I was thankful for my father having sent Mrs. Perdu to bring me a change of clothes. I had gotten everyone to leave my little cloth room where I managed to get dressed. Afterward, I gave Mrs. Perdu a quick hug before grabbing Jessica’s hand and leaving hand in hand with her for the main hall. On our way out, healer Larse asked that we stop in afterward to check-in to make sure I don't have any more fainting spells.
We leave the healer’s hall and I check over my shoulder to ensure that the boy is following us. As we are going down the first corridor away from the healer’s hall, I leave over and speak in a hushed tone with Jessica.
“I don’t know what to do… Or what to call him…” I said as I looked back at him over my shoulder. He was just quietly following, looking at the paintings, tapestries, and items in shelving units on the walls. The shelving units that we pass have some desiccated plants wedged between panes of glass with small plaques describing them. There are also skulls or pictures of bizarre creatures with similar descriptions of what they are and key points to remember when facing them. Open geodes and runes on metal plates with warnings for delvers of ancient ruins to watch out for.
Jessica pulls me in closer to whisper in my ear.
“I know how you feel, I don’t know what to call my familiar either… though I think yours is a bit more of a serious problem. I can call my ‘Viney’ without a problem, you cannot really get away with calling him ‘Person-ey’, or ‘boy’ or ‘hey you’, just calling him ‘familiar’ seems… I don’t know… distant…”.
Leaning away from the hushed whispers to look at Jessica from top to bottom; I see she is wearing a simple black dress with some rough knee-high boots and her apothecary’s herb gathering satchel. I can not see her familiar, looking at her bag, I guess she must have stuck it in there that it would be fighting to get out, but there is no movement from the bag.
“Where is your ‘Viney’ by the way?” I ask, using her pretend name for her familiar while keeping my eyes on the bag. She pats the bag that I was looking at, confirming my suspicions.
“She’s right here. She just becomes lethargic at night and in dark places. Mom and dad said that it is normal and I do not need to worry about that with a flayer. They do not need anything sustenance wise, and they suggested I keep her away until we get past the fire trials…” she said trailing off as we passed the last corridor intersection and could now see the central foyer with maybe a hundred people gathered there in the distance.
“Fire trial?” I realize that I know nothing about what is to come, as my father also did not know much of the inductions within the guild after the summonings to help prep me.
“Mom told me that we’ll be going through some small tests to see if we are proficient with fire, earth, water, wind, or plant. They’ll take us through the tests in that order and mom told me to keep my familiar tucked away, out of sight, until we are away from the fire trials, as some people are just rotten to the core.”
I can guess that protecting a small plant among a bunch of other kids trying out fire magic for the first time would be the most prudent thing to do. Looking back, over my shoulder at my familiar, I lean in again to whisper to Jessica.
“Well we know that you’ll be in the plant group, I just hope that I join you or am in earth or water. Dad would probably have me keep the forge going all the time if I showed an affinity with fire…”
I kind of feel some nerves at possibly having to part ways with Jessica, if we are to end up in different groups. I know that the class system of the different affinities likes to drive a huge wedge between all the groups and creates a bit of a ‘them or us’ mentality.
We continue on into the foyer, where we people are looking over their shoulders directed at me and behind me with hushed whispers.
“...slut probably coaxed a bandit to dress up and pretend for her…” I can hear a girl with red hair, an earthen tan from working in the fields who’s got a chiseled handsome body from working hard.
I fucking hate you all. I can never escape the constant whispers that happen behind my back. I can already guess what the rumors will be around town over the next few weeks.
Don’t let them see you break. Hold back the tears and keep my head held high.
We quickly find a column of the foyer that is out of the way to go stand behind as we wait for whatever everyone else is obviously waiting for.
“Hey! Dead weights! Attention up here!”
After waiting for a long time, a man whistles and yells out from the 2nd floor overlooking the foyer. He then proceeds to hop over the railing and drop the fifteen to twenty feet from the second floor to the center foyer.
Landing solidly on the ground he turns to everyone to make sure he has their attention now.
