Faern Eldris

…And therefore, as you can see…” my chalk danced across the board as I continued to talk, “…you can apply Thorgean’s Extensionality Theorem in cases where the illusion’s precedents are undefined according to the predictions given by Lograts Bubble.” I placed the chalk lightly in the well and turned from the board, brushing my dark hair back over my ear and looking at the ensemble of students over my wiry glasses. “And that concludes my guest lecture. I want to thank you, class, for being so attentive and hospitable. Your teacher is very fortunate.” Crossing to the podium, I closed the open textbook in my other hand with a soft thud and set it down gently as I passed in front of the table. “Now it seems that there are still a few moments before the class is let out… Do any of you have any final questions about the material covered?” A small bookish elf girl in the first row raised her hand sheepishly.

A small private smile passed across my face as I briefly remembered a similar young elf girl who showed the same eagerness long ago as she sat in my class… Long ago when I was still a regular teacher at a different university…

“Yes… You there miss, you have something to ask?”

Her words flowed out quickly, gushing forth from her softly flushed face. “Umm…Excuseme,sir,butIjustwantedtosaywhatanhonoritistobetaughtbyyoutoday,sir.Imean,I’vereadthemajorityofallyourbooksaboutthearcanesecretsofthefeyandImustsaythatitwasawonderfulandI’msorrybutIreallyenjoyedyourlessontodayandwantedtotellyouwhatanhonoritwastobetaughtbyyousinceI’mthinkingoffollowinginyourfootstepsand…”

I softly raised my hand to stop the girl’s string of words and the beginning chorus of chuckles that started to emanate from the other students. “There, there… Thank you very much… Please, there is no need for all of that…” I remark a bit sheepishly as one of my hands came up to rub the back of my neck.

“But Professor Eldris…” another student piped up matter-of-factly, this time a fairly young half elf boy sitting a few rows back. “Is it not true you are one of the most respected and most published scholars of texts relating to the arcane magic of the fey wilds and how it can be applied to advancements in society? Not only that, but your studies and investigations at various points of arcane interest have been chronicled in various articles. In fact, you’ve almost single handedly sparked the research of thousands during your long life and studies. If I’m not mistaken, sir, you were also a big contributor to the textbook we use for this course… That was written by one of your previous students…”

My uncomfortable subtle cough tried to hide the small flush that had crawled over my cheeks and outset ears. “Err… Well, yes…. I suppose that might be true… When you put it like… umm… that…” A few of the chuckles from the assembled students came back, this time targeted at my stutters, a drastic difference from the eloquent lesson I had just given.

Clearing my throat and my embarrassment to the best of my abilities, I continued on as I absentmindedly adjusted my glasses. “However, you must understand that I care little for the fame my position as a scholar has given me over my long years on this planet… I am firmly of the opinion that the pursuit and discovery of knowledge is a reward in and of itself, and publications only purpose is to spread that knowledge to the outside world. The purpose of research… any research… I believe, is not to make a name for one’s self, but instead to add to the foundation of knowledge so that the next generation,” my hand swept across the crowded classroom broadly as I continued, “that you all, might be able to continue to strive and build upon it, making this world a better place to live in. It has already been my privilege during my many years that I have had the honor of helping to nudge along some of the most fantastic of minds who have amazed and astounded me with their ideas and concepts… A privilege I hope to once more experience when I see what fantastic discoveries all of you contribute before I pass on.”

I smiled warmly to the gathered students… Watching their expressions… A few looked bored; a few looked as if they were not paying attention anymore; but a few still had a thoughtful look in their eye… And that made it worthwhile.

Breaking free from my thoughts, I reached down and pulled out my silver chain watch from my breast pocket and glanced at it. “Ah. I apologize, class… This old professor got slightly carried away with his speech…” Stashing the pocket watch gently away, I turned to start packing up my books, my mouth working more on automatic than actually talking to students who were packing up themselves, “I apologize for running, but I am booked on a ship to the Kythera Islands, Aethalia specifically, in order to explore the magical effects of the surrounding area and explore its effect on the environment…” Grabbing the books and wrapping them up in my arms, I casted a warm smile to the rest of the students. “So! I look forward to the opportunity to teach your class sometime in the future when I come back this way. I look forward to the wonderful things you will all accomplish. In the meanwhile, however, class dismissed.”

Epilogue Real Faern Eldris

Faern Eldris sat down slowly in his seat opposite Carthain’s, rubbing his bandaged arm absently.

“How is it? The old elf intoned as his frail body settled back into his own chair.

“Not bad, sir…” Faern spoke as a small wince quickly passed by his features. “I have to admit though, it feels odd… When I laid down my helmet for the pen all those years ago I figured I would never break a bone in combat against Seriade again… Funny how this world works sometimes, hmm?”

Carthain cracked lips turned up into a small, sympathetic smile. “Indeed. Reality does sometimes have a twisted sense of humor, doesn’t it?”

Silence hung over the two elves, only briefly interrupted by the soft clink of a glass as Faern poured himself a small cup of wine.

Carthain’s heavy eye watched the scholar-turned-soldier in the dark room. “You know you don’t have to go into combat with us, Faern. You have already given us detailed information about the experiments Seriade forced you to conduct, and the assistance you and Howl are giving in researching new rituals for the airship is help enough for our cause…”

“With all due respect sir…” Faern spoke in a quiet collected voice, “After what those monsters made me do while I was captured… I’m glad I can let the occasional soldier taste my blade.” Faern paused as he sipped his wine, his eyes flickering gently as he remembered those torturous months working in the Seriade lab… The experiments… The testing… The screams….

“As for Howl…” Faern recovered himself, moving the glass away from his lips and setting it back down on the small table beside him, “I wouldn’t be able to drag him away from the fights… I believe the boy finds enjoyment in occasionally having an outlet to use his magic on. He says the battles break up the monotony of the research.”

Carthain raised his white eyebrow up. “And how is he doing?”

Faern’s wry smile widened. “He’s become a bit more tempered these past few months, though his mouth still finds ways of getting into trouble with others on the ship. His intelligence in magic is only exceeded by his brashness. You know…” Faern reached over to fill the elderly wizard’s cup, “He still speaks of one day becoming a better wizard than you, you know…”

Carthain gave a brief, coughing chuckle. “Who knows what the future holds, Professor…”

The two sat in silence… Looking out the window of the cabin in quiet contemplation, watching the night clouds pass by them.

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