Chapter 2 - Wind Light
"Geez, how long are you going to sleep for?"
Seti blinked his sleep away and looked around to check his surroundings. Or tried to at least.
"What time is it?" He asked. It was still pitch black out.
"Tut tut tut." Running dishwater and dishes clanking against one another rang in his ears. "It's ten, you lazy bum."
He rubbed his eyes and rolled his shoulders. Sleeping on the couch always made him sore in several spots. "Did you sleep over?" He sat up to try to give another glance around the room only to realize that it was still pitch black. Odd. His window curtains weren't good enough to block out the sun. But not only that, even the room itself was dark. He couldn't see the digital clock across the room. "Ten? AM or PM?"
"Are you sure you graduated?"
Seti felt his heartbeat in his ear. It didn't matter if it was in the morning or at night, Seti should have been able to see something. He felt around his face. There had to be something there. A contraption, or a mask, or anything!
He steadied his breath and slowly stood to his feet. "What's going on?" He blinked rapidly, as if it would reset his sight.
"I'm washing your dishes. You should consider getting paper plates. What are you doing?" She asked.
Seti reached out as far as he could and took a step forward. His lower leg hit the edge of the table. He bent down and felt the edges but still could see nothing.
"Hmm." He stood straight again and felt around his eyes, expecting to feel something unusual. He was no expert in eye biology but didn't notice anything out of place. "Hmm. I can't see anything."
Footsteps approached until they were next to him. Seti felt the passing of air in front of his face. Likely Sydria waving her hand around.
"This is a pretty good prank," Seti said, "I'll be honest and say you got me this time."
She didn't respond. A moment later she clapped once in front of his face.
"Not even a blink. You really can't see?" Sydria asked.
"I'm calling dad. You know what'll happen if you're lying."
"Don't call him, idiot." He snapped. "He doesn't need to know about this."
"What do I do, then?"
Seti used his hand to propel wind at his face. He breathed it in and calmed himself. What, indeed? He was blind, though he didn't know how. As he inhaled and exhaled he realized it didn't matter how. Restoring sight wasn't a problem.
"We have one of those doctor's offices here, just bring me there and we'll see if it's not something in the ice cream," he joked, now having felt bad for lashing out at her.
"Ice cream doesn't make people blind, you dolt." She went to grab his shoes and placed them at his feet. "That's the left foot one. No, your other left—okay, I lied the first time."
When done, she took his arm and led him through the door, briefly grumbling when noticing that Best was crossed out on Best Sister Visiting.
Seti wasn't worried. If it was a tumor or something else a medical mage could easily remedy it. They were good enough that diseases and sicknesses weren't a problem in the world. Research theorized what the world would have been like if diseases ran rampant. More than one horror story made use of that line of thought.
After a time it became apparent how his directions to Sydria weren't really getting them where they needed to go. It was much harder to explain when he couldn't see his surroundings. In the end, she decided to not use his memory and opted for signs and the occasional question to the nearest person.
"You remember what mom says about vivamancers?" Sydria asked. She was confident in knowing the directions now.
"She's paranoid about everything," Seti said. "To her, we're just one step away from the end of the world."
"You aren't scared that they'll mess with your brain and change your personality or anything?"
"Highly illegal. Stop worrying."
Seti knew his mother's concerns about the topic. A medical mage had access to a person's physiology, able to heal wounds, but they could also create certain wounds. That included changes to the mind. Not a real concern; a person could also take a knife and murder people, but it wasn't something to live in fear with.
When Sydria led him through a doorway the medicinal smell reached him; they had arrived.
"Hello." A woman's voice. "Seti, you aren't one to visit. Or are you the injured person?"
The woman, likely behind the counter that he remembered should be there, knew his name. That meant he should know her, yet he couldn't place a name to the voice. If he had his sight he would know immediately.
"He's injured," Sydria answered for him. "Some of them are because he was dropped shortly after birth; beyond healer capabilities. Even the divine couldn't heal him. New symptoms might be curable, though."
Seti gave his best half-smile in the general direction of where the woman should have been. He realized she was no longer there when she spoke.
"Poor eyesight?" She asked from his left. He hadn't heard her move. "You got into a fight with Aiden yesterday, didn't you? Is this from that?"
