Astra looked up from her desk and rubbed her eyes wearily with one hand. She abhorred this part of magic. All the reading and writing and studying and copying. She glanced over at her master where he sat at his desk, keeping an eye on her, as always. She thought back and realized that she had never seen the Master Illusionist away from his desk while she studied. The old gnome looked up from his book and smiled at her. Then, quite unexpectedly, his voice came from behind her and to the left.
“I have bad news, Astra dear.” He said quietly.
She turned to face her master with a smile on her face at his trickery but her face quickly fell when she saw his expression. “What’s wrong Master?” she asked, a boulder sized lump of unease settling in her stomach. It’s about me and my studies, I just know it.
“Your Father says that if you show no improvement by the end of the day today then you are done wasting your time, and his money, here. You will no longer be my apprentice.” He looked very sad. He had come to see Astra as the daughter he never had. To lose her would hurt deeply and his heart ached to see her potential wasted as some old noble’s trophy wife someday.
Her heart sank at his words. She had been tested for magical potential and had been told that she would be a great and powerful mage one day. Ever since then her dreams had been filled with arcane symbols and magical powders and great, epic adventures. Now her father’s impatience was going to steal that from her. She would be stuck marrying some man she had never before met and pretending it made her happy……for the rest of her life. Despair threatened to swallow her as tears filled her eyes and spilled over her cheeks. She didn’t think she could possibly show enough improvement in one day to save her future. She could hear the funereal dirge of the wedding march already.
Her beloved teacher’s arms went around her and he held her close, rocking gently back and forth and patting her back lightly. She leaned into his shoulder and prepared to weep for all she was worth. After all, as a young girl she had gotten plenty of practice getting what she wanted by crying. That is how she got her father to allow her to be tested in the first place.
“Not to worry, my child.” He whispered soothingly to her. “I think you should try again. If you can successfully cast a spell he must let you stay.” He smiled warmly as she looked up at him, hope creeping into her features and chasing the despair away, as hope was wont to do.
“Do you really think I am ready? Really? What about last time? What about what I did to your desk?” They both glanced over in the direction of his desk where the walls were still scorched from an accidental fireball.
He breathed deeply and smiled at her, the absolute picture of confidence. He was called a Master of Illusion for a reason. “I do. Come over here and give it a try.” Leading her away from all flammable materials and to a corner he had cleared out for this purpose.
She sat cross legged and closed her eyes to concentrate. Placing her open left hand on her knee, she used her right hand to reach into her spell component pouch. First her fingers found the pocket 3rd from the front, with the slightly crunchy texture. She sprinkled a pinch of specially dried moss from the willow tree into her palm. Then she reached into the 5th pocket from the right side and retrieved a pinch of quartz dust, adding it to the moss. Closing her fingers around her components she reached inside herself, desperate to find that hidden potential she was supposed to have, that she knew she had.
“Cilin khalayan shirak lingkaran”
She felt the components fuse together and opened her palm, and her eyes, to the sweet picture of victory.
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Cast of Today’s Episode
Astra Kat G as Lady Astra
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