Leon, the Mighty Gale Chapter 7
By Samara Secor
After the near total darkness of the Cave of Trials, the mid-morning sunlight was almost blinding. Leon had to stand off to one side and rub his eyes before he could see again. Then, he gasped in amazement.
This close to the edge of Vane, the view was fantastic. Althena’s Temple looked like a child’s toy from this height, and the city of Meribia was no more than a distant glitter to the northwest. As Vane’s southern portion neared the Goddess Tower, Leon thought he saw a flicker of movement inside one of the rooms, but when he turned to get a better look, it was gone. ‘Hmm... Maybe it was my imagination,’ he thought. ‘This light still hurts my eyes.’
Ember’s hand on his shoulder brought Leon back to the present. “Nice view, isn’t it?” Ember commented. “It makes you feel like you can see the whole of Lunar... or at least a significant portion of it, anyway. Well, there’s work to be done, Leon. Are you ready to go and join the others?”
Leon blinked and looked around, realizing for the first time that everyone else had already gone to the guild hall. “Yeah, I’m ready. Just point the way,” he said.
Ember cocked his head to one side and asked, “What makes you think that I know where to go, hmm?”
“You’re an adventurer. Haven’t you been everywhere that’s worth seeing before?” Leon grinned and said, “Besides, I’ve got a horrible sense of direction. It’ll take me at least a week before I stop going in circles.”
Once out of the cave, Pyra settled on the ground and did her best to make her wings as inconspicuous as possible. Then, she trotted close behind Raven, Arek, and Chris. There weren’t too many people about, so Pyra reasoned that they must be in class already. ‘I wonder what it’s like to hang around in a place like this...’ she winced. ‘Not that I’ll ever get a chance to find out. All that talk I gave about the proper use of power, and I blew it big time. Dad’ll probably tan my hide so bad that they’ll rename me the Black and Blue Dragon...’
Pyra had to concentrate hard to keep from fluttering her wings to aid her in ascending the guild hall’s steps. It seemed a lot farther than it was since she rarely moved more than a couple of feet without using her wings in some fashion. She was panting a little by the time she made it up the steps and didn’t resist this time when Raven picked her up. She relaxed in Raven’s arms and drifted off into a light doze.
‘Whoa, that garden’s in a sorry state,’ Chris thought. ‘Don’t they have anyone around here to take care of it? If they don’t, you think that they could have hired someone to do it for them. Althena knows that I’d be willing to do it myself if I were given the opportunity...’
Chris tore his eyes away from the dilapidated garden and continued following Raven and Arek through the passageways of the guild hall. Upon arriving at the guildmaster’s office, Raven knocked and opened the door.
The only person in the room was a young man occupying a small desk in a corner opposite the main desk. Without turning around, the man said, “The guildmaster is out at an emergency meeting right now. You’ll have to come back later.”
“Well, where is the meeting taking place? I’m sure that father won’t mind if I interrupt him this once,” Raven said.
The young man leaped to his feet, knocking his chair over as he turned to stare at her. His green eyes were wide with surprise and he exclaimed, “Miss Ausa, you’re all right! We thought that the Thieves’ Guild had kidnapped you.”
“They did, but with some help, I was able to escape. Oh, and Vair, I thought I told you and everyone else to call me by my first name. It sounds so weird hearing those honorifics coming out of a friend’s mouth,” Raven said.
“Right,” Vair brushed a lock of purple hair out of his eyes and said, “Your father, mother, and the rest of the high level mages are in that out-of-the-way room in the east wing. Some of the senior apprentices have been drafted to take over the entry level classes, and the rest are out back goofing off. I’m just catching up on some homework, so if you want me to take you over there, I’d be glad to take a break.”
“No, that’s okay, Vair. I know the way,” Raven replied. “But I’d appreciate it if you went towards the Trial Cave exit and brought Leon and Ember here. We seem to have lost them along the way.”
“Leon and Ember...” Vair repeated.
“You shouldn’t have any trouble finding them. Ember has bright red hair that’s pretty hard to miss,” Raven said.
“Okay, I’m on my way! Consider them found,” Vair said, dashing out the door.
Raven deposited the still sleeping Pyra in Chris’ arms and asked, “Is it all right if I go on ahead and talk with my father and mother? I mean... I don’t want you guys to think that I’m abandoning you or anything.”
“We’ll be fine, lass,” Arek said. “Go on and meet up with yer parents. They’ve been worrying about ya fer long enough already.”
“Thanks,” Raven smiled. “Just make yourselves at home, and I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
When Raven left, Arek wandered around the room, looking at the paintings and furniture, while Chris remained by the door with Pyra. After a couple of minutes, Arek stopped, focusing his attention on something on the desk that Vair had vacated. “Well, now. That’s some homework yon lad is working on,” he commented.
“Why what’s he doing?” Chris asked.
“Take a look fer yerself,” Arek replied, motioning for Chris to come over.
Chris walked up behind Arek and peered over his shoulder. “Magical Beauties of Vane?” Chris gulped and blushed.
“Yeah, and it looks like Raven’s making the front cover,” Arek caught Chris’ expression out of the corner of his eye and asked, “What’s wrong? Haven’t ya ever seen anything like this before? I know the priesthood prides itself on being separate n’ all, but I didn’t think that all of ya were that sheltered. After all, yer not a celibate order, and Althena IS the goddess of love and beauty.”
“I know, but I don’t... I never...” Chris’ face got as red as Pyra’s fur and he turned away.
Arek pounded Chris on the back and roared with laughter. “Yer an easy one to tease... they way ya take things so seriously. I’m only joking with ya, lad,” Arek said.
Pyra stirred, yawning, and asked, “What’s so funny? Hey, come on! Let me in on the joke, too.”
Chris’ face changed from embarrassment to mortification, and Arek took pity on him, “Nay, lass. It’s not that funny. Just an old seadog’s twisted sense o’ humor. It’s nothing worth botherin’ that furry red head o’ yours.”
“If you say so...” Pyra frowned, still convinced that she’d missed something worthwhile.
At the approach of footsteps, both Arek and Chris distanced themselves from the desk, trying to look as if they’d never gone near it. Vair entered the room with Ember and Leon in tow. His eyes darted briefly to the desk as if to assure himself that everything was the way he had left it before looking Chris up and down and saying, “We get a lot of strange people coming in here to try their hand at magic, but I don’t remember ever seeing someone from Althena’s Temple before. Not too satisfied with the quiet life, eh?”
“What?!? I’m not here to learn magic. I’m learning all I need through the guidance of the High Priestess and Althena. Besides, I happen to enjoy the temple’s peace and quiet. Is there something wrong with that?” Chris asked, puzzled.
Vair shrugged, “Not really. It’s just a pity that you’re letting your natural abilities go to waste like that.”
“Wait a minute,” Chris said. “What abilities?”
“You don’t know? It’s as clear as day to anyone with detecting magic who takes the time to look that you’ve got a lot of potential,” Vair said, waving a hand. “Of course, it’s impossible to tell which areas you’re the strongest in without some tests first.”
Chris thought for a moment before asking, “If I were to allow you to... ah, test me, I’m not committed to anything, am I? My apprenticeship at the temple is far from complete, and I don’t want to risk incurring the High Priestess’ wrath.”
“Nope. No strings attached,” Vair affirmed. “Besides, Leon has to be tested anyway. I can do you both at the same time. Just let me get my stuff put away first, and we can head out back. I hope you don’t mind having an audience, because the seniors aren’t going to move just because some lowly junior like me tells them to make themselves scarce.”
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