Chapter 3: A Lesson in Sorrow

The first thing all wizards must learn is there is nothing that all wizards must know. Magic cannot be codified or standardised. As the world seeks to automate every human craft, the one it will never capture is magic, for all spirits are chaotic by their nature. For human emotion is chaotic by our nature.

A Short Guide to the Uses and Abuses of Magic. Authorship Unknown. Published 1648.

Celeste found herself rudely awoken by a bell somewhere within the school chiming six times. She groaned as she stirred from sleep. It was hard to imagine pulling herself from the warm embrace of the covers, so she didn't do it. Instead, she slowly opened her eyes to see where she was. She was where she had fallen asleep. That was comforting. She hadn't been dreaming the last few weeks.

Which meant she hadn't dreamt the bad as well as the good. Everything was real. Unless this was also a dream. She didn't give that thought much consideration, she couldn't imagine a bed this comfortable, so it had to be real.

She poked a foot out, expecting to feel the cool morning air. Instead, it felt a comfortable temperature. She only then realised her face wasn't cold either. She tossed the covers aside triumphantly, amazed by how warm the room was. The walls didn't seem especially thick.

Not complaining she, dressed in the ill-fitting uniform and poked around the room a little more. She found a smaller room within her bedroom that lacked any clear function. Brass tubes ran around the room. She found a ceramic basin and was going to use it to wash but she didn't have any fresh water.

Celeste turned to leave when the spirit spoke up.

Try turning those.

Confused, she went back and tried to turn the brass. It didn't budge.

The other way, maybe.

She did as it suggested. Steaming water came gushing out of the tube. She yelped and turned it back, shutting the water off. "How did you know that?"

A good guess. Plus, I'm smarter than you.

"If you're bound to me, surely our minds are connected? Can you be smarter than me?" She mused as she washed her face.

I explained I can't read your mind or anything. My powers only enhance your body.

"That gravity business didn't seem to have anything to do with my body."

That is a little more complex.

"Sounds to me like you're avoiding explaining anything to me," Celeste complained as she left the room and headed downstairs.

She approached her door, thinking of going to find something to eat. As she reached it, she noticed a cage hanging from the door, several pieces of paper were in it. She lifted the top and reached in to retrieve them. She squinted, trying to read them. She hated reading.

"Can you make this out?" She asked hopefully.

I cannot read your language.

"What was that about how smart you are?"

Reading is not a sign of intelligence. I can't imagine this is of importance.

Ignoring the spirit's derision, she left her room and strolled down to Sabina's knocking lightly on the door. She heard a heavy crashing noise and nearly a minute passed before the door swung open.

Sabina yawned, blinking several times before recognition came into her face. Her hair which had been pulled back in a ponytail the previous day now hung to her shoulders, where it didn't stick up.

"Why are you already awake? And dressed?" She asked quietly.

"The sun's coming up already. And I was woken by that bell." Celeste replied sheepishly.

"You'll get used to that. Have you not had a shower yet?"

"Well...What is a 'shower'?"

Sabina looked at her blankly for a moment. "Oh, you don't know. I thought it was a mountain thing or something. Just turn the knob and the water comes out. Wait, was there something you wanted?"

"Oh, yes! Can you read this?" Celeste said, handing Sabina the paper.

The other girl blinked at it for a few seconds before nodding. "It's a schedule. Let's see, I'm still not good with Taoanid, though they keep saying it should be easy to learn." She scanned the paper for a few moments more. "I think it says you're free until the next studying bloc. But you'll need to get your uniform fitted and go request your supplies." She paused for a moment and noticed how worried Celeste looked at hearing that. "I'll show you to the tailors. Then I'll need to go to class. Go get cleaned up and I'll meet you down for breakfast."

Celeste nodded and headed back to her own room. She looked at the sink again for a while, trying to tell how one would 'shower' in it. It was only on the spirits suggestion she tried another tube, discovered an overhead hole that poured out hot water. She left her uniform to dry whilst working out the temperature of the water.

As she showered a thought came to her. "If I look at my own body, you...see that?"

Well yes, I see everything you do. We've been over this.

