The Ways of Magic, Part II & III
Copyright © 2003 by Maelan Peredhil
Avaline was rudely awakened the next morning by the pillow being jerked out from under her head.
"Get up," Rodair's crisp voice commanded.
Avaline groaned and slowly opened her eyes, then full realization of who was speaking to her sank into her sleep-muddled mind, and she hastily sat up.
Rodair looked at her with impatience. "Get up," he snapped again as soon as he saw she was awake. He tossed her pillow onto the bed. "You are starting your lessons today. But first," he continued, his tone becoming a touch more bitter as he went on, "Shantir had your apprentice robes made." He picked up a package that had lain on the floor at his feet. "Here."
Eagerly, Avaline took the package. She undid the cord that held it shut and unfolded the cloth that it was wrapped in. Dark blue cloth slid from its bindings. Two robes. She held one of them up; it had none of the embroidery that Rodair's did, but it was a fine cotton cloth and Avaline felt a thrill of excitement as she beheld her new robe. She really was a wizard's apprentice.
Rodair's voice cut into her thoughts like a knife. "Are you going to sit there gawking all day? Or would you rather get started with lessons?"
Avaline started, then glared at him. "Well, I can't get dressed with you staring at me, can I?"
Rodair shot her a glare, but turned his back.
Avaline slipped into her new robes hurriedly, not wanting to be late for her first day. She did up the long row of buttons marching up the left side of the robe; had it been a wizard's robe, they would have been up the right, she knew. "I'm done."
Rodair turned back to her. "Took you long enough. Come on, then." A look of distaste came onto his face. "I'm supposed to give you a tour of the Adani grounds. Hurry up, I have other things to do."
He left the room and Avaline scrambled quickly off the bed to follow him. He took a fast pace, and she had to scurry to keep up with his lanky stride.
"How big are the Adani grounds?" she asked as they entered Shantir's main hall. The wizard was nowhere in evidence, though Avaline thought she could hear noises coming from Shantir's office.
"Big. That's all you'll ever need to know." Rodair seemed in no mood to talk; Avaline wondered if he ever was.
They left Shantir's house and stepped out into what promised to be another scorching day. Rodair headed towards the Adani Chapel.
"All the larger houses," he began in a dry, lecturing tone, "belong to the wizards who live here and their apprentices if they have them. The smaller ones are for the gardeners and the few messengers who live here; it is easier for them to live outside rather than in the Chapel. You are not to enter the houses, any of them, unless sent by a wizard or a senior apprentice or if invited by the owner of the house. Understand?"
"Good. Now, before us is the Chapel. Inside it dwell more wizards and the rest of the Adani servants. You will not have much reason to go into the Chapel except to use the Library; you may, of course, enter it as you will when you have the time to do so. Stay out of the servants' quarters and the wizards' chambers, of course; essentially, you will stay only in the Chapel Proper and the Library." He fell silent, staring at the building looming up ahead. He did not speak until they reached it. "I'll show you the inside, now." He pushed on the door and motioned Avaline inside.
The inside of Chapel was exactly what it appeared to be from the outside, though slightly smaller. It was a huge, echoey dome, filled with whispers and silence. Nothing interrupted the walls of the Chapel soaring up into the domed roof, decorated with intricate patterns of blue, red, and green. A large hole at the arch of the dome, covered by glass, let a beam of light down into the Chapel, illuminating the entire building. The circular floor was tiled in an intricate pattern, webs of color weaving in and out of each other, dazzling the eye.
Even at the early hour, people were moving in the Chapel, both wizards and servants. Several of the wizards nodded to Rodair, who returned the greeting matter-of-factly; one left off his previous course and approached them.
"Master Wizard Kadrian." Rodair bowed his head again.
"How are you doing today?"
"And is this," asked the wizard, turning to Avaline, "Shantir's new apprentice?"
Rodair opened his mouth to reply but Avaline spoke before he could get a
word out. "Yes, I am."
"Pleased to meet you..."
"Avaline. Welcome to the Adani, Avaline." His attention shifted back to Rodair. "How do you enjoy having her?"
"It will please me immensely to help her finish her training here."
Kadrian gave him an approving smile. "Good, good. Well, I'll let you get on your way." He strolled away from them and continued on his way.
Avaline looked at Rodair in surprise. "It will?"
