Chapter 1 Reslin
Set before the Tales of Asgard events: where the Dökkálfar and the Ljósálfar elves are instructors in the Asgard and Alfheimr Academy for practical magic and skills. soundtrack: FMA Scandal. The movie Thor Tales of Asgard lent me wings.
*2012: some input by friend whose name I won't keep up anymore as she suddenly turned weird. I don't care about race difference as I'm illustrating in my works!
I was late for my first day at the Alfheimr academy. Damn it! My father had given me an endless list of chores. No doubt to make up for all those I couldn't do in the next few months. Yes, that was our family value: work to the last minute. And then right before I took off I got a serenade of some good old tunes, such as: make our village proud!, or else and of course the ever popular Work hard!. Still, I was exhilarated. Starting this year, I was going to be independent. I was going to a prestigious school. I was going to gape at some hot Elves! Not to mention the exotic cultural aspect! But there were a whole lot less rumours going round about that.
I arrived at the enormous field that was the departure point. At first I saw nothing at all and a slight panic came over me. Had I gotten the directions wrong? I looked around frantically. Finally I looked up and spotted a few pegasi taking off at the far corner. They were colourful dots against the blue sky. It had been years since I had last seen, let alone touched a pegasus! Ai, even travelling to Alfheimr would be wondrous!
Then someone ran past me and I noticed I was standing still. I ran. I could not be even later! According to the package I received with the acceptance details, some pegasi would have a handler to teach us how to ride safely. Er... didn't look like luck was on my side. Only kids from my village were mounting up.
I slowed as I reached the little plot of land where each pegasus of a different color, pawing impatiently and rustling their wings. There were so few left! I knew there should be enough pegasi for everyone to get to their destination and that there was no need to hurry, but I sure wasn't taking any chances. Forgetting all about being out of breath and not scaring the horses, I approached the nearest pegasus.
"Wait for me!" I muttered as I reached a pale blue one. But before I could take another step Braun, my determined rival and long-time thorn in the side, appeared out of nowhere and leapt onto its back and took off. Just like that I was left in a cloud of dust. I coughed. Braun made a monkey face. I shook my fist. People rolled their eyes.
By the time I was done cursing and glaring at the sky, only two pegasi were left and far too many people. What were all these people still doing here? And where were all the horses? I needed to do something! How else was I to hitch a ride to another Realm? Flying cars? Oh man! I pushed my way through the crowd towards the horses. I ducked, jumped, bent backward, bent forward, collided anyway. And still no pegasus.
Then something nudged my shoulder. An orange pegasus with a hazel mane nibbled on my shirt in a friendly manner. She breathed on me. I beamed.
"Hello girl." I cooed, in relief. As I stared into her soft brown eyes, I could hear a voice: 'Be kind to your horse and work hard.' My dad, for sure. I suppressed a grumble –because that was decidedly unkind- and actually asked her permission. As an experienced handler of farm animals, I could tell her gender. To my amazement she bowed one leg for me to mount up. I did exactly that and not about to let her be stolen by some slowpoke, I asked for her to take off. She did exactly that.
It was quite pleasant flying. Peaceful, quiet, only the sound of the feathery wings.
"Oi! Res'! What took you so long!"
I twisted my head around almost sprained my neck. And ended up grinning like an idiot.
"Dad!" I yelled back at Mira who gave an understanding…snort? Behind her there was a man holding her waist. "Where's your instructor?" Mira was my best friend. She understood my frustrations and fascinations. Especially when the former concerned my dad and the later concerned elves.
"Nobody's with me." Mira looked concerned then she asked "You ready?"
Then she grinned. "Woohoo!" I beamed back, "I can't wait to see cute-guys!" That was our code word for elves. Purely private. Don't dare to use it aloud.
I had only once seen an Elf up close and he had been immobile, swaddled in blankets and so waifish that he slept most of the time. He had lost his way. My dad had saved him from starvation and after spending a week at our farm, suddenly six fully armoured guards stood outside our door. I suppose they were elves too, but they wore too much armour to be sure. Turned out the Elf was a Lord or Duke whose name had too many L's for me to pronounce. His hair was pale blond. The Lord bestowed me with fully sponsored food, lodgings and a stellar education! All a 'thank you' from this Elf. He talked my father into letting me study, as my family had several ideas about girls getting educated.
