Chapter 9: Botanists and Books

Once Kason, Harper, Kayla and Fenston had all been safely deposited on the ground, the middle-aged man turned back to the young people standing in front of him and began to rant at them, presumably continuing what he had been doing before he rescued them.

“Can you guys not cooperate for even an hour? I leave to take care of an emergency and when I return, I find that you lot have gone and made another one!” The man shouted at the young men and women arrayed before him.

“Supervisor,” one of the five stepped forward as the man paused to breathe, they were a handsome young man with green hair and slanted green eyes. “It wasn’t all of us that started this, we,” He waved a hand to indicate two of the four who were standing in line with him, “were doing as you told us and standing guard, but those two,” he pointed to the other two, who glared at him, “started insulting us. Obviously, as there are only a few of us at the college and we had a new member with us, we couldn’t let them!”

“I don’t care whose fault it is!” The middle-aged man in front of them screamed over him; the young man flinched and stepped back into the line. The old man cast a stern gaze upon all of the young men and women lined up before him, “I don’t care who started it or whose fault it is,” he said again in a more steady voice, “All I know is that you almost seriously injured four new students, and that is an inexcusable offence. You will apologise to the four of them immediately and then come with me for punishment.”

The middle-aged man stepped aside and allowed the five young people to approach the four children. The young man with green hair who had spoken stepped forwards first, evidently having recovered quickly from being interrupted. He looked at the four children who were looking up at him, “I am sincerely sorry,” he said in a calm, yet slightly sarcastic voice, then he stepped back and allowed the next person to come forward.

The next to step up to them was a small young woman who had a worried expression on her face, she had green hair like the young man before her, but her eyes were brown instead of green. “I’m really sorry,” she said in a voice which sounded like she was almost crying, “Did any of you get hurt?” Kason, thinking about the collection of bruises he had gathered as he was dragged around by the vine, was about to nod his head in firm agreement. But then he looked into the woman’s watery eyes and decided against it, she seemed harmless enough and genuinely sorry so he did not want to pile more guilt onto her. The woman walked back, still mumbling about how sorry she was, and the next person stepped forward.

When they did, both Kason and Harper let out a surprised exclamation, “Ashton!” The young man, who had been walking forward glaring at the young man with green hair from earlier every couple of paces, looked towards the children in surprise.

“Oh, I didn’t expect to see you two here. Anyway, I’m sorry for getting you lot involved in this mess,” he bowed slightly to all the four of them, then he leaned in slightly to speak to Kason and Harper, “These are the botanists, they wreak havoc everywhere they go, I would avoid them if you can. They also have all kinds of strange schemes and ideas, so you should be wary if you ever get asked to participate in anything organised by them.”

He said this in a rather loud whisper that evidently carried over to the haired young man, who gave a start and retorted angrily, “You aren’t much of a saint yourself Ashton, who was it that ran away from his charges when he was asked to escort them to the college? Let me think for a moment, oh yes!” He clapped a hand to his forehead in mock realisation, “It was you wasn’t it.”

“Shut up Perceval, you arrogant…”

Ashton’s retort was suddenly put to an end by an angry outburst from the supervisor standing to one side, “Silence!” He roared, and Ashton stepped backwards hurriedly to allow the next person past.

Once all five people had come forward and apologised to the four children, the supervisor turned to speak to them, “I am Rayleth, the supervisor for the junior dorms. I also am sorry for what happened, I had an important assignment and so left the safety of the dorms with these fools,” He turned and glared at the five young people again. He then turned back and continued, “Obviously that was a mistake. If any of you have any serious injuries, I recommend you go to the main reception and ask for directions to Sir Kamadus the Healer, he can fix you up much better than I could.”

He turned and went to stand with the five young people and closed his eyes while gesturing with his staff. The air around the six of them rippled and then it seemed to collapse in on itself before returning to normal, except for the fact that all the people standing in that location had disappeared.

The four children stood there, staring at where Supervisor Rayleth had vanished from, Kason was reminded of how Ashton had disappeared when they were being taken to the college. He wondered if he would get the chance to learn that kind of magic.

After standing for a few moments, Harper stretched his arms and then stepped forward, turning to face the other three. “I was going to see my brother before this all happened so I’ll just be going now.” He gave them all a wave and ran off down a pathway between two of the buildings that surrounded the courtyard.

