Multifold Manus Chapter 3

	With the chillier winds and rains of fall came the start of the school year. The residents of each house groggily left their dorms with umbrellas, magical tools, or some kind of spell springing from their wands or staffs to keep the rain off their robes. They either bee-lined it for the cafe or the cafeteria to get something to wake themselves up like coffee, tea, or some form of energy drink. 
	Shanessa had prepared some coffee for those in their house that needed it and was handing them out as people headed out the door. Most left with a disposable cup in one hand and an umbrella in the other, “Need a drink, dear?” The lamia asked as Galahad moved toward the door dressed in jeans, boots, and a thick coat.
	“Nah, I’ve got something already,” He shook his water bottle before rubbing his face, removing the last of the sand from his eyes. In the bottle was a powdered energy drink, the kind he had to mix with water. It tasted like citrus, which he much preferred to the taste of coffee.
	“Most professors will think you aren’t taking your classes seriously dressed like that,” The lamia scolded as she reached out instinctually and adjusted the collar of his coat.
	Galahad sighed and thought nothing of her grabbing his clothes gently, “I had to leave my robes behind when I left home,” He sheepishly explained.
	“Oh, you poor thing. Do not worry, I shall source something for you,” She grinned as she handed a cup of coffee to another student who strode past the two.
	“You really don’t need to do that for me…”
	“Nonsense. It will not be fancy, but it will keep you warm and protect you from some lower level mishaps that seem to happen every year,” She smiled again and pushed him out the door, “Better hurry! You might be late!” 
	“Thanks, Shanessa!” He called back as he hurried through the rain to the transmutation building. The load in his bottomless bag had been lightened after he had removed all of his clothes and other non magical components from it but it had gotten heavier due to the books that now sat snugly inside its vast space. Although he didn’t feel the full weight of the books due to the magic, he still felt a fraction of it and the strap on his shoulder tugged down against his collar. 
	 He watched as other students filed into their respective buildings, eager to get to their classes and get out of the rain. Galahad stomped across the puddle filled parking lot across the street from the dorm towers and pulled his hood up, doing his best to keep the water off his face, “Galahad! Hey!” A voice cried before they sped up to his side, “I knew it was you! Not many around here wear plainclothes like you do,” It was the gnome, Suzie, who was on the council of house Karak-Albrac, “Ready for your first day of classes?” 
	“Ready as I can be,” Galahad wiped his face off, wishing he had a wide umbrella like the witch did, “Real anxious about it.”
	The purple cloaked gnome giggled, “Ah, you’ll get over it! If Fredrik wasn’t pulling my leg, ya seem more than competent!”
	Galahad grimaced, unsure if them talking about him was a good thing or not, “So now you know too? I assume everyone does.”
	“Well, not everyone,” The two stepped into the building, shaking the water off themselves before starting down the hallway, “I just went out of my way to get Fredrik to tell me about you. It was really nice of you to heal Rita like that.”
	“Eh, I would have done it for anyone,” Galahad meekly replied, “My class is over here, I’ll see you around, Suzie.”
	“Yeah, bye, Galahad,” The gnome gave an impish smile and a wave before heading to the stairs.
	Galahad stepped into his Transmutation 101 classroom, closing the door behind him. When he gazed around the small classroom, he saw only a few other students. He was unfortunately the oldest, but what caught his eyes were the two women at the front of the room. The first was Miss Manus in her usual fluffy fur cloak and fuzzy hat. The other woman had a body made of a white, shining stone. When she turned to glance at Galahad, he realized she was one of the headmasters but she had been made of a dull gray stone when he last saw her. She smiled at him, “Is this the promising student you mentioned, Manus?” She was wearing black robes with golden, flowery designs at the hem of the sleeves and the midsection on her hips; it drew Galahad’s eyes to both of these areas. Her face looked like it was chiseled out of stone, and her hair did too, though it was much darker and came down to her shoulders. Her eyes were made of precious, semi transparent, blue stones with no iris, making it difficult to tell where exactly she was looking.
	“Yes. That is Galahad,” Miss Manus’s stoney face didn’t let on how she felt at all.
	“U-uh, good morning, Miss Manus,” He approached the front desk nervously. 
	“This is Headmaster Jasper Crixx,” The witch gestured with one arm at the construct, “Her primary role is to teach transmutation but has delegated a few of those classes to me and other, more experienced teachers. She was here to check on me before I begin teaching.”
	“What a pleasure to meet you, Galahad,” Miss Crixx put out her hand, “As Manus just said, I am Professor Crixx. I have been teaching at this academy ever since it was rebuilt in this world. I look forward to seeing your progress in the coming year.”
	“Uh, t-thank you,” Galahad’s handshake was a little loose as he shook her rocky hand. It was strangely soft and warm, unlike anything he had ever experienced in a construct, almost making him forget to break off the handshake.
	“Are you planning on becoming a master of transmutation?” Professor Crixx asked, “You dress like someone who is not planning on spending much time here.”
	“W-well,” He scratched his head nervously, “I’ve got some robes on the way. I hope,” He quickly added, not wanting to deal in absolutes, especially with a figure who had authority over him.
	“You did not bring any with you?” 
Galahad watched as the construct’s body changed from bright stone to multicolored quartz that jutted out wildly in every direction. The sight stunned him for a moment before he realized he needed to respond, “I-I could only pack so much. It seemed the least important to me.”
