Ten years ago…
Clara Abernathy doesn't remember anything before the accident that took her parent's life when she was eight years old; trauma, they said. She grew up in the foster system, shipped around from home to home across the country but she never stayed in one place for too long. Despite a few decent prospects, Clara never quite fit in and she was never adopted. Just another kid, overlooked and forgotten in the cracks of the system.
At eighteen years old, Clara found herself living in an ultra-religious halfway home in Holridge, Nebraska. One night, while walking home from her night shift job at a supermarket, Clara was attacked by a man with fangs who was unfathomably fast. The man was about to kill her, by his own admission, when gray sand began to seep up, building around her attacker's feet until it turned into some kind of creature and pulled the attacker into the ground, destroying it entirely. Then, she passed out.
When she woke up, she was in her room at the halfway home. When she came down, she found she had a visitor: an older gentleman who had found her the night before. When questioned if he had saved her, the man shook his head. "No, I didn't save you," he said, "You did that yourself."
He explained that he was something called a "Mage" and it was his job to travel around and find "newly awakened" mages, like herself. Clara felt like she should be in shock or disbelief, but the discovery felt more surreal than anything; like she was finally awake and aware for the first time in her life. He told her that she would have to begin schooling at one of three universities across the country, though the only one that would be able to fit her in by the start of term—less than a week out—was St. Cyprian's School of Pagan Arts, in southern Louisiana. She said that'd be fine.
The next few days were a blur. She went with the man, named Shane Davidson, to New Orleans, where he gave her a crash course in what it meant to be a mage and helped her buy a few important items she'd need for school. When the first day of school arrived, they drove to an abandoned warehouse that Clara discovered had actually been enchanted to remain outside of the view of Sleepers; aka, regular humans. After getting her ticket, Mr. Davidson bid her farewell and Clara was on her own once again.
Transportation to the school was revealed to be an enchanted Steamboat that turned out to travel to the school down a river that ran through an extraplanar region known as "The Twilight". It was foggy, otherworldly and felt strangely like home.
On the boat ride, she met a charming young man from Alabama named Jimmy, who she found incredibly annoying. He left her alone after a bit but the encounter left a sour taste in her mouth.
After the boat arrived, the students were herded up a long, swampy road and past a foggy gate, revealing the school itself. St. Cyprian's was a tall, stone building that looked somewhere between a castle, a Spanish Mission, a cathedral and old world manor. A tall tower burning with green fire, like some kind of lighthouse, could be seen behind the school, set a little further into the bayou. It was certainly lived in and imposing, like an entity unto itself.
The students filed into the school and made their way to the ballroom, where Clara saw her new teachers for the first time; there were quite a few, each dressed in traditional wizard's robes, colored according to the subject they taught. Opening remarks and a recitation of school rules was made by Assistant Dean Gaunt before the Opening Ritual commenced. After this, Dean Nicholas Pentacost gave the opening speech, showing himself to be a stern and irreverent man. This was definitely going to be an interest school year, Clara thought to herself.
Learning magic showed itself to be a bit different than Clara had pictured. There were no wands and she discovered, much to her chagrin, that she would not be learning any spells at all until at least halfway through the year. Until then, they would be re-training their hands, mouths and third eyes to be able to move and perform correctly so they would be able to cast spells at all.
- Magical Theory, taught by Master MacLain, was probably one of her favorite classes. It explained the basic foundation of what magic is, how it can be used and manipulated, what different types of magic exist and how they relate to the world around them.
- Spellcasting 101, also taught by Master MacLain on Tuesdays and Thursdays, were the class where—for now at least—they focused more on retraining their bodies and minds to prepare for spellcasting. The classes were surprisingly dull and left the students achy.
- Magical History, taught by Master Hartwell, who was surprisingly young (and handsome). A bit of an eccentric, Master Hartwell was clearly passionate about the subject he taught and related well to the students.
- Herbalism, taught by Master Day (a cold and sharp woman), covered mundane and magical plants, their various uses and how to identify, catalogue and use various plants and fungi for various magical purposes.
- Magical Law & Ethics, taught by Master Gaunt, covered the more and ethical aspect of magic, as well as the basic laws that govern magical society.
- Practical Applications, taught by Dean Pentacost himself, covered various way magic can be used in the real world, covering realistic and hypothetical situations. Self-Defense was apparently going to be a part of the class.
The first week was relatively quiet. Clara kept to herself, interacting with the other students in her year pretty much only when she had to. She spent most of her time doing homework and extracurricular homework and contemplating entering the enchanted Hedge Maze located on the grounds. She never did, though. Maybe later.
<u>Characters Introduced in this Chapter</u>
- Clara Abernathy
- Jimmy Echolls
- Dean Nicholas Pentacost
- Wyatt Greenfield
- Randy Barrowman
- Mike O'Conner
- Janet McCarthy
- Orin Isenhower
- Colin Barton
- Master Genevieve Day
- Master Oliver Hartwell
- Master Joshua MacLaine
- Master Richard Gaunt
- Mr. Bones
- Shane Davidson