Last excerpt from Book One of the Academy of the Accord series; I’ll be moving on to Book Two next month. This is from the epilog. Vinadi has just been granted his Master’s robes and he and Marsden are getting settled into a suite of rooms at the wizard’s guild hall. Marsden speaks first.
It’s long, but it serves as a bit of a set up to Book Two (and for the rest of the series).
“What is the plan for when we leave here?”
“We’re going treasure hunting.”
Vinadi took a deep breath. “I…” He sighed and sank into a chair. “Before you officially sign your life away I should probably tell you…”
“Tell me what?” Marsden sat down in the chair opposite him, watching him intently.
“I… I have this dream…” Vinadi glanced up at him and then looked down again. Everyone thought it was pure lunacy and he didn’t want to lose Marsden, but he had to know before things went any further, although Vinadi sensed that it was already too late for either of them to walk away from the other.
He looked up at the concern in Marsden’s voice and managed a smile. “It’s not easy to talk about. I – I’ve only told a couple other people about it, people that I trusted, that I thought were friends, and they both thought that I was a lunatic and now they mock me every time they see me… And I don’t know if I can handle…”
“Vinadi.” Marsden’s voice was firm and drew the wizard’s eyes back to him. “I am yours. Nothing will change that.”
Vinadi smiled in spite of himself.
“Now, tell me what we’re going to be doing and where we’re going.” Marsden leaned back in his chair and prepared to listen.
Vinadi took a deep breath. “Eventually, the goal is the Academy of the Accord.”
Marsden frowned. “The Academy of the Accord? I don’t believe I’m familiar with it.”
“That’s because it doesn’t exist yet.”
Marsden tilted his head and Vinadi took a deep breath. “I… You’re familiar with the Fortress and Tower and Arcane Academy?”
Marsden nodded. The Fortress – more appropriately The Fortress and Tower – was the oldest wizard school in existence, having been formed at the end of the Wizard Wars. Arcane Academy had been formed a generation or so later, and was considered to be the best of the best for wizards.
“I’ve escorted wizards and known warriors from both schools.”
“Then you know their philosophies,” Vinadi said. “At the Fortress, the focus is primarily on the warriors. Oh, the wizards get an above average education,” he added, “but the warriors take precedence in terms of policy. And at Arcane, it’s the opposite. The wizards are the focus there and the warriors are treated as nothing more than hirelings.”
Marsden nodded again; the Fortress turned out warriors who thought wizards were not to be trusted, were nearly enemies, and Arcane turned out wizards who thought warriors were little more than thugs.
“And I think that you know me well enough to know how I feel about that.”
“And I think,” Marsden said slowly, “that you know me well enough to know how I feel about it as well.”
Vinadi looked up at him, a faint glimmer of hope growing in him. Maybe it would be all right…
“I – I want to start my own school, one where the cadets and apprentices are treated as equals, where they learn to respect each other, to work together, to be partners.”
Marsden nodded and Vinadi, encouraged, pushed on. “I also want the cadets to be in classes with the apprentices. Not magic classes, but general classes – I want them to learn to read and write, and to learn at least basic mathematics, and to learn about geography and history… They will all be students together; will get to know each other as people.”
Marsden smiled. “And where will this school be located?”
“I don’t know yet,” Vinadi admitted. “That’s part of the reason that I’m traveling – I’m trying to find a place.”
“But first we need funds.”
Vinadi nodded, then looked up, startled, his eyes wide with hope. “We? You – You’re willing to go along with this?”
“Of course.” Marsden shrugged. “You’re my wizard. Where you go, I go.”
“No. Marsden, I…” He closed his eyes. How could he put into words the feelings that gripped him? He needed Marsden to join with him, not just out of a sense of loyalty but because he also embraced the dream. It was, he knew, an unrealistic expectation, but he hoped…
“You’re not a lunatic, Vinadi,” Marsden said, his voice calm and quiet. “And your dream… it’s a good one.”
“Then… Then would you be willing to be a part of it? To found it with me?”
“I would be honored.”
Later that night as they were preparing for sleep Marsden began unloading his pack, cleaning it out and checking to see what might need to be repaired or replaced before they set out again.
He pulled out a rolled up piece of parchment and spread it out, puzzled, then smiled.
“Vinadi!” he called quietly and the wizard stepped into his room.
“What is it?”
“I never did get around to giving this to you,” he said, holding it out to him.
Vinadi unrolled it, a smile spreading over his lips as he read the original contract that Marsden had been given when he had set out to rescue him. “What do you want to do with this? Burn it? Bury it?”
“I think we should keep it safe,” Marsden replied, taking it from him and rolling it up again before returning it to his pack. “And when we find a place for our school, hang it in the entrance hall.”
For a moment their eyes met, and Vinadi smiled, savoring the promise he saw in Marsden’s brown eyes.
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