Trophy Wife – Chapter 4: Magic is Done

A week later, Sharn rose from her bed and stepped outside, the bear cub playing around her feet as she walked to the tower. She knocked briefly, and when Terrik opened the door for her she smiled slightly down at him then slipped in. She turned and started up the stairs, pausing to place a well-crafted bear claw necklace, on Peri’s desk with a sweet smile, taking in his sleeping form, before slipping out and continuing up to see Herodius. “How are you doing, old man?” she rumbled softly as she crouched on the floor next to his table.

Herodius, who was poring over a thick leather-bound tome and taking some notes on a loose piece of paper looked up and smiled at Sharn. “Much better, lass. Much better. And you, up and about? I was sure that they couldn’t keep you down for the full week as stubborn as you are.”

Sharn wrinkled her nose at that. “Thank you for helping me,” She stated softly, looking around the room curiously before looking back at Herodius. “Things change with li’l buddy?” she asked curiously.

The old man nodded slowly, “They are starting to. He’s got a long way to go, unlearning a pattern of behavior, but now that we know about it and are pointing it out?” He nodded again and smiled, “He’s going to be just fine. Thank you again. Not sure how I missed it, but thank you.”

Sharn returned his smile. “Ye need more teaching help. My people typically don’t have more than seven students per teacher. Ye got a lot more than that. Mebbe ye should set up a mentor program… yer students at different levels, yeah? Have some, further along, help the ones that aren’t as far. Be good training, and help ’em refresh their own memory,” she pointed out logically.

Herodius blinked at her, then smiled mischievously, “Are you sure you’re not looking for a headmaster’s position in a wizard’s school? You’re coming up with an awfully lot of good ideas with regard to my pupils…”

Sharn looked at him, then huffed, “I don’t do the magic, I hit things. I’m good at hitting things. Just know ye get stressed and worry about the people here when we’re off killing. Make it easier on you.” She turned her head away, “‘Sides, yer Peri will make a good headmaster, if’n he learns to take time to breathe and smell the roses.”

Herodius grinned at her and winked, “Ye noticed, eh? Why’d you think I had him taking care of you for eight hours a day this week? He’s young… and eager. But he’ll learn. He’ll get tired, just as I did, and then he’ll settle into a routine. It’ll get easier… eventually.”

Sharn huffed, “Tricksy wizard.” She rose to her feet, then extended her hand toward him. “Come on, old man. Let’s go watch li’l buddy try to summon something. That’ll be entertaining, and might give me something to hit. ‘Sides, ye look like ye need a break from yer books. Yer frowning again.”

The pair got up and Herodius hobbled down the stairs, leaning on his crystal-topped staff for support as he moved. “Little buddy, eh? Got a soft spot for my pupils, do you?” he asked, glancing sideways quick enough to see her slight look of embarrassment before adding softly, “Some of them anyway.” Smiling, he led her into the basement, where Perianor was working with two students, of which Terrik was one. He looked up at the sound of more people coming into the workroom and smiled slightly to see his master and the strange but kind orc huntress, before going back to his work.

Perianor looked up as well, “Ah, Master. Come to watch the apprentices summoning and banishing?” He looked briefly at Sharn and nodded, a genial smile on his face, though his eyes spoke confusion mixed in with his welcome. “Lady Sharn, welcome to our workroom. I don’t believe you’ve ever been down here before, is that right?”

Sharn nodded slightly, looking him over briefly. “Typically no need,” she replied, “but Herodius needed to be dragged from his books a’fore he got grumpy. Figure if nothing else, I can provide a bit of muscle back up.” She grinned impishly at Terrik, before adding, “in case there are any troubles.” The young teenager blushed and looked down, embarrassed.

Perianor nodded, “As you wish.” Pointing over to one side of the room, there was a permanent protection circle etched in the stone. “Over there is the observation circle. As long as you are inside it with Master Herodius, no harm shall befall you in this room.”

Sharn nodded, then escorted Herodius to the observation circle. “So, old man. If’n somethin’ breaks free, I can get outta here, yeah?” she rumbled softly in his ear so the others couldn’t hear.”

Herodius nodded and murmured in reply, “Yes, dear. If something breaks free, you will still be able to move freely.” He placed his hand fondly on her arm.

Sharn patted his hand gently, then watched the group intently. “This should be entertaining,” she murmured to him with a half-smirk. “What’re they gonna summon first?”

Herodius pointed, “Most of my pupils are still young in the Art and in their control, so we’re focusing on summoning minor elemental spirits. They’ll go in pairs. One will summon from the summoning circle, and the other will banish from the abjuration circle. Then they’ll switch, then move on to the next pair. Peri stands ready next to the student in the abjuration circle to banish anything that gets away from us and has already put a force wall at the bottom of the stairs to prevent the spirit from escaping.” He smiled up at her, “It’s all very mechanical, you see.”

Sharn huffed and pouted slightly, “So I don’t get to grapple with a massive unholy abomination of a spirit that requires all my strength to pin in place?” Sighing sadly she grumped, “Old man, why you gotta crush a girl’s dreams like that?”