"That feels a bit weird."

How so?

"I just don't know I want someone looking at my body."

I'm not precisely a someone. I'm not a physical being, and I'm not human. I do not care what you physically look like. Your body is just another tool at our disposal.

Not exactly comforted by the spirit's words, she finished washing and redressed, heading out to get some breakfast. Some other students were down there, sleepily gulping back spoonfuls of porridge. Sabina wasn't all that talkative as they ate, which was a shock to Celeste. When they'd finished, they journeyed out into the central building of the school.

"So where are the tailor's anyway?" Celeste asked, looking around the great entrance hall. Many passageways lead away, and she could see a second and third floor above them with balconies overlooking them. But she couldn't think where you would place a tailor.

"Unfortunately, it's a ways down the mountain." Sabina laughed as she saw Celeste's expression. "Only a short walk. Let's just hope there's no snowstorm or anything."

"Does that happen often?"

"Eh, I haven't seen many. We're basically above the clouds most of the time."

The sky above them was indeed clear of all clouds. A perfect pale blue, tinted ever so slightly by the orange of the rising sun. However, that didn't stop the biting cold winds. The uniform would have probably protected Celeste more if it weren't so loose, letting the wind creep in and chill her skin. She'd never felt any hatred of the wind, but on that half-hour walk she wondered if the spirit would give her any kind of power to still the wind itself.

They took the path down that Celeste was supposed to have taken up. It curved around the mountain, but it was such a huge piece of terrain even this high up that they hadn't even gone half way around in that time. The path was at times carved stone, at others a gravelled path, at all times dangerous. Ice and winds didn't go well together. Though they hadn't mentioned any students falling off the sides of the mountain, it did plague her mind slightly.

Wait, she realised, she didn't need to fear falling anymore. Would she be able to use her powers in the moment of terror as the ground drew closer to her? She just hoped that she would never have to find out. The spirit clearly noticed the fear in her mind.

You are powerful now. A little fall will not be enough to harm you.

She didn't trust its words.

The girls didn't talk much on the way down, instead keeping their jaws clenched to keep their teeth from chattering. Celeste found that keeping her hands buried under her armpits kept them from going numb and began to realise she should probably ask for some gloves too.

The tailors was a quaint little building tucked into the rock. More of the brass tubes ran down into it, presumably providing more hot water to the workers. Inside was blessedly warm after the walk.

They stepped into a single room, busy with activity. A dozen seamstresses were setting up for a day, gathering fabrics and threads, consulting measurements, polishing buttons. One of them stepped up to Celeste and Sabina and began to talk hurriedly in a foreign language.

"Laocienan?" Sabina tried.

The woman nodded and called someone else over. She was a woman in her twenties, her hair pulled up into a bun and filled with pins. She pulled a few from between her lips and left them in a cushion to come over to the girls.

"You must be the new girl then?" She said, placing a finger on Celeste's cheek and looking her over. "We weren't expecting you so soon. Come for your- Hey!" She cut off, reaching over to slap Sabina's hand "Stop touching the fabric."

"I was just admiring the handywork," She said throwing up her hands.

"Well if you don't need any fittings, get back to the school. Don't think we didn't notice the missing buttons last time."

Sabina laughed. "Alright you got me there. I better go anyway, I don't want to be late to class. See you later." She said with a wink to Celeste.

She turned as if to go then spun back, reaching a hand out. She stood there for a moment, letting a coin drop to the ground, before sighing.

"Well, I guess you do make more expensive uniforms than I thought." Without bothering to pick the coin back up, she headed back out onto the windy mountain.

The tailor led Celeste into a small side room. She pulled open the wooden panels of the wall and retrieved various measuring devices.

"Right, get that thing off so I can measure you."

Celeste awkwardly fiddled with the buttons on the front of the uniform. "Do I have to?"

"I don't need you nude or anything, just to your undergarments. Otherwise the measurements won't be accurate. And don't hold your breath in or anything." She impatiently started to unbutton it for her, but Celeste quickly took up the task herself.

"Do you have to make the uniform so tight?" She asked.

