With his nerves steeled, Galahad walked toward The Seeker’s House cautiously. Although he knew the dragon on the banner was just an illusion, he really didn’t like how it stared at him, even if it was a lot kinder looking than before. It almost looked happy to welcome him into its clutch along with the people who were now his house mates. Galahad grabbed the knocker on the wooden door and slammed it once. The door quickly opened and Galahad found himself face-to-face with a kind-looking, older woman maybe ten years his senior. Her smile was gentle and her yellow eyes blinked at him for only a moment. She glanced quickly at the band on the man’s arm and opened the door wide for him, “That band lets you open the door yourself, you know,” She chuckled, gesturing for him to enter. “Sorry, I was a bit intimidated by that dragon on the banner,” He admitted, stepping inside and closing the door behind him. The woman laughed, coiling a long, orange, scaled body underneath herself. A lamia, one of the half-snake demi-humans, her scaly underside starting at her waist and weaving down into a tail several feet long. There were also a few sparse scales along the woman’s chin and ears. She wore a white gown and a smaller white cone hat with a thin brim folded up towards the tip. Her ears were long and pointed with gold chains hanging from the tips and looping down to the earlobes, “Well, good afternoon. Welcome to your new home. I am Shanessa, The Seeker’s house… 'mother.' An unofficial title, but I am proud to bear it,” She smiled a bright, toothy smile at Galahad, making him blush. All of her S’s were drawn out as she spoke with a thin, forked tongue that occasionally flicked out at him when she spoke. As he got a better look, Galahad realized her pupils were slits, “Mother?” “Well, I am the oldest of House Seeker and the younger students come to me for guidance. I have felt that this is my calling. For that reason I have purposefully stayed in this house despite going for a mastery in necromancy,” She chuckled, “Healing magic specifically. I am not a fan of raising corpses unless I am resuscitating the very recently deceased. Thankfully that is not needed very often.” “I see. I'm in good hands then,” Galahad replied, to which Shanessa nodded and simply smiled. Galahad took a moment to glance around the ground floor of the Seeker’s House. Without any windows, all the light being cast around the room was from a chandelier that burned softly with a set of orange flames. Around the room there were two tables with four chairs each. Two seats at each table were taken by young adults who had put down their books to see the new arrival. They gave polite smiles while Galahad gave a little wave, then they returned to their studies quietly. Along the walls of the room were shelves, most of them being free standing ones fastened to the stone walls containing thick tomes, rolled up scrolls, a few potions and even unrefined reagents for casting and potion brewing. Galahad wondered if some of the materials were leftovers from student experiments that had been finished or long since misplaced ingredients. Tucked against the walls opposite from one another were leather recliners that currently sat empty. They certainly looked comfortable, and had end tables with books stacked on them. On the far wall was a wooden staircase leading to the second floor. Galahad nodded before turning back to Shanessa, “Where are the dorm rooms? I spent two near sleepless nights on a train and I just need some rest, even if it is only eight.” “Upstairs, please follow me,” The lamia brought the man up the stairs, slowly slithering up them on her long snake body. As he moved to the second floor, Galahad heard the noises of someone watching TV. A goblin, a halfling, and a human all sat on a big, heavily used couch watching the ever popular ‘Big Orc's Big Cook Off’ where two orcs went head-to-head cooking up the best meals they could. Each challenge usually involved either orc being given the entire carcass of a recently hunted animal, a pair of crocodiles in this case, then they have to skin, butcher, and prepare the meat in a dish, gaining points for how much of the slain reptile they use. It was always a spectacle with the two orcs screaming slurs and insults at one another across the kitchen, sometimes even throwing bones, butcher knives or even the whole carcass at the other contestant. Whatever episode it was, a fight was sure to always break out between the contestants. In fact it seemed to be encouraged. Both Galahad and Shanessa were transfixed by the show, it was easily something anyone could enjoy. “Oh, Salt-Guts has got this in the bag!” The goblin on the couch decreed with his nasally voice as it showed this Salt-Guts orc slam his meat tenderizer so hard on the croc’s belly it exploded all over him, resulting in a big grin on his face. Quickly, he scooped the innards into a bucket and slammed it on the stovetop to cook. The human scoffed, “His technique is so shoddy! Like, who the hell wants to eat anything out of a ‘gut bucket’!?” “Ah, humans,” The halfling shook her head, “Ya just can’t wrap your heads around other cultures.” “What’s that supposed to mean!? You’d eat that crap!?” “Nah, I’m just messing with ya, I’m ready to barf!” She visibly gagged before giggling. “I