The pain felt like nails hammering into his cortex, and unable to bear it, Will earmarked the page and slammed the book shut. The pain eased like a migraine dulled by remedy, though blood thrummed through his head like turbulent water.
'Will, what's wrong?' Tayna asked, noticing his pain and looking worried.
'The Evil Eye,' he said, massaging his temple. 'There's a photograph of a girl, in the corner - it's there.' Trepidly, Tayna opened the book, only to gasp out in pain and slam it shut once more.
Squinting and seething, her hand shot into the air. 'Mrs Calibrase, I'm wondering about the girl in this picture I've found. A little odd in a book of faerytales, isn't it? Who is -,'
'Sapphire Salimandra,' their teacher answered without needing to know the page number, as if she had memorised the book. Her face was spoilt with confliction and she turned away, 'I don't think I should tell you about her, I'm sure Principal Paradam would prefer if I didn't.' Naturally though, the mention of a sanction made it tantalising to the class, and they pleaded with her to know. Eventually, she batted her hand at them and gave in.
'Very well, then. Now, I am sure you are aware that this Sanctuary is not the only one of its kind. One came before this, in the Far North -,' Will's eyes widened, the Northern Sanctuary, is she going to tell me what happened? He perked up and devoted all of his attention to her. 'It was at the Northern Sanctuary that Sapphire lived. Magi were still being hunted, though with not so much fervor as nowadays. The Sanctuary was a refuge for magi families of all number and age, not just schoolchildren.
'Sapphire Salimandra is the girl in the picture, and alongside myself, she lived at the Sanctuary, she a resident, I a guardian. I knew her in passing, mostly from the reputation of her family. Her mother was an alchemist, one of the first to be able to transmute objects to gold, if only for minutes. The wealth of this discovery meant that Sapphire lived in luxury, and this fact was known very well to her. If she was not known for her money, it was for her arrogance. She thought herself better than many her age, going so far as to mock those with no possessions, which had been lost in fires caused by Hunters across Maegard. Poor, perhaps they were, with just clothes and children on their backs, but many were better magi than her, and to this day, I believe it is this that caused her betrayal.
'We heard evidence weeks later that Sapphire had visited an intolerant human village not far from the Sanctuary's hidden location. To them, she revealed the location and secret entrances, all for amnesty in the village, and respect as the only - and best - magus for miles. Indeed, that night the Northern Sanctuary was attacked, only one secret entrance was unknown to Sapphire, and through this, of the six hundred residents, four hundred of us were able to escape. The rest...'
The class didn't need to be told the details, horror imprinted across their faces as they silently beckoned for the story to continue.
'Whiteas Paradam, elder brother to our principal and the founder of the Sanctuary, escorted us all across Anamae to this castle, one under the Paradam name. A couple days into our stay, Whiteas called a meeting of the guardians, made his way to his desk and dropped dead on the spot. Not too long after this, Principal Paradam took over after his retirement from the Elemental Court, bringing with him a team of staff and his ward, Anala. They recreated the Sanctuary as a set of academies, housing those older than school age in settlements on Paradam land, and told us all to think ahead to the future. However, the past followed us, it was not the last we had heard of Sapphire Salimandra.
'I remember the night she returned to us, it was a rainstorm the likes of which I haven't seen for many years. Sapphire came to the threshold, dirty and bleeding, begging for refuge. She told us that humans had betrayed her, chasing her away after the execution of captured magi. We turned her away, telling her to never return, and to this day, I do not regret our decision. Whether she lives or not matters not to me, I only wish suffering upon her as was the fate of my comrades.'