“Wait here, Lady Rangorn.”
Lady Laisa Rangorn’s violet eyes smoldered. “Very well,” she said in a chilled tone.
The gentleman’s silver hair bristled, even through the grease that plastered it to his head. His hold tightened on the molded brass fitting of the gargantuan oak door. Then he pulled and it glided open, his thin frame disappearing beyond.
“Fool,” she muttered.
Laisa crossed her arms, the lush purple of her brocade jacket rustling in chorus with her rising irritation. Her family’s standing in the community mattered little to her, or to those of the Guild. Yet now that a summons from the Head Master interrupted her studies, she would have liked nothing more than to remind them of her pedigree.
After all, she was fifth in line to inherit the crown from the current matriarch, Queen Palian te Rishet.
The hollow tick of the grand clock in the hall scraped at Laisa’s patience, eliciting a concurrent tick of her fingers on her arm. Then the wide door opened to reveal the white-haired instructor and she stood, biting back a retort on the duration of her wait.
“You may enter.” He stepped back, motioning deeper within the chamber with a bony arm.
Laisa looked from his pale skin with a grimace of distaste as she stepped forward. At the foot of the Head Master’s desk she curtsied low, remaining in the position of humility until he acknowledged her and bid her to rise.
Silence descended upon her mind as she did as bidden. She clasped her hands before her and focused upon the Head Master with an expression of calm and patience. His smirk bellowed condescending amusement and goaded at her temper.
“Your studies have progressed well, Lady Rangorn. As expected.”
Acknowledging the statement with but an inclination to her head, Laisa waited.
“Before you progress to your next rank within the Guild, you must adventure outside these walls for a complete year.”
Laisa blinked. “Pardon?”
The expression of amusement didn’t relent. “Only upon your return will you qualify for a final examination from your peers.”
“Adventure? Head Master….” Words failed her as her mind scurried back from the dark corners of horror. “No one before me has ever been required to make such a sacrifice!”
The Head Master leaned back into the rigidity of his chair. “Who better to begin this tradition? You excel, Lady Rangorn, at all you undertake. All of the instructors believe you will do the same in this.”
Her brows furrowed. “The instructors wish me dead,” she retorted.
The Head Master shrugged. “You are a threat to them, Lady Rangorn, due to the extremity of your power and the influence of your family. Should you return from–”
“This is folly!” she protested, the brocade of her full gown rustling as she glided forward. “A Mesmer has no place participating in a sole adventure for fame and treasure!”
“Ah. This adventure would not be a sole venture,” the Head Master assured. He motioned to a footman who disappeared behind the same oak door. “It would be folly indeed if the danger to your person loomed so conspicuous.”
Laisa withheld a scoff.
Moments passed before the oak door purred open to reveal a tower of a man in full scale armor, an axe sheathed on his back. His stoic expression hinted at nothing, just as his erect posture as he held the helmet under his arm told of many years of experience in a chamber such as this.
“Certainly this is a jest!” Laisa tilted her chin up as she focused her haughty and sparking violet gaze on the still amused expression of the Head Master. “I must venture out with a single soldier at my beck and call? Do you know who I am?”
A statement she promised never to utter, and yet she spoke it without the merest hesitation. That thought caused an internal twinge.
“Lady Emilia Clemint Laisa Raquell Rangorn. Fifth in line to the throne of Pelea. Third daughter to the Duke of Rang.” The Head Master cocked his head. “Have I forgotten a title?”
Laisa’s eyes narrowed at his mocking tone. “Tread you careful, Head Master. I have little patience for this game of power you play.” She cast the warrior beside her a disdainful glance. “What is your name?”
Her laugh bubbled over with scorn. “Well, Lord Grimm,” she curtsied in mocking sincerity, “shall we venture forth on our adventure?” Once she straightened, she pierced the Head Master’s amused gaze with a glance of doom. “I shall return, Head Master, and upon that time your life will be forfeit.”
She turned on her heel and glided from the room, the ringing of scale armor behind her beating at her calm and laughing at her determination.