The man was going to have his hide later on, but Zack decided that seeing him unnerved will be worth it.
At Kierlan's questioning glance, the auburn-haired man's grin widened even more. "I'm going to be in trouble for sure."
Kierlan was too intent in going about his plans for later that he was not able to respond to Zack's laughing comment. He and Celestyn would have to be thorough. He knew he could count on Elyzaar's support but he also had Dirbelow, Avenes and Siraak's watchful eyes to reckon with.
Hearing Zack's comment, Celestyn said quietly: "Thank you for watching out for me, Lord Farnham, but I do not think it is wise to anger Captain Siraak now." An indrawn breath. "I sense evil in that man. You should be careful."
"I am a very careful man, Lady Hearthwell, and please, call me Zack. I promised Kierlan that I would help him protect you, and if that includes Captain Siraak, then so be it," he answered, keeping a close eye on said officer. "Although I have to say, the captain is not acting like himself, especially with the edict on magic users now in place."
Celestyn's lips curved into a smile. "Very well...Zack. Please call me Celestyn as well." She sobered. "Thank you for your kind offer. It is much appreciated."
He nodded at her before turning to Kierlan. "If Siraak does anything during the meeting, you have anything in mind other than using me as a padded shield?"
Kierlan turned back to Zack and Celestyn. "Alright, we have to alter the original plans. We not only have Siraak to deal with, but Sir Kazinach and Mayor Falkswain as well." He paused, considering Larinya, who he was guessing, wanted to be tested to prove she was sealed. "This is what we'll do."
"I apologize for the inconvenience this move has caused you and your students, Headmaster," Mayor Falkswain said regretfully. "I wish I could have done more to-"
"You did all you could, Mayor," Elyzaar answered, nodding his head. "It was inevitable after all, with so many things happening to our town. Sandur might be a better and safer place for them."
The mayor nodded, the stricken look still on his face.
"I agree with Elyzaar. Lately, we have our share of disturbing incidents." Dirbelow said, referring to the brutal murder of three young women.
Seated on the chair by Elyzaar's desk, Larinya resisted the urge to just tell the headmaster to test her and get it over with. She had no plans of going to Sandur. More so, she had no plans to stay in this room and listen to all that usual talk. She glanced at the smirking captain near her and she wanted to groan. She did not like him at all.
Seeming to sense Larinya's discomfort, Elyzaar's dark eyes turned in her direction and he opened his mouth to speak, only to be interrupted by a knock in the door.
"Need we say who your visitors are, headmaster?" Siraak drawled.
Elyzaar gave the captain a measured glance, which sent him fidgeting, before calling out, "Come in."
The door opened to reveal two of his students, and the man that came with the captain. Siraak frowned distastefully at Zack.
"I did not ask you to join us, Farnham," he said through gritted teeth.
Zack looked back with the same measured and controlled look. "No, but Kierlan did."
Siraak looked at the Prince who was just looking at him with inscrutable dark eyes. "Ah...to what do we owe the pleasure of His Royal Highness' visit?"
Avenes was too distressed to reprimand the captain for his rudeness to someone of higher rank.
Kierlan merely looked right through the captain and greeted everyone else. After Celestyn curtsied and did the same, Kierlan looked at Elyzaar pointedly and said: "Headmaster, Lady Hearthwell and I wish to be tested to prove we are sealed."
Elyzaar looked at both of them for a long time before saying: "I see. You have chosen a good time to be sealed, both of you." He looked at Larinya. "Three of you. I will test you shortly."
Larinya's surprised gaze jerked to Kierlan and Celestyn, her eyes wide. They are sealed as well?
Dirbelow just sat there, his eyes watchful.
Celestyn made herself meet everyone's eyes squarely, gathering all the strength she could muster. Fates...She could feel her hands trembling.
Ignoring the others, Kierlan's hand reached out for hers and he squeezed her fingers assuringly.
"Three more to be sealed? Headmaster..." Avenes looked at the Headmaster in surprise, while the captain's eyes narrowed.
The large man smirked. "This I must see, unless his royal highness is lying."
"I'd make sure you keep your mouth shut if I were you, Captain," Zack shot back icily.