"What do you mean? Oh, you're a highlander, aren't you?"

Celeste nodded cautiously.

"I've heard about your fashion. We've not had a student from the highlands since I've worked here. Trust me, you won't want loose clothing up here. The winds go right through you like that." As she spoke she took a metal device and placed the tips on Celeste's arm, who recoiled at the cool metal. "Sorry," She said, breathing on the metal to warm it up.

"I understand that. I noticed on the way down. It's just..." She trailed off.

"What?" The tailor asked, looking up at her. "You want it to remind you of home a little?"

It was more than that, of course. It was Celeste's whole belief system. She'd already cut off her hair, dressing so differently would leave her feeling completely cut off from the wind. But she nodded anyway. It was a lot to get into.

The tailor looked thoughtful as she wrapped a string around Celeste's stomach, then chest, then shoulders. "Tell you what, I could add tails to your uniform. It's not common, but it won't be hard to add that to the cut, if you'd like?"

"What are tails like?"

"Kind of...Triangles? I think they're fashionable somewhere. But they would flap in the wind."

"That would be nice then," Celeste said, offering a small smile.

"We do our best." The tailor moved to start measuring Celeste's leg. "I don't know what you were so worried about, I normally have to look at all the boys when we get their uniformed done."

"This is very kind of you. Let me know if I can help anymore."

The tailor laughed. "You know we're paid to do this; I'm not just making your clothes out of the goodness of my heart." She saw the embarrassment in Celeste's face. "It is very sweet of you to be concerned though. It does become very evident which of you wizards come from a noble background when we're making up uniforms."

Some minutes later, Celeste emerged from the fitting room dressed in the ill-fitting uniform one more.

"I will get to work on this right away. We should have them sent up to you by the next study bloc. If you need anything else, come straight to us." The tailor offered her a little wave before she headed back into the mountain winds.

It was a grim walk back to the school, and a relief to be into the warmth of the hall. She was impressed it stayed so warm with a huge doorway hanging open all hours of the day. Something to do with all the tubes she assumed.

She looked around the room that was becoming busier now. Students streamed through, many heading off into side passages and appearing again on the upper floors. A few headed into the building on the right, the magical area, Celeste assumed.

She didn't really know what she was expected to do now. Sabina hadn't given her any clue as to where she was supposed to get supplies from.

She jumped, startled out of her thoughts by the headmaster's voice.

"Looking a little lost there, Celeste," He said, smiling as he approached her.

She nodded. "Yeah. I've got a thing telling me to go request supplies." She said, handing him the paper.

He glanced over it, nodding. "Translates better as acquire. But I suppose you weren't supposed to know. That is on Sabina." He handed it back to her and placed his long fingers on her back. "Come with me. I have some free time and I've been meaning to show you around. I hope you have settled in well enough."

"Yes, thank you," She said, moving in step beside him. He took massive strides and she needed two steps to make up for one of his. "This place is a bit...startling, really. I found the whole water tube things confusing."

"Ah," Tristan said with a smile. "Yes, many people haven't seen plumbing like this before. But don't be shy. We have plenty of hot water, and a scorching shower does a lot to dispel the cold of the mountain, I always find."

"How does it work?" She asked, curiously. "Is that magic in some way?"

Tristan shook his head. "No, no. Maybe people assume so, for they know as little of magic as you do. Well, not quite, you showed you're working out magic yourself yesterday." He shot her a knowing smile. "But no, this is just science. The mountains are...well they're not quite mountains. Within them are huge quantities of hot water, that filters in faster than we can use it. Before we installed the pipes, the mountain used to steam, all of that heat trying to escape. Some we pump direct into the taps, the rest is left to pump through the walls to let it cool before use."

"That's incredible."

"It truly is. Astounds most of our mundane students too, you know. All the wealth of the world can't buy somewhere this perfect."

"I don't know, I don't envy the walk up," Celeste said with a smile.

"You come from the highlands and hate walking up a slight incline?"

"We're much higher than my home. And I didn't go up or down much."

"But of course." They reached the left bridge. A cool wind blew over them, not hindered by the piping. "I hope the air isn't too bad for you. Wizards tend to handle it better, but our mundane students find themselves out of breath a lot."