	“Ah,” The old construct creaked as her form changed to a gray, smooth stone, “I understand. It is nothing to be embarrassed about,” She pulled a silver pocket watch from her robes and her body turned into a semi transparent, frosted glass as surprise crossed her face, “Ah! I am going to be late! Goodbye everyone, Manus and Galahad!” She hurried out of the room.
	Galahad turned back to Miss Manus, “You told her about me?”
	“She simply inquired about students that I considered promising. I mentioned you and two others that I met on the few orientation nights up until this point. I admittedly have the most information on you so I was able to talk about you the most,” Miss Manus coldly explained before pulling two books from a bag, “You may sit down, Galahad. I intend to start when the bell tolls. If you wish to speak to me about the class we can do so afterward.”
	“Ah, right. Sorry,” Galahad found a seat and plopped himself down. The class had fifteen places to sit in three rows of five each. The front of the room had a blackboard that was surprisingly spotless. To the left side of the room– from the student’s perspective– was a set of windows that went from about halfway up the wall to the ceiling. The right side of the room had blank walls and the door leading in and out of the room. 
	Miss Manus stared up at the wall where an analogue clock ticked quietly, barely audible above the few conversations that echoed around the room and the rain that pitter pattered on the thick windows. She glanced at Galahad who nervously tapped on his wooden desk. He had the correct text book in front of him for the class along with a notebook to write in. He looked unfathomably uncomfortable and nervous. The tiniest of frowns spread across her lips as she wondered if she was placing too much pressure on him. He was easily a knowledgeable wizard, but would he really struggle in her class? She shook her head. He could handle it. He would need to be able to if he was to join her house. This was merely a beginner’s course for transmutation, if he had trouble with that there was no hope for him. 
	The belfry donged, once, twice, and more to a total of eight times, “Welcome one and all,” Miss Manus greeted, snapping the ten person class to attention. She gazed over all of them with her black and blue eyes as if coldly examining every student one by one, “I am quite glad to see students of all ages in my care. Grade school, high school, college, adults, all of your teaching is in my hands,” As if to prove how capable her hands were, Miss Manus pushed her fluffy cloak open to reveal them, all six arms fanned out in a small circle in front of her. Most of the younger students and some of the older, including Galahad, were shocked by her reveal. Underneath the cloak she had a teal dress, dark blue leggings and black shoes with silver buckles. She interlocked the fingers on each pair of hands so she had three locking sets of fingers resting against her torso, “Welcome to Transmutation one-oh-one. I am The Multifold Manus of Alderia,” She said, placing one hand on her breast while its partner picked up a piece of chalk and began writing her title upon the blackboard. “In this class I will be teaching you the basics of transmutation, alteration and metallurgy, all of which follow the same rudimentary principles.”
	Miss Manus pulled a small block of lead from under her cloak and sat it on the palm of one hand: her left, middle hand. Her right, middle hand was grabbed by the two above it and soon after the skin started to crack as it turned a deeper blue than before. After a few seconds it broke apart into a beautiful crystalline pattern that glistened in the lights overhead. It glowed with magical powers, “Wow…” Galahad gasped in awe.
	“Take a look at this block of lead,” Her four unoccupied hands gestured to the cube, “It has certain properties. It melts at three-hundred and twenty-seven degrees celsius, or six-hundred and twenty-one degrees fahrenheit. It conducts electricity, and can be poisonous in large quantities. From the dawn of time, in this world and the old world, alchemists and transmutationists have both striven to change lead into a precious metal. Who can tell me which one? Galahad?” Miss Manus didn’t give anyone else a chance to even raise their hands.
	“Uh,” He blinked, hand already scribbling furiously as he took notes, “Gold, right? Gold and silver?”
	“Gold primarily, yes. When I mentioned this material's properties earlier, I left out something important: its magical properties. Lead works quite well as an antimagic material, but it is transmutable still,” She explained, “With the right spells, materials, and mana, you can change it into a more desirable material,” To prove her point, she brought out a handful of magical herbs mixed with blue mana salts. She mumbled her incantation and the little block of lead turned to gold, consuming the salt and herbs in her hand, putting the scent of ozone in the air.
	An older student about Galahd's age, a dwarf lady with meticulously braided orange hair, raised a hand, “How da hell does this kinda magic not crash da gold market?”
	“In the old world it may have,” Miss Manus set the gold down, “But with modern science they are able to very closely scrutinize the gold and tell with the help of a specialized lead test whether the gold is genuine or not. The term transmuted gold is used to describe the gold we can make. Another factor limiting its production is just how difficult it can be to turn materials into gold. Usually only those on the path to mastery can do it.”
	A highschool aged student raised his hand, “Is changing your arm like that transmutation?”
	“Yes. Bodily modifications, on yourself or otherwise, is another school of transmutation. She grabbed her cloak and pulled it around the front of her body before pushing it away to reveal that she had changed four of her arms. Her bottom two arms, now that of a blue scaled lizard or dragon claw and the other a blue furred and fuzzy paw-hand. Her top two arms were an icey blue feathered wing and the other was a tentacle, “This is what I specialize in. Transmutation is all about changing the properties of objects. The mass, the color, the speed, the shape, the very composition of the object is what we strive to control.”
	“Can I turn someone into a frog!?” A much younger student excitedly inquired.