Siraak returned the glare. "I am your superior, Farnham, I suggest you don't cross me."
"My rank may be below that of yours, but my allegiance is to my Prince and his kingdom, so do not cross me," the brown-haired man retorted.
"Enough!" Elyzaar said with authority. "We shall begin the sealing test."
Siraak slammed his hand on the handle of his seat. "This is useless banality! That woman is not sealed! And she will never be sealed!"
"Captain!" Zack yelled in warning.
"I'll prove it to you!"
Avenes got to his feet, opening his mouth to say something to stop the captain, but he wasn't given the chance to as Siraak advanced towards Celestyn.
Instantly, Kierlan placed himself in front of Celestyn, his steely eyes on Siraak. "Touch her, Captain, and you will answer to me." He warned, his voice deadly quiet.
Dirbelow's low, firm voice sounded out then. "Please be reminded of the other occupants of this room, Siraak, and behave accordingly."
In her shock, it took some while before Celestyn could recover enough to look at Siraak. She did not like what she saw in his eyes. Up close, she could see the evil in him even more. She resisted the urge to shiver. She felt so cold inside.
"All that power in her, all that power!" Siraak continued to shout, ignoring Dirbelow. "I've seen it, she's a menace to society! This woman's powers are too strong to be sealed! Come on, show them! Tell them!"
"That is enough, Captain!" Zack gripped the large man by the wrists. "Stay away from Celes- OOMPH!" He staggered back when Siraak's knuckles connected with his jaw.
Avenes looked distressed. "Siraak! What do you think you're doing!?"
Larinya's eyes enlarged. As much as she wanted to restrain the captain with the weight of 5 fully grown hogs, it will deem impossible, even ridiculous. Instead she stepped up to Celestyn's defense, ready to crush some eyes or noses if forced to.
But the more commanding presence, Elyzaar Carmichean had stood in between and this Headmaster, enraged in form, his wrinkles more prominent and his eyebrows meeting each other with eyes that seem to obliterate at stare is enough to make Siraak cower down for the moment.
"This is the last time you'll exert your power against me or my students Siraak!"
Challenged by Elyzaar's taunt only made Siraak edge forward, "I know their plan!" He jabbed a malicious finger on Kierlan and Celestyn, " Why, oh Headmaster, do you let yourself be wrung in their little claws? It is only a matter of impressing you how well they hide their own sorceries! If you allow your intelligence to be carried away Carmichean, I strongly would not!"
"I am sorely tempted to exert the power my rank brought me on you, for what you did, Captain." Kierlan bit out as he helped Zack to his feet. "And I am even more tempted to tear you from limb...to...limb!" He added, between gritted teeth.
Surprised at his subordinate's rare show of temper, Dirbelow managed to hold off the feeling of shock long enough to walk over to Siraak, ready to physically restrain him. "That is enough, Siraak."
Siraak swung around, his eyes wild and accusing, directed at everyone in the room. "It is the law for us to protect people from Demon Spawns!" He spat out, glaring particularly at Kierlan and Celestyn. "Setting these two demon spawns loose will be the death of all of us! You are fools not to believe me!" He growled.
Everyone turned to see Avenes standing there. And they knew then how much power the mayor held. He stood there, straight and tall, his eyes cold and compelling. Power seemed to radiate from his being and silence fell upon the room. "I am considering dismissing you, Siraak, if you don't stop that senseless ranting." Though the mayor was quiet, one could see how serious he was on his words.
Celestyn looked Zack's swollen jaw and instantly, she felt a surge of anger not only for the callous captain but for herself. Why the hell was she standing there letting them speak for her when she had a voice of her own? "I agree with the mayor. Nothing could be achieved by this. By all means, Headmaster, test us now." She looked coldy at Siraak. "I don't hesitate to say how eager I am to prove you wrong, Captain." She said disdainfully.
Beside her, Kierlan could not resist from chuckling softly.
A spirited and brave one, that she is, Zack thought, grinning as best as his jaw would let him. "I suggest that you do what the mayor says, captain, if you know what's good for you."
