Chapter 12 - Battle of minds

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April 3 A.D.


Phyllis and Philip stared into their cauldron. The elixir they had concocted was a masterpiece, both for the outstanding quality of the herbs they had used, as for the brewing process. Phyllis didn't usually get over-excited about their joint accomplishments, but she felt they deserved a standing ovation for this one.

Or Bonny's attention, at the very least. They were the only ones left in the class, since everyone had retired from the damp room as soon as they were allowed to. Ten fuming cauldrons with varying scents and vapours created a dizzying air that you would indeed seek to flee. Phyllis had opened up every window and the large doors, but she still felt slightly light-headed.

Philip smiled, oblivious to it all, happy like only a new achievement could render him. Though his mousy hair was dripping with steam, and his forehead was smudged were he had wiped it with one soot-covered hand, he looked decisively healthier than he had in months. Spring was around the corner, and it revived him.

"Right, you bottle this up, and I'll go and see if I can find Bonny," she told him, knowing it was better not to part him from his latest lovechild. He nodded without looking at her, and she had to smile. Nellie was more fun to work with on the gossip department, but with Philip the work itself did become more interesting.

Bonny wasn't in her own office. She had to be in Caitir's. As Phyllis reached the heavy wooden door, she decided that it wasn't a bad idea to copy Marcus's recent fondness for eavesdropping. After all, Bonny was never late. Something had to be wrong.

It was hard to get the gist of an argument between people who, even in their disagreement, refused to yell or even raise their voice. But Phyllis caught enough words to know Bonny could use a hand with this one, and she was glad to assist her favourite tutor.

Determined she pushed the door open and stepped inside. She glanced at Bonny, who stood in a corner of the room with an unreadable expression in her eyes.

Caitir was on her way out. She wore a heavy travelling cape that hardly seemed necessary in the warming spring weather, but it could come in handy at night. The bright blue fabric matched her vibrant eyes, like her long white strands matched her robes, ever fastened into a neat bun. Despite her advanced age and wrinkles, Caitir never looked anything short of crisp and clear.

Phyllis straightened. No matter what the others seemed to think, she had a hard time meeting those piercing eyes. But it was not the first time she opposed Caitir and it would likely not be the last. Phyllis had never once won an argument against her and often she had argued without even expecting to win, just needing to vent her disagreement. She felt no different now, and it nearly made her shake with anger, because this was one fight she wanted to win with every fibre of her being.

"Phyllis," Bonny said, and Phyllis understood the warning: keep calm.

"You are not fair," she told Caitir quietly, locking the icy blue eyes without being foolish enough to try and capture them.

Caitir did not point her out of the door or call upon her trespassing. That was not how it worked.

"Fair?" she echoed. "You seem to imply that I am punishing someone."

"Forbidding Marcus to come here is a punishment. He loves this place."

Caitir nodded in agreement. "He does. I think he loves 'it' a great deal more than you do, in fact"

Phyllis narrowed her eyes. "Definitely," she agreed.

"And he has only ever acted in our best interest," Caitir continued. "Which is why he will not have the sentiments you apparently seem to have over this subject."

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