Rodair stared hard down at Avaline. "Because then I can get you out of my hair. And incidentally, the senior apprentice always speaks first. So keep your mouth shut."
"I beg your pardon, but you had spoken first." Avaline was tired of his antagonism towards her. "You greeted him."
"I meant for any given question," snarled Rodair, starting to walk again. "This way." He led her across the floor of the Chapel and through a door at the far side. "This leads to the Library," he explained in response to her questioning look.
The passage they were in sloped gradually down, leading to a place obviously beneath the Chapel's main floor. It was not a long walk; shortly, they emerged into the grand library of the Adani Chapel.
It was circular in shape, just like the Chapel above. However, this room was far larger in diameter than the Chapel; it obviously extended into the ground surrounding the Chapel, beyond what the Chapel sat on. It was dimly lit by torches on the walls, placed between the rows of massive bookshelves that lined them. There were hundreds of them. In every direction, bookcases met the eye, only thin strips of floor separating them.
The shelves were piled with every form and size of book or scroll ever devised: large, heavy, crumbling volumes from the dawn of time; slender books containing one poem each; yellowed scrolls covered with dust that nearly obliterated the strange, rune-like writing underneath.
It was quieter here than in the Chapel Proper. The only person in sight was a young girl wearing apprentice robes, who spared them only a glance before returning to the manuscript she was studying.
"What kind of things are kept here?" Avaline asked curiously, glancing at Rodair.
Her guide did not reply. In fact, he did not even seem to hear the question. Dark eyes roaming the place with look of deepest love, he had the air of one in a dream.
Avaline waited a few moments more before deciding he wasn't going to answer, then gently tugged his ornate sleeve. "Rodair?"
Rodair's head jerked as he came out of his reverie. He suddenly realized he was not alone, as he was accustomed to being on his numerous visits to the Library, and glared at Avaline as if it was her fault. "What?"
"What kind of things are kept here?" she repeated patiently.
"Everything. Every bit of knowledge we possess is stored here." He turned away and made for the door leading from the Library, muttering something under his breath, most of which Avaline could not hear, save for the words, "Except what I want." Then he raised his voice again. "Well, that's all you really need to know."
Rodair stopped so suddenly that she walked directly into him. He whirled around and hissed, "Yes. Do you want to argue with my judgment?"
"Well then, be quiet." He turned and continued up the narrow hallway.
After the dim stillness of the Library, the light of the Chapel Proper was nearly blinding to Avaline. She squinched her eyes nearly shut and tried to keep up with the other apprentice. Rodair seemed unaffected, hurrying along as always.
"It's time for your first lesson. Hurry up, or you'll be late."
Rodair led her back to Shantir's house. The wizard was waiting in the hall, sitting comfortable in the chair she had first found Rodair in the day before. When they entered, he rose to meet them.
"Ah, there you are. Good morning, Rodair, Avaline. I trust you slept well?"
Rodair inclined his head, seeming a bit more at ease here. Avaline followed suit.
"Good. Is everything to your liking, Avaline?"
"Yes, Master Wizard."
He surveyed her up and down, nodding in a satisfied manner. "The robes fit you well. Do you like them?"
"Very much. Thank you for getting them for me."
"No bother at all. You're my apprentice, and it is my duty to see that you are dressed like one. Are you sure they aren't too plain? I could have some embroidery added to them, like Rodair's, if you like."
Avaline looked sidelong at Rodair, who turned her gaze away with a pointed look of his own. "No, but thank you. They're just fine as they are."
"As you please." Shantir glanced at Rodair. "If you will leave us now?"
"Yes, Shantir." Rodair made an exit towards the stairway to their rooms, throwing a parting glare towards Avaline.
The wizard shook his head after his departing apprentice. "Rodair, Rodair..." he murmured. "What am I to do with you?" Then he cleared his throat and beamed at Avaline. "Well, come along then. Sit down." He pointed to the chair he had just vacated.
Avaline sat and waited for the lesson to begin. When it did, it was not exactly what she had expected.
"Avaline, I am not going to be teaching you any magic today. Rather, I would like you to spend today roaming the Adani grounds. Try to meet the other apprentices; it will be good for you to have some friends around here." He sighed and sat in one of the other chairs in the room. "Very important, I believe. I failed to encourage Rodair to do the same, and you see how he is now. He hardly spends time with anyone save me, and, to my knowledge, most of the other apprentices hate him. He may have a few friends that I don't know about, but it seems unlikely." A slight grin appeared on his face. "And he's developed a rather cutting tongue, as you no doubt know. Was he horrible to you?"