“Get over here and listen up! I’m captain Davis of the Rabbid Feller company. I’ll be guiding you through the tour and possibly a recruiter of any promising mages for our 6 man company.”
“We’ll first head up to the north area to perform fire trials. Follow me!”
He heads off down the path we came from earlier. Everyone follows along with a lot of excited chatting everywhere. The three of us join the end of the group as we follow along. After going down three corridors and taking a right to get to the very end, he ushers us into a large auditorium room that could easily fit maybe five or six hundred people with room to spare. There are scorch marks on wood and stone dummies all along the perimeter. Every inch of this place is covered in stone and the east wall is almost absent without windows or doors but letting a lot of light in.
“Alright! I got a stack of paper with some magnesium on in the center. Take the stack, grab on, and pass it along. Keep away from the firing range over there as if you drop or have the magnesium blow away, that is not going to be my problem, now will it.”
A few young mages come in with stacks of paper and start handing them out to everyone and after a bit, we all have some.
“Alright now, for fire mages, the test will be simple, you will sit down, away from others and place the papers down on the ground. You will then try to push your will through your artifact or familiar and try to light the magnesium. Most of you will need your artifacts or familiars between you and the paper for this to work. Come on! Hop to it, I don’t have all day now!”
As Jessica and I were the last to arrive, we’re closer to the doors and just head over to the closest corner, sitting down six feet apart.
“Cara, I’m not going to bother, so go ahead and try, good luck!”
I look over to my familiar with an embarrassed look.
“Um… could you come to stand, or sit in front of me so I can try to use fire magic?”
“Is this really how they try to teach you magic in this backwater states?”
“Please, could you just help me out? Please?”
He smirks at me and sits down right in front of me, our knees almost touching. He’s too close and blocking my view of the paper! He’s staring at me in the eyes with a smirk.
“Go on, push” Now he’s just bullying and taunting me.
I close my eyes, trying to not be distracted by him. It’s dark and as I take a deep breath, on the exhale I try to push with my inner being, with everything I have, I push out to where the paper ought to be.
*hiss* *hiss* *hiss* *hiss* *hiss* *hiss* “HA! YAY! YES!”
The sounds of various items burning and the resultant cheers resound throughout the auditorium. I open my eyes to see him staring at me with a smirk still on his face. I look around the room and see some bright burning white lights in front of many people. I leave to the side to look around my familiar to see my paper is untouched behind him.
Without looking at him again I close my eyes and try again, breathing in deeply and trying to do it again, though this time focusing on the connection I feel with him to try and force my will through him and into the magnesium powder on the paper.
I open my eyes to see my familiar still smiling at me and with a finger on my forehead. I swat it away and shoot a glare at Jessica who’s stifling a laugh at my yelp.
“Don’t do that, I’m trying to be serious here!”
“I think I understand what is going on here and it would be best if we go to the plant magic group. Your people do not seem to hunt down and kill plant mages as most other states do.”
“Wait, you can control which trials I pass? Why would you deny me passing the fire trial and force me to join the weakest faction!?” Fuck, I didn’t mean to say that as I quickly look over to Jessica who laughing at him flicking my head has turned sad.
“Jess, I didn’t mean to…”
“No, it’s okay Cara, I know you didn’t mean it that way.”
“Why would you want to join the weakest ‘faction’ when you could join the strongest? It will lay the strongest foundation for you.”
“Then shut up and help me pass, to get into fire.” I hiss at him.
“No, our contract is to help you grow, fire is the weakest of all magics, plant is the strongest and will give you the best foundation.”
Jessica and I look at him stunned. Is he broken? Before I can demand again that he help me I can hear captain Davis call out.
“Great job everyone. Looks like a third of you have passed. As fire mages in training, you’ll at least not be entirely dead weight. After a season of training, we’ll have you out in the field. You’ll have an easy time joining hunts for magic beasts and cullings. Requisitions for y’all will be hunting lesser beasts, burning forests, and harvested crops to make way for new ones and cooking as dead weight fire mages always need to learn to cook.”
