Canto 2 – Aargh! Teachers!
The sunroom was built into the hollow in the heights of the willow tree, almost at the level of the tallest tower. A Fairy-glass ceiling let the yellow-green sunlight in and kept the snow and rain out. The walls were covered in elaborate cross-stitch tapestries depicting famous moments in Tellosian history like the death of the former Erlking, Wotan, the killing of the evil dragon Darvon Redsoul by the Mouse from Cornucopia, and the final battle of the Gingerbread War.
“So, this is the new student I am saddled with. The last time we crossed paths, she tried to take over my body using the soul of that horrid Necromancer. The first mistake she makes, she gets executed. I’ll add her head to the collection of my worst enemies.” The booming voice, of course, was her new master, Pippen, the High Wizard of Tellosia.
“Master, you must be patient with her. The White Stag will be mad if you cut her head off for a flimsy excuse. Besides, she was given to you as an apprentice because she possesses great potential power, and the Stag will remind you of the lesson Eli Tragedy taught you the hard way; No student ever learned anything after their head was chopped off.” Tod was on her side, at least. But it didn’t escape her notice that in Zauberin, his name literally meant “Death.”
“She’s a pretty little one. I promise to keep her in line and make her behave,” said the beautiful adult Butterfly Child, obviously the one named Glittershine.
“I don’t understand why I have to put up with such nonsense. Before the White Stag filled in as interim Erlking, I was doing fine administering this kingdom for him.”
“Yes, but taking too much responsibility into your own hands is the reason he wants to relieve you of some of your burdens.” Tod was very diplomatic. That was a particularly oily way to tell the burly, golden-haired wizard that he was becoming too much of a hated tyrant. But he did it with such practiced mastery.
The fifth person in the room was Prinz Flute. He was Pippen’s own half-faun son and really quite handsome. He was, however, much older than he looked.
He was the size and shape of an eleven-year-old Fairy boy, even though Poppy knew he had to be at least twice her age, and she was sixteen-Fairy-years old.
Flute had been silent for the initial round of complaints and soothing, placating lies to answer those complaints. He had merely been watching Poppy intently.
“Are you going to undertake actually teaching this girl magic?” Flute now asked.
“What? Well… I guess I must. At least long enough to accuse her of something worth executing her for.”
“Have you tested the girl with the Magical Drassylic Script Test?”
“Oh, right. Magic reading. That will prove if she’s worthy to continue to live or not.”
Flute moved to a desk piled high with magical scrolls. He plucked one out of the pile and handed it to Poppy.
“Please read that aloud, what it actually says, not whatever might be whispered to you from the background.”
Poppy unrolled the scroll, looked at the squiggly-lined gibberish it contained, and almost instantly began to read and understand.
“The fool transcribing this document is using a magical cheat to understand it, and so he is writing down what he thinks it means, The beginnings of the deep language begin with the elvish, Quenyan, but the truly deepest of the deep comes from the Draconic Drassyl…“
“Enough! That is not what it says! I transcribed that myself. I…”
Flute interrupted Pippen before the anger caused his blond hair to turn to flames. He took the scroll from Poppy and handed it to Glimmershine.
“Did she not read it correctly?” Flute asked.
“Oh, my. She did indeed read the correct Drassylic, not the Quenyan cheat text.” Glimmershine blanched as she looked at Pippen after testifying to the reveal.
“Father, this magic student is beyond the capabilities of most to teach. I am personally impressed by the depth of her understanding. And to thoroughly teach her, I believe it will take a group effort.”
“A group effort?” Pippen seemed stunned.
“Yes. Tod can teach her the ways of the royal court. Glittershine and I can take care of the routine teaching of magic skills, and we will come to you with matters that require such great skill that only you can handle the teaching of it.”
“Yes, that plan makes sense… Are you sure we shouldn’t just cut off her head? You know, to be on the safe side…?”
“Oh, no… this one is a rare talent. You cannot imagine how upset the White Stag will be if we don’t develop her skills to our maximum benefit.”
“Well, okay… But you and Glittershine will be doing the most work. And you will hardly need me at all for the first year…”
“And that’s just how the White Stag wants it. You remember… you have too many responsibilities and you must concentrate on where your skills are needed most. Not… you know… wasting them.”
“Yes, I see that now.” Apparently satisfied at last, he took the Drassylic Test Scroll from Glittershine and walked out of the sunroom looking at it and muttering to himself.
Tod was immediately kneeling before Prinz Flute. “Oh, my Prinz, you have saved both Poppy and me. How can I repay you?”
“By doing exactly the education plan I outlined to my father.”
“But that means you will be teaching Poppensparkle when you should be doing magical research for the White Stag. Won’t that cause you problems of your own?”
“You don’t know what my research is all about, do you?”
“No, I guess not.”
“And believe me, I have not failed to notice how attractive this young Fairy is. My interest in the education of this one is not only about the good of the people.”
Poppy began blushing at that. Flute looked to be several years younger than her, and yet, she knew he was actually several years older than she was. He was definitely not unattractive himself. But it would be weird. Interesting… but weird.