	Miss Manus nodded, “Of course. Polymorph is the other well known spell in this school. Just like every other school of magic, you will need to figure out your own style for how you will cast spells. To make this harder, transmutation spells are much more formulaic than other schools. You need precise spells, targets, mana quantities, and specific words.”
	She gazed around the class for a moment. Most students looked nervous, yet determined. Galahad looked mostly nervous, but he furiously wrote everything down. Miss Manus quickly realized he was already theorizing how his spells would be formatted, what physical materials he would use, what words he would utter, and was guessing how much mana he would need. All of his numbers were quite high. He has been studying already, Miss Manus silently noted to herself, but the mana calculations were way off.
	“Now,” She continued, picking up the Transmutation 101 book, “Flip to page thirty-two. We will begin with transmuting water into other liquids. Read through the next ten pages on the necessary components and then theorize a spell in your own style that will allow you to cast this simple transmutation.”

	Galahad’s hands moved slowly as he packed up his things, watching Miss Manus as she talked to some of the younger students. They were asking her a few questions about the homework she had handed out at the very end. All they needed to do was transmute a cup of water into another liquid in the next class. He had all day Tuesday to figure it out as the next class was on Wednesday. 
	With a sigh, Galahad decided against waiting around to make idle chat with Miss Manus. She was occupied anyways, so he decided it would be best if he’d ask her any of his questions later. He reshouldered his bag and gave Miss Manus a smile and a nod before exiting the classroom. Just under two hours had passed since the start of his Transmutation class and next was his Beginner's Alchemy course. His head was spinning with all the research he had done as well as what he had learned in class. He shook his head, rubbing his eyes, wishing he had more of his caffeinated beverage before his second class.
	Room 116 was the alchemy classroom, one of the bigger rooms in the building due to being set up to do labs in class. The tables had all sorts of alchemical equipment placed on them. Beakers, bunsen burners, mortars and pestles, and numerous other things that Galahad could not remember the names of. A woman in heavy looking robes and thick gloves of a beige color held a clipboard in her hands. Her witch’s cap was covered in old scorch marks and had a flip down welder’s mask attached to the brim. She looked up at Galahad, letting him see her long, pointed ears and short blonde hair. She was definitely an elf, a rare sight for them to teach at a non-elf run magical academy, or so Galahad had heard, “Name?” She barked at him.
	“Uh, Galahad,” He quickly replied, trying to maintain his composure.
	“Galahad, Galahad,” She ran her pen down the page and pointed back, “You’re at table six. Go now.”
	He left without a word, taking the seat on the left as he found the table labeled with a big red six. There were a total of twenty tables, five rows of four. Number one was on the right side of the room by the door, going to the left up to four before restarting on the right side one row back at five. This continued all the way up to twenty. Number six put him in the second row on the middle right. He took a deep breath and grabbed his books from the depths of his bag. He downed the last small swig of his drink before switching to water. In front of him was his Alchemy textbook, the water bottle, and a small leather bound journal.
	Galahad looked up as the professor continued assigning seating seemingly at random. He tried to listen in and see who would be his partner, “Hm, you are at table six, right next to that man in the plainclothes.”
	The wait for his partner felt a little long and he didn’t end up seeing them coming at all as they climbed up onto the stool next to him, “How’s it goin’?” His partner asked. They smirked at him with a green face. A goblin. An average sized goblin, a little under four feet tall wearing a black sleeveless cloak with a hood that was up. With a high, nasally, and gravelly voice, he looked at Galahad and grinned, “What? You never see a gobbie?”
	Galahad shook himself, realizing he was just staring, “Sorry. Just kinda exhausted. I’m not used to this yet.”
	“The whole magic thing?” 
	“Being in an academy,” He corrected quickly, “Looks like we’re partners.”
	“Yeah, but for how long?” The goblin looked Galahad up and down, “Sheesh, human fashion is pretty drab.”
	“Fashion?” Galahad scoffed, “It’s just functionable clothes. I don’t care for modern fashion.”
	“Money laundering scheme for the mermaid mafia is all it is,” The goblin concurred and both of them chuckled, “What’s your name, slick?”
	“Gala–” The goblin shook his head, “Now how in the Hells am I supposed to shorten that to something with a single syllable? Humans and their long, dumb names.”
	“Then what’s your name? Guk?” Galahad countered.
	The goblin sneered, “No, it's Blud, you idiot."
The two glowered at one another before a smile spread across their faces, "You can call me Lox, then, short for Loxley." Galahad offered.
"Lox, huh? That does sound better, not bad for a human name." 
	“Yeah, well Blud isn’t too bad either,” Galahad smirked, “What are you studying?”
	“General magic stuff,” Blud replied, lifting up his hood and scratching his bald head, “I come from a long line of goblin thaumaturges.”
	Galahad nodded. Thaumaturge was the name given to well rounded practitioners of magic, those that did not strive for mastery but still spent years in every school of magic, “I see. Shamans too?” 
	“Eh, they’re one and the same, really. Though they used to learn from nature and dung and bones, now it's illustrious academies and apprenticeships. What about you, Lox?” 
	“Studying transmutation right now,” He explained, “It's my first day studying at an academy.”
	“So you’re a complete newbie at this?” 
	“I wouldn’t say that. I can sling a spell or a dozen or so,” Galahad gave a little smirk.
