Chloe opened her eyes, then quickly closed them again, cursing quietly to herself.
“You would think a countess could get a room without an eastern facing window wouldn’t you” Chloe muttered as she stumbled out of bed, squinting into the glare.
Ash opened one eye as Chloe started pulling a clean robe and undergarments out from the chest at the end of the bed.
“Sticklers for the rules here are they?”
“Possibly” came the muffled response as the nightgown came off “I honestly can’t decide whether it’s because I am from Telkirin, the kingdom has not been making itself very popular with its neighbors after all, or if they are just that wedded to their room lottery”
With her robe on a quick tug of air magic brought her wand belt flying to her hand and with a click, it was fashioned around her waist. She indulged in a little spin to get her Cloak on and settled, then smiled as she started to cast an air spell.
As much as she loved the feeling of flying through the sky or the challenge of learning a new war spell, this spell might be the most useful on a daily basis. Air rushed around her head as she started to cast and soon every hair on her head was sticking straight out and some air separated every single hair, then air rushed down them all, taking any grime along with it, finally she gave the spell one of the five endings she had practiced, setting her hair into one of her five favorite styles. Today she decided to go with the simple, though elegant, option of just having her long, straight, hair flow straight down her back.
With that out of the way she walked over to her desk and guiltily put her hat on, it might not make up for yesterday but at least it was something. As the hat came off the desk her small shrine was revealed. It was not much of a shrine, but it was what she took with her when she was away from the castle.
Centered at the back of her desk was a round piece of black velvet, a candle sitting on either edge of it. In between these candles sat three small figurines. The one on the left was Evara, goddess of magic. In the center was Silmesh, goddess of the home and family, as well as the closely connected domains of love and protection. On the right was Shirina, goddess of the night and of logic and intellect.
She offered up three quick prayers. First, she thanked Evara for any help she had given her with summoning spell she had used yesterday and asked that she would continue to aid and guide her in her study of magic. Then she asked Silmesh to watch over and protect those she loved, who were back home. Finally, she asked Shirina to help guide her through the choices in the coming day and to prevent Shirina’s twin brother, Celios, from guiding her choices.
With that out of the way, Chloe turned around, then jerked back as she saw Ash, in her human form, standing directly behind her.
“I thought you wanted to continue to play the goat?” Chloe asked through their link.
“It’s time for breakfast isn’t it?” Ash responded, completely ignoring the question.
Chloe growled as she passed by Ash. Just as she was opening the door Ash slipped between it and the wall, and with a sigh Chloe simply walked through, leaving the door open. She looked back when she heard the door close and watched Ash, once again in her goat form, walk up and fall in beside her.
“That door opens inwards and you don’t have any hands, how?
The only response she got was an amused snort over the mental link.
Once Chloe arrived in the dining hall she stood in line and desperately tried to look anywhere but at Ash carefully positioning her mouth so as that the student in front of her would not even notice when a bite was taken out of their cloak. Suddenly she smiled as she read one of the newly posted notices.
“Ash, can we talk?”
“Sure, what about?” Came a remarkably guilt free reply, considering the hole a certain robe now had and the contented chewing noises Chloe could hear coming from beside her.
“Good, in that case, we are free to skip the first class of the days”
She breathed a quiet sigh of relief as the boy in front of her got his food and went to his table, never even glancing at her. As she took her food and managed to once again find an unoccupied table she considered what she would do with her free time.
“Ash, do you mind if we go back to my room once I’m done with breakfast?”
“What will we be doing?” came the immediate reply
“I will be working on a wand that’s been sitting, unfinished, for too long. The day before yesterday I finally cracked the spell I intended to embed in it and I think I should be able to embed at least the first charge in the time we have. As for you, well you could do whatever you wanted, I could even let you out of the castle and then work alone if you want.”
“No, I think I will stay with you for now”
The rest of the meal passed in silence, even when Chloe decided that she would once again take advantage of the convenient footrest.
Once they made it back to the door to their room Chloe stood aside and looked at Ash. Ash stared back at her. With a sigh, Chloe gave up and opened the door, walked in with Ash, then closed it herself.
