anyway. As far as he was concerned, defeating an army of golems, goblins, imps, and underwater hydra would be easier.

    Upon finally entering the kitchen, Shen almost immediately noticed Khaalida and Alameth near the far side of the room, towards the exit. He was careful to avoid making eye contact, lest one of them notice him and invite him over. Although he did enjoy Khaalida's company most of the time- she was one of the few among his peers that could put up with his attitude- he did not have a real fondness for Alameth. He had no real reason to despise him, really, they just never got along. The pair were nearly inseparable though, thanks to their circumstances. Their powers were perplexing in many ways, and even some of the eldest members of the tower did not understand much of how they worked.

    There was no time to dwell on the topic, as it was time for Shen to load up on food and reward himself for yet another exam crushed. A familiar voice chirped up from behind the counter. "Well someone had a productive morning, huh?" Shen glanced up at the cook who addressed him, immediately recognizing Raisanna, an apprentice he once tutored in exchange for baked treats. Although that was years ago, the girl still regarded him as a friend of some sort, and Shen found her tolerable enough. If she ever needed help, she at least had the good will to offer more of her famous moonberry tarts in exchange, unlike most other people.

    "Uh, yeah," he replied, quickly reaching for two of the warm pastries the girl had just laid out. "Just another exam, that's all."

    The girl grinned. "Well, I'm sure you did great, Mr. Prodigy." She seemed to give him a once-over glance before turning to attend to a something else.

    Shen paused for a few seconds before continuing to to add food to his plate. When he was done, it had mostly contained sweets. He carried an assortment of fruits and berries, a couple pastries, and a small dollop of fluffy cream to enjoy it all with. Now time to head towards his room and have his blast of sugar in peace.

    The kings all hate the ace.

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    The food was amazing, as always. One of the very few perks of actually living here, stranded in this tower. She could feel that dark mood settling over her again slightly when Alameth's voice pulled her out of her own thoughts.

    "There goes the prodigal son..." He sounded completely exasperated and Khaalida raised an eyebrow and followed his gaze. She was walking out of the kitchens, his plate full of nothing but sweets it seemed. "...Strutting about like he owns the place." Alameth sighed.

    Khaalida shook her head, "I don't get the issues you guys have between each other."

    "He's rude, belittling and thinks he's far superior to everyone around him." Alameth shot at her.

    "I think you're thinking of Wren." She said softly as she watched Shen disappear through the door.

    "I don't understand why he's so skilled. I mean look! He doesn't even eat healthy. And even though he treats everyone around him like bugs, they all look up to him!"

    Khaalida grinned into her glass as she took a sip of the cider. "Sounds to me like you're jealous. Do you look up to him too?" She teased and he sent her a glare.

    "His magic abilities, yes. His people skills? Definitely not."

    "I think he's just a quiet, brooding type." Khaalida shrugged her shoulders. "Wren is the one who makes a show of his powers, brags about his latest feats and exams and such. I've known Shen a long time and he doesn't try to impress everyone around him. I think he just works to improve himself, like we all do."

    "I forget that you guys are actually friends." Alameth rolled his eyes. Khaalida grinned again as she looked at the now empty doorway that Shen had disappeared through.

    "Friends... right." She said softly. Where as she would consider Shen one of her friends, she had the sneaky suspicion that he only tolerated her company at times. She beamed a full smile at Alameth and stood up, "I'm going to go see how his exam went."

    Alameth frowned, "Flying colors, I'd assume." His grumbling voice was barely loud enough for Khaalida to hear it, but she patted his shoulder as she passed by.

    "Green doesn't look good on you bud." She snickered as he pushed her hand away.

    "I'm not jealous..." He murmured half-heartedly, but Khaalida was already walking away.

    She made it to the door, and immediately turned in the direction that would take her to where Shen's room was. She knew him enough to know where he'd be going. Just before she was about to pass the last intersection connecting four halls which turning right, she'd be in Shen's hallway, one of the apprentices who had clearly let her opinion about her's and Alameth's types of magic fell into step beside her. Khaalida flinched inwardly but forced a smile at Kyrenia.

