'So, anyway...' Andrel continued with a tone that Will knew meant trouble. 'I have an idea about you and Sayara...and me, actually. We can make a deal. You have to ask Sayara out before the end of term, and if you do, I'll pluck up the courage to ask Fatalia out. We can even go on joint courtships or something.'
Will was struck by the sudden image of the four of them sitting in the school restaurant, Andrel telling wisecracks beside Fatalia Sharpe - a girl all curves and curls - whilst Sayara rested her head against his shoulder intimately. He tried to smother the thought, it made his insides tremble in a way he couldn't decide was good or bad.
'I can't,' he said, shaking his head. 'Even if I could, I don't even know if I feel...that. Besides, doesn't lore say that Demetra created Avaric with the Goddess' blood from the root of a tree?' Will was glad that he'd spent an afternoon in the Elemental study with his codex, leaving him feeling a little more illuminated. 'Doesn't that mean that we're distantly related...is that even legal?'
'If you are related,' Andrel argued, 'you're third cousins a hundred times removed or something like that. Don't use it as an excuse, either.'
'B -but,' he stammered, 'I don't even know if I feel how you think I do. It could just be the Bond, maybe Tayna has the same sort of feelings for Abrecan...'
Andrel murmured something derogatory under his breath, then said, 'the worst thing she could say is no.'
'And what happens then?'
'Simple,' Andrel shrugged, 'you spend the rest of your life in a hole.' Will glared at him, and he chuckled, 'alright, maybe not -,'
Before he could continue, a strange thing happened. The air ran suddenly cold, like something had swept past them with great force, casting a draught over the room. 'Did you feel that?' asked Andrel, shivering.
Then, the lights went out. Each oil lamp hung on the wall extinguished itself, all at once, shrouding the commonroom in evening darkness. There was a crash nearby, and Andrel swore loudly. 'Stay still,' said Will. They were silent, the cold chill was drawn out, like the first nip of Winter air. 'The oil must have run out,' he said, believing it to be the only explanation.
'All of the oil?' asked Andrel, and Will felt unsettled; something wasn't right. 'Hold on, I know a spell...lucere!'
A speck of light formed in the darkness from the tip of Andrel's wand, the sudden white light stinging both of their eyes. They could see each other, though long, eerie shadows were painted along the floor and the walls. Andrel flicked his wand to the four corners of the room in quick succession, and specks of light shot out, reminding Will of Maga. The lights grew brighter until the room was bathed in its normative brightness.
They were not alone.
Now, three newcomers stood in the room around them. Will could only look at them for a moment, at the leather masks over their faces, before agony spread through his head like he'd been struck with a sledgehammer. He doubled over, knowing why, the brand of the Evil Eye he had seen on their masks burnt on the inside of his eyelids.
Seeing his weakness, the men attacked.