A soft ringing made Miss Manus’s eyes spring open. She sat up in her bed, the fluffy blankets and soft sheets falling off her lithe form as she stopped the analogue alarm clock with the flick of her wrist. The blue fey woman stretched, putting her three right arms in the air first before doing the same with her left arms. Another flick of her wrist started a small fire underneath the kettle she kept on her antique stove top. It was mostly for show as she did all of her cooking with magic, but she liked the way it looked. She next conjured up some water for the kettle, making sure it had enough in it for her to make her usual cup of morning tea. She slid to the edge of the bed and stepped into her fluffy blue slippers as she straightened out her fuzzy nightgown. The walls of her large extra dimensional room were a light, sky blue making the dim light of the room seem brighter along with the help of her magical fey eyes. As the walls climbed they gradually shifted from a daylight to deep midnight blue with the constellations mapped out across her ceiling. It was so intricate that some might even be fooled that it was a magician’s living map-- though truth be told even she couldn’t tell sometimes. After admiring the workmanship for a moment Miss Manus returned to her daily routine. She waved a hand at a container by the door, exerting a bit of telekinesis to bring two newspapers to herself, both student-led. These were deposited into that magical container every Tuesday and Thursday, the same as everyone else on campus who subscribed to them. One was the sensationalist Fairgarland Inquirer which mostly dealt in rumors and gossip while the other was the much more respected Fairgarland Newspaper, which was mostly news and upcoming events. Another one of her hands adjusted the crystal by the magical window, shifting her portal to the view of a busy street viewed from above in the dim morning light as the sunshine was just cresting over the top of the buildings that made up the skyline. She took a seat at the window side table as the kettle started to wail, signifying that the water was boiling. With another telekinesis spell she brought it to her along with a packaged pastry from a nearby pantry and a bag of her favorite tea. She opened up the newspaper first, seeing what events would be coming up in the next few days. The yearly tournament was on its way and each house president was invited to present their duelist whether that be themselves or another student in their house. A famous guest would be arriving in the coming weeks, a master of artifice who had helped pioneer the mostly new field as well as assisted in saving the world many years ago. A fundraiser for a geology class’s trip would be happening soon. A bake sale from the culinary side of the academy; Miss Manus made a mental note to buy something there to do her part in giving back to Fairgarland's community. She sipped on her tea and begrudgingly moved on to the Inquirer. Rumors of a few blooming relationships, some strange goings on that all seemed to be fraudulent; they were made up of half-truths or simply fabricated events. The main article was a big fluff piece on Harold Babarry and how ‘galant’ he looks and ‘princely’ his demeanor is, no doubt the author’s personal crush bleeding through the words on the paper. It spoke of how he’s going to win the upcoming tournament and what he’s going to do once he does. Miss Manus rolled her eyes as she saw her name mentioned in the paper before turning the Inquirer into a roll of paper towels using a transmutation spell, something much more useful that she could donate to a local animal shelter along with a batch of other transmuted papers, “What rubbish,” She sighed, wondering why she even bothered to look. She only got the newspaper due to needing to keep an ear on the goings on in the academy. Miss Manus stood up before bringing a small container to herself full of orange peels, mint leaves, cinnamon, and various flowers. She rubbed her chin and grabbed the mint before grinding it up in her hand. She cast a spell to clean off her body and clothes, infusing her with a slight scent of mint before moving on to brushing her teeth using telekinesis and a few hair brushes to get the knots out of her curly, blue, and fluffy hair. As she did this, she was still sipping on her tea using one pair of hands while another pair held her food. Once the tea cup was empty and her hair was brushed, she ate the cherry filled pastry. She wished she was able to wear her fuzzy slippers all day, but she needed to put forth a professional front. She began to get dressed, starting with removing the night gown. With the waving of her hands, the witch brought her usual clothes to herself which she magically slipped on each piece one at a time. First was her dark purple body stocking, sleeveless and slightly sheer. Then her gown, a brilliant blue garment that snugly fell over her hips and chest. In the right light the gown reminded her of the northern lights. A black choker was placed around her neck, its swirling platinum runes amplified some of her magic if needed. Then a sash she wore around her waist of a bright purple