Siraak gave Zack another cold glare. "You are still my subordinate, Farnham. Once we return to headquarters-"
"Give me a whipping, I don't care. You insist that our duty is to protect people from demon spawns, but it is also our duty to protect them from the abuses hurled at them. Wouldn't you agree, Lord Dirbelow?"
The mute of Sollus looked suspiciously close to laughter himself. "Indeed, Siraak." He turned to Elyzaar. "Now let us get this over with, Headmaster." The head of security spoke as if they were merely having a pleasant conversation over tea.
And Larinya HOPED it was the conclusive straw. She was beginning to be very irritated of adults acting like children. Suddenly the students emerged to be the more mature proper people. She unintentionally faced Zack, the man she saw first in the artists' lounge, but looked away then. Her eyes then fell on Siraak. Can we get this pigpen Siraak out of this place? I don't see why he HAS to be here...Lousy scene stealers...
Elyzaar turned to Larinya, "May we start with you Larinya?"
Larinya's breath was caught in her throat, "Ye...Yes." She took a clumsy glance at the captain who didn't think her too important but he scowled anyhow.
"...Sealings are not supposed to be conducted in this manner," Elyzaar said it particularly to Dirbelow, Celestyn, Kierlan and regretfully, Siraak, "However it may be appropriate in this time where the world distrusts us. Perhaps we need to reveal even the more, how these should work..."
Larinya bit her lip. She wished the Headmaster did not have to say those. Think about the shame she'll bring if she finds out that she is not sealed.
"Larinya Danaeross' magic is converting them to their direct opposites," Elyzaar continued in his briefing, "This is her second test. She submitted her hands to an open fire. The result of which should be freezing them and indeed they were." He turned to his student, "Would you mind a similar test?"
Larinya uncomfortably shifted her eyes away from the Headmaster but she nodded, "Well it's the most obvious one..."
Elyzaar nodded. He asked Zack to locate Croise D'vinaeoss and summon him to the office.
No one spoke then. Only the sound of breathing could be heard. Kierlan, Celestyn and Larinya stood there, prepared for whatever was in store for them.
A moment later, knocks sounded from outside the door and a voice called. "Headmaster?"
"Croise, come in," Elyzaar invited with a wave, noticing as the boy and Larinya's eyes had locked at entrance, "Croise D'vinaeoss is able to summon the wind and water elements and able to join them to create ice. We will need the latter magic for Larinya. Croise will have to freeze Larinya's hands. I will then need a volunteer who will wear a pair of my gloves in the cabinet and let Croise freeze them. " Elyzaar pointed to his desk, "If Larinya is not yet sealed, her hands will ultimately engulf into flame. However if she is able to maintain it, as long as that volunteer could...Well, let us see for now."
"I'll be that volunteer," Avenes gave Larinya an encouraging smile. The memory of the proud student, laying on a treetop and declaring she will once conquer fire was still fresh from both the mayor and the prospect-soon-to-be-sealed student's minds, " And I'd rather have my hands frozen. It will be the more dire test."
Croise choked. "W, what?! U, use my magic?? Headmaster--"
"Croise, I'd like you to use your magic on Avenes and Larinya first. Then we shall move to Celestyn and Siraak," Elyzaar instructed, "Note that I am allowing this use solely for testing needs."
Croise found that there was absolutely no room left for him to argue. He sighed, giving up and turned to face his cousin and the mayor. He didn't know how to start, but he held out his hands, ready for the test. "I, if you may..."
Larinya, unconsciously, gave Croise a reassuring smile and her hands as the mayor also extended his. Avenes spoke, "Just because I am a mayor doesn't mean you have to go mild on me." He grinned as if it was all a game, "Give me the similar treatment."
Siraak was disgusted of the childish play going about, he stared at Croise, hoping the boy will get the message.
Croise felt hot eyes on him but he decided to ignore it, anyways. He was beginning to feel nervous, the wind blowing unnoticeably stronger and colder. He focused on his hands. Usually, he would create ice from the mixture of cold wind around the target with moist forming in. But he remembered the incident with the leaf. How by one touch, it immediately froze. He wondered if, and expected it would work the same with the hands he now held.
The expectation wasn't wrong.