    "Hello, Kyrenia." She said, forcing her voice to sound pleasant.

    "Just dropping by to ask you how your exam went today?" She smiled a big, toothy smile, but there was absolutely no friendliness in her eyes. Her fingers were combing through her auburn locks which fell over her shoulder, giving her too innocent of a look. She reached out and grabbed Khaalida's shoulder, pulling her to a stop beside a group of her closest friends.

    Khaalida forced herself not to cringe. Now she knew what Kyrenia's intentions were. It was to make a public humiliation of her. Or possibly even some type of point to convert others to perceive Alameth and her the way she viewed them. Taking a deep breath, Khaalida squared her shoulders.

    "No exam for me today," she said honestly and with a shrug.

    "But, everyone is being tested today." She gestured around her at her group of "followers" and they all nodded in agreement. "You getting special attention from the mages?" She tilted her head, a sly glint shimmered in her brown eyes.

    "Nope." Khaalida said simply, then gestured down the hallway in the direction she had been heading. "Now, if you'll please excuse me, I have a friend I wanted to see." she went to take a step but Kyrenia subtly blocked her.

    "Oh that's right, I almost forgot," the auburn haired girl began, and Khaalida narrowed her eyes slightly, knowing full well that she hadn't "almost forgotten" anything. "The mages won't force you to test your abilities because they're dangerous to those around you. How silly of me. So, how do you get graded on your performance?" She folded her arms.

    Khaalida glanced at the six apprentices that were grouped up behind Kyrenia and suppressed a sigh. They were all looking at her with interest to see how she'd respond. It hurt that some people thought she was actually dangerous to be around. And before she knew it, she heard herself denying that point. "My abilities aren't anymore dangerous than any of yours." Her voice was quiet and soft.

    Kyrenia scoffed and Khaalida's eyes shot back to meet her brown eyes. "At least we can control ours. I was there that day, you know?"

    Khaalida frowned. She knew exactly what day Kyrenia was talking about. She had been young; young enough not to have fully understood what exactly her powers could do to her, and she had pushed herself further than she ever had as she studied for her first exam. She had been trying to convince a spirit to possess the body of a suit of armor, for the practice, yes, but mostly just for laughs. But what she hadn't expected was connecting with a spirit that was full of blood lust and since she had let the barrier between her mind and the Veil dissipate for the time being, she was easily overcome with his emotions and lost herself in them. She had turned on the nearest person, which had been a fellow apprentice that was her age. The mage overseeing their class had pried her away just in time but that didn't stop Khaalida from turning her rage and the need to kill on the mage that was then restraining her.

    It had taken her four full days to come back to her senses, slamming the barrier up and doing what she could to protect herself from those hostile emotions. Since then, the mages hadn't asked her, or even encouraged her to use her abilities. Apprentices that were around at that time, left the room whenever she entered for a long time after that, and a few still did even now.

    "Hey, what's with the sad face? We at least know now and can protect ourselves accordingly..." Kyrenia's voice pulled Khaalida from her reverie and she met the girl's gaze, seeing the smug threat that lingered there.

    "I wouldn't-" Khaalida began to try to defend herself but Kyrenia cut her off one more time.

    "Even the mages know, that's why they don't test you. You're never going to be marked up to a mage. You've already been marked down as a menace."

    Khaalida was speechless. She had known that many of the mages and apprentices didn't fully understand her type of magic, but she hadn't known any of them were this opposed to it. She knew a few were slightly afraid, but she didn't know about the hatred. She had always been so confident in herself, and her ability to control her mind and protect it from the worst of instances since that one time. But seeing the hatred in Kyrenia's gaze made her usual strong resolve waver slightly.

