After a break where the class recovered from the lesson's dreariness, Will and Tayna journeyed to their first Elemental lesson together. It took place once a month on a Thursday when the rest of the Draíochta had Study Hall. Andrel escorted them up to the entrance hall where they split off down the corridors, he to the Tower of Mercury in the East, they to the greenhouses in the West.
The Elementals stood around the frosted glass door leading into the greenhouse. Marinia and Valda leant identically against the cold, stone wall, Pyrus stood with his hands in his pockets spinning on his heels, and the other stood around uniformly. A minute later, the door opened and Mrs Hogston stepped into their sights. Over a tight-sleeved black dress, their teacher was wearing a dark green overcoat with slit sleeves that fell around her slender hands. Her hair was styled as it had been in Will's first meeting, though the beads had been switched in accordance to her outfit.
She said nothing to them, only gestured for them to enter one by one. The room was separated into three sections, a classroom where cold metal desks were arranged with a wheeled blackboard at the front, a private office, and a conservatory where plants were cultivated. However, the most mesmerising feature of the room was that these three areas were divided by walls of stained glass. The wall opposite the door formed the scene of a great tree exact to the design on the royal seal, formed from chips, shards and circles of colourful glass like drops of amber and rain. The background was a landscape of mountains and fields, and the centre of the tree made to look like a glowing, violet core, where the door leading to Mrs Hogston's office was fitted. To the right, the glass wall was a design of flowers and vines, sliding open into the conservatory, where plants were arranged on high tables against each wall in bushels of leaves and bright, beautiful flowers that sometimes grew up the glass panes and outside into the cloister garden.
Mrs Hogston was the first teacher to enact a seating plan, so Will was placed at the front bench, next to Sayara. He imagined it was because they were connected by their elements, still, he had not had time to speak with her very much, and she appeared to have avoided him ever since the events at the Lake.
'So,' said Mrs Hogston, standing in front of the blackboard with her hands clasped properly over her stomach, 'how are we all? It is a new year, one year closer to when I am expected to have you readied for coronation. It feels strange, I must admit, when one of you are missing -,' a tension passed quickly through the children, though their teacher continued, and surprised them, ' - I refer to the Elemental who has not yet been located by Principal Paradam, the Askov girl, the princess of Shadow.'
Will had noticed that only nine of the ten Elemental families were represented, still, it had not been his immediate thought. He glanced to see Tayna's reaction across from him, sure enough her brow was cocked curiously. Mrs Hogston eventually saw their looks of discomfort. 'And...of course, Laguna is not with us. Do not think I have forgotten. I simply wish to think of brighter things.'
She stepped forward, smiling as cheerfully as she could whilst retaining a level of sympathy. 'Now, as some of you will know, I have studied the history of the Elemental families for almost forty years, which is why many believe me qualified to educate you. Some of you will know more of your heritage than others -,' Will easily felt his teacher's gaze on him at that moment, '- and whether or not it remains like this in years to come, I want each of you to at least be confident in your knowledge of your families. I wonder, does anybody have any questions? Anything they've discovered recently that they want clarification on?' The room was silent. 'Oh, come now, you can't know everything, even though you might argue otherwise.'
Still, nothing was said, the children looked at each other as if asking for approval to speak. Unexpectedly, Mrs Hogston's brightened at the sight of a raised hand, and the class turned to see Calain looking petrified, his hand just an inch from his head.
'I was just...I was wondering...I mean, my parents have told me a lot but...what happened in the Days of Darkness?'
Silex groaned, turning and rolling his eyes at Calain as he sat alone. 'You really don't know anything, do you?'
'Now now, Silex,' said Mrs Hogston, 'I would say that's a viable, and interesting question.'
The name registered in Will with an feeling of untraceable familiarity, as if he had heard it before but could not remember when or where. The sensation was dark and dreading.