The wind blew stronger as Croise mustered more energy to cover the hands with crystallized water. They were beginning to pale, as was Croise's hands. The finger nails showed a hint of blue. Frost came and soon, the ice was thickening, equally on both hands, Croise hoped.
His mouth breathed out fog, he was still nervous with what he is doing, and what is happening. He was slightly bothered as to how he could have made ice so easily. Like that on the leaf.
Zack watched as the participants' hands were covered with the biting blue frost, eyes keen and observant to the process. He had never been a witness to sealing, this process he was watching now gave him an insight into the experiences of magic users who give themselves to be sealed. He was amazed, and his mind began to work.
"If I may note..." Elyzaar addressed Dirbelow and Siraak, "This is ice magic. Not just ice from the Lost Region for example. The fact that a magic, opposite to Larinya's affinity, is used on her should already present a conversion if Larinya's magic is still active. Larinya's magic should pick this interference and do what needs to be done."
Larinya stared at her hands, already white, near blue. She did not want to think or breathe.
"This may be the same for Miss Hearthwell," Elyzaar placed a hand over Croise, "Just tell us if you are ready for them."
Celestyn met Kierlan's eyes and he nodded at her. She saw Zack give her an encouraging smile and she took a deep breath, preparing herself.
She need not be alarmed now. After all Josiah did to help her and Kierlan...Things could not go wrong. She looked into Kierlan's eyes. If she wanted to be with him, nothing must go wrong.
Croise swallowed and nodded. "I, I am." He let go of the hands and took some time to clasp them both to feel whatever else heat was left as he approached for the next people. He rested for awhile, heart beating faster and head throbbing slightly. He cleared his throat and held out his pale hands. "Please..."
Celestyn walked forward and smiled at Croise weakly, hoping to assure him. "I am ready. Thank you for everything, Croise."
"Start now, boy!" Siraak commanded, glaring at Croise threateningly.
"I do not like your tone, Captain. Croise has done nothing for you to~" Celestyn was unable to resist snapping as she held out her hands, but she stopped when she saw Kierlan look at her and nodded for her to stop.
Celestyn paused, knowing Kierlan was right. It was hardly advisable to lose her temper now.
"Just shut that damn mouth, Captain. The sooner you do, the sooner you can get over this ridiculous notion of protecting mankind from demon spawns like us." Kierlan drawled casually.
Zack hid a grin behind his hand which held a cold bag of ice to where the captain had struck him, keeping a close eye not only on Celestyn and Kierlan, but the other occupants of the room as well.
Especially Siraak. The man would have to be carefully observed.
Croise gasped in surprise with Siraak's words. Immediately, he closed his eyes shut and held the hands, bringing out his magic once more. He made sure the ice came swiftly. But it had made him reach his limit. Not ready for such to happen, Croise immediately lost hold of the hands when they were thick enough and bent lowly, covering his mouth as he coughed. He coughed as if he was losing air. But before anyone could approach him, immediately he stood up and smiled at everyone, his face pale and sweating. "I, I'm all right. I'm just...a bit restless, lately..." His heart beat went faster and his head throbbed more. He held his warm forehead and turned to Elyzaar. "H, Headmaster...I think I wish to rest..."
Elyzaar nodded. "Thank you for coming, Croise."
Croise nodded. He tried as much as possible to walk straightly to the door, Dirbelow opening it for him. He received an offer of assistance from the man, but he refused with a tired smile, and went on his way to his room as Dirbelow closed the door.
Siraak gritted his teeth, feeling the cold bite painfully on his hands. He looked at the demon spawn beside him. Witch! This will be the end of you.
Celestyn knew what Siraak was thinking but she made her face look expressionless, despite her growing anger. She used her acting skills to pretend that she was trying to endure the cold when all the while, she felt nothing at all.
She looked at the ice enveloping her slender hands. Nothing at all...
From the corner, Kierlan looked at her and he knew, from the dim confident light in her eyes that everything was going well. He stopped himself from sighing with relief.
Their plan was working.
But somehow, as he looked at Elyzaar's face, Kierlan knew that his part would not be as easy.
