Chapter 6: The Academy Of Open Mind
Eternal life is that which is acquired by means of eternal death, for one cannot live without first understanding what comes next.
No sooner than had the thought crossed my mind did I hear my name called, “Eleanor Hadley!” a mans voice said from behind me, I turned around quickly as I was slightly startled, “yes that’s me!” I said with little enthusiasm, raising my hand a bit stupidly. “Very nice to have you with us!” the man said, holding his hand out for me to shake it, which I did. I’d even felt a strange zap when I touched him, as if built up static electricity, “ow!” I yelped, then feeling embarrassed, “oh sorry about that, a product of you astral projecting,” he said with a smile. His stature was strong and he must have stood 6 feet tall, I found myself looking up at him, “you can call me Mr. Devin, follow me” he said, which is what I did. The man was dressed in what looked like an older style suit, gray bottoms and a plaid brown top, he walked very tightly and properly, his shoes tapped the ground poetically with each step, he was also pretty attractive for an older man, I’d thought.
“So, Eleanor I am a human studies tutor here at the academy, I came to welcome you to Crimora, originally named after the “Crimson Bat” of the western islands, the name was given by the academies original founder Sorcerer Ceeran Somad, who had grown up on the islands and took a keen liking to the creatures. You’ll be spending most of your time with myself and, I believe, two other new students tonight, just going over the basics. You brought your wand I assume?” he asked, glancing back at me, I responded with a nod as to say yes. “I understand you’ve gone the last 18 years living in nowhere, and your abilities just manifested?” he asked, “something like that.” I responded, it still seemed strange that they called New York nowhere, or earth i guess or whatever. “By the gods, how interesting is that.” he said giving me an interested look, “it will be such a pleasure to have you around. Oh and… well most of the tutors know of your… disposition so no need to worry about having to explain, they understand you’ll need a bit of extra help.” He paused,
“I’m holding all the books you’ll need also Eleanor” he said, making a gesture lifting them in the air as he walked, before he could start another sentence I yelped “Ellie, call me Ellie please.” Mr. Devin glanced back at me, his scruffy face stretching into a smile, “ah yes, Ellie! I like it. Oh and do you have a grimoire?” he asked, “sure would be a shame to have to carry all of these books around, but… you’re currently not actually here, so the muscle strain might not be so bad” he continued. My attention instantly turned to my bag, “my aunt had said she put it in there before she’d sent me off. Hold on” i answered “How is Emily? I see her here from time to time visiting the potions section in the library,” He asked, “she’s great, i like her a lot” i responded with a smile.
I reached in and pulled out a large book made of carved wood, thinking this must be it. “Nice! You’ll keep your books and everything else inside of your grimoire. And basically anything else you don’t want to carry… Typically students like to keep their wand strapped to the outside, so they’re able to grab it quickly just in case, it’s a habit we get into”, he said, I looked at the carved wooden book confused. Then I glanced around the nearly empty halls trying to find another student. I noticed 2 other students both just carrying a book similar to mine. The grimoire was a small book made of what looked like ornately decorated wood, once opened, it was just an empty box with a red velvet lining. “How… exactly do I do that?” I asked, “oh don’t worry you just place it in there. It’s that easy.” Mr. Devin said, reaching to take the grimoire from me, I was still looking confused.
At this point he held out the books he was carrying, then tossed them in front of him as we walked, as to free his hands. They were floating now, all separately right in front of him moving with us. I tried not to act like I thought this was cool, because like any first day of anything, it was very important I acted un-phased, and ready to take on what was in front of me. “Ok Miss Hadley, oh, sorry Ellie, first I’ll be giving you a run through of the basics, involving just about everything really important, as I’m the human studies instructor, I’ll try to make the transition as smooth as possible for you to understand, i’ll use as many references to your world as i can to help you get thngs. Once I’m done with you, you’ll be working mainly one on one with a few other tutors also, if you don’t get to them all today you’ll start tomorrow morning when you’re here in person. Your 2nd tutor will be Mrs. Blot, she will give you a quick run through of divinations and psychic philosophy” he said, pausing as a book flew in front of my face that read “Divinations and philosophy for the studying sorcerer.” Then with a pointing gesture he made, the book shot right into my grimoire, on its way it shrunk to fit within it, the book inside my grimoire, now looked similar to a book that would belong to a children’s doll.