would.” The Goblin admitted, “It’s making me hungry jus’ thinkin’ about it. Think I'll order some takeout from Grizzghul's.” As a commercial break came on for Grizzghul's Grillhouse, Galahad was finally able to tear himself away from the screen. Shanessa did the same, “I do not understand this show, but all the students seem to really enjoy it,” She grumbled, rubbing her temples, “Up that ladder is our personal alchemy set,” She gestured to a ladder behind the couch which led to a third floor, “Feel free to grab any books here and downstairs if you need some reading materials. The dorm rooms are through this door,” She gestured to a wooden door in the stonework, “What is your name, dear?” “Galahad Loxley,” He replied, watching as she made her way to the door. Shanessa cleared her throat and put her hand on a softly glowing gem next to the door, “Galahad Loxley,” She commanded. The door shuddered and clicked before she tried the handle, opening it inward to an extra dimensional space containing a simple twin size bed, a dresser, a desk, a chair, and a tiny vanity. Galahad stepped into the room with the snake woman, making it feel very cramped as he did his best not to step on her tail, “And here you are. I know it's not the biggest, but it should be cozy, right? You can rotate that crystal to change that window to a different scene. That crystal there controls temperature and humidity, just fiddle around with it, you will get it quickly. When you want to leave, just unlock your door and that should move it to the front of the pocket dimension.” As she explained each of the small crystals attached to the cream walls, Galahad tried them each, watching the outdoor scene switch from a forest, to a field, to a serene ocean where the sun was slowly moving toward the horizon, “I could get used to this view, real or not.” “I know, right? Your keys are on the vanity. Come get me if you need anything, Galahad. My door is always unlocked,” She gave him a smile and left, closing the door on the way out. Galahad tested the keys, listening to them lock the door with a satisfying THUNK. He set his bag down, deciding to unpack later. After changing into his sleepwear, he climbed onto his bed and closed his eyes, trying to sleep. Classes and the people he had met, especially that mysterious woman, Miss Manus, were all he had on his mind. He needed to buy books and materials, but those could wait. For now, rest was what he needed. THUD! THUD! THUD! “Galahad! Are you in there?” A voice called, rousing Galahad from his slumber. Checking the clock, he saw it was around eight in the morning. “Huh?” He drowsily called back, pushing the plush blanket and soft sheets off his chest. Beyond his door Galahad heard some chatter, “Fredrik, do you really need to wake him? Let him sleep! He just arrived yesterday after such a long journey!” It was Shanessa chastising him, her voice a bit groggy from it being quite early in the morning. “If he is to be my peer, he must be able to rise early and catch the worm!” Fredrik replied in his seemingly usual bombastic way, “Galahad! I will unlock this door with the wave of my wand and pull you out of bed if I need to!” “I’m awake!” Galahad called as he rubbed his face and climbed from the bed, “I’ll be out in a moment, Fredrik!” “Wondrous, my friend! I shall wait for you here. But please, I would prefer to get this underway, so hasten your freshening up, my friend!” The golden-faced man called. Galahad didn’t reply. He had no idea why Fredrik wanted him, but if he was to join the transmutation house sometime down the line, he would need to do his best to be in their good graces. Even if he was the best transmutation wizard on campus, the council could just say ‘no’ and he would be out of luck and stuck in this Seeker’s house for his entire time at the academy. Worries of what would be worse plagued his mind. What if the entire house simply disregarded him and refused to help or teach him? He couldn't let that happen. After a quick shower and dressing up in black slacks and a blue-green button up along with his bag strapped over his shoulder. Galahad left his room to see Fredrik leaning against the couch. Behind him another three wizards from the Seeker’s house, all mostly new arrivals along with some others, sat in simple chairs around the room all watching the TV again. This time it was the Dwarven Golf League. No one seemed to be really enjoying it other than a single older dwarf who must have been in the room first. The dwarf was swearing and pumping his fists alongside the golfers as they took their shots– hollering at the TV whether it was good or not– and then taking a sip from his personal flask just like the golfers would do. One dwarf even had a second golf caddy following him around who only carried a medium sized barrel full of booze for him. Before anything else could distract them, Fredrik beckoned Galahad to follow him, “Galahad,” Shanessa stopped him as she came up the stairs, “I assume you are going out with Fredrik here. Do you have a coat? It's quite brisk today. I can find one for you if you need.” “Oh, no need to worry, Shanessa, I’ve got it,” Galahad assured her. He reached deep into his bag and produced a nice, collared, water resistant coat from its depths. “I see! You have a bottomless