Tobias took the dismissal and rose, not without a little shake in his knees, and turned toward the door. The meeting, he decided as he left, had gone about like every one of the other handful he’d had with the Headmaster: short, to the point, and mildly confusing in a vaguely indefinable way.
He exited the Tower facing the Dee School of Alchemy, and walked clockwise around the circular building. His feet took over and followed the familiar path as his bemused mind reviewed the last several hours. Tobias went around nearly half the Tower before striking out across a quad toward the Taliesin Salle. Somehow he’d gone from preparing classes for the term to leading a team for fieldwork. The last time he’d done fieldwork had been a couple years before the Headmaster hired him.
Past Taliesin was a stand of woods that separated the class buildings, both the gym and the Satyrane School, from the faculty and staff living quarters. The trees provided a degree of privacy for the residents, kept the students from invading the housing too often. They also kept down the noise from the main part of the campus. Then he was past the quasi-medieval salle building and headed through the trees toward Drakewell Hall, the white brick home of the faculty suites.
A small smile turned Tobias’s lips.
The senior faculty would throw a fit. They were probably in Waite’s office at that moment hemming and hawing. More likely huffing, actually. Most of them had not taught an intro level class in several years. The majority mentored a handful of senior students each, leaving the more basic, group, instruction to the junior faculty. Even then, he knew some spent more time avoiding their students than they did actually instructing, the better to focus on their personal research projects.
For a moment, he wanted to sit invisibly in the Headmaster’s office for that meeting.
But only for a moment.
Then the reality of his situation hit him again, just as he reached the heavy, brass bound oak door of Drakewell. A moment later, Tobias passed through the blue-gold carpeted, off-white painted first floor corridor to his own suite. Eventually, he might move up to the second or even third floor, as his standing increased.
His eyes roamed over the familiar sitting room without seeing anything. He collapsed in a convenient comfortable reading chair near the room’s fireplace. Tobias continued scanning the room without actually seeing anything, ostensibly looking for anything he should pack, but really dreading what he knew would come next. Riallo, Salovich, or Marker would knock on his door sometime in the next few hours. Maybe all three of them. Once the Headmaster told them about the major change of plans, they would want to know what was going on immediately.
Why hadn’t he just kept on walking, instead of pausing to listen to the lecture he’d heard many times before?
If he’d just kept on walking, he wouldn’t be in this mess. He wouldn’t be leading a team. He wouldn’t be leading a team to investigate an anomaly they knew literally nothing about, in a political situation he knew nothing about. A political situation that he had applied to teach at the apolitical Tower in order to avoid for the rest of his life.
The Brotherhood was excellent at acquiring knowledge, and preserving it, but they were, he had to admit, pretty piss poor at dissemination and access for outsiders. Politics, again. Unlike most of those he’d been raised with, he’d always felt that the information and research his elders collected was a waste if no one ever used it.
With a mental shrug, Tobias turned his attention from possible problems to his half-read copy of Critias Flavinius’s Principles of Gallic Sigils.