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

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    Shen navigated his way back through the long, winding halls of the tower until he reached the door to his chambers. Some of the larger fruits and the pastries that were on his plate survived the plate, but most of the berries were not so lucky, plucked away by his impatient fingers before he popped them into his mouth during his journey. Once the prodigal apprentice halted in front of the tall, wooden door, a soft blue light glowed, pulsing through the trim that decorated the door, making them look like the small rivers of water that trickled down the sides of the tower just after a long rain.

    The tendrils of light all seemed to join together at a common point on the door, nearly eye level with Shen. The image of an eye, carved into the wood, began to glow with the light, and after a few seconds of radiating the blue glow suddenly flickered out. As it did, Shen could hear the locks suddenly come undone. He entered promptly.

    With a snap of his fingers, the candles placed throughout his room lit themselves, the small flames suddenly appearing and catching on the wicks. The room itself served to provide just enough room for Shen to relax and enjoy his privacy comfortably. The door he entered through put him just a step away from the wall on his right hand side. A wooden desk sat in the corner a few long paces ahead of him, with a matching chair. He hardly spent long hours at the desk, finding the chair unbearably uncomfortable after a while, and so it mostly served as a storage space for notes and books and as his personal dining table. Against the wall opposite to the door of the room was his bed, a few feet behind his chair. It stood rather low, the thick mattress hardly hovering a foot above the floor, but Shen preferred it to the taller bed he used to have. He only had his one pillow, but he did have a couple of extra blankets, all of which were strewn around the bed, or wedged between it and the wall.

    To the left of the entrance there was another doorway, that lead to Shen's own personal lavatory, which he was thankful for. While many apprentices had their own rooms and bathrooms, many had to go through a time where they were young or new to the tower and had to share such things with others. Shen was not exempt from this experience, and he knew he hated it. As if socializing with new people was not enough of a chore, he was also expected to wait his turn to bathe or relieve himself as well. A terrible experience indeed.

    As soon as Shen set his plate down on his desk, an annoyed expression crossed his face. "Oh... Damn." He tapped a knuckle against the wood before turning to exit the room. In his rush, he had forgotten to get something to drink. Maybe a nice warm greenberry tea or milk sweetened with rose honey would be just what he needed to start his morning off right. He quickly left, careful to make sure that his door locked behind him before hurrying his way back the way he came.

    He did not get very far before slowing to a stop, his path blocked by an annoyingly large group of people. Why would you stop to talk in the middle of a tiny hallway? Why would so many of you have to be in the same place at the same time? He clenched his teeth as he roughly approached one of the group. A man a bit taller than Shen but much rounder, with shortly cropped hair and a heavy chin which seemed to force him to keep his jaw slightly open, so a permanent stupid expression was on his face that likened to the stupid behemoth that he was.

    Just as he raised his hand to tap the goliath-boy's shoulder, Shen recognized Khaalida's voice, causing him to pause momentarily. His lips pursed together tightly, as he quietly listened to latter part of the exchange between Khaalida and Kyrenia. So that explained the circus pitching their tent in the middle of the hallway then, Kyrenia the ring leader and she brought along her knuckle-dragging apes and her clowns.

    Shen ground his teeth together as the conversation went on, finally drawing in a breath once Kyrenia had taken things too far. "You sure seem to know a lot more about what the mages think than I do. But I guess they talk a lot in their sleep, don't they?" His dark eyes flickered from one person to the next as they turned to face him, finally stopping to consider Kyrenia herself. "I figured you frequent their beds so often, you might h-"

    "Shut up!" Kyrenia shrieked, her fists clenched into tight pale balls. "That's not even true! Don't even say things like that!"

    "Oh we're supposed to be speaking the truth now?" Shen sighed. "Since last I checked, Khaalida here is just as eligible for magehood as any of us, should she actually put her mind to it for once." He could sense Kyrenia's sheep stir slightly at his words, but he was not sure what they were thinking.

    "Do you really think they would really risk ascending her to their ranks? Of course she can't ever be a mage. How could someone like you even think it's possible? You know she would just get everyone killed!"

