OK, that was certainly not a question I expected to hear, not that directly, not this early in the term. The main point was not relaxing the unaging spells, but what you did afterward. “Not interested, thanks,” I managed. “Nothing against you in particular, but you heard what Master Courtenay said about doing that.”
“He’s so old-fashioned. The rest of the first-year people are doing it. Why aren’t you?” Antoine tried fast-talking me into agreeing with him. “With two people it’s safe. And a lot of fun.”
“I said ‘no’. It’s not something wrong with you, but I’m not interested, thanks. Go find someone else. It can be done.” I was trying to stay polite, but it was about to get challenging. He got up, not saying another word, turned his back, and walked away. The whole first-year group, I wondered? Really? Were they all that dumb? I tested my wards. They weren’t quite called, but they were entirely ready.
At the end of the appointed six minutes, Serene Master Aduriel reappeared, followed by a half dozen students. He waited while they took their seats. “Are there questions yet?” he asked.
I waved. He nodded, raising his eyebrows. “Where is your office,” I asked, “what are your consulting hours, and where if anywhere did you segregate books in the library to match your lectures?”
“Did your parents tell you to ask those?” he answered. I shook my head. “Those are the best questions a smart student should ask. As it happens, that’s the start of my lecture. You could have stepped out during recess, you know.” That last bit was phrased as a question.
“I already knew I wanted to be here,” I answered politely. “Those questions I learned at Barlow Prep.” Triskittenion Hall had tutors, but many things are learned better in a large class. That’s why I attended Barlow.
“Barlow. Far Northwest. He was a student of mine, you know,” the Serene Master said. “Absolutely brilliant.” Barlow Prep had been founded almost six thousand years ago.
“Honor to his name,” I whispered.
The Serene Master nodded. Honor indeed, he mouthed. “In any event,” he said, “the screen displays my office and the hours at which I may be approached for questions. For reasons you should try to figure out, I have *not* set aside books in the library for you.” I made a note to myself. Why didn’t he? The library has a reserved book hall. He said we should try to figure it out…that was a hint. The question will be on the exam. Of course, some of my fellow students would need to be whacked cross-side the head with a clue-by-four before they noticed.