Now he knew who she was. Cassie the undergraduate. From what he could remember she was a black girl who often tied her hair into a ponytail. She was an adept medical mage attempting to have a profession in her arts. Tier three, if he recalled correctly.
"You got into a fight?" Sydria said, sounding unnaturally proud.
"We didn't fight," Seti said. "He got angry and smashed a table."
"Tut tut tut. You can't see me right now but you should know that I'm disappointed."
He ignored her. "I never got touched. Besides, my eyes worked fine last night and now I can't see anything. How did you even know we clashed?"
"Please don't say clashed when you did nothing that amazing," Sydria said.
"Because he told me." Cassie took his arm. "Come; let me bring you into one of our rooms."
A moment later she directed him to sit on a bed. Sydria commented on the nude posters once the door closed, though Seti figured they were medical charts.
Cassie told him that she intended to look at his eyes. Latex gloves snapped on and his eyes pried open, she clicked on a flashlight. Seti expected to see some the darkness light up, like it would through eyelids, though no such thing happened.
"Pupil nonresponsive," Cassie said.
"His eye color hasn't changed. Does that mean he isn't the normal kind of blind?" Sydria asked.
"Color change doesn't happen to all blind people," Cassie responded.
She had him lie on the bed and then heard a series of machine clicks. He couldn't help but feel a little claustrophobic as if he was underwater while these tests continued. He closed his eyes to trick himself that the darkness was his choice. He raised his hand and propelled wind forward to his face. The sense of calm eased his anxiety.
The machine clicks reminded him of his father locking the door. Both of his parents had just argued for the last time. His mother was gone. Seti had wanted to close the door to his room but was afraid it would draw attention. It wouldn't have mattered in the end since his father sought him out.
"Stop drawing those childish figures," his father had said.
On the corners of Seti's homework assignment was a picture of a person creating a tornado. The drawings became a habit and were on every paper he had touched. Some of them read Wind Mage Seti.
"It's time you grew up to be a man," his father continued. "Face reality. You're a tier one, you have no talent. Erase that garbage and learn more about this."
An envelope landed next to him and bills spilled out. His allowance. It was more than usual. A hundredfold more.
Seti opened his eyes to stop the memory, not that his eyes could see. He was gratefully distracted when he heard Sydria fire rapid questions to Cassie, mostly about the clinic and why an older doctor wasn't nearby.
"You don't trust me to know what I'm doing?" Cassie asked, her tone playful. While he didn't distrust her, his mother's constant worry about medical mages being the end of the world rang louder than ever.
"Oh no, I didn't mean it like that," Sydria said. He would have believed her if not for her remarks about his mother's fear. "I just meant that someone going blind is pretty serious. I'm surprised there wouldn't be some sort of supervision to it—oh! Seti, I said supervision, get it? Super vision, something you don't have."
Seti rolled his blind eyes.
Cassie spoke. "There are a lot of mock battles here. It's part of the curriculum if you make it your focus. As an adept healer, I'm responsible for curing many injured students. I've been blessed with being able to heal any damage that's saturated in aeronite. Ah, I'm going into medical terms, you'll be bored with that."
Seti knew the term aeronite. Previously known as mana: the source of power for all adepts and all mancers. That, too, had its name modernized to his disappointment.
"I see, I see, I see." Sydria spoke with a hint of humor. "Tell me about this Aiden guy, the one that beat up my brother."
Seti was curious to know what face Cassie had right now.
"Yesterday Aiden sent someone to the clinic with a broken arm—the word broken used loosely here—and it took me a bit to heal up." She sighed. "I had a talk with him after and told him not to get into any more fights for the rest of the day. And you want to know what I heard down the corridor shortly after?"
"My brother screaming for forgiveness?"
"Sure, let's go with that. As for Seti here, right now I'm just doing standard tests before I look into his body where I'm expecting to find a tumor or damage to the optic nerve. I don't think we'll find any connection with Aiden."
The machine clicks stopped and Cassie helped him sit up. He stopped blowing air to his face.
"Will you be able to heal the tumor if there is one?" Seti asked.
He knew that medical mages had their own limitations in the same way that a fire mage couldn't weave water, but he didn't research it enough to know what was what.
"No, someone else would have to do that. A tumor wouldn't have any aeronite attached to it since the growth would be natural, for want of a better word."