"Horrible, no... Unpleasant, yes, rather."
"I'll have a word with him." His face grew somber. "Avaline, may I ask a favor of you?"
"Be patient with him. He's a troubled young man, Rodair, but after you get to know him, after he accepts you, he's quite nice. Really, he is. He's just very defensive of his position as my apprentice. Will you try to keep patience with him?"
"I'll try." But I don't know how successful I'll be, she added mentally.
"Thank you." Shantir looked genuinely grateful. "Well, that's all for now. Go find the other apprentices now, and be sure to return in time for your meal. At midday."
Avaline smiled. "I will." She rose to go.
"Oh, and would you mind getting Rodair for me before you go? It's time for his lesson."
His apprentice nodded and made for the stairway. She walked briskly past her own room and stopped at the next door. The next one down, Rodair had said. She reached for the door handle- and yelped as a bolt of pain flared down her arm when she touched it.
"What is it?" snapped Rodair from inside.
"What on earth did you do to your door?" gasped Avaline, massaging her hand.
"It has a warding spell on it. Now come in and tell me why you're here, or go away. The handle's safe to touch now."
Hesitantly, Avaline touched the knob and turned. Rodair's room was much like her own, really, with the same bed, wardrobe, fireplace, and chairs; the only difference was that every inch of available space, save the bed and a few spots on the floor, were covered with piles of books. Rodair himself sat in the middle of the bed, an enormous book open in front of him.
"What are you reading?" she inquired.
"The History of Magic Among the Peoples of the Northern Waste," Rodair replied irritably. "It's fascinating. Now go away."
"I'm sure it is. But Shantir said it was time for your lesson."
Rodair snapped the book shut and practically jumped off the bed. "He did? Oh, excellent. Now get out." He herded her out before him and shut the door behind them.
"What was that spell again?" queried Avaline, intrigued by the magic.
"A warding spell. Basically, it requires a password before the door can be opened. I undid it for you so you could come in." It was more information that he had offered of his own accord since they had met.
"When do I get to learn that?"
"When you"re older." Rodair returned to his normal, curt self. "Now go away."
Rodair found Shantir in the practice room through the door at the left of the hall. Lit by a single torch on the wall, it was the least interesting room in the house, with no windows, one small table at the center, and two long benches along the walls. It was also the room where Rodair spent most of his time, along with the Library.
The wizard sat on the right bench, waiting for his apprentice expectantly. When Rodair entered the room, he stood. "Ah, Rodair. I suspected that message would bring you from your room."
Rodair nodded. "You finished with her very quickly. What did you teach her?"
"Not much. I told her to visit the grounds and meet the other apprentices."
Rodair looked at him sharply. "You never had me do that."
"No, and I'm beginning to think it was a mistake not to encourage you. You should get to know the other apprentices; after all, you will be working with them once you are a wizard."
"If I become a wizard," Rodair snorted.
"You will, my boy, you will." Shantir patted Rodair gently on the arm. Then he grew stern. "Avaline told me that you were rather unpleasant towards her this morning."
Rodair shifted his weight from one foot to the other, not meeting Shantir's eyes. "Is that true?"
"Perhaps," Rodair muttered.
"What's that? Speak louder."
"Perhaps," the apprentice repeated, raising his voice.
"Meaning, of course, that you were snappish and unfriendly, correct?"
Eyes still on the floor, Rodair shrugged. "I guess so."
Shantir sighed. "Rodair... Could you please try to be a bit more welcoming of her? She hasn't done anything to you."
"How can I be friendly," Rodair snarled, pulling away from the wizard, "when I would like nothing more than for her to leave?"
"Being mean won't drive her away, you know. After all, it is my impression that the other apprentices aren't very kind to you at times, yet you are still here. Rodair, for me, please try to be a bit... softer with her."
"Why did you take her on?" Rodair ignored the request completely.
"Because she has talent. Because she asked me to. Because I want another apprentice after you become a wizard. Because I think you need a friend."
"What?" demanded Rodair, wheeling around in surprise.
