Chapter XIV: In Deep Water (1/14)Mature


He knew he had to be thankful that situations had improved. He and Andrel didn't speak of the incident on the first day, and even his involvement with the kappa faded away as a piece of overused gossip. Will wasn't happy with Tayna's persistence that they befriend the Twins, it was a struggle, especially when the Twins made no effort in return. Still, Tayna coached him through it, pulling him far away when they enraged him, often to the rooftop where he could vent his anger to her, and then return with a clear head.

As the year hurtled into October, the air began to grow colder and trees shed their leaves, showering onto the ground in bright oranges and yellows. They awoke one bitter morning to find that their uniforms had all been switched to their winter-wear. The Draíochta girls were gifted with fitted purple coats, adorned with jewelled buttons, as well as long sleeved blouses. The boys' blazers had been given an extra, warmer layer, and their summer shoes had been taken, replaced with warm boots fit for hiking and trudging through mud, snow and the like.

They journeyed to their lessons under iron-grey skies, the waves tossing and turning against the cliffside, the tide rising so high that it sometimes engulfed the beach and surged onto the main pathway. Still, the variety of studies remained the same, although Erin's Aquatics lessons had been downsized to observing creatures in tanks or exploring the rockpools to make drawings and collect specimens. In Cryptid Creature Care, the class spent most of their time in the White Forest, either conversing with the many nymphs and waldgeist, or playing with the smaller creatures like jackelopes and wild kittens.

After Lady Almara's disappearance, Professor Conway supervised them in Rituals & Spells as well as Duelling. He taught them well whilst simultaneously tidying the classroom thoroughly. In all of these lessons, Will learnt and enjoyed, rejoicing that his powers seemed to be settling, and that he'd been given good progress reports, even in Alchemy, where his group was hindered by Tayna's grumbling and obstinance at practical projects. Yet each time, they produced objects that left Alkimia constantly spellbound.

Even Will's least favourite lesson, Psychic Skills, was to become more interesting, with the news that their new professor would soon journey back from his summer travels. Their substitute had been none over than a domovoi, a very hairy creature with no legs and doubly long arms to carry him along. He lived in the attics where the class commenced, and had emerged from his cubby beneath the storage crates to tell the children of his strange dreams that he was convinced were psychic visions, which often involved giant man-eating rattle-rats.

Amongst all of the events and excitement, Will did not expect what he awoke to find on Saturday morning. When he drew back his bed curtains, he was surprised not to be blinded by the morning sun through the glass roof. Instead, there was a murky darkness that turned out to be caused by nothing other than snow covering the glass roof.

His eyes lit with excitement - snow! Everybody else was still sleeping, helped along in their slumber by the lack of light. He had to feel around to find his boots and blazer, fearful to make too much noise and wake the snoring adolescents. As he sat down on the edge of his bed, bending down to tie his laces, he heard a strange chittering in his ear. He turned, narrowing his gaze through the darkness on something perched on his bedside table. Hesitantly, he turned his paraffin lamp to a low setting, splashing orange light across the contents of the table, flickering gently. 

Sitting on the corner was an animated, paper bird, its body artistically folded parchment paper, the breast like a robin's, stamped with a wax seal. It twisted its heads observantly towards him as he marvelled at it, the folds of its neck crinkling. Will slowly held his hand out for it, and when its paper talons gripped around his finger, it transformed, flattening into an envelope of parchment, the seal marked with an 'H' staring up at him. He unfolded it carefully, and holding it to the light, read the swirling cursive.

To Willow Avaric,

Greetings to you, and apologies that I cannot make formal introductions. You may already be aware of Principal Paradam's Elemental program here at the Sanctuary, and the use of private consultations between each of the royals. I kindly request your presence in the cloistered garden at 9 o'clock, so that we may discuss future arrangements.

I look forward to meeting you, and hope that you enjoy this dreadful snow.


Mrs Maria Hogston.

The End

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