by Amanda Cast
A Temper Flares
Pandora knocked on the heavy wooden door. She could tell from the sound that it was a heavy and hard wood. She thought of the tree that it must have come from and how it must have towered over all the world during its day. It was a pity that it would have to fall to be the door to a mage’s office.
“Come in,” a voice called and the door swung open silently. “Ah… Pandora, I presume?”
“Yes, Master Gerald,” she said and gave him a curt bow. “I am Pandora.”
The mage motioned for her to come closer with a vein streaked hand. “Come in, child, I will not bite you.”
She nodded and closed the door behind her. “May I sit?”
“Certainly,” he said and she took a seat. “Now, I suppose I’m supposed to help you pick out classes.”
“What are your interests?”
“Combat,” she said plainly. “Physical, to be precise.”
“You don’t mince your words do you?” he asked with a chuckle. It might have been a pleasant sound at once point, but now it crackled like brittle papyrus.
“I try not to, Master Gerald,” she said simply.
“Well, this is a mage’s school, my dear. We don’t have much to offer warriors.”
“I understand that, but it was not my choice to attend the academy. I was coerced, if you have not heard,” she told him plainly. “My interests before I found out I was a Speaker was to become a guard to the Empress. It seems that is not possible anymore, all considering. Though my cousin may have knowledge in the Arcane Arts I’m quite ignorant.”
“I see,” he said and nodded. “I could arrange for you to have private tutoring for magic to catch you up, but you will technically never be caught up with your fellow students. You may become an apprentice and you might even make journeyman in good time, but not at the same rate as your peers.”
“I don’t expect I’ll be here long enough to care about such things,” Pandora told him. “However, I was told that meditation might suit me.”
“It might indeed. You won’t need much of remedial teaching for that. However, I will arrange private classes and lessons for you considering your special nature. Should you catch up to your peers you may be placed into an actual class. Understood?”
“Now, for fighting… we’ll have to put you in a beginners class. If you do too well we’ll try and put you into an older class. Agreed.”
“If you like,” Pandora said. She bowed her head in assent.
“Well, I will have to talk to some of the tutors, but first, what kind of magic are you interested in?”
“I don’t know what kind there are to be interested in. I think I should take an introductory class that explains all types of magic. Do those exist?”
“Yes, but they’re for considerably younger students.”
“That is fine,” Pandora said. “I think I can survive the torment.”
He chuckled again. “Well, if you are certain…” He shrugged and then started to write things down. “Perhaps I could interest in you an introductory Alchemy class?” he asked. “Its simple enough and for those that waited for too long to take the class in the first place. Everyone needs to take it to make journeyman.”
“I suppose Ican.”
“Excellent,” he said. “Then for now you will Combat for Beginners at 9:30 in the morning on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. You will also have Meditation on Tuesday at 11 and Alchemy at one on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and then you will have introductory to Magic Uses on Tuesday, Thursday at two. Then I’ll see about getting you tutors for between periods and on weekends if need be.”
“Well, I have to leave some time between classes. I have to take care of the dragons.”
“Oh yes, the dragons. We’ll go easy on you until they become a bit more self sufficient.”
“Very good. Is there anything else?”
Pandora shook her head. “I suppose I’ll leave you now. Am I to go to my first class?”
“Yes…it is a Thursday so all you have to worry about is Magic Uses at two. It will be in the
“Thank you, Master Gerald.”
“Not a problem at all.” He handed her a list. “I hope you don’t mind your time here all that much.”
Pandora shrugged. “It’s just another place with more people in it. I imagine I’ll adapt.”
“Very good,” he said with a grin. “Good day, Pandora.”
Pandora went to her room to check on the dragons. They were still sleeping soundly. She waited for an hour for Serene to get back, but when she did not return Pandora blamed it on Serene having friends other than Pandora. She stood up and went in search of her only class for the day. After a while she imagined that most of her day would be spent when tutors.
Since Pandora did not trust the blue robed students to be honest with her she stopped the journeyman for instructions to the north tower. They pointed to a mirror and told her to follow the path straight across.
When she went through the mirror they pointed at she was outside in the middle of an elegantly landscaped garden that was lined with paths. Exotic flowers that were out of season bloomed in flowerbeds and ancient trees shaded the grass and walkways. Little squirrels darted up and down the trees and birds sang.
It made her smile.
Never in her life had she seen so much natural green. It was almost as though the sprawling imperial city that took over so much land did not exist. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly before meandering down the path. There were several students walking along as well. All of them had books in their hands and they were chatting with their comrades. Pandora never did understand why people chatted.
Some of the students gave her odd looks since she was not wearing the blue robes that students wear during the school days. She pretended no to notice. No one said anything to her, so the lack of action seemed appropriate.
