The morning grounds were fresh and bright, the sun white in the sky. The ashen figure of Mercury was fading in and peeking over the tree tops, which Vigilo now attended to with a pair of shears as large as a table. They took the path between the Lake and the White Forest, over the bridge across the tapering river and into a plain of grass between the water edge and a fenced perimeter. Here, Scrawlish instructed them to drop their bags and take a seat on the ground, whilst he hoisted himself onto the fence.
'So,' he said, smiling, 'today we're going to do something very special. We're going to study a marvellous creature up close. It's called a peryton. Now, does anybody know anything about it?'
Scrawlish pointed behind Will to select a raised hand, and a familiar voice answered. Sayara's voice was filled with pride and excitement, her bright hair braided with white ribbon. 'Perytons are half bird, half deer creatures. They have the wings of a bird, and the form of a stag. One legend says that they cast the shadow of a man, a reason why a lot of people think they are animas.'
'Very good, Sayara. I expected just as much,' said Scrawlish happily. Nearby, Marinia and Valda scoffed mockingly. 'For those that do not know, animas are special spirits, thought to be those of hunters and forest folk. Now, you need not worry about the creature harming you, even if it were carnivorous, all forest inhabitants here take a blood oath not to harm us. Those in the Black Forest are another story, they have sworn the oath, but they spill it far too much to view it as sacred.
'The best way for you to learn about mystics is to see them up close. In these times, we are lucky to be granted entrance to the Forestlands, let alone see one of its kind. Magi and mystics are connected, we were both born with the same magick, and through this, we are intertwined, our fates, our thoughts -,'
'Thoughts?' asked Marinia disbelievingly, 'are you trying to tell me that I share thoughts with a porcu-swine?' She appeared disgusted by the idea.
'I imagine it is most effective with sentient beings,' said Scrawlish, nearly scowling at her. 'However, I hope that you do not view creatures as below you. They are as integral to this world as the Elemental families are,' Marinia visibly rolled her eyes, 'and that is something you are going to have to come to terms with.' His shrewd expression dropped, and he addressed the rest of the class cheerfully. 'The answer to how magi and mystics contact each other is best described as telepathy, something that we can observe in every day life, through Shifters, and, as luck would have it, twins. Know anything about that, girls?'
The Twins smiled knowingly at each other, turning their heads back to Scrawlish in sync. 'We have no idea what you mean, Professor,' said Valda, pronouncing the title with soft mockery.
Suddenly, the leaves of the White Forest rustled, twigs underfoot snapped, and a shadow appeared before its owner, the shadow of a man. Yet, when the creature stepped into sight, it was not a man, but a stag. It was shocking white, its coat possessing a silver sheen. Its antlers were large and black, as were its eyes, but the most defining feature was a pair of bright wings, the colours of a peacock's plumage, dark blues, greens and purples.
The peryton's head was held high, its eyes shining with a strange sense of sophistication. It lowered its head in a short bow, and then a voice echoed in Will's head, deep and nonchalant, one that was heard by all, judging by their reactions of surprise.
'Good day, magi,' its head cocked to the side, gesturing to Scrawlish, 'Morlo.'
'Thank you for coming, Eirian,' Scrawlish said aloud. 'Now, class, Eirian is here to educate you all about the world of mystics, and of his kind.'
'We're being taught by a deer?' scoffed Valda,
The peryton answered proudly, 'I assure you I am perfectly competent for the task, little princess.' It saw her reaction of surprise, and its eyes crinkled as if it was smiling. 'That is right, I am very aware of who you are. Mystics are well acquainted with the happenings outside the borders, one should not underestimate us.'