"I haven't noticed that much yet."

"Good. You were probably already a bit more suited for it up here." Tristan smiled, motioning across the bridge. "Now then, I shall show you the mundane third of the school before we go and get you your supplies."

Half of the mundane building was taken up with dormitories, which Celeste was denied a peek into. On reflection, she doubted there would be much pleasant in there. Cramming ten boys into a room could only lead to an unpleasant room, even if they did get hot showers.

The rest of the building was taken up with classrooms, some filled with tables and chairs, others laid out with padding, swords mounted on the walls. The sight of the classrooms didn't excite Celeste all that much. The missionaries used to round up all the children in the village on the weekends and force them to sit for hours while some meaningless book was read to them. At least the boredom had left her with some basic literacy. That might make life in this school easier. Although, she was here to learn magic, first and foremost. Based on her first taste, she suspected it would be far more practical and less sitting around.

With the mundane tour finished, Tristan led back to the main hall and pointed her down a corridor. "That way will lead you to where you can get supplies. Just accept the regular stuff they offer. And ask for a book on Taoanid, you want to get caught up on that as fast as you can," He said with a warm smile.

"Thank you, sir." Celeste turned to go then remembered something she wanted to ask. There seemed like so much she was expected to know. Everyone spoke like she should know how this all worked, it was rather intimidating asking for an explanation. "What are study blocs?"

Tristan let out a small laugh. "Oh god, I am so sorry no one explained this to you. I forget they divide time differently down there. Study blocs are three days where we have classes. There will then be a one-day break where we hold no classes. Like a shortened week really."

Celeste held in a sigh at that. It sounded like it would be a lot more work than she was used to. "Okay, and I don't have any classes until the next one?"

"No. You arrived in the middle of one, unfortunately. Tomorrow is a break day, the day after classes start for you. You should have received a schedule. Come and ask me if you need any help."

Celeste nodded to him and turned to go down the corridor. She glanced back, realising she didn't know where she could find him. But he had already vanished from sight. Could he teleport as well?

She followed the corridor for a long way, so long she was worried she'd missed a turning or something. But finally, she burst out into bright sunlight. The way to the supplies office, it turned out, wasn't all inside. No, now she had to head up some stairs that curled around the outside of a smaller tower. There was no rail to stop her falling, but luckily the steps were wide, and ice failed to form thanks to the warmth of the building.

She slowly ascended, resting her hand on the tower to give her some comfort.

Why are you afraid, you know you can manage heights.

Celeste paused for a moment, leaning towards the edge. Below her were jagged rocks that she would no doubt scrape along before tumbling down the whole mountain.

"Well, I don't think any amount of toughness will protect me against that. I don't even know fully what I did to leap up the mountain."

But that matters little. Once you've figured out a power, it becomes instinctual.

"Well, I wouldn't say I've figured it out just yet."

She shut up as she reached the door to the supplies office, not wanting to seem insane to the man staffing it. Though, she supposed there were wizards like her in there all the time.

It was a pleasant enough place, an incredibly high room with huge amounts of equipment students might need, tucked into draws and cubbies. Paper, quills, ink, charcoal, books, abacuses, scientific equipment Celeste couldn't even begin to guess the use of. She stared up in awe until the man behind the counter coughed, motioning for her to close the door.

She emerged fifteen minutes later, arms laden with papers, books, quill, and ink. As she descended the steps again, a patch of green caught her eyes. Ivy was creeping up the wall which she hadn't seen before. Had she just not been paying attention? The green was quite distinct though...

As she got closer, she lent in to try and get a closer look, only for the plant to talk.

"Boo!" It said.

She yelled in shock, jumping backwards and spilling her supplies onto the steps. The ink bottle smashed and many of the papers scattered to the wind.

In a moment the ivy changed from a plant to a boy. He laughed loudly. "Oh, oh, I am so sorry, but that was just so perfect, I couldn't resist."

