A/N: Because it has been so long, I hope that those who have read my story before don't mind going over what has already happened again. The first couple of chapters is mainly a reordering of events, however there is some new interaction and dialogue between Professor Globulus and Thayne, as well as an appearance by Thayne's family a little later.
Thayne Nycknell stormed the charms classroom, his mind racing. His jumbling thoughts fuel for his indignation. He would make him sorry for making him look like a fool. It was just one more reason his classmates didn't need to ridicule him. Reaching the door, he steeled himself and reached for the door handle. He hesitated a moment when the door opened on its own, giving the man he sought time to say,
"Come in, Thayne."
Frowning he stepped forward quickly, suppressing a shiver. It wasn't late yet, but the cliffs hid the sun from this wing of the castle by two o'clock and an hour later the halls were already chilly. Feeling a little confused but mostly suspicious. He narrowed his eyes trying to locate the professor in the dim light. None of the lamps were lit, the only light came from the fire under the large cauldron at the front of the room.
"Hurry up and tell me what's on your mind, it's like a little thundercloud."
Thayne's frown deepened as he finally saw movement behind the cauldron. "My mind is not little and besides you can't even read minds."
He strode into the room and slammed the door. Professor Globulus raised a ball of light in his hand and it scattered to light the lamps as he turned from the cauldron and regarded Thayne severely.
"Now was that entirely necessary? You almost upset my work." He gestured to the bubbling cauldron in front of him.
"Is the total darkness necessary? What are you doing?"
"No, it just helps me concentrate. You wanted to discuss something?"
Professor Arthur Globulus crossed his arms, waiting. He was the most mild-tempered teacher at Psyhne, the school of magic. He had gone to school with Thayne's grandfather, they were both aquamancers, and as members of Florean House had become and remained very close. They shared many things, including a love of rich foods. Globulus's long hair was steel grey, and hidden under his tall pointed hat was his shining bald pate. Seeing Thayne's gaze on his hat, he lifted a self-conscious hand to make sure it was sitting properly and Thayne marvelled as he always did at the sight of the blue tinge and slightly wrinkled texture of the skin as if it had been too long submerged in water. It was a sign of the professor's age and magic that his left and dominant hand showed the signs of its use. Globulus' brown eyes seemed to laugh at him and Thayne narrowed his own in response.
"You told him," Thayne growled his hands clenching into fists.
The professor did not notice, his attention was once again on the cauldron. "Indeed I did," he replied distractedly without looking up, stroking his long beard as he examined the bubbling contents.
"Why? You know it just gave him more ammunition." Thayne threw himself dejectedly onto a nearby chair. "Not that he needs anymore," He muttered turning to look up at the professor hopefully.
"Why? Because I don't need the bother of fixing whatever he decided to do to you in his temper. You never think things through do you, Thayne. Has Patrick ever expelled a student?" Globulus turned, his hands on his hips and entirely unsympathetic.
Opening his mouth to answer, Thayne's mind went blank. While Globulus waited, the hint of a smile on his lips Thayne thought hard. Professor Patrick 'Old Cob' Cobronus, was the complete opposite to Globulus. His fuse was not short it was non-existent. The only similarity between them was their weight, but while Globulus was built like a ball of lard, Old Cob put Thayne in mind of a bull in weight and appearance. With nothing else coming to mind and the professor's grin growing more and more irritating, he replied carefully, "There was Peter?"
"Peter Yientz? Being thrown out of a window doesn't count, Thayne." Globulus cut him off and stared hard at him, making Thayne feel uncomfortable.
"At least it got him out of this hell-hole," Thayne muttered darkly and frowned, even he knew that was a lame excuse.
"Yes, and into the infirmary for three months."
