“Opprimere!” A red flash of light burst from the man’s outstretched hand.
“Scutum!” the girl cried.
There was a flash of blinding white light as the two spells met. The girl trembled. The red light grew stronger. A fierce wind blew back the girl’s long hair and stirred her skirts. Her magic shield wavered.
“You’re not concentrating!” said the man, lowering his hand. The red light disappeared.
The girl let go of her shield. “I am,” she said.
“No,” the man removed his cloak and threw it onto a chair near the door, “You’re not.” His dark eyes examined her face. She blushed, tucking a stray lock of brown hair behind her ear and looking away. “What is it, Essylt? What’s bothering you?”
“Nothing!” the girl said, still not looking at him, “I thought you were going to teach me to do magic.”
“You can’t even hold a simple shield spell,” the man said.
“I did so! Your spell didn’t get through.”
“It would have if I’d pressed any harder. Listen, Essylt, I want to help you—you’ve got strong magic in you. But if you let yourself be distracted by the outside world, you’ll never be able to learn what I have to teach.”
Essylt sat down on the cold stone practice floor, her skirts fanning out around her and the tie of her cloak choking her. Undoing the clasp, she allowed her cloak to slip from her shoulders. Still she refused to look at her teacher.
He came and knelt in front of her.
“You can do this,” he said softly, “So why won’t you let yourself?”
There were tears in her eyes—one blue, one green—as she looked up at him. She examined his pale face, stark against his black clothes. His black eyes were fixed on her absolutely, and full of concern.
“There’s something you need to know,” she whispered, “I--”
The door opened and a young page poked his head in.
“Excuse me, Professor Ailen?”
Ailen watched Essylt for a moment longer, before turning to the curly-headed page. “Yes?”
“Professor Fontayne needs you, sir.”
“Oh, very well. Tell him I’ll be along shortly.” Ailen turned back, but Essylt was gone.
“How’d it go?” The slight man waiting in the shadows asked as the girl approached. There was a touch of anxiousness in his words.
“I didn’t tell him,” Essylt said, not stopping but walking past the man. He fell into step beside her.
“Good,” he said, “Do you have any idea what Val would do to you if you gave up the plan?”
“I’m not a moron, Marden.”
“I was beginning to wonder, all that talk about coming clean. How’s the class going?”
“He says I’m never going to learn magic if I can’t focus.”
“Well, then, focus.”
Essylt shot Marden a disgusted look. “Easier said than done,” she said.
“We don’t have much time here, Essy.”
“I do have enough magic to blow you up if I want to.”
This remark silenced Marden. They continued through the trees—and in the darkness, Marden didn’t see the tears slipping down Essylt’s face.
Today's Novel Idea Inspired by: Picture above, courtesy of Dieki's Dreamings.