'Are they...magi?' one girl asked, her eyes wide and glimmering.
'This is a magickal phenomenon,' he explained calmly, 'it bears significance to magi only. We will group together to witness this public display of magick - something I am sure hasn't been seen in a while, whereas humans will cower in their homes and watch from their windows. We have nothing to fear.'
A sense of calm swept over everybody, his words instilled everybody with a feeling of safety that could not be matched even in the Sanctuary, for even there, they were prisoners, forced into hiding in their own land. Now, they were in the open, where they belonged, unharmed, and it filled them with elation. As more slits in the sky appeared and groups of students dropped through, the air was filled with the sounds of instrumental and vocal music. It must have been a song that many magi knew, for once one hillside began singing, others joined in until the night flared with passionate song.
'This way everybody!' shouted Paradam, fronting the group's trek across the field to one of the lit hillsides.
'Spéir!' shrilled Madame Aquila, 'we will scout ahead to our hosts. To the skies!' The harpy lowered into a leaping crouch, making sure that the students surrounding her were far enough away, then her magnificent tawny wings spread out, brushing air into their faces and nearly knocking them over. In a burst of energy, she leapt into the sky, flapping her wings and hovering above them. 'Follow me!' Whether they were harpies, wili, fae or other sky creatures, the Spéir students launched into the skies in a formation towards the hillside they all walked to.
'Principal,' said Sayara, rushing forward to walk beside Paradam and Anala, 'are we staying with other people?'
'Yes, we are,' he answered, 'I have connections to magi friends all across Maegard, we were fortunate that one of these friends and his clan will be viewing the Aurora with us tonight. I contacted them in advance and they were happy enough to invite us to their site.'
The trudge up the hillside was more difficult, but when they all reached the top, they were met by shrills of excitement and music. There were at least a dozen people in the group, three of whom were young girls wearing red peplos' and mistletoe wreaths, dancing and twirling around the camp fire. Whilst spinning, one of them caught sight of the group and grinned,
'Elena! Elena! They are here!' she chirped, running out of formation to one of the large blankets spread around the fire, tugging a woman from the ground and pulling her forward.
'Yes, yes, alright, Lilin, I see them,' she chuckled. She moved closer to them, clasping a steaming mug of hot soup. 'Welcome!' She saw Paradam and her smile grew larger, 'Percival! Good to see you again.'
'It has been far too long,' said Paradam, embracing her tightly, 'is Tirian not here?'
'I am afraid not, he has been struck by illness, he remains at the other camp. I hope that this will not dampen your mood this weekend,'
'Of course not,' he gestured for the huge group to move forward. 'May I introduce the children in my care at the Sanctuary, dwellers of land, sea, sky and magick alike.'
'Welcome!' Elena repeated, spreading her arms happily. Will saw that her dress was made of scrap materials like old cloth and potato sacks. She also wore an old brown duster, making her look like a mismatched patchwork doll. However, she was pretty with short brown hair and large brown eyes, she couldn’t have been much older than thirty, and despite her appearance, her voice was soft and rounded with a gentry accent. 'It is an honour to invite the friends of Percival Paradam to celebrate with us tonight, I am Elena, wife of Tirian -oh!' Suddenly, the Spéir fell from the sky, landing knelt on the ground all about the campsite. Madame Aquila, her trenchcoat open to reveal a glittering gold cardigan and tight black trousers, had fallen inches from Elena, her folding wing bumping her.
'I am terribly sorry,' she said, rising gently with bird-like elegance. 'We did not mean to frighten you.'
Elena put a hand to her palpitating heart and smiled, 'not a problem, however, by the looks of it, I believe your prodigies will be getting many questions from my clan tonight,' she said as the site residents stopped their merriment to gather around the school group, inviting them to celebrate with bright smiles and curious minds.