Thayne knew that Globulus was right but he didn't want to admit it. He was desperate, he hated Psyhne. He should be in his fourth year by now. No one had ever repeated their first year at Psyhne, ever, until Thayne. For four years he had been a first year, stuck in Varian House. He could do magic but it didn't always work, and never the same way. He didn't even know which path he was on, whether he was a Higher or Lower magician. No, not Lower, not anymore. After centuries of being considered lower, the summons and words path was supposed to be considered superior to the ability to draw and shape raw magic. By order of the Supreme Mage (a lower magician). The fact that he know ruled Engola and none dared stand up to him kind of made Thayne think that maybe he had a point. But centuries of belief took longer than a decade or so to change. He might have even been able to overlook the atrocious treatment of Untalented if the Talented that voiced doubts or questions didn't also disappear. But what did his opposition matter? He was a student who didn't even know how he accessed magic. Everyone knows what path they take; the path is the conduit to your magic. Whether you can draw and shape raw magic; or whether you use spells, incantations and charms. He did not know what was wrong with him. Even being Ghee would be better, then his lack of Talent could not be denied.
Thayne turned his back on the professor and wiped his eyes, trying to stop the tears of frustration. Without knowing his path, it was impossible for him to know the nature of his magic. He sometimes thought that he was an aquamancer like his grandfather, sometimes he felt like a geomancer, but those times were rare since it needed emotional and physical calm and strength. He even felt like a pyromancer at times, particularly when he was angry. But none of them really felt right, it was like there was a wall inside him holding back the magic that he just couldn't break through. He was the butt of every joke, every prank, even the teachers used him for sport. His parents were so desperate that he not embarrass them that they wouldn't let him come home. Expulsion was his only option, he had been the first to repeat his first year, and so he was determined to be the first to be expelled as well.
"Cob-face said you wanted something," Thayne stated rudely, crossing his arms.
"Cob-face, Thayne? That's a new one." Globulus wiped his hands on the front of his already filthy robes and put out the fire under the cauldron. He turned and regarded Thayne a moment then nodded. "Yes, I need you to do something for me."
Beckoning him to follow, he left the classroom, leaving Thayne to follow reluctantly behind. All the stone corridors looked the same. Once the walls had been decorated with tapestries and enchanted objects of all kinds of varieties, even some slightly dangerous ones but they had all been stripped from the walls and taken away by the Supreme Mage. All that remained were the rugs and floor runners. Sometimes they were the only thing to use as a guide to where you wanted to go.
They walked a short distance and Thayne guessed he was being taken to Globulus's office. He was proven right as they reached the end of the corridor and turned left.
"You betrayed me. What makes you think I'll do what you ask?" Thayne asked not ready to let go of his anger.
"Believe me, Thayne. You'll like this errand."
Ignoring Thayne's bitter muttering, the professor continued to lead the way to his study. He did like the boy, he had promised his grandfather he would look after him but Thayne had a knack for getting on people's nerves.
"Bloody errand," Thayne muttered loudly. "What am I, a . . . bloody . . . errand boy? Oh here Thayne take this to the charms classroom, now don't you feel useful? Oh yes why thank you, you have brought meaning back to my life . . . "
Globulus stopped at the door, pulled a large ring of keys out of his robes and fumbled around looking for the right one. Already not in the best of moods Thayne started to tap his foot impatiently, his eyes darting around nervously. He didn't like to stay still for too long, you never knew who might be sneaking around to test out some new spell on a helpless victim and none were more pathetic than he. Finally the professor found the right key and unlocked the door.
Watching the professor lock the door behind them, Thayne frowned when the professor pulled out his wand and began to place silencing charms. His curiosity roused, he wondered what could be so important that the professor feared being overheard. And why would he be telling him something so important. Shifting from foot to foot, Thayne started to feel apprehensive. Maybe Globulus was angry with him and didn't want anyone to hear? Thayne's eyes strayed to the door. Globulus was standing in front of it ignoring him, his attention on his spell casting. The room was small, a cheap pine desk and an uncomfortable-looking matching chair stood in front of a tiny window. There were small curiosities, both antique and cheap fakes, arranged haphazardly on the desk with scrolls scattered in between. The desk was pushed against one wall and there seemed barely enough room between the desk and the bookshelf for Thayne to squeeze past to the chair, let alone the professor's large frame. A twin to the desk chair stood in front of the desk for visitors. So with no way to escape Thayne resigned himself to his fate and sank into the visitor's chair, finding it as uncomfortable as it looked.