color that was pulled tight and tied up in the back magically, followed by her buckling the brass buckle on her dark brown belt over it that her small bags and thick, heavy tome hung off of. Second to last was her thick, fluffy cloak that concealed her body and arms. It was the perfect time of year to wear such a warm and cozy cloak, one that she could easily fall asleep in if she was so inclined. Lastly was her fuzzy hat which in her wardrobe she had a few, each was the same blue but was distinct in what was used to decorate it. She picked out one that had a dark purple and black striped scarf, a warming magical charm placed on it that should her cloak - by some miracle - fail to keep her snug it would be sure to protect her from the chilly air. Miss Manus grabbed the brim of the hat and pulled it over her fluffy head of hair before nodding at herself in the mirror in satisfaction. Though she did not care too much for the world of fashion, Miss Manus did enjoy dressing up at least a little. It was one of the few things she could call a hobby. Though she had a sizable amount of time before her class, she decided to make her way there early after grabbing a small selection of potions from a cabinet and attaching them to her belt. Healing, mana, healing ointment, and a tiny bottle of magic glue as you never know when that will be handy. She grabbed the textbooks she would need and headed out her door, magically locking it behind her with the wave of one hand as she stepped into her polished black shoes. With the help of her magic it was easy for her to slip them on and tighten the simple straps of brown leather into their brass buckles. Unlike the Seeker’s House’s pocket dimension which always pulled the desired room to the front, the Karak-Albrac house’s pocket-dorm-dimension was made up of a maze of hallways with doors along the walls of either side. Miss Manus’s room was at the end of a long hallway to deter unwanted visitors. With another spell, Miss Manus was able to traverse the length of the hall in a single step. She continued her jaunt as she left the pocket realm and stepped into the upper floor of the Karak-Albrac House tower. Only two students were up and in the common area which was as much of a library as the first floor, but Miss Manus had given the approval for a TV that was set on one of the shelves they were watching. It was now playing an old game show hosted by a centaur that had to do with spinning a wheel and buying letters. Miss Manus quickly moved on, not paying the TV any mind as she usually did. The first floor was rather empty as well, as three students spread out amongst the tables worked on their studies. Miss Manus left the tower without a word, stepping across the stone path leading to the great oak in the middle of the towers. She paused for a moment, looking up at the tree as a chilly wind blew across the grounds and listening to the gentle rustling of leaves. The sun was out, contrasting with the previous day’s rainy morning weather. It was the second day of the term, a Tuesday and the first day of a history class Miss Manus was teaching, the Greater Advanced Teaching course she was in where she was given further instructions on being a teacher, and her Transmutation Mastery 2 course. She was on the final stretch of her mastery, soon she would need to go through the mastery exam and become a teacher in her own right. Few would reach mastery and even fewer would become a professor in the field afterward. She wondered what was to come then, but pushed the thoughts from her mind. That would be something for her future self to worry about. Miss Manus turned from the great, magical oak and stuck to the path as she headed to the classrooms. Across the sparsely used road that cut the campus into two unevenly sized parts, she stepped into the evocation building, the biggest classroom building on the campus, and made her way to the third floor. As always, almost every student who was up this early, besides those who did not need to sleep, looked groggy and unhappy to have to roll out of bed so early in the morning. Miss Manus felt awake and alert just like she always did after a nice, hot cup of tea. As she approached the class room, she heard a dialogue going on in the common area next to her destination. Miss Manus quickly recognized the first voice, “W-we haven’t thought much about it yet…” It was Veruka Goldmoon “You haven’t?!” The second voice was also easy to place the name to, Carly Halestorm, “You haven’t put ANY thought into it?” “A-a little bit, but nothing serious yet,” The witch explained. “Come on, I need a scoop! I can’t JUST talk about Harold in my paper!” Carly groaned. Carly was a tall human woman with long, meticulously curled, blonde hair that she always flaunted and refused to wear a hat or hood over. She held a tape recorder up to Veruka’s mouth, begging for a scoop for the Fairgarland Inquirer that she ran, “What about news about a boyfriend? Anyone in your house break the rules? Maybe someone is designing a new spell?!” “I-I don’t have much to say. W-we keep those under wraps,” Veruka was the president of house Hamilton, the abjuration focused