bag, no?” Fredrik nodded his approval, “I wonder what other secrets you carry in that bag.” “Heh… nothing really,” Galahad chuckled nervously, “Well, we better get going. See ya later, Shanessa,” He gave the lamia a little smile before heading down stairs and out into the crisp morning fall air, “So, why’d you come get me? Did…” He trailed off, not wanting to let on how much Miss Manus was on his mind. “Galahad, classes start in a few days. As my junior, it is my task to make sure you succeed at our wonderful academy!” He stretched his arms wide as he backed toward the oak tree in the middle of the courtyard, “I am the unofficial president of metallurgy - a subclass of transmutation and a very important one, I assure you. As you said so yesterday, you have an interest in learning transmutation and metallurgy, and so I believe that an aptitude test should be in order, do you agree?” He was completely cocksure about everything he was saying. His confidence was a little contagious, though Galahad kept himself calm and collected. “I appreciate that, but I don’t need an aptitude test, Fredrik,” He explained, “I know my limits and abilities, but I was taught through apprenticeship. I don’t know how to study in an academy and I also know next to nothing about transmutation. The beginning will do.” Fredrik went rigid, “A-Are you sure? I would hate for you to be wasting time and money here! Though apprenticeship taught, surely you have some talent that would help you skip even the rudimentaries.” “Don’t worry about that, friend. Scholarships are paying for a lot of this,” Galahad smiled. Fredrik composed himself, pulling a golden comb from his pocket which he used to make two quick runs through his long platinum blonde hair, after which he adjusted his mask, which seemed to have no strap in the back to hold it in place, and brushed off his robes. His fluent movements made Galahad sure he did this many, many times, “The basics, of course!" He nodded, "Then how about a tour? I am sure knowledge of the campus shall be of some help to you. If you agree, perhaps an all paid for breakfast and lunch is in your future? Our campus cafeteria is second to none, I’ll have you know. Or maybe you would prefer some tea or coffee at the cafe?” Galahad held out his arms, almost mimicking Fredrik’s mannerisms, “How could I refuse such a generous offer? Lead on!” Though behind a mask, Galahad could tell Fredrik was smiling as his cheeks rose around the golden brims. Quickly he turned and wrapped an arm over Galahad's shoulder, ushering him around the campus, “No doubt you have already seen the layout of Fairgarland's campus, but just to help jog your memory we have each house encircling the courtyard." "All eight schools of magic, as well as sorcery and House Seeker, right?" Galahad asked, knowing the answer. "Correct. I can show you around each of them. I know, I know, friend, you are interested in transmutation, however it is still a good idea to familiarize yourself with each house as you'll likely be seeing their occupants daily. Some of them you'll find are most helpful in your studies and… well, it is good to have friends in House Hemlock. Alchemical burns and the like, trust me, wear gloves in the labs at all times." Fredrik held up one of his golden gauntleted hands as if to emphasize his claim. "I see," Was all Galahad could respond with as visions of boiling water and bursting beakers filled his mind's eye. "Anyway, over here on the east side of campus is the arena where each student may spar and fine-tune their magical arts in a friendly and safe environment. Come, let's go inside and have a look!" As he was led inside Galahad took note of the wide open building built like a mock-up of the old Roman Colosseum, though thankfully it had a roof overhead and lights for the evening. The flooring for the arena was waxed like a basketball court and spanned the width of two whole courts and length of three. Even now many students were at practice for both abjuration and evocation magic, as well as healing magics for those who got hurt. The walls on either side of the court were lined with seats, much more comfy looking than the average bleachers at a ballgame, though currently only two or three other students sat in them watching the practice sparring, "Some refer to this building as a gymnasium, however I disagree with such a label as with the help of our abjuration friends and academy staff this building can hold up to twelve duels at once! Impressive, yes? Our annual dueling tournament takes place here as well," Explained Fredrik, his hand waving across the court as though it were a luxurious tourist trap. "Dueling tournament?" Galahad parroted the word. "Oh yes, in fact this year's duel is coming up in the next few weeks or so." The golden man answered proudly, "It's always a nice break from the monotony of classes. Perhaps you could try your hand at it?" He suggested. "I'm not so sure… I don't really like fighting." Said Galahad. "Really? But it is such a good way to vent frustrations, like when the labs are taken again for the third time in a week." "Does that happen often?" Galahad asked, hoping to change subjects. Fredrik nodded and sighed, "Yes, wonderful though our academy may be we are still limited by reality in some aspects, but that is a discussion