"What do you know of the time before?" Globulus asked abruptly behind Thayne, making him jump. The professor didn't notice Thayne's nerves as he squeezed past to his desk, the bookshelf seeming to lean back to let him through, and placed an old volume on the desk in front of him.
"You mean when there was a royal family and the Talented were suppressed?" Thayne asked as he leaned forward to get a look at the book that the professor seemed to have pulled out of thin air.
Globulus frowned slightly and shook his head as he pulled the book out of Thayne's reach. Thayne leant back again his interest in the book lost as he watched Globulus pace the small space behind his desk as he replied, "Yes and no. True the royal family were "pure" and had no Talent, but things were better then. Not perfect of course there was definite tension between the Talented and Untalented but it just simmered below the surface it wasn't—"
"Where is this going exactly?" Thayne interrupted with a yawn. He missed the professor's sigh as he leaned back and stretched.
"Did you know that in that time, William Hyweln was Arch Mage?" Globulus nodded to himself as he continued, "Yes he was the headmaster of Psyhne. His only equal, perhaps really superior, being the headmaster of the university."
Thayne sat forward with a frown. "What?"
Globulus sat and stared straight into Thayne's eyes. "Lower magicians finished their time at Psyhne and were apprenticed to a sorcerer level magician, sometimes a mage but that was rare…" a glance at Thayne told Globulus he was losing him so he quickly moved on. "Mystax was exclusive to Higher magicians… Perhaps I should have explained first that there was once a mentoring program at Psyhne. Professors were assigned to guide particularly gifted students. One Lower pyromancer was matched with the history professor, a Higher geomancer… are you listening?"
Thayne raised his head from its rest on his hands. "What? Yes. The good students were given more opportunities and attention than those that needed it…"
Globulus shook his head and leant forward with his elbows on the desk. "That is not what— look, the history professor was a higher magician, magi at that time, the student was a young William Hyweln and—"
Thayne was one again interested. "The Supreme Mage?!"
Globulus acknowledged the interruption and went on without pausing, "Yes. And he idolised his mentor, wanting to be as great as him, to surpass him. Kailim was a strange, very reserved man. You got the feeling he knew more . . . that he had secrets. He kept to himself."
Globulus paused for a moment and watched Thayne with exasperation as his attention wavered around the office. "Do you know who the Supreme Mage hates more than anyone?"
"Of course, Gatherers . . . You know, I think you should be the history professor rather than the charms . . . "
"When Hyweln took power, Kailim was High Druid of Msytax," Globulus said loudly speaking over Thayne. "No one knows the details, but Kailim opposed him. He lost, obviously, but he did escape and he disappeared. The Supreme Mage would like very much to get his hands on Kailim and with this book," he said holding up the book he had kept from Thayne earlier, "he could do it."
Globulus leaned even further forward and looked up at Thayne severely. "I need you to return this book to Kailim," he said his brows furrowing. "It is vitally important that no one learns of your purpose or what you carry."
It was Thayne's turn to frown as questions buzzed through his mind. "Me? Why? How?" even as he asked his hands reached for the book. The professor slammed a hand down on it and met his eye. "I mean no one."
"Of course," Thayne replied, now insufferably curious and a bit frightened. He carefully took the book. It seemed heavier than it looked. The cover was old and frayed. The leather binding was cracked and almost split in a couple of places. There was no title, just a strange symbol; a circle that didn't quite meet at the top, the right curve turning into a tail that ran through the middle. "Where am I going? Down the hall?" Thayne half joked.
