Chapter Six: Licentious

"Ask no questions and you'll be told no lies." _ Charles Dickens, Great Expectations.

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After what felt like hours of following Alma and carrying all the bags, we eventually found our way back onto the trail that Alma had planned out before, taking us away from the sandy dunes of the beach, and into a stretch of long grass flanked by woods. I stifled a groan when I realized that we would be baking out in the hot afternoon sun, but comforted myself in the knowledge that we would at least be back to walking through shady forests before long.

My little excursion to the Mer this morning had swallowed up the entire morning and put us far behind schedule, which Alma was becoming quite fond of reminding me every time a conversation was struck up during our march.

Due to this and the resulting drama, we didn't make it to here until the sun was well past its apex. Lunch was skipped in favor of making up for lost time, I offered no argument in fear of her reconsidering bringing me along a second time. The last thing I wanted was for her to think I was useless.

Despite my fears, I couldn't ignore the silent cries of protest my body was making. I was tired, sore, hungry and thirsty all at once. But I didn't dare raise my voice in complaint. After what Alma said before, I became incredibly aware of how much I was and was not contributing to our venture to civilization, and came to the conclusion that I was almost wholly dependent on Alma's expertise out in the wild. Especially since there seemed to be no obvious path or trail to follow save for those made by wild animals with tracks I did not recognize, and had no desire to find out whom they belonged to.

I had rarely gone camping with my family, and was used to a modern lifestyle that simply wouldn't cut it when thrown into this deep-wilderness environment. Had she not come along when she did, it's doubtful I would have even tried leaving the ruins of my flat as soon as I did.

The long trek continued, I kept my head faced down at my feet to keep the sun out of my eyes, only glancing up occasionally to make sure Alma was still in front of me. I tried to distract myself from the growing aches and pains in my joints by focusing on the placement of one foot in front of the other, the sounds of sticks and dry leaves crunching underfoot or contemplating Alma's rump.

So I notice things. Sue me.

Eventually the sound of our own footsteps were not the only sound to reach my ears, the sound of running water began to slowly ebb its way into the white noise of the forest. I perked up a little when I realized that water would mean that we are nearing our destination. Not long after, we pushed out of the thick bush, the stream was settled among a glade of trees. Its clear water was sparkling like tinsel in the afternoon sun, the water was seeping and dribbling over smooth, moss-covered rocks and weaving in-between the roots of smaller trees. My mouth was so dry and my throat was so sore that the sound of running water sounded like a heavens choir. The promise of wetting my lips would have made me salivate if I had any saliva left. I regretted drinking the last of my water in the Mer's cave, but in my own defense it was a stressful moment and couldn't have been helped.

I stripped off the bags that were weighing me down collapsed onto a stretch of grass, breathing a sigh of relief as we finally made it to the watering hole. Maybe now we can have a breather, my legs were in agony from the long forced march and my back felt like a twig about to snap after having to carry so many bags for so long a journey. I crawled on my hands and knees until I was at the edge of the water and plunged my hands into the water. A sigh of relief escaped my lips as the cool temperature enveloped my hands and arms, offering me brief respite from the awful heat that I was so unused to.

"Don't drink it straight from the stream." Alma spoke up, digging though her bag and not looking up at me. "You have to boil it first."

I restrained myself from rolling my eyes and returned to one of the many bags and pulled a pot from the largest one. While I was never that much of an outdoors man back home, I did know that bacteria are present in natural water sources and in the absence of proper water filtration, boiling the water was necessary. I just wished that it didn't mean that I would have to drink hot water.

I began digging around the other bags, trying to find the flint or matches that Alma used to prepare campfires in a few other bags, but the bags were all a mess, clothes, blankets and assortments of other equipment at varying degrees of sophistication. Some things, like the sleeping bag looked modern that I could guess that they were salvaged from either my own flat or somewhere similar. Other things, like the tents, looked primitive or even handmade with a mix of leather and cloth, sewed up and patched in some places.

It made me double guess the exact level of technological advancement on the Continent, magic exists here, although I still don't know how it is even possible. I glanced over at Alma as I continued digging through the bags with one hand. She had kneeled down and started sorting through her bag, the only one she chose to carry, and started pulling out a number of folded papers, a small leather book and a small round object that I couldn't quite see.

