The beginning of the carriage ride was rather awkward. William didn’t have much more to say than he already had in the first few moments.
“Can you demonstrate some magic?”
“Uh, sure.” William took a few moments to think. “I don’t know many appropriate for use inside a carriage… let’s see here… O’ light, heed my call. Brighten my path, and provide illumination to my steps.” William created a ball of light. It wasn’t anything special, but it at least signified he knew what he was doing.
Headmaster Lorenz nodded, though William had no idea what was meant by it. It could have been approving, neutral, or even ‘as expected’.
After that nothing was said for a few minutes, and there was an awkward silence. It was bound to happen at some point… but it was so early in the trip. William felt like he had to say something, but there weren’t many things to talk about in the carriage. Finally, he settled on something wizardly enough. “That’s an impressive staff you have.” It was finely worked, though William wasn’t sure about the kind of wood. It was probably one particular to gevai lands, but it was white, either naturally or painted. Two parts formed a tight double helix until splitting into a number of arms to hold onto a very large red gem at the top.
“Oh, thank you. The wood is from up north- it’s good for mana channeling speed- and the gem is a dragon’s heart. I killed the dragon myself, actually.”
“Wow, that’s… impressive.”
“I just came upon a good opportunity. How about your staff?”
William looked down at his own staff. “Oh, this is just… eastern heartwood topped with quartz. It’s probably better for hitting people than being a magic implement.”
Headmaster Lorenz just smiled and shrugged, “I’m sure you’ll have a chance to get a better one, given time. Nobody starts with something good. Even the nobles usually just get expensive but not very effective staves, except the rare smart one.” William sighed at that, and she continued, “Not a fan of nobles? You don’t have to answer that. Most people aren’t, unless they’re nobles themselves.” William just shrugged. “So, you were saying you’d studied magical formations. What use does copper have in such formations?”
Now that the topic had shifted to magic, William could talk for a long time. He just had to be careful to not reveal too much… or more importantly not reveal things he shouldn’t know. There were some things he’d determined through his own tests in this life, and he could honestly say that was how he learned them, but he would try to avoid mentioning them too much.
Conversing with Headmaster Lorenz was pleasant enough, but William didn’t enjoy it as much as his conversations with Lorelei. It wasn’t really a fair comparison though. He’d known Lorelei for a longer time, and could display more of his knowledge in Ostanan. In gevai, he was still a bit lacking in the knowledge of magical jargon. There were many things he couldn’t say even if he wanted to. Besides, Headmaster Lorenz was more evaluating him than having a discussion with him. She only occasionally contributed information from her side. On the other hand, William did learn some of the words he was missing. He still made a mental note to get a dictionary, because his vocabulary wasn’t as broad as he would like.
Their travels through the wilderness meant they spent several nights camping, and even Headmaster Lorenz staying in the carriage counted as camping. It wasn’t quite as well insulated as it could have been, perhaps an accidental statement that more care had been taken to its magical properties than its mechanical. William did have to admit that it handled different terrain quite well, with little unpleasantness from bumps or leaning.
When they arrived in a city, William saw that the carriage stopped at a nice inn. He intended to go find a more affordable one for himself, but was stopped by Headmaster Lorenz. “We wouldn’t be much of an academy if we couldn’t afford to pay for our students to stay at an inn now and then.” William supposed that might be true, but if they actually paid for stays at this kind of inn very often, the fees for attending would be almost pointless. On the other hand, they probably didn’t rely on just those to support themselves anyway. William still considered refusing, but he thought it would be too much trouble. Headmaster Lorenz didn’t seem like she would take no for an answer… but she also seemed to be doing this out of goodwill toward him. If it was some kind of weird trap, he would deal with it then. Perhaps not the best approach, but he wasn’t averse to throwing around lightning once in a while.
Weeks later, they approached the complex of buildings which had a sign helpfully informing them that it was the Ducson Academy of Magical Instruction. Ducson itself was similar in size to Canta, at least geographically. Practically, many of the buildings were shorter, which meant less total space inside them. The academy itself had a few towers, though none of them as grand as the main towers in the guild in Canta… but these might be more practical. William wouldn’t know until he saw inside them. There were other buildings around as well, of varying sizes… and ages. Everything was made out of stone, which made sense. Wooden buildings could last for a time, but when your lifespan could easily be hundreds of years, building for the long term was a better idea. William found that none of the buildings were too ostentatious, which hopefully meant that they were using the money in better places, and not that the academy was poor. While there was nothing wrong with not having money, that might also lead to lack of books to study, and lack of opportunity to research. Still, the buildings were well maintained, even the older ones, and William couldn’t help but smile at the thought that he would soon be able to study magic in an organized setting again.