Charm School

When Brigid first entered the Wisconsin campaign, she was a former superhero who was very familiar with certain types of magic. However, there was a lot she didn’t know about magic, and so this story was written to describe her education in the various forms of magic available in Amber. The best place for this to happen was a school in the Golden Circle realms, a citadel in a desert realm overseen by a Djinn.

“Brigid, attending this school of the Arts Arcane will be a very educational experience, plus it is a chance to get away from Castle Amber and your duties for a while.”

That advice from Fiona still repeated itself in Brigid’s ears. She stood before a very large and ornate castle, surrounded by several smaller outbuildings that in any other place would be considered an imposing castle in their own right, designed and built more for decoration than for defense, said Brigid’s hard-won expertise in matters martial.

Above the main castle soared a tall round tower. There was a power up there, she knew, both from Fiona’s warnings and now from her own senses: a power not of the level of the Pattern or the Logrus, but a Power just the same. Then for a moment she had the uncanny sense that this Power was watching her, and judging her, then the feeling passed, leaving in its wake a feeling of subtle amusement. Brigid blinked and returned her gaze to her surroundings.

A host of wagons, coaches, and horse trains were assembled in disarray before the gates of one of the smaller outbuildings, including the coach that Brigid had ridden alone. She motioned to the coachman to deposit the trunk of her possessions on the ground before her. A host of stewards were moving the crowd, and she took the nearest by the shoulder, identified herself and pointed to her trunk. The steward nodded, and Brigid entered the gates.

Within, she discovered a crowd of young women, some in the billowing silken fineries that were the native dress of this Shadow and some in more practical clothing from a variety of nearby Shadows. She walked through the courtyard, smiling and nodding to various of the women as she passed.

As she wandered the courtyard, she became aware of a subtle enchanting compulsion whispering at the edges of her mind. The emerald ring on her finger throbbed once, then subsided: little danger, then, especially to one as naturally resistant to such enchantments as she. She looked around to discover the source of the enchantment, and was not surprised to discover the source at the center of the largest gathering of women.

There, a tall, pale, imposing beauty, with raven hair and raven eyes, was speaking to and captivating a crowd of several women, some of whom were staring wide-eyed at the woman; they appeared to have been totally enthralled by the woman’s enchantment. The whispering at the edges of Brigid’s mind intensified, and more from annoyance than from any other emotion, she passed behind the group, out of sight of the enchantress, crooked her finger towards her, and quietly spoke one Word: “Kroyka!”

The captivating enchantment shattered into shards and whorls of random magick, and many of the women blinked and shook themselves awake to stare with amazement or rage at the enchantress, then scurry away hurriedly. The enchantress looked around in fury, but Brigid had already turned away to examine the man who had entered the courtyard at the top of a set of stairs into the castle itself, although Brigid was sensitive enough that she could feel the intensity of the enchantress’ anger directed at her.

“Welcome, ladies,” he announced loudly, and every eye focused on him. “Welcome to the Citadel, home to the University of Sorcery and Enchantment.

“It is our strongest rule that here inside the castle, all are equals: there are no titles, no families, nothing to set one of you above the other. All are here because of an ability at some facet of the Arts Arcane, and here you will receive training as befits any who would consider a further career in the Art.”

There was a small muttering from the crowd, especially from the women still surrounding the enchantress.

“The stewards have already seen to your belongings and will now show you to your quarters. Dinner will be in one hour.”

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