I watched in amazement, realizing my grimoire was some sort of infinite storage device, able to shrink physical things to fit within. “Your 3rd tutor will be Mrs. Swansin who is an expert in demonology and summoning…” he paused, making the same gesture showing me the coinciding book and sending it into the grimoire. “I believe she’ll go over séances also. She will go over the basics of those skills with you. From there you’ll have dining, there will be food available but since you’re currently projecting, if you prefer, you may just spend time in there or library meeting others” he paused again, “if you have questions as I know you do, the librarian is Mr. D. He’s always around to answer your questions as he lives on the grounds. To forewarn you he is a bit, off centered, but I assure you he is quite harmless.” He added, glancing back at me with a smile.
This is when I seen my reflection within a display case we were passing, I stopped for a moment, checking myself out then twisting casually to especially check on my butt. I was impressed, as what I seen in this reflection, was myself in some sort of academy uniform. Adorned with a red shawl, black pencil skirt that went to the tops of my knees, a fancy upper button blouse, some ornate flats, high socks to go with those and a small woman’s pillbox hat. All of this was colored in red, black and gray. Mr Devin now noticed me, turning around just as I had been checking out how good my butt looked in this pencil skirt, “ahem, miss Hadley,” he said as to get my attention, I turned to him already blushing from embarrassment, “the academy is enchanted, so you’ll always have your uniform on when you enter, any changes you make to it will carry over to the next time,” he said, answering the next question I had. Pretty cool I thought, I’d never worn a uniform before but I was all about this one, I began following behind him once more.
He continued on, “after dining you will be in the courtyard, for your 4th and final lesson, our overseer herself Miss Selene Seraf has taken a personal interest in your development, which is a rather prestigious opportunity. She also plans to give you a little crash course in the studies of the flight, magical safety, language of the high tongue and spell casting in general.” He paused, showing me the coinciding books and placing them into my grimoire by unseen means, “She plans to work with you in these departments over the next few weeks, until you’re ready to blend in with the rest of your classmates,” he said.
“And that’ll be all” he finished as we had finally came to a stop. He then made a gesture sending the last book into my grimoire with the rest. “What room numbers do I go to for these” I asked, “oh the numbers don’t matter actually, do you see the crow statues above each doorway” he responded, I looked up to find a doorway, then I noticed, every single one had a carved black marble crow perched above, like a peering gargoyles watching over the academy halls. “They are enchanted, you need only ask one where you want to go, or who you want to see. Then all of them will point you there, when you come upon the place you need to be, that crow will be pointing to where you need to go. Sorry about that” he said, I assumed his apology, was for assuming I knew all of this by merely common sense. I learned that most large public places had a system like our enchanted crows, in one way or another.
“This is your first stop, Wilda our grounds healer. She’s got some protections to put on you, as every academy patron needs physical protections against control magic, voodoo, werewolf venom, vampire venom, love potion, ninny sprites, dorm elves, troll trobbits, fairy whispers and moon squalls… Did I mention voodoo already?” he said, I nodded slightly, nervous about the things he just mentioned. “Consider it like getting an inoculation against diseases, remember these protections WILL follow you back to your physical body, and can be broken outside of the academy grounds, if you’re not careful. Also be weary, if you connect with someone, it lets them through these protections.” He said, pausing, “connect?” i asked, “Uhh,” he paused “well, tethering with another sorcerer” he added uncomfortably, as if this was a bad thing. “Now just find your way to my room when you’re done here”.
“Oh ok, thank you, I will” I answered, I was taking it all in and I became nervous and excited all at once. The door opened on its own as Mr. Devin made a gesture with his hand, and walked off. I started through it, but not without reading the sign that hung above the door. It read Wilda Woodward: Realm Renowned Shaman, Healer, Mender, Doctor, Proctor, Nurse, Midwife, Curse remover and Curer of most things curable. As I walked in, I thought this was quite an off the wall way to describe someone with so many skills.