school, and was a harpy of the owl variety. Her eyes were big and yellow and her head was covered in brown and gray, feathery hair. Her wings were the same color and were very soft and puffy. She wore brown robes that went down to her ankles showing her yellow, talon-like feet. The owl harpy was trying to use her large wings to shield herself from the reporter. Carly groaned and turned around, quickly spotting Miss Manus, “Ah! Excuse me, Manus. Carly Halestorm, I run the Inquirer here on campus. Could I ask you a few questions?” Miss Manus held her annoyance back, but she was glad to take the heat off of Veruka for a few minutes, “Might as well. Go ahead.” “Wonderful. How does it feel to be the apple of Harold Babarry’s eye?” Jealousy oozed from Carly’s voice. Miss Manus wearily sighed, “His fascination is misplaced. No further comment.” “Is that all? Hmph, fine. Next, as you know, the yearly tournament is coming up, do you know who you are putting forth for this?” Carly asked. With a nod Miss Manus took a slow breath, “Fredrik, as always.” “Him? The Golden Wonder? Hasn’t he lost every time he has entered the tournament?” Carly pointed out, “He even lost to Harold last year!” “He has no one challenging him to enter. It is a show to him, not a competition. I have no further comment,” She replied. “Well, I’ll be sure to write that Harold is sure to win this year,” Carly scoffed. “I wouldn’t say that,” Veruka piped up, “I heard that there’s a wild card this year.” “Huh?! Who?!” Carly demanded, glaring at the harpy. “I-I wouldn’t know… Mira Minsley brought it up a few days ago. She could hardly divine who it was. Y-you should go ask her,” The harpy explained. With an enraged expression Carly stormed away, “What a drama queen,” A voice cackled before revealing the owner. It was the imp Rita MacKenzie. “Thanks for helping me get rid of her, Rita,” The harpy sighed with relief as the imp took a seat on the couch nearby. “Yeah, no worries. How’s it going, Manus?” She asked as she stretched out. “Fine,” She simply replied. Veruka started to idly preen her feathers, “Do you really think Harold might lose this year?” “Don’t know. Don’t care,” The imp grunted, “Honestly, I’d LOVE for him to lose just to see him knocked down a few dozen pegs, but most of the houses don’t have people who are good at dueling, unfortunately.” All three of the presidents were silent for a few moments, each wondering what they could do. None of them were trained for combat at all, “Do we know anyone at all?” Veruka mumbled. “I don’t. None of the new students coming in really seem up to it, to be honest," Rita's hand waved dismissively, "Let his head grow with his ego until it pops. Who cares? Right, Manus?” “Perhaps. But I wish he would cease his obsessing over me,” She sighed, “I must push this from my mind for now. I have better topics to worry about,” The blue witch hastily decided, “Win or lose, he will not stop acting like this.” “If it was big enough of a loss, maybe he would,” Rita’s wings fluttered gently as some of the other classmates began to arrive. They were all senior members of each house, though Rita, Manus, and Veruka were the only presidents and very few were on the council of any house. “Sorry I’m late,” The professor arrived. He was an older man who wore a striped button up and brown slacks with a salt and pepper colored goatee and combed back hair, “That teleportation stone put me at the far side of the campus,” He grumbled. “Good morning, Professor Charles,” Miss Manus greeted. “Good morning, good morning, everyone,” He quickly moved to unlock the door. “See ya later, Manus and Veruka,” Rita stretched her wings and lifted herself into the air before lazily flying down the hall to her class at the other end. Miss Manus followed Veruka into the classroom and the two sat at the front of the room. Professor Charles leaned against the whiteboard at the front of the room, he was one of the very few non-magically inclined professors that worked on the campus, “Welcome back, students. I know you all, and you know me. I am Professor Charles, and this is…” He sighed and started to speak in an annoyed tone, “Greater Advanced Teaching of Magical and Mundane Courses,” He pinched the bridge of his nose and looked at his class, “Why can’t we call this… Teaching six-hundred? Why is it always these ridiculous titles?” “It’s tradition, sir, only the beginner and intermediate classes have the 'oh-one' titles since Fairgarland only recently started teaching those kinds of courses,” Veruka cheerily replied, eager to share her knowledge of the academy’s past. Professor Charles rubbed his face, “Very well. We will start with questions. Each of you has taught at least one class at this point, what has come up that you need some help with?” A student in the back put his hand up, “I’m struggling to keep some students on task. I don’t want to punish them this early on. Any ideas?” The professor nodded, “You are teaching a younger class, yes? About ten or so? I have a few ways for you. Soon after class starts, greet them, and then have them stand and stretch. Maybe during this ask them a few questions about the assigned reading? This will