Where was she?
Tara stood in her room in the College. No Katla.
She’s only been, what, twenty minutes behind her?
Mirabelle had motioned to Tara to join her, Onmund, Colette, and Tolfdir after the wave incident.
Tara had chosen Katla, though. She needed to catch her. Explain. Calm her down.
She’d made it out of the Hall of Elements and caught sight of Katla, who was heading into the Hall of Attainment, and their room, probably.
“Tara!” Tolfdir had shouted. Tara had never heard him shout, not even raise his voice once, in the months she’d been here.
She stopped in her tracks. He’d stepped out of the Hall of Elements, as well, and was standing behind her only a few paces. How had he been so fast?
“Back inside. We need to talk,” Tolfdir said. His voice made no allowance for argument or disobedience.
Tara had dutifully trudged back inside with him. This would only take a minute. She’d catch up to Katla.
Everyone stared as they approached where Mirabelle, Colette, and Onmund still stood gathered. Tara felt like everyone was studying her as if she were a new bee they’d discovered and were deciding if she was going to sting them. Or, a dragon. And whether it was going to breathe fire down on them.
“Are you okay?” she asked Onmund.
He nodded. “Colette patched me right up. I’m sorry I sent that fireball at you.”
Mirabelle cleared her throat. Her eyes bored into Tara.
“What magic was that?” Her voice was steady. She seemed curious, and nothing more.
“I…” Tara paused. How to explain a wave? Not really possible. Certainly not without details she didn’t want to give out.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Tara said.
“It’s not a shout,” Colette offered.
“No, it’s not,” Mirabelle said. “Though, it seems similar to the shout I’ve been told Ulfric used on King Torygg. Some kind of force magic.”
“Is it a spell?” Tolfdir asked.
Tara shook her head. “No. It just…erupts from me.”
“Can you control it?” Mirabelle asked.
That was the real question, wasn’t it?
“I’m working to improve my control,” Tara lied.
“Did you intend to hit Onmund, and everyone else, with this…?” Mirabelle started.
“Wave,” Tara filled in. “I call them waves.”
“Did you intend to hit Onmund with a wave?”
“No,” Tara confessed.
Mirabelle nodded. She turned to Tolfdir. “Come see me later.”
She nodded again to the rest of them. “Excuse me.” She then turned and left.
Tara’s heart sank. History was repeating.
She needed to get to Katla.
“Everyone’s dismissed,” Tolfdir said. Everyone had still been standing around, watching, listening.
Tara waited. She knew she wasn’t dismissed.
As everyone filed out, Tolfdir watched them leave. They were alone within seconds.
Tolfdir turned back to Tara. His eyes rested on her. Kindness radiated out from them.
“I want you to speak to someone. An old…friend of mine,” he said.
“He was a brilliant student, an accomplished wizard. Delved into magic in a way none had seen before. A Breton. Once,” Tolfdir said.
“Who?” Tara asked again. He was confusing her.
“He’s down in the Midden. We call him the Augur.”
“Yes,” Tolfdir said. “Below the College. You should speak to him. I think he can help you.”
“Okay,” Tara said. What else to say? The Midden? An…Augur? Perhaps she should ask the others. If anyone would speak to her after that wave.
She needed to get to her. Tara excused herself from Tolfdir and hurried out of the Hall of Elements back to her room.
Tara looked around again, trying to make sense of what she was seeing.
Katla’s bow was gone. All of Katla’s stuff was gone.
No, no, no, no.
Tara felt her heart skip. A pain emanated from her chest.
She scanned the room again.
Gone. Katla’s stuff was gone. Katla was gone.
No. She had to be nearby.
The Frozen Hearth Inn.
Of course. The only other place nearby to get a room.
Tara ran there, not even bothering to grab a heavy fur to protect against the cold.
She burst into the inn. Everyone looked her way, then turned back to their drinks.
The inn felt crowded for it only being early afternoon.
But, it was cold outside and, well, Nords and their drinking. Tara walked through the crowd, searching.
She had to be in one of the rooms for rent. Perhaps the one they’d initially rented.
The door to that room stood ajar. Tara stepped in, not bothering to knock.
Katla was unpacking her backpack, laying folded clothes on the bed. She turned her head at the sound of Tara coming into the room. Their eyes met. She’d been crying.
“You need to leave,” she said.
“Katla, we…” Tara started.
“I can’t talk about this right now,” she interrupted. “You need to leave.”
“We have to talk about this.”
“Not right now.” Katla looked to be fighting through anger and fear at once. “I don’t want to talk to you.”
Tara’s mouth dropped open. That pain in her chest persisted.
Katla let out a sigh and ran her hands over her face for a second. Her eyes then focused on Tara with that firmness and intensity Tara both hated and admired.
“Tara, I’m scared. Of you. I can’t talk about this with you while I feel like this.”
She set her jaw. “I need space. What I saw you do to a bunch of mages in an instant. Just…”
She shook her head. “Bad enough I watched you get hit by a fireball.” Her tone softened at that.
“I don’t trust mages. I don’t like magic. What you do…out of control…the power you wield.” She shivered.
“I’ve hated being at this college every day since we arrived. I’ve only been here for you. I warned you I didn’t want to stay long. And now…you…another wave…”
“Tolfdir wants…” Tara started. She’d tell Katla what he said. About the Augur. Surely the Augur could help her with her waves. That’s why Tolfdir had told her to go see him, her, whatever it was, right? Maybe this would settle Katla’s nerves.
“I don’t want to talk about it!” Katla interrupted. Her mouth formed into a tight line.
“I’ll be here for a few days. Don’t come see me. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to talk.”
They stood looking at each. Tara felt her eyes fill with tears. Katla’s eyes matched.
“Get out. Now,” she said.
The cold walk back to the College numbed Tara. Like too many times in her life, she welcomed it.