"What if," Sydria started, "Aiden the awesome destroyed the table and a sliver got into his eyes? Would that be considered a magical damage or a natural damage?"
"No one says 'magical' anymore when talking about this stuff, idiot," Seti said.
"I've heard you call them medical mages several times, dolt."
Cassie replied. "It would be classified as mancer dealt, because when Aiden destroyed the table it filled the entire area, table included, with aeronite. The splinter damaging the eye would leave traces of that aeronite so my ability would be able to reverse it." She dabbed a wet cotton ball to his finger. "Okay, I'm going to prick your finger to gain access to your body."
"That sounds dirty," Sydria said.
Cassie didn't give a warning when she punctured his middle finger. She put her own finger on the wound. Neither Cassie nor Seti said anything, though Sydria was passing time investigating the room, or at least that's what Seti figured when something fell with a clang.
"Right. Will stop."
Cassie removed her finger and dabbed another wet cotton ball. Without warning, she pricked a second finger.
Seti gasped involuntarily. "Are you doing that for fun?"
"Lost contact," she said. "Give me another moment."
Sydria slumped next to him and poked his free hand.
"Give me some of your air," she said.
"I like the way it tastes."
"Not a real taste, obviously, but it feels good." She paused. "Also I shrugged just now; realized you couldn't see me."
Seti scrunched his face in thought. Aiden didn't like his wind. Sydria did like his wind. Mr. Adams seemed serious enough when mentioning Prestige Academy, but his wind was just tier one. What could be done with it? The suggestion to go to a wind temple echoed in his mind.
"There is nothing wrong with your eyes at all from my inspection," Cassie interrupted his thoughts. "Not even a hint of natural damage. But…"
"But?" Seti pressed.
"Your mind. Your brain, something is off there."
"Ah!" Sydria's smile was evident. "I believe I told you about that already. Dropped shortly after birth. Incurable."
Cassie withdrew her hand from his and hesitated. "What do you know about the word geas?"
Seti frowned. "It's taboo. A geas is a curse set upon someone to act a certain way." And it was the very thing that his mother was afraid of. "Only capable by medical mages."
"Vivamancers," Cassie corrected. "And yes, it's illegal to perform."
"What does a geas have to do with me?" Seti asked. "Do I have a geas on me right now? Is that what's weird with my mind?"
"I can remove it," Cassie said quickly. "It wouldn't be a problem at all."
"You're telling me someone messed with my mind?" Seti touched his temple. He cursed. "How the heck did someone do that? Who could possibly—"
Cassie interjected. "If you let me, I think we could learn a lot more."
Her breathing increased. Seti sensed something was wrong, but couldn't put his finger to it. Sydria poked him again, which might have looked like sibling affection at this moment, but he knew she meant something else. When it came to magic that dealt with the mind, there should always be a reputable person doing the work.
But Cassie was a known adept at school. Not to mention, Seti did think his mother was too paranoid. If his eyes received treatment without having to involve his father, then this whole thing would blow over.
"Do it," he said.
"Seti," Sydria started, but he held up his hand and puffed wind at her.
Cassie pricked a third finger and began working. Previously, Seti felt nothing when she did whatever it was that medical mages do, but this time it was different. He could feel a tapping massage on his skull. The sensation was pleasurable and sent a tingle down his back.
Then he felt a sudden stamp on the front of his mind.
What are you doing? He wanted to shout, but his mouth did not obey. In fact, his entire body wouldn't move at all. He was trapped.
She had placed a geas on him.
"Okay, now I'm ready to get working," Cassie said, her tone the same as it had been. "I need complete silence, please."
Seti couldn't respond. Horrified, he felt the tapping on his skull once again. The sensation tingled, but that contrasted to the monster who worked on him.
A second stamp on his mind. This time he felt it a bit behind his ear. He wanted to rub his head at the two locations but was still immobile.
The second geas pumped, like a plunger to a toilet. Shortly after, a memory raised itself on the second geas' call.
[I hope you enjoyed playing the aeromancer, but they don't call me the Dream Eater for nothing. Your eyes are gone, and now you won't remember this. Goodbye!]
Another pump. More memories returned.