“Hello again Ellie” I heard a familiar voice say. It was the same Wilda that I had met at my aunts, when she helped me with the concussion I had given myself. “Hello Wilda, good to see you again” I responded, giving her a hug. It wasn’t normal for me to hug anyone, but Wilda had such a comforting and inviting energy, it was like I couldn’t help it. “Same my dear.” she replied, “so I see you’ve met Mr. Devin” she said, what a sweet man he is, especially for being a human studies teacher” she added in jest.
“Well I need you to sit down right here, then we can get you off to class” Wilda mentioned as she guided me to a short wooden stool in the middle of the room, I walked over gleefully and sat down. “Sit nice and straight now dear… Hmmm let me check your ears quick, I want to make sure all those little sprites are out of there from the other day. Your hearing starts to get fuzzy if they stick around, and I do my best to get them all out, but at times they just never want to leave.” She said, while checking my ears, i hadn’t felt like anything was wrong with my hearing, so i figured i was good. She used some strange multi-lens viewing device that had many different colored lenses. She’d flip them in and out as if checking for different things. “Looks good dear, now you sit up nice and straight no slouching.” She reminded me as she walked off.
Wilda had walked and grabbed 8 small yellow candles from a drawer, they had different symbols on them that looked very alien to me. She began setting them around me in a circle. Wilda was a very small old lady, who always seemed to be smiling, showing off her cheek dimples proudly. She had a sweet little voice and a permanent hunched stance, always seeming to be slouched over when she walked. “Ok now we are ready, don’t get startled dear,” she said, Wilda made a small gesture with her hand as she turned around. The candles illuminated themselves, a soft flicker danced around the room, over stacks of small bottles and trinkets that sat about the countertops. “Wizards wax dear, just a flick of the wrist or a snap of the fingers and it lights right up.” She said smiling, knowing all of this was new to me. I had wondered if I was able to do that trick, I’d thought about asking if I could try, but was already eager to get going to Mr. Devins room.
“Ok I’m going to say a few spells, then splash you a bit.” She said sweetly. “Shanta orso demonus intuos vela, vela duna purphuros!” she chanted gracefully, holding her hands up, palms facing me. I felt my body heat immediately rise, Wilda opened one of the bottles she had and flung some liquid from it towards me. Before it could touch me it sizzled and evaporated, as if there were a hot invisible orb around me, stopping the liquid from reaching through. She opened another bottle, then splashing it towards me with the same results. She then put that bottle down and picked up another larger bottle, this one had pink liquid within it. Wilda poured a bit into a cup, then also tossed it at me. Again, once it had touched the invisible field around me, it sizzled and evaporated. “Very good” she said, now she had picked up another bottle, this bottle looked like it had sparkling silver water within it. She poured some over her hand then flicked it at me. Again the same sizzle I had expected.
“Good” she said, “now looking up at me dear, sit up straight” she reminded me again. I adjusted my posture accordingly and turned slightly to face her. “ok you’ll just feel a little pinch” she sang, this made me a bit nervous. Again she poured liquid from the same bottle onto her hand, and before flicking it at me quickly said “achoo”. This time I felt tons of droplets all over me, I flinched as I expected the same results as before, where the liquid would fizzle away. “Ewwwwww” I spewed with a sour face. “Perfect your reflexes are working also! You’re all set!” She answered with a tiny giggle. “Did you do that on purpose?” I asked, Wilda responded with a devious grin then said, “that’s probable! Now off to learn you go dear, don’t want to be late”. Apparently I was protected now, protected from control magic, voodoo, werewolf venom, vampire venom, love potion, ninny sprites, dorm elves, troll trobbits, fairy whispers, moon squalls, whipper wacks, dipper dacks and whatever else had been on the list that I forgot… Which meant, most importantly, I was free to explore the academy.