The summer sun was high overhead as Tavia picked up the last box from the back of the cargo-convei. The box wasn't particularly heavy, but her sore rib, still a little fragile despite the intervening weeks to heal since she broke it while fighting Dieos, protested against the way the box pressed against her chest. This was the last one though, so she would just have to bear with it.
She carried the box into the nearby dorm building. She wasn't the only one going through the move-in process today, and the entryway to the dormitories was busy. Tavia had to wait for several more women to make their way up the stairs, each carrying burdens of her own, before she could make her way up to the second floor. Izak was waiting for her outside the door to what was soon to be her shared dorm room. He rushed over to take the box from her, but she shook her head at him. She didn't have much farther to go.
Izak had volunteered to help her move into her new dorm. She wasn't sure if he was being kind, of if he was just eager to get her out of his house since his parents seemed so keen on getting Tavia to stay. If it was the latter, he needn't have worried. She was looking forward to moving into the dorm like a small child trying to sleep on the eve of their birthday. Lenore was on an extended vacation until RIOAR was repaired; the building had suffered severe structural damage, and there was talk of tearing the place down and rebuilding it from scratch. Either way, the temporarily jobless Lenore, had seen fit to drag Tavia everywhere with her, buying her clothes and furniture for the dorm as if Tavia was her own daughter. She had been thrilled to hear Tavia was enrolling in Avel'lier, and more than that, she was beside herself that Tavia was going to be an Artificer of all things. When they weren't shopping, Lenore was giving Tavia a crash course on Artificer basics. Tavia was sure she would appreciate the lessons at some point, but right now she was just glad to have escaped them.
Izak had woken alongside the rest of the Artificers. He didn't remember anything about Abram or the Demis. Not even Evos, and Tavia presumed Audri would be the same. After a quick check-up at the hospital, Izak was pronounced fit to return home. The doctors there hadn't detected anything wrong with him, but Tavia had kept a close eye on him anyway. He hadn't shown any sign that Abram may have used him for experiments. She wouldn't have put it past the Artificer, but after several weeks and no sign of anything strange, she felt comfortable deciding they were in the clear. After seeing what had happened to Abram, she couldn't help but worry. Tavia wasn't sure what had happened to Abram, but when she asked Evos, he had given her an expression that said she didn't want to know. He was officially pronounced dead several days later, and the blame was laid at the feet of the Wardens.
"Where do you want these boxes?" her other helper asked as Tavia carried her last load into the cozy dorm.
Evos was trying his best to arrange the boxes in a manner more logical than the haphazard mess Tavia and Izak had left as they transferred the boxes from the cargo-convei to the room. It seemed to bother him, the way things were strewn about without any care.
"Anywhere is fine for now," she said. "Until my roommate gets here, I should avoid filling all the shelves and walls."
She had yet to meet her roommate, but she was supposed to be another freshman like Tavia. And like Tavia, she was supposed to be a member of a squadron, though a different one than the one Tavia was on.
Tavia set her box down, and Evos scowled at the mess. Despite the upset expression, she knew he was enjoying himself. He'd been forced to remain cooped up in his sword form while she stayed with the Eliors. Here wouldn't be much better, but Evos was planning to pass himself off as a fellow student and friend of Tavia's. He still refused to leave her side, and she was no longer interested in asking him to.
A pair of bounding footsteps drew near, and Tavia heard Izak's distant yelp of surprise. A moment later, a bundle of energy capped by golden hair burst into the room; Tavia stared at the intruder, as the woman blinked her large blue eyes and looked around the room. She looked over Evos without giving him a second thought. Her eyes fell on Tavia and her mouth stretched into a broad smile.
"You must be my roommate," the woman said. She extended a hand. "Nice to meet you, I'm Audri Tennen, Martial, and future Knight."
Tavia smiled, hiding the twinge of loneliness in her heart. She reached out to grasp the offered hand.
"Tavia Renegarde," she replied. "Junior Artificer, and, well, who knows what the future holds?"