The boy was bewildering to look at for Celeste. She didn't recognise his accent, though he spoke her language with startling clarity. A stock of uneven green hair sat on his head. The oddness of the colour felt mundane compared to the headmaster. His features were blunt, as though you could smash a boulder with his face, and his eyes shone a disturbingly similar shade of green to his hair.

"What are you playing at?" She shouted. "I could have slipped and fallen!" She stooped to started picking up what could be salvaged. "Do people here only use magic to mess with me?"

"I'm sorry," He said, still grinning. "I would offer to pay for replacements but...well all that stuff is free for us anyway. I just wanted to meet the newest wizard and I was free between classes. I am Wolfram Sigdag Johannes Schwartz. And you are?"

"What kind of name is that?" Celeste asked grumpily.

"A very powerful one indeed."

"Very long-winded. I'm Celeste."

"Ah, another Laocienan pauper. I take it you and Sabina are getting along like...A chicken ablaze?" He laughed at her confused expression. "Sorry, I never learnt many expressions in your language. It was all 'Wolfram, conjugate your verbs!'" He said in a shrill, mocking voice.

The bell began to ring from somewhere and Wolfram looked startled.

"Ah, but I must be off. I hope to catch up with you later. You can tell me about...muck spreading or whatever you grew up doing."

Celeste was going to shoot something back, but he was off like a shot, faster than she expected. She sighed. At least over enthusiastic annoyance was better than the coldness she'd got from Melanie. She headed back up to replenish her supplies, explaining sheepishly what had happened, though the man seemed surprisingly understanding. Perhaps Wolfram did this often.

She returned to her room to dump the stuff. It took some time of considering before she got out the Taoanid book and set to work trying to figure out the language. Reading her own language was slow going, so getting through the explanations of how this other one worked was gruelling. She stuck at it though, waiting for something to click.

By dinner time, nothing had clicked. She'd started to figure out which words were similar, which as it turned out was most of them.

With a headache developing for the first time in her life, Celeste headed down to find some dinner. The dining room was as packed as it could be when she arrived. Sabina and Wolfram were already sat together chatting and she joined them, giving him a suspicious look. He turned out to be much more amiable now, even if he did complain about the food a weird amount.

Celeste found herself eating better than she ever had. They'd never starved back home, but they weren't eating the most varied diet. Even the sheep they tended were rarely on the chopping block, the wool they produced being far more valuable to the tax collectors. Between the spices, the plentiful meat, and the large portions, Celeste thought she might burst from the food.

Feeling thoroughly stuffed, she returned to her room and found herself quickly in a peaceful sleep. The next day she was woken with the rising sun again. She showered, this time working out the right temperature much faster. She looked at the Taoanid book with nausea, so she took off to stroll around the school.

She must have spent an hour moving through the empty halls and corridors, poking her head into classrooms and training rooms. A surprising number of paths led outside of the buildings and had her gripping to barriers as the morning wind whipped at her. She wasn't used to spending so long inside though, the small spaces where she could feel it were amazing. She couldn't wait for her new uniforms.

The day ended up not being much of a break day for her. It was a mixture of trying to learn Taoanid and talking walks with Sabina. They tried using Taoanid with each other, but neither of them was good enough at it to manage for long.

"There's no curses in it, apparently. That's my real problem with it," Sabina complained. She showed Celeste easy to miss passages and crawl spaces that connected seemingly random points in the buildings.

The school was like a maze, but for no clear purpose. The buildings constructed without logic or sense. Was that a reflection of wizards or just whoever first built it? She still knew little about the history of the place. Sabina was no help there, even if she seems to know the ways around the building better than Celeste knew her own hands.

By the evening her new uniforms arrived. They gave her four sets. Clean pressed trousers, smart shirts, slickly cut jackets. Still, she was pleased with the tails. The next morning, she dressed happily. She took a couple of bells from her sack and attached them to her cuffs. It gave her an extra smile as she headed out for breakfast.

"Looking good!" Sabina called as she jogged to catch up with Celeste. "They didn't offer me these," She said as she picked up and flapped the tails around.

"Well, you should have asked. I'm sure you can go get some more modifications made to yours if you want," She responded with a laugh.