for another time, on with the tour! Just this way is the pool." The golden wizard guided Galahad toward the back door. As they exited the arena, there was another large building with an olympic sized swimming pool that was only a short walk away across a path, occupied by some even now in such cold weather, "I'll bet you're wondering how our students can swim at this time of year," Fredrik mused, pointing out several crystals, each set into the tile around the edge of the pool and smoothed over seamlessly. "Each of those crystals automatically heats and cleans the pool, making it perfect even during the winter." "What about when you get out of the water?" Galahad pointed out, “I know we’re in doors but I don’t see any towels.” Fredrik tapped a finger to the side of his mask's nose, "What a good question! See those crystals there and there?" He pointed at the ladders in the pool, "Whenever you exit the pool you are magically dried, thus you stay warm long enough to make it to the locker room over in the next door building." Galahad nodded, “I see. That’s pretty handy,” He said as he got a bit closer to some of the warming crystals for the pool. He knelt down and ran his finger across its surface, feeling its magical energies in his fingers. “Galahad! Come along! There is much yet to see!” Fredrik called as he held open the door to leave the indoor pool. From there it was a short jaunt to the indoor gym, there was even an overhead awning between them to keep swimmers dry in the rainy weather that was coming soon, “Here is the real gym,” Fredrik explained, “Weight room for student use,” He gestured to a glass door between windows into a smallish weight room. The only people in there was a barrel chested human who benched at about 150 pounds without breaking much of a sweat. A blue oni woman spotted for him and despite her more feminine physique she was just as huge. Galahad wondered if they were using enchantment or even alchemy to boost their gains or to just give themselves unnatural strength, “Over this way,” Fredrik snapped him out of the day dreaming with his voice and a wave. The two rounded a corner to another door leading into an indoor basketball court without much room for seating around it. Two teams of three played in a friendly yet competitive game, “There is also a locker room across here,” He pointed to the room labeled ‘Witches’ and the other being ‘Wizards.’ Fredrik continued down the hall, “Over here is my personal favorite area here, two tennis courts. Much more skill based than basketball,” He declared, “They can also be repurposed for badmitten should you be like Miss President and enjoy that more.” “I see…” Galahad trailed off as soon as Miss Manus was mentioned, “Did she say anything about me yesterday? After I met her?” “Hm? Miss President?” Fredrik stopped by the door leading outside, “Are you worried about what she has to say about you?” “A little.” The gold-faced man was obviously smiling again, “Are you sweet on her already? She gets more than enough of that from Harold!” “That’s not what I meant!” Galahad cried, his face turning bright red, “Just the way she was talking to me made me fear that I’d already ruined my chances of getting into your house!” Fredrik shook his head while snickering, “Galahad, you sweet summer child. You will quickly learn that she is cold and distant to everyone, even us council members who are the closest thing she has to friends. I will tell you we did discuss you, but none of us know your potential as of now without seeing you cast a single spell,” He explained, “Have no fear about your standing with us.” Galahad found himself sighing with relief, “Thanks for calming my nerves about it. Where to next?” “The library. Actually, the Little Witch’s Cafe is first. I did promise you breakfast, afterall. Luckily it is attached to the library. Their pastries are second to none. You could say their taste is… bewitching,” Fredrik laughed at his own joke as they walked to the other side of the campus, “Ah, here is the auditorium, where we first met,” He gestured to the long, flat building that sat to the west of the gym and the south of the dorm towers, “That building south of the other dorms is the communal building. There are recreation areas and two labs in that building. Full sized labs, I mean, much better suited for experimenting than our measly house kits. The use times for which are set on a schedule,” The words left his mouth bitterly. “What times do you guys have?” Galahad asked as the two passed a small congregation of illusion wizards spraying bright, flashing colors into the air one at a time. “We… have the first and last blocks for the lab,” He unhappily grumbled, “We have an hour for the rec room at eight in the morning. You know, the busiest time every day for most students.” “Seriously? How does that happen?” “House politicking. We have little sway to get what we want, especially when wizard duels are common in use of settling disputes. Transmutation is not a very good offensive magic, unfortunately. We would need an expert in another field at our helm to get what we want. Having all of our lab time at midnight to three in the morning is quite detrimental, especially since we need the lab more than most other houses!” From his body language, it was obvious to Galahad