“Don’t worry, it will help ya survive out there and a company that respects their chef doesn’t eat charred magic beast.”
“Once you’ve killed a few men and graduate from being dead weight, you’ll be combat-ready and taking on requisitions for manhunts, dark guild purges, defense postings, combat, and war efforts.”
“Leave everything on the ground and let’s head back down the hall to the earth hall.”
We wait for everyone to file out and then join the end of the group to follow. I reach over and pinch and twist the back of my familiar’s hand and twist, looking him in the eyes.
“Answers, now! Before you ruin this for me!”
“Your people’s knowledge of magic is a catastrophe. Fire magic is the weakest. Power without control is not power, just suicide. If a mage is stupid enough to create a fireball beside them, you just need to reach out and kill them with their own magic.”
“Wait… what? You can do that?”
“Yes, easily. If an opposing army has a stupid mage trying to make a fireball. You can either have it consume itself before it reaches you or if you can reach, just explode it in the middle of their army. Only fools use fire to do anything besides light a campfire or torch.”
A girl in front of us yelps and uses her hands to push down her skirt that is fluttering up. She’s giving everyone around her the stink eye before she grabs and pinches both sides of her skirt and stomps into the next room that we were traveling to en route to the foyer.
“Jess, what happened?”
“Some pervert was using wind to blow her skirt up.”
Jessica is wearing a long black dress and seems to be much more self-conscious about it. I scan the back of the heads in front of me but do not see anyone taking credit, just snickers here and there.
I’m now on high alert for Jessica’s sake. Thankfully Mrs. Perdu brought me some black pants this morning, but I’ll be sure to punch anyone who tries to bully Jessica in the face if I catch them.
We are at the tail end of the group that enters the new hall. It is quite different from the last one, a veritable obstacle course of rocks piled almost up to the ceiling in all the corners. There are no windows throughout this auditorium, it is however lit with dozens of torches, some glowing rocks and in some areas, elongated ten to twenty feet wide sconces are chiseled into the walls, burning something that is releasing a black smoke that is rising and exiting tiny holes along the seam of the walls and ceiling.
There is a smattering of abstract art, a lumpy female form, and a couple of erect stone penises around the hall. Tacky and immature, though a lot of the boys are laughing at them.
“FUCKING SHUT IT!” Davis belows and a few of the larger stones around him are picked up five or six inches and are dropped, giving a resounding *thud* that echos in the room that goes dead quiet. Those stones must weigh a ton. They were maybe four feet across and three feet high.
Looking at Captain Davis, there are a couple of beads of sweat on his brow and a pulsating set of veins in both his temples, eww.
“Funny, now shut the fuck up. Fire mages do not need to attempt the test, as for the rest of you, grab a drum and place a few pebbles on top of it. Your job will be to try and bounce the pebbles on the drum. Sand won’t do shit, grab a few that are the size of your thumb!” He bellowed out as the fire mages went off to the side to go sit on some of the large rocks on the side while jeering and making bets among themselves.
Wow, we seem to be their entertainment.
The helpers from the previous hall wheel in some carts with cute little drums, no larger than the width of my palm.
I’m handed one and cannot help myself with drumming it a bit with my thumb.
*thum* *thum* it is empty on the bottom and it releases a cute little sound. It seems that I started something as everyone is giving them a try and before going and grabbing some stones.
I sit down with Jessica and look over to my familiar.
“Is there any point in trying? Or are you going to sabotage me?”
“You would sabotage yourself by picking anything else other than plant magic.”
Some drum rolls sound throughout the auditorium as some people are already successful.
“Okay. I remember you mentioned that you are constrained or bound to a contract to help me? Yes?”
Jessica opens her satchel, while I am trying to squeeze in my twenty questions. However, a lazy vine flops out of the satchel as Viney pops her closed bulb of a head out of the satchel. I’m so distracted at the cute little thing that I almost miss his response.
“Yes, the forces are absolute. The forces are the chains you saw during the summoning.”
