"Eyiel," the teacher said, "I can't keep putting off this lesson days and days at a time. Please pay attention." She was staring off in the distance, at nothing in particular. She jumped at the sudden use of her name, and looked back to her teacher, embarrassed. A couple of the students giggled at her reaction.
Ardarrion had looked just the way he did in class the day before. The wounds that she had seen him with the night before were completely gone, so that nobody would ever know what had happened. His fatigue, however, was not, and though he was doing well to hide it, she could still tell that he was worn. His outfit, however, had changed. He was wearing a simple shirt, instead of the thick shirt and cloak he usually wore. His shoulders seemed to sit lower than they usually did.
After last night, she thought to herself as she struggled hold attention on the lesson, you're just going to continue like nothing happened? How can you expect me to pay attention? She looked down at her right hand, where she was still wearing the ring she was given. She drifted off again, thinking back to the events of the night prior.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ardarrion began to cough again, and Eyiel helped him take another drink from the flask of water. "Ever since you became my student, Eyiel," he said quietly, trying not to strain his throat further. "I could tell, you had so much potential. There's a limit to the amount of magic power a person can use, and few can can reach high amounts that you seem to have."
"But," she replied, not sure where he was coming from. "I'm not really that good at it. I'm barely passing, screwing up all the time." He chuckled briefly, which lead into another fit of coughing.
"Your failure is not from a lack of comprehension, but from a lack of control. You lose control of your spells because you are using more energy in them then they take, so the spell mutates into something else. You simply need to learn to control the flow of energy."
She nodded, understanding. "Perhaps," he added, a crafty grin on his face, "that's what's made me attracted to you so much. One thing at least." Startled, she blushed, and he tried laughing, breaking quickly into more coughing.
He slowly began to lean up, and shift his position so he was sitting upright on the sofa instead of laying across it. He gestured for her to sit next to him, which she did, hesitantly. For a few moments they just sat there, doing nothing, before he took the book in his hand and opened it to one of the pages. On it was a diagram of the device sitting at their feet, written with a language she did not understand.
"Even," he said, a tinge of sadness in his voice, "if you were to reject me, the fact remains that I would still require you to become my replacement. The device creates a link to the users mind, and will only respond to those who have taken the Oath. I have lost access, permanently."
She looked at his face, and he did not turn to return the look, remaining instead fixed on the pages of the book with the look of sadness he wore in his voice. "What happened?"
He finally looked at her, expression now changed from sadness to disdain. "When I returned here from the class, I found a letter, a request from the Order to investigate.
"As I traveled to the location, I was ambushed. There was a man, and a strange beast I had never seen before. The beast attacked me, with a strength I had never fought before. It moved right through my defense, it seemed to simply ignore the power of the device completely. "The man had control of it, and after doing all of this to me, he called it off. He then came over, grinning the whole time, and spoke in my ear. 'You cannot hold forever,' he said, 'we have the power to break the order.' He then spoke a curse on me, directly into my mind, which has caused the device to reject me."
He set the book aside and looked directly into Eyiel's eyes, his own filled with sadness and worry. "I fear this man may not be alone, and is going to target members of the Order. Even if he is alone, if we are destroyed, then the world's protection from itself is ended." Suddenly hit with a wave of fatigue, he fell over, leaning on Eyiel's shoulder. She struggled to hold her own balance upright from the unexpected weight, but didn't try to fight it.
I never would have thought, she thought to herself, that such complex things were going on. Or that he was more than a simple teacher of magic. And he's... He tried sitting up again, but then began to wobble. She shifted to sitting directly against the arm of the sofa, and helped him lay back down across her lap.
"Thank you, Eyiel," he said, and closed his eyes. "Whether you decide to accept me or not, I need you to take my place in the Order. You're the only of my students who have the potential for enough magic power to be able to fight. Normally there is much more to candidate selection, but emergency dictates I take this action. "
She nodded, before realizing that was a silly action since his eyes were closed. "I understand," she vocalized.
He closed the book, and set it down on the ground, next to the device. "I want to keep it a secret for as long as possible," he said, opening his eyes to look up at her. "If this man is targeting members of the Order, he must have some information on where to look. So I will administer the Oath myself, and we don't want to say anything to any other members unless absolutely necessary." She nodded, and he smiled.
"Then it's settled," he said, voice finally relieved. "We will do it tomorrow night, after everyone's asleep." He raised his right hand up, and set it gently against the left side of her face, inviting her.
She sat for a moment, heart racing, face flushed. He is serious, she thought to herself, he really wants me to be his wife. Her own longing for a companion grew fast, and she decided to accept their silent custom for proposal. She took his left hand with her right, fingers interlocked, and used her left hand to help him lean up so they could kiss. After a few minutes they broke it, then she spoke up, shyness making her voice quiet. "It's probably best if we don't tell anyone of our engagement for the time being."
A smile tugged at the left corner of his mouth. "You're right, it would just make things too complicated for now. We will marry after your graduation, but until then we need to keep it a secret."
