Still dizzy from the teleportation, I step away from the portal just in time as it fades away from sight. I take a moment to check my belongings – travel rations, canteen, spare clothes, my lucky amulet…. Well, looks like everything made it through the portal. Now, that’s surprising. Usually you lose a thing or two. Guess I just got lucky. I smile and turn around.
The majestic gates of the Darkhaven Academy loom ahead. My heart drops down to my feet. ‘This is it’, I tell myself. I am entering the most prestigious institute of learning, in all of Seldeon. They say that Lord Fellon himself was involved in the establishment of the Academy. I watch in awe as the great gates open themselves on my approach. Slowly and silently, a new world is revealed to me.
With small shy steps, I approach the receptionist. ‘Errr.. Greetings. I am Xion and I was invited to join the Academy for mage apprenticeship’. She directs me to an inner room. I walk into the room to find a hall full of young people listening to a tall lady shrouded in flowing shadow and light. Her voice was gentle, and at the same time, commanding.
“Greetings younglings. I am Mistress Tsythia, the Headmistress of this Institute. Until you complete your basic training, you will be reporting to me. At all times, refrain from breaking the rules of the Academy and wandering beyond the limits of the Academy grounds. This is for your own safety. Each of you will be given a magical amulet which will teleport you back to Toric, the academy healer, whenever you are excessively hurt or your lives are in danger. Please understand that the amulet is made of extremely rare gems and you should take care not to lose them. On completion of your basic training, you will be required to return the amulet, for, by then, you would be capable of taking care of yourself. Each of you has been assigned space in the student quarters and after this session is over, you can proceed to the quarters to relax awhile. When the sun reaches its apex, you shall assemble in the dining hall. I shall see you all then. You can now proceed to your quarters.“
We herd into the student quarters. The quarters is a long hall with rows and rows of bunkbeds. I find mine to be in a corner. Mine is the top one, the lower being occupied by a human. On seeing me, his face immediately splits open in a wide smile. “Greetings. I am Finrod. Human. 17. You are?“. “Xion. I am a high-elf from the plains. I am 16“, I say with a smile. I put up my stuff on my bed and sit down with Finrod and we start talking. He tells me about his village, how he was living on a farm with his parents and sister, and how one day a cloaked stranger approached him and invited him to the academy. Apparently, he had the potential for learning the magical arts within him, just like me. For us elves, it comes naturally. For this quality to be present in a human, is rare indeed. Finrod has a perpetual smile on his face and his good nature is infectious. Soon others join us and in a short while, we start feeling like we’ve known each other for a while.
The dinner bell rings and we all assemble in the great dining hall. The moment I walk into the hall, my jaw drops open. I feel small and insignificant in the large hall. The other end of the hall is just barely visible in the dim lighting, as is the ceiling. There is a huge oval table in the center and many small tables in the periphery of the room. I understood immediately that the center table was for the elders and we younglings were to occupy the smaller tables. Finrod pokes me and points. I follow his eye and see Mistress Tsythia taking the head of the table. Many of the instructors are assembled around the central table. Prominent among them is Lord Domick, the chief instructor. Mistress Tsythia gets up to speak and a hush falls across the great hall.
“Today, we are gathered here, to welcome the new generation of initiates into the Academy. As you all know, it is a great honour to be invited to the Academy and I remind all gathered here, that with this honour comes great responsibility to always use our powers for the good of others. Let not my words dullen this joyous event. I wish the initiates a wonderful life ahead and everyone a happy and hearty meal.“
All through dinner, Finny and I were whispering to each other. We were both very excited as we would be training to be mages. We could hardly wait to start. The rest of the dinner went uneventfully as we stuffed ourselves with the delicious spread the Academy kitchen had put out.
The rest of the day was spent in familiarizing ourselves with the layout of the Academy facilities and the Academy grounds. Some parts of the Academy grounds were marked off by barbed wire. ‘Ye who is not ready shall not enter‘. In other words, initiates keep out. Finally all the walking tired us out and we went back to our quarters. A refreshing steam bath and we were ready for dinner. Dinner turned out to be a lot quieter than lunch. After dinner, Lord Domick informed us as to where the classes would start the next day. We drag ourselves back to our beds and in not time we are fast asleep.
I dream that I am fighting a huge terrifying dragon. My magic spells drive it back and finally I rescue the lovely princess and carry her off to live happily ever after. I smile. A new life has begun.