Pomp and Circumstance
Crowlin surveyed the assembly from the back of the stands where the professors and teachers were seated. They were in the Courtyard of the Instructory, and the newest generation of mage knights stood in orderly lines, at attention and statuesque in the breezy morning air. Aside from the occasional shuffle and the rustling of leaves, it was silent in the Courtyard.
“They’re certainly taking their time.” Myrrdin mewed softly from beside Crowlin’s chair.
“Indeed.” Crowlin said, eyeing the conspicuous gaps in the ranks of the graduating class. Kashé and Sage had still failed to show up. Deviån, a tallish young man with strong features and situated in the second row, did not appear pleased with the implication that Kashé and Sage were in cahoots.
On the front row, the headmaster nodded to the senior professor in charge of the ceremony. She stood, and walking to the podium up on the stage, began addressing the arrayed students.
“Senior students of the Instructory. This day you will make the transition from training to the battlefield, from practice to patrolling Aylodae, from mage apprentice to mage knight. This day. . .”
For the most part Crowlin tuned out the speech. He’d heard it for six years; all students that were not graduating to the rank of mage knight were not permitted within the Courtyard, but could watch and listen from the rooms and roofs bordering the Courtyard. The speech was essentially the same every year, just given by different professors and written in different ways.
Down by Crowlin’s chair, Myrrdin rested his chin on his paws and dozed.
Crowlin was trying to keep from nodding off, and in order to stay awake, sat up straight and inhaled deeply. The wind gusted by at that moment, ruffling Crowlin’s pale brown hair and going right into his nose and mouth. Crowlin couldn’t help gagging; the aura of malice and ill will on the wind was strong enough to be tangible.
“Myrrdin, you’ve got to feel that.” Crowlin coughed. “That’s too strong to ignore. How can no one else feel it? Something’s going to happen - Myrrdin?”
Myrrdin hissed, and Crowlin glanced down, then froze. Below his seat, the luminous red lines of a hidden and preprepared spell glowed to life, harnessing the currents of magic to fuel whatever spell had been cast on the spot.
As Myrrdin backed away, hissing, Crowlin’s attention moved outward. Similar spell circles were forming underneath the chairs of all the other Instructory staff, and beyond them, spell circles were forming beneath certain of the senior students. All of the spells were written in red light, indicating a dark or otherwise malicious intent.
And with horror, Crowlin realized the spells were being activated.