    Shen scowled as he folded his arms. He was surprised how much of a rise he had gotten out of the woman. A simple taunt and she went from being a deliberate and thorough bully to nothing but a loud mouth. "Well, she has better odds than Slackjaw over here." He pointed towards the larger apprentice who had been a part of Kyrenia's group. When the behemoth's eyebrows furrowed in apparent anger, Shen raised his eyebrows, as if surprised by the sudden challenge. Nothing came of it though, as the "Slackjaw" merely continued to look at him angrily without really acting on his anger.

    Finally, Kyrenia let out an angry huff. "You are the worst. And I thought you were supposed to be smart. As if. Come on everyone." She lowered here head angrily as she marched off, her small posse following suit.

    After Shen watched the circus leave, he finally glanced over to Khaalida for the first time during the entire exchange. His expression was stoic as he scanned her face. He almost felt angry at her for letting herself get caught off guard like she did, for not being able to defend herself, but he knew that was such a petty way of thinking. After a silent moment, he let out a heavy sigh as he began to turn back towards his room. "I'm not even thirsty any more..."

    The kings all hate the ace.

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    Khaalida's eyes widened when Shen's voice entered the fray and her eyes cast around immediately, looking for him. She found him as the cluster of Kyrenia's followers parted, seemingly to make way for the drama they probably hoped would ensue.

    Relief surged through her at the sight of him, but at the same time, a slight sense of unease did too. She was wondering how much he'd heard and if this was going to lead him into one of his, "you're not living up to your potential" lectures. Khaalida knew that his abilities and skills were in a whole other league than her own, but somehow that didn't stop him from defending her. Her eyes widened at the accusations he threw at Kyrenia, but at the auburn haired girl's reaction, Khaalida had to stifle a snicker.

    Even with his accusations and insults, no one dared challenge him. Even though he was outnumbered, they all backed down from his voice like cowering dogs. Trying to save face, Kyrenia shot out a feeble attempt at an insult his way and spun around to walk away, but not before she sent one more glare Khaalida's way.

    With Shen nearby, Khaalida was feeling a lot less vulnerable and she met Kyrenia's glare with defiance. The girl just scowled and hurried along with her cronies in tow. Khaalida watched them bustle down the hallway and finally out of sight.

    Once they were gone, she smiled and turned her attention back to Shen whom it seemed was watching her quietly. Her smile dimmed just a tiny bit as she caught the look on his face. She was about to speak when he sighed, muttering about how he wasn't thirsty anymore and she clamped her mouth shut, watching as he turned his back on her and began to walk away.

    Khaalida watched him take a few steps and then her senses kicked in again and she grinned, jogging forward and falling into step beside him. She knew the last thing she wanted to do was thank him for coming to her rescue, because that would ensure one of those aforementioned lectures that she despised. Instead, she chose her words to be on the light and flaky side.

    "Did you see the look on their faces? Totally awesome," she laughed softly at the memory and then glanced up at him. His shirt looked dirty like he'd been rolling around in dirt and she cocked her head. "How was your exam? Easy like usual?" she asked both to divert the conversation and because she was genuinely interested.

    "Wren was in the library at the crack of dawn boasting about how he knew the exact way to outdo you this time. I told him to shut up because his big ego wasn't something he should be using to compensate for other little things." Khaalida snickered again after that comment just as they reached Shen's room.
    Last edited by Nymphadora; 12-06-2017 at 06:04 AM.

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

  7. #7
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    Shen continued to frown as Khaalida laughed about the little conflict from earlier. It should not have to be his job to remind other people of their inferiority, but they always insisted on being stupid. Still, it felt good knowing that many of the other apprentices did not question him. It would not bode well for them to be on his bad side once he ascended to complete magehood, and even beyond. No, it was better to respect him now while he was still an apprentice, and hope that he would return the favor when he inevitably outranked them.

