Three Young Women at a Bar
"How old is Lady Aleria now?" I ask.
Nalowei tries, "She's young...?"
Macadera and Nalowei take turns shrugging. The twins know I'm only twenty-four years old—because the Violet School celebrates twenty-fifth birthdays communally, and I'm next up, bloody everyone knows my age—so I'm pretty sure they don't take me serious, that whole she's-just-a-kid vibe undulating from their half-open eyes.
But Aleria has yet to complete her rites of passage, and no one treats her like a kid. On the contrary—she's the smartest person in the Wizardhood. The next talent. Our resident supergenius. She was only twenty-someodd years old when the Wizardhood elevated her as our next Lady of the Violet; when she transcended beyond judgment and flaw.
I shrug off my feeling of inadequacy. It'll come back—likely when I'm not paying attention to it anymore—but for now, I'll keep shaking it off.
Macadera and Nalowei look like pleasant enough people, but there's something, I don't know, off about them. I've never really looked at them before; they've just always been there, two more students among the masses. Their laughing wrinkles highlight their eyes, and those eyes are hollow and deep.
They're even wrinklier around their knuckles, like they age from young to old in the few feet between their elbows and fingertips. Those wrinkly hands mean they practice magic with water, or at least liquids.
If Earth e-books have served me right, I'd say Macadera and Nalowei are the equivalent of PhD students, or like really nerdy mad scientists, except we don't call it a PhD at the Wizardhood; it's just a Masters in Something.
As we drink to celebrate our impending trip to the Melody-Harmony Engine, I brew in the dim light of the bar. The bar is lit by crackled, fuchsia-stained windows. Long ago, transmogrifiers melded fireflies and crickets together to make ambient, luminescent music, and those sounds still singsong around us now, about as relaxing as the twins feel unnerving.
Windowsills twinkle with ink and beer bottles spruced by sprigs of lavender.
I run my holographically-painted fingertip along the sugary rim of my rum glass. For a moment, the liquid lifts up, like a reverse drop, a redacted ripple. Then I drift my hand to my lap, and the liquid stills. Hoping they saw my water magic trick, I eye both of them earnestly.
They're wrapped up with speaking to each other, though.
I am hardly here.
The rest of the time we chill in the bar, we only exchange silence glances. I'm torn between responding to them with grins and glowers, between the resting frown that eases me into my thoughts, between the twinge of sunlight that paints the raspberry textures across the dark walls, and my deep yearning to return to my studio, to that tiny space I have to call home.
Elexus is a twenty-four-year-old finishing her undergraduate studies of Violet Magic at the Wizardhood. She started her magic studies straight out of high school, but after several years at the Cyber School, she applied for transfer to the Violet School, since she was more interested in Emergence Theory than the integration of magic and artificial intelligence.
Also, she just didn't feel right at the Cyber School after Lady Lorelai passed away.
While Elexus would describe her education decisions as a scatterbrain disaster, many of the mages at the Wizardhood respect her simply for being a surveyor of everything; she casts a wider net than an expert of a single something. Elexus is an Renaissance woman, an interdisciplinary talent, and a spitfire of thought.
First draft: June 18
Second draft: August 18
Third draft: September 18
Word count: first 383 / second 639 / third 646
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Emergence No. 7Science Fiction
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