It would be six terms before we break for the holidays, but I wasn't going be homesick. Alfheimr has always been my dream destination! Riding on this girl was already an achievement! This was a rare chance, that I could enrol into this school.
It was different for Mira. She was rich, brilliant and…I gave her a questioning look. She gave me a questioning look.
Suddenly I felt like I was a few thousand feet in the air and I had no clue what I was doing. The pegasus seemed to noticed as well. My huge bubble of ecstasy burst- my horse balked sharply and stopped mid-flight. It decided to stop flying and start swimming. No no no I was falling! Oh gods! The ground was coming closer. It sure looked big! Mira screamed something. Her pegasus dived after me. Mine sure was a fast swimmer. I screamed. I cursed at the damn horse! I pulled its mane. I pulled its wings. I'd pull its damn teeth when I got down! My dad's voice flashed through my head 'work hard' and then 'be kind.'
"Tell the damn horse that!" I yelled. And then the orange monster started flapping its wings again. It was the flapping of the baby bird leaving its nest for the first time, but gods, we were flying again. I was going to make it! The ground was now so close falling wouldn't even hurt anymore. I was going to make it. We were going to make it! Whole and in one piece.
I met the ground head first.
Thank the mud for the soft landing. I frowned. Yuk, mud! Wasn't it always sunny in Alfheimr? I cursed and sat up. Nothing broken, that I knew for sure. I never broke anything.
"Are you hurt?" A lilting voice asked, as a firm hand supported me up. I looked up. Warmth like the sunrays, brilliant golden locks and angular face with sharp ear tips. I swooned. An elf! Wow, I've dreamed of this moment. The day already looked brighter. My heart would not stop and although that wasn't a bad thing, it sure wasn't supposed to beat that fast. It hadn't even beat that fast while I was falling.
"Are you hurt?" he repeated with the lovely accent. I shook my head, my face hot. The handsome elf helping me up wore a red and white robe. He looked good in those. He probably looked good in anything. I somehow managed to make out that his name was Hallien. That got through and the rest was buried in my buzzing head. He really would be a most helpful and reliable escort during my time here.
Suddenly his hand tightened briefly around my wrist. He must have noticed my distraction.
"I think you should come to the infirmary. A fall like that could have serious repercussions. And you don't seem to feel it, which worries me…." He was insisting.
I nodded though nothing hurt anymore. "Thank you, sir, but I've always been clumsy. Not to worry, I'm tough."
He raised an eyebrow. Around me I could hear muttering. Suddenly I became aware that there were more people crowded around me. Self-consciously I looked down. Hallien must have noticed because I heard him shooing them away. The bystanders dispersed and joined what looked like an assembly at a large square. Looking up I saw the sky was indeed filled with rainclouds.
Hallien chuckled. Hearing the sound I decided that maybe the infirmary was not such a bad idea if it meant I could spend a little more time with this Elf. Gently but insistently, I had to follow him. His pace was deliberately slow, no matter how much I told him he need not be so concerned. He also seemed intent on asking why I hadn't flown with an instructor. Then I decided to save my breath.
We passed a large meadow were all pegasi in all colours were gathered, grazing, greeting each other or just generally prancing about. I quickly singled out a playful orange. My mount seemed to have made it just fine too. A pity, now I would have to go through the trouble of exacting revenge on it.
I tripped over a low step. Since when was Karma on the horse's side? Hallien supported me. I flushed. Catching myself just in time, I looked up at what I assumed was the door to the infirmary. It was larger than I expected, the building, not the door. But nowhere could I detect the scent of antiseptics like I had expected.
Hallien made me sit on a table. His hands were warm, emitting a light glow as he examined me. Another physician, short and young, looked at me in amazement. He was dressed in the same robes as Hallien. I suddenly understood some women's fascination with men in uniform. They managed to clean off most of the mud from me.
I was interrupted from my reverie when the younger healer finally found his words. "I believe you are completely fine." He had a soft voice and his green eyes were large in his boyish face. Both healers stared at me in confusion. I shrugged. It wasn't unusual to me. Light seemed to dawn on Hallien's face –and light just looked great on him! But before he could say whatever it was, the chime of what sounded like cathedral bells drowned out his voice.
