Crevyn is a student of the College of Mystic Arts with an affinity to animals, especially those with magical properties of their own. He is one of a chosen few to undertake a quest for the Ninth Elixir. The finder’s reward is to be claimed by one of the arcane Masters.
But Crevyn’s opponent is a man used to winning, who will use any means at his disposal to ensure he brings back the Ninth Elixir.
At the risk of losing to Garvit, Crevyn still take time to help those in need. But even if he’s successful in finding the elixir, the trick will be surviving the challenge.
To Crevyn’s surprise Clover was waiting for him when he came to collect his pack. She should have left a quarter of an hour ago. However, as he got closer, he saw the way her skin was blistered, and her nose and eyes were red and puffy.
“Clover, what happened to you?” Crevyn asked. He held out his arms, then let them fall to his sides. He was afraid of making things worse.
“I was doused by one of Garvit’s friends. Whatever was in the water made me react like this.” Clover stamped her foot. “There’s no way I can go. I can hardly see or breathe, and my skin feels like it’s on fire.”
“Surely Madam Audra could use an incantation to make you whole?” Crevyn asked, but Clover shook her head.
“She’s already spoken to me personally. She can help me recover quicker, but it will still take some time since we don’t know what Garvit did. Naturally enough, his minion has no idea. Even threatening him with expulsion did no good. He just bawled and said it was only meant to be a prank. To delay me going on the challenge. He didn’t know what it would do, and I believe him. Garvit uses people.”
“Then, it’s just him and me.” Crevyn’s stomach flipped, the way it did when he rode Alatus and the flying horse suddenly lost height.
“Yes. I wish you all the luck in the world, Crevyn. If anyone deserves a Master, it’s you.” Clover held out her hands, and Crevyn took them in his.
“It hardly seems fair.”
“Don’t worry. Things will work out for the best in the end, you’ll see. You’ll find that amphora. I know it.”
“Thank you for your support.” Crevyn shook his head. “But I think you should still have a chance.”
“There will be chance for me another time. What I want right now is for you to get out there and find the Ninth Elixir. You’re the only thing standing between Garvit and a place with a Master that he doesn’t deserve.”
“I promise to do all that I can. I hope you feel better soon, Clover.” Crevyn went into the college hall. Only Madam Audra was present, and she indicated the final pack.
“I can assure you, there has been no attempt to tamper with its contents.” Her tone was as frigid as ice, and Crevyn saw the anger that flashed in her grey eyes.
“Thank you, Madam.” Crevyn dropped to one knee to get his blanket stowed away.
“Take care, Crevyn.” Audra didn’t look at him, instead she gazed out into the distance. “I’m afraid that Garvit has been indulged far too often. Many times, when he’s overstepped the mark, his parents have poured out copious streams of gold to avoid expulsion. Even with Willow. Though I could find no one to confirm Garvit had a hand in the accident, his parents have paid for Willow’s next year’s fees and the costs of the physician.”
“He’s clever.” Crevyn didn’t know what else to say. That Madam Audra would even confide in him this way was unexpected.
“Yes. That, too, runs in the family. Just as much as a predisposition to be able to master storms.” Audra looked down at Crevyn. “It’s difficult to ignore a familial plea, especially when those who were the victim are unwilling to make issue of the event. Good luck, Crevyn.”
Unable to move, Crevyn stared after Audra’s back, her cape billowing around her, as she left the hall. Then he refocused on packing his bag and readying to leave. With a final check that he had everything he might need, Crevyn strode from the hall.
The courtyard was empty, and his footsteps echoed eerily in the unusual silence. There would normally be students, masters, and servants all busy and bustling to and fro. Crevyn hefted his pack a little higher, raised his head, and marched through the thick, iron-bound gates.
The forest was a good two hour’s hike from the college, and no one truly knew its full length and breath. Legend was that it expanded and changed its shape as if the trees moved to catch unwary travelers. True enough, it was ancient, and in places very dark and dangerous.
Despite all of which, Crevyn kept tramping determinedly. The trick will be to navigate my way through it to find the fairy ring, without wandering off into its darker heart.