He remembered the dream he had, the surroundings, the smell, and he remembered Dream Eater, the one that claimed credit for him being blind. All the memories returned in its full detail.
"Can you see?" Cassie asked.
He felt the pressure of the first geas ease, but not fully dissipate. His neck prickled, like blood rushing forth. He tried to raise his hands up but failed to do so. He still couldn't speak, but he could move his neck.
"Nod if you can see," she ordered.
Seti blinked a few times and shook his head.
"Well, what the heck," Cassie said. "I could have sworn it was a memory problem. Give me a second to pull out."
The pressure at the front of his mind, where the first geas rested, eased further and shrank. By time Cassie let her hand go from his, it was just the size of a penny. The second geas remained untouched.
His motor control was fully his again. He stretched his fingers and rolled his shoulders as a test.
What did you do to me? Seti wanted to say but failed. The penny geas throbbed once, causing an instant headache. He gasped.
"Try saying something else," Cassie said.
"I got a headache," Seti replied. He rubbed his temple. What happened to me? The question failed to vocalize as the penny geas throbbed once again.
"That could happen sometimes. Mind if we talk alone?"
"No way," Sydria said. "Whatever you have to say to him, you can say in front of me. Can't have you do something weird when I'm not looking."
Too late for that.
"It's fine," he said. "Sydria, wait outside."
"Are you kidding me? Don't you remember what— tsk. Fine, go become a zombie for all I care." She fumed, walking out with each step heavy.
Seti waited for Cassie to speak.
"Okay, this isn't as bad as it looks," she said.
"Screw you," he said. You put a geas on me. As soon as the thought came to his mind a shock of pain followed.
"The geas of silence is permanent, so you won't be able to talk about what I did to you. The headache itself will pass after a few seconds."
"Why do this?" Seti asked.
"For you, naturally. When I said I saw something wrong with your mind I was serious. Your memory was tampered with and the evidence was slipping away quickly. A few more hours and whatever was wrong with your memory would be irreversible."
"So you—" decided to paralyze me? The geas throbbed. "Couldn't you just have asked?"
"Better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. I figured you'd forgive me if I got your eyesight back. See, the theory was that a vivamancer took your sight through the use of some memory manipulation, but I was wrong. So… this is awkward." She exhaled. "Look, I can't have you telling people I went and put a geas on you, hence the silence geas. The second one is a remembrance geas, but it'll vanish in an hour or two."
"You can't honestly think this'll work. I'll eventually have another doctor look at me." He didn't expect he would be able to finish that sentence without another throb.
"That's true; a geas is pretty visible to all vivamancers. I planned to remove it after I got your sight back, where you would have been in a good mood. I don't suppose you're in a good mood right now, are you? But in case you didn't know, if someone finds out about the geas, it'll kill you."
Seti groaned. He didn't think a geas was something that was so easily placed. Worse yet, his mother was right about something for once. This was something that ruined a person's reputation for life. A geas was immoral.
"If you remove it, I won't tell anyone what you did."
"That makes no sense. If you won't tell anyone what I did, it shouldn't be a problem for it to stay," she countered. "Let's just wait a few hours for you to calm down and think things through objectively. Then I'll remove it and hope the rich kid doesn't try to get me expelled."
"Objectively?" He muttered. "You forced yourself on me."
Then again, if Cassie wanted to really do damage, she could have. Instead, she tried to help him—in the worst possible way, but her intentions weren't bad, right?
The door to the room opened. Sydria plopped herself down into a chair.
"Still not done talking?" Sydria asked. "And here I went all the way down to the café and got me some coffee. I'm not leaving again."
"It's fine," Seti said. "Anyway, speaking of memory manipulation stuff, I do remember something."
"You do? You never said anything about that," Cassie said.
Of course not, I was too busy being paralyzed.
"Sec, organizing my thoughts," Seti said. He didn't dissect his recovered memories since his focus was on the geas problem. He took this time to contemplate.
Dream Eater was the one that took his eyesight and would have successfully taken his memory too if Cassie didn't commit the inhumane crime. Dream Eater had said that the assault was petty revenge, and the one she was acting against was some woman who… adored Seti.