"I could do with them cutting the sleeves down for me, I get awfully stuffy in this otherwise. Mind you, I probably do run a bit more than you're supposed to."

As they sat down to breakfast, Sabina peeked at Celeste's schedule, which she'd brought with her so she could nervously look at every five seconds.

"Ah, soothing first. It sounds boring, and it is, but they mostly just explain spirits to you for the first few blocs."

"That's still good. I currently don't know much about them. Mine hasn't really told me anything beyond weird, vague statements," Celeste admitted.

"Mind told me most of what they have to say. Though they didn't quite frame is the same way the teachers do. I did also have two years with it before I got here, I barely understood it for the first six months."

"I guess that is some comfort. I was beginning think mine was just particularly irritating."

I tell you what you need to know.

She rolled her eyes.

"I'll join you for the class. Should be fun to sit in on again," Sabina said.

"Don't you have your own classes?"

"Nothing for the first hour. Plus, I doubt you know where the room is."

Celeste paused with a spoon in her mouth. She glanced back at the schedule then shook her head. "I don't know what this word says. I don't even know how you'd pronounce it."

"Yeah, they get you with that. It's just meant to be letters. It tells you where the room is, though I haven't worked out the logic too it yet."

They had been sat in the room for a few minutes by the time the bell struck nine. It was a small room, with maybe twenty desks and chair. Only half a dozen of them were filled. One appeared to be an older magical student Celeste had met the other evening, and the other three were mundane students who were planning to become wizards, Sabina said.

As the bell started striking, the teacher breezed into the room. She began writing on a chalk board, finishing scribbling the word 'Soothing' as the bells finished.

"Hello class," She said. Her voice was sharp, with no time wasted on a syllable that didn't need to be. Her accent reminded Celeste of Wolfram's. "Does everyone here speak passing Laocienan? Our newest student does not yet speak Taoanid, I am informed." She looked pointedly at Celeste, who offered a nod. She felt like the eyes of the room were on her.

There was a grumble of acceptance and so the teacher continued. "Good. We will work with this then. I am Amalia Haumann. You may just call me Amalia. Or Ama. I am not too formal. So, we must begin by making sure you all understand what a spirit is, and what purpose soothing has in relation to magic. Can anyone start me off?"

Sabina's hand shot up, which earned a glare from Amalia.

"I have you this afternoon for the advanced class, Sabina. Shouldn't you be practicing your own Taoanid?"

"I'm here to support my friend, Ama. Surely you can appreciate that?"

"Fine. Don't cause distractions and don't answer questions. I am aware of your knowledge already."

Sabina winked at Celeste. In the end, it was one of the mundane students who spoke up to answer.

"A spirit is a manifestation of a physical place," He said firmly.

"Incorrect," Ama said without hesitation. "Place is important, but they aren't a place."

Celeste raised her hand and spoke when she received a nod. "Are they...Emotion?" She asked, tentatively.

"Correct. A spirit is a collection of human emotion, tied to a specific location. They are not a manifestation of that location. Older mundane scholars liked to claim that but they were very mistaken, on a wide range of issues but let us not get into that."

Ama moved to wipe the board and began to draw a stick person. "Excuse my artistic skills, please." Next to the person, she drew a tree and a circle. "Now, place is important, but I don't want that to be overstated. It is more accurate to say that a spirit is what people think of the place." She began to draw what looked like a jagged blob. "Doesn't anyone know what that actually means?"

No one seemed to want to speak up, so Sabina spoke. "It means the spirit doesn't reflect the physical. Or doesn't have to. The powers it gives you can be more about what people think of. So, mine came from a marketplace where travellers passed through, so I got universal translation."

"I did tell you not to interrupt, but yes. The idea is more important. For another example, our Tesni's spirit came from a waymarker stone. Hence his powers relate to travel and movement. The fact it was stone doesn't manifest in his powers."

"Why is her hard to see then?" Celeste asked, curious.

"Some effects are miscellaneous. It is possible the marker was known for being hard to spot," Ama said casually. "Powers can be a mixture of the physical and the emotional sides of the spirit. Its personality, however, will be wholly decided by the emotional."