From a window in the opposite wall I could see the square where everyone had assembled was now completely deserted.
"Oh no! What am I supposed to do?" I hadn't read the handbook. Only that we were to be here by 930am but now it was already 1015! Bloody late! I scrambled to get up.
"Relax, you are… Reslin. I see." He said, looking at my nametag. "You will first be divided into batches and do a simple test. There're main form classes, with many of you and also each person has an instructor. According to specializations. I will be in the Magical arts department, hope to speak with you soon. Come."
Hallien walked me to the place where pupils were being briefed. I found my wits to thank him. The Academy rose majestically in a wide circle structure, ivory with flashy windows. We were given a tour of the main building, and later split further into some groups. Mira stayed close by with some of the people I had seen. I noticed a certain dark figure, wearing black too, with burning amber eyes and flowing white hair watching us. Huh? I rubbed my eyes.
Nope not dreaming. What was he doing here?
Mira hissed. "So I heard you got close to a cute Elfie already? Hehe, what's his name?"
She'd got to be joking. "It's an embarrassment, his name is Hallien.I flew off and flat on my face! Hm I'll point him out to you later." I hoped also I wouldn't need to be selected by that dark fellow. He was regal, hands behind his back and spoke to a fair elf. That was the point, everybody looked white! Except him.
"Seen that man? He's… um a dark drow." I whispered.
Mira trembled. "Ya I've heard of how ferocious they are warrior class, wolves summonoers, black alchemy, raising dead and so on. Levitation."
Oh. I didn't feel scared, though I should be. Just, surprised and why… next, we would break for a meal, rich in flavors.
We did a simple written test about ourselves. "Please write your subjects of preference on these blue forms. It is fine if the decision of the main branch of your studies goes later… you have up to a month to change it" Ok awesome! I wrote 1. Science animals as I had major interest in this. The words melted in as I inked it into the paper, as a calligraphy. 2nd: magic casting basic level, my fam. wanted me not to be violent and all that, eugh. I was going to learn this too, or it'd be so boring studying only written. 3rd: maths. I added in healing arts so I could maybe see Hallien later on. I'd try to make some wounds so he'd come to me.
I wasn't surprised at my lack of pain. We always had Mending skill, a passive ability though I didn't know why. At first grade, I had smashed the glass to save a bird falling outside. Then I jumped out and landed safely. My blood was only a little. of course kindness went unrewarded and I got detention for busting a hole in the expensive windows. The adults hollered, " FOCUS RES! You're second after your smart elder brother, for gods' sake. Don't disgrace us! Go learn something valuable, brute strength is useless."
All of us could go to our dorms, two to a room unless you were mega rich and had one room to yourself. The orientation was done in a flash. Everyone of us would get a main guide and personal mentor. In other words, a hot guy Elf to play with!
Private sessions would consist of just one or the most 2 pupils so the mentors would concentrate on grooming us. Mira had put maths first, her favorite, 2nd languages of Asgard (that was my fourth choice after healing), and something else. I could learn languages quickly, it was dull to me. Our other pal was Kruz a sensible boy who didn't act childish. He had chosen Science, art sketching and toolmaking. Maybe we'd be in the same formclass.
Most time would be spent with the personal mentor. I hoped mine wouldn't be merciless and evil.
After breakfast, we would go the formclass first to find out the results. The two of them were Lariel a pale frosty woman with blue lips. She was speaking more than Irian a sullen long-eared summer elf. He just folded his arms and stared at people like he was going to kill each one of us.
I waited for the slip of paper with my name. I was called. Braun sat on either side of me. Braun chuckled. I opened the slip, the venue was printed, and then the name: Algrim Kerestial. It was a nice, albeit, grim serious name. hmm wondered how he would look like.
Braun got Lariel. We had cellphones charged by solar power and were allowed to text with them only outside class. Calls would be quite expensive. I didn't plan on calling back, as my family didn't have a phone either. I would write back.
I got a text from Mira, when we were split for other briefings. Hey who u got?
Oh god! That's him, the drow! That black guy, oh shit.
What? I almost dropped my phone. How the heck did she know that? We met outside the library stone chairs. She grabbed my arm. I KNOW about him! He's the advisor to King Odin and Thor and Loki. He's famous. If she didn't use her inner voice, she'd be shouting. I shrugged.
