Early Morning apprentice dining hall.
Alberta staring into the middle distance, breakfast untouched on her plate.
At this point I’m looking for any other apprentice, except Calvin. The professors all say it takes at least a week to grow accustomed to your familiar and third year classes start in ten days.
A gaggle of second years enters like they’re storming the place. Talking and joking. I overhear a few comments about new announcements. Absorbed in my thoughts, I don’t notice Calvin until he plops down in the seat opposite.
“Oh, um, hi? Are you going to?”
Calvin glances around raises his face and sniffs. Sighing. Casually waving his hand, “Na.”
Dumping too much syrup on a stack of pancakes. “I checked. Yesterday was the first day without a familiar duel since the year started.” Slicing into the stack. “So no. Not unless we’re the last two. No offense, but with everything Victor’s put me through the last couple of years. I’d like to. . . “. Almost growling. Brushing it off with a chuckle and a sigh, “Or find, Davina.”
“Did you see how many are left?”
Nodding before taking a bite. “Six, and another assembly soon.”
“You, me, Davina, Victor. Who are the other two?”
Pausing between bites. “Emma and Ramona.”
“Were they the ones you were stalking the other day at the assembly?”
Calvin answers with a nod. “Recognized Ramona, but wasn’t sure who the other one was, least not till later.”
“I heard Victor did drove Ramona out of the Hawks.”
Chewing slowly, Calvin nods. Swallowing. “Ya, first day back. Then a few days later her promised dueled Alicia and won.”
“Ya, the odd thing is no one complained. And you know someone from that group would have raised a stink.”
Calvin, levels a look at Alberta. “How about a deal? Unless we’re the last two, I won’t challenge you and if you find Davina, you’ll let me know where?”
“Deal. Although, I though you would have tracked her down by now.”
Calvin, looking sheepish, “She teleports.” Quieter, “I think. Found her room and put a ward on the door. One that’ll alert me if it opens. So far nothing.”
Sighing. “That limits me to Victor, Ramona or Emma. Do you even know Emma? How she manifested?”
Thinking a moment, Calvin replies. “Tall, kinda thin, chestnut colored hair. Ramona was following her around like a lovestruck puppy at the assembly.”
“Crap. If they challenge each other, that leaves me with Victor.”
“Yeah, sorry about that. He’s got that aura and those tendrils. The aura is bad enough, it protects him from most spells but does shit against anything physical. He’s good with the tendrils, but he relies on them for eve-ry-thing. Knows all the basic spells but never practices, so he’s slow. If you can get in close or get him to drop the aura, you can win.”
Dropping my fork. “I need to go practice.”
Calvin, smiling, “Always. And watch out for Victor’s goons. Galvin and Lewis have been stomping around.”
“What about Mansel?”
“Not sure how, but Victor finally pissed him off enough that he quit the Hawks. Talked to him yesterday. Without Victor standing over his shoulder he’s not bad. Still a jerk, but not like Galvin or Lewis.”
The Shadow’s Plan
Dav the Shadow Walker & Victor the Planner
Inside Evon’s hut. ‘Its too cold in here.’
Someone triggered my wards the other night. I shadow-stepped out and haven’t been back since. Muttering, ‘Why isn’t this place heated?’ sinking deeper into a pile of blankets.
‘Least its not the roof. Bet those magi are all warm, snuggled up with their familiars.’
*Creek* sounds of a door opening.
Freezing, barely breathing. That was the back door!
Did she find me?
Footsteps and then the sounds of boxes hitting the floor. Two voices, it takes a moment but I eventually recognize them, Galvin and Lewis.
“That all of them?”
“Enough for tonight. We’ll come back and get ‘em early. Then head to the house Earl Hawks bought in Chongula.”
“We both gonna go?”
“You want to stay here and have Victor demand Aline in a box?”
“This is a dumb idea, everyone knows.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know, but do you want to be the one that pisses him off even more?”
Sounds of boxes sliding around and others being stacked on top.
“Think we need to stay out here and guard ‘em?”
“For what? They’re not going anywhere. And it’s fucking cold out here.”
I wait till they’re gone, then I wait some more. Sliding through the shadows. Peeking into the first box, then the next and the next. Multiple cats, a few dogs, even an owl and a miniature horse.
Familiars, they’re all familiars. This is bad. This is really, really bad.
You can’t separate a magus and their familiar, everyone know that!
I’ve got to tell someone. Who? I can’t go to the administrators. Everyone knows you can’t separate a magus from their familiar, they’ll ignore me. The first and second years can’t do anything.
If I go, no. No. No.
Callie will know what to do.
But what’ll I tell her? I can’t get close, she’ll challenge me.
Foot tapping. Then the sounds of boxes being moved, and doors being unlocked.
Standing underneath Callie’s window, tossing pebbles against the glass. *plink, plink, plink*. Muttering. “This is a bad idea. This is a bad idea. This is a bad idea.” with every throw.
“Especially if you break the window.”
“SCREAM!” Pebbles scatter as I fall into shadow.
Callie woops. “I knew it! I knew you could teleport!”
Scrambling as fast as I can through the shadows, one tree away, two, three. Peaking out. “No I can’t!” Like a bolt of lightning, Callie takes off toward me.
“Eeeep!” Ducking back in and moving.
When I check at the fifth tree she’s already there. Barely a breath and I’m back in.
Around the apprentice dorms, past the enchantment building and toward the library. Then around the corner, checking, ‘Where’d she go? Cautiously looking. She’s already at the library! How fast is she? I can’t lose her now.’
Emerging from the shadow, panting with the effort. Drawing in a deep breath preparing.
‘Oh Shit!’ She spotted me. I take off running. A hard right at the corner of the quad. Fingertips brushing my scarf as I dive back in.
The chase continues. Through the tree lined walk. Emerging halfway up a wall leaping to the large oak tree outside the alchemy building. Past it to Evon’s hut.
Jumping (mostly dropping) from the shadow of the hut’s eaves. Light-headed, gasping for breath. I open the door and run in.
Seconds later, Callie comes bursting in and trips over the boxes just inside the door.
Laying on the roof, panting, heart thudding as I try and hear what she’s doing inside.
“What th’fuck. Where did this come from?!” Light blossoms forth from Evon’s hut. Crates ripped open and another yell. “You can’t do that!” The chase forgotten, Callie summons the administrators.
Raising a hand in silent triumph.
Minutes later Evon’s hut is swarming with activity.
I make my way to my room. Its too cold out here.
The next morning, I realize, I lost Cat’o.