	“Alright, class!” The elven professor hollered and stared everyone down until they stopped their conversations, “I am Professor Sh’Lak. Yes, yes, that Sh’Lak. The great disgraced elven prodigy for alchemy. We needn’t dwell on that right now when there are potions to brew and explosive mishaps to be had!” She cackled, her spine arching back as she belly laughed. The sudden motion jostled her blast visor, making it come down on her face and slam against her nose. She shuddered and pushed it back up, blood oozing from her nose. The dazed look in her eyes slowly faded as the class started to chatter with one another, “Quiet!” She suddenly hollered as she shook her head, blood still dripping down her upper lip, “All part of the plan, I assure you,” She declared as she pushed her robes aside and grabbed a half full bottle of a manilla cream and dumped some of the thick liquid out her fingertips and jammed it up her nose with the sound of cracking bones making half the class shudder and gag. 
	Galahad and Blud both stared in awe as the potent potion’s power took effect, mending the broken bones and stopping the bleeding and bruising, “Nice,” Blud nodded as he wrote down what happened, “That looks useful, don’t it Lox?”
	“Yeah, it does,” The man nodded in agreement.
	Professor Sh’Lak grabbed her nose and yanked it into place as if she had done this a million times without even flinching. She wiped her forehead with a rag and her bloody nose with the sleeve of her robes. Afterward she put her hands out, palms toward the class as everyone stared in total awe and abject horror. Blud just grinned and nodded. The elf took a deep breath before tightening the screws on her metal visor’s hinge. She cleared her throat, “Okay, from the top. My name is Professor Sh’Lak. Welcome to Beginner's Alchemy. Yes, I am THAT infamous Sh’Lak, the one that blew the roof off of Castle Drung’rla. Or as I call it, Dung-Ruler. Anywho, that is neither here nor there. As we are sure to have at least one person who is unaware, let me explain alchemy to you all. Alchemy is the process of using raw magical reagents and refining them to suit a specific purpose, usually to mimic a spell or another magical effect. Healing is the most popular, but poison, ironskin, and many others are all within the realm of alchemy. It has many overlaps with transmutation, so if you are familiar with that, you will feel right at home here. Any questions?”
	The entire class was still too stunned to reply from the nose break. Galahad raised his hand, “Are there any schools of magic that are never used in alchemy?”
	“Good question!” The elf snapped her fingers, grabbed her visor as it nearly fell down, and started to speak in a very high pitched tone, “Most have some use in the alchemy process, but you wouldn’t really be making abjuration, divination, or illusion potions. Enchantment has the ever sought after love potion, and conjuration has teleportation potions. Still, if you don’t like the idea of falling in love with a shrub or rock, teleporting to the bottom of the ocean or a thousand feet in the air, I suggest not bothering with those. I’ve seen it so many times and it’s always good for a bit of a laugh!” She began to cackle again as she seemingly thought about someone who had done this before.
	“I think the teach’ is nuts,” Blud mused aloud in a hushed tone.
	Galahad nodded, “Thank you, Professor,” He quickly turned and matched Blud’s volume level, “And keep your mouth shut. Last thing I want is for her to lob an explosive potion at us.”
	“Alright, enough dawdling, we are already down a bit of time and we need to get going. I am going to hand out a form, please read it over and sign it if you are comfortable. It just says that me and the academy are not at fault if you lose some fingers, limbs, or your life.”
	“M-My fingers!?” A younger student went pale as they looked at their ten splayed out digits on their two hands. 
	“Oh, calm down! I will PERSONALLY brew you a regeneration potion so you can grow some new ones or I shall call upon your choice of magical medicine man to magic it back on with whatever brand of mumboujmbo they subscribe to!” Professor Sh’Lak was unflinching as a student went down, completely out cold as they collapsed on their lab partner. A bit of a panic started to spread through the room, “Heavens above and hells below! What a bunch of sissies. Alathorne, give me strength to deal with this round of students. I am handing out the papers now. Just lay that kid on the ground, she should be fine.”
	“I think I’m gonna love this class!” Blud decided, signing the papers without even thinking about it. 
	“Once you’ve signed your papers! Bring out your textbooks and we can get started. Our first project will be a minor healing potion. Take a moment to read your book and then go to the cabinet to get your reagents! Everything else you need is on your desk!”
	Another class down. Galahad’s lab partner, Blud, rubbed his face, “Well, we didn’t die,” The goblin grumbled, “But I never expected using a mortar and pestle to hurt so bad.”
	“You were over grinding the herb leaves. Plus you shouldn’t have been grinding up the mana salt that much, it lets the mana out,” Galahad explained, “We’ve got until Wednesday to get it down.”
	“Gimmie your number, Lox,” Blud demanded, “We’ll tryta get this done before that class, aight? You live on campus?”
	“I do.”
	“I live in town south of here. I can take a bus to campus to meet up with ya or hitch a ride with someone,” The goblin explained before whipping out his phone. Galahad handed his phone number over and put Blud’s in his phone, “Alright, we can get this done in the lab. I’m part of the Seeker’s House too so we should be able to go use the labs whenever.”
	“Alright, good,” Galahad nodded, following the goblin out of the room.
	“Hey, Blud,” Another goblin approached the pair, “Make yourself a friend?” 
	“I dunno, Lox here is pretty cool for a human. Lox, this is my sister, Rald,” Blud gestured to the wide-hipped goblin who wore a matching outfit to him with the addition of a full head of wild, raven-black hair.
