I was in a good mood when we got back to Trikryss. Kowl slept better on the trip over, so I had to guess he was feeling better too. And the night of the festival was something I wouldn’t forget anytime soon either.
That mood ended though, when we entered the otherwise empty shop to see Magister Atra there. She was talking to Johan about something. When Johan looked past her shoulder and pointed us out, she turned and her eyes met ours. She came to a stop in front of Kowl, who was a step ahead of me.
“Welcome back, Mister Freslight and Miss Pyralis,” she said. “I trust your vacation was pleasant?”
“More or less…” Kowl sounded a bit careful in how he spoke. The windy gal was on his shoulder, clinging to his neck and glaring at her. Did something happen between them? “May I ask what brings you here this afternoon?”
She held out her hand with some kind of scroll in it. “I need to speak with you about certain matters, after I speak with Miss Pyralis for a moment. May I ask for privacy?”
Kowl gave her a questioning look from behind his glasses. Then he took the scroll and gave me a squeeze on the shoulder, before walking over to the entrance of his workshop. He unlocked the door and disappeared behind it, taking Johan with him as the door closed again with a heavy sound. That left the two of us alone.
I crossed my arms and scowled a bit. “Ya went to my parents behind my back?”
“Yes, I did,” she told me upfront. “Miss Pyralis, I understand if you don’t take my meddling with your decisions well but, as your teacher, I only want you and the other students to focus on your futures. I talked to them since my own words weren’t reaching you.”
Before the trip, I considered her to be one of my favorite magisters at the academy. A few days later, I don’t think that I could dislike anyone more. Funny that, but my parents and Kowl weren’t gonna budge on me going for more classes. “Ya coulda trusted me to make that call.”
Her eyes narrowed a bit. “I would have been more inclined to if I hadn’t found that tunnel you made to get under the barrier. I’d notice your spell-work anywhere, such as the fact that it didn’t deteriorate by the time the investigation began. That was really careless of you, and would have gotten you expelled if anyone else found it. Your parents and Mister Freslight would have certainly been upset about that.”
Darn, I knew I forgot something.
The magister sighed. “I’ll take it as simply idle curiosity that drove you to violate the rules again, but this cannot continue. You may dislike me, but I have only the best interests at heart for you and the other students. I am strict, but I am fair above all else. Think on that when school begins again.”
With that out of the way, she walked behind the counter and knocked on the door to Kowl’s workshop. She stepped inside as Johan left and the door closed again. No doubt she was laying down the same laws to Kowl, to make sure he knew I was gonna be spending less time at the shop.
After I got Johan his pay, and reminded him not to spend it all on books, I tended to the shop while waiting for the magister to leave from Kowl’s workshop. It was an hour before she left. I went into the workshop to talk to Kowl right after.
He was sitting at a table, staring at what looked to be a map. He didn’t even notice me until I put my hand on his shoulder. Even then, he only turned his head to face me. “What’s wrong?”
“What was that about?” I asked. “Y’all were in here for an hour.”
He set his glasses down on the table and rubbed his eyes. “That long?”
Kowl was with her that long and didn’t notice? That bothered me a bit. “Did something happen?”
“No, we just….” He yawned and then blinked the tears away. “We just talked about this map.”
I peeked over his shoulder and looked at it. The entire map was of the continent, with the regions divided by invisible boundaries and labeled. There were four points that were circled. “Y’all were talkin’ about travelin’ somewhere for an hour?”
“Something like that.” He rolled the map back up. “I’ll be making trips over the next few years. But that’s a matter for later. Right now, we need to get everything in order for the shop.”
“Right,” I mumbled as Kowl started getting things in order, so he could get to work. The windy gal started doing the same. I left them to it and made for the front of the store, trying to ignore the feeling that was stirring inside of my chest.
It was probably nothing…
Book 3 – End