Eleven

Yun hit the water hard. The train had been passing over a bridge built over a big lake. It was bracingly cold and the dizzying impact left her without a lot of breath in her lungs. Every fiber of her being screamed to take in oxygen. Her reason clawing desperately over her instincts, she managed to swim up to the surface before taking a huge breath, accompanied by a number of violent coughs. She ditched her increasingly heavy cloak and paddled in a direction until she could touch the ground. 

When she reached the shore, Yun noticed three distinct things: her staff was still on the train, her luggage, booze included, was still on the train, and her box of alchemical charms had been pierced with an arrow, flooding the contents and rendering them useless. She groaned and flopped onto the pebbles making up the beach, attempting to reassess her current situation. Nothing broken, no food, no staff, no train, still a ways to go to Caern. It was looking pretty dire. 

She sighed, rolling one flip at a time to at least get off the shore. She could think about resting once she wasn’t in danger of getting hypothermia. When she felt the cool touch of grass under her back, she stopped thinking and decided to go to sleep. This was a problem for tomorrow Yun. 

Yun awoke to the gentle, fading light of the late afternoon, washing the room in a deep amber, casting long shadows across the countless shelves of books. Outside, the vague sounds of people in concerted movement, shouts, achievement. Sleepily, she brushed some hair out of her face, letting the softly setting sun ease her into opening her eyes.

Blurry at first, the library came into focus, the smell of paper hitting her sharply. It was quiet, save for the sounds coming from outside; very few people stayed in the library after class, and only ever to study independently. Yun looked down at the sprawl of books she was reading before she had fallen asleep. Botanical Wonders of the North Barrens, Foundations of Alchemy, Everyday Arcana. She sighed, closing each one of the books and bringing them back to the sorting desk. 

As she was mulling over what topic to pursue next, she turned slightly to the left, feeling a magnetic pull from the doorway. A tall girl sporting a short, disheveled cut walked by. But what had caught Yun’s eye was the beautiful, golden light of her thread, spreading out in all directions, trailing an almost physical shower of golden dust as she walked. She knew it then, this girl would do something grand. 

The girl stopped walking, suddenly, pivoting around on one foot to catch Yun’s gaze directly. Self-conscious, Yun’s concentration broke, her eyes fading from a light gold back to their normal dull brown. She scrambled to look anywhere appropriate, but couldn’t muster up the courage to look her back in the eyes; her cloak was understated and her clothes practical—she wasn’t a student here—and she wore a sword at her hip that matched her calloused hands. Yun couldn’t believe it. Someone who looked to be her age, already in the field. 

“Hey, I’m Nari. Nari Han.” She held her hand out, a comfortable, toothy grin inviting her in. 

“Oh… My name is-”

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