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Ch.1, Chance Encounter

From the perspective of the Mage...

Chapter 1 - Wizard   “Professor Aumeron!” Alexandre called out, raising his hand.   The heads of eight other adult peers turned to him as the diminutive instructor shuffled on his pedestal to face the boy wizard.   Alexandre’s gaze darted about. He felt the heat come up to his cheeks as he looked to the pen and quill on his desk. “Would-would not a more efficient somatic sequence for the sending be the following--” he squeaked out while pulling up the crimson sleeves of his robe.   He cupped his right-hand several inches from his mouth. He churned his left forearm like a wheel while slowly twisting his left wrist in a counterclockwise motion, his fingers fluttering in the process. Without actually casting the spell, Alexandre felt ridiculous but knew the importance of clarity for his notes.   “A variation, yes, but certainly not the common implementation, Mr. Du Faeien,” the halfling mage replied dryly. Looking through the pair of spectacles balanced on his nose, the professor swept the room with his gaze. “Would anyone like to demonstrate and explain the standard somatic pattern to Mr. Du Faeien?”   Several hands shot up. Alexandre pulled down his sleeves and glanced around again, trying to keep himself from grimacing. Professor Aumeron gestured to a lady in the front row, who turned to face him from across the room. She proceeded to make smooth motions using mainly her forearm accompanies by minute movements of her fingers.   “The traditional somatic sequence of sending opts for smooth, steady motions of the forearm to avoid the onset of fatigue during casting. Furthermore, it eschews a reliance of dexterity and aesthetics for a safer and more practical approach,” she announced, looking to her younger peer.   “Excellent, Ms. Newuan.” Professor Aumeron looks back to Alexandre. “I hope that clears up any misconceptions, Mr. Du Faeien.”   Alexandre bites the inside of his cheek for a moment. His hand goes up to head and picks at the slightly-pointed tip of his ears as he nods. “Yes, sir. It does.”   The young wizard, with no more than twelve summers yet in him, continued the rest of the class with no other interruptions. He felt the pointed glances and the smirks settle upon him but knew better than to give any signs of acknowledgment. To do so would mean to admit his status as an outsider in this institution too, though Alexandre knew better than to think of himself as anything but.   At the end of the lecture, Alexandre gathered his belongings into the spatial bag of holding he constantly carried, leaving out only a cloth-bound folder. Once his peers had left the seminar room, he stepped up to the halfling instructor, who had a penchant for leaving his materials scattered all about the wide front desk. He extracted a set of papers from his folder and moved to slide it into the desk.   “Yet another additional report, Mr. Du Faeien?” Professor Auberon ceased his packing to collect the papers from the young mage. He pulled the spectacles off the bridge of his nose before reviewing over the text. “On the sending spell...Ah, a proposition for alterations. I suppose that would explain your presumption earlier today.”   “Y-yes, sir--Professor Auberon, sir…” Alexandre kept his head bowed, brow furrowed as he focused on his boots.   The professor tapped the bottom of the papers on his desk and stowed them away into his own folder. “You would not be the first to suggest modifying the spell by exchanging scope for reliability and consistency, Mr. Du Faeien.”   “I--I believe it’s well within our means to do so,” the young mage replied, straightening up. “We already have the basis in sending stones. Plus, as one of the Society’s most oft-used utility spells, it would be of great benefit to expand its usability! Perhaps one of the expert-tier evocationists can collaborate with an ar--”   “And why not yourself, Mr. Du Faeien?”   Alexandre met the halfling’s stern gaze and swallowed. “I, uh...It is interesting, but I do not find it my, um…”   “You demonstrate that you are far above the levels of skill covered in my courses, Mr. Du Faeien.” The halfling sifted through his folder and procured several other stacks of papers that he hands back to the younger mage. “I have provided corrections and suggestions. However, these reports have the quality to pass as actual proposals, not just here in Crawlyne, but at the Arcaneum.”   “That was not my intention, Professor,” Alexandre mumbled. His gaze twinkled at the sight of the returned reports. “Th-thank you, sir--”   “Granted, the Crawlyne Conservatory is the rising institution of magic in Eastern Varia,” the halfling continued, returning his attention to packing his belongings. “However, even our classes would not suffice for your talents. You are a very intelligent student, Mr. Du Faeien. Surely, you know that you belong in an independent study. Otherwise, transferring here from the Academy would simply waste your potential.”   “I, yes...I--” Alexandre swallowed once again, the heat pooling once more in his cheeks. “I understand, Professor Auberon. I have already, uh, endeavored. To address. The matter.”   He gave the instructor one final curt nod before turning on his heels and rushing out the door. Alexandre passed by a group of his classmates but paid them no mind even as one tried to wave him to a stop. Beyond the lectures they shared, he owed them none of his time.     