It is an odd sensation, feeling nothing but the wind that whipped about us. True to his word, I felt nothing under my feet, unlike when we traveled to the Wandering Wizard Tavern. I did not feel as if I was falling, but I didn’t feel as if I were moving either. There was only the wind.
It wasn’t long before I felt something under my feet again, and the loud bustling of another busy market square.
“Afternoon, Wizard Verulus.”
“Good day, Wizard Verulus!”
“Welcome back, Wizard Verulus!” Different voices chimed as footsteps walked past us.
Verulus shook my shoulder gently. “It is alright Alys, open your eyes. It’s safe to let go of me.”
I opened my eyes and let go of him. We were standing near a fountain in the center of Vale, shops lining the center road. The buildings were of white stone and oaken wood, some were even on floating islands! In one direction, directly forward from where I stood, over a solid stone bridge, stood a magnificent white building that split into two other buildings, the main one topped with a purple roof.
“That’s the school I told you about. We’ll be going to one of the buildings on the campus to consult with the Headmaster.” Verulus smiled at me.
“It’s beautiful here…”
Over the bridge to the school came a wispy wizard with a long blonde beard, dressed in gray robes, moving towards us rather fast. In his hands he carried a scroll, a floating purple quill trailing after him. Verulus sighed.
“Good day, Master Pyrusn.”
“And to you too, Wizard Verulus. What is your business here in Vale today? Why have you brought that maid along with you?” The gray wizard spoke as if someone were holding his nose all the time with an annoying sound of authority in his voice, casting me a disdainful look.
“Master, I have come seeking council with the headmaster, I have news for his and the council’s ears only. This lady here possibly has the potential for becoming a caster. If the council finds my thought to be correct, then she is entitled the equal right to participate in the tests and become a caster.”
“I know the rule of testing, boy!” Master Pyrusn snapped. “The problem is that there is no room for an extra student at the academy!”
A woman’s voice came from behind us. “Is that so, Master Pyrusn? I was here for the entrance ceremony myself, this year’s class is only twenty registrants big and she, if she completes the tests, also could choose to be taught by a wandering witch or wizard. Verulus is even eligible this year to take on a registrant apprentice. He’s been approved to do so.”
We turned around, meeting a portly woman in emerald green robes, followed by two others in similar fashion, the sigil of the Sorceresses of Herathana on the banner the followers carried. Verulus and Master Pyrusn bowed, I curtsied and looked down.
“Good day, High Sorceress Rowan.” The two wizards spoke in unison.
“Good day to you, Verulus, Pyrusn, and newcomer. Please rise. Pyrusn, alert the Master Council of my arrival. I will personally lead Verulus and the newcomer to the Council chamber.”
“As you wish, High Sorceress.” The wispy wizard ran off back in the direction he came in.
I looked at the High Sorceress, and Verulus briefly bowed once again.
“Thank you, High Sorceress Rowan.”
“Don’t mention it, that twit is just far too annoying. Now, newcomer, what is your name?”
“Her name is-“ Verulus started to speak up for me.
“Hush. I asked her, not you Verulus, or is she mute?” The High Sorceress cut him off.
I briefly cleared my throat and looked at her. “My name is Alys, High Sorceress.”
She looked me up and down. “I see… you’re not the girl I’m looking for. You’re not fifteen. But well met, dear.”
“You’re looking for a girl, High Sorceress?” Verulus asked.
“Yes. I had a vision of a fifteen year old girl exiting the Border Forest and wandering through the sands of the desert.”
“I see… Is that vision what brought you here?”
“Perhaps, though my business is not really of your concern. Come; let us go to the Tower.”
Verulus and I nodded, letting High Sorceress Rowan lead the way to the academy. I gaped as the doors opened without being touched. Inside the magnificent entryway, wizards and witches of all kinds passed through various portals, either entering or exiting into the building. Some went to one of the halls, or disappeared behind the spiral stairwell surrounding a pillar of magic. We made our way through, the sorceress’ followers leaving us to do other business, heading into the dinner hall that was hidden by the magic pillar. Students and teachers sat and ate, conversing under floating candles. Through another set of doors we were once again outside, following a path to the Tower.
“This tower is where most of the Master Council members live. Only High Sorceress Rowan doesn’t live here, though there is a room for her. The tower itself is the Tower of Elements. Not many people aside from the Council are permitted inside.” Verulus explained.
“Have you ever been inside?” I looked at him.
“No, this would be my first time as well. When I became an apprentice, I met the Council in the training yard.”
“There’s a training yard?”
“Three to be precise; one for each Registrant year.”
“So coming inside the Tower is a special treat, but only because Verulus has to speak with the council as a whole.” The sorceress spoke up, pausing before the door to the tower.
Master Pyrusn stepped outside, briskly walking past the High Sorceress, slowing to give me another scornful glare before hurrying on back through the dinner hall. We went up the stairs, flight after flight, until we reached the top. The doors magically opened again, and the Sorceress walked over to her seat on a risen mound of ground covered in grass and flours. The other Masters, gathered in a circle of seats, nodded in greeting before the Master of Fire, sitting atop a platform of cooled molten rock, stood and looked at Verulus.
“Wizard Verulus, please approach the center.”
Verulus bowed and looked at me, mouthing to me to remain where I was and quiet, before heading to the center platform.
“Verulus, it has come to our attention you have news?” An elderly man spoke, presumably in the chair I only saw the back of.
“Headmaster, there is a black witch in Irinis.”