Year Three: Day 5
Callie the Mutable
Thought I’ve have been challenged by now. My rank on the dueling boards must be keeping the spell sharks at bay. Then again, hasn’t even been a full week, so they’re still searching for easier prey.
Heading over to one of the dueling boards where the latest scores are posted. The first thing I notice is the list is the same one from the end of last year.
Within three. I’ll find someone within three ranks of me and challenge them.
As I’m reading, another pair of names are marked, one with an ‘M’ and the other with an ‘F’ finishing off the list of elementalism.
Damn. Of those remaining, that puts me in the number three slot. Number one is Mansel. He was in my Familiar 101 class and hangs out with Sir Victor. Before the binding duels he was seven above me.
Gleefully grinning, should be an interesting duel.
He hangs out with that noble group. They’ve all got familiars promised and the rest will probably try to stop me. But, if they don’t see me coming and I challenge him in public. . .
Plan made. I begin my hunt.
Nuts. Nuts. Lovely nuts.
Pause. Jump. Scampering till I reach a branch. Skittering out on it.
Pause and watch.
Having to stay in one tree leeches the fun out of being a squirl. After an hour. I spot Mansel and a group headed to the dining room. If I drop down and confront him the others will rush me.
Nimbly climbing down from one branch to another, till I’m at one directly over the cobbled path.
Wait. As Mansel passes under me I shift and lean over for a clear view to him. And immediately being sliding off. Clamping my legs together to halt my impending fall. Damn skirt. Knew it was a Calvin day but I wanted to enjoy the last of the nice weather.
Pointing and yelling. “Mansel Choak, I challenge you, in the sight of Blessed Sinsilar and the sanctity of the Circle, to the Duel of the Binding of Souls.”
The challenge hook settles into both of us.
With surprise writ large on his face, Mansel looks up at me, dangling from a tree branch. “What?” Eyes widening. “Familiar?” Laughing, “Wanting to get trounced again?”
“Only you would think that. I’ve beaten you before and I practiced all break.”
Mansel, hands on hips, “Fine. Tomorrow morning, first open slot in the main circle.”
Turning away, Mansel and the group continue into the dining room.
The next morning. Today is definitely a Calvin day. Kinda hate having to wear pants, but I don’t want to be tripped up in the duel.
Skipping breakfast, I head straight to the main circle. Where I’m just in time to see Mansel and his new familiar, a skittish catboy, existing the circle.
Stepping in front of him. “But, I challenged you!”
Mansel shrugs and hooks his thumb back. “Already had this one paid for.” As he lands a light kick to the kneeling cat-boy sending him tumbling. Like a kitten the catboy scampers to Mansel’s side.
Mansel grins and raises a hand between us. Igniting it. “Still want to fight? I’ve got enough mana now to burn you to a crisp no matter how fast you heal.”
“But, I, you. ” stuttering to a stop as I turn and stomp away.
Mansel, one hand stroking his catboy’s hair, laughs as I storm away.
Partway across campus, I run into that scent again. That’s odd. Its still the same person and I can tell their excited, but I don’t detect any trace of a familiar.
Following the trail, I end up ambling around campus. Whoever it is stays to the grass instead of the cobbled paths. I eventually lose the scent by a tree outside the Enchanter’s building. Flying? That would rule out an apprentice. Umm, a bird as a familiar?
Dav the Shadow Walker
They’re starting to look at me funny. Why would a magus stay in the apprentice dorms?
Pacing, randomly picking up items and moving them around, packing and unpacking.
Where am I going to keep everything?
My weavers kit. My spindle. My pattern books. I can’t leave those outside. But if I leave them here, they’ll know I’m still using the room.
I can ward the door.
They can see that from the hallway.
What about a warning ward, not a denial one? If someone besides me is in the room the windows glows red? Too noticeable. But it would be easy to see from outside.
I know. If anyone besides me is in the room, the windows will turn black. A bunch of students shade theirs that way. Nodding at Cat’o and I place him on the bed.
What if they come in and set a trap then leave? I’ll have the window frame change color. Oh, but that won’t even last an hour.