"Hm I don't know if I can switch. Never mind. Who's yours? So happy."
"Faradei!" she sang dancing. "He's soooo hot. He'll come later but I don't mind the wait. We're getting someone else meantime. I hope you survive, Res," she said. Never mind, I was mentally prepared, though remembering his physical and hostile form I was still nervous. I got into the library.
"Hi can I read about the drow, the Svartálfar?" I had copied the norse words. She gasped.
"Pardon me?" she looked shocked.
I repeated dully. The woman asked me to wait, she ran through the cards, still the card system. The most informative book with pictures, so I opened it. The first picture was of a fanged angry elf dark as pitch. Traits: fierce, honor, agile,tricky, enemy to Frostgiants and some refugees in Asgard….
I want to meet Algrim without fear! The time was 2pm. Again I'm going to be late! Why am I so screwed up? I had lost track of time and was inside the huge library. Finally I hit a shaft until it gave way. Forget the main entrance. Then I rushed.
The guy's study according to the little signs, was located on the highest floor. I didn't pant. Cloaked in shadows. Only a single magic purple orb lighted the stairway outside. Before I knocked, the double doors swung open silently facing inwards. "Hi I'm Reslin, sorry I'm late, Sire? Master? " I tidied my hair. "Hello?"
I must be in the wrong place. I peered into the general inkiness of the room. Somehow I made out a desk in the centre. Algrim could also read in the dark? Impossible. I turned back to go out when a voice said, "Ah yes here." He was behind me!
I jumped out of my skin. Only his white locks and brows were visible. I couldn't tell if he was angry, too soft. I braced myself. "I have been reading about you, my student. Come, take a seat." His English had a strange accent but clear enough.
Just as I wondered how to, as I felt blinder than a bat here. His cool hand took mine firmly… the room was then brightened slightly by some orbs. Now I made out a soft cushioned chair and one more, set ready. The file with my name was open, on an ornate desk with gargoyles on one leg. I gulped.
The entire room was painted a light color. I sat down, fingers pressing the cushions. Yay! I almost leaned back to sleep. Algrim stood in front, his chair untouched which reminded me to be alert. I kept my eyes trained on him, he was very slim, wearing a simple blackgrey and lacey collar. His skin was the same pitch, I couldn't figure where his clothes began… stark white hair fell past the shoulders. No elf cut hair. Even his lips, the only exquisite color of his eyes a bright amber regarded me with curiosity.
Oh yea how do I look? I'm a raven haired slightly plump girl about six feet with boots (now I'm shorter without those) and my hair is always messy. I felt like an ugly animal. He smiled a little. I focused on the numerous books on the shelf behind him, and then I noticed his elegant hands were crossed on the top of the chair, clasped loosely. Nails were sharp. I imagined him tearing into flesh. No no don't think. A breath was taken. "Can I ask you some questions?" he spoke quietly. In the split second I shifted my gaze, the elf was in the chair now. His legs were crossed.
The only drow I knew about was Drizzt do'urden, from a fiction. The guy was a warrior and friendly. The info from the library reading loomed menacingly. But I forced it back.
"Errr…. Okay." I muttered, stuck out my hand. Algrim cocked his head quizzically. Oh they probably didn't shake hands for tradition. But as I moved my hand back embarrassed, he clasped mine once. His grip was warm. I blinked. "I'm- stunned. To get you," I croaked.
Didn't know why I said that! I'm a dolt! I should at least try to be kind to a black guy even if he's weird and scary…. Crap! Mentally I slammed myself against a brick wall.
Algrim did not speak for sometime. He seemed to be considering this. Then he replied honestly, "I see. I suppose seeing me, a dark elf among the others, is frightening. People have mentioned that. Which is your preference to be called, Reslin Q'restia Phoebe Andriel?"
I smiled, nobody had ever read out my full name so formally, with reverence! All of his pronunciation was precise. My teacher had a faint accent, like the Light elves and yet different. A text came through in my pocket.
It was electric, yet fun to be talking to this drow. Haha he was not upset by my lateness. Phew! "You can call me Res, or Ray everyone does. The rest are my father's and ancestral names much too long."