The other two also both went off their separate ways, waving to Kason as they left until Kason was left by himself, standing on the ruined flagstones. He looked around at them, taking in the shattered images that had been inlaid into the floor, he shivered slightly as he thought about the destructive power that Ashton and the other four young people had unleashed. He then turned back to the dorms, which he was still standing just in front of and walked towards the door, intending to change his now ragged looking clothing.

‘Magic sure is amazing though,’ he thought as he walked to his room.

A few minutes later he exited the building yet again and began to make his way towards his original intended destination, the Meditation Gardens. He took the same path that Harper had run down only a while before, going between the Planetarium, the building which held the impressive looking spherical objects which they had seen the day before, and another which had contained only classrooms.

He walked into the shadow of a small bridge of the same bricks as the buildings, that connected the two buildings a couple of meters above his head. As he walked underneath it, his eyes were drawn to its vibrant orange coloured roof of wood, he could not help but wonder where such strange wood had come from. The wall of the Planetarium fell away on his right, leaving the wall on his left to stretch further on ahead, its evenly stacked grey stone bricks seeming glaringly bright in the morning sun.

Kason followed the path which, in turn, followed the wall of the classroom building and gazed at the lawn that spread out in the place where the Planetarium had been. It reached down the back of the Planetarium and quite a way after, Kason could also see trees rising up from the lawn and realised that it was in fact, the same forest that could be seen from his bedroom window.

He was immediately filled with an urge to go and investigate it, but as he began to run enthusiastically towards the trees, he suddenly froze. He then turned and, slowly walked back to the path and towards the meditation gardens. ‘I will explore it some other time,’ he thought to himself as he walked, ‘I’ve had enough of forests for today. I’ll ask Harper if he wants to go as well, after all, there’s supposed to be safety in numbers’.

He arrived at the meditation gardens after having passed by two other places which he identified on his palm map as being the training ground and the range. He was not entirely sure what the use for each was, but he could see people in the area they encompassed, though doing what, he did not know.

After entering through an archway cut into the hedge that surrounded the gardens, he found himself on a large pathway of compressed dirt and pebbles leading straight down towards another arch cut into a different hedge. The path was lined with many trees, each planted at regular intervals, marching all the way down to the other archway. He walked slowly down the path and noticed a smaller one leading off through the trees that lined the path, he took it and wandered around for a while, looking at the trees and flowers. It was a very peaceful place as the name had suggested, short bouts of laughter could be heard at random intervals and the flowers looked as though they had just opened their buds for the spring and their petalled facades looked vigorous and bright.

As he wandered around, he noticed that there was a small fence that seemed to split of the majority of the gardens from the part in which he stood in at the moment. He followed the fence, looking for a place which he could use to get through the fence and eventually found himself back at the main path where he had started, facing the archway at the other end.

He checked his ring for the time as he walked towards the arch and realised that it was time he should be leaving for lunch. He turned midstride, and walked back towards the exit, feeling slightly disappointed that he had not managed to fully explore the place.

He reached the dining hall in good time, ate and then left again soon after. He walked out of the junior dorms and towards the main building at the opposite end of the courtyard whose shattered flagstones had somehow been returned to normal. He was not going back to the meditation gardens, although he had not finished exploring them, he did not feel the need to do so just now, so he decided to pay a visit to the healer before continuing on to the library.

After the incident that morning, he had not thought that he had been hurt badly enough to warrant going to the healer, but as he had been walking around the meditation gardens, he had begun to feel quite ill so he reconsidered and came to the conclusion that it would be better to see the healer after all.

He reached the double doors which led to the nexus of the main building and entered the red-carpeted room. He walked slowly to the middle of the circular room and stood next to the statue of the man with the monocle, looking at the signs above all the doors. He couldn’t remember what the healer’s name had been, he had been feeling a bit distracted at the time, but he remembered it began with a ‘K’.

After looking around at all the signs one by one until he saw one which said ‘Medical Suite’. He entered the door and found himself in a small room with several chairs scattered haphazardly about it. The room itself had cream coloured walls with a grey carpet on the floor and on the lefthand side of the wall opposite him, a doorway was cut into the wall. The doorway had no door in and Kason could hear the sounds of rustling paper from inside.