    "The exam went well," he said softly, allowing Khaalida to move the conversation towards a different topic. "Four golems. We were meant to choose a single form of aid, such as a weapon or potion or familiar, but I decided to go in with extract and skipped the aid altogether. The golem master was quite impressed, I think." He couldn't help but burst out laughing when Khaalida described her morning exchange with Wren. "Oh no, that poor fella." His hand slid down his own face as he tried to calm himself. "I wish I knew that you said that, I might have been a little bit nicer to him this morning. He seemed pretty eager to try out whatever he had in mind and I kinda blew him off."

    When he reached his room, the door unlocked the same way it had before, and he slowly stepped inside. He glanced back towards his friend, stopping to hold the door open. Even if he did want some alone time, he knew that she would hardly give him a choice and force her way into his room anyway. Once they were both inside, he made sure the door closed all the way behind them before returning to the food he had left on his desk. He picked up his plate and sat on the edge of his low-standing bed, sprawling his legs out in front of him. He picked up a redberry from his plate, then motioned towards the single chair for Khaalida to sit in if she wished, and then dropped the berry in his mouth.

    He spent the next few moments slowly peeling the skin away from his banana, then spent another few seconds observing it idly. "Khal, you know people wouldn't have the guts to say the things Kyrenia was saying if you just proved you were better at magic than them. Or even just better at potion making or crafting incense. Head Apothecary Deliah is well respected across towers all around the world you know. Healing people and helping strengthen those who were injured and stuff. If you wanted help studying I can always help, you know."

    He took a bite out of his banana before looking back towards Khaalida. He knew most of what he was saying was pretty much pointless, he had made similar pleas countless times already, each attempt crafted differently to try to entice her into finding a study to be passionate about. She just never seemed to have the same drive he did to prove himself to his mentors, peers, and self.

    The kings all hate the ace.

  8. #8
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    "Meh, he'll live. Unfortunately," Khaalida joked in an off-handed manner before she smiled up at Shen as he held the door open for her. She wanted to make a snide remark about chivalry and such but she bit her tongue as she strolled past him and into his chamber. She stood in the middle of the room, taking in the sight she'd seen countless times. Like her own lodgings, it hadn't changed much in decoration. But that could very well be due to the mage's and their ideals about how worldly and materialistic items are just a cause for distraction.

    She spun slowly and watched as Shen picked up his food and proceeded to move across the room to sit on his bed. When he motioned to the chair, she nodded in response, but chose to move closer to the window instead. The view of the outside world always fascinated her, and soon... Soon she'd be able to return to it. She was thinking of all the new opportunities and possibilities that would open up to her and the corners of her mouth twitched upwards slightly, the ghost of a smile flashing across her features.

    Sure, there would be things she missed about this life, the free meals, her friends and... Nope, nevermind, that was it. But, she knew how to cook, that wouldn't be an issue. It would just be leaving Alameth and Shen behind that would cause her pain. But, she'd move ahead. There was no way she could ask either of them to leave the Tower with her. Ask them to give up their safe lives, all the knowledge they could and would gain from the mages and all they could aspire to be here. It was forbidden for apprentices and most mages to leave and seek another life. And once you did, there was no going back to your previous one.

    She had come to terms with this a long time ago. Yet she still planned on making that decision. Shen's voice, though soft as it was, made her jump slightly as she was jolted back to reality and she turned her head, listening to what he had to say. She smiled softly and shook her head inwardly. She knew it bothered him that she didn't work as hard as he did to prove herself, but she just didn't have any interest in proving herself or her abilities to anyone. She knew what she was capable of. Good and bad. That was why she had the confidence to go through with her plan to leave the tower.

    Her choice to start anew was the main reason she told herself that she didn't care to prove herself to anyone. Why should she care what people who won't ever see her again think. The fact that she knew some of the apprentices here truly feared her had given her pause though, she hadn't wanted anyone to remember her for that reason. If they had seen her as lazy, unmotivated or even just as a slacker in general, she would have been fine with that. But fear... She didn't think there was a way to remedy that.

    She kept all these thoughts to herself and just played off what Shen said with a playfully sarcastic laugh as she thought about Deliah, "And she damn well ensures that nobody forgets that little fact either. If your head ever gets that big, I'm going to pop it with a really big needle." She turned to face him completely now, smiling as she gestured with her hands how big of a needle she was planning on using.