That thought gave him pause. He really wanted to know who this secret admirer was. His dating life wasn't exactly the most colorful, most likely due to him being rich, but he wasn't socially inept. Whoever it was, they had done something that sent Dream Eater his way. If what Dream Eater said was true, then he didn't know who this woman was, and he also would never be able to find a cure for his eyesight.
While Seti was in thought Cassie received a text with her phone.
"Oh, something happened with Aiden," Cassie said.
"What?" Sydria asked.
"Something about Prestige. Let's see." A pause. "So you know how Prestige only lets people apply three times before permanently barring entrance? Today was Aiden's third chance and, instead of denying or approving him, he got a free hotel stay so they could deliberate. I think that's good news."
"How lucky! So he texted you that? I guess that means you two get along quite well." Sydria noted with a hum.
"I suppose so. People get sent here on a weekly basis because of him. I was eventually going to get to know the 'school bully'. He said he's never seen them give anyone a stay, so here's to hoping."
"If we can't heal Seti's eyes then it would suck if Aiden was responsible. Wouldn't that be a jail sentence?"
"He can't be," Cassie firmly said.
"He's not," Seti confirmed, finally breaking his train of thought. He kept his eyes closed for a lack of better use. "Someone named Dream Eater appeared in my dream last night and said she was going to take my sight, and she also said she was going to remove my memories too. So that explains what happened to me, at least."
He thought about not telling Cassie anything, out of spite for what she had done, but the truth was that her intentions were meant for good. She genuinely tried to help him and his memories returning was proof of that.
"Appeared in your dream? I've never heard of a mancy like that. Vivamancers always need some form of physical contact to work," Cassie said.
"A new magic!?" Sydria bounced.
"I doubt it," Cassie continued, "maybe a specialized vivamancy? I don't know much about memory alterations, but it sounds like that would be the place to start investigating."
This meant, since he could no longer keep these events under wraps, he'd have to inform his father of his current predicament. Would he rat out what Cassie had done to him? She was definitely wrong for using geas, but her line of thought wasn't entirely off base.
Cassie determined that nothing else could be done for Seti's sight, but promised a follow-up. He wasn't sure he wanted her to touch him again but he would like to have the geas removed. Perhaps he would inherit his mother's paranoia.
Seti still had to pack in preparation to move out, which meant Sydria had to pack for him due to his blindness. A few days remained before he had to leave the dorm but he may as well use her assistance while he could.
Before they could begin packing in earnest, their stomachs reminded them that they had forgone breakfast. With the intensity of going blind now calming down, Sydria decided to get food for them. Seti lingered with his thoughts.
That was all he had now, just his thoughts. He replayed the dream once again and tried to pick apart any detail that he could. He tried to find meaning in any detail, but he wasn't much of a believer in dream interpretations.
Even though it wasn't relevant, Seti reimagined the scene where he summoned forth multiple tornados. He was so powerful then and it was everything he wanted. The counselor, Henry Adams, had mentioned a potential talent with his wind.
Seti shut down the thought immediately.
He had caged his inner child long ago. He had accepted reality. He didn't need distractions from people who didn't know a thing about his life.
What would life be like if he couldn't get his eyes fixed? The world revolved around abilities and technology, and his abilities were shot since they were tier one. Without sight, he wouldn't be able to join his father's company nor enjoy the simple pleasures of life. His phone, his TV, the movie theatres, even reading would be gone. Except, on further reflection, his reading ability could be retained with braille. It was going to be a whole new world.
Seti's eyes unexpectedly watered. He tried to blink it away. He was grateful that Sydria wasn't here to witness it; the small blessings. When he failed to remove the moister he tried to gust some wind to his face in an attempt to dry it.
The geas of remembrance pumped once behind his ear.
A face appeared in his mind.
"Holy!" Seti shouted and sat up lightning quick. The face vanished. It looked as if someone had lit a flashlight on themselves when telling a horror story.
He sighed and laughed, melting into the couch as he did so. It was nothing; just his mind playing tricks on him.
The second geas shrunk swiftly until it dissipated. Cassie said it would vanish in the hour, so he thought nothing of it. He felt behind his ear, expecting some physical proof that the geas was still there, which was nonsense as the geas had been on his cognizance directly.
Seti propelled out wind from his hand again and pointed it at the ceiling. In his mind's eye, he saw the ceiling, exactly where his wind was blowing.