Herodius chuckled, wrapping a wizened arm around her, “Patience child. In a few years, they will be summoning real demons and, if you’re still interested, I’m sure we can arrange for something suitable that you can… ahem… play with.”

Sharn beamed at him, then returned to watching the group, curious at the magic taking place even if she didn’t have the knowledge to use it. Fenthis took his place inside the summoning circle and began the complex incantation. His body contorted as he performed the somatic components to the spell. Finally, he pulled out a candle and focused his will. The exertion and the nervousness of doing the spell in front of Master Herodius made him overeager. Instead of a small flame, his will flared and a flame that was much too big for the candle consumed it.

“Fenthick! Watch out!” Perianor cried, but it was too late. Shimmering into being in front of him was an earth elemental. Not a small, dust sprite, but a six foot tall, hardened clay, humanoid-shaped being. Fenthick gasped and flinched backward, having never put that much power into a spell before. It was then that the wave of exhaustion hit him and he stumbled. When he did, his foot scattered the chalk powder that the circle had been constructed from, ruining the symbol and breaking the circle. The earth elemental roared in exultation at its freedom and turned toward its summoner to crush him.

Sharn blinked for a moment, then when she saw Fenthick stumble backward something told her that it was very bad. She raced across the room and body slammed into the earth elemental with a growl of rage. “No! Bad muddy.” She growled as she pinned the massive clay body under her own, wrapping her arms around what would be the neck of the creature.

In the background, around the beating of her own heart and the thrumming of blood through her muscles, Sharn could hear Perianor’s voice rise confidently, quickly, and firmly in a chant that she assumed to be some sort of banishing spell. The creature thrashed around underneath her, trying to free itself so it could get to the wizard that was tugging at its connection to the ethereal plane. Sharn was too strong though, and did not let go. Moments later, the thing dissolved into thin air underneath her and she collapsed to the ground, holding nothing.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry, Master! I didn’t mean it…” Fenthick was babbling, eyes wide in horror at his lack of control.

Herodius walked over to him, smiling and spoke with a calming voice, “Peace, child. Peace. Everyone makes mistakes when they’re learning.” He glanced over at Perianor slyly, then leaned into Fenthick’s ear and murmured, “Even your seemingly all-powerful Primus.” Standing back up straight, he explained, “Why do you think we take so many precautions about where and when and how we summon in this school? So that you can learn through both your successes and your failures.” He gestured toward the abjuration circle. “Go, Fenthick. Switch with Garrus. Try your hand at Abjuration.”

Walking over to Sharn, Herodius extended a hand to help her up. “Are you all right, my dear?” he asked, glancing at where the elemental had been. “They can be a bit rougher than a bear.”

Sharn took his hand but heaved herself up without pulling on it. “Peri’s quick about dismissing,” she grinned at Perianor. “He didn’t even get a chance to fight back. I think he was too shocked to have me tackle him. Fenthick OK?”

Herodius waved her concern away, “Fenthick will be just fine. Weaker wills than his have made similar mistakes and have yet become Greater Flames.” He glanced in Fenthick’s direction and smiled slightly to see Perianor already talking to him encouragingly in low tones, one arm around his shoulders. “Fenthick has a talent for this, don’t you doubt. He’ll make it. Peri’s already on his way to fixing the issue now.”

Sharn smiled at him, then straightened, rotating her shoulder slightly. “That’s a good thing, I like the battle, but not when there are innocents in danger,” she rumbled softly. She meandered over to the circle and inspected it, tilting her head slightly as she watched Garrus redraw the circle. “Curious, why chalk dust and not something a little less… smudge proof?”

“Clean up for one. There are lots of types of magic circles. If we had more permanent ones we’d run out of space and, let’s face it, it’s much safer down here than anywhere else in town to do magic. Second, the talc in the powder is earth. It’s a grounding agent and helps regulate the power of the spell.” Herodius shrugged. “I suppose we could build a new tower up in the mountains somewhere out of the way and expand out with permanent circles, but…” he shrugged.

Sharn huffed slightly, “No, ye don’t get to blow a mountain… again,” she rumbled softly to Herodius, then crouched down, staring at the circles. “What I’m asking… The most troubles I seen here is the smudging of the symbol, not the line. What if ye were to carve the stones, then use string, charcoal or talc to draw the lines between? Would that work fer ye as well?” She looked up at Herodius, “The charcoal would be harder to disturb with the robes ye lot wear, and wouldn’t be that much harder to clean up.” She paused before continuing as she thought it through, “Ye just swap out the carved symbols as you need them. They get lots of practice drawing the symbols already, and if need be, ye can make them do the glowing symbols in the air, like Peri did teaching ’em, over the stone before they set the stone in place. Ye ken?”

Herodius blinked at her once again. “My dear, are you absolutely SURE you don’t want to teach a wizarding school?” he chuckled, amazed.

Sharn rocked up to her feet shaking her head and holding up her hands quickly, “Nope, I’d deliberately screw something up out of boredom for giggles and grins. My shaman tried to teach me his magic… He gave up when I blew up his favorite cauldron.” She nodded firmly then stepped back into the observation circle, sticking her tongue out at Herodius as they began again to watch Perianor and his students once more.

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