Untitled (2.1) (2016)

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(Bentley Chism – Pinterest)
(Random Mage)

2

Tobias retired to his office to consider his choices for the team. The room was much less comfortable than his quarters, therefore better to keep him focused. It was also significantly smaller. As junior faculty, he rated a space that he could touch both walls of if he lay down across the room. Without stretching. It was probably twice that deep. Between the mandatory desk and built in bookshelves, there was barely room for a second chair for visitors. Not that the second chair mattered, no students came to the office anyway. A few really needed to, they could use the extra help. No windows, just a solitary glo-sphere embedded in the ceiling that cast a muted yellow-white light about the closet. Tobias leaned back in his desk chair, his hands brushing the opposite wall as his eyes roamed absently over his office library.

As the Headmaster had said, he had history and cryptomancy covered well enough. And languages, a requisite for good cryptomancy. That meant covering lithomancy, alchemy, general sorcery, and theory . . . with two people, to make sure all magical areas were covered. And they had to be fellow junior faculty. Actually, that made things a little easier in some ways. They would be less resistant to field work and, like him, they did most of the Tower’s teaching grunt work, so tended to be less specialized out of necessity.

The needs of the project severely limited his options for potential field companions.

Three hours later, Tobias was standing outside the Headmaster’s office. He stared at the door, identical to those of every other office and classroom in the Tower of Sorcery, the Tower’s central structure. Although it was seven floors up, while the faculty offices were on the first floor. It was a rectangle of mottled dark wood, arched at the top, bound with twin black iron tridents riveted horizontal across the boards. The black iron ring handle hung limp, but waiting, on the right. Nothing different from the hundreds of other doors in the building, except for the patinated brass plate that read Headmaster set at eye level. Nothing that should cause him to pause.

Except that this was the Headmaster’s office, and he’d been charged with a task, albeit probably a minor one not worth wasting the time of senior faculty.

Master Jacobs knocked, with a trace of hesitation.

He waited to hear a summons before entering.

Tobias’s first impression on stepping into the room was always the same, no matter how many times he saw the office, it was good to be the Headmaster. His own office in the Wulfstan College of Cryptomancy, a building attached to the Tower, would fit in a corner of the Headmaster’s first floor. And there were two floors above, in one of the Tower of Sorcery’s attached spires. The whole was luxurious not only for space, but in furnishings. There was room for not one spare chair but several, and a couch. The Headmaster’s desk dominated the room, more or less centered, with the old man rising and walking toward him. Papers, tomes, and parchments covered the surface, every flat surface, really. Tobias tried, unsuccessfully, to place the smell that drifted down from a higher level. Probably something alchemical, Waite was said to be an accomplished alchemist.

After the spare man nodded him to a seat, and retook his own, Tobias sat straight on the edge of what was probably a comfortable wingback. He waited for the Headmaster to speak.

“Come about the field work, I expect,” the older man said, a veteran of these meetings.

“Yes, sir,” Tobias nodded. “I’d like to request Masters Riallo and Salovich, if they are willing.”

“Why?”

“Both are junior faculty. Shannon’s, Master Riallo’s, background is lithomancy and she’s taught general sorcery. She also has some political expertise that could be an asset, with the Coven and Rovers.”

“Granted, take her.”

Tobias nodded again, “Oifa Salovich has alchemical and pure magical theory experience, to cover the other necessary areas.”

“Agreed,” the headmaster replied in a heartbeat, “Good choices. I shall put Ona on reassigning their classes post haste. Take Gavin Marker, from Taliesin, as well. Never know when one of the factions might decide to ignore our neutrality. Or he might be useful should the local fauna prove troublesome.”

“Taliesin? Are you sure, sir?”

“Indeed. Just to be safe,” Waite allowed a small shrug, “It has been some time, but there have been cases of factions attempting to abscond with Tower faculty in the past. Why, during my first year teaching we had a new instructor shanghaied by the Order for a couple days. Where was I? Oh, yes. I shall inform Masters Riallo, Salovich, and Marker. They will be instructed to meet with you first thing tomorrow morning, after breakfast.”

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