I pushed myself up from my sitting position and craned my neck to get a better look of what she was looking at, the small round object appeared to be some kind of compass and the largest piece of paper was, I assume, the map she had shown me earlier. It looked like she was comparing them, with the other, smaller papers and the brown, leather book.

Her mouth formed into a grimace as she double checked whatever findings she had made, then with a sigh; made a mark on one of the maps and then folded it up and shoving it into a pocket on her side.

'Uh oh. I hope we aren't lost.' I gulped, and quickly returned my gaze to the bag in front of me, trying to look busy so she wouldn't suspect that I was staring at her. For all the wrong reasons.

"We'll be camping here tonight." She declared, sweeping the charts and book back into her bag messily, whether because she expected to take them out again very soon and saw no need to fold them up or simply out of laziness I had no idea.

I looked back up from my bag, raising a quizzical eyebrow. "But it's still light out." The sun was looming over us in a 3 or 4 o'clock position in the sky, still plenty of time to continue walking, not that I wanted to keep going mind you, I simply found it strange that she was suddenly in favor of making camp when she made such a fuss of being behind schedule before.

"I have business in the area." Alma responded, dropping one of the bags and unzipping another. "You'll slow me down, if you want to help out then you can start by making sure that camp is ready by the time I get back."

"What kind of errand?" I interjected, this all sounded very suspicious. "How long will you be?"

"Remember our last conversation?" She said, a hint of warning in her voice and a flash of anger in her eyes, "If you don't want me to think you're useless, then shut up and do as I tell you."

Without another word or so much as a 'by your leave' she flung her bag over her shoulder and began walking again changing direction to upstream. I just sat there and watched her go, I wanted to ignore her threat, haul myself back up and follow after her, demanding a better answer; but my body screamed in protest to the idea of any more unnecessary physical exertion, all I managed to do was raise myself to sitting on my knees to get a better look at where she was going.

I scanned the area she was heading in, following the stream with my eyes yielded nothing as the whole view was dominated by trees that made it impossible to guess that nature of her destination, the fact that she chose to travel upstream from this point on being my only clue. The further away she got, the more a sense of uneasiness and panic seemed to grip me. Like I was carrying around lead in my stomach.

"She wouldn't leave me here, not with all her equipment… Would she?" I asked myself out loud, my voice sounding a little hoarse, I remembered that I still had not gotten a drink and briefly returned my attention to collecting water in the pot, but I was still turning over this new development in my head.

'No, it makes no sense for her to leave all of her stuff behind. Not when we're still days away from civilization.' I pondered, as I gathered some nearby rocks and kindling to make the beginnings of a campfire. 'She could have chosen the river as a landmark so finding me would be easier…' but that doesn't at all explain what manner or errand she would need to run that would require leaving me here with all this stuff to begin with.

I grated my teeth in frustration, everything about this situation made my head hurt. Everything Alma said and did was an enigma to me, I had no idea what she was thinking or planning and she had absolutely no interest in explaining it to me. First she maims me, then she helps me. She saves my life, then threatens to abandon me, she brings me along and then disappears without explanation. What am I not getting here!? What kind of logic does this woman operate on!?

My tired mind rolled these questions around, although it was more like I was complaining to an imaginary audience than actually trying to solve anything. While somehow managing to get a fire going and steadied the pot over it to boil.

Now that was done, and I was waiting for it to boil, I looked around the area for a decent place to set up the tents. I spied a flat patch of earth just a stone's throw away that was slightly uphill from the stream and was nestled comfortably between a thicket of shady trees. It looked as decent a place as any, and I certainly didn't want to start trekking up and down looking for a better spot. My stomach grumbled, demanding attention. I hadn't eaten since the early hours of the morning and the day's excitement had long worn me out.

First things first; I'm taking a bath. I was filthy, between getting attacked, dragged through the dirt, getting sprayed with blood and sweating from the long hike I must smell awful. No surprise Alma wanted to get away. I dug through the second-smallest bag and found a small cloth and a netted bag with a single bar of soap in it. It was probably the most welcome sight in the world at this moment, If I had the energy for it I would have jumped for joy.

I left the bags within arm's reach on the bank, I didn't like the idea of leaving them completely unsupervised in case something happened to them. I began to peel my clothes from my body, starting with my shirt. I pulled off my shirt and looked it over, what used to be a black and white striped polo was now a revolting canvas of browns, most of which were dried blood and smeared mud. I grimaced in disgust, but I didn't have any change of clothes.

