“I’m not surprised,” he said. “I’ll have to show you how to use it some time. You won’t have a lot of leisure time as a mage, but we do try to emphasize taking time to rest and relax. Can you read?” Alessandra nodded, and Shalor smiled. “I’ll have to show you our library then. It was one of the largest in the world before the barrier went up, and we’ve only expanded it since then. It is truly a sight to behold.”
Alessandra nodded, somewhat overwhelmed by the sudden changes in her fortune to say anything. She was having a very difficult time processing all of this. She felt like someone who’d dreamed her whole life about someday owning a rock, only to be given a diamond instead. Her mind felt like it was spinning out of control. She knew that she should be overjoyed about the change in her circumstances, but it was hard for her to have any coherent thoughts about it at all.
Suddenly, a thought occurred to her. “What about my clan?” she asked.
“Excuse me?” Shalor replied, looking somewhat puzzled.
“My clan,” Alessandra said, somewhat insistently. “My friends, back in the slums. I was their leader. What are they going to do without me? What can I do for them?”
“Oh, your friends will be just fine,” Shalor said, making a dismissive gesture. “They will find someone else to lead them, and life will go on. Don’t worry about them. You have a greater destiny to worry about now.”
Alessandra nodded, accepting this answer, but feeling somewhat unhappy about it. Of course life would go on in the slums, just as it had for a thousand years. But that didn’t mean she didn’t still care about the people she’d left behind, or that she didn’t still feel a sense of responsibility toward them. Not that she wanted to go back to just being the master of a thief clan. Not when she could be one of the most powerful and respected people in the whole city.
“I know what it’s like, to leave people behind,” Shalor said, obviously sensing that Alessandra was a little uncomfortable with that answer. “But believe me, the work you will be doing here will help them far more than anything you could do as the leader of their clan. What we do here at the Avaroth…well, let me just say that when our work is finished, the world will be changed for the better.”
Alessandra nodded again. That made her feel better. After all, it wasn’t as if she were abandoning her clan. She was joining the Order of Sunaru, those great men and women who fought demons and kept the city safe and made life better for everybody. If things weren’t perfect in the city, well, that was because of the corruption and greed of the Circle of Elders. The Order would certainly oust the Circle, but they were too busy fighting demons. Alessandra had seen it for herself. She was alive today because of the sacrifices of the Order. She owed them her life twice over, and she would give herself back in exchange.
“I will leave you to get accustomed to your rooms,” Shalor said with a bow. “In a little bit I will send someone up to show you around and get you started on your training.”
“Thank you,” Alessandra said quietly, returning his bow. Shalor smiled, and left.
Now that she was alone, Alessandra had no idea what to do with herself. She was alone in sumptuous, but unfamiliar, quarters, surrounded by luxuries she wouldn’t have ever dreamed of when she lived in the slums. It was all very overwhelming. All she could think to do was to sit on her couch and stare at her inactive moskore. Thoughts flitted through her head, but she was barely aware of them. She was too numb to think anything overly complicated.
A tone sounded suddenly, and Alessandra’s head snapped up. She looked around, slightly wildly, to see if she could figure out where it was coming from, and then it sounded again.
“Uh…what?” she asked, totally baffled. As soon as she did so, her door slid open.
“Hello,” said a young woman pleasantly as she entered the room. She was short with long, straight black hair and dark skin, but her eyes were bright blue, which was not a combination Alessandra had ever seen before.
“Um, what’s going on?” Alessandra asked, still confused.
“What do you mean?” the young woman asked, slightly puzzled.
“That noise,” Alessandra said. “I heard it twice, and then you came in.”
“Oh, that,” the young woman said, and giggled. “That’s just means that someone would like to enter your quarters.”
“Oh,” Alessandra said, and blushed slightly. “In the slums, we just knock.”
“Interesting,” the young woman said, and then she blushed as well. “Oh, where are my manners? I haven’t even introduced myself. I am Fienele Zhaomoran. I was the apprentice of Ilimay Ladron, and I have been assigned to be your assistant until you are settled and have chosen an apprentice of your own.”
“Oh, I see,” Alessandra frowned, and then said, “I’m sorry about what happened.”
“It is not your fault,” Fienele said with a bow. “You could not have had any idea what would happen. I’m just glad that someone was around to take on my master’s memories. It would have been much more tragic if her memories had been lost forever.”
“Still, though, you must have been looking forward to taking her place some day,” Alessandra muttered.
“I was, but perhaps I will have an opportunity to become an apprentice again,” Fienele said a shrug. “In the meantime, I will serve the Order the best I can in other ways.” Alessandra nodded. She could understand that. It was the same way in the clans. You did would you had to do to serve the clan. You had to put your loyalty to the clan ahead of your own interests. Maybe being a mage wouldn’t be that different from what she was used to.
To be continued…