Seti turned off his wind and the image in his mind ended as well. He turned it back on and pointed it at the TV, which also lit up in his mind. He turned his hand and faced it towards himself. A face appeared again; this time he knew it was his own.
His wind ability acted like a flashlight to his mind. He could see.
Blood pumping with excitement, Seti tried it on other objects. It really was like a flashlight. Darkness enveloped him like the night, but his wind denied the darkness. However, there were several major differences.
First: no color. His mind's eye only saw the physical shapes of what his wind touched, but it didn't go beyond that. The rule unfortunately extended to the TV that he turned on with the remote, which he found with his—what? Wind light?—but couldn't see what was on the screen.
That remained true for his phone as well as anything written on the calendar. He noted, however, that could see some of the indents on written paper if the pen was pressed down hard enough when used.
With another test, he learned he wasn't able to use both hands at the same time as a double source of wind light. When he tried it would just end the wind from the other hand. Nothing new there, as that was true even before he went blind.
Overall, this was fantastic. While Seti was still blind in every sense of the word, where his eyes were unusable, somehow his wind gave him information allowing him to see the shapes of anything he pointed his hand at. It couldn't cover a very large distance, like he wasn't able to see the other end of the room from the entrance door, and the visibility was small, but he could see.
Seti continued to flicker his wind on and off, getting a feel for his new sight. What caused this recent change? He had used his wind earlier while he was in the clinic, at himself and at Sydria. Nothing lit up in his mind then. Or perhaps it was one of those things where someone loses one of their senses and the others strengthen.
The most obvious answer, though, was that it had something to do with the geas of remembrance. It had pumped once right before he saw his own face for the first time.
Which didn't make sense to Seti. He had felt the geas work when it retrieved his dream memories, but how did memories and his wind ability have anything to do with each other?
An unknowable amount of time passed (he would have to get an analog clock later) when Seti heard a knock on the door. He had his mouth wide open so he could control air down his throat. To satisfy his curiosity.
"Who is it?" Seti stood and used his wind light to guide himself towards the door. He would have thought it to be Sydria, but since she had a key to the room he would have expected her to walk in. It was equally true that she was too playful and probably saw an opportunity to play another trick.
"It's Cassie," she said, her voice muffled through the door. "I come in peace."
Seti opened the door and had his hand held up to let his wind light shape what it could. Without colors it was hard to identify her, even knowing who it was.
"What are you doing?" She asked with a glance at his hand.
With the wind light, he saw her mouth move as she spoke. He never knew mouths could be so strange.
"I assume you're here to—" remove the geas. The geas of silence throbbed.
She stepped in and fidgeted at the entrance. "Sister's not here?"
Seti shook his head as he navigated the room, avoiding packed bags, to sit on the couch.
"You can see?" She asked.
"Yes and no," he replied. "Still blind, but I can see with this."
He pointed his hand up and drove wind towards her. She was far enough where he could only pick up small detailed bits and pieces of her face. She looked badly pixelated.
"What!?" She made her way to the couch next to him and looked at his hand as if it was something amazing. He pulled it away reflexively. "You're able to see with your ability? With the use of aeronite? How does that work? How do you see?"
"You're not going to use a geas on me if I don't tell, will you?"
She rolled her eyes. "Oh come on, I would never use a geas on someone. That's illegal."
"There's no camera or bugs set up in this room," Seti said.
He thought for a moment then sighed. "Okay, I'll admit that objectively it makes sense. With what happened, I mean. There's got to have been a better way to do it, though, since it was a terrifying experience."
"What was a terrifying experience?" She asked. Playing dumb.
He ignored the question. "As for my sight, I think it might have been because of… the second one." He worried that saying the word geas would make his head pound.
"Huh. How does that work?"
"You tell me," Seti said, "you're the medical mage."
"Vivamancer," she corrected, then after a thought added, "and I'm not a vivamancer, I'm only an adept. But if what you say is true, then you owe me one!"
It was Seti's turn to roll his eyes.
"Anyway, since you're in a good mood, you want it gone or not?" She asked. "And in case anyone's listening, I'm talking about his virginity."