start the day with most of your students engaged and alert. Group projects can help as well. Ask them questions, rather than letting them raise their hands to answer, call on them. If they are not paying attention they will get embarrassed when they get it wrong. Let me know if these work. Check chapter twenty-five of the text book for more if you need it. I have admittedly not worked with children in a while. Anyone else?” “I have one,” The Multifold Manus raised a hand that she had idly turned into a clawed, scaled forearm, “I have an incredibly nervous student who is overthinking in my class. Do you have a suggestion to help me calm him down?” “His nervousness is most likely brought on by how little he knows on the subject. If he is struggling, you could try to get him some tutoring or speak with him after your classes to make sure he understands the curriculum. Anyone else?” Professor Charles looked around the room. Miss Manus tuned out the next few questions as she wondered about tutoring Galahad if needed. She wouldn’t mind, but would he allow her to? She would ask him about it later. For now, she focused on the class, praying she could graduate this year. With her mind wandering and her feet stepping across the tiled floor, Miss Manus walked through the classroom building of the boarding school at the southern part of the campus. She was teaching a mundane class here, a Modern History class that covered the rise of magic and demi-humans in this world. Her students, all of highschool age, sat at their desks, chatting with one another or showing off simple spells they had learned or taught themselves, “Good morning, class,” Miss Manus greeted as she took her spot at the lectern of the large classroom. The rows of seats were descending toward the front so those in the back could see over their peer’s heads. The class slowly quieted down as a few called back with their own drowsy ‘good morning.' As her eyes gazed slowly around the room, Miss Manus brought out her teacher’s copy of the textbook, silently signaling for the others to do the same. Those that had been in her classes before did as she had nonverbally asked, “Welcome to Modern History. In this class we will discuss where the history of the old world and this world meet. You may call me…” She paused for a moment, “Miss Manus. I also go by The Multifold Manus. For those of you that do understand what that means, yes,” She pushed her cloak aside, “I do have multiple arms. If you do not have your textbook out, please do so. We shall begin with an overview. Without looking, who knows what event brought magic back into the world and what year it took place?” “The Great Cracking, right?” A boy shouted out. “No, it was The Scarring,” A girl corrected. “Both of you are right,” Miss Manus assured them, “It has many names depending on where you are from. Who has a guess on the year?” “Uh… it was during the Great War, right? Nineteen-hundred…” A mono-eye guessed as he scratched his head. “And the war stopped because of it,” A young lamia girl added. “Nineteen-sixteen?” A cat witch called out. “Correct. You all seem to know about the event. But just to make sure, in the early nineteen-hundreds, humans of this world began to fight in a massive war pulling in almost every country on Earth called The Great War. The war stopped in nineteen-sixteen when The Great Cracking occurred. Does anyone want to tell the rest of the class what the consequences of this event were and why it happened?” Miss Manus did her best to keep the class engaged like Professor Charles had suggested. The young lamia scratched her head, “Didn’t something happen to the old world? That’s why demi-humans and the others made the portal?” “Like a mass extinction of everything, right?” A dwarven boy guessed as he stroked his already forming beard. “Correct,” Miss Manus nodded, “The portal was created as a last-ditch effort to save as many lives as they could. Many had already died, but numerous powerful wizards managed to create a portal to bring as many as they could across the world to one single massive portal. This portal caused a massive scar on this world that stretches from France to Algeria. This massive burst of mana and magical energies caused issues on this world's metaphysical laws. While it brought magic with it, one of the biggest issues the portal caused was that combustion engines and gunpowder ceased function. This is why The Great War ended immediately along with talks from some very charismatic people from the old world. We will speak of specific names when we delve deeper into this subject, but for now just know that peace was brokered between the new and old worlds as our kind promised to help undo some of the damage The Cracking caused as well as share our knowledge of magic with them. Any questions?” “I have one, why did making a portal make that big crack anyway?” Asked a half-scaled dragon girl. “The spells to bring the old world’s dwellers to the new world required immense amounts of mana from both sides. As you all know, this world hardly had any mana to begin with, so when a spell draws on too much mana the world does not have it scores the earth. Drawing