Chapter Nineteen - A History Lesson, Perrenelle's Return and Nicholas.
Sweat was running down Aric's neck and into the collar of her robe, but she tried to ignore it. She sat silently before Professor Hackleby's desk as the older woman spoke softly, seemingly impervious to the stifling heat of the small office.
It was the second day of lessons, which Aric found were to continue until the beginning of the new term in three weeks time. A newfound hatred for the Runes professor would surely be established by the time the new term began, but Aric did her best not to scowl so openly at her elder.
"Now, recount what I have said," Professor Hackleby said sternly, crossing her arms before her silver-gray robes and leaning back in her chair.
Aric bit her lip to keep from scowling and sat up straight in her own, uncomfortable wooden chair, her eyes meeting the Runes professor's.
"Magical items generally fall into three categories: offense magic, defensive magic, and domesticity. However rare items cover categories such as equal offense/defense and dark arts. The general categories refer most often to common household items, personal accoutrements, heirlooms used as family records and the like. Offense magical includes items such as medieval weaponry, shields, and other forms of fortification. Offense magical items can also include protective talismans, gris-gris talismans of age, and enchanted jewelry" Aric said trailing off into her own thoughts. She fell silent her eyes staring a hole at the hawk figurine at the head of the professor's desk, the afternoon light was catching the crystal figure and a beautiful prism of color was falling upon her lap.
"And defensive magical items?" Hackleby pressed.
"include medieval weaponry such as swords, spears and daggers. Centuries ago the use of wands of wood were considered magical conduits, but were later used as defensive magical items since the rise of Xermon the Wickedwands were later abandoned in way of 'wandless' magic which was developed in several Academies as well as this one as a form of more affective magic These items are rare and are often used as heirlooms and not for defense.
However, truly rare magical items are often not used as family heirlooms and often hidden away for fear of their power. Magical items such as the Philosopher's Stone, the Excalibur, the Brisingamen talisman, Odin's famed Draupnir and the Grail are so powerful that they are hidden and fiercely protected. Each of the aforementioned items can be used positively or negatively and thus are protected. Other items are protected by families who were once entrusted with the safekeeping of that items, other items such as the Grail and the Excalibur have been lost to time and history. These items were forged with good intentions and are thus excluded in the category of the dark arts"
Aric paused and glanced at Professor Hackleby. The Runes professor nodded shortly for Aric to continue. With a sigh, Aric began again.
"Magical items of the 'dark' persuasion are rarely documented, but some include the mythical ring of power, the Andvarinaut and Thoth's scales of judgment. These items have been lost, stolen, hidden or destroyed but others remain. Some items such as the 'Gladius Moestitia' are considered 'dark' due to the amount of power imbued into the item at its forging. Other items are made to amplify magical power, such items were made by past dark Wizards and have seen been disposed of."
With a great breath, Aric finished. She looked to her professor and scowled openly. Hackleby did not seem to notice, but seemed to stare through Aric as if considering something from a far distance.
"Very good, Miss Ainsley, that was a sufficient explanation."
Aric did not smile at the praise, but turned her eyes to the crystal hawk figurine again. Why was Hackleby so adamant about teaching Aric about something so trivial as magical items? Perhaps it was not necessarily trivial, but Aric knew that it would be something covered in Professor Willermoz's History class. Of course half of the things that Professor Hackleby had mentioned in the way of famous magical items, Aric was unfamiliar with. Of course she knew of the Grail and the Excalibur, all children had read something about the Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur which had occurred almost two thousand years or more ago But the Andvarinaut and the Gladius Moestitia? Aric knew she needed to read more
But still, what was the big deal? What was it that Hackleby was getting to? What was it that Aric did not know?
"Your homework will include an essay on the 'dark' magical items. You have full access to the library until the start of term, Miss Ainsley. You may have the afternoon to your leisure, but I expect that essay by the end of the week, fully annotated with at least ten sources."
Aric opened her mouth to protest, but Hackleby's sharp glare caught Aric before she could speak.
"Go now, find a cool place and do what you will."
Aric rose quickly, relief spreading through her body. She quickly bowed to the Runes professor and exited the stifling office as quickly as she could, not caring that she slammed the office door behind her. Off she went through the castle, down into the bowels of the castle to the darker, cooler classrooms. She had no intention of thinking anymore that day and settled in the potions laboratory to take a midday nap.
* * *
Many floors above the napping Aric Ainsley, Professor Hackleby was moving quickly to the Headmistress' office, hoping to find her superior there, unscathed. Two days had passed, and Hackleby had a fear that she would have to contact Nicholas about his wife.
Resting a hand on the doorknob of the enchanted door, Opal Hackleby closed her eyes momentarily and calmed her erratic breathing. She pushed the heavy wooden door open and stepped inside. Opal scanned the antechamber and found that everything was in place, just as it had been she when was last in the office. Slowly she peered into the main chamber and felt a hearty smile cross her lips.
Rushing forward as lady like as possible, Opal saw that Perrenelle Flamel was taming a few strands of silvery blond hair while looking in a small handheld mirror as she sat behind her desk. Apparently she had just arrived for the window was open behind the older woman and light golden feathers were settling in the stuffy air to the floor.