“How did you become -”
“ALRIGHT! I’m glad to see a good batch of new blood for the earthen hall. About another third of you it would seem, good, good. As earth mages, you will be training for a season as well before you can start taking requisitions to help with making and maintaining some roads and mining for resources.”
“After you become competent, we’ll get you out there helping with building small structures, walls, fences, homes and even working on combat, defenses, and rune work. Some of you may also be talented in making art, hopefully, it’ll be much better than the shit they did in here. You can make a lot of coin as an earth mage. If you are good at memorizing runes, they can be pivotal to fortifications or preparing traps out on hunts.”
“With that, leave the drums here and file out towards the foyer, we’ll go across and head over to do the water trial.”
Everyone started to file out again and we waited to join the tail end again.
“So, I was asking, how did you become a familiar? Were you always one? Why are you a familiar?”
“Nobody’s ever asked me that… It happened a long time ago when I was searching for more strength and tried to go to a states that was stronger. I failed and the punishment for my failure is servitude.”
“Wait, how did you fail? Why did you want to go to a stronger state?”
“Magic is more potent in stronger states. I needed it to advance. I failed because by trying to travel to another state, I… I… I got it wrong, I was summoned to a cursed cage. Binding me as a familiar to travel states by summoning, but also cursed by the forces to make me bound as a familiar for all time.”
“Wait, bound for all time? So are you, like, immortal?”
“I can die, just do not cycle.”
“You don’t age!?” Jessica chimes in.
“Yes, if that is the process of getting old, then yes, the same is true for your vii-dari companion.”
“Humph! Come on Jess, he thinks we were born yesterday and is joking around again. Just ignore him.”
I march off with Jessica at my side while she has her satchel out in front of her, where ‘Viney’ is happily slapping her two hand fines around, pitter-pattering about. We exit out of the corridors and are crossing the foyer when.
“AHHHHH!!!” a girl screams.
There is a bright light that reflects off the interior of the foyer and everyone seems to gather around in front of us. Pushing up with Jessica to see what happened, we come across a girl on the ground with blond hair braided along one side of her head. The rest of her hair is loose and wavy but currently sprawled across the ground.
She’s curled up in the fetal position, holding the back of her skirt. It is the same girl that was assaulted previously by a wind mage. She’s trembling in pain on the ground, going into shock.
Captain Davis barges through the other side of the group and kneels down to check on her.
“Fucking devourer’s scum! Who did this!?” He eyes the crowd but nobody is man enough to step forward and accept their beating.
“You, take her to the healers all immediately. If I catch who did this, I’ll bury you for ten days and let you live off your own shit during that time. Fuck!”
He points out to someone who passed the earth mages trial to take the girl to the healer’s hall. The boy reaches down to try and pick her up in a princess carry, but she screams in pain and the boy stops.
“Damn it, all of you stay here, nobody leaves, nobody moves, nobody better fucking breathe before I come back.”
Captain Davis then stands over the girl and after two seconds she lets out another whimper as a section of the floor rips out of the floor and raises her off the ground by a few inches.
“Don’t just stand there, grab the other end and help me carry her gently to the healer’s hall!” he yells at the boy he singled out earlier.
They both lift the floor segment as an improvised stretcher and walk off back down the way we had initially come to get to the healer’s hall.
Hushed whispers break out as soon as the duo is out of earshot.
Jessica leans over to me to whisper.
“There’s a fire pervert that tried to lift her skirt. I could see the boils, it was really bad.” She says with a quiver in her voice.
I go over behind her and place my chin on her shoulder as I give her a hug from behind.
“It’s okay, I’ll keep you safe.” Hugging her tightly.
“I’m sorry, but for right now you should hide Viney,” I whisper into her ear, not wanting to say it so loud that someone would try.
I put on a brave face, though deep down I’m afraid. Angry and afraid. Afraid that I cannot protect my friend. Angry that I don’t have any power.
While standing here, soothing and hugging Jessica, I remember what my familiar had said earlier, that plant magic was the strongest and would lay the best foundation. As I work myself up to be more and more angry, seeing everyone else around me as possible enemies with their whispers, mean words, and barbaric actions.