"Well, that only occurred to me later, but it will be good for you to have a friend around here. One that isn't a book."
"A friend? Shantir, she is NOT my friend!"
"In time, we will see." He sat down on the bench again. "But enough of that now; we have important matters to tend to. You are in your twentieth year. You will be tested to see if you are fit to become a wizard soon, and you have not quite mastered the advanced magics yet."
"That was the biggest understatement I've ever heard," murmured Rodair.
"So I think we should get to work."
Avaline wandered aimlessly around the Adani grounds. She had no real idea where she should go to find other apprentices; where did they go in their free time? It was all very easy for Shantir to tell her to meet the others, but harder to do. Maybe she could ask Rodair about it later.
The thought almost made her laugh out loud. She wondered if Rodair even knew what other apprentices did with their time, or where they went- or even if he knew what spare time was. She could not help but burst into giggles at that.
As she was laughing, she heard a noise behind her and turned around. Another apprentice stood there, about Avaline's own age, with dark, curly hair and green eyes.
"Hello," she said. "You're new here, aren't you?"
"Yes," Avaline replied. "I arrived yesterday."
"Welcome, then. My name is Katiye, apprentice to the Wizard Matrin. Who are you?"
"Avaline, apprentice to the Wizard Shantir."
Katiye's brows furrowed. "Shantir? He has an apprentice already."
"I know, Rodair. Shantir took me on as well."
"I see." Katiye grinned. "Have you met Rodair?"
"Oh, yes." Avaline sighed at the thought of the dour apprentice whose master she shared.
"Such a warm, charming person, isn't he?" Katiye laughed. "He hardly ever leaves the Library, except when he's training with Shantir, of course. How does he take to you?"
"Not very well. The longest thing I've heard him say was explaining what a warding spell entailed."
"Yes, he's a scholar, so he does like to show off everything he's learned about magic. But enough about him. What about yourself? Where are you from? How old are you?"
Avaline smiled in the face of the sudden onslaught of questions. "I'm fifteen."
"And you've just arrived? Strange. Most people begin much sooner. Are you sure you'll be able to finish learning everything in just five years?"
"Why five years?"
"Didn't you know? The test for becoming a wizard happens on the last day of your twentieth year."
"Oh. Well, Shantir said that it would be easy to train me, so I hope so."
"Want me to teach you a beginner's spell? You could show it to Shantir and surprise him. I bet he would be very impressed."
"I do not believe that that is allowed," came a familiar, dry voice from behind them. Katiye and Avaline looked up to see Rodair standing a few paces away.
"I thought you had a lesson," Avaline said, slightly accusingly.
"I do. I am getting a book from the Library that pertains to what I am studying today, if it's any business of yours." He turned disapproving eyes on Katiye. "Only wizards may teach apprentices magic. As you should know."
"Oh, shove off, bookhead. We're talking here."
"And attempting to teach her," Rodair motioned to Avaline with his head, "magic. That is forbidden, and I will report you if I see any attempts whatsoever to do so."
"Not if I knock you out, you won't," Katiye retorted, her hands balling into fists.
"Katiye, it's all right." Avaline laid a restraining hand on the angry apprentice. "I can wait for Shantir to teach it to me."
"You wouldn't dare," Rodair replied to Katiye, and began to walk away. "Good day."
"Annoying brat," Katiye growled after him, not loud enough for him to hear. "Are you sure you don't want me to teach it to you?"
"That's all right, I'll pass." Avaline smiled. "I don't want to break the rules on my first full day here. So, what do you do when you have free time?"
"Go for walks, mostly, or read, or practice magic. I'm in my third year here, so I have more free time than you will for a while, just so you know."
"How much time is taken up with lessons?"
"At first, most of it." Her eyebrows rose as she looked at Avaline. "Come to think of it, why don't you have a lesson now? Is it because of Rodair?"
"I don't think so. Shantir said that I should spend today getting to meet people and make friends, because he didn't do that with Rodair and look what's happened to him."
"He's a dried-up old stick. Well, you've got one friend now. Would you like to come to Matrin's house with me? There are some neat things I could show you."
"I would love to!"