	“Lox, huh?” Rald walked in a circle around him, “I like your jeans. They look a lot more comfy than what guys usually wear.”
	“Uh, thanks,” Galahad gave a little, awkward smile, “My actual name is Galahad, if you prefer that.”
	“Nah,” Rald smirked, “Human names are pretty dumb. Want a future reading? I need some practice.”
	“Sure, I’ve got some time, I think,” Galahad nodded and followed the two to a small common area in the transmutation building with some vending machines, tables, and a drinking fountain. Blud went over to a vending machine while Galahad took a seat with Rald. She was admittedly a bit cute, her green skin was lime green and without blemishes, the blacks of her eyes glistened in the overhead lights and she stared at him with a row of sharp, grinning teeth and red irises, “So what do we do?”
	“Gimme your hand first, Lox, I’m not very good at palm reading but maybe I can see something,” She put out her hands and Galahad slid his left hand across the table. The goblin gripped his fingers, pulling them taught before running her fingers over the folds and wrinkles of his hand, “Huh…?” 
	“What is it?” Blud grunted as he returned with a Kit-Kat bar for him and a Butterfinger for his sister.
	“Your hands have seen some use.”
	“Well, duh, he’s like, twenty five or something. That’s twenty five or whatever years of use on his hands?” Blud looked at his sister like she was an idiot.
	Rald looked daggers back at him, if looks could kill her brother would have burnt up instantly, “Shut up. He’s been casting for a very long time! Look at this, you can see crystalline build up under his skin here and here,” She jerked his hand over to show her brother, “Or at least he’s used a lot of mana salt.”
	“How the hell does that work?” Blud scratched his head.
	Galahad sighed, “Salt naturally sucks up mana in the air, once it has its fill, it turns blue. It's a physical form of mana like aether crystals and can be used in casting. You can absorb bits of it for mana or use it in your casting but if you do this you can get little grains of salt under the skin that can absorb more mana and get bigger.”
	“Hells! Does that hurt?” Blud poked at Galahad’s pink flesh. It wasn’t really something he could see, but the salt particles underneath the skin moved around when poked, thankfully not cutting the skin they sat under.
	“Not really. You can get it removed pretty easily, but it’ll just happen again. Once it's painful to close my hand then I’ll get that procedure done,” Galahad chuckled, “Does my palm say anything else?”
	“Oh, right, um,” She put one hand next to her head, pressing two fingers to her temple before casting a divination spell, running her fingers over the folds in his palm again, “I see… a fight. Maybe a few of them. I can’t really see who, but he’s… a rival? Big adversary? But why are you fighting…? I–I–” Her eyes flew open and she made a pained expression, “Jeez. I don’t know why, but everything is a lot cloudier than usual.”
	“What does that mean?” Blud wondered, “Look, I might be a thaumaturge but I haven’t looked into divination yet.”
	“Well, Headmaster Lysteria has said–that’s the divination house’s head Professor,” Rald explained quickly, “She says that the future you see can always change. That could be why it's so obfuscated. Maybe you won’t be fighting? Or some kind of magic could be keeping it hidden? Who knows, I’m not good at this stuff despite how much time I spend on it,” She sighed in a disappointed fashion as she pulled away, opening up the candy her brother had bought for her.
	“Hey, you did fine,” Galahad assured her, “Better than what I could do.”
	“Thanks, Lox,” The goblin gave a little smile, still looking sad, “But unless you gave up divination on your path to mastery, I doubt it.”
	“Oh I did. That and illusion,” Galahad smirked, “I gotta get to my next class. I’ll see you around, Blud and Rald,” He gave a little wave and left after the goblins returned it. 
	“Stop looking at him like that,” Blud chastised his sister.
	“Hey, you’re the one that introduced me to him. Like you said, he ain’t bad, for a human at least,” Rald grinned, “Most humans wouldn’t let me do a palm reading like that or be so nice about it.”
	“Yeah, well, don’t come cryin’ to me when he turns you down.”
	“I dunno if I’ll try. I saw ‘love’ when I read his palm with a lot of pain close to it. Pain for him or them? I can’t really say,” Rald sighed and shook her head. "What a shame…"
Her brother gave an incredulous look, “So what, you’re gonna swoop in if he gets hurt by her and ask him out?”
	“Oh, shut up. That’s not a good look for anyone involved. Not that my idiot brother would understand romance.”
	“Do you understand it? Those goblin woman and human or dwarf man dramas you watch aren’t exactly accurate, are they?” He scoffed.
	“Well, I’ve got more of a grasp on it than YOU due to that, so shut it!” She grumbled, turning away and eating the Butterfinger slowly as she watched Galahad walk to his next class.

	Galahad’s third and final class of the day was Conjuration 101. While he knew some stuff about summoning small, non living things, he knew nothing about the teleportation half of conjuration nor the portion of summoning that brought living creatures from other existences into this world. The rain had let up and had given way to a blue sky with white fluffy clouds heavily breaking it up. The short trek across the parking lot to the conjuration building was simple, only needing to dodge a single horse drawn carriage that was being pulled to the far end of the lot to pick up a very posh looking white haired cat witch. 
