Galen hurried towards the Royal Academy that stood on the palace grounds. He had just managed to clean himself up after morning sessions with the Disciplines and run through the trees to make it to Royal Academy on time for classes. He hurried to the large door on the tall building that held the Academy facilities. It was an old building, built of the same stone as the palace. It was a big rectangle-shaped building with five floors. The front of the building had many rows of window and the roof was flat. On one side was a large tower that stood high above the five floors.
Galen opened the door and walked into the large entryway. In front of him was a long staircase. He looked up it knowing he needed to get to his runes class on the fourth floor. He looked at the large clock on the wall to see that class was starting in less than two minutes, and those who were late were locked out.
He ran up the stairs, taking two or three steps at a time. He arrived at the fourth floor and bolted down the hall to the end. He saw his instructor’s hand on the door handle as he approached. Galen slipped in just as the instructor was closing the door. He walked over to a nearby table and plopped down in a chair, breathing heavily, wiping the sweat from his brow.
“Cutting it very close today, novice,” said a quiet voice next to him.
Galen looked over to see Princess Lexine smiling at him. He pulled the bag he wore off his shoulder and placed it on the ground under the table, grabbing a book and some paper out of it. He searched quickly for a quill, not finding one. He looked again, chastising himself for forgetting to put one in his bag after studying last night. He sat up and laid the front of his head on the desk, grumbling under his breath. He then looked up to ask the princess if she might have one to find her holding a quill to him.
“Thank you,” he said quietly, taking the quill. “I feel like such a fool. I need to get things together if I’m going to make this work.”
“Forgetting a quill hardly makes you a fool, and it is not grounds for berating yourself so. What have I told you about being easier on yourself?”
Galen smiled slightly at her and nodded. They both turned to the front as their instructor, Kilo, stood at the front of the room, ready to start class. That day, Kilo taught them some advanced runes used for protection.
“These runes, when used with the proper enchantments by someone skilled, can help keep someone safe or protect those in battle,” said Kilo after having them open their books to the correct page. He picked up a large ruin drawn on a piece of parchment and held it up.
“The trick is knowing which Mystic to bind with which rune,” continued Kilo. “This one here with the arrow and two lines is protection against weapons. You will find that some of the Sentinel will draw these on their hands or arms before a battle. This rune binds well with stone. It can also work with fire, but not as strong as stone.
“This rune with the curve and line is often used if going on a sea voyage. Obviously, you would bind it with water. You could use wind as well if you were afraid of a storm, but it will not work as well as the binding with water.”
He went on to draw many different runes and explain the way they could protect somebody. He drew runes for protection against disease, words, travel, and even love. Each one, he explained why you would use which Mystic to bind it. Galen thought most were very obvious, though a few took more than one Mystic, such as with travel you could use all four mystics to bind it, or disease, it depended on what disease you were protecting someone from.
“For tomorrow, make sure you read the portion of your book on divination. We will start using divination runes next week,” said Kilo as class ended.
Galen sighed loudly as he picked up his bag to pack his book into it.
“Are you not looking forward to divination, Galen?” asked the princess as she packed away her own book.
“No, not particularly. I don’t take much stock in divination or prophecy. I don’t see how you can see the future when I imagine it is constantly changing. How could you ever account for every decision a person or a group of kingdom leaders would make. Even animals crossing at certain times could change something. It’s just not logical.”
“I don’t think we can tell the whole future, but maybe the runes can help us avoid certain things or be able to see things we don’t want to miss,” said the princess as she stood up.
“Maybe, but it all seems very vague to me,” said Galen standing up as well. They walked out of class together and down the hall. “If a rune tells you a disease is coming, well, that is common sense. Some sort of sickness circles around the kingdom every cold season. Or a rune will tell you to be on the lookout for a new love. Well, then you are going to go around trying to find someone to love, and it will make you more likely to find someone.”
The princess laughed. “I see your point, but I still find it interesting. You shouldn’t close your mind to it, Galen. You love to read and learn. Why not just enjoy the process of trying to understand it.”
“If I was just a student at the Academy, then sure,” said Galen, “But I have to use my time wisely.”
“How are you holding up?” asked the princess as they made their way down the stairs. “Are you able to keep up with your lessons and the Disciplines?”
“So far,” said Galen. “It has been a challenge, but nothing I can’t handle. I have been enjoying it.”
“Good,” said the princess as they made it to the first floor and walked towards the tower stairs to walk towards healing class. “You will be coming to the High Summer festival at court in a few weeks, won’t you?”
“Yes, I am required by the academy and my High Captain. My mother has also written to make sure I come. I think she would like to see me.”
“I am sure she would. She is your mother, and she misses you. You miss her, don’t you?”
“I do,” said Galen, “but we have been apart before while I went to the lower academy. She writes me regularly, and I write her when I can.”
The princess nodded. “I wish my mother wrote more often, but I suppose her health will not allow her.”
Galen looked at the princes with a sad smile as they made their way up the tower’s long winding staircase. He had enjoyed getting to know Princess Lexine. She had sat by him the first day during kingdom history and started talking to him. He wondered if her brother had asked her to reach out to him. Galen didn’t care if he did; he had come to look forward to his conversations with the princess.
It was her first year of the High Academy, even though she was a few years older than Galen. She had finally convinced her father to let her go with her brother’s help. The more Galen got to know her, the more he liked her. She was very intelligent, one of the most brilliant people he had ever met. She was more talkative than he usually liked people to be, but what she said usually had value, so Galen didn’t mind.
She was kind to everyone and helped Galen get to know other students by introducing him. When he had to come for social functions, she quickly included him in her circle of acquaintances. She was also very pretty. Galen had no aspirations of anything other than friendship with the princess, but she was nice to look at.
