Untitled (4.2) (2016)


(Deposit Photos)

When Marker stopped and nodded to him, Tobias returned the gesture.

“The Headmaster’s ready for us to leave tomorrow, early morning.”

“Good,” Marker said, as he ‘sheathed’ his sword.

Tobias took a second look and recognized the signs of a sorcerer’s staff. Interesting for something the man fought with, or at least trained to fight with. Most sorcerers were almost obsessively protective of their staves.

“If you have a moment,” he said, “I’m curious . . . why the combat arts?”

Gavin shrugged, “When you’re born Free, you learn to fight, hide, or both. Fast. Turns out, I’m good at both. Seemed like a good idea to play to my strengths.”

Factionless, but not reputable like the schools. That explained some.

“Fair enough,” he said aloud. “I don’t think I’ve ever come across a sorcerer who came from The Free.”

“Probably because there aren’t many. It’s illegal to self-train, the few who want to teach others can’t, legally, so they keep quiet,” Marker gave another shrug, “When you get a chance to go off-Earth for school, you take it, no matter where it is.”

And that told him something, possibly more than intended. The man came from one of the less reputable schools of sorcery. Interesting.

“Anything else?”

Tobias shook his head, “No, I don’t think so. We’ll meet in the Head at seven.” He’d chosen the campus pub because it would be empty that early. There would be no audience, which there shouldn’t be anyway.

Moments later, Jacobs was outside again.

He stood for a few moments, looking across the manicured lawn at the grey stoned Tower and the red bricks of Wulfstan. The incongruous architecture was the result of numerous building projects and different visions of the institution over the centuries. But, like all the rest of the Tower’s faculty, he had work to get done.

Tobias focused his mind on Oifa first, his right hand sliding unconsciously into the sleeve of his open robe to touch his staff. He typically wore the highly polished, heavily carved artifact in a sort of sheath sewn into his sleeve. In an instant, since she was nearby and not blocking contact, he had a direction and rough distance for the other master. His attention shifted to Shannon, directing his will toward her, to find she was in almost the same place. Back at Drakewell for both.

An hour later, he was in his rooms, having informed the entire team of their schedule. Which brought him back to deciding and packing. Procrastinating, even for something necessary, had done nothing to help with the decision. Lacking better ideas, Tobias eventually snatched up a couple texts on Germanic and Scandinavian cryptomancy and tossed them in the bag. They were swiftly followed by a collection of bright orange, plastic tent stakes he’d gotten the Tower steward, Albert Harker, to scrounge up. At the very least they’d be useful for marking ward edges or something. Two other books and a few necessities rounded out the contents of his bag, aside from the clothes he’d wear and his staff, of course.


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