"Fuck." I had never gone so long without a change of underwear; it was starting to make me self-conscious. With a sigh, I took of the remainder of my clothing and inspected them, I would definitely have to wash these before taking a bath myself.

For the next twenty minutes, I used the soap and a lot of elbow grease to try and remove the stains, they weren't completely clean

My reflection in the water was opaque, but even then I could see that my neck was still rather swollen although not as much as it had been a few hours ago. The bruise had turned a deep purple that it was almost black, there were tiny pinpoints of dried blood, and grazed skin that were only just starting to scab over. It made swallowing difficult but at least it didn't impair my speech.

With a sigh, I bent down and began to remove the rest of my clothes, my shoes, socks, pants and underwear before slipping into the lukewarm water of the stream, submerging myself up to my waist. I shivered once I was in, the change of temperature was sudden but very welcome. I bent my knees and lowered myself down until I was completely submerged in the water for a few seconds before rising back up again.

It was a refreshing dip, but now onto bathing. I shouldn't leave the fire unattended for too long. I used the bar of soap and the cloth to lather up some bubbles and began to scrub, starting with my underarms and then moving onto the rest of my torso. When it came time to do my head and shoulders, I was reluctant to do much. I gently dabbed my neck with the small cloth and sucked air in through my teeth from the pain, the flesh was still far too tender for me to touch. Even when I move my neck around too much to either side, it causes pain. 'Fucking Mer.' I cursed, inwardly.

I scratched at my face, uncomfortably, it had been far too long since I had last shaved and my stubble was becoming untidy and itchy. I gritted my teeth in annoyance, 'I hope that Briggs at least has razors.'

That was when a thought occurred to me; I'd noticed Alma's skin seemed smooth despite being in the wilderness for an extended period of time. So either magic is able to halt excessive hair growth or she has a razor and toiletries in the bag somewhere. I reached back over to one of the bags and dug through each one, trying to find something else. I found a small hand-shovel with a toilet paper roll, A small knife and what looked like a small make-up mirror. I had to raise an eyebrow at the fact that there was a mirror in the bag, since I saw no other sign of toiletries in any of the bags. I wonder if Alma really IS wearing makeup?

'Doesn't matter.' I told myself and returned to the task at hand. I lathered up some soap in my hands and began to apply it to my face, then pulled the knife out of its sheath. It was small and had only a slight edge to it, more akin to a carving knife than a proper razor, but as the old saying goes: Any port in a storm. I opened up the mirror and angled it towards my face to get a good visual of myself.

The work of shaving myself was slow and painful, the blade was blunt enough that it pulled at the hairs more often than cutting them, and I nicked myself with the blade more times than I could care to count. But once I'd started, I couldn't stop. Not until I had cleaned off as much of the facial hair as I could.

Having washed my body and clothes to as near my own standards as I could, I climbed out of the water and made my way back to the bags. A chilly wind blew through the trees and made me shiver involuntarily as I dripped water with every step. However, I was about to make a terrible discovery.

'Ah, shit. I don't have a towel.'

With gritted teeth, I picked up the bags and bolted towards the warmth of the fire as quickly as I could, shivering from the sudden drop in temperature and covering up my nakedness as if someone would see. 'If Alma chooses now to come back I am going to be SO pissed.' I began to shake myself dry like a dog and do my best to wring out my shaggy hair while still remaining near the warm glow of the fireplace.

I carefully lifted the pot of now-boiling water off the fire and placed it on the ground to cool off and then huddled next to the fire. The sun had begun to set and cast long shadows over the clearing. I knew I would have to start putting the tent up soon or else it'd be too dark to see. I somehow doubt Alma would be in the mood to sleep under the stars when she gets back.

Taking initiative, I slipped my clothes back on, they were still a little bit damp but not unbearably so, I'll just have to put up with it.

I spent the next thirty minutes or so of remaining sunlight unpacking the tent and messing around with pins and plain weaved cloth. It wasn't anything like modern tents with zippers, it was a hand-made tent from cloth and using carved wooden sticks. There was a thick leather blanket as well, possibly to put over the tent to protect it from rain. It didn't look like there was going to be any rain coming, so I suppose it could be used as a blanket.

Now that's out of the way: time to get something to eat. I clapped my hands together and smiled as the prospect of food came to mind. I jogged back over to where the bags were kept. Damn, we are getting rather low on food. Just a few salvaged things from my flat and nothing else. No wonder she didn't want any more hangers on, we've got about enough food to last us maybe three or four more days if we ration it carefully.