that Fredrik was absolutely upset over this, “Miss President does not care for magical combat, Todd is, well he’s Todd, Suzie struggles to keep up due to her size, and, well, our dwarven friend is a little too thick headed to really put his back into it. I am the only one of us on the council who can do any combat, but even then the evocation house decimates me. I have failed my classmates again and again, but this year will be different. I have been concocting a new spell that I think will blow the tops off of House Fritz’Eleo - that’s the house for evocation by the by.” “I gathered that, Fredrik.” Galahad stifled a chuckle. “Truth be told, I feel like even with my extensive research into this we may not stand a chance…” Fredrik sighed. “Nonsense. If you’ve put your mind to it, Fredrik, then I know you can make a difference!” Galahad smiled at his golden guide. “I admire that,” The gold-faced man chuckled, “How bright eyed you are about this.” “Come on, we can go over your strategy over breakfast, at least,” replied Galahad. “I will not stop you from trying, but truth be told I have no idea how much you know of combat. Perhaps you and I should hit the arena for some friendly sparring at least? I’ll still spare you the usual aptitude test, of course.” Galahad smirked, “That might be a lot of fun.” Fredrik turned his head at his junior, “Really? Even if we’re fighting?” “It’s only sparring, right? I can do that much. I’ll be sure to go easy on you,” Galahad cuffed him on the shoulder. “You strike fear into me with your confidence,” Fredrik chuckled, “What do you plan on doing with your upcoming knowledge of transmutation and metallurgy? For example, with my knowledge of it and enchantment, I wish to join the military and use my knowledge of the arcane arts to strengthen my brothers in arms’ weapons and armor.” Galahad gave him a troubled look, “Maybe I’ll get into artificing. I’m not totally sure yet. Being able to shape and control all kinds of metals and precious materials is definitely useful, but who would want to hire me is the question.” “I understand. It can be a bit tricky to apply the theorems of this craft sometimes. But I am sure you will find a place for yourself amongst the greats,” Fredrik’s eyes turned back toward the way they were walking. Trees lined the pathway with leaves that were slowly turning yellow, orange, and brown. Students sat on a few benches placed under trees in the shade cast from the late morning sun. Clouds obscured a lot of the sky, but the sun still shined through. It must have been nine o’clock by now, Galahad figured. Suddenly, as if whisked away in a gust from the north, all sunlight went out from the world and darkness blurred his vision. “Fredrik?” Galahad suddenly stopped in his tracks. His mind began racing as the darkness closed in around him, but he kept a steady pace on his breathing. “Hm? What is it?” Fredrik could see a dull look in the man’s orange eyes all of a sudden and a cackling from around them, “That damn imp… Galahad? Can you hear me?” “Fredrik?” Galahad looked around again and nearly jumped out of his skin as the gauntleted hand of his upperclassman gripped his upper arm, “There you are. I can’t see anything. It’s really dark,” He did his best to keep the panic in his voice under control, though he noticed it was muffled. Quickly he reached up with his other hand and snapped next to his ear and then the other one, “Can’t hear either… Blindness and deafness spell? A simple illusion,” He reached into his bag and retrieved a small bag of components which he quickly attached to his belt and then retrieved his staff. A six foot tall quarter staff of a black, charred wood with a crystal ball fastened to one end with a shining metal holder. He held the staff in his right hand and reached into the component pouch. He had a few metal scraps, roughly a teaspoon of blue mana salt, and some tree sap. He rubbed all the components together in his hand as he muttered to himself. It was almost ten seconds before he raised his staff in the air and the orb at the end of the staff lit up a bright, blue color. “AGH!” A voice cried before a small purple form fell out of a nearby tree, rolling on the ground after landing in a shrub. Fredrik released Galahad and picked the small creature up off the ground, “It WAS you!” He huffed. Galahad wiped his eyes and his vision had returned and the first thing he saw was the demi-human that the gold-faced man had picked up. Cloaked in purple robes, a small woman fought against Fredrik’s hold on her. Her skin was like lavender, its purple hues highlighted by her dark, heather purple hair that she had tied back in a long and wild ponytail. Two horns jutted out of the sides of her head and her all black eyes with purple irises looked cloudy, “Who is that?” Galahad wondered aloud. “The president of house Zucarius. Rita MacKenzie,” Fredrik grumbled, “Always making trouble for everyone on campus.” “Here,” Galahad rubbed his palm across her face, dispelling the illusion magic with seemingly no prior preparation, “Are you alright?” The imp rubbed her face, “Landed on my arm,” She whined. Galahad said nothing and simply took the arm in question in his hand. He leaned his staff up against Fredrik and grabbed some herbs from his bag and rubbed them up against the