Foreward from Nine: This story really went in a way I wasn’t planning on. Originally it was just supposed to be a goofy thing with Violet being her chaotic self and everyone else having to deal with it. However it became an introduction to some of the Convocation members people aren’t even going to be interacting with until Book Two or later!
There’s still Violet silliness, don’t worry!
Melanie crossed her arms across her chest as she saw the petite little redhead hobble into her study. Violet, for her part, at least looked a little bit ashamed as she gazed up through her overly-large spectacles to the taller woman.
“Okay, but I can explain!” Violet offered meekly, holding up her hands in what was meant to be a disarming gesture.
“You say that every time,” glowered Melanie, irritably blowing a bit of her untamed mass of hair out of her face (which almost immediately fell back down over her eye).
“Because I always have good reasons!” Violet protested, though she’d already hopped up on the wooden workbench that was Melanie’s ad hoc examination table.
Melanie groaned, slipping her feet into her Crocs before standing and plodding her way over toward the table. “You actually haven’t had a good reason, yet. You just have… fuckin’… Violet reasons.”
Violet pouted as she swiveled herself to lay along the table, elevating her leg to show the scorched and bleeding wound on her calf. “I thought healers were supposed to be caregivers,” she protested in a huff.
Snatching up Violet’s ankle, none too gently, Melanie leaned down to get a better look at the girl’s injury. “Oh, sure. We all start that way. We think we can use our abilities for so much good, and that we’re selflessly building toward a better life for everybody, right?”
Melanie’s right hand continued to grasp Violet’s leg, but the other hovered directly over the wound. A white glow radiated from the bracelet on Melanie’s left wrist, but soon her entire forearm was bathed in that soothing light. “But you know what being a healer means? It means we gotta see all the stupid bullshit that the rest of the Mages do, and we gotta fix them up afterward.”
“But you’re the leader!” muttered Violet, the light taking some of the edge out of her voice.
“Yes. That means I’ve seen the most, and that’s why I’m the grumpiest. Ah, there.”
The mystical light condensed to a single point in Melanie’s palm, which she had pointed directly at the bloody, blackened area of Violet’s skin. “Hold still. This is probably gonna sting.”
“Does it have to?” whimpered Violet.
With that, the spell Melanie was holding rushed down toward Violet, which made the little sorceress squeak in surprise – thought not much pain. Violet didn’t feel any stinging at all; either Melanie was teasing her about the possibility of pain, or she actually had a softer heart than she let on and had blunted the side-effects for Violet’s benefit. There was a minor uncomfortable heat along the skin as the wound began to knit itself closed, though the excess blood and sooty ash marks remained.
“Thank you, Mel,” Violet cooed gratefully, though she couldn’t quite stand yet as the healer continued her grasp on the other’s ankle.
“Don’t thank me, yet – you said you could explain.”
“Life, uh… finds a way…?” Violet said meekly.
Melanie cocked an eyebrow. “That’s not even an applicable movie quote!”
“W-who ya gonna call?”
“Violet!” snapped Melanie, attempting to get the girl to focus.
“Ah, sorry! Sorry!” replied Violet, adjusting her glasses, “well… I went to Sparky’s lab–”
“Goddess above, Violet!”
“Nonono, I was looking for Madam Luna!”
Melanie dropped Violet’s ankle unceremoniously onto the table, resulting in a minor protest of “ow” from the smaller Mage. “You know you can’t just go into Sparky’s lab! Her experiments are probably the most dangerous of the whole Convocation!”
“Yeah, I just learned that,” Violet responded sheepishly, “‘cause as soon as I opened the door, a dog bit me.”
“A dog,” said Melanie, flatly.
“It was like… a metal thing that looked like a dog? A robot dog. Robodog.”
“And it just bit you for no reason?”
“And not because you tried to pet it?”
There was an uncomfortable silence.
Melanie shuffled back toward her desk, running her fingers through her hair – which only made it even messier. “Nevermind, it’s probably better I don’t learn about the shit Sparky’s Pillar does. It’ll give me ulcers.”
“So… can I go?” Violet asked timidly.
“Sure. But you know I gotta tell Luna about this.”
“Oh, come on, Mel! Why?!”
“Because that’s protocol – you’re her responsibility! And if I don’t, Sparky will! You know those two talk about everything.”