He laid back onto her lap again for a few moments, and then rose slowly to his feet. "It is late," he said, wobbly on his feet. "I should retire, so I can heal my wounds. You should return and sleep as well, you have classes in the morning." She got up and tried to help him, but he gently pushed her away. "No, please go, I will be okay now." She nodded, and left the room to sneak back into the dormitories.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It's still somewhat overwhelming, she thought. One of her classmates was now standing in the circle, and he seemed to be trying to repeat the events of yesterday, no doubt to attempt to push the teacher into ending the class early again. He looked rather disappointed, though, when his Fire Bolt would not achieve the same effects as Eyiel's own did the day before.
"Yes," Ardarrion said, somewhat disappointed. "If I had wanted a repeat performance of yesterday I would have just brought Eyiel back up, since I doubt she would have figured out how to not screw it up again in just that one day. Someone else, please, would you show us something different?"
The other student walked off, with a few of his friends jeering at him for failing. He just shrugged his shoulders, and several other students laughed. Another student stepped forward to do something different.
They really do have lower power, she observed in awe. The student up there decided she would cast a purely light element spell, causing a column of water to spring from the earth and tear up the ground as it moved around the circle. As her thoughts drifted, wondering how strong the spell would be if she used it, without noticing, she began try and cast the spell.
"Eyiel!" The teacher shouted, and she quickly regained focus. Everyone else was struggling to stay standing, as the earth was shaking from the force of her spell gathering. Ardarrion quickly cast a pair of spell circles around her feet, one fully contained inside the other and rotating in the opposite direction. The ground shaking stopped, and she felt herself lose connection to the elements to be able to call magic.
"I'm so sorry master!" She cried, as everyone around her started to laugh. "I just started using the spell without thinking, it won't happen again!"
"First rule," the teacher said sternly to the class as the laughter died down. "First rule of using magic, you must retain focus. If you do not, you are dangerous to those around you, either from failure to cast when you need a spell cast, or idly casting spells haphazardly, putting lives at risk."
A few of the group of boys started laughing again, the one that tried to copy the Fire Bolt earlier included. "You're just as much at fault here, Janun," he said, pointing squarely at the boy and giving him a harsh look. He stopped laughing and stood stiff, back straight. "All you wanted to do was get out of class early, so you were trying to copy what happened yesterday. Such haughtiness will put you in just as much trouble, and all you'll end up with is failure to perform. And I'm sure that's not a problem you would want to have."
Several of the girls started giggling at the joke he snuck in, and Janun looked down at the ground, averting the teacher's gaze. "Yes, master," he finally mumbled after a few moments.
Ardarrion closed his head and shook his head. "Instead of falling behind further in lessons, you all have homework now." Cries and whines were ignored as he continued. "I want you all to write me an at least four page paper on your meditation and focus techniques and how you will apply them to casting. And none of your fancy expanding cursive that ends up taking twice as much space this time, Naddus, or I'll make you present it aloud to the class. Twice." He opened his eyes and looked at his students, and shook his head again. "Class dismissed. Eyiel, in my office!" He walked off, grumbling, and the students moaned as they headed back towards the building.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
About ten minutes after the class had ended, Eyiel knocked on the teacher's door. "Come in, Eyiel," came his voice sternly.
Oh man, she wondered, worried, is he mad at me now? She cautiously opened the door and stepped in. He was sitting at his desk, staring straight at her. "Lock it, and have a seat," he said, tone unchanged. She cautiously did what he said.
For about thirty seconds, he just stared at her sternly. Then he began to crack, and roared with laughter. She sighed, relieved.
"I'm sorry," he squeaked, trying to control his laughter as tears streamed from his face. "The longer I held like that, the funnier it got." He took a few deep breaths, trying to calm himself.
"That was pretty funny back there," he said, still giggling occasionally. "That's why I love teaching, it's such a humorous job."
"So I'm not in trouble then?" She said, relaxing somewhat relaxed.
"Don't think you're getting off that easily," he said, winking his left eye. "You still have to write the report."
"Aw," she whined, and he laughed again.
"Actually, I meant to assign that last week. Casting single elements of magic isn't so bad, but combining elements together, and chaining a series of them in a row to form more complex spells is quite difficult for novice casters to hold control over."
They sat in silence for a moment before he added, "that spell was pretty strong, though, for being a novice. I really do need to teach you some power flow control." He got out of his seat, and went over to one of the bookshelves. He proceeded to repeat a process of pulling out a book, looking at it for a moment, then shaking his head and putting it back, over and over again. For several minutes and several bookshelves this continued, until he finally found a book.
"Ah," he said, "here we go." He took the book and crouched at Eyiel's side, thumbing through the book. "I got this book while learning spell circle magic, which is cast differently than elemental magic. I was already adept at elemental magic at that point, so I only skimmed over it briefly after the forum the author presented the method at. But I'm sure you will find something helpful in it."
He handed her the book, and then stole a quick kiss from her lips. "Please, just don't tell anyone else I gave this to you," he said as she blushed, winking his left eye. "I want them to dig it out of the library themselves." He pulled her to her feet and escorted her out of his office. "I will see you tonight, meet me at the back gates."
Well, she thought to herself, as she hurried back to her room, still a little giddy. Tonight's the night, then. I think I'll take the time to read over this some before then, I'm sure it would please him if I came prepared.