injuries, “Looks like it's just sprained. You’re lucky not to have broken it,” The herbs dissipated as he muttered the magical words. “Hey, look at that! The new guy knows a few tricks!” She shoved Fredrik’s hands off her body and flew on her small, leathery bat wings, “What’s ya name, chief?” “Uh, Galahad. Galahad Loxley. Nice to meet you Rita,” He greeted politely as he could. “Ah, I suspect the gold plated stick in the mud here introduced me earlier. Neat trick reflecting my illusion back at me. That’s abjuration right? And you know some necromancy. But you’re hanging out with the golden wonder? You in the transmutation house?” She wondered as she idly flew around his head. “Well, the Seeker’s for now.” He answered sheepishly, “Just started at the academy, but I’ve been learning as an apprentice for a while.” “I see… well if you wanna learn some illusion, I’d teach ya since I guess I owe you and all for the arm thing, right?” She grinned an impish grin. Galahad awkwardly scratched his head, “Well, I swore off illusion, admittedly. But thank you for the offer.” “Really? Already?” The imp frowned, “Well I still owe you. Hold onto that at least,” She looked as a white golf cart sped down the pathway toward the three, “Oh boy, here comes the fun police. I’d dip but she’d come after me if I ran.” The golf cart came to a screeching halt. A woman with dark skin hopped out. She wore a blue button up tucked into black shorts. Her arms and legs were covered in red, glimmering scales. One of her hands was on the sword on her hip and the other was adjusting her pulled back crimson hair, “What’s going on here? I saw that one stumbling around and she fell out of a tree. I see two trouble makers and an unknown party,” She scanned Rita and Fredrik with a harsh stare, “Who’re you? One of the new arrivals?” “Y-yes. U-uh, I’m Galahad,” He stammered nervously, quickly feeling her aura of authority. “These two giving you trouble?” “N-no ma’am. Just a h-harmless prank by Rita,” He chuckled. “Quite wonderful to see you too Wanda Alstaff,” Fredrik gave her a courteous bow, “As hateful of my golden visage as ever. When will you let me turn those dull scales golden?” He joked, knowing how to rile her up. “Never. If you try, I’ll make sure your sorry behind gets expelled, chrome dome,” She growled. “C’mon lay off these guys, Wanda,” Rita fluttered behind Galahad’s head and put her elbows on his scalp, resting her head on her hands, “You’re making sweet, little baby boy Galahad here shake in his boots!” “Hmm…” The lizard woman’s long, red scaled tail tapped slowly on the ground, “Well. No one seems hurt. Are you hurt, Rita?” “Nope! Galahad here healed me right up!” She grinned, patting his head, “I think he might join the ranks of your ‘model student’ list. I pranked him and he still healed me!” “Hm. Well he won’t if he keeps hanging around bad apples like you two,” She huffed before climbing back into her golf cart, “Nice meeting you, Galahad. Stay out of trouble.” She pointed a clawed finger at him. “N-nice meeting you too, and I will do my best.” He gave a little wave as she hurried off in her cart. As she sped off, Galahad looked at his two upper class mates, “Who was that? She was pretty… well, intimidating.” “Wanda Alstaff. Head of security,” Fredrik explained, “A nice woman if you’re on her good side.” “Unfortunately neither of us ever will be,” Rita stuck her tongue out at the rapidly disappearing cart, “Anyways. I’ll see you boys around. Got more new arrivals to prank. And don’t you forget about that IOU, Galahad!” “I’ll try not to. See ya,” He gave a little wave before the imp cast a spell on herself, shrouding her in shimmering lights before vanishing. Her cackling was heard all around, echoing off the trees as a purple colored piece of paper drifted on the wind right into Galahad’s hands. Turning it over, it read ‘IOU - Rita’ with a little heart next to her name. He stuffed it in his bag. “You seem… much more competent than most of the other new ones. Abjuration and necromancy. Interesting,” Fredrik rubbed his golden chin and nodded in approval, “I can see why you are adamant on knowing your own power.” “Like I said: apprenticeship taught,” He chuckled nervously and scratched his neck, “Uh, the cafe?” “Of course! My apologies for that interruption,” Fredrick motioned for him to follow. The library itself was much larger than most of the buildings, with an old gothic design made of stone. Three tall spires capped the center of it, two smooth points flanking the tall spiraling one at the center, making it the tallest building on campus. Inside, past rows and rows of books, all of which the bookshelves needed ladders to climb to the top, was the cafe where Fredrik and Galahad sat eating their breakfast. Scrumptious, lightly toasted danishes with apple cinnamon butter and even some eggs that, according to the gnomish woman running the cafe, had been laid by her ‘chickies’ just this morning. Galahad’s gaze drifted back toward the library as he enjoyed his food. The shelves were full of tomes of magical lore on the first floor. It was divided into eighths, one for each school of magic and arranged in wedges which formed a circle at the center of the library. The second floor contained shorter shelves full of history books, math books, and many