Larinya shut her eyes, trying to be numb of the stinging cold. If she is actually sealed, she should not be thinking or concentrating much, but the risks are even higher now. Instead of thinking about her hands' dropping temperature, she thought of all those years she had to spend in Sollus. All those years of freedom yearned and time wasted.
"I-I feel I could not last another revolution of the clock!" Avenes stuttered. At his impulse, he walked fast to the oil lamp, exposing the ice there until Dirbelow stepped up and used his weapon to destroy the ice.
The biting cold...The determining fact... It was that time when, her 'buried' magic might not take it anymore and simply explode but she told herself of the cold. Relived her life through the cold. It was all about conditioning the mind, she was told. Of not letting go.
And then she had entirely forgotten how to summon her magic.
Larinya stifled a cry.
Zack was ready with his hilt. At Larinya's wince, he readily, strongly but with control, struck the ice until it broke into half. Larinya gladly cracked the rest of the part, watching her bluish hands tremble and all she felt was that they were freezing. Not that it needs to be released.
Zack led the woman to the fireplace to warm her hands, and turned to face the remaining two.
Beside where Larinya had been standing, Siraak's face and lips were fast turning blue. Still, he withstood it. That witch will get what she deserves...
Celestyn just stood there, putting a pained expression in her face. This was what she had done for years...pretend...
How she tires of it now.
She just wants to break free.
She knew that the cold was getting more bitter for even she was starting to feel the pain.
Kierlan saw Celestyn's face pale and he saw the real shadow of a pain in her eyes. Stop it now, Celestyn. Don't push it...He told her with his mind, hoping she would get his message in spite of her pain.
Celestyn gave a sharp cry only a split second after Siraak let out a loud yell.
"That's it." Ignoring Siraak who was on the floor, twisting in agony, Kierlan let Dirbelow take care of the pompous captain and went to Celestyn, using his dagger to strike the ice and break it.
Kierlan took her cold hands in his, led her to the fireplace to warm herself, and still standing beside her, turned to Elyzaar. "Headmaster?"
Elyzaar had to ask himself for permission to breathe and thus deem it all over. The pleased smiles and nods of Avenes, Dirbelow's face expressionless but untainted by negativity and the most determining fact, Siraak's denial.
"We are all witness here to Larinya and Celestyn's test," Elyzaar finally spoke, "And...I leave it up to you to object to what is clearly ....a success."
Elyzaar's once hidden suspicions on Celestyn had revealed themselves again. How could she be sealed this fast? If Celestyn is sealed does it mean she cannot possibly read his thoughts? He struck Celestyn a glance, then finally shifted to Larinya.
"Is it will power alone? I do not think so. Mayor Falkswain and Captain Siraak are proofs of that," Especially you Siraak....
"Without a doubt," Avenes did the rest of the talking. "I have seen these students, knew what they were capable of...And I believe they added to the roster of successfully sealed students...The last of Avenes Falkswain School, here in Sollus."
It was over. Finally, it was over. Celestyn sighed with relief. She knew the Headmaster doubted her but she showed no sign.
Siraak's face was purple with rage as he looked menacingly at Celestyn, who watched him with cold gray-blue eyes. "I'll be watching you, you little wi~"
"Spare us your 'flattery', Captain." Kierlan's voice lashed out with exaggerated politeness.
"We will have Kierlan's test at a later time," Elyzaar interrupted before anything could be started again, "His magic apparently is different and clearly not obvious unlike these two women. Such test, to be credible, must take time."
The Headmaster almost swirled to Siraak, "And if you wish you can be there to witness..."
Different eh? Siraak wiped his hands by a cloth offered to him, "That I would not miss then. Not the Prince's sealing test for the world." Siraak bit out.
"As you wish, Headmaster." Kierlan said. He met Celestyn's worried eyes and he nodded at her assuringly.
Zack gave his friend a look of concern. He might want me to be present... I must make sure I'll be there.
At a later date...What on earth will they do to him...Celestyn thought, unable to shake off the feeling of fear for him.
Amidst the silence in the room, Celestyn heard Kierlan's voice in her mind. Don't worry about me, Aine. I will be fine.
"We have had quite a night. Let us all get some rest." Avenes' firm voice finally broke the silence.
The others could not agree more.