Finally stopping in front of a stack of books. I can extend the color change with the right supplies. Digging throw what’s already been moved around, I’m going to need more supplies.
I cast a shading ward on the window then excitedly turn to leave. Opening the door and stepping into the hallway without checking.
“Eeep.” Someone there! And I didn’t grab Cat’o!
Turning quickly I spot Cat’o on the bed.
“Come on Cat’o.” Bending and patting my thigh. Reaching out through the shadow under Cat’o I take control and he starts ambling toward me.
A “Squee.” Followed by an “Oh, he’s cute. What’s his name?”
Looking over my shoulder at the two second years. “Cat’o.”
Aaagh, he stopped. Panicking, Cat’o is close enough. I bundle up all the shadows and throw him to me. Its an awkward catch. Not made any easier as, I’m trying to pull a scarf out to catch him.
Wrapping him quickly.
“Can we see him?”
“No. I mean, I’m late.” Clutching Cat’o I practically run out of the dorms.
Victor the Planner
No idea where Ramona is. I’ve been checking the announcement boards daily and she’s still an apprentice. Not sure about her ‘promised’. Don’t remember its name.
Fuming. I’ll have father get twice what he paid for Grace back from Viscount Reed. Then I’ll demand the Graces present themselves at court and I’ll personally strip her title.
Staring at the announcement board until I’m back in control.
All but a few of the top of the entire third year have already had their magus duel. A few were with others at their level but most picked someone lower on the list. That doesn’t leave a large list to send to father.
The plan is working. But the Familiar and that promised proved I don’t have every contingency covered. Who would have expected one of them to start challenging everyone. I’ve at least got that under control now. There’s always going to be at least one magus with every group of promised from now on. That should prevent any of them from doing the same thing.
Sigh. With Ramona in hiding, the missing promised, and Mansel having to claim his I’ve lost three. Three safe challenges. That still leave me with thirteen which should be more than enough time for father.
Eh, I could order one of the nobles to give their promised to me, or just take it. Maybe one of the knights? If this last too much longer. Everyone knows how angry father gets. And I really want to be the official Hawks’ court magus.
Father said he’d need couple of weeks to buy me another familiar.
A quick flick of my wand and I can see the mana powering the boards. All I need is time. And there are so many ways to delay others.
Alberta the Binder
“Alberta, I challenge you, in the sight of Blessed Sinslar and the sanctity of the Circle, to the Duel of the Binding of Souls.”
My heart skips a beat as I turn. Alicia?
Hand rubbing over the challenge brand.
“Alicia? I didn’t expect a challenge from you. I though your family sold you?”
Alicia, steps closer and grabs my hand. “Want to head to a circle now?”
“What? No. I mean, we’ve got two days.”
Nodding in agreement. Alicia smiles, gives my hand a squeeze and hurries off.
That was odd. She was always following some noble around, even though he basically ignored her.
Oh! No wonder.
I hurry around the building and spot Alicia challenging another apprentice. Another sold by their family.
Slowing, I watch as they speak quietly for a few minutes and head the nearest circle. They disappear around the side of the building and I hurry to catch up.
I’m almost bowed over as Calvin, anger radiating, turns the corner.
He stops, tilts his head like he’s trying to remember. “Close enough.”
“Alberta, I challenge.”
I flip my sleeve up revealing the challenge brand already there.
Calvin almost screams, “Damn!” Throwing up his arms. “Fine. Do you know where Lewis is? Or Iris? I hate getting burned, but she was the only other top one.” Shaking his head. “I challenged Mansel, but his family bought him an apprentice.” Sighing. “I’ve been looking for anyone in the top third, but they’ve all already had their duels. Amara won. Lara'lia lost to a healer.” Slightly smiling, “The two Graces. Now that was one to see.”
Visibly shaking himself, “Anyway, Lewis or Iris?”
“Um, Iris challenged Robert, an ice specialist. They were going to fight in the main circle.”
Cal waves, “Thank.” And hurries off, presumably to the main circle.
By the time I make it to the smaller circle, Alicia and the other apprentice are starting.
Minutes later, Alicia bounds out as a tawny catgirl.