"Ah, Opal! Come in, your timing is impeccable, my friend."
Opal felt her heart begin beating again and a weight lift from her shoulders. She came further in to the chamber and stood shivering with happiness before the Headmistress' desk.
"I am so glad to see you, Headmistress," Opal gushed, revealing a bit too much emotion in her voice, a mixture of relief, happiness and a hint of tears.
Perrenelle laughed softly, her voice like twinkling bells. "Well, it is nice to have a warm homecoming. Has everything been well since I have been gone?"
"Fine, fine, I began tutoring Miss Ainsley, although she had resisted a bit, but everything is just fine, Headmistress, but more importantly" Opal began, but Perrenelle raised a hand to silence her employ.
"Much has been discussed, not without a bit of difficulty, mind you, but discussed nonetheless. It seems that our 'friend' has been aware of much more than we had first thought. Of course, not of our warded item, but of Miss Ainsley's inherent talents... Our 'friend' has agreed to reveal himself when the time is right, but in the meantime we have some more planning to do before the start of term."
Opal said nothing, but nodded. While she wanted immediate answers, she had learned, although it had been difficult, not to question some things But plans, more plans?
"I need to contact Helen San Germain immediately, and I would like you and Athena to prepare some chambers for some visitors. I will send along a list of what must be done, and schedule a faculty meeting as soon as Freya returns"
Opal opened her mouth to speak but shut it again seeing the Headmistress' wide smile play on her pale lips, her eyes staring beyond Opal into the distance. It was obvious that the Headmistress was in the midst of an intricate matrix of plans within plans, and Opal wondered if any of them had to do with Aric Ainsley.
* * *
Communication in the Wizarding world has evolved throughout the centuries and as Perrenelle stared into the mirror in her private chambers a sly smile curved her lips. She could remember when a wizard's familiar used to carry messages from person to person, she could remember the ancient devices called 'telephones' that had had little bearing on the Wizarding world, but still was impressive all the same.
Perrenelle stood before her full-length mirror and stretched out her hand to the pane of glass. Placing her palm flat she closed her eyes and whispered softly a spell of connection, calling out a name that only she knew. The glass under her palm swirled black and she stepped back, waiting, fixing her robes, and making sure they were straight.
"Perrenelle, love?" a voice said softly from the mirror as the blackness dissipated revealing not the Headmistress' reflection but a view of a tall man with soft ginger hair that curled down into a long ginger beard. Green, mischievously young eyes met sparkling blue eyes.
"Nicholas" she said softly stepping closer to the mirror, her palm resting against the glass. The man on the other side, dressed in long black robes did the same, smiling widely, the wrinkles around his eyes squeezing pleasantly.
"How have you been, love?"
"Fine, fine, Nick, I am sorry that I did not call upon you sooner"
Nicholas Flamel, the creator of the Philosopher's Stone smiled again, his face very kind, his eyes warm, not betraying a hint of antiquity. His eyes flashed and he lowered his palm.
"I suppose this is a business call, my dear?" Nicholas said softly, his voice very deep, commanding a high degree of recognition and respect, even with his wife.
Perrenelle lowered her eyes and smiled sadly, "Unfortunately, we have all the time in the world for pleasantries."
"That we do."
"I will get to the point then, since we do not know how secure our connection is."
Nicholas nodded and flattened his beard against his broad chest as he often did when in thought. Perrenelle could not help but grin at the familiar gesture.
"You spoke with him?"
"He agreed, he said that women have such a more subtler way of convincing men to go to action. Of course, we know how untrue that is, he as been too far from the world to remember, poor Mi-"
"No names, Perrenelle, dear," Nicholas said sharply, wagging his finger in caution, but smiling softly at his wife.
Perrenelle blushed, "Forgive me, it has just been so long, love. All this subterfuge has to be remembered and relearned"
"I know, my dear, but do be careful"
Perrenelle nodded and continued. "Preparations have begun, everything will be ready at the beginning of the term The letters have gone out and San Germain is on her way to you How are things on your end?"
"Well. We are on pace with each other, as always, my dear."
"And of the young gentleman in your care?"
"Arriving soon, but not without a little difficulty. His elder brother is quite suspicious of our plans, no matter how innocent they appear. The boy is quite enthusiastic to see your castle, my dear"
Perrenelle forced a smile and Nicholas' green eyes flashed. They gazed at each other in silence for a moment.
"Do you think we will succeed in this round, Nick?"
Nicholas smiled widely, "This is the best plan of action for the time being, my love, let us just hope that we can save more than your star student in this war."
Perrenelle nodded and stepped back from the mirror, "Tu hai il mio cuore, il mio marito*" she whispered.
"E tu, tu hai il mio amore*"
Suddenly the mirror flashed and Perrenelle stood looking at her own image again, a worried expression upon her face.
A/N: I am back! After a stressful month in Italy, which I might say was not at all a vacation, I am back for the time being. Thanks for all the reviews on FP.net and on the YahooGroup!. I hope to crank out some more chapters this month (July) and in August. So here's to hoping!
*Tu hai il mio cuore, il mio marito... means: You have my heart, my husband....
*E tu, tu hair il mio amore... means: And you, you have my love....
Something Italian for you since I had to really struggle to learn something over the past month. ^_^