Violet sighed, turning on the table so her legs dangled over the edge. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll go to her office right now.”
“You promise?” asked Melanie warily.
“You can ask her later if you don’t believe me!” offered Violet as she hopped down from the bench.
Melanie let out a heavy sigh as she sunk down into her chair. “Fine. But I’m not gonna heal you next time you do something stupid.”
Already halfway out the door, Violet called over her shoulder “Yes, you wiiiiiiiiill!”
Melanie rubbed the bridge of her nose. “They don’t pay us enough.”
Violet nervously glanced up at the entrance to Madam Luna’s office. There were no obvious handles or knobs with which to gain entry; just the round silver seal of the Pillar of the Practical set into the center of the double-doors. She fidgeted a moment before reaching out toward the seal.
Before she could lay her hand upon it, the silver disc began to rotate in place. As it did, the two doors slid smoothly into the walls, with the slowly spinning seal staying along on the lefthand panel. Violet cringed at that, for it meant she was expected.
Carefully, Violet padded her way into Madam Luna’s sanctum. Her feet barely made any sound upon the thick carpeting, and she had to be careful not to knock over any one of the tall stacks of books that dotted the floor, seemingly at random. It didn’t help matters any that there were no signs of modern lighting anywhere – just some candles in chandeliers dangling from the very high ceiling.
Eventually, she came stand before the massive wooden desk of Madam Luna herself. Much like the rest of her chamber, the desk was covered with all manner of books and scrolls. Curiously enough, the desk also carried the only hint of technology she could see – a coffee maker sputtering away as it made a fresh batch. Luna herself was nowhere to be seen.
“Um… Madam Luna…?” Violet asked hesitantly.
Suddenly, an arm lurched up from behind the desk, the hand slamming down onto the surface. Violet jumped back with a startled cry, knocking over a pile of tomes that was nearly as tall as she was. The arm clung to the desk, helping pull up the rest of the person it was attached to – Madam Luna, herself.
The Head Mage of the Pillar of the Practical looked no older than Violet herself, though there were rumours that she was even older than Cecil. She wore an ornate gown, as usual – a silver-trimmed black garment that showed off her narrow shoulders before reforming into puffy sleeves at her forearms. From beneath the ringlets of black-and-white hair, Luna impassively stared at Violet with tired-looking grey eyes.
Despite having just seen the woman pull herself up from the floor, Violet felt cowed by the majesty of her superior.
“Madam Luna, I–”
Before Violet could continue, Luna thrust out one arm, holding up a finger to silence the girl. Violet swallowed, clapping her mouth closed immediately. She wanted to pick up the books she’d just knocked over, but she felt too scared to move. Luna lowered her arm, only to pick up the freshly-filled decanter of coffee. Without breaking eye contact with Violet, Madam Luna brought the coffee pot to her lips and deliberately chugged down every drop of scalding-hot liquid.
“Alright,” Luna finally said as she placed the empty coffee pot back on the heated pad. She pressed a button, which started another brew going, “what did you do, now?”
“Um…” began Violet, her eyes flickering nervously to the coffee pot before looking back to Luna’s face, “first of all… good morning…”
“It’s four thirty,” Luna interjected dryly.
“… yeah. Um, so… I just had to go see Melanie because I may have went into Sparky’s lab without asking first.”
Luna’s visage remained completely without expression, though the mage did slowly take a seat in her wingback chair. She offered no response, so Violet continued to talk.
“You see, I was looking for you, actually. Remember you gave me that task where you really wanted to see if I could maybe conjure stuff without reading a text? Well, I did! I finally did!”
As Luna continued to sit stock still, Violet kept her smile on, hoping that she’d done her mentor proud. She dug into her pocket and produced a handful of tiny plastic cat figures.
“I conjured these from one of my board games at home! All by myself! I finally cast a spell without reading it right off a page!”
Violet kept her hands thrust forward, showing the colourful cat pieces to Luna, who still showed no signs of response.
“So, um…” Violet continued, though she wasn’t at all sure what else to say, “it looks like… the tutoring is working?”
There was a long pause as Violet locked gazed with Luna, who still hadn’t moved.