	He climbed the small set of steps and went in the main entrance to the conjuration building and easily navigated to room 105, walking past witches and wizards milling about in the halls as they waited for their classes to start. He walked past a few wizards thumbing through their spell books, witches showing off their familiars and a griffonite, a hobgoblin, a wolfman, and a dwarf playing a trading card game in the common area. Galahad didn’t recognize it at all, but their cards all looked well played. Maybe the game was from the nineties with a very niche audience? Galahad looked at the griffonite, a demi-human with features like that of the mythical creature; wings, talon-like hands and legs like that of a lion. He had even styled his hair to look like a lion’s mane. If it weren’t for his human-like face, Galahad might have mistaken him for a monster. The griffonite’s long, furred ears tilted back and forth in irritation as he considered playing a newer looking card. Galahad got even more confused at the group’s reactions when they all nearly flipped the table after the griffonite slapped the card down. He swiftly moved on before spells could be slung, he didn’t have time to gawk at old card games or mage fights. 
	He ducked into room 105 to dodge a lightning bolt, sighing as he prepared to locate somewhere to sit, “Take a seat,” A deep voice ordered. An older, gray and well trimmed, bearded wizard impatiently tapped his fingers on his desk with one hand while stroking the chin of one of four cats lounging on his desk with the other. Galahad simply nodded and found a spot to sit in the middle of the room before grabbing his bag and starting to pick out the books he needed. 
“Meow,” A muffled voice cried from inside the desk. Galahad stared for just a moment before lifting the top of the desk. There was indeed a cat inside, it seemed like it had climbed in through a decently sized hole in the back of the desk. The cat yawned and stretched before hopping onto Galahad’s lap and rubbing its face against his chest while purring loudly. A quick glance around the room revealed there were cats everywhere. Under chairs, on desks, on the windowsills and even on the shelves on the right side of the room. The classroom had twenty or so desks, most being filled by students young and old. Most were trying to ignore the cats that batted at their hats and robes, some pet the cats or held them like babies as they waited for class to start. Galahad patted the cat that was being affectionate toward him and tried to get his books out. As soon as the books were on his desk, the cat climbed up and started to doze off on his Conjuration 101 tome. He sighed as the bell tower chimed, it was noon now and Galahad was starting to get hungry. The professor at the front of the room looked like he was silently counting each dong of the belfry. 
	“And twelve,” The professor grunted as the last of the dongs rang, “Good afternoon. Welcome to our Conjuration one-hundred and one course,” He sounded almost annoyed as he spoke. With the wave of his wand, he blew all the cat hair off his robes before adjusting his brimless wizard cap, “I am Professor Qualintry, a master of conjuration specializing in summoning magicks,” The wizard waved his wand and said a single word under his breath. Every cat in the room hopped up and hurried to his side, each of them sitting in a neat and tidy row beneath the chalkboard at the front of the room. A few younger students giggled as each cat in unison started to bat at the tail of the cat next to them, “Are they not the most precious things you have ever seen?” 
	“They’re just purr-fect,” Someone giggled.
	“Yes, yes…” Professor Qualintry cleared his throat and wiped the smile from his own face, “Ahem. In this class, we will focus on the summoning and control of earthly summons. In the two hundred level classes we will start to summon non living things from other existences and finally in three hundred level courses you will learn to summon low level other worldly creatures like imps, elementals, and the odd cherub. Push those visions of grandeur from your mind for now.”
	“When do we learn about teleportation?” Another academy-goer asked.
	“Teleportation magic is in its own class due to being so different from the rest of conjuration. Conjuration one-hundred and one will aid you in learning the teleportation magic as you learn the fundamentals of it all,” The professor explained dismissively, releasing his grip on the cats and letting them wander around the room again, “Conjuration one-hundred and four will delve into it. One-hundred and three delves into making a creature your familiar and two is an extension of this class. Does anyone have experience in this school of magic? Raise your hand,” A few hands went up. Professor Qualintry nodded and folded his arms, “Those of you that just put your hands up please keep them down now. Who here has experience with magic at all?” Galahad and many others put hands into the air, “Those of you who do not wish to try their hand at a spell they are unfamiliar with, put those hands down,” Galahad kept his hand up while nearly everyone else put theirs down, leaving only him and two others with theirs up, “My. We usually have no volunteers for this portion. You, in the back. Come to the front,” He pointed to a half-elf, as signified by their long and somewhat rounded ears. She had brown skin, all black eyes, and small goat horns coming out of her scalp. A half-breed wild elf, a rare sight to behold but there was very little confidence in how she carried herself as she made her way up and waded through the cats, “Name?” Professor Qualintry demanded.
	“Um, Penelope,” She whimpered.
	“Last name.”
	Oh, uh, Wolf. Penelope Wolf,” She quickly and timidly added. 
	“Miss Wolf, I assume you have done the studying I requested otherwise you are going to make a fool of yourself in front of the class,” He grumbled, eyeing her down.
	“O-Of course I have. What do you want me to do?” The wild elf nodded and produced her wand and spell book. The thick tome was bound in dark brown leather wreathed in green leaves and brown roots.
	The professor nodded and gave her a small leather pouch, “Conjure an animal,” He stepped back and gave her a bit of room. 