other subjects. The third floor was mostly shelves of fiction books along with a computer lab and a few meeting rooms, though it had obviously seen its use, it still looked clean and very organized. I would hate to be late returning any books here, Galahad thought to himself, picturing the kind of person who would go to such lengths to keep all these books in order. His eyes drifted to the walls that were covered in paintings made by students. There were even art pieces sitting atop small pillars, vases and bowls, busts and statues and even the occasional abstractions made from winding and twisting metals and porcelain - something you might find an old researcher spending years isolated in his wizarding tower over to find some hidden meaning. They had walked past one that Fredrik had proudly pointed out a gold sculpture of a female form with long ears, horns, and strange almost robotic joint lines and explained it was his work. He refused to elaborate on what it was supposed to be. Fredrik drank his coffee through a small hole in his mask, “Impressive, is it not?” “Very. I’ve never seen a library this chock full of magical writing,” He mumbled as he drank a cup of orange juice. “Well, anything you need to research will be found here. Including fiction. Sometimes the house presidents will meet on the upper floors to discuss amongst each other,” He explained as he took another sip, “House politics and all that.” “I see,” Galahad put down the last bit of juice and glanced out the window. It was around ten thirty. “Want me to show you how to find what you’re looking for?” Fredrik offered as he finished his coffee. Galahad nodded and followed him to the shelves, “This library uses the Dewey decimal system. You can see here that all the magical tomes use a letter. T for transmutation, I for illusion, E V for evocation, E N for enchantment, and so on. But only the most determined, and ancient,” He added under his breath, “of casters use that to locate their reading materials. I recommend simply using one of these computers to search for it.” “Oh, good. I can figure that part out.” Galahad said confidently, “I think I did that once or twice at the local library back home.” “Then I shall spare you any further explanation. Come, the trip to the classrooms shall be brief,” The two left the library from the south end and saw two decently sized brick buildings, “Those are the buildings for the boarding school. Younger students live in the bigger one and the other one has their classrooms.” “I assume most of the academy students have no reason to go in there?” Galahad inquired. “If you need to take a class on the basics of magic, you would take it there. But you seem like you do not need to take that, hm?” Fredrik said in a bemused tone, “Unless you feel like spending your time in there sitting in on history, math, or english classes!” “I don’t really see myself doing that,” Galahad smirked, “Are those the academy class rooms?” He guessed as he pointed across a paved road on the west side of the campus that stretched north and south, up and down the entire campus with a road going further west to a parking lot near the classrooms. A few of the buildings faced the road, but all eight of the buildings were in a ring around the parking lot. Each building had a sign out front labeling which school of magic it was focused on. Fredrik led Galahad to the transmutation building and the two stepped inside, “It is quite easy to find your classes. See here, T101 is the first room from the eastern entrance. T201 is right above it on the second floor. Not many classroom buildings have a third floor and those that do don’t see much use, I think the most they get is from extracurricular clubs.” “I see…” Galahad rubbed his forehead, “I hope I’m retaining all of this…” “You will do just fine. Anyone on campus will give you directions should you need them. Galahad, since I have yanked your ear all morning, I shall move your owed meal from lunch to dinner to give you a chance to rest. Perhaps some of my house will come along and you can meet some of your future classmates? Unless you would rather have a quiet dinner,” He tilted his head as the two walked through the classroom building. “Invite whoever you want,” Galahad shrugged, “But a rest would be nice. I might go read or study in advance. Where can I buy the books I need?” “There is a well stocked shop down the road,” Fredrik led him outside and back to the road, pointing north, “Next to the Italian restaurant I shall treat you to tonight. If you pass the Hellbound Burger you have gone too far. It is a book store and also sells ample snacks should you be hungry for some junk food. Candy, chips, even some ice cream should you have a bad sweet tooth!” He chuckled to himself, “I can accompany you if you need.” “Nah, I should be able to make it myself. I’ve got a list of what I need for the classes I’ll be joining. Thanks for the tour, Fredrik. I really do appreciate it,” Galahad smiled before putting his staff back in his bottomless bag, “You know where to find me whenever we’re going to dinner.” “Of course my friend. I shall collect you around five-thirty. I will also see if your muse, Miss President, is willing to come with and she might even sit next to you!” Fredrik teased. Galahad’s face turned red, “I-I told