I don’t want what happened to that girl to happen to me or to Jessica. I want to not be afraid anymore. I WILL not be afraid anymore!
I look over at my familiar, eyeing him hard. I resolve myself that if plant magic is really the strongest as he claims where plant mages are hunted and killed in other states because of its strength….
“Prove it!” I look him in the eyes and blurt out to him my conviction. As if understanding what I’m thinking about he gives me a confident smile that goes all the way to his eyes and responds.
“I plan to.”
We can hear Captain Davis stomping back towards us and everyone goes dead quiet.
“I’ve notified Mage Flow of the fire hall about this incident. He’s guaranteed me that I get the first crack at the culprit if they are caught. You better hope you don’t fall into my hands outside of the guild’s halls… I can be very persuasive in getting my point across.”
“No follow me to the water trial, the sooner I get to see the last of you the better.”
We marched behind him in dead silence, going down the first corridor and taking a left and entering the first large room.
I guess this is an auditorium. It is much smaller than the previous two rooms. The room is split into three sections that can be seen on the floor. The far side is complete wet mud and marshland in appearance. The middle section appears to be a very simple hard-packed earth. The section we stepped into is a flat stone with carved trenches a hand’s breadth in width. Water is flowing down from multiple fountains on the wall that we enter from. The water from those fountains is flowing through all the carved patterns on the floor and draining away under the middle section.
“Earth and fire mages get back out in the hallway, there’s not enough room in here for all of you unless you want to stand in the mud. As for aspirant water mages, find a spot on the rocks that has water in a circular hole. Your goal is just to try and spin the water into a vortex.
Two-thirds of the people file out back into the hallway, finally leaving enough room for everyone else to space themselves out onto the rock surface. I sit down with Jessica and my familiar off to the side again and whisper.
“So, would I be able to pass any test if you let me? Why is that?”
“Yes, you could. You are taught to push mana through something and have that something reject everything but one thing. The vii-dari, is a plant, so if you push a mixture of fire and plant mana through it, the vii-dari will reject the fire and resonate with the plant mana.”
“So… an artifact acts like a filter? What happens to all the other mana? Can you cast magic without an artifact?”
“Yes, all wasted mana is wasted. Do you need artifacts to use primitive runes? No. With practice, you can ignore…”
“Congrats water mages! Half of you that remained succeeded which is good. After training, you’ll know how to drown rodents, make water potable, or create difficult swamp terrain to prevent cavalry charges. As long as you are no longer dead weight and go to a guild branch that’s closer to the sea you can get some requisitions on boats to help with sailing or fishing. Out here, there’s not much but to train for making battlefield nuisances, watering farmer fields, and cleaning some stuff. You can help out on hunts, but I recommend learning how to use a bow or pike.”
“Everyone back out and head east down the corridor to the wind hall. All the way down, let’s go!”
We clear out of the room slowly and continue down the hall.
“So artifacts are not actually needed?”
“Yes, though they help in forming your first essence or two.”
“It is your inner mana states.”
“That does not make sense.”
“It will in time, you must grow it and your plant mages are allowed to practice freely without persecution.”
“I would not say we are not persecuted…” Jessica chimes in.
“Are you killed on the spot? Do you need to learn in secret? Never letting anyone know?”
“No… Is it really that bad in other states?”
“Many states have the magic as forbidden.”
We start walking past a lot of the fire and earth and water mages that are staying in the corridor as we enter the room in silence, contemplating the dark places where plant mages would be hunted.
This room is similar to the fire hall in that the back wall is mostly missing. However, the room is tiny, we could barely have 30 people in here. Along the sides are some beat up spinning boards that could spin if caught in the wind or if you bumped into them. The wood is weathered, old and everything looks to be in a state of disrepair.
“Mages! Come here and grab a paper pinwheel. Your goal is to have your mana blow and spin it, simple and easy for everyone.”
Captain Davis certainly became less animated with the wind mages group.
“Uhh… Mr. Familiar.” Jessica peeks out from behind me to address my still unnamed familiar.
