A Voice Beyond Her Years No. 6 – A Bad Feeling

“Thank you,” Anja said.

“Looks like we’ll get to trade stories after all,” Liam replied.

“Do you do do this often?”

“Almost every day,” Liam said, taking his weight off his staff and flipping it once, end over end. Elisa snorted, and he colored. “We’ve been training for what, six years now?” he said, glancing to Elisa for confirmation.

“Almost seven,” she said. She wore an expression of mild good humor, but it seemed to Anja to be something of a mask.

“You’ll have time to discuss your curricula later. We’ll break early,” Mikel told Liam and Elisa. “I’m sure you can occupy yourselves—constructively, mind—for half an hour while I discuss a few things with our newest aspirant?”

The duo nodded and ran off toward the tower. Mikel smiled as he watched them go. “It’s nice to have such enthusiastic students. I take it the Septumvirate assigned you to me?” He shook his head. “Don’t look so surprised. Ansgar Leifsson has a thing for symmetry. There are some things you’ll need to take care of.”

“Go on,” said Hans. Anja gave him a curious look, and an annoyed one when he ignored the first. She would have asked him about it had Mikel not spoken first.

“There are a few minor details with the Guild. You’ll need to speak with the bursar regarding your stipend, and the commissary about lodging. If the room you’re in now suits you, it would be the least hassle to leave you there.”

“It’s fine,” Anja said. “I didn’t know there was a stipend.”

Mikel rolled his eyes. “Fifty crowns a month, or some equally ridiculous number,” he said, his tone making it even clearer what he thought of the idea.

“What am I supposed to spend it on?”

“Talismans, truebindings, or maybe entrance to the city library,” Mikel replied. “Useful things. Or such is the intention. Most of it goes toward entertainments, though. Too many inns and theaters nearby.” He waved vaguely over the walls. “Partly for the people’s benefit, as well. In their minds wealth equals power, and so the Chieftains tell us we aren’t to look shabby.”

“Understandable,” Anja said. Mikel blinked, and Anja shrugged at him. “What else?”

“We employ a tailor down the road. If you talk to her, she’ll do the official robes for you. You’ll also need to talk to me at some point about your curriculum. You’ve manifested magical talent and you’re still alive, which means we can probably dispense with the greater part of the mental conditioning you’d otherwise have to undergo, but that’s business for later.” Abruptly he began to speak in Elvish. “Can you understand me?”

In the same language, Anja replied, “I read better than I speak.”

“Good,” Mikel replied, switching back to Common. “Guild Elvish is a little bit easier than literary Elvish.”

“Why Elvish at all?”

“Vocabulary. It’s much better than Common for talking about magic. Lastly you’ll need to visit the Council chambers and get your sanction papers. You’ll need a signed and sealed letter from the Septumvirate—I’ll get one for you—and two sanctioned mages who can bear witness to your membership in person. Students will do, so you may as well take Liam and Elisa with you. Twelve know they work themselves hard enough. It’ll take the Council a tenday or so to get back to you, and without papers you won’t be able to get into the High Quarter if you leave, but you’ll have little enough time to go anywhere anyway. Is there anything I’ve missed?”

“The Code,” Anja said. “The Septumvirate mentioned it when they swore me in.” She paused. “I don’t think that’s the right phrase for it.”

Mikel chuckled. “There isn’t a good way to put it. I’ll have a copy of the Code made for you. It’s the set of laws that govern users of magic. Most of it won’t make sense until you’ve had a few months of instruction, but I’ll explain the important parts.”

“And what about Hans?” Anja asked.

“Excuse me?” said Mikel. He speared Hans with a look.

Anja’s bad feeling came roaring back. “What’s he going to have to do?” she said, with the sinking feeling that she already knew the answer.

“I’m afraid nobody,” Mikel said, frowning at Hans, “explained the rules to you.” He looked to Anja, and an apology was written on his face. “To let him stay here last night we had to bend quite a number of them. It’s impossible for him to stay on Guild property any longer.”

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