The second day...
|A small sound awakened Misty. She sprang out of bed, disoriented, sure that she'd overslept and one of her cousins was coming to haul her down to the inn kitchen. Then she realized she would never have to act out that scene again. Laughing she sprang out of bed, seized her pillow, and out of sheer joy, danced around the room with it. "Free, Free, Free," she sang out. A couple of buttons popped from the tight bodice of her old frayed gown as she spun wildly.
"Ahem... so much energy so early in the morning, dear. It fatigues me just to watch you."
Misty spun towards the door, clutching the pillow to her chest. The Archmage stood in the open doorway, watching her with a bemused look. He always seemed to catch her doing something embarrassing.
"When you are done... celebrating, if you could come to my rooms please. I have a few tasks for you." He eyes flicked over her state of undress, her wild, unbound hair, and flicked away again quickly. The tips of his ears blushed. "First, I believe, we must find you some decent attire. That item you are currently wearing, ahh... " He stopped, silenced as she lowered the pillow and placed it back on the bed, and straightened her gown in a reaction to his criticism. The red crept down from his ears and spread across his cheeks. Misty followed his eyes and with a small squeak, grasped the gaping edges of her nearly buttonless bodice and pulled it closed tightly.
"Yes, to my rooms as soon as possible. Clothes... we must get you clothes. Ahh... change first please, into that charmingly... spacious item you had on yesterday." He backed hastily out of the room.
Misty flushed. So much for making a good impression on her first day of apprenticeship. She went over to the small wash basin and mirror in the corner of the room and quickly cleaned as best she could with the tepid water. Ruthlessly she twisted and pinned her hair back into its usual bun. The few remaining buttons popped from her bodice as she struggled out of her old gown. Carefully she gathered them up to sew back on later. A promise of new clothes did not mean those clothes were in hand yet!
She shrugged quickly into her cousin's castoff gown again. She wrinkled her nose at its crumpled state, but it would have to do. After one last glance in the mirror to check that her ears were covered, she exited the room.
Kai blamed his lack of sense on the completely sleepless night he had suffered. He had been working late last night when her terror had called to him. He still felt pangs of guilt over that incident. He'd caught echoed glimpses of her nightmare vision of the hooded spectre, and it was a familiar one. That dream had most likely sprang from his own worries over the coming of the Scourge. Outside the Academy Keep and without the constant presence of the other mages, he had allowed his control to lapse and his worries must have infected her dreams.
But that was really no excuse for this morning. He simply could not think clearly around her. Her overflowing joy had drawn him like a moth to a flame. One minute he had been hard at work, composing his speech for the Baron's war council, and the next he had found himself outside her room, his whole being flooded with her feelings of happiness and well-being. Walking into her room like that had been an irresistible mistake. He'd never been affected so strongly by a woman before. He had always had too many responsibilities to ever have time for silliness of that sort. But she was so charming and sweet and deliciously lovely.... He sighed. He could see that if he was going to get any work done at all today, he must get her out of the castle and far away as possible. At least until he had time to teach her a little control. And he needed to work on his own control, he ruefully admitted to himself.
He reached his room and settled back at the writing desk and picked up his quill. "My dear Baron," he scribbled down, "Again I must say that it would be mutually beneficial for our people to unite against our common enemy, Goranga.." A half hour or so later, he blinked and looked up to see Mistral standing over him with a tray of food.
"My dear, is that coffee I smell? If so, you have already earned your keep today!" He seized the hot mug off the tray as she sat it beside him. Then she glanced about the room and took in its cluttered state. He sipped as he watched her whisk about the room, straightening the bedclothes, putting items in the wardrobe, and stacking hopelessly wrinkled items by the door. She paused and gathered up his gloriously tacky formal robe from the corner where he had tossed it last night.
"Sir, will you be needing this cleaned?"
"Would that I could have that burned, but yes, do have it cleaned. I shall unfortunately need it again to impress the councilors tomorrow with my grand self-importance."
"Thank you, sir."
He could hardly believe this solemn little mouse standing before him was the same joyous girl he had seen dancing this morning.
"I am here to learn my duties, Sir."
"Well, I suppose you could continue as you have begun. Over the next few days, I am afraid I do not have as much time to attend to you as I would like. For now, if you could just run a few errands for me?" He searched about under the papers scattered across the desk, "Ah here is the list, now where did I put my coins?"
Misty caught a pile of precariously tipping papers and plucked a small pouch out from under it and handed it to him. "Here, sir."
"Ah yes, thank you." He tucked the pouch back into her hand along with the list. "Take this down to the bookseller in the market and buy the items on this list. 'Tis a fine little shop you have here, with some rare editions that I have not seen elsewhere. In fact, that shop is why I was nearly barred from the baron's courtyard yesterday. Would that I had had more time to browse there, but alas, duty called."
He noted the quick look of dismay as she eyed the list. "Oh, so sorry, my dear. You cannot read, can you?" he asked gently.
"Only a little, sir, enough to do the accounts for the inn where I was raised." She flushed a little and frowned down at the list. "I-I am afraid that I do not know many of these words, sir."
"No need to worry, child. Just hand the list to the bookseller and have him pick them out. No wait! A better solution occurs to me! Your appear to have a bit of mage blood, after all, so this should work. Come here."
Misty took a step closer, eyes downcast. He took her chin gently in his hands, framing her face, gently turning it up to his. He savored the sensation of touching her skin for a brief second, and chuckled at the wary look in her eyes.
"This won't hurt, child. In fact, I should think you will find it to be very beneficial." He lightly touched his forehead to hers, concentrating. She flinched, then relaxed. With such a bright and open mind, this was going to be easy... He slipped the knowledge of reading into her mind.
"This is direct mind-to-mind learning. It bypasses so very many tedious years of learning the basics, but it does take a very powerful mage to do this. Fortunately, yours truly," he drew back and smirked cockily at her, "is very powerful." He rubbed his aching forehead. "But it does take a bit out of you."
"Thank you so much, sir!" She looked down at the list smiling to herself. He delighted at her obvious love of her newfound ability
"And call me Kai, please. None of this sir this and that. I keep looking about to see which high and mighty lord you are addressing. I was nothing but a simple scholar until recently, after all."
"Sorry, sir--I mean, Kai, sir."
He sighed and just waved her out the door, but then as she was heading out the door he remembered. "Wait!
She paused in the door, looking back at him, puzzled.
"Don't forget to get yourself a few decent dresses."
"Thank you, Kai, sir!" She smiled brilliantly and left.
"And make one of them red!" He impulsively called after her as she headed down the hall. She would look lovely in red.
He sat back at the desk and looked dreamily down, not seeing the notes before him. Images of Misty in a red gown, smiling that brilliant smile, danced through his head.