The chance my phersu egg might not hatch seemed high. As it seemed like none of the students had a hatched egg, and they had already been attending Vanderwald for at least a year longer than me. Though I did have two, so the odds were slightly better, or maybe doubly hard.
“First, I thought the Columnaris Program would be the best experience. But my team was never able to work together and we basically failed every competition, which was disappointing. My parents were especially displeased. They say I am the embarrassment of the generation.”
“Is it that hard?”
“I wouldn’t say it’s difficult, but it would have definitely been more enjoyable with a better group of people. I never heard the end of it either. My mom always complained about the company I kept,” she grumbled.
The key to the Columnaris program seemed like teamwork since each person on a team had a different skill and purpose. And I wondered if Lucas was the best person to team up with, since strength wasn’t everything in succeeding.
The more she spoke, the more it sounded like a match made in heaven. Leia seemed to want to join a new team—although Lucas would be part of it—I was sure she and I would work well together.
“Also, my Ceres limits me,” she added.
“I mentioned how I’m part of the portal lineage, and that I can open portals between mirrors. But, since I don’t have the mark of a Resfaber, I’m not able to open portals between dimensions.”
“But you opened the mirror portal on entrance day, didn’t you?”
Leia shook her head and clasped her hands behind her back. “I directed you through the portal, but I didn’t open the connection between the dimensions. There was a Resfaber at the mirror portal on your end, wasn’t there?”
I recalled the man with gold eyes at the mirror portal in Jemela and nodded slowly.
“Both my parents are Resfabers, so you can imagine their disappointment when their little baby girl opened her eyes,” she recollected the painful memory. While she spoke as if she read a book, I could see the sadness in her myrtle eyes that streamed with gold flecks.
“I’m sure there are different options. You still have time to think about it,” I encouraged.
She shrugged, apparently having already done a lot of thinking about this.
I had never really thought about what I would do after Vanderwald. Life was a day to day occurrence, and I just worked with the cards dealt to me. Some might call me naively irresponsible, but I like to consider myself flexibly spontaneous.
Before I could say anything else, we started to approach a petal-shaped door. Frosted etchings of ancient symbols covered the surface. The whimsical sparkle of the sun streamed through the windows and bounced off the glittering surface.
Leia giggled. “I know, right? A bit grandeur for an entrance for a bunch of dusty, old books.”
She grabbed the gold woven handles and pulled to reveal an equally impressive room.
Just as we entered the massive space, I noticed the tall, slender young woman sitting behind an oak desk. Her hair was jet black with hints of hunter green streaks, cropped short to her chin.
“Welcome, Leia.” Her eyes were sharp and inquisitive and slight wrinkles appeared at the edge of her eyes when she smiled. “You must be a new student.”
“My name’s Selena Somerset.”
“You can call me Jenny.” She stood up and guided us toward the center. “Judging by your face, this must be your first time here. This is the Vanderwald Academy Atheneum; it is the largest book collection found in Celestria. As a student, you have access to all the text stored here.”
The Atheneum was located in the center of the large tower and consisted of at least six stories, winding up. The vast open space in the center had long tables where students studied. Looking up at the ceiling, I noticed that the cone tip of the tower was made of a star shaped window that allowed natural light to shower every crevice of the room.
Jenny continued, “The Atheneum will have every book you search for, and more. The sheer collection can be overwhelming, but Libos—my phersu—is here to help you find anything you are searching for.”
A strikingly similar individual walked to stand beside her. Almost twins, except her phersu had yellow streaked hair and glowing yellow eyes.
“She’s a phersu?” I asked incredulously, having assumed that all phersus were creatures, not humans.
“This isn’t her original form, but she prefers this over everything else because she is able to communicate with people. Anyway, if you just call her name, she’ll be able to assist you in finding a book or answering any questions about the Atheneum.”
Leia led the way and placed her things on an empty table. “Every part of Vanderwald, physically, exceeded all my expectations, of course. I mean, how could it not?”
“I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Where are you from?” she inquired.
“Koria.” I winced, knowing that most Celestrians believed Langia to be the place where the retired went.
Her eyes widened on cue. “The countryside of Langia? I really don’t understand how some people do it. No offense, but I just don’t think I would be able to live in such a small town. I grew up in Solara all of my life.”
“I’ve never been,” I admitted, almost shamefully. My parents never allowed outings to the different regions for some odd reason.
In response to my confession, Leia threw her exasperated hands in the air. “Unbelievable. You have to visit sometime. It’s absolutely stunning. The weather is great, and it never rains like Andasia. The sun is warm and not to mention the sandy beaches. Don’t even get me started about the beaches.” She became more excited as she continued to talk.
I snuffled a laugh. “Well, if you like the beaches, then you probably wouldn’t like the cool forest air of Langia. Though, there is nowhere with air as sweet as it is in Langia.”
“Every place has to have some kind of appeal or no one would live there,” she considered. “Although, Andasia really has nothing going for it.”
“It’s that bad?”
A small shudder passed through her body. “It’s the literal opposite of Solara. I don’t like the cold. Or wet.”
“I don’t mind a little rain,” I chuckled.
“Ugh, talking about it makes me feel dreary.” She slumped forward. “Let’s change the subject. Could I see your phersu egg?”
I nodded and reached into my pouch and pulled out the purple crystal egg. I guess this is going to be my “phersu egg” in the publics’ eyes.
Leia’s eyes sparkled. “Your egg is amazing.” She pulled out a jet-black egg with a blue tinge. For such a bright person, the egg was a stark contrast.
“Has anyone’s egg hatched?”
Leia leaned forward and shook her head, casually spinning her egg on the table. “No one currently. But I know there have been a couple of people who graduated whose egg’s hatched, but I hear most of the time they never do.”
That was what I was afraid of.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll be fine. I can feel it. You’re different,” she assured. “You and Lucas, there’s something about you two.”
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