“Well Mr Ashgar, I must say your application is beyond impressive”.
“Thank you, Sir”. The chubby-cheeked student broke into a wide and friendly grin, the same cheeks flush with pink as he received the compliment. The man who had offered it, a bespectacled man in his 40s wearing a long tweed jacket, thumbed through the records in front of him, displaying a number of successive surprises on his face; he was quite clearly astounded by each new discovery, just a little bit more than the last.
His colleague, the second of the three-person sitting panel, was a woman of similar age; she wore a black three-piece suit and pushed a hand back through her mousy blonde hair as she read aloud from her copy of the records.
“A 4.0 Spell Point Average, thousands of hours in magical extracurricular activities and charitable outreach programs, not to mention being the youngest winner of the Merlin grant since, well, Merlin himself!”
All day we’ve wasted with potential students, when we have a clear victor here, thought the woman, sharing her observation through the three-person telepathic spell the assessors had cast prior to starting their day.
Quite, said the bespectacled man.
Not so, retorted the third of the trio, a thin wiry-framed man. He was much older than the other two, with a nose not unlike a raven’s beak and a technicolour scarf wrapped around his shoulders. Without saying a word, the first and second assessors turned to their colleague in confusion. A series of telepathic questions ensued, but he ignored them, proceeding to question the prospective student instead.
“Where did you take your undergraduate studies?” he assessor asked,
“The Academy of Brom’s stone Sir,” the boy said.
“It’s quite small, not many people have ever heard of it,” he replied. Perhaps only eighteen years old, the young man’s head was beginning to glisten under sweat and questioning.
“You enjoyed excelling somewhere unknown? Being the big fish in the small pond?”
“It was mostly for the convenience it provided my guardians, Sir, as the school was local to the mill where they both worked”. The wiry assessor murmured something slight aloud, but his two colleagues nodded enthusiastically and commented psychically.
Such a considerate boy-
What a humble young man-
The third of the assessors pictured a sharp sound, pictured himself clearing his throat as noisily as he possibly could. His coworkers cringed subtly, ceasing their flatteries as they heard the voice - as loud in their ears as he had projected it across his mind’s eye.
“Well, Mr Ashgar, I think we’ve seen enough for today,” he said, bracing himself for another psychic barrage of questions. The man’s associates made no secret of their dismay, save from the boy himself, and mentally assaulted the man whilst he stood from the panel’s desk, as he stomped to the chair in the middle of the space, and even throughout his walk leading the boy from the assessor’s room. The moment the prospective student stepped out of the door, however, the man’s impassive expression vanished; he turned to face his co-workers, with a sombre air about him.
“Why would you turn away the one and only promising candidate we’ve seen today?” said the woman in the three-piece suit. The wiry man strode further toward her before he spoke, casting a suspicious glance back at the door before he whispered a sly spell beneath his breath; a wave of sky-blue light washed over the door, sealing it and preventing any sound from escaping.
“Because, dear Maas, I recognise that child for who he is, and who he will be-”
“Goodness Sanderson, stop speaking in riddles and explain yourself,” retorted the bespectacled man, a note of anger crossing his voice as he turned to speak to his wiry colleague.
“Very well Rothfuss,” Sanderson replied. “The reason I didn’t want to spend even a minute longer in council with him, is that his surname is not Ashgar. It is, and will always be, De’Mort”.
A doublet of gasps suddenly resounded about the room, magic preventing either from leaving it until they faded away of their own accord. Each of the assessors was struck back by Sanderson’s revelation; all the colour vanished from Rothfuss’s face and suddenly filled Maas’s instead, taking the vigour from his and adding to the bluster in hers.
“De’Mort!” she exclaimed. “Not the name of the-”
“Great Necromancer and king of worms, Mannimarco De’Mort? I’m afraid so”. Sanderson paced the length of the assessor’s desk as he confirmed the woman’s suspicion.
“His grandson. The king of worms is long-dead now. As dead as the thousands he killed, both the gods bless their souls”.
“Well-” said Maas. “That certainly settles that. Obviously, the spawn of a necromancer cannot be permitted to attend our most prestigious Geralt Academy”.
“Well, hold now a moment-” Rothfuss started. “-you cannot begin to blame the boy for his grandfather’s actions. He wasn’t yet born!”
“But he is of the same seed, the same family, the same influences-”
“So? He is clearly not the same person!”
Tempers flaring, the three mages stood back from one and other for a moment. Doubt filled them as they each considered the problem.
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