you, I don’t have a crush on her I just want to make a good impression!” “I know, I know. She most likely will not join us. She is quite a busy bee. Anywho, farewell, friend,” Fredrik watched as Galahad shoved his hands in his coat pockets and strode down the sidewalk as horse drawn carriages and the odd car went by. With a nod, the gold faced man crossed the road and took a path to the courtyard where he stared at the students practicing enchantment under the massive oak tree. He knocked on the door to his house and pulled the door open. The bottom floor of the Karak-Albrac tower was lined by shelves full of books with even more books piled on top of them. Desks and tables dotted the walls where there were no shelves along with much of the center of the room with some comfortable desk chairs around them. There was only one thin path that went in a straight line to the stairs. Miss President sat at a table by herself with the sounds of their classmates coming down from the stairs to the second floor. Fredrik strode over to her, taking a seat across from her, “Good morning, Miss President.” “Did you give Galahad an aptitude test?” She coldly asked without looking up from her book. “No. He said he did not require one,” The gold faced man explained. Miss President looked up at him, her eyes hardly visible under the brim of her fluffy hat and hair. Her face was as stoney as ever as she stared back at Fredrik, “Pardon? You took him at his word?” Fredrik nodded, “He told me he was an apprentice at one point but did not divulge much specifics. He also claimed he knew he was going to struggle in a school setting when learning magic so he wanted to be in the low level classes for now. I was going to spar with him to really see what his power was, an unofficial aptitude test, you see. But I do not believe that will be necessary now,” He couldn’t tell if the fey witch’s interest was piqued at all but he continued anyway, “He was pranked by Rita, she used a blindness and deafness spell on him. He was very quickly able to determine what it was, then grabbed his staff and some material components and cast a reflection spell. Successfully, mind you.” “A reflection spell?” She rubbed her chin with a hand covered in scales before slipping it back beneath her cloak, “He used components so I assume he took his time casting it. This does show he is knowledgeable but does not show just how knowledgeable. Did he perform any other casting?” “Yes. Rita fell out of a tree after being struck with her own magic. Without any components or seemingly any preparation, Galahad cast a dispel to remove the illusion. Right after that he used materials to cast a healing spell on Rita as her arm was hurt,” Fredrik concluded, “I believe that is all I have to report.” “You make it sound like I am asking you to spy on him,” Miss President leered at him. “You didn’t ask me, I know. But you did ask me to carry out an aptitude test and I felt the need to explain why I did not,” He shrugged, “What do you make of this?” Two human hands came out of the front of her cloak to close her book and set it aside, “Let the boy do as he pleases, I suppose. Give him time to rest for now, I will be teaching a few of his classes and I will test him then.” “I understand. I have promised to pay for his dinner tonight. You are welcome to join us if you wish,” Fredrik offered as he rose from the table, looking to retire to his room for study and practice. She looked at him for a moment, whether she was considering it or not was impossible to tell from her stoic expression, however she soon shook her head. "That won't be necessary, Fredrik." She answered, before returning to her book, “But do keep me updated on his casting. He may be prepared to join our ranks sooner than we anticipated.” “Oh? You wish to keep him close at hand?” Fredrik teased. Unfortunately for him, Miss President did not squirm like Galahad did before, “I merely think it would be beneficial for him to be taught by his peers if he really was an apprentice before now. Do not make such outlandish claims.” “You’re the boss,” He shrugged, disappointed by her humorless reply. Miss President was left alone at her table. Thoughts of Galahad’s abilities stirred in her mind. Being able to dispel on touch wasn’t the most impressive thing in the world, but it did show his adeptness at the craft. Her mind started to wonder just how long his apprenticeship had been and why he was now at the academy for a magic he had seemingly never worked with before now. She pushed the thoughts from her mind, even if she was a smidge curious, he would need to prove himself to her through test scores and studying before she would consider him for her house. With one last thought of him, she returned to her studying, preparing for the teaching she would be doing when classes would start in less than a week.
One response to “Multifold Manus Chapter 2”
Frederick and Galahad look very bubbly and seem to quickly become friends. And I’m sorry, but I can’t read his phrases in any other way than with a voice with a thunderous peal. Great chapter!
This IOU is a good MacGuffin, if you think about it. The president of a magical house and a local gangster (?) are indebted to the hero? Damn, free reputation!
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