enough mana needed for a spell such as that portal had the unfortunate result of The Great Scar cutting deep into this world. It is theorized that this is also the reason why simple combustion of the old world was made inert due to what little mana left in the old world was dried out completely. Anything else?” “What was the extinction event?” A halfling boy nervously asked with several of his classmates affirming the question. Miss Manus took a deep breath and sighed, “The extinction event from the old world came about due to a great and terrible demon we call The Sol Eater. Long before any of you were born, this demon and his armies blotted out the sun of the old world and many lost their lives in the escape.” “W-won’t he come here?” One student asked, his voice cracking with fear. “Worry not, The Sol Eater has been dealt with,” Miss Manus had a tiny smile on her face, “That was thirty or so years ago at this point. He was destroyed before his armies could amass by a team of heroes, or adventurers as we would have called them in the old world.” “Miss Manus,” A gnomish boy raised her hand, “How… old are you? You look really young but you sound like you lived in the old world.” “You’re not supposed to ask that!” The gnomish girl next to him scolded. “Worry not. I will not give you a specific age as being a fey it is hard to keep track of that due to how time flows in the fey world. I was alive for some time when The Crack happened over a hundred years ago.” A boy in the back raised his hand, “Uh, this is kinda related, but was there some event that made most demi-humans female? Like did the magic in the air change something? I’ve heard it used to be different.” “A wonderful question,” Miss Manus put her tome under her cloak, “You are correct, there was a change at one point. And that change did in fact happen once we came to this world. The Demi-human gender split used to be roughly fifty-fifty like most species. But as you most likely learned in your health classes, when a man and woman of two different species breed the child’s species is mostly determined by the female. Take for example; a human man and a goblin woman get married and have children, let us say they have three girls and a boy, ninety-nine percent of the time they will have three goblin daughters and a human son.” “Why is that?” One of the students asked. “We still don’t know.” Miss Manus replied, “It is theorized that it has to do with the difference in X and Y chromosomes, but let us return to the topic at hand.” “I heard it was because demi-women like human men more.” A goblin girl pointed out as she eyed a boy only a few seats away from her. “I’m sure it has something to do with the magic from The Cracking.” A dwarven boy pointed out. “What about you, Kevin? Isn’t your mom a demi-woman?” A lamia girl asked a boy at the back of the class. “Uh… yeah…” He swallowed nervously as the lamia looked back at him with a sultry smile. Miss Manus cleared her throat, sending a chilling wave of air throughout the room as she telekinetically flipped the lightswitch on and off. Every student shivered and turned their attention to the front of the classroom. “Thank you,” Said Miss Manus, “Now, please turn to page ten where chapter one begins.” As the last of her students filed out into the hallway, Miss Manus took a deep breath, “Children are such a handful, no matter the age,” She told herself with a sigh. She packed up her things, papers and textbooks, then took a sip of water from a crystalline bottle she kept under her cloak. Miss Manus checked a little pocket watch she had in her bag and nodded; it was just after noon and she was feeling somewhat peckish now. With the wave of her hand, she opened the door with some magic and stepped into the hall, pausing as she found a man by his lonesome. He was pacing up and down the hall in front of her, muttering something to himself and was clearly troubled. He was in a dark blue sleeveless cloak, face down in a book– a Transmutation 101 textbook. He stopped and looked up at Miss Manus before lowering his hood with one hand revealing his face, “Ah, Miss Manus!” It was Galahad, “Uh, funny meeting you here, huh?” The tiniest of smirks spread across the blue witch’s lips, “Galahad. You and I both know it is not unusual for me to be in this location at this time. Pray tell, why have you seeked me out and through what channels did you learn my schedule?” “Well… Ah, Fredrik told me when I asked. I needed to ask you about the assignment. I know it's supposed to be easy, but…” He sheepishly trailed off, “I can buy you lunch, but I think I need some help.” Miss Manus gazed for a moment, directly into his eyes as she attempted to discern his intent. He looked and sounded most earnest to her, but she sensed there might be a bit more to his desire for tutelage. Professor Charles had suggested she do something like this and found she had no qualms in it, “I will not demand you buy lunch for me, but I am willing to tutor you." She answered him. Galahad smiled, "Really? You will?" "Of course, I am your teacher after all." The witch replied before turning and making her way down the hall, "Come along now, Galahad, we