As she sat down in front of her desk she turned her head, asking “So what are you going to do while” only to break off when she saw Ash, now in human form, sitting on her bed with two of the books from her shelves. “Ah, so that’s what.” she answered quietly.
“So, tell me,” Ash asked, “What’s the spell you are putting in the wand”
“Actually, that’s an interesting question, this is a reconstruction of a spell that the air mages of Inervast used. With the fall of Inervast this spell seems to have been forgotten. When I realized that the terms, empty gale, hollow explosion, and Midrell’s air blast, all referred to the same spell I was able to combine the descriptions of the spells and figure out how to cast it. The idea of removing all the air from a sphere isn’t a new one, air witches and wizards use it all the time, but the power requirements needed to keep a wall of hardened air intact around it are far too high for a mage, and that’s what’s so ingenious about this spell. You see instead of creating a solid wall around the sphere you effectively combining it with a second spell that makes any air near the sphere simply want to float around it.”
“Clever spell, so what are you calling it?”
Chloe ground her teeth silently for a moment before finally Growling “I’ll think if something.”
Embedding the gems in the wand and linking them with the proper patterns of silver took longer than Chloe would have preferred, and by the time the first spell was embedded the period was almost over.
Chloe was sitting back in her chair, feeling quite pleased with herself, when she heard more noise in the hall then was normal for the time of day. With nothing else to override her curiosity she opened her door a crack and peeked into the hall.
There were six people in the hall, well five and a large dog. Four of them were instructors, two standing in front and two standing behind the Girl and dog. All of the instructors were at least an arm’s length away from the girl. The girl, well small woman Chloe corrected herself, considering the age requirements to enter the academy, had a couple of birds on her shoulders. Chloe was barely able to suppress a twitch when she realized both of the birds were skeletons.
Curiosity peeked, Chloe cast an air spell, this one was a subtle one, it affected an area far enough from the people that their personal wards should not notice it, and then brought all the sound that traveled through that area directly to her ears.
“So, we would appreciate it if you would tell us what you feel inside the room.” One of the instructors was saying.
“Certainly” came the soft-voiced reply.
The soft-voiced woman opened the door and disappeared inside, reappearing a minute later.
“I can guarantee that nobody died in that room recently, unless another necromancer, or a member of Zalane’s priesthood, has been here between the time of death and my arrival.” The necromancer’s words held absolute confidence.
“Well that is a relief.” one of the instructors said to another “But it certainly leaves us with a mystery. He was definitely in his room when he closed the door last night and neither it nor the window opened between then and when we came to check on why he had not left his room today. It's not like he was a spatial mage or anything.”
“Yes, well” the other instructor replied, “Better a mystery than a death, mysteries are easier to fix after all.”
The instructor who had been explaining the situation to the Necromancer earlier sighed “Thank you for your help Eloise, and I would appreciate it if you would keep this to yourself for the time being”
“Not a problem” Eloise replied, then turn and left the hall. Chloe noticed that the two instructors Eloise had to pass in order to leave the hall both moved slightly so they would be more than an arm’s reach away from Eloise at all times.
Chloe closed her door and turned towards her clothes chest. It was only when she saw Ash sitting on her bed that she realized, the room they had all been in front of was the one that belonged to the boy Ash had reacted to last night.
“Ash, you wouldn’t have anything to do with that disappearance, would you?”
“I’m hurt you could even suggest such a thing” Ash replied, amusement dripping from her words
Ash sighed and placed her hand over her heart “I swear I did nothing wrong last night”
“Thank you” Chloe replied gently
Opening her chest, she pulled out a pair of long cloth gloves and put them on.
“Time for class” she announced and walked out.
Once again, she heard the door close behind her and Ash in goat form walked up beside her. By the time they arrived in the courtyard this class was to take place in Chloe’s hand was resting on Ash’s head.
Chloe scanned the courtyard while she waited for the teacher to arrive and smiled when she heard what the instructor had to say first.
“Now for today's class, you will need to form pairs.”
As soon as the words were out of the instructor’s mouth Chloe set off for an isolated corner. Standing in the corner, clearly hunched in on herself and well away from any other students, was Eloise.
Chloe extended a gloved hand and asked “Eloise, would you mind terribly if I asked you to be my partner for this class”