Playing it safe, I took a handful of nuts from a container and a couple of crackers; that should keep me full for a while, at least until breakfast tomorrow. As I munched on the plain tasting crackers, I spied another one of Alma's bags. Not the one she had taken with her, but a smaller satchel that she kept around her waist. It was smaller than all the others and made of a hardened leather, I had to wonder what she kept in there.

'Well this may be the only chance I get to look through her shit.'

I pulled it towards me with my foot and idly popping a nut into my mouth and then placed it on my lap. It was heavy, WAY too heavy to just carry around your waist all day. This chick must have the abdominal muscles of an Olympian, no wonder she left it behind.

I unbuttoned it and opened the satchel, inside it was a smaller, drawstring cloth pouch. I pulled the strings apart to peek what was inside the bag and blinked in surprise. There were a number of different coins with signage I did not recognize from Earth, no surprise seeing as how this is a different world but it was still a strange thing.

There were shiny silver coins with an androgynous looking person's face in profile on some coins, another with a canine looking animal, another with a flower and some that simply had an illegible text that must have been scribbled onto the metal while it was cooling down. They were all different sizes and weights.

The most numerous coins were smaller than the silver coins by half, they were made of a reddish-brown metal like copper or bronze and portrayed picture of a fern in relief on one side whilst the other had a strange symbol like an uppercase 'T' intersected with a backwards 'S' and surrounded by some illegible text.

"Huh. This must be the money they use here." I said out loud, to no one in particular. And began examining each coin in detail. I counted out 20 silver coins and 54 copper coins, but I didn't know if this was a little or a lot in relation to anything else. I considered pocketing one or two coins myself, but thought against it. Alma seems like the careful type; I have no doubt that she knows exactly how much money she keeps on her person.

When I finished I picked them all up and put them back in the bag and rewound the string so they wouldn't spill out. I weighed the bag in my hands and furrowed a brow. "I don't know exactly how much this is, but it seems really cumbersome to carry it around…" with a shrug, I began digging around for something else to catch my interest.

Inside was a few folded pieces of paper that I recognized as the same maps that Alma showed me on my first night as well as a few others. I suppose she must have taken all the other charts with her up to wherever the hell she said she was going.

The charts didn't seem at all like traditional or modern maps. They recorded the incline of hills, at least in what appeared to be properly charted places, but there were a number of intersecting lines that seemed to be have drawn in by Alma herself. Red, blue and green lines specifically. I couldn't make heads or tails of it. There were more notes in the margins written in some kind of Asian script. I couldn't tell determine whether the characters were Japanese, Mandarin or even Korean characters, but I doubt that could even help me if I could.

"Well, shit. Guess that's a no-go." I cursed. Of course it'd be far too convenient for her to write everything down in English, I studied other areas of the map in an attempt to familiarize myself with the places on the Continent as well as memorize where places of civilization may be.
This map clearly had seen more than one owner, I noticed at least two other sets of handwriting scribbled around, Alma's distinctive handwriting seemed to periodically switch between her foreign characters and an untidy scrawl that looked to have been drawn using some kind of leaded pencil that I assume was this chart's previous owner.

I perused the maps and tried to make sense of the writings until the sun completely set and the only light I had left was the light of the fireplace. In the end I gave up and placed everything back in the satchel. "Well, that wasn't terribly helpful…" I sighed, rubbing my tired eyes.

Crunch…Crunch…Crunch

The familiar sound of leaves crunching underfoot met my ears and I turned my head to look at its source, The Oculus zooming into where I was looking in greater detail than my organic eye could. It was Alma. Covered in dirt and looking none too happy, not that I have ever seen her as anything even remotely happy to begin with. Without so much as a 'Hello' or a nod of the head, she plopped herself down next to the fire and pulled out the bag of nuts from the largest bag, popping a few of them in her mouth, messily. She clearly didn't care that I saw her given how she chewed noisily and with her mouth open, I tried not to let my disgust show on my face and just pretended not to notice.

"Soooo…" I said, trying to sound casual as possible. "How did the errand go?"

"Fine."

"Did do what you needed to do?"

"Obviously, or I would still be there."

"What were you doing?"

"None of your business."