	The elf nodded and waved her wand, the roots on her spell book grew until they touched the floor, forming a natural looking lectern made of winding, gnarled roots and leaves, “Summon… squirrel,” She mumbled aloud as she thumbed through her book and found the spell she had already written down. She took a few deep breaths, bringing a semblance of calm over her being so as to not cause a miscast due to her anxiousness. Digging through the pouch she grabbed some nuts, berries, and a tuft of fur. She began by crunching up the ingredients in her hand and said some words of power in another language. It wasn’t the language of dragons like most wizards would use, it was something elven sounding, but seemingly almost just as ancient as she started to mumble and whisper the words. Professor Qualintry waved his wand and opened one of the windows. The books and tomes of everyone in the front row rattled as the elf began to suck in a bit of the aetheric winds around her. She waved her wand over her head and pointed it out the window as her spell came to a crescendo, a green glow emanating from her wand before shooting out the window and up a tree.
	The materials in the elf’s hand, minus the fur, were dropped gracefully to the floor in a ground up pile. Soon enough, a squirrel from the outside world climbed inside and dashed for the food that Miss Wolf had dropped for it. She knelt down and pet it before picking it up and placing it on her shoulder. The class clapped politely while the professor nodded in satisfaction, “Good. Good. Most don’t get that in one try. Are you sure I shouldn’t be moving you up to the two hundred level courses?” He joked as the now sweating elf sat back down, “What she just did, those of you who are unsure of your abilities will do by Wednesday,” He cast a spell to reel in the cats that were hungrily eyeing the squirrel before clearing his throat again, “Now, let us begin the lecture. Take notes if you need it but this class’s assigned text book has more than enough information for you to succeed in this class. Let us begin at chapter three, the first two chapters are about mana control, spell basics, and such. All of you should be familiar with such concepts at this point. Now, when attempting to summon a creature…”

	Galahad left his conjuration class with his head chock full of new information. Anything more and he would probably have a headache due to how much he had learned in just one day. As he understood it, most of his classes would be class time on Monday and then lab time on Wednesday to show you had been working on the homework. By Wednesday he needed to be able to summon an animal, turn water into another liquid, and create a minor healing potion. Easy enough, Galahad thought to himself. He left the conjuration building and started to trek across the campus ground. It had been a long day, even if it was only six hours total, trying to retain every little piece of information was difficult along with taking notes and following along with the Professors. Especially with how difficult it had been to take notes in the conjuration class with all the cats that were climbing on him during the class. But like Professor Qualintry had said, the textbook had more than enough content in it to guide him through the class. The summoning spell seemed easy enough, it was definitely shoved to the back of his mind for now. He would get the potion components down and then work on his transmutation homework. Perhaps the summoning would be winged during class, he wasn’t sure yet. 
	With the rumbling of his stomach, Galahad stopped and looked north up the road he was about to cross. The cafeteria loomed nearby, tempting him with the promise of food– at a cost. He had money, more than enough to feed himself, thankfully. With a sigh, he started to trudge toward the building. He stepped through a set of glass double doors and was face to face with a small collection of little restaurants and multiple rows and columns of tables. Galahad saw a pizza place, a sandwich shop, a fast food burger joint, a tiny smoothie place that also sold soft pretzels and a sushi restaurant. With a rumbling stomach, Galahad went to the fast food place and ordered two burgers and some fries. 
	“Galahad! Galahad!” A voice called. He spun around, glancing around the room trying to figure out who was calling him. Over in the corner, near the smoothie joint was a table with four familiar faces sitting around it, “Come on! Come sit!” It was Suzie shouting at him. 
	He made his way over as he saw Miss Manus was sitting with her along with Todd the mono-eye and Holmit the dwarf. The only one in the higher ups of house Karak-Albrac missing was Fredrik for whatever reason, “Hey,” Galahad casually greeted.
	“Sit, sit,” Suzie ordered and didn’t wait until he had taken a seat between Miss Manus and Holmit, “How’s your first day going?”
	“It's going well,” He replied as he rubbed his forehead, “It’s gonna take some time to get used to this, to be honest.” 
	Todd tapped his fingers together, “Is it really that tough?”
	“He wasn’t shipped off to a magic boarding school like we were,” Holmit grumbled as he wrote something down in a spiral notebook.
	Suzie shrugged, “We’ve seen a lot of people do poorly despite being in the boarding school. But it really does set you up for success there.”
	Miss Manus glanced at Galahad, “Are your professors competent?”
	“Uh,” He quickly recalled their names, “Professor Qualintry comes off a bit grumpy but he seems like a good teacher. I can’t really say for Sh’Lak, she’s a wild card at this point but the class seems fun, to be honest.”
	“I like Professor Sh’Lak!” Suzie announced as she closed her book, “If you need help with her class, come to me and I can petition for you.”
	“That’s all? You’re taking two classes only?” Holmit scoffed, taking more notes.
	“Miss Manus here is my third teacher. I have no qualms with her teaching so far,” With the folding of his arms, Galahad stared down Holmit, “Does it matter to you how many classes I’m taking?” 
	A creaking noise gave away that Todd was shifting nervously, “D-do we need to fight?”
	“Oh stop it, all of you,” Suzie interjected, standing on her chair so she could slap the table with both hands. Holmit stared at the gnomish woman and simply shook his head, “Don’t take it personally, Galahad, he’s not trying to be combative, he always talks that way,” Suzie explained before shooting the dwarf another glare, “Right, Holmit?”
Holmit grunted a non-answer.
