Morning brought with it the worst headache that Talis had ever had. Every inch of his brain felt like it couldn’t decide between screaming and the mercy of unconscious oblivion. But the voices in the room seemed to have decided that his waking wouldn’t only be a momentary thing.  

“Sit up and sip, its a warm broth and should help with the headache.” The voice of Master Loquerin was gentle but commanding, holding no note of sympathy.

Talis obeyed, anxious for anything that would calm the battle raging between his temples. Lifting his head he was able to take a few gulps of the bitter broth before his strength failed him and he slumped back to the bed.

“You are worse than I thought.”

“Worse?” Talis asked, half willing himself back to sleep.

“Your strength is gone completely.  I thought it was bad enough that you didn’t so much as twitch in your sleep last night.  But to have expended so much that your body can’t even recover itself.  You could have expended your life last night. Boy.” Loquerin said disdainfully making sure to add an extra measure to the final  mocking word. “Your father was a fool to insist you have his ring. It should have gone back to the college where TRAINED Illusionists could have put it to good use. Not in the hands of--” He stopped himself before his comments went further.

“Well there isn’t much use in it now. But I’ll be taking the blasted thing with me.”

At hearing this Talis opened his eyes and immediately was flooded by regret.  Not at the tide of pain that assaulted his brain at the introduction of light, but at the deeply etched expression of fear, disappointment and worry that lined Chiranna’s kind and loving face.

That alone stopped any protests he may have raised about losing his ring. He raised his head again in attempt to take more broth.

* * *

The lashings came hard and fast and Weylan cried out at each one.  Better to give Gervais the satisfaction he wanted than to let him insist on giving the lashings on bare skin.  The thin willow rod would leave bruises, but the head groundskeeper was only allowed to give ten strokes and only occationally ‘lost count’.

The lashes weren’t for not returning the previous night or for missing his morning chores. No Chiranna’s letter had been enough to save him from those punishments. These were for going to the campus unescorted and without permission. After all, servants aren’t allowed at the university without their masters. Gervais hadn’t had that privledge and he wasn’t going to allow some indentured underling to get away with just walking onto the campus in the middle of the night, no matter what the insolent brat’s reasons had been.  

Gervais finished his final stroke at 11, making sure he hadnt accidently miscounted.  He let Wylan’s  breathing slow and allowed him to pull himself up before throwing him a clean shirt.  “Mrs. Peswich want to see you but I expect all the stalls mucked out and fresh water in the troughs before middle hour or you can add another 10 to those.”

Weylan didn’t answer but kept his head bowed as he silently counted to ten in ashandi and removed the shirt that was already beginning to stick to the welts on his back.  The new shirt was noone would see the marks and give Gervais looks later.  Most didnt have a problem with a bit of corporal punishment when it was deserved, like when Billy Stokes had taken three hens from Rydanstead’s  hen house to pocket the money his mother had given him to buy the hens in the village. But they we just as quick to be disapproving of unjust punishments. 

The End

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