It took a while, but she reached the north tower which was decidedly more impressive from the outside than then inside. The outside was build from granite and appeared seamless until your eyes were right against the stone. Designs were carved flawlessly of dragons and humans together. One of the carvings reminded her of Amara talking to them. She gave a fond smile.
The inside, however, was bare of any trappings. It had a plain scuffed wooden floor with unadorned walls of limestone. It was an anticlimactic ending to such a beautiful beginning. Several doors lined the hallways marked with numbers. At the end of the hall were several mirrors, one for each level and gave a range of numbers over them. After a moment she found her mirror and stepped through.
She found the room, but there was a class in it. She stood outside and waited patiently for it to be released. All the classes seemed to be released at once and more students than Pandora could ever hope to remember poured out in their blue. It was an ocean. When the flow from the door of interest ended she slipped in. Only a few students were still collecting their books off of their desks.
She glanced at the paper in her hand. “Master Kulma?” she asked the tall black clad woman.
“Yes?” she asked.
“I have been assigned your class for Magic Uses,” she said.
“Oh?” Master Kulma asked. “That is not for another two hours. What do you need?”
“Well, I was wondering if I might be able to get a book from you.”
“Students must buy their own books,” she said.
“Oh, I didn’t know,” Pandora said.
“How could you not know? It was in the handbook sent out when you were accepted here.” She frowned down at Pandora.
Pandora frowned back. “I was brought here unexpectedly yesterday. I had no idea what classes I’d be taking until an hour or so ago.”
“Oh, I forgot about the Speakers. We were warned about you. Maybe you could borrow someone else’s book, or you could go buy one.”
“I don’t know where.”
“Didn’t you read the handbook?”
“I didn’t know there was one until you told me about it just now,” Pandora said. She was beginning to get frustrated with the teacher. She had been kidnapped and now she had to go through this of all things?
“I suppose I’ll talk to Master Gerald then. I don’t want to take this class anymore. I don’t even want to be here,” Pandora told her.
Master Kulma snorted. “Why? Because you’re not getting your way?”
“Nothing has been going my way,” Pandora told her and refrained from making a comment about Kulma’s head being in a place that didn’t smell too nice. “I would rather go home. I would have rather never left my Uncle’s household. I don’t feel privileged being here. I just want to try my best to get along. If you don’t want to help me, then I don’t want to be in your class.” Before the professor could say another word Pandora turned on her heel and stalked out.
She walked blindly to Master Gerald’s door and knocked on it as loudly as she could manage. The door opened and she did not wait to be beckoned in. “I want another combat class instead of that one. I have no intention of being a mage. I have no intention of learning magic. I do not want that woman as my teacher. She was rude and inconsiderate.”
Master Gerald stared at her. “Well, if that is what you wish…”
“I wish to go home. I wish to be back with my uncle and have everything the way it was before you mages went and mettled in affairs that were not your own.” She took a deep breath. “I am going to take care of the hatchlings now.”
Pandora managed to calm down before she got to her room. She found Serene there waiting outside the privy door. Serene smiled at her with one of those familiar bright smiles.
“Hello, Serene. Did you have a good breakfast?”
“Oh, I did. They were so delightful, weren’t they?” she gushed. Her eyes practically glowed.
“I guess. They didn’t seem to like me much,” Pandora said. “Anyway, I’m glad you’re making friends.”
“How did your visit with the councilor go?” she asked.
Pandora shrugged. “He was nice enough. There is no way for me to fault him, honestly. I met one of my supposed to be teachers, but she wasn’t very nice so I changed classes.”
“You can’t change classes because a teacher isn’t nice, Pandora,” Serene said reprovingly.
“Well, I have to admit that I’m a bit fed up,” Pandora said. “They act like they’re doing us a favor by making us live here. It’s a fancy prison that teaches you what they want you to know. It’s disgusting.”
“Let’s not talk about this in front of the children,” Serene said when she noticed that Emerald, Topaz, and Star were listening avidly.
Pandora scowled. “Who all has done their business?”
“We’re just waiting for Rubio,” Emerald said.
Serene frowned. “I’ve never seen you like this before. Even when your mother…” Pandora’s glare stopped her cold.
“I think I need some time to myself,” she said. “Can you take them down and I’ll help oil then when you get back.”
Serene hesitated but nodded. “All right.”
“Mother,” Emerald said hesitantly, “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine, dearest, I’m just upset right now.”
“You’re not mad at me are you?” she asked looking up at her with her gem like eyes.
“No, love, I’m not mad at you,” Pandora said gently and rubbed under the hatchling’s eyes.
The hatchling crooned. “I love you, Mother.”
“I love you, too,” Pandora said. “Now be sure to mind Serene.”
When they left Pandora sat on the stool by the window and stared out of it until they returned. Not many thoughts crossed her mind, but when she did think she thought of her mother and father. The thought of beating Master Kulma to a bloody pulp also piqued her interest.