Violet took a hesitant step toward the desk. Luna continued to stare straight ahead, her eyes not tracking Violet’s movement. After a few more moments, Violet could hear a gentle snoring sound coming from the mage.
“… oh come on, really?!” Violet pouted, stuffing the game pieces back into her pocket.
As Luna continued to nap, with her eyes wide open, Violet let out a long breath. “Well, I came to talk to you, just like I told Melanie I would, so I’m gonna go…”
She took a few cautious steps away, waiting to make sure Luna wasn’t going to say anything. Confident that the elder sorceress was well and truly asleep, Violet quickly scampered out of that intimidating office.
Deciding it best that she go home for the day, Violet made her way through the winding corridors of the Convocation building, trying to get toward the exit. The displacement spells that allowed for more space within the building than should be allowed disoriented Violet, but eventually she knew she was close to her goal.
When she heard the voices of Cecil and Desmond, however, she quickly ducked into a side room to hide from the men. Even though her transgression into Sparky’s lab had only just occurred, she knew that Desmond would somehow already be aware of it. Somehow he was always aware of everything going on… at least when it came to something she had to be punished for. Being reprimanded by Melanie was one thing – having to get chewed out by Desmond was many times worse. Even though Archmage Cecil was always pleasant to her, she knew that even he wouldn’t intervene if Desmond had to put his foot down.
Thankfully, it seemed that the two old men were engaged in an important discussion already. They were talking in quiet tones, but the conversation seemed rather heated. She strained to listen as well as she could without leaving her hiding place, but it was no use – they were speaking in some language she couldn’t understand. After waiting for the two to pass, Violet peeked out into the hallway to make sure they were truly gone.
Confident in their absence, Violet emerged from hiding and began power-walking for the entry hall. So focused on her swift retreat, Violet nearly ran into a girl who was, likewise, not paying any attention to her surroundings.
“Ah, sorry!” Violet exclaimed as she hopped back a step.
“Hey, whoa!” said the blonde stranger simultaneously, hopping back as well.
The two girls took a moment to catch their breaths, looking each other over. Finally, the blonde spoke first. “Sorry, I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing.”
“Hey, same,” replied Violet, cheerfully. “Are you new?”
“Yeah. I mean… I guess? This is my first time being here. Apparently the… older guys have to go get someone named Luna to see me?”
“Oooh… so you’re joining us? Neat! I’m Violet.” She stuck out her hand, smiling widely to the new girl.
The new girl looked confused for a moment, then took Violet’s hand for a shake. “Hey, cool. I’m Lisa.”
Lisa turned back toward the nearby wall and gestured to it. “So… um… what’s this?”
Violet looked toward the wall, noticing that they’d nearly collided in front of the massive glowing pentacle etched into it. At each point of the pentacle was a face – save for one, which was just a roiling stormcloud – with another face in the center.
“Oh, this is the… um… I forget the name of it. It’s a magical wall that tells us who’s supposed to be the leaders in the Convocation. It means we don’t have to vote or anything – this magic chooses the right people for the job.”
“Huh,” Lisa replied, examining the wall more closely. “Who made it?”
“Nobody knows! It’s an ancient enchantment that they say could go as far back as Merlin. I think they conjured it over here a few decades ago when they moved the Convocation headquarters. It used to be somewhere in Norway I think.”
Lisa frowned in thought, studying the diagram far more closely than Violet ever did. “Did someone tamper with the original spell?”
Violet blinked, looking at the wall, then back to Lisa. “Not… that I know of. I don’t think anybody can. It’s ancient, super-strong magic. That cloud down in the corner there is just because that pillar is evil or something, so they got expelled.”
“Hmm,” was Lisa’s only reply, sounding as if she wasn’t quite convinced.
“Is something wrong?” Violet hesitantly asked.
Lisa turned toward Violet again, as if only just remembering she was there. “Oh, yeah, sorry. I’m just new to all this magic stuff, that’s all.”
Violet was about to ask Lisa more questions when she heard the voices of Cecil and Desmond returning, this time along with Madam Luna.
“Soooo, cool meeting you Lisa, but I gotta go… wash my omelet.”
“Do what?” Lisa asked, surprised.
But by then Violet was already gone.
“What a weird girl,” Lisa mused to herself. She looked back at the enchanted wall one more time, frowning again for a moment, before she went to meet with her new mentors.