Sherryl and Liz entered the lecture hall for their next class (Teena had left lunch early, saying she had something she needed to do) and found seats in the middle of the room.

Before too long, a young-ish man in Heraldic Whites entered the lecture hall, and introduced himself as "Herald Skiff," which produced a few sighs from the fangirls.

"This class is about Circuits, and how they are done. We will cover how Heralds ride Circuits, including all the sectors of Valdemar, as well as how the Bards and Healers go about it. Now, who can tell me what a Circuit is?"

"Going out to beat up the bad guy!" one girl cried from the front row.

"Saving villages and getting big rewards from 'em!" was another response that Sherryl heard.

"A romantic trip where you meet the girl or boy of your dreams!" was a third.

Some of the answers were rather ridiculous- Sherryl could have sworn that one girl said that it was going around to a bunch of villages to fill the locals in on the latest laws and major events. Yea, right.

"No," he said sternly. "Circuits are really pretty boring, all in all, and only one of you got it right. Now, let's go into detail about this. . ."

And thus the class on circuits was started, and a few detentions were handed out in the meantime.

Later, after the class was over, Liz said that the class seemed to be as boring as circuits were supposed to be.

"Yea. Who knew that it was so boring? I thought it was some sort of adventure, or something. Go out, beat up a few bandits, save a village or two, go home and get rich rewards and royal recognition," Sherryl sighed.

"Honestly, you guys, haven't you read the books?" Teena said, emerging from the back rows where she had apparently been sitting. "The only time a circuit EVER gets exciting is when there's some sort of disaster. Under those circumstances, no Herald enjoys showing off his or her skills- they'd rather just that everyone be safe."

"But there's no adventure in that, no romance!" Sherryl moaned.

The rest of the dialogue was cut off as a silence descended on the room. Sherryl and Liz turned towards the door to see what everyone was staring at. What they saw was a stick. A floating, whippy-looking branch with a sign hung on it.

A closer inspection showed that the sign had the name "Stefen" written on it in neat handwriting.

Belatedly, Sherryl realized that this stick must be Stefen. After all, he'd died at the end of "The Last Herald Mage." Perhaps this was his physical manifestation, or something.

::I am Bard Stefen, your teacher for "Basic Barding: Instruments and their care.":: rang painfully through their heads when the stick reached the podium in the center of the stage. ::However, I am sure that there are some questions about my current appearance, so I might as well get those out of the way first.::

Indeed, there were a number of questions, students shooting up their hands or just calling out at random intervals what they wanted to know.

Eventually, what had happened came out- someone had tried to bring back the spirits of Vanyel, Stefen, and Yfandes (Apparently, their spirits had died or something sometime after The Last Herald Mage) but the spell used had been botched. Due to the botch, the three spirits currently appeared as sticks like the one that Stefen had shown up as.

"I bet that it's an attempt to punish you for making Vanyel gay," Sherryl muttered. Apparently, she had said that loudly enough for Stick!Stefen to overhear, and it had not been a good idea, for the next thing she knew, she was keeling over from a horrendous headache, and just barely registered Stefen's mind-voice telling her that she had detention.

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Well, another chapter finished! This one was a constant battle against Writer's Block, so I can only hope it isn't too bad.

I give a most generous thanks to Teena, who helped out by beta-reading this thing for me. Thanks, Teena!

And to all of my readers: I still have spots open on my student list! I take all applicants, including really weird ones. Please, fill out that application. First come, first serve. The sooner you fill one out, the better chance you have of making it in.