    Still, the fact that he had offered to help warmed her heart. She knew how he felt about other's weaknesses. If they didn't work to improve them, they weren't worth his time. Yet here he was, trying to motivate her again for probably the millionth time. Anyone else probably would have been deemed worthless and he wouldn't waste his time with them any further. She knew excuses didn't work on Shen. She had stopped using that route to avoid his lectures a long time ago.

    She sighed and moved forward, sitting on the chair he had motioned to when they'd first arrived and tilted her head. "I could have mowed down two or three of those useless milk drinkers before they saw it coming. But what would have been the point? They would have just used it as ammo against me later. I know I have skill, but I just don't ever feel the need to show it off to those people." Only a few of the mages knew about her second ability as did Shen and Alameth. She couldn't remember ever using it in front of Shen, but she knew she had told him about it. Physically, Khaalida could probably take on every apprentice in this tower, aside from some of the ones that also had some type of hands-on combat magic. After all, a dagger, summoned even by the strongest of spells is useless unless the user can actually wield it.

    "Our magic would be of more use elsewhere," she murmured quietly as a side note, standing back up and walking back over to the window, her arms crossed in front of her chest.

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

  9. #9
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    Shen took another large bite out of his banana as he listened to Khaalida speak. She was right about being able to take down a good number of the apprentices that were bothering her earlier if she had wanted to. Honestly, he would have preferred if she had. If he had been in her position, and was not burdened with the prospect of an early magehood and a good standing in the rankings, he could not have seen a reason not to rough some people up a little bit. It would hardly be the first time apprentices had squabbled among themselves. Punishments for such activities were hardly severe unless real damage or injury was caused.

    He set the leftover banana peel back on his plate, finally moving on to the two pastries that lay in one corner of the plate atop one another. The warm crust encircled an ocean of a deep blue, fruity, filling, and was lightly dusted with powdery sugar. He considered offering one of them to his guest, but if she wanted one she would have taken it off of his plate already. Besides, she ate already anyway, she's fine. A gentle hand raised the pastries to his lips, taking a smell of the warm pastry before taking a slow bite. If only Khaalida would find a way to use her powers to make delicious treats like Raisanna could.

    He pushed himself back further onto his bed, so that his back could be against the wall. Just as he went to take another satisfying bite of his sweet breakfast, he glanced over to his friend, who was returning to the window she kept staring out of. "More useful how?" he asked, pulling his legs in and crossing them beneath his plate. He licked the powdered sugar off of his lips. "Scaring people? Breaking things? Fighting wars? That's all magic was ever used for in the days before the towers. Even the sickest people refuse to seek help from our healers and even in the driest droughts they refuse to ask for one of us to summon water. What exactly would we be doing out there?"

    The idea was something he had considered before. Hell, maybe everyone who has ever lived in a wizard tower though about being able to use their magic elsewhere. Maybe to help people, maybe for other reasons, but the truth of the matter was always that there would be little tolerance or friendliness for mages trying to make it outside. Of course, the mages and elders may have exaggerated this point to make the towers seem like the only safe haven for those with magical abilities, but there was still some truth to it. There is little left of what were known by outsiders as the Dark Days, when mages freely roamed the lands, unhinged. What is known was that it was nothing but a time of fear and cruelty, and that those days only came to an end once the majority of mages were holed up in their towers.

    To that end, the people of the Great Kingdoms refused to ever begin accepting magecraft as anything but unnatural and malicious. As far as they knew, the fear and harm that could come from magic was too great. Even in times of need they refused the help of wizards and mages, and as generations went by, magecraft became more and more isolated. The elders of the towers eventually decided that their mages and apprentices were to abstain from intervening with the qualms of normal men entirely, and that their focus from then on was to pass down their magehood for generations to come, ensuring that if a great calamity should ever strike the world again that only the mages, who were superior and more fit to survive, would live on.

