People on my list already know this story (list members get early access to a lot of stuff and some exclusivity and special offers), but I want to share it with you too. Here is an introductory snippet for Moira (in German it’s been posted on Kathleens Bücherwelt in today’s tour stop). The English post for the day is about names in worldbuilding. Check it out here.
Moira wriggled on the chair in front of the principal’s office. Her hands felt strangely empty. Up to this point it had been very comforting to hold on to her application papers. What should she do with her hands now?
The door opened and the secretary looked out, the gray bob over her haggard features blending in with the mint colored walls.
“You may come in now.”
Moira’s heart began to beat faster, and the palms of her hands grew wet. What if her application was declined? This was the only chance she was going to get, and it was a miracle already that the Academy had invited her for an interview. She forced her trembling legs to get up and follow the secretary along a narrow corridor with many doors. Not one of them was labeled, but she assumed they led to the teachers’ conference rooms. At the end of the corridor, the secretary showed her through a big oaken door into a gigantic room. It was so different from what Moira had expected, she stopped and stared at the expanse. Big windows on the far side allowed the sun to light up the room, blurring it into a bright nothingness. White walls emphasized the feeling of being out of this world. On the left side of the door stood two comfortable looking chairs and a low table with two cups, a coffee pot, and a plate with cookies. It was the only furniture in the room.
Moira’s gaze searched for the Academy’s principal but aside from her, there was no one in sight. Even the secretary had left. Feeling small and insignificant, she walked to the seating arrangement but didn’t dare to sit down. Patiently, she waited.
“Please, make yourself comfortable.” The principal’s voice she knew from a previous parlebol call filled the room before a dark shadow appeared beside her and condensed into a portly man with a big, curled mustache.
With his wide, black robe and the beak-like nose, the principal reminded Moira of a rather plump raven. She curtsied and stammered a greeting before her legs gave and she settled into the nearest chair. Did he always appear like this? Would she ever get a chance to get used to this?
He sat too and filled both cups with coffee, leaving it to her to add sugar or milk.
“You seem rather young to be sitting here.” Stirring his own cup, he leaned back and studied her. “I understand that you skipped two classes, and I must say, I was impressed by your grades. They’re the one reason why I decided to take a look at you. You’d be a great addition to the Gendarmerie Générale. So, why do you insist on joining the Gendarmerie Magique?”
“I’ve been working very hard to be considered.” Moira hated to feel so defensive. She knew she was lacking in magical skills. “My parents have both been very successful officers, and it’s been my dream for as long as I can remember.”
“Not all dreams come true.” The principal drained the cup and set it down. He got up and stepped into the middle of the bright room. “Convince me you’re good enough for the basics. With a deficiency like yours, you’d be a liability for your colleagues.”
Moira swallowed. Did he mean she was supposed to do magic? Here? She followed him, marveling at the fact that her legs were still supporting her. The closer she got, the more the principal blurred. When she reached the middle of the room, only his face was still sharply defined, the rest merged with the whiteness.
“If you find my bureau, I will sign your acceptance paper,” he said and vanished completely.
Dumbstruck, Moira stared at the place where he had just been. Surely it wasn’t so very difficult to find his office? She turned toward the door, but it had vanished together with the principal and the furniture. Everything around her was white and blurred into a mist in the distance. She picked a random direction and walked but nothing changed. Drat. How was she supposed to find anything if she was stuck in the middle of a bright, white mist?
This clearly was a test, and the only qualification that needed testing was her magical ability. Since the principal had said he was only looking for the bare minimum of skills, it couldn’t be too difficult. She probably only needed to use a simple Guide-Moi spell. The problem was that she couldn’t even do first grade stuff. She’d tried often enough to know it wouldn’t work. So, she had to find a way that would lead her to the principal’s office and make him believe she used magic. Fine. The GM-spell was simple and straightforward. People using it looked like sleepwalkers. Moira closed her eyes and let her arms dangle as if using the spell. She turned a full circle, hoping for something, anything that might indicate the direction the principal had left. When nothing presented itself, she opened her eyes again but didn’t move her arms. Surely she would be watched closely.
Surprised, she discovered that the windows were still there. A fine web of golden strands ran over their frames. She had seen this kind of webbing before. It indicated active spells. Well, it was nice to know that the whiteness around her was some sort of spell but it didn’t really help, or did it? She walked toward the windows, the only point of orientation she had in the fog. Against her expectations, she was able to get closer. Soon, she stood in front of a windowpane twice the height of her bedroom at home. Outside, she could see the Academy’s running arena. Several students were training. For a split second, her longing to be one of them became so strong she thought her heart would burst. Biting her lip, she turned away from the window. A thin, blue line led from the window into the mist and vanished in the distance. This hadn’t been there before.
Moira hesitated, but only for a second. It was the only hint she could see, and whether it would lead her to the principal or take her out of the Academy and shatter her dream of joining the Gendarmerie Magique was irrelevant at this point. She couldn’t stay here, so she had to follow the blue line. A fifty-fifty chance was always better than no chance at all. With a sigh, she set out, still letting her arms hang limply at her side as if she were using a GM spell.
The floating blue ribbon led her ten steps away from the window, and then angled sharply to the right. Another seven steps took her to a door. Gently, she touched the surface. Yes, it was a real door, solid oak, like the others she had seen in the Academy. She knocked, and it swung open silently, revealing an office stuffed with books and dark oak furniture. The eyes of several teachers and the principal turned to her. Warmth spread through Moira’s belly. All was well.
P.S.: Please excuse any misspellings and grammar errors. If you want more of these, join my list.