Eddiwarth sat on the soft pillow and took the bowl that Illariel handed him. He sniffed at it, and the rich aroma of spiced berries, peaches and cream wafted up at him. He closed his eyes and breathed it deep. It had been a long time since he’d had a good meal. Even though the monastery at Dirae had fed them well when they visited, it had been plain food, grains, cheeses, and lightly seasoned meats. He had to admit that during their time at Thissraelle’s house in Emberfire City, he had gotten quite accustomed to the finery of high elven cuisine.
Too bad she couldn’t be here for Korr. This is a big deal for him tonight.
“Hey, hurry up!” Illariel was holding a huge platter of meat out to him. “My arms’re getting tired.”
Eddiwarth quickly grabbed the spoon in the bowl he was holding and scooped out some of the fruit onto his own plate, then handed it off to the disciple at his right. She took the bowl with a sweet smile and began dishing up her own meal. Then he hurried to grab the plate Illariel was offering him.
The meat was roast pork, sliced and spiced to perfection. The new smells wafting up off of this huge plate enthralled him even more. He took a few slices with the serving fork and passed the plate along.
Eddiwarth looked past Illariel and Parith at Korr, who was smiling and indulging in the delicious food of his celebration. His right sleeve was drawn up past his elbow. His forearm near his wrist was now circled with a tattoo of a dragon, for discipline, they had said. I don’t think I’ve seen him smile this much or look this content in a long time. Of course, he’s got good reason to be satisfied. His quest is done. He found the dragon Heathrax, delivered the master’s message, and now he can go on with his studies here.
After taking a few pieces, he passed on the plate with the breads and cheeses.
“Hey!” Illariel snapped him back to attention. “I wasn’t done with that!”
“Oh! I’m sorry.” He reached across to his right to ask for the return of the plate.
“Eh. Don’t bother.” Illariel huffed. “It’ll come around again.”
She looked at him as he ate. “You seem distracted.”
“I mean, here’s a great meal and a wonderful celebration, and you can’t even notice to pass the plates.”
Eddiwarth laughed to himself. That’s the truth.
She egged him on. “Come on. Tell me what’s going on.”
Eddiwarth chewed on some bread as he thought. “I guess,” he mumbled, “I’m a little jealous. Korr has his studies. His life has a plan. He has a purpose, a goal, a focus to go for. So does Thissraelle. She’s learning magic from the best of masters. Even Parith knows what he’s looking for.”
“And you don’t?”
“I guess I’m looking for something to look for,” Eddiwarth sighed and leaned back on his arms for a moment.
Hopefully Granthurg will still have the dragon’s tooth dagger and we can figure out what it’s all about. “I don’t know. It’s got to be something big, though. Something important. Something that will make Thissraelle see that I’m someone real.”
Illariel raised her eyebrow then punched his shoulder.
“Ow! Hey!” Eddiwarth jerked away and rubbed the spot.
“Hmmm. You seem real enough to me.”
He had to smile in spite of the pain. I’m not, though. I’m like a raw oculus. It looks nice, and it might even be cut and polished, but it has no real power.
Soft footsteps, flowing robes, and the steady tap of a cane moved past them. The Academy master stopped before Korr and settled himself down on his knees on the floor. Everyone around them hushed as he and Korr exchanged bows. “Please, please,” the master said, waving his gnarled fingers, “continue eating.”
“Maan Korr,” he continued, his voice in a friendly tone, even though he used the full name, “I wish to thank you for taking on the quest to share my message with my friend Heathrax. I have missed him.”
Eddiwarth watched them carefully.
Korr bowed his head again. “Thanks is also due to you, Master. I learned much from him.”
“I saw that. And I see that you have learned much from your journeys, too. Your friends here have supported you well.”
Korr nodded. He seemed unsure what to say. “I’m very grateful for all that you have taught me. Your life has changed my life.”
The old man smiled. “And yours, mine, as well! And now you are an Acolyte of the First Dragon. Well done!”
Korr bowed again. Eddiwarth watched him. I wish I’d had a mentor like that while I was in the Wizard’s Guild. Of course, I don’t know that I’d have let myself learn as much from him as Korr has, though.
The master looked deep at Korr’s eyes. “So are you ready now to continue your studies?”
Korr bowed his head. He spoke softly, and Eddiwarth had to strain to hear. “My soul is torn, master. I yearn to study more and learn at your feet.”
“But…” the master prodded.
“But I feel a calling to travel further with my friends. There are things that we must find and do in the world.”
Eddiwarth looked, surprised, at Parith. Parith’s face looked stoic, like he already knew Korr would say this, but he didn’t want to endanger Korr’s standing in the Academy.
The master smiled and stood with a groan of age and soreness. “Then it appears that you have chosen to continue your studies!” He leaned and clapped Korr’s shoulders. “Truly, we will all miss you here in our halls. We trust you will come back to share your advancement with us?”
Korr bowed deeply. The master stepped away.
“Hopefully, you will at least tarry with us a few days. All of you! Rest, practice, prepare. Then, when you leave, we will all pray that the Creator will bless your steps.”