As it drew closer to midnight, the time the Aurora was supposed to appear, all of the campsites were flooded with music and song again. The three girls took out instruments of their own, an aulos, a fiddle, a pan pipe, playing softly and humming tunes quietly, building to a crescendo when it was a minute to go.
'Ten seconds!' Elena shouted, the music ceased and everybody was silent. In the treetops, Madame Aquila and some of the Spéir were perched on the branches, their faces shadowed by leaves, looking at the sky through patches of moonlight. Will barely heard Elena's countdown as he waited with anticipation, and then -
Colour burnt through the dark night sky in a swirling ribbon of magick. Everybody gasped awestruck and craned their necks as high as they could. The Aurora stretched over their campsite, past the field and to the distance, slithering above them in streaks of pink, blue and green like dye running in water.
'Well, would you look at that?' said Andrel, transfixed,
'That's beautiful,' added Tayna breathlessly.
Will was filled with a heavy feeling of amazement, unable to take his gaze away. The Aurora was the most incredible thing he'd ever seen, he felt like all of the wonder he'd seen the past few months at the Sanctuary was encapsulated in a single moment. As he glanced around, everybody was huddled together staring and filled with emotion, some even wiped away tears, like they thought that in such dark times for magi, something so bright and spectacular would never been seen again.
Although the Aurora remained in the sky to be seen, lethargy took hold of the students and they began to depart the hillside to bed. Will understood why the Raido clan wanted to sleep outside, they could fall to sleep with images of the Aurora fresh in their minds. Will and his friends headed to the tent which had been set up in the spot they'd acquired. Anala had made attempts to get out of sharing a tent with Bosrold, Madame Aquila and her uncle, but her bodyguard refused to give in and she stormed off to her own tent, looking sadly back at her friends.
The material of the tent was rich purple and the guy lines were made of golden rope, but inside it was even more immaculate. For one, there was a golden chandelier hanging from the apex, squishy bean bags in the central, circular room. Branching from here were two rooms, the doorways adorned with velvet curtains and insect netting.
'It'll do,'said Andrel. 'Will and I'll take this room, you girls take the other. See you later.' Tayna and Sayara waved to them as they ducked behind the curtains into the left room, Will and Andrel went in the opposite direction.
The room was medium sized and just as luxurious as the main room. Two hammocks were suspended on either side of the door, stacked with pillows and warm, fleecy blankets. They had a window on the opposite side, the pane made of taut netting, keeping out most of the draught whilst allowing them to look out onto the hillsides where firelight still hummed orange. Will observed that resting on the pillows was a folded white nightgown each, Andrel didn't give it much acknowledgement, he was more set on kicking off his shoes, stripping down to his vest and boxers, and climbing into the hammock. Will marvelled how he fell asleep almost instantly, partially hidden by the mountain of upholstery.
Will climbed into his hammock and tried to get himself to sleep, but he didn't feel tired at all. He'd placed himself at an angle so that he could see the Aurora through the window, he stared at it and watched its gentle movements, hoping they could lull him to slumber, but still, he felt wide awake. He tried for a full hour to sleep, but gave up, slipping out of the hammock and considering what to do with himself. He slipped on the nightgown and headed outside, deciding to spend a little more time admiring the Aurora.
The bonfire was fading in the campsite, embers floating into the sky. The Raido clan led patterned in a circle around it, snuggled into sleeping bags which looked more like sacks. He reached the edge of the hillside and slowly made his way down, keeping his eye on the Aurora, behind him it was fading but still bright across the field. He looked and saw that there was somebody sitting on the empty hillside, also wrapped in a white nightgown, Will realised quickly that it was Sayara, and trepidly, he continued forward.