He didn't dignify her with a reply. Using a geas was reproachable, and by rights Cassie should be reported. For now he needed it removed. He held out his hand. This would be the last time he would let any medical mage touch him. Cassie took out a needle and pricked a finger (without using a wet cotton ball this time, he noticed), then placed hers on the fresh wound. Seti felt the tingling sensation as she tapped around his skull.
A new geas stamped on his head. He wanted to pull his hand away but couldn't. He was paralyzed once again.
"It's a joke!" She laughed. "Don't be mad."
Just as quickly as the new geas appeared, it vanished. The penny geas also disappeared in an instant.
Seti cursed as he rubbed his finger. "You're a psycho."
"And you're free."
"Cassie put a geas on me!" He shouted. No pulse denied his words.
"That's a lie," she said. "They can search your mind all they want and they won't ever find anything."
"Well, congratulations, you are safe from expulsion," he said sarcastically.
"Oh, you don't know?" Cassie stood up and walked around the room, examining any portraits. "I've already been expelled. Expelled-ish."
"Already? For what? The geas?"
"Allegedly for the geas." She paused as she reached the calendar on the fridge to let out a soft laugh.
"Since I'm alive I guess you know it wasn't me," Seti said.
"If I, hypothetically, did put a geas on you, I would have lied about the death trigger. To keep you quiet. Can I be gushy for a bit?" She leaned against the kitchen counter. "I hate how everyone's so scared of stuff they don't understand. A geas is only as scary as you make it. A remembrance geas? You wouldn't have to study for another test again; you would just know everything. Someone defects from the enemy? Loyalty geas. Someone gets hunger pangs because they're fat and want to lose weight? Suppressant geas. I just hate how everyone is so stupid."
"With good reason," Seti said. "You removed all my free will in an instant; with just a touch. No one should have that much power."
"Except they already do. The Shepherds? The guilds? They could level cities if they wanted to. Look, I guess I just wanted you to understand me. I didn't mean any harm, really. And I didn't ask permission because you wouldn't understand and I know I won't violate any real moral issues. It was the best decision at the time to a time-sensitive problem. I'm sorry you felt the way you did, but I'm not sorry for doing what I could do." She pushed herself off the counter. "Gushy time over. This'll be the last time we meet, with the expulsion and all."
The funny thing was that Seti could understand what she was saying, and probably would have been more empathetic if she hadn't placed the geas on him. It was similar in the technological world; the pushback could be severe when an advancement made an older system obsolete. Sometimes people didn't want to learn more about new concepts. As for Cassie, he knew he should report her, but the working theory was the remembrance geas was the reason he could see. She may be immoral, but he couldn't deny the benefits he received.
"Fine," Seti said. "Fine, fine, fine. I'll testify that you didn't do any geas business with me. I'll make sure Sydria backs us up. Our testimony will get you reinstated for the new school year. I'll talk to my pops about it."
Cassie smiled. "Your dad was the one that got me expelled."
He stared at her. He turned off his air to encircle himself with darkness once again. Eyes closed, he considered several possible scenarios.
"Sydria—she told my father, had to. There was no one else who knew." He thought about the events at the clinic. As far as his sister knew, he already had a geas and Cassie tried to fix the problem. "I don't get why my pops would want you expelled for this. I'll make sure everything gets—"
"Let me correct myself," Cassie said. "It was your father, but also wasn't. It was the Shepherds. They finally saw this as an opportunity to snag me."
"Shepherds? But why?" Seti was at a loss.
Cassie explained her situation. "They've wanted me to join them for ages. Tried to use incentives to make me come, but I didn't want to be part of that life. The peaceful, law-abiding life of a citizen is the one for me." She grinned.
"I still don't get why they want you. They have plenty of medical mages, don't they?"
"Vivamancers," she corrected automatically again. She paced around the dorm, more at ease than what she had been. "I'm unique with what I can do, as I've already told you. Some vivamancers can only work with blood, others with legs, feet, muscles, or organs. But me? I'm capable of total restoration of any aeronite damage. I'm a little useful I guess."
"Extremely useful, I would say."
Seti compiled his thoughts once more. So Sydria had called his father while she was out, who in turn contacted the Shepherds to do what? Investigate Dream Eater? To find some healer? It depended on what his sibling said. Regardless, the Shepherds caught wind and decided to act for their benefit; some pressure on the university and the end result was Cassie's expulsion.