“I… I’m sorry. Can we start over?” Galahad asked the dwarf. He thought about it for a moment before shrugging.
“Pay it no mind, my father and brothers’ve harsher tones than I,” Holmit replied with a handwave. “Let’s just ‘ope you’ve got as much fire behind your spellwork as you do your spirit.”
“Hopefully not too much fire…” Todd added hastily.
	A sigh left Galahad’s lips, “Sorry, Todd,” The table was quiet, making Galahad wonder how much longer his food would be. He turned to Miss Manus, “Uh, how are you, Miss Manus?”
	“Fine,” She replied curtly.
	Now it was Galahad’s turn to shift awkwardly, “How do you manage teaching and taking classes? At least I assume you’re taking classes alongside teaching.”
	“I spread it out across the week,” She didn’t even look up at him when she replied.
	“I see. Uh–”
	“There’s no point in it, boy,” Holmit grunted beside him, “The President is ‘opeless when it comes to talking to people. I’d be surprised if even ‘er mother could get a word out of ‘er.”
	The table went silent as Suzie glared at him again. Miss Manus calmly closed her books and pulled them under her fluffy cloak, “Excuse me,” She said in a hushed tone before stepping away from the table and leaving her tray at one of the trash cans.
	“You’ve done it now, Holmit,” Suzie growled and folded her arms.
	“What? Our president’s ice covered ‘eart is not so easily cracked. She’s not that fragile. Maybe Galahad annoyed her,” The dwarf grumbled back.
	“HOLMIT!” Suzie roared. Galahad could almost swear he saw fire coming from her eyes, “I will not let you throw Galahad under the bus here!”
	“Alright, alright. I will procure some mana salt and wine for our president to make it up to her. For me or Galahad, whoever made her leave,” He dismissively said. 
	Todd looked uncomfortable as he shuddered and glanced between everyone with his one big eye. Suzie’s jaw hung open in disbelief, “I can't believe you. Come on, Galahad. I think they’re calling you for your food.”
	“Uh, yeah, right,” He got up and followed the gnome over to the burger place and grabbed his bag of food before following Suzie outside. 
	“That guy is such a–” She stifled her swearing by kicking a trash can, “Every single dwarf I know is a pain in my rear!”
	“Suzie, calm down,” said Galahad, “There’s no point in raging at him.”
	“I’m gonna transmute that dumb beard of his into– into spiders or somthing,” She threatened, “Cover his room in glitter. Cover HIM in glitter! And maybe I’ll put it in his beer too! And then–”
	“Suzie,” The man repeated her name in a firm tone, finally quieting her down, “Just go check on Miss Manus for me, will you? I don’t care if she’s annoyed with me, or mad at him, I just hope she’s not too upset.”
	She folded her arms and sighed, “Alright. I’m sure Manus is fine. But that doesn’t give him the right to talk like that.”
	“Even then, we’re gonna get nowhere raging at him.”
	“Right, right…” She rubbed her eyes, “Go get some studying done, Galahad. And don’t forget to eat.”
	“I will. Take care of yourself now,” Galahad shoved his free hand in his pocket and headed to the Seeker’s House. His eyes were feeling heavy and his stomach was even emptier than it felt before. 
	His shoes felt like they were filled with lead as Galahad opened the door to the Seeker’s tower and stepped into the main room. A lot of other students looked tired too, after only one day, “Welcome home, Galahad,” Shanessa approached him, “I see you have already found a meal for yourself. I would have offered you some sandwiches if you had needed it.”
	“Thank you,” Galahad gave a tired smile, “Hey, can I ask you something?”
	“Anything you need,” She gave him her full attention, “Is something the matter? You seem… off.”
	“Well… how should I try to reach out to someone if I’m struggling to talk with them?” He asked. He had no one else to ask. Who else was there? Fredrik, or Blud? They probably weren’t going to be helpful at all. Fredrik would probably also tell him to give up on even talking to Miss Manus and Blud, well, he’d probably just make fun of him for worrying over something like that in the first place. Or maybe that was just his worries talking to him, but even so Shanessa seemed the best choice.
	“Find something that they enjoy or at least is a large part of their life and make that the focal point of your chatter. Classes, a specific field of study, or maybe a movie they enjoy? Does that help?” She smiled after giving her honest response. She looked like she was searching Galahad’s face for a change in emotions.
	He slowly nodded, “Yeah… yeah I think that does really help. Thanks.”
	“Anytime. Go rest, feel free to ask the other students for help with your studies if you need it,” She smiled before Galahad sauntered off, still looking deep in thought as he headed up the stairs.
	He went to the portal door and grabbed the crystal, “Galahad Loxley,” He commanded, trying to ignore the sickening noises of that orcish cooking show that always seemed to be on. He wanted to keep his appetite a bit longer as he stepped into his minute room before closing and locking the door behind him. He sat at his desk and pulled out his textbooks, “What to talk to her about…” He wondered as he grabbed one of the burgers, “She talked a lot when teaching… maybe…” He looked at his Transmutation 101 textbook before going for his phone and dialing a number. 
It rang a few times before the person on the other end picked it up, “Galahad! My friend! What can I do for you? Do you require the illustrious Fredrik’s help?”
	“Well, I do. I need a favor or a solid or whatever you want to call it,” Galahad continued.
	“Between you and I there are no favors. Just friends helping friends. What is it?”
	“It's about Miss Manus…”

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