They made it to healing class and took seats at a table together towards the front of the room. They each arranged their space with their books and their quills and papers. Galen looked over at the table to his right to see his friend Martin smiling at him. Galen gave him a little wave in return.
“You could sit by your friend if you wanted,” said the princess seeing Galen wave to Martin. “You don’t have to sit by me.”
Galen turned to look at the princess. “I like sitting by you,” said Galen with a frown. “You don’t gossip and prattle on like Martin, and when we partner up, I’m not stuck doing all the work. If you would rather me leave, I will do it.”
“No, not at all,” said Princess Lexine raising one hand. “I just didn’t want you to think you were stuck with me.”
“Stuck with you?” asked Galen with a small laugh. “Who would ever consider sitting by the smartest, prettiest woman in the Academy as being stuck?”
The princess looked at him with a wide smile as Galen turned red, realizing what he had just said. Their instructor walked into the room and shut the door, causing Galen and Princess Lexine to turn and look towards the front.
“Galen,” said the princess quietly. “Do you really think I am smart?”
Galen looked at the princess out of the corner of his eyes with a half-smile. “I think you might be one of the most brilliant people I have ever met.”
The princess gave him a beautiful smile that made it hard for Galen to turn his attention to their instructor, Sarin, as he started class. Sarin taught today about poisons. He taught them how to use Mystics to search for poisons in the body. The water Mystic was very helpful with this, as you could use it to search through an ill person’s blood to see what was contaminating the system. You could also use the water Mystic to try to clear the system of poison.
The fire Mystic could also be used for poisons occasion if used with extreme caution. It could cause damage to the body if not used correctly. After going over how to use mystics, the healer went over different elixirs that could be made to help with poisons. He went over all the usual poisons that were found around the kingdom, and what would be helpful.
“Of course, there are three that cannot be cured with Mystics or potions,” said Sarin after going over all the elixirs. “These are Misma, which is made by crushing the flower of Misma, the venom from a green scorpion of Aciea which is found on the north end of the kingdom, and the dew that runs off of the nettle weed.”
“What do you do if you come across someone poisoned by one of these?” asked a small brown-haired young woman in the back.
“You try to make the person effected as comfortable as possible and wait for them to pass. I am afraid the situation would be quite hopeless.”
“There is nothing you could do?” asked Galen. “You could not try to clear the system?”
“You could try, but I doubt it would help. All three of these poisons work very fast. If you use Mystics to clear the system, all you will do is prolong the suffering. You would buy them a few hours,” replied Sarin. “I suppose there is old magic out there that might help.”
“Like what?” asked Martin.
“Old magic like that found in the royal families of our world. You should be learning about it in your history class, or you will soon. Our kingdom’s royal family’s magic has much to do with protection and fighting. It was used to settle our kingdom and keep it safe before the Sentinel was formed.
“The Nobles of Siccaria have old magic that can help them see past deceptions. Some nobles amongst them are said to be able to read or affect minds. I am not sure how much of it is true. The Nobles of Siccaria tend to be secretive about their old magic. The Navalian royalty’s magic has a few known powers. They can affect moods and are said to be able to give and take life; some of the greatest healers in our world have come from Navalia.
“Beyond that, there is nothing that can be done for one affected by those three poisons, so I would try to avoid them if possible. Fortunately, they are very rare.”
“I think we should avoid all poisons if possible,” said Galen quietly to Princess Lexine, who laughed quietly.
After class, the princess walked down the stairs with Galen as Martin walked behind them.
“Will you come to any court activities before the High Summer festival, Galen?” asked Princess Lexine as they walked down the stairs.
“I am not sure,” said Galen. “I don’t believe so. I know I am required to go to some court activities for socialization. I have not seen any required for me until High Summer.”
“You could sometimes come even if it isn’t required,” said the princess. “You know, just to come enjoy yourself.”
Martin laughed. “I am afraid that Galen enjoying something might be a foreign concept to him, your highness.”
“That is not fair; there are many things I enjoy.”
“Academics and participating in the Disciplines do not count,” said Martin. “The princess is talking of dancing, eating, conversation, and drinking. Things normal people like to do for fun.”
“I do not mind doing any of those things. I have had some good times doing all of them. Under normal circumstance, I would not mind, but I have much to do at the moment.”
“A rest would be good for you, Galen,” said the princess. “We have a simple court banquet in five nights. “I think you should come. There won’t be many people there, just those of the high court and some guests.”
“I am not sure I would be welcomed, then,” said Galen. “My father was a lower lord.”
“You will be welcomed if you are my guest,” said the princess. “I would appreciate it if you would come with me. You could keep me entertained. I find little sense in the high court sometimes. I mean, except for fine folk like Martin.” The princess looked behind her with a smile.
Galen looked at the princess as they go to the entrance hall. “I will come if the High Captain allows it,” said Galen.
“She will, don’t worry about that. I will see to it,” said the princess. “You need to get back to the Fortress, and I should go check on my brother. He doesn’t like me to leave him alone too long with the Navalians.”
She curtseyed to Martin and Galen as the two young men bowed before she swept out the door.
“Galen,” said Martin with a smile. “You do realize that the princess just asked you to attend a court function with her, don’t you? I would think you would at least appear happy about it.”
“I do not look forward to spending an evening bowing to the high lords and making idle chit chat. The princess’s company I will enjoy. She makes for good conversation.”
“Good conversation,” said Martin laughing. “You are unbelievable, Galen. You better get to the Fortress if you are going to have time to eat. I will see you later this afternoon in kingdom history.”
Galen walked out the door and towards the Fortress. He did smile slightly, thinking of attending the court function as the princess’s guest.