I was taken to the Academy. The grounds were massive. They had five buildings, all surrounded by an ornate marble fence. The largest building at the centre was where classes were held. The buildings directly to its left and right housed the student dormitories. Directly behind the main building was a crystal tower, which housed the library. The building at the gate was a storehouse.
The instructor, who had introduced himself as Professor Mord, was explaining the layout to me. I did not pay much heed to his words. I appreciated him trying to be helpful, but the layout was much the same as it had been the last time a draconian had visited. My racial memory rendered his guidance redundant.
We were stopped on our tour by an elven woman. She had aqua coloured hair and light brown eyes. Her robes were a shadowy grey, identifying her as the Academy’s head. “Bastian, who is this?”
Professor Mord bowed in deference to her. “This is Michael Ryufan. He’s seven and very skilled for his age. Michael this is Luc Elivy, the academy’s current headmistress.”
She offered me her hand. I reached my own out to take it. “In all my time at the academy there have never been two children on the grounds at once.” She studied me as she spoke. “Is there something wrong with your eyes?” I hurriedly averted my gaze to look at the ground. I would have to be careful around her. Her vision was sharp.
“No matter,” she spoke quickly. Apparently interpreting my actions as a symptom of sensitivity. “Get him a room and test his current abilities so that we can get a proper curriculum in place.” She paused for a moment. “But first introduce him to Illyana.”
“Understood,” Professor Mord turned to me. “Follow me.” He gestured towards the dormitory on the left. I followed without a word.
Professor Mord led me into the garden. A human girl was sitting on the grass. She had golden blonde hair. She was roughly my height but significantly smaller. If she had weighed slightly less, I could have described her as emaciated. Her eyes were tightly shut and a walking stick was laying by her feet. I deduced that she was likely sightless.
She cocked her head towards us as we approached.
“Illyana,” Professor Mord made an effort to make his voice sound soothing. “Can you come here for a moment please?”
She retrieved her stick and approached us. Swinging her stick from side to side to detect potential obstacles.
Profesor Mord put his right hand on her shoulder and his left hand on mine. “Illyana, this is Michael. He’s one year younger than you. He’s going to be joining us at the academy. Michael, this is Illyana. She’s lived here for the past two years.”
“I am pleased to meet you,” I stated.
“Likewise,” she said.
I was in my room. My wings kept me elevated. A couple violet scales fell to the flooring. I would have to dispose of them later. It would be unacceptable for a class mate to find them. Their curiosity was becoming burdensome.
I was looking forward to completing my time at the Academy. I only needed to master a few more spells for my battle against the lich: Cutting Winds, Binding Breath & Typhoon.
I was not overly concerned. After all, I was still an adolescent and those spells were difficult. I knew that further growth would lead to greater power and with that power combined with practice, mastery would come. It was inevitable.
A knock interrupted my reverie. “Who is there please?”
“Is anyone there with you?”
I could detect Illyana using magic to probe her surroundings. “No, I’m alone.”
I ceased flapping my wings and landed. I walked to the door and unlocked it. “You may enter.”
Illyana entered my room. She was still somewhat thin, but far healthier looking than she had been when we first met. She had recently undergone a growth spurt and currently stood at just over a hundred eighty five centimetres tall. Her skin was pale. Strangely so, given how much time she expended in the gardens. She was currently clad in light blue robes and carrying a book under her left arm.
“The new students are arriving today.”
I felt my tail shift. “I am aware of that.”
Illyana smiled. “There are finally students our age here. Maybe we can make some friends.”
I sighed and pressed my left hand against my forehead, betwixt my horns. “You have already made ample friends among the priestess trainees. You are trying to get me to socialise more. Tell me, why would I wish to waste my time in such an endeavour?”
Illyana frowned. “You can’t live like a hermit forever.”
I decided to change the topic. “You did not come here to discuss the new students.”
Illyana laughed a little. “Professor Mord gave me this book.” She held it out. “Could you help me with it?”
I took it. I recognised the book and was capable of reciting the contents verbatim but flipped through it for the sake of appearances. Illyana sat down on my bed. “It is by a dwarven omnimage named Tron Greystone who lived 734 years ago. He is espousing the view that the physical difficulties are more than offset by the experience of possessing all of the possible inborn elements. He continues to describe the experience in detail.”
Illyana’s voice shook. “Does it say what problems he had?”
The book neglected to mention it but I answered her query. “Tron was incapable of walking. His heart was weakened. The condition caused his death at the age of 28.”
“But he could see?”
“Yes, he could see.”
Tears were falling down Illyana’s face. “I would give anything for that ability. Anything.”
I did not believe she meant that. She had probably brought the book hoping that it would display some understanding of her own difficulties. Her frustration and sorrow were still evident. I moved my wings so that they were sticking straight back. I reached out and lightly hugged Illyana while she cried. She put her hands on my lower back and wept into my chest. I sighed with relief when she missed touching my wings.