Alexandre glanced up as the librarian tapped at the corner of his table. He frowned at her pleadingly, but he could tell by the look in her eyes that she had no intention of allowing him to stay. His gaze drifted to the stacks of books set neatly on the right half of the desk, contrasting the half-dozen half-open scrolls splayed on the left. Fifteen minutes to set it all back to place lest he receives a demerit, and he knew better than to test that threat.   The young mage procured his spellbook, flipping to his marker for the unseen servant spell. The extra pair of hands had become a constant necessity for him since his move to Reven, though it did not usually last long enough through his study sessions. Within a matter of moments, a book lifted off the table as the invisible force carried it back to its rightful location.   Alexandre replaced the scrolls back in their tubes and carried the lot of them back to the special materials library clerk. He caught a glimpse of the clock as he walked. Fifteen minutes until the 19th hour. Typically, the library remained open to midnight, but his father had already sent explicit instructions to prevent him from neglecting everyday necessities, such as eating. His stomach growled, the emptiness from over seven hours in the library finally dawning on his body. He would need to grab a meal before returning to his quarters.   After a few minutes, Alexandre left the library and hurriedly walked towards the cafetorium. Peers, professors, and, most often, his father’s colleagues tended to approach him in the halls. He kept his nose in a scroll as he hurried along, glancing up only to check on the way ahead of him.   The main lobby appeared busy even in the evening, though not to the same stifling proportions he would often see in the midday bustle. A few individuals still had inquiries for the front desk clerks, some mages while others not. Students had mostly retreated to the dormitories or to Reven’s nightlife districts by this point.   “After dinner, I can finish transcribing this scroll. And I need to contact Father about my stipend,” Alexandre murmured to himself as he strode by the front.   “--really am sorry to be bothering you for this so much, mister! But please, we only are wishing to have this done. Most important to do it quickly, please!”   Alexandre winced. He never thought Varian Common all that difficult a language to grasp, but clearly, there were those who would struggle with it. He glanced back to the source of the voice. An individual in a hooded green cloak continued gesticulating to a clerk named Robley while speaking. Based on the tone, more than likely a man. The inflections to his speech sounded familiar, however.   “A small service, but most thankful we would be, and those who would be benefiting from it!” the cloaked figure continued.   He could hear the man exaggerating the first vowel sounds of certain words, which sounded similar to...Elven! Considering the hood, the individual more than likely wished to obscure his identity, though the garment would not mask his dialect.   “Sir, I am, uh, unsure whether we can address your request…” Robley eyed the person with a wide gaze, his lips set in a flatline. Alexandre searched the clerk’s expression. He seemed like he wanted to speak further but probably lacked the appropriate phrasing for what he wanted to convey. How could he with that bizarre situation? Granted, Alexandre lacked the context of the mentioned service. Perhaps there was something more to it. At fifteen minutes after seven, he would still have time to acquire his meal.   A small movement of black at the individual’s other side drew Alexandre’s gaze. A similarly dressed individual, this time all in black, leaned over to the green-hooded man before moving closer to the desk. He shifted his gaze to the figure and noticed the black hood move ever so slightly towards his direction. Alexandre straightened up, widened his gaze and shivered slightly. He turned his gaze away, thinking, ‘How unpleasant.’ The young mage looked back down at his feet as he began to shuffle ahead.   “We apologize for the obtuseness of this situation,” the black-cloak interjected. “And we also apologize for any misunderstandings. Our lack of identification is a conundrum we brought upon ourselves, and it is unfortunate that it had brought about any confusion, Mr. Robley.”   The green-cloak seemed to regard the other before taking a step back. The companion could speak Varian Common flawlessly. ‘Wonder why he didn’t just talk himself,’ Alexandre thought. ‘Though, it is curious, and no identification…’   He slowed down his steps and glanced toward them again. Even at another vantage, Alexandre could not discern their features. The other one hardly sounded Elvish, though he may be generalizing. His hand came up to his head again, making a motion to rub at the earlobe, while straining to capture any snippet of the remaining conversation.   “Oh! It is of no great inconveniece, err...sirs,” Robley responded, relaxing slightly at the change of speaker. “However, it is Arcane Society policy to require official documentation and identification, issued by a valid geopolitical body, to apply for any magical services.”   “Would it be possible to speak with a representative of your upper management?” the black-hooded figure continued. “Perhaps it would be more appropriate to speak of our circumstances with such an individual.”   Robley’s gaze widened again as he looked from one stranger to the next. “Well, sir, at this hour, it may be difficult to arrange a meeting on short notice. However, I can relay a message for an appointment with a supervisor. If you would provide a name for the request…”   The black-cloak stood still for a few moments before leaning over to the green-cloak watching them. After a few seconds, the green-cloak exclaimed at his companion, straightened up, and stepped toward the desk again, half-pushing the other out of the way. He then stated excitedly, “Our names is...My name is Idan! And, he is…”   The individual in black gave no response aside from a small shake of his head.   