As what now seemed to be usual, there was no knock before Rodair barged into Avaline's room that evening. She had spent most of the day at Katiye's house, which was much neater if just as interesting as Shantir's, before going to the Library to get a book to read. She had been reading it- An Account of the Travels of the Wizard Tamren Wanderer in the Lands Across the Marthin Ocean, a very interesting book full of strange tales- when Rodair had interrupted her.
"What for?" she asked with a sigh, closing the book.
"To talk with Shantir. We do that just about every evening. Come."
He led her down the stairs and out through the door at the back of the hall that she had not yet been through. It led into a wide courtyard, shady with the evening light. There was a fair-sized pond, lined with bullrushes, at the far end, the water lapping at the back wall gently. In the corner to her left, there was what appeared to be a privy. The grass was slightly damp, leaving wet traces on the hem of Avaline's robe as she hurried after Rodair.
There was another door at the far side of the courtyard, and it was there that the other apprentice led her. He pushed it open and led her into Shantir's chamber.
The chamber was larger by far than either Avaline's or Rodair's, but it held less clutter than Avaline had seen in the entry hall or Rodair's room. Yes, books were piled all over and there were a few strange things stacked here and there, but it was not a dusty heap or a private library. There was no bed to be seen; Shantir must have had another chamber to sleep in.
A cheerful fire in the fireplace at the center of the back wall illuminated the place. Before the fire were three plush chairs, one of which was occupied by the Master Wizard.
"Sit down, both of you," he said genially as they entered.
"Thank you." Avaline took the seat nearest to Shantir.
Rodair sat down in the remaining one, moving it discreetly as far away from Avaline as he could while still remaining in a respectable radius for conversation.
"We like to do this every night," Shantir explained to Avaline when they were settled, "Rodair and I. Talk things over, have a little time together that doesn't involve studying. Although sometimes Rodair manages to bring studying into it anyhow." He looked fondly at his older apprentice, who gave him a terse smile in return. "It lets us get to know one another better than we would otherwise. And naturally, you will take part in this as well."
Rodair muttered something under his breath that Avaline could not catch, then stopped sullenly as Shantir gave him a warning glare.
"So, did you meet any new friends, Avaline?"
"Yes, one. Her name is Katiye."
"What do you mean?" Avaline looked at him in confusion.
"Who is her master? At the Adani, apprentices use their master's name as a sort of a surname. Therefore, you are Avaline Shantir, and he is Rodair Shantir."
"I see. Katiye... Matrin, I think."
"Ah yes. Matrin's young apprentice. I've heard of her. Rather a troublemaker, I believe." He grinned at her. "She should be a good friend; just don't follow her lead."
"Katiye tried to teach her a spell," Rodair broke in.
Shantir's eyes widened slightly. "She did?" He glanced at Avaline. "You are aware that that is against the rules?"
"Rodair told us that, and I told Katiye that I'd wait for you to teach me. And," she added, turning to Rodair slightly, "Rodair said he would report us- if we did it."
"I see." His gaze shifted to Rodair, sharpening as it did. His apprentice looked as if he was trying to sink into his chair. "Why then, did you tell me of this when they did not?" Rodair began to answer, but Shantir cut him off. "I hate to say this to you now, and waste our evening with lectures, but Rodair, I am thoroughly tired of this! I know your reasons, but if you do not stop this uncalled-for hostility towards Avaline, I will punish you for it. She has done nothing to warrant it. Before she came, you were perfectly friendly these evenings; please make an effort to find that previous self again."
"Yes, Shantir," Rodair said sulkily.
All was uncomfortably silent for a few minutes. Then Avaline addressed Rodair. "How long have you been an apprentice, Rodair?"
Rodair, arms folded across his chest, did not stop staring at the fire to answer her. "Seven years, now."
"And you're how old?"
"Oh, so that means you're going to test for wizardry soon."
"Don't remind me." He sighed and raked a hand through his hair. "Speaking of that, though, I had best go do some practicing now. I will see you in the morning." He stood.
"Rodair," Shantir said sternly as his apprentice made his way to the door, "you will not just leave us like that and-"
But Rodair had already left. Now it was Shantir's turn to sigh.
"My pardons for his behavior, Avaline. He should get better after a bit of time. I hope he does, at least."
"What will you do if he doesn't?"
"I don't know. But I do have a few secret weapons that will most assuredly keep him under control when they are revealed to him. But as he is gone, and I expect you are tired, why don't you go up to bed now? First real lesson in the morning."
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