"Well can-"

"This better not be about me teaching you." She interrupted, not even bothering to look up at me. "I don't need an apprentice. Especially one that can't follow orders."

I gulped and rethought my strategy. She wasn't in any mood to discuss anything with me, asking closed-ended questions would simply make her answer in blatant yes-or-no. And Open questions would likely piss her off. Maybe I should try changing the subject and get her to open up a little bit, first. Surely she must feel the awkwardness of this situation too.

Now that I looked at her more closely, she did have a few slightly Asian features. Her skin was tanned similarly and her eyes had a very slight slant. Hinting at an Asian ancestry. Hardly surprising given the characters written on the map but still; I wouldn't have noticed it had I not studied her face properly.

It was then I realized that Alma was the only other person I had met besides the Mer and their prisoners. She was the only human, even if she did seem a little… off. Was she a native of the Continent? Are there humans here too? I had to know.

"Where are you from?" I asked curiously, realizing that I hadn't asked Alma anything about herself since we met. I guess I got so used to the idea of her remaining vague and unhelpful as she was in the past that I didn't even bother, but now that I'm at least partially rested and have collected my thoughts I realized that I know nothing about her besides her name, her temperament and the fact that she can hurl fire at people. Important details to know, for certain, but I was interested in knowing more.

"Where do you think I'm from?" She asked, dodging the question with expert grace. I felt myself getting annoyed with her now, she was being deliberately cryptic for no reason as far as I can see. Well, two can play at that game.

"Well I could call you Alma from Nowhere, but you are clearly going Somewhere, which is a providence of the republic of Anywhere made up of the two smaller kingdoms of Here and There, ruled over by the Ancient and Noble house of 'Anyone'. The jury is still out on who a person from Nowhere could possibly be doing in Somewhere, but I'm guessing that it's because No-one has something for Someone who has nothing for No-one with the intention of doing Anything for Anyone." I rambled, keeping a straight face and watching for her reaction. She actually looked up from what she was doing and regarded me with a blank stare.

"What?"

"Exactly."

She asked after a while with confusion apparent on her face, I could almost see the cogs turning in her head as she tried to process the utter nonsense I had just thrown at her. I smiled at her coyly.

Eventually it clicked, her eyebrows knitted together and cheeks puffed up into a pout, "Whatever. I really don't care." She huffed, returning to her notebook.

"If you keep ignoring me, this conversation is only going to get more and more surreal." I warned, the corners of my mouth twitching into a slight grin. She glared up at me and snapped the book shut and placed it on top of her bag.

"Fine then. What do you want to talk about?" She asked, stiffly admitting defeat for the first time.

"Where are you from?"

"Nowhere. Like you said."

"Ha-ha. Very funny." I said sarcastically, "I mean, seriously. Where do you come from? Are you from Earth?"

"What makes you ask that?"

"Asian?"

She narrowed her eyes slightly, "You only just noticed?"

"Well…" I trailed off, slightly embarrassed. I honestly hadn't noticed that she had some Asian ancestry in her until I looked at ONLY her face, I'd argue that her clothing drew my male gaze to other places but I doubt she'd like that argument. So I opted instead to remain silent and let her draw her own conclusions.

"My mother was from Korea, yes." She said with a sigh, but with the slightest hint of a smile on her face.

"Oh… and Your Father?"

"Not Korean."

"Unnecessarily cryptic as usual. You speak really good English by the way."

"Thank you. Although you'd be surprised how common English is here."

"English is a widely spoken language!?" I gaped at her, wide eyed and jaw dropped. "Does that mean that most of the people on the Continent come from earth!? Did the Mer come from there!?"

She shrugged, "Don't think so. Quite a lot of people live their whole lives here, could be that their ancestors were from Earth or something. I never cared enough to ask."

I don't know If I'll ever get home to tell my family or friends about this experience but I am pretty sure none of them will believe me. It just sounds like a silly plot hole from a Science Fiction movie where all the aliens speak the Earthling's language. At least Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy had psychic ear-fish. (It makes sense in context) but this just seems... lazy! And here I was thinking I just got lucky, meeting so many people who spoke the same language as me!

The conversation became a lot livelier after that, we spoke about the local Fauna and Flora of the Continent, what life was like back on Earth, and other such things. The conversation seemed easy enough that Alma visibly relaxed, and even cracked a smile here and there. Although she was still very evasive about herself and what her plans are, any time I tried to ask her a question about her she either wouldn't answer or would redirect the question back at me.

