“Hey! Watch it!” Tomar growled. “Healing spell, not flames!”
“Sorry,” Tara said, as an errant lick of flames came within inches of Tomar’s robes.
“Pay attention! You have moss stuffed in your ears or something? Study healing today!” Tomar, a high elf originally from the Summerset Isles, gathered his robes, lifted his head high, and walked back to the alchemy table.
“Ignore him,” Barlin said. “He’s a cow’s backside.”
Tara snorted a laugh. Thank Dibella for Barlin.
“Buuut, that was supposed to be a gentle healing spell. Are you reading the correct book?” He asked.
Tara looked back down at her Healing Spells For the Novice book. It was worn, old, clearly read by many in the past. Why was this so difficult? She had no idea why a flame spell erupted from her hands.
She and Barlin were the only two novice mages at the Synod Conclave. Mira hadn’t been wrong about them not teaching.
First Adjunct Riser Farris, a Breton, had begrudgingly taken her in.
“If your sister wasn’t who she was…” he liked reminding her daily.
Barlin had arrived a week later, the son of some Imperial noble in Skingrad, where the local scholar and mage had recently died. The noble insisted his son develop his skill so he become court mage one day. Tara got the impression a large donation to the conclave had helped move Barlin’s education along.
Currently, they were down in the basement, where they could practice without risk of hurting anyone. Well, except Tomar. He was keeping an eye on them while he worked on some potion that smelled like dead slaughterfish.
“Why don’t you try again?” Tara said to Barlin. “I’ll watch and see what I’m getting wrong.”
Barlin stood up. He was tall, even for an Imperial, and thin, downright wispy. He had rich, brown hair that sat in a lazy mop on his head. He was unassuming, and Tara imagined had she been attracted to men, his gentle charm and humor would have prompted a date request.
Fortunately, he’d been respectful and they’d bonded quickly as friends. He made her laugh. Tara had needed that more than she realized.
She watched his hands come alight with a soft, warm glow that slowly swept up his arms until it briefly enveloped him completely. A small smile crossed his face, as if a minor pain had been erased.
He sat on the bench, as some sweat appeared on his forehead. “Whew,” he said. “That took most of my magicka reserves. Go on, try again.”
Tara stood up and walked slightly away from everyone. She was amazed how effortlessly Barlin had been able to produce the spell in both hands. If she could at least get it in one.
Holding out both hands, she closed her eyes and focused on her left hand, calling forth what she’d learned from the book. A warm glow started in her left hand, and she inwardly smiled. She then felt a warmth start in her right hand. This heat was different, intense…and…she liked it.
“Tara!” Barlin yelled.
Tara opened her eyes to a weak, healing orb hovering in her left hand. Her right hand held a tall, growing flame spell. She knew the slightest nudge would send it flying wherever she pointed.
“Put that out. NOW!” Tomar shouted from the alchemy table.
Both spells extinguished immediately, and Tara was hit by a sudden headache. Her magicka reserves were gone. She sat on the bench by Barlin and rubbed her forehead.
Barlin looked at her in stunned silence. Tomar was glaring…no, his look was different. His mouth was closed tight, and he seemed to contemplate her.
“You’re both done for the day,” he said. “Enough practice. Finish reading your healing book and get started on Enchanter’s Primer.” He left the basement quickly.
“Your flame spell was intense,” Barlin said. “How do you do that? We haven’t even started destruction magic.”
“I don’t know. It just happens,” Tara said. She rubbed her forehead more as the headache receded. Barlin looked at her doubtfully. “Maybe I picked up a thing or two from my sister,” she lied.
How did that happen? No one had taught her a flame spell. Mira had gone out of her way to avoid teaching Tara any magic, actually. Outside of some pointers on restoration magic, which she said might help around the farm. Not that it’d helped with Tara’s weak healing spell.
And, her magicka reserves. They were low; she was still developing them. How had she had such intense flames, while also holding that healing spell? She didn’t have the reserves for all that. Almost like the flames had come from somewhere else.
“Your healing spell is really coming along,” Tara said to Barlin, as they walked up from the basement and headed to the study area outside their rooms. “You’ll be healing others in no time.”
Barlin smiled. “Yeah. I really like restoration. Feels so natural to me.”
As the flames do to me, Tara thought.
As they climbed the steps to the study area, Tara noticed Tomar speaking quietly to Riser. Riser glanced her way, then turned back to Tomar.
Ugh. Not good. She could feel it.
“Want to read Enchanter’s Primer together?” Barlin offered.
“Sure thing,” Tara said.
Don’t worry about Tomar and Riser right now, she thought. You’re learning magic. That’s the important part. You’re in. You’ll learn and grow. Some schools are easier than others for everyone. Destruction might be the perfect school for me, that’s all.
Yes. That had to be all it was. When given the chance to choose a focus, she’d pick Destruction magic. She’d become a battle mage. She could do that. She’d have a purpose, then.