“You called my Flayer a ‘vii-dari’, what does that mean?” She asks as she opens her satchel to let Viney out to continue her tip-tapping away. Oddly, he looks down at Viney sticks out both hands vertically towards Viney, and starts to strum the air with his fingers for a quick second.
Viney starts thrashing and dancing in the pocket in response.
“She’s of the vii-dari people. Very young and still trying to understand.”
“What was that hand thing just now?” I ask him.
“Vii-dari royal language.”
“What!? What!?” Jessica and I repeat back at the same time.
“Is she royalty? You can speak her language?” Jessica is hanging on to his every lie.
He strums the air again and gets a longer dance out of Viney.
“Violent Light Shoot Fighting Winters does not claim to be of royalty.”
“Violent what?” I ask.
“That is her name.”
“You are trying to make a fool out of us?”
“No, their race picks names like that.”
“That’s not real.”
“Then ask me to ask her anything.”
“How about asking her to spin three times,” Jessica asks expectantly. This is a cruel joke if he is giving her hope that her familiar is smart and can talk and it is just us that have been incapable of communicating properly.
He very slowly strums the air moving just a couple of fingers back and forth, slowly. Viney dances a bit and does an annoyed tippy-tap. He continues and Viney actually does as Jessica had asked and does three graceful twirls with a small flourish at the end.
“Awwww… that’s amazing! I cannot wait to tell mom and dad! What did you say her name was again?”
“Violent Light Shoot Fighting Winters.”
“Cara, I think we should call her Violet instead, Violet Winters, hehe.”
“YOU! Stop blowing on your wheel, you failed! Give up already!” Captain Davis yells out at a slightly overweight boy. Oh! He’s the one that got hit by lightning yesterday. The boy was trying so hard that he was literally blowing on the pinwheel. He stops with a downtrodden look as if his final chance at leaving a deserted island just left him stranded.
“All but five of you made it. Congrats, the training starts tomorrow. While dead weights, you can help clean the streets by sweeping them. Once strong enough you can maybe push some windmills on dead days, hide camp smoke for hunting parties, or mask their scents. When you get really good you could join the coast guilds and help speed up sailboats or speed caravans up. I highly recommend picking up archery. The rest of you, head back down the corridor and to the left, a room there will have a mage to help with the plant trial. As for everyone else, go home, and prepare for some training tomorrow.”
With that everyone filed out of the room including Captain Davis, leaving my familiar, Jessica, myself, the lightning boy, and another downtrodden soul. The last person rounding out our group is a girl with brown hair in a pixie cut that is a head taller than me. She’s handsome and tomboyish with more muscles than I have. She’s currently brooding and standing off to the side in a trance.
“Hey all, we should head on over. Don’t worry, it should not be as bad as you think.”
They are lethargic in responding but follow along as we exit to a completely empty hallway.
“Wow… They really all left us.” I say out loud to nobody in particular.
We head down the hallway and take a left. We poke our heads into each room to say hello, but nobody is present. We keep heading down looking for a room with any senior mage to help us.
We get to the very end where the rooms are getting smaller and smaller until we find a room with a jolly and portly elderly gentleman. The room has almost nothing in it besides a single long desk with a dozen seats. Besides it being a tall room with a pair of large windows that still have their glass, the room is a blank canvas save for two shelves that are full of glass panes at the front.
“Hello! Hello! Wow! There are a lot of you! Five of you! Come in, come in!” The jolly man with salt and pepper short hair welcomes us in, shaking each of our hands as we file in.
“Oh! Miss Perdu! So great to see you following in your parents’ footsteps, I remember helping them through the guild initially as well, way back when. Great! Great!” The jovial man waves us into the room and towards the small long plank seat behind the long desk.
“What a lovely little flayer you have there Miss Perdu!”
“Thank you, her name is Violet.”
“Great name for the Lil thing! Everyone, you can address me as mage Vast. In the future, you can use the glass panes on the two bookcases to review useful herbs that you can find in our region. I’d recommend that you go through them at your leisure and in the future when out in the woods you should keep your eyes open for them.”
