Chapter 52

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            The green-eyed Councillor gasped, high points of colour appearing on her cheeks. “Clearly your control over the students, your discipline of the future generation of Magi, is lacking. I think the whole Council might have something to say to you regarding that, after I bring it to their attention when we are next in session.”

            The headmaster paled. “How can I be at fault for the actions of students? It’s not as if I can watch all of them every second of the day!”

            “It’s not their actions that has us calling your fitness into question,” rumbled the male Magi, eyes narrowing as he looked her over. “It’s both your inability to notice the systematic abuse of one of your students and your defense of those responsible for it that have us wondering what other issues you may have let fester.”

            As Kallai watched, the headmaster shrank into herself. For the first time since she’d met her, Kallai saw lines appearing on her face that she’d never seen before, aging the woman ten years and making her feel that the headmaster was old. Part of her felt bad, but the rest of her remembered being called in because she’d stopped knuckling under her tormentors, and that it had been the headmaster who’d summoned the soldiers to remove Kallai. With those memories fresh in her mind, she turned away from the woman, looking back at Shuu.

            He was watching everything, a faint smugness radiating from his features. He looked like he was about to purr to Kallai, making her kind of want to pet his head to see if he would or not. She blushed slightly at the thought. As always happened when she didn’t want anyone to look at her, Shuu turned, saw the colour, and raised his eyebrows. “Sparrow, alright you are?”

            She nodded, not saying anything. Shuu frowned but the words coming from in front of them prevented him from speaking.

            “I do hope you will forgive us for our rashness,” said one of the male Councillors, bowing his head towards them. “And I hope you can forgive our believing stories over speaking to you ourselves. This kind of thing...it should never have happened. We tender our sincerest apologies to you, young Magan, since you have suffered most cruelly from our inattention and misplaced trust.”

            “It was bad, but not so awful that you should feel responsible,” Kallai replied, her voice quiet though she met his gaze steadily. “And for all the pain the torment caused me, I would never have freed and met Shuu without it, and I would never have found out that I’m an elemental mage, so it’s not as if it was only bad.”

            Shuu snorted. “Their apologies they should give. The creatures who you did abuse all locked up should be. Something like that again not will happen. I it not will allow. You my student are, and with all my power I you will protect. Everything I know, you I will teach,” he said. Then, almost as an afterthought, he added, “And any other untrained elemental mages that are found. My knowledge I not to be lost will allow. Elemental mages again everywhere will be, their power known and revered.”

            Sevilen nodded. “That is as it should be,” he said. “You’re the only person capable of teaching others, of preserving the tradition of elemental magic. And while I would love to tell you to begin immediately, there are some things I believe we should have dealt with beforehand. Chief among them would be creating a detection spell for elemental magic. To do that we would need to study you and your power for a while. And I feel you would both benefit from finishing your education. Kallai, because you are near the end, and Shuu, because you need to understand both our culture and the background any future students you have are coming from.”

            “That sounds wonderful,” Kallai replied, smiling, while Shuu only shrugged, his attention wandering back over to where the headmaster had been surrounded by a Magi, a Councillor, and one of the merchants.

            “Well then, if that’s settled, there is only one thing left for us to do,” Sevilen said, before clapping his hands loudly for attention. Heads all jerked to stare at him while he smiled at the assemblage. “Well then, my good sirs and madams, you have heard much talk about and from our two mages, seen demonstrations of the combat capability of elemental magic, only one small part of it I assure you, and have heard several theories. Which leaves us all with only one question. Do these two have your support?”

            There was no sound for a second, making Kallai’s heart skip a beat, fear worming its way along familiar paths into her heart. But a moment later there was a ragged cheer, as voices all around them rose in assent. She grinned, glancing at Shuu to find him smiling, posture relaxed. Catching her gaze, he leaned in close to her ear, even as the crowd enveloped them.

            “Only one question I have,” he said, his breath teasing the hair around her ear in the same way his winds were always doing. “How me you did free?”

            Kallai stared up at him for a second, blinking, before she blushed a bright red.

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