“Come in,” a voice commanded from through the doorway and Kason obediently walked over to the porthole and through to the other side. This room was much larger than the other one but decorated in the same fashion, with several windows in the wall which looked out over the entrance to the main building from the front.

There were several beds lined up against one wall, although none of them were currently occupied with humans. Great piles of paper were stacked on most of the beds, and the one that was free was currently occupied by a large racoon-like creature. A desk was placed against the back wall of the room and sitting behind it was a man with a young looking face, but hair as grey as the stones used to build most of the buildings. He looked up when Kason entered the room, then stood up and walked over to him, looking at him up and down.

“New student are you?” He asked, but without giving Kason a chance to answer he carried on speaking, “You were caught up in that incident this morning? Feeling queasy? Been sweating more than usual?” Kason, who was rather dazed by the rapid barrage of questions, nodded his head slowly.

“It’s overexposure to gaseous Ether, resulting in your body being oversaturated,” He said, looking out of the window. He then walked back over to his desk and pointed at it, making a beckoning gesture with his finger which caused the desk to ripple and a small vial of liquid to fly out of it into his outstretched palm. He then walked back over to Kason and handed it to him, “Drink this and you’ll feel better in a few minutes.”

He then went and sat back down behind his desk and paying no more attention to Kason. This had all occurred within the space of a minute and the fast pace had left Kason feeling slightly disorientated. He stood there blankly for a few moments, then blinked, said a word of thanks to the healer, whose name he still could not remember, and left the medical suite.

In the nexus, he sat down on the base of the statue of the monocled man and drank the vial of liquid he had been given by the healer. Sure enough, after a couple of minutes, the ill feeling he had started to have in the Meditation Gardens receded and he felt completely normal again.

Kason then stood up and checked the time on his ring, it was about one thirty in the afternoon so he still had plenty of time left. He looked around the nexus and, finding the door to the library, he entered through it into a large and spacious circular room with a glass domed ceiling high above his head. He had entered through a door on a round raised platform, much like the one where he had exited the wormhole, with a few steps leading down to a red-carpeted floor.

The raised platform was in the very centre of the room, with a couple of meters of carpet separating the bottom from the multitudes of wooden bookshelves which stretched away, seemingly endlessly, in every direction with aisles between them. Kason, standing in front of the door, felt his eyes widen with excitement as he looked around at the hordes of books sitting on the shelves, just waiting to be read.

There were signs at the end of each line of shelves showing what subject the books in that area covered, the one directly in front of Kason was ‘National History and Geography’, to its left was ‘Ether’ and to its right, ‘The Elements’. Kason wandered around the small circular space surrounding the door, looking at the signs for a subject which he found to be of interest.

He ended up stepping down the aisle of shelves simply labelled ‘Miscellaneous Works’, looking at the names on the spines of the books he passed and listening to the muffled noises his feet made on the carpet. He didn’t see any titles that were particularly eye-catching so he decided to just choose one randomly. He walked up and down the aisle for a few moments then stopped, turned to the bookshelf, closed his eyes and jabbed randomly in front of him with a finger.

The finger landed on a very thick book called ‘The Great River’ which he took down with care. He then sat down, leaning his back on the shelves with the book propped open on his knees. Despite the rather unremarkable title, he found the book to be very interesting. Instead of being a book filled with various facts and figures, it was a discussion on the nature of time.

He read until it became too dark to see the pages properly anymore, when he reluctantly closed the book, making a mental note of where he had read up to. He tried to bring the book out of the library but found that he could not, whenever he tried, a barrier of sorts kept him from even stepping onto the raised platform. He then tried looking around for someone to ask for help, but the library was empty so he had to accept the reality and replace the book, making careful note of where it was located.

He left the library at about four thirty, given that it was still spring, it still began to darken rather early. He still had a couple of hours left before dinner so he decided to go back to his room, as he exited the main building he realised that if what Brent had said before was true, his uniform should have arrived today.

Although it was only a uniform, he could not help but feel slightly excited at the prospect. He thought that the uniforms he had seen so far looked quite good on the people who wore them, and so could not help but want to wear one himself.

Another chapter is here (well it was already out on webnovel but it’s here now). If you enjoyed, feel free to comment and follow etc…



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