“Besides knowing what to look for and possibly how to care, extract, and process them, you can find all those resources on the shelves. You are free to review them on guild premises but you are not to take them away from the guild. They are all valuable resources and you just need to pick them up and read before going and collecting samples from the wilderness.”
“The test is but a formality at this point but we shall begin.”
He hands out five pots of a four to six blade grass to all of us, including my familiar. I don’t try to stop him and my familiar simply accepts it with a curious grin.
“Alright, we have some green Faize grass here. Great for cooking and truly spices up everything. Take a measuring string and measure out a leaf from the stem to the tip and once you have your measurement, just slowly try guiding your mana into the plant to speed up its growth.”
He beams at the five of us and motions for us to get on with it as he grabs a large book, ‘In pursuit of heat’, it’s a cooking book…
Banishing my qualms about trying to speed up the growth of the grass. I grab a string on the desk and measure it out against the longest strand of grass from the base of the earth and tie a knot off at the max length. Closing my eyes I try to focus on the little plant, I try to reach down and push towards the plant… It feels different than before. I can feel that with every exhale something trickles out of my core being. Redoubling my efforts I keep at it for a few minutes.
The room is dead quiet except for mage Vast flipping pages. After maybe ten minutes I open my eyes and quickly grab my string and measure it out.
No! There’s no change! Looking around in a panic to see if my familiar is still impeding me. Jessica opens her eyes to look over at me, feeling my panic. We share a look and I notice that she has Violet on the desk in between her and the grass.
I look over at my familiar and he’s about to start laughing at my plight. No! I’m not going to have him sit on my lap or make any scene.
“Don’t worry, you are doing this ridiculous exercise correctly.” He says to me.
“Cara… Mom and dad do this and it…”
“Hey now! Be quiet and continue with the exercise. Otherwise, you will not complete it by nightfall.” Mage Vast cuts off our whispering.
I look out the window and want to cry, it is still the early afternoon! I give my best frown at my familiar who wants to laugh at my expense. Strongest magic type, my ass!
Grumbling to myself as I face and continue pushing at my weed. With my eyes closed, I can hear my familiar whisper to me.
“This is a terrible training exercise. We will show you the true power of plant magic that is feared by all states, this farce will not do. Patience is required.
Mage Vastor finishes through his second cookbook when he snaps it close to grab everyone's attention.
“Great job everyone! It is already quite dark out and you’ll need to go home before the devourer claims you.”
I open my eyes and roll my stiff shoulders. My butt has fallen asleep more times than I can count on the awful wood seat. I grab my string and test it again and while there is a success, I’m just torn at how bad an entire afternoon was wasted. One finger width. One measly finger length.
Mage Vast is excited and collects all the green Faize grass from the five of us. Frowning a bit at my familiar’s that seem even more sickly than when he handed it over this afternoon.
“Good job… most of you. Some significant growth was demonstrated. With this, you are all plant mages and can come to use the guild research resources. Good day!”
“Ughh, sir! What about requisitions? Mr. Davis told everyone else that after training for a season that they’d be able to do requisitions.” Said the lightning boy.
“Oh… That? Well, you don’t need training in the guild. Just collect herbs and do what you just did. As for requisitions, you can go into the forests to collect anything that has a demand for it. You can be a guide in the town or take a stab at creating a secret sauce and be a street food vendor. I recommend researching the market prices every day and figure out patterns if you can. Every good plant mage knows when to collect the fruits of their labor and sell them for the best profit.”
“But… doesn’t the guild just buy scavenged herbs and magic plants?” he asks again.
“Well yes, but you will never get the best prices by doing that all the time. Price patterns are every plant mage’s trade secret, otherwise, you’d be a poor pauper on the streets.”
With that he almost ran out of the room with his bounty of five weeds, leaving a sense of melancholy in his wake.
“Let’s head home Jess.” I’m tired and want to sleep in my own bed.
With that, everyone left the room to head back to our respective homes.