"We can fight this," he finally said. "If their case is based on what my sister said, I can guarantee you that my testimony will help you."
"No need, I've already accepted attendance at Prestige Academy."
He frowned. "How does that work? Going to Prestige after getting expelled here is like getting demoted with a raise."
"You remember Aiden? The one your sister says beat you up?" She was smirking when Seti shined his wind light on her. "He had his last Prestige application test this morning. They told him they were going to deliberate. Turns out they intended to use that as bait for me to join the Shepherds. If I go to Prestige, they'll let Aiden attend. If not, well, then that's that."
"Coercion," Seti said.
She golf clapped. "They already planned to use Aiden as bait to get me to go, since they know—uh, well anyway, the fact that they think I tampered with a geas without authorization made them threaten to press charges. I've lost this battle of wits, so I've accepted."
If she resigned herself to go to Prestige then there was nothing left to do. He did understand the feeling of having a planned future stolen, but her alternative didn't seem so bad, whereas his future was literally dark. He'd have to find a way to heal his eyesight. In the meantime, perhaps he could strengthen his wind light into something more manageable.
"You want to know something funny?" Seti said. "Mr. Adams suggested I go to Prestige as well. Something about going to a wind temple to advance my abilities, or whatever. Might be useful considering that I can see with my wind now."
Cassie froze. "Mr. Adams? Our counselor Henry Adams? The same one that transferred here from New Vox? He suggested you go to Prestige?"
"Quite the joke, huh?"
"No—definitely not. I think he's legit. I don't know what he saw in you; maybe it has to do with how weird your air is?"
"Like being able to see with it?" Seti considered.
She shook her head. "He doesn't know about that."
"I don't know then; he only told me to go to a wind temple." It annoyed Seti that Mr. Adams wasn't more specific. What's the point of offering a recommendation to Prestige Academy but not argue it further? Or maybe he argued it enough and Seti was just too dismissive.
"It probably has to do more with the way it tastes," Cassie said.
"I really wish you guys would use a different word. What do you mean by taste?"
"I only said it like that because your sister did." Cassie rubbed her chin. "When I first entered the room with your wind on me, it felt… oppressive? I don't know, I felt like I was suffocating. I couldn't stand it so I had to walk away. But now it doesn't feel like anything; just normal air that most people would expect. Does that make sense?"
"When did it stop feeling oppressive?" Seti asked.
She thought for a moment. "You know, now that you mention it, it felt normal after my gushy moment. Weird."
The dorm room door opened and Sydria entered with grocery bags. On point too, since his stomach grumbled disapprovingly.
"Oh, Cassie!" Sydria placed the bags down on the counter. "Eat with us. It'll be a graduation breakfast—lunch, now, I guess."
A chipper request considering that she caused an expulsion. He set his wind light to see Cassie's reaction, but unfortunately, the light breeze made her aware that she was being watched.
"No, thank you," Cassie said politely as she walked towards the door. "And Seti, I don't know how helpful vivamancers are going to be with your eyes, but you should definitely go to a wind temple if that's what Henry recommended. Who knows, maybe we'll see each other soon after all?"
After she left, Sydria prepared the meal while chatting away about her trip to the store. Seti ignored her and mulled over his current options.
The first was to pursue the business of Dream Eater even further. Cassie doubted anything could be done, but the world was vast; someone would have answers. He also wasn't too fond of living in darkness.
Alternatively, he could try to expand his wind light. That was only a temporary solution to his overarching problem, but his inner child was screaming loudly. It was a voice he had shut out years ago.
During the happier days, Seti would watch TV and absorb all the news he could about wind mages. When he heard reports of one fighting against a member of the mafia or the abyss fiends, his own pride swelled. He always thought he would join the ranks of the greatest wind mages.
But reality said it wasn't possible. A tier one could never make a tornado, call a gale, or any other surges. Seti couldn't do anything incredible. Spending large sums of money was the way he felt power, even if that was hollow.
The inner child screamed out all the same. It wanted to go to a wind temple and find a teacher— to grow, to train. His wind light and the taste of his air, it wanted to learn it all. The child wanted to challenge the blindness through wind. It was a naïve thought, but the idea of using wind usefully awakened something. Seti couldn't help but smile.
He decided to meet an aeromancer.