Tears swelled in her eyes as she stood before them, naturally everybody was worried by the desperation in her voice, they stood and approached her.
'Bosrold is after me,' she continued, her chest hammering. 'I skipped his lesson to go out for a run - he was suffocating me, I needed fresh air - and now he's sent the armoured guards after me. I had to Shift at least ten times so that they couldn't track me.' Both from anxiety and the toll magick had taken on her body, Anala's hands shook, and she had a deathly pallor.
Tayna took Anala under her arm and sat her down near the warm fire, meanwhile Andrel ran up the staircase in the shaft to check in the corridor for Bosrold. He returned moments later, shaking his head.
'Bosrold isn't out there, but five armoured guards are. They're patrolling up and down the West and East corridors.' Hearing this, Anala put her head between her knees and began to sob.
'Are you that afraid of him?' asked Will, he knew of Bosrold only by notoriety, he found it hard to believe such extreme rumours, yet he couldn't believe Anala was acting so well.
'You don't understand,' Anala sniffled. 'Bosrold is Uncle's closest companion, they've known each other since before the Sanctuary was created. He's also my protector, he's supposed to keep me out of trouble, but he doesn't let me go anywhere. I tried to get away from him for an hour, and now he wants to kill me.'
'We would say you could hide here,' Tayna said quietly, 'but we're at our lesson and they might inspect the commonrooms while we're out -,'
'- and we can't really take you to Duelling class with us either,' added Andrel, 'you'd be too noticeable.'
The idea hit Will like an arrow through the chest. 'I have an idea!' He smiled at Anala and reached for his school satchel. He emptied it excepting his introductory parchment, a notebook full of basic spells written for him by Tayna and a bag of cookies bought that break time. He turned to Anala, 'if you Shifted into something small, you could fit into my bag.'
Happiness lit Anala's face and she jumped up, reaching under her skirt to withdraw her wand from her stocking garter. Raising it above her head, she span around and made her dress flare outwards. In her magickal voice she said 'henkan', and immediately began to transform. Something like golden glitter streamed from her wand, when it touched her skin, she began to shrink. For a moment she looked grotesque as short brown fur sprouted all over her, whilst a bushel of whiskers grew from her dimples. Her hair sunk back into her skull whilst a long, pink tail grew from the small of her back and peeked out from under her skirt.
Will, Andrel and Tayna stared down at the tiny brown mouse at their feet. Will placed his hand, palm up, on the carpet and Anala scurried onto it eagerly. Just like the interaction with the peryton, the three of them heard Anala's voice reverberate in their heads.
'What do you think? I learnt it just yesterday. Grade Four certificate here I come!'
'Yeah, you're adorable, now get in.' Will tilted his hand and Anala rolled into the bag, scrabbling on his palm to remain, but unable to stop her descent. 'Remember to behave,'
'Naww, shame, I planned on starting a revolution,' she said in a perfect Anala-type sarcasm, '- of course I'll behave, I'm a mouse, what can I do?' She moved around, becoming a moving lump on the bottom of the satchel, she clambered up the side and poked her head through the flap, her little nose flinching curiously.
'Let's go, Duelling will have begun,' said Tayna, grabbing her bag and tossing Andrel's to him.
'I hope you don't mind me eating your cookies, Will, I'm starving,' Anala teased as Will heard the unfortunate rustle of a paper bag. He grumbled curses at her as he followed Tayna up the shaft staircase.
'This definitely counts as the weirdest thing I've ever done,' said Andrel,
'So far,' Tayna added, grinning as they all headed out secretively into the main corridor.