Winterrun Academy

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Chapter Two


Headmistress Jill was always too kind to me. She took me in when I was a kitten, when she found me on the streets. I still remember that day. I was young and foolish, ignorance is bliss.

It was a cold, rainy, winter day in Omangar, the capital of Winterrun Province. The family I had been with had thrown me out at the world, left me to my own devices. I had been born with them a month ago, and they had named me Bruce. I didn't like that name. It was too human. The family already had too many mouths to feed. I knew that if I was to be cared for, I would need to be in a wealthier district. I scurried in between legs of people wandering the streets, although none of them took notice of me. I went up to the northern most district, and was very exhausted by the time I got there. I often forget how small I am. I snort, recalling my arrogance.

The rain had drenched my coat, making me look scrawny. The houses were much bigger here in the northern district. Everything was bigger, the trees, the streets, the horses, the wallets. I slink up to one of the houses and start scratching on the door.

It opens almost immediately, and a woman with pink cheeks and black hair in a bun steps out. She is evidently a maid, she's holding a broom and is wearing a black dress with a white apron. Her cheeks get redder when she sees what I've been doing. Next thing I know, she's chasing me away with the broom out into the rain, yelling something about how much it costs to re-paint doors, and that I'm an "Ungrateful little mongrel". I find it quite insulting that she used a name for a dog to insult me.

I dive into the cover of a bush, and the maid yells something else at me before turning to go back to her house. I sigh, and decide not to try that again. I'm already tired as it is, being chased won't help. I instead make my way to go to the market, to see if I can find some food scrap or shelter.

As I exit the neighborhood, the smells of fresh cooking food reaches my nose and I sigh. Oh, how hungry I am. I dash to a table that's covered by an umbrella, and look up to see someone eating a hot burrito. I smile and put on my cutest face, pouting and begging. I begin to meow. The woman, who just happens to be Jill Winterrun, looks down and smiles at me. I expected her to give me a small morsel, but instead she picks my up and begins to dry me off with a purple jacket.

I look rather ruffled, as my fur is in matted clumps, but Jill gives me a kind smile. Then she leans down towards me and kisses me one the head. It makes me feel warm inside, like for once in my life someone actually loves me. I watch Jill finish her burrito, and then when she's finishes she picks me up off her lap and sets me by her chest. Then she zips her jacket up with me inside, and I poke my head out, ending up just below her chin. I feel much like a burrito myself.

Jill grins down at me. "Now, what should we call you?" I purr, hoping that she would pick a nice name, a masculine name, a hearty name. And that's just what she did. "Hello, Obsidian, my name is Jill Winterrun." And that was my name from then on. That was who I was. Since I was so small, I barely remember my life without her.

Jill had been in town on a business meeting, negotiation with the King of Winterrun about magic permits for Winterrun Academy. The King of Alger, who lives in the Rayhim Province, already gave Jill the permission to teach magic and practice magic at Winterrun Academy. She had him sign the ten year renewal, now she just needed the King of Winterrun Province to sign it again.

After that, she took me home, and my life began.

My life is relatively simple, I live at the Academy, and have everything I need. Well, I suppose more friends could be nice. I live a solitary life, in relation to cats. But there is this one that I fancy. She lives somewhere on the side of the mountain. Her coat is an off white, a light shade of grey, the color of a misty full moon.

Sometimes she climbs up through the trees to come to the herbal garden. There I meet her, and we sunbathe together. But today, I think that will not happen. The rain is streaking the window in Jill's room. My seat is beneath it, and I cuddle in my sleeping pad, black, like my fur. I press my moist warm nose against the cold glass. It makes a patch of fog. I smile, and settle into a peaceful sleep.

A sleep where sunlight fills a meadow, with pink and silver grasses. I love it here, this is where I come in my dreams. Here, the mice and birds are endless, and nature encompasses me and fills me with strength.

O o o o O o o o O o o o O o o o O


I look out the carriage window as it bumps along the road to the edge of the city. In the letter to my family, Headmistress Jill said that on September first, we should come to Winterrun Academy, to get settled. Term started on September second. They would provide us with everything that we need to learn. The school was also free. I wonder why.

My parents insisted that I take a royal carriage there, because they wanted my full protection. I wanted to refuse, I didn't want to draw attention to myself, but my parents insisted. After all, I am the heir to one-third of the Kingdom of Alger, I'm the Princess of Rayhim Province. It sounds weird, even though I know it's my destiny. I snort, destiny, what ever that is.

The carriage is now reaching the edge of Yeir, the capital of Rayhim and Alger. Rayhim has s bit more say in Alger then Winterrun and Montipulgar. As everyone sees it, Rayhim is the oldest and the most nobel of the three provinces. Winterrun got a bad rep for Winterrun Academy. Winterrun has lots of mages in disguise, so no one goes there often. Montipulgar is full of dark-skinned visionaries, nomads, and hermits. Well, those are the stereotypes. Of course, that's not actually true.

Anyway, here I am, going to Winterrun Provence. I look back at Yeir, at my home, at my parents, at my life. Well, I guess it's time to start a new chapter of my life. I sort of wish that I had a send-off party, but again, it was for my safety. We don't want anyone who doesn't have to knowing where I am. My parents are going to Montipulgar for a few days, and then to a beach resort on the Black Isle, so everyone will assume I'm with them.

I sigh. Secrets tear people apart. Secrets tear kingdoms. Secrets tear empires.

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