Algrim underlined it and introduced himself. I need not call him Mister or Master or surname. Just his name sufficed. He had lived here in this Realm for years. But he didn't say why he was here. Where his family or his real home could be… I burned to ask, as I half listened to what he touched on, about subjects and life here. Algrim seemed openminded. I forgot about the books' info and relaxed.
"Are you, have you always lived here?" I asked.
He nodded, opening his right hand palm up. "Yes. I have another home in Asgard, where I am needed. Here, your interests are animal science, Magic basic level. May I know what that is supposed to mean?"
"I hope to do something more, um practical and be graceful. I mean I like books, but it'd be a good balance."
Then he wanted to know, "What are your expectations of me? Before we proceed?"
What did I….. blank. I watched how long his black ears were, tips and almost nice to touch them. I laughed nervously. "I'm fine with anything. Really, fireballs would be cool to use. Like self defence and those purple thingies flying. They're so cute. And, um science is my favorite area coz I am on a farm back home. I like the animals."
Algrim's eyes were larger at this moment. The pause went on for longer but I had said my piece. It was comical that here I am, expecting this drow to growl and holler at me. Everything he said is so soft and calm. I doubt he had a huge temper…
He closed his eyes slightly. "All right, I understand. This is good Reslin. I used to have only male students. Perhaps it shall be a different method. Hm… I prefer a calm quiet environment like this and to be respected. In order to know about magic, I wish to assess if you have the potential and ability to. It requires a certain level of mathematics. How much do you know?" His tone was stronger now and the questioning level had increased.
I seemed to have to answer to a lot of stuff. Sigh. "I know how to count eggs, apples. Before in school sometime ago, I don't do well. Really? I have to?" I pictured being swarmed by numbers on all sides. I definitely agreed, calm and quiet were wonderful and nice. On my realms we were always screamed at or hit. Then it meant this guy would try to be nice to me.
Algrim smiled wider, his sharp canines showed more. I danced between worry and happy. He made a prayer gesture. "Yes, it is real. I am pleased to be here with you. Now, I will start. I have a short paper prepared, as a general gauge of your level. Feel free to ask, since you're new here and I will help you with the documents." I inwardly groaned and smiled.
He invited me to sit at his desk. Eight questions on the paper, then Algrim disappeared. Huh? The light was better to read with. It was a mix of maths and language questions. I chewed my pen. The 4th one was an essay, bigger white space provided- please write what you want to know more of (for freelance discussion).
There were some multiple choices. I am keen to learn more of this place, and elves, lore, culture and religions. But I also have to do some maths and science which my father wants and expects me to do so. (decided not to talk about the arguments we had) I like magic, want to have some other talent… I think my only skill is physical brute force. Because I do not get hurt.
Hmm would Algrim mind if I wrote back something. What is freelance…? I skipped the equations knowing nothing about those and did what I could. Then my phone vibrated again. Ack, I can't answer now. Looking around, he was gone.
I peeked at it under the table. Hey u ok? Are u dead? And: Is Al torturing u? Luv fara's pal, he's so cute! I smiled and pressed a few to reply…
"Is that a phone I hear? That tapping?" that voice cut the silence. Algrim? As an 'Al' I couldn't picture that. Hehe.
"Sorry." I pricked my ears trying to see where he was coming from. The other corners were still shadowed. "I am almost done." The curtain lifted in the far end of the room and he moved. Pale hair was tied back now. Algrim was in green shift, different design. He could hear me from there!
Evenly, the elf said, "I would appreciate if my student does not use a device when I am here. Today I don't wish to be angry. I happen to read your mind. It's humorous." The drow was directly behind me and my hairs prickled. Oh dear this meant every single thought I had just popped up with had been received. I filled up number 8 and pushed the paper to the centre.
"I won't. hm I don't know how to do the rest. Sorry."
I watched him reading, standing beside me. He felt warmer. "Look. For this you can open the brackets. That's the rule, and…." Explaining with a pencil, Algrim drafted at the side. I followed accordingly. He browsed the rest and nodded. He did look nice in green, in the light. It somehow softened his age and scare factor. I attempted to block my mind. Also, I noticed he wrote with his left hand but his script was beautiful and not awkward. Magic-users normally write like that. Cool!
"Thank you. I find this rather helpful, and I will think about how to conduct lessons. Are you more of a practical approach person, or do you like notes and reading up?"