My last student closes the door behind him and I feel the small surge of power that automatically locks it. I lean back into my chair, the smell of old leather and wood settling around me. The sun is setting, and the room glows cherry colored as I close my eyes and breathe the parchment, musty, dust and leather scent of the room. It’s nice to be back, in my office, in my school. I never intended to adventure and yet, the past 3 years have seen me in places I had thought were legend. I burned and shiny smooth skin on my legs is a daily reminder of my impulsiveness. Poison and acid have granted me trouble trusting dark hallways, even here in the school where I have spent decades of my life. Death left a chill in my bones, in the tips of my finger. The clerics say I’m imagining it, but that does not change the ice in my veins when I wake up in the morning.

I can’t help smile though. I finally feel I am back where I belong. I met with old students today, at the Portal, for lunch. The tavern echoed with laughter and a group of mages sitting in a corner didn’t warrant a second look. There were fair more interesting folk than a handful of humans and elves in wizards robes. I hadn’t laughed so hard in months. The five of them were my first group of students. Fresh from my own years as a student and having finally convinced the school to allow me a test run of my own brand of magic. Caster who learn not only to produce magic, but to bend it. I almost spit my wine when they brought up the times they messed up. Jerezel accidently removing her own arm. Denali half transformed into a tiger. A paralyzation spell deflected and double, stuck for hours on Adrainato because no one wanted to find me to reverse it. It lightens the shadows in my head to hear their stories.

“Anyway, Professor,” Dette began.

“Dette, you’ve been graduated for nearly 6 years. You’re permitted to call me Penelope.”

“Right,” she said, smiling and ducking her head. “Well, we decided to put this together for you.” A slightly smirking bag hung across her body, like me, like everyone at the table except Denali. Half of her arm disappeared into the bag and she searched, eyes squinting, for something.

“We each worked on it.” Denali explained. He grinned as Dette finally found what she was searching for and pulled out a heavy, thick, cream colored leather bound book. “The enchantments took a few months each and we would hand it off anytime we were in town.”

Adrainato laughed. “Yea, or if someone go a wild hare and decided to teleport into the middle of whatever someone else was doing.” The group laughed as Jerezel threw a roll at him. A twitch of his hand stopped the errant roll and I couldn’t help but laugh along as the passed the book to me.

“It wont run out of pages. It can’t be destroyed. It is a ton easier to copy spells into it. Less expensive too.” Jerezel explained as I turned it over in my hands.

“Oh. And we copied down your introduction into the first page. I’m pretty sure that’s why all of use stayed in your program when others went into evocation or divination,” whispered Angel. Always so quiet.

When I flipped back to the first page I saw in Adrainato’s ornate handwriting the speech I give to every entry class when they are deciding their mage path.  

Why study magic?

        You know, when you lay your head on his chest, start tracing circles and patterns across his stomach, his thighs, lettings your nails barely scratch his hip; you can hear his heart beating, faster and faster, until it gets difficult to make one beat from the next. Harder and harder,until you a nearly sure that your head is bouncing ever so slightly as his heart races. The moment you steal a look through half closed lashes up at his face and his eyes are closed, rolled back, mouth open gulping air, trying to be quiet, (He promised his roommate he would not invite you over during finals) you feel the muscles tensing in his stomach. His hands clenching and unclenching as he struggles to keep them under control. You see the vein pulsing in his throat as you stretch your body against his. You brush your lips against his neck, and with a voice that is half groan, half desperate exhalation, the word ‘please’ is snatched from his lips. And you know all the patience, anticipation, the desire will culminate in a very interesting, hopefully fulfilling experience.

        That anticipation, That joy,

     That power

                                        That is why you study magic.

I half-laughed half-sobbed as I read the passage. The tavern loud and raucous noticed nothing as  bits of conversation drifted and bounced through the room. It is the same speech I still use, and I think they knew it. The same one the administration still gives me a hard time about. Angel leaned his head against my shoulder, an arm along the back of my chair.

“We appreciate everything you did Professor. We know we were a bunch of shits, but you pulled for us and I’m glad we were able to put a good name to the style,” he murmured softly. He bumped the chair with his shoulder, nudging me sideways. The lunch doesn’t last long after that. I had another class, a few who might even remain in my discipline. They have lives to live, adventuring to do.