She knows her stuff. Celeste's spirit commented.

"Personality?" Asked one of the mundane students.

"Oh yes," Ama said. "The spirit is a conscious being. Once you are bound, it lives within you. It talks to you, tricks you. Nothing a spirit says can be believed. They have but one goal."

I wouldn't call myself a being. I think she's going a bit off track here.

"And what is that?" Celeste asked.

"First we need to explain what binding is," Ama said. She pointed to her drawing of a person and the circle. "We have our person and our spirit. How do they get bound together, and what does that do?"

"Binding is a process through which the spirit becomes attached to the human soul and in doing so grants magical abilities," The first student said again, his confidence clearly coming back.

"That is it, simply put." Ama drew a line between the person and the circle, presumably representing the spirit. "So, the spirit is a pure emotional being. We are a physical being, and an emotional one. The soul, well I don't want to get too metaphysical with this, but it connects the two sides of us. It allows our emotions to manifest in our physical bodies. By binding to our souls, spirits seek to bleed into our physical world."

Celeste slowly raised her hand in the silence. "So magic, as it is, or the powers they give us, that is just them coming into our world?"

"That is correct, in essence. The more they pull themselves into our world, the more our souls...expand. These are difficult things to put into physical terms because they very much are not. But a spirit can come through too much. They come through in the totality if one uses too much of the spirit's power."

"Which leads to death in the wizard. So most magic battles are just endurance contests." The mundane student said hurriedly.

"Quite incorrect. The wizard's consciousness dies. As does the spirits, it is believed. The actual case is that they are both transformed into...something else. A consumed wizard, we call them. Powerful creatures but wholly uncontrollable. Some will be amiable to humans, others less so. But I intend that all students of mine avoid that fate, so you must learn to soothe your spirit to stop it getting that far."

Ama got to work drawing again. Now she drew a very simple fire and a few lines that must have been waves.

"The principle of soothing is simple. Figure out the powers that the spirit holds and perform actions that are the inverse. So, if a spirit conjured fire, water might be the way to soothe it. Yes, what is it?" She said, snapping slightly at the very talkative mundane student.

"Sorry but, you didn't go over how we get bound in the first place."

"That isn't what this class is about but fine. Magic and emotion are strictly tied together at all stages. Binding happens when a person's soul is open to allow emotions through. When they are emotional open, completely. It is a strange state and one that can't be forced. You must let go of all reservations even for just a moment. It is no wonder so many achieve it accidentally."

Celeste sat there stunned. So...It was because in that moment she had accepted Alfonso. She had chosen to be with him, to let go of her reservations. And then the spirit had bound to her. Had...

She felt heat rising in her cheek, her throat began to constrict, and fat tears grew in the corners of her eyes.

Don't do this now. You must remain calm.

The voice of a murderer did nothing to calm her. She stood up abruptly and ran from the classroom. She heard people calling her name but ignored them, running until she found herself outside, collapsing against the wall. The spirit screamed in her ears, but she blocked it out.

She only registered where she was again when another voice came. She looked up to see a blurry image of Ama standing over her.

"I am sorry," She said, a little bluntly. Celeste sniffled in response. The teacher slowly knelt beside her "I...I don't know the specifics of what you're going through but...You wouldn't be the first person who's hurt someone when they're bound. It is...Difficult."

"Well yeah..." Celeste muttered.

"Sorry, I'm not good at these...Emotional talks. That much is obvious though." She rested a hand on Celeste's shoulder. "But if you need to talk about it, all of the staff are here for you. It is strange, these experiences that feel unique, all your own, but we all have similar stories, I promise."

Celeste managed a nod. She couldn't wipe Alfonso's final look out of her mind. He had been so happy. Why couldn't he have been bound? Why wouldn't he carry this pain instead of her?

"Just...Come back to class if you're feeling up to it. Don't push yourself though. I can give you some stuff to keep you caught up if you'd prefer."

Celeste managed another nod, and with that Ama slipped away. She sat there, being battered by the mountain winds for what felt like hours, until finally the screaming spirit and the pain of the thoughts numbed themselves away.