    Shen knew all of this. He knew that Khaalida knew all of this. If she had it bad in the tower, what did she think it would be like anywhere else? Who knows how mages without faction managed to survive. Did they keep their magic a secret? Did they live in isolation? Did they need to constantly face the incessant murmurings of those who feared them, all because they could not understand the workings of magecraft?

    His head struggled to wrap around the concept of the world outside. If there was anything that Shen knew nothing about, it was how life outside the towers existed. His whole life had basically been in the tower, and the few times he did travel it was done through the teleportation circle on the highest floor, which only lead him directly to other towers and required an elder to be present. Even those times were rare, and were only for participating in very particular exams. Sometimes he forgot that Khaalida once had a life outside, an experience that he struggled to sympathize with.

    The kings all hate the ace.

  10. #10
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    "At least it was actually used and not just practiced." Khaalida mumbled quietly as she tried to focus her thoughts. She slid her hands into the ends of both of her sleeves, grasping her forearms in both of her hands as she usually did when she was holding back her emotions. She took a deep breath before looking back at Shen.

    "The mages view themselves and us apprentices as superior to the normal, non-magical folk, and at one point in time, I used to see the reason for it, but really... How are we superior when it was mages and magic folk that gave the people reason to be scared? Not all of them did, obviously. But fear, unbridled and untreated makes people do and think things that wouldn't normally ever cross their minds. And what did the mages do? Instead of working to protect the humans from the rogue mages, they chose instead to isolate themselves and free themselves from the scorn of the world around them. Leaving the humans to fend for themselves against foes that they couldn't possibly beat...

    "That seems like a pretty cowardly thing to do in my book. Are we really superior? Or are we just greedy and egotistical?" Khaalida kept her voice soft through her whole spiel, trying to keep herself calm. She knew she could get over-bearing sometimes when it came to things she was passionate about. If it wasn't so real to her, she'd find it quite comical. Shen is always trying to get her to be passionate about something, preferably magic related where she could lose herself in improving herself, but what she was actually passionate about was something he just didn't seem to understand or agree with her on.

    "The humans are always going to fear us, because we give them no reason not to. They remember the Dark ages through oral traditions mostly, many of them not having scholars whom are unbiased or the ability to read for themselves. So the tales become those of nightmares and ways to frighten children into making sure they're home before evening falls." Khaalida looked back away from Shen, out the window as she remembered some of those "warnings" that her mother used to tell her. Before Khaalida herself, had started showing signs of being magical, her mother had feared magic more than most of the villagers she could remember. Her father though, had always been intrigued with it. As he had been with power too. He had always hated the royals and their vassals, the lords and ladies of the houses that ruled the land. He had hated them, Khaalida came to realize, because he envied them. He knew that they had something that his birthright would never allot him with.

    Khaalida clenched her teeth as she came back to the present, pushing her murderous father from her mind. "We scorn the humans for hating us for what they don't understand. Yet, proof was just out there in the hallway that many of "us" do the same thing when we're faced with something we don't understand," she whispered, thinking back on how Kyrenia had treated her, and the anger and fear she had seen in some of the other apprentice's eyes. Truth was, Khaalida believed that there wasn't really a place for herself in the tower. Not like there was for Shen. All of the mages either loved him or respected him. They were all proud of him. He had a bright future ahead of him, ascending to magehood younger than most apprentices could ever dream of.

    Even Kyrenia, though older than both Shen and herself, was going to be ascending magehood soon, with high regards from many of the mages. She was going to be drafted to another Wizard tower, farther off to the South, to help the apprentices there with elemancy. Seeing as she had some control over four of the five main elements.

    Khaalida turned back to look at her friend, smiling suddenly, to ward off the heaviness she felt she had descended upon them. She tilted her head playfully and leaned forward slightly, pointing to her upper lip, "You've got a little something, just there." She snickered as she pointed out the powder on Shen's lip from his pastry. "You and your sweets..." She trailed off with a smile, moving to sit back down.

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

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