"This is not a joke, Thayne. I will give you directions to someone who should be able to take you to Kailim. He gave me this book to keep safe. I don't know why Kailim decided to trust me with it; we hardly knew each other. Higher magicians didn't fraternise with Lower, of course now it is the other way around . . . "
"Are you finished rambling or should I just leave you to it?" Thayne asked impatiently gesturing towards the door. Despite his misgivings Thayne's felt almost optimistic, this was a new feeling to him. He would be leaving Psyhne. He'd finally escape.
Globulus glared. "Go pack some clothes and come collect the book," he said coldly. He sighed and added a lot more gently, "Take great care, Thayne. Kailim has many enemies."
Thayne nodded soberly a couple of times then blurt out, "Well of course he does! He stood up to that—"
"Thayne! Do not. It is dangerous to voice or even think ill of the Supreme Mage. The world has become a very dark place. And this is a very great secret I have given you."
With a frown Thayne pursed his lips and nodded. The book didn't look all that special but looks weren't everything especially where magic was concerned. But what was so secret about it? Books could be rare but they were never secrets. He suddenly had the feeling there was a joke there somewhere that he was not getting. "Are . . . are you just trying to get me out of here?" he asked as he studied the grain of the desktop. To his surprise he found the thought wasn't all that pleasant.
The professor's chair scraped back and moments later, Thayne felt the warmth of his hand on his shoulder. "No Thayne. Never that. This is truly dangerous. I do not want to send you but Professor Tolhan—"
"The astrology professor?" Thayne asked incredulously raising his head to look into Globulus's eyes.
He nodded, taking the book out of Thayne's hands and placing it back on the desk. "Yes, the astrology professor. He had a True Dream. He did not know what or to whom but from the details it was clear to me. All he knew is that it must be returned, and it must be you that takes it."
"But he hates me!" Thayne burst out standing and striding the three paces to the door.
"He knows better than anyone that True Dreams are not to be taken lightly," the professor replied softly.
Thayne turned back to him, his hands raised helplessly. "I don't understand."
"I'm sorry Thayne." Professor Globulus said with a weak smile. His gaze on his feet, Thayne missed the concern and doubt that passed briefly across the professor's face. "You must leave as soon as possible."
"Oh, right." Thayne was confused. He should be excited to leave Psyhne and the hell he went through everyday but the professor's mood really worried him. "I'd better go pack," he said gesturing to the door.
Professor Globulus's gaze shifted to the floor for a second, then he gave Thayne a decisive nod and muttered the short incantation to unlock the door, not bothering with the silencing charms for the moment.
Walking to his dormitory, despite his earlier misgivings, the excitement Thayne had expected to feel began to surface. He was finally getting out of there. Leaving the embarrassment and ridicule behind. Besides Globulus had not said anything about having to return, at least, not yet. Maybe he could get a job and live as the Untalented do? The thought made him sigh. He wasn't particularly fond of the idea but he was sure he'd never be a wizard and what else was there?
He reached the dormitory and entered. It was empty. The other students were in class and he doubted he was missed. His footsteps echoed as he walked the rows to his bed, there was no other sound and it felt eerie. He managed to shake off the feeling as he reached the foot of his bed, though he glanced around a few times before opening his trunk. After a bit of rifling he located a bag and started filling it. Packing enough clothes for a few days then, after a pause, packing a few more changes of clothing just in case. He moved to pack his bedding as well and his eyes fell on a large lump under the covers, near the middle of his bed. He tugged at the blanket experimentally and the lump moved towards him. With a resigned nod he turned his back on the bed, picked up his bag and left, heading back to Globulus's office.
A/N: I will update two more chapters until the story is up to date. There were five chapters but I have tightened the pace and lengthened the chapters so it is all in three. The fourth may not appear until next week, since I'm busy all day Sunday, my writing day.