"So, Alma." I said, finally getting back to the question I really wanted to ask. "I have to ask: How does your magic work? Do you need a licence to throw-"

"The answer is 'no', Samuel." She snapped, fixing me with a glare that could have curdled milk. Going from nice to nasty almost immediately.

"I'm not asking you to teach me." I said quickly, "I just want to understand what it IS" That was a tiny fib, I really did want her to teach me how to use magic, but I don't think I'll be able to convince her without jumping through a few hoops first.

"Do you think I was born yesterday?" She asked sardonically, "You think I can't see what you're trying to do? I'm not telling you anything about my craft, and if you don't like it then you can leave."

Okay, shit. This conversation got dark really quickly, time to change tactics again. "Fine. You got me. But I just don't understand why you're being so difficult about this…"

"Because I have no desire to teach anything to a child who may very well get himself killed tomorrow!" She snarled, her face growing red with anger by the second. "It would be a waste of my time and my talents, you should be grateful that I deigned to even bring you along!"

Fuck. She's bringing up my mistakes again, I got to salvage this somehow. Got to try and make her feel like the bad guy. "You don't have to tell me anything, I'll stop asking if you if that's what you want but please just tell me why! Why don't you trust me? What is so bad that you don't want to teach me?"

She looked at me with her bright yellow eyes, sharp and stoic like a bird of prey. Sizing me up and considering my question carefully, time seemed to slow down to a crawl as the silence grew more and more oppressive.

I couldn't bring myself to look at her directly into her eyes and forced myself to look directly at her eyebrows with the most determined yet innocent face I could muster. 'I'm begging you, I'm defenseless. Feel guilty!' I shouted at her, inwardly. Hoping that if I thought about it hard enough that it would affect reality. I didn't see any change of her expression until I finally let go of my own personal pride and said with all the emotion I could muster. "Please!"

"Wait there." She said, her voice barely more than a whisper, I could have sworn that I saw her expression soften for the smallest fraction of a second.

She reached into my bag and pulled out my glasses, the ones I wore before she plucked out my eye and replaced it with the Oculus. I had forgotten all about them, there's really not point in having them since the Oculus can perform well enough to outclass my one remaining organic eye.

"Put them on." She ordered, holding them out in one hand.

"Why?" I looked between her and the glasses quizzically. I kept them in my bag Justin case, since my left eye was woefully inferior to the right since getting the Oculus. But the only reason I even had to wear glasses in the first place was for helping me see long distances, which is now something the Oculus is able to perform much more effectively. It was easier to just not bothering to wear them.

"Put. Them. On." She punctuated each word for emphasis, her tone becoming increasingly more demanding, even threatening.

Without another word, I took them and fixed them on my face, I didn't know WHERE she was going with this and I'm not sure I particularly like it. Somehow I doubt she has any qualms about punching a guy wearing glasses in the face, so there goes my first line of defense.

She circled me slowly, looking me up and down, reminding me of the Gestapo interrogators from the war movies and documentaries I used to watch with my dad. It made me even more uncomfortable the longer she was out of my field of vision, but I was rooted to the spot and couldn't move my neck.

"I'd be a good student…" I mumbled in a lame attempt to break the oppressive and uncomfortable silence. She didn't make a noise, she circled me once more and then stood behind me. Making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up in paranoid fear.

"I'm strict." She said, firmly. "If you don't learn quickly I will punish you. Understood?"

I almost choked on the breath I was holding and relief began to flood through me, I wiped the cold sweat off my brow. "Please be gentle with me..." I said with a nervous laugh. She did not laugh with me, she did not even smile. She simply returned to her seat and looked at me with pitiless eyes that made me wonder just what I had gotten myself into.

She crossed her arms under her breasts and regarded the surroundings for a moment. "The night is still young, so we'll start by giving you a crash course on the basic theory…"

.

AUTHORS NOTE: Admittedly, very little happened in this chapter. Most of it was just setting up the camp and going through Alma's things, but I decided halfway through making the next chapter that I would have to somehow transition Alma's decision to teach magic properly, since it was so rushed in the last chapter. Granted this one is a little rushed as well, (I am terrible at properly structuring dialogue) but I fully intend to go back and fix it later on. This is more like the first draft.

Don't forget to leave a review! They make me happy and thus more inclined to write. Hint, hint. ;D