Alexandre tilted his head and blinked at the display. He allowed his gaze to wander back to Robley, who wore his confusion on his face, before noticing the black-hood once again regarding his general direction. The young mage’s eyes widened, and he turned around swiftly. He still felt the gaze boring into him, so he resumed his pace towards an adjoining hall.   Just before he moved out of earshot, Alexandre heard the fluent voice project abruptly, “We shall be staying at the Chilly Goose tavern in the Gratis district.”     Alexandre stared at the scroll of fireball laid out beside his open spellbook. On the other side of his desk sat a half-eaten plate of beef wellington. His appetite had waned once he resumed his studies. He could even save it for later, using magic to warm the food. However, now that he had readied his notes, his inks, and a few pounds of bat droppings, he felt an onset of malaise.   ‘I’ve been looking forward to this since last week...I won’t have nearly as much free time to learn spells after the move.’ He picked up the crimson feathered quill, dipped it in the inkwell, and set the tip on his book. Alexandre’s gaze drooped as he wrote down the component lists, starting with the verbal incantations.   “Not really that strange,” he murmured. “Significant elven population in Reven. But, seemed too big to be wood elves. One of them had a thick accent, elven inflections; even with the ghettos, native elves still would speak Varian Common fluently if they wanted to get anywhere. Or, maybe he didn’t really have a need to learn Varian Common. Silly, though.”   Alexandre brushed his ear with the quill’s feather. “Unless he’s not from Varia. Maybe the Feylands.” He chuckled. “That’d be a coincidence!” He furrowed his brow, shook his head, and then resumed writing. “Not my bus…” Alexandre exhaled, his gaze glossing over the page. “The other was a translator, probably. Important enough to need it. Maybe a companion. Had to have studied the language, or maybe they’re native. They kept their hoods up, so I can only assume. But why…?”   He set the quill down. “They wanted a service. Enough to ask the Society. And without identification. They didn’t push...Maybe if I knew what they asked about…” Alexandre rested his chin on his hand. “I can ask Robley. He’d know better than to question me.”   Alexandre smirked before pulling up his sleeves. He conducted the gestures he had displayed earlier in class, adding on the verbal sequence, and, this time, tapped into his substantial well of power. Alexandre mentally projected to Robley with the message, “Mr. Robley. Alexandre du Faeien here. I wish to know what service those two hooded individuals from earlier inquired upon. Please respond summarily.”   Alexandre rolled up the scroll as he waited. Within a few minutes, he heard Robley’s reply in his mind, “Mr. Du Faeien. They were looking to have a scrying carried out. They lacked the identification. May I ask why you sent this inquiry?”   “Scrying...Now, that’s a bit suspect,” Alexandre muttered. “One of them gave a name. Idan. The other didn’t. They wanted a private meeting to get it. So, maybe they don’t want anyone to know? Clearly, they didn’t know how the Society worked. And maybe they’re ignorant enough not to find an illegal service.”   Alexandre picked his spellbook off the desk. “I don’t have reason to think about this, though,” he hissed. The young mage looked at the various suitcases grouped up in the corner of his near barren suite. He had packed weeks ago, having no intention to make his current living situation seem any less temporary than how it was.   “But, if they are...from the Feylands…” Alexandre began. “It might be important to know. If it’s something to do with them, and...and it does concern magic, so if it’s something possibly problematic…” He looked toward the window where his owl familiar, Eames, stared at him from a branchlike perch. “You know, I do always keep those emergency spells prepared. I can always look into it and get out as well as I need to. Wouldn’t be any trouble to it, right, Eames?”   The owl responded with a hoot.   “And I know they’re at a tavern down in Gratis.” Alexandre stood up, tucking his spellbook back into his satchel. “It won’t do to go out like this, though. But I haven’t touched illusions yet...” He strode to one of the suitcases and unclasped it. With a grunt, he pulled it open to rummage through the contents.   “I can learn that one later. Maybe one of the professors will allow me to study their notes, though that would be suspicious.” Alexandre tossed a few robes to the side. “But for now--” He tugged at a hooded red cloak and held it out in front of him. “There are enough gnomes and halflings in Reven that seeing someone my height should be fine. I just have to keep the hood up, so they don’t see my face. And, one of the men from earlier saw me, so I should be careful.”   He pulled on the cloak, tightening the clasp around his neckline. “Come on, Eames! We’re going out tonight, and you’re gonna have to be my eyes, okay?”   The owl gave another hoot.   Alexandre gave it a soft smile as the pearl-feathered bird fluttered over to his shoulder. He kicked the suitcase cover to close it before heading out of the door.


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