do not have all day for lunch so we will do both at the same time." The food court was busy with students of every field having lunch, coming in groups, some leaving in a hurry, some eating while they studied alone - it was all so familiar to Miss Manus, the mark of the new semester, "So tell me, Galahad, what are you having trouble with?" Miss Manus asked before she stuck a piece of grilled chicken with a fork and ate it. Galahad shifted uncomfortably as he ate some of his french fries. The two had come to the academy's food court to talk, though Galahad seemed nervous as usual. "Well, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I've tried concentrating all my effort into changing the water into - well anything really. I tried changing it into sand, lead, copper and nothing seems to work." He grumbled, "I must be doing something wrong." "Demonstrate for me," Miss Manus said, placing her cup of water in front of him with one hand while the others continued to feed her. Galahad stared at the cup for a moment before glancing up at her, her icy blue eyes ever staring back at him, waiting to see what he would do, "Well?" She prompted him, snapping him out of their staring contest. "Oh, right uh, sorry… I'll just…" The young man took the cup and held it in one hand, holding the other over it as he began his concentration. Miss Manus could see him drawing out mana, his fingertips practically glowing with magic as he waved them over the cup. The water began to bubble before splashing out onto the table and on his clothes. With a sigh, Galahad magically dried himself and the table. "See what I mean?" Miss Manus took a moment to finish chewing her food. She quickly swallowed and wiped her mouth before looking at Galahad again, "Show me again." She said, waving her hand over the cup. Before his eyes Galahad watched as the cup was filled with water again. He eyed the witch once more before shrugging and giving it another shot. Soon after the results were the same, and he slumped back in his chair, "That confirms it. You are trying too hard." Said Miss Manus. Galahad sat upright, "What?" "I said you are trying too hard. You are using too much mana for such a low level spell that it is overwhelming your catalyst, in this case: the water. That is why you are soaking wet now, the spell was miscast." "So I'm using too much mana…?" "Tell me Galahad, when you use too little mana what happens?" "The spell fizzles out and fails." He answered quickly, as though he had experienced it many times. "And what do you suppose happens when you use too much? You know the answer now, but put it into words for me." "A magical explosion… a miscast." "A miscast, precisely. There are some spells you can brute force within reason: summoning, shields, healing, and things like this, but when it comes to transmutation you must be precise in your spellcasting. You must know the formulae for every element you wish to produce and what mana it takes to achieve those changes. Brute force will only land you in failure, and if you're not careful it will only be a matter of time before it hurts you." Galahad stared back into Miss Manus' eyes with a fierce determination. He seemed to take the words to heart as he looked down at the empty glass. "Could you…?" He gestured at the glass. "Of course." She allowed a smile to cross her face as she filled the glass once more. With a little encouragement Galahad seemed to have calmed his nerves and began to concentrate once more. The glow of magic was less intense this time, the water only rumbling at an even pace. After a moment Galahad took a deep breath and stopped for a moment. "Breathe, but don't stop." Miss Manus instructed, "Keep your breath flowing, concentrate on the water, keep the flow steady." Soon enough the water gradually shifted, the glass filling bottom up with sand. "I-I did it?" Galahad said, stopping his spell. "You almost did it, look." Miss Manus pointed at the top of the glass, a small puddle of water in the sand staring up at him, "For my assignment you will simply need to change all of the water into another liquid. This sand transmutation will come soon enough. Keep practicing." "Thank you, Miss Manus, I will!" He smiled back at her as he took his own cup of water and focused on it, “What to turn it into…” “You should focus on eating first, Galahad. You will run yourself dry on mana if you forget to eat,” Miss Manus reminded him as she continued to eat her chicken as two of her other hands continued browsing through one of her textbooks. “Right, right,” He chuckled, “I was always forgetting to eat when I was younger.” Miss Manus’s eyes twinkled for the briefest moment, “What was your childhood like?” “Well…” He swallowed his mouthful of food and paused for a moment, like he was trying to decide what he wanted to say, “Ever since I could hold a wand, I was learning magic,” He said, his eyes pointing down to his food, “Dad taught me, that’s where the apprenticeship came in. But that wasn’t until I was ten or so. I really didn’t get much done before ten years old. I knew how to control mana, but that was all really.” “You started very young, it seems,” The witch commented. “What about you? Surely an expert like you has been working toward this for a very long time,” The wizard quickly surmised. “Your intuition is correct. I have been at this very academy for ‘a very long time.’ As you very well know, it doubles as a boarding school for magically inclined children. My journey to mastery started there. I must say I am a little jealous, I always wanted to be an apprentice. I believed it would make me stronger, but all things considered, I have turned out more than fine. I am nearing my mastery exam, Galahad.” “And then what?” “I will teach here. Headmaster Jasper Crixx has been quite happy with my performance so far in my teaching,” Miss Manus had a tiny smile on her lips as she took back her cup of water and transmuted it into sweet tea and lemonade. It was a wonderful drink when cold and a little treat for herself as she worked through her own studies and aided in Galahad’s, “Do you have plans for the future?” She moved one of her fingers in a circle, idly stirring a spoon in her drink. “Prove myself, mostly,” He softly mused, taking hold of his own glass with both hands and frowning. While Miss Manus’s curiosity begged her to squeeze more out of him, she understood from his downtrodden tone it may not be the best time to push him, “I see. You have a long way to go, Galahad, but I believe you have the potential to go above and beyond what you now believe to be possible.” “Thank you, Miss Manus. Your praise means the world to me, in all honesty,” He gave a sheepish smile and scratched his head. His words made Miss Manus feel strange. She had never had a student of hers say something like that, but it felt good. She cleared her throat, “I see. Well you must work hard if you desire more. If you require more tutoring, I am more than willing to assist your studies.” Galahad bit his tongue, keeping himself from teasing her, “I would be very happy to have you tutor me. I can’t think of a better teacher on this campus.” “I could name a few, but I will graciously take your compliment,” Miss Manus finished her drink, “I must take my leave. I have my transmutation class soon.” “Oh, Miss Manus,” Galahad paused, suddenly getting red in the face and sweaty, “S-should we swap numbers? T-to figure out a time to do these tutoring sessions? I-I-I don’t want to take up your lunch time every day.” The fey witch nodded, thinking nothing of his request before reaching into her little bag and retrieving her old flip phone. Galahad balked at the ancient tech on display in front of him, “Galahad? The Number?” “Huh?” He recovered from his dazed state, “Oh, right. Sorry. Here,” Galahad whipped out a large touch screen phone and read off his number before Miss Manus read off hers, “Just give me a call on Thursday. Maybe we can figure something out. I’m free all day.” “Understood. Farewell for now, Galahad. We will soon speak again, I am sure,” With that, the fey witch stepped away and made her way out of the dining hall. As she glanced over her shoulder, right before she left the building, she spotted Galahad staring at her. He quickly grabbed his book and started to study as soon as their eyes met. Miss Manus blew air out of her nose before waving her hand to open the door in front of her. It was as if she had a lot more spring in her step than usual as Miss Manus made her way to the transmutation building. At least Professor Crixx thought so as she saw Miss Manus approach the building through the window on the second floor. The blue fey had made it into the classroom in no time at all, the first to class as always, “Good afternoon, Headmaster Crixx.” “Good afternoon to you too, Manus. Might I say, you are looking uncharacteristically jubilant today!” The old construct laughed, her body being made up of a bright white stone. “Jubilant? I could say the same about you,” Miss Manus folded all three sets of arms under her cloak. “I got a message from this secret admirer today. It always puts me in high spirits,” Crixx explained as her joints creaked, “Do not get so defensive, Manus. I will not pry into what has you at a slight glow.” “Glow? What do you mean?” Miss Manus replied, still feeling defensive. Crixx smiled, “You forget, I was built to learn and retain information in the old world. I can pull any data I have retained very easily, and as I recall you quite literally glow when happy.” The words caused Miss Manus to touch her own face instinctively and look at her own hands. Looking closer she found that the old headmaster was right, “I have handed you many A plus results on tests and accolades myself throughout the years, so trust me on this,” Crixx added. “I see. I was not aware of this fact before now,” Miss Manus rubbed her chin and shook her head, “I will need to keep this in mind moving forward.” “Have no fear, those with untrained eyes will struggle to notice. I can hear your classmates approaching, I suggest you find a seat,” “Yes, ma’am,” Miss Manus nodded and took her usual desk at the front of the room, eager to start her last class of the day. She was looking forward to a quiet evening of studying and hot tea away from other distractions no matter how much they made her glow.