Ansgar Leifsson circled the Akademi’s courtyard, walking in the shadow of its outer wall. The fog had nearly gone. Off to the south, he could see Yngvar’s, perched atop its distinctive tower.
His students were beginning to gather for the afternoon lesson. He had a special challenge in mind for the beginners, one he ordinarily held back for a few months more. The war weighed heavily on the Norrmannrike’s elite, though. The latest news was that the ontr had pushed past the Syderskogflod and were on the march across the southern Plains. The Thanes’ Moot had sent word north from the capital that perhaps the Akademier should, in view of mounting losses, prepare their students for battle a little more quickly.
Leifsson knew that to be a fool’s errand. Too many magiker in one place led to wild, unpredictable magic, and after that, to other, more terrible consequences. If the few dozen already in the far south hadn’t stemmed the tide, another few hundred would make no difference. The war would be won with steel or not at all, Leifsson thought.
Still, the Thanes held great sway in the Norrmannrike, and Leifsson could hardly say they weren’t pulling their weight. Their armies were, after all, bearing most of the fighting. And so he honored their request, and pushed his students along faster than he would have liked.
He came to the Akademi’s south gate, where he paused. From outside the wall came a snippet of conversation.
“… does listening mean, though?”
“We just pay attention. You don’t have to go looking for trouble.”
“I think that’s what Falthejn—”
Three of Leifsson’s students caught sight of him as they came through the gate. Hrothgarsdottir and Orrisdottir, and Goransson behind them. They failed miserably at looking innocent, each offering a meek, “Herre Leifsson,” as they passed.
He nodded an acknowledgement and resumed his walk. It was good that Sif Hrothgarsdottir had settled in. Her friendship with Lilja Orrisdottir was good for both of them. Lilja needed some of Sif’s readiness to turn to her talent with the weave to solve problems, and Sif needed some of Lilja’s restraint. They could both learn from Einar Goransson, who had a year of training over them and was near the top of his class besides. Leifsson would have been hard-pressed to pick a winner if Einar and Sif got into a fight with free access to their skills, but Einar was a more efficient weave-worker and a quicker thinker. In a real scrap, he would be the odds-on favorite.