Project ZEAL

Scene 30 - Another Unexpected Meeting (Symmetry)

Sessimine enjoyed making life difficult for her students. The way she saw it, an enchantress had to be mentally resilient to stress as possible; to successfully control the minds of others, one first had to be in control of her own mind. Of course, there was a nasty paradox to be found in this philosophy, one the instructor was quite aware of. As an enchantress became increasingly proficient with her charms, she would eventually reach a point where began to lose control over them. It was a well-kept secret within the higher echelons of the field that incredibly talented students of the art actually had to work harder at charm suppression than they did at manipulation; only a select few -- a group of enchantresses with greater power than Sessimine's -- ever regained full control over themselves.

At the moment, the instructor was amusing herself by closely observing a student who still had a considerable amount of an exam to complete with only but a few minutes left on the clock. Without making physical contact with the student, there was little Sessimine could have done to be more obnoxious; at the moment, she was lying on the table where the student was working, one hand pressed firmly against her cheek, the other rapidly tapping the desk. Her gaze was fixated not on the student's exam, but rather on the learner's eyes; ever so often, their eyes would meet, but Sessimine won the stare-down every time. Needless to say, the student was somewhat relieved when the bell marking the end of the period finally rang.

"What a shame! Looks as if you didn't manage to complete the exam on time." Reaching for the paper on which the young woman was still writing, Sessimine plucked it from the student and began grading it on the spot. "Oh no! This is not good at all! Why, you barely managed to complete half the test!"

The student turned around to see how many others shared her fate; two other young men sitting toward the back remained in the classroom, both still staring mindlessly at the Provostia - completely enamoured - and neither realizing that the bell had rung moments earlier.

"Let's see... Well, you got the question about shading right; unfortunately you missed virtually all of the questions relating to Kobayashi's Principle. Of course, given that you barely answered half of the material, there's no way you can earn a passing mark, is there?"

"Apparently not." The student looked back at the two men once more. "Are you planning on letting those two go?"

Sessimine continued to look over the test. "Not really. Unless they're particularly handsome -- no, unless they're beautiful, I don't care for men attending my school. They're almost always subpar students, so I have little regret in speeding along their acquisition of failing marks; besides, the school of summoning has long practiced similar discriminatory methods of weeding out women from their ranks. I might keep them around for demonstration purposes, but don't expect to see either of them make anything of themselves -- except fools."

The student snickered, attracting the instructor's scrutiny once more.

"Well, any last requests for mercy? Rumour has it that I'm more than willing to let students perform chores and maid service for awhile in exchange for a passing grade. You never know... You just might end up passing this exam after all -- in exchange for a day's worth of servitude, of course!"

"I'll fail and save my dignity, thank you very much."

Sessimine grinned from ear to ear. "Excellent! Excellent, excellent, excellent! I was hoping you'd hold out! Never let anyone rob you of your pride! No respectable enchantress would never demean herself by groveling for the mercy of another -- save royalty, of course."

The student was somewhat taken back by the Provostia's outburst. "I was being tested this whole time, wasn't I?"

"I was clouding your thoughts from the very moment you walked in the room two hours ago! You seemed unwaveringly confident; I couldn't let such heart go unchecked. I must admit however, for awhile I thought you weren't going to pull through! Now hurry along and enjoy your weekend. I must attend to my daily routine of holding office hours." Giving her star student a quick hug as she exited, Sessimine collected her things and was about to turn off the classroom lights when she realized the two young men were still staring fixatedly at her. With a smirk on her face, the instructor tossed the pile of books she was holding into the air and clapped her hands twice, dimming the lights and employing the students' aid in a single motion.

I knew there was a reason I chose this field all those years ago! Tickled with herself, the enchantress walked out of the room and closed the door behind her, leaving the two students to collect her belongings in the dark.


My oh my, am I tired! I hope no one's waiting outside my door for tutoring. Hopefully they'll be busy enjoying their weekend already. Surely no one from my introductory class will be there due to the test, but that obnoxious child from Theory of Illusion always shows up when I least want to see her... I swear, if she does, I'm find something for her to clean! Today is not the day to stress Sessimine any further! The enchantress held her breath as she turned the final corner leading to her office; thankfully, the usual cluster of students waiting outside was pleasantly absent.

Fabulous! If I'm lucky, I just might be able to catch up on my sleep... This is going to be such a busy weekend; the ball tomorrow evening complicated my rather uneventful schedule quite nicely. They really should announce these sort of things further in advance! Why, I was looking forward to sleeping this weekend away in my bed at Enhasa... Sessimine continued to play the role of a drama queen as she entered her office and shut the door behind her, failing to realize the presence of the visitor waiting behind her desk even as she sat in his lap.

...And honestly! I didn't even have the time to purchase a new dress! How terrible! I'm sure I could find something I haven't worn before in my wardrobe, but still... Had I known ahead of time about this little social event, I could have had something new woven for me! Why, I could have been the talk of the town given ample time to prepare myself! Of course, that's why they never tell me until the last minute... It's that no-good Chihari's doing! She always wants to be the star of the show and she's the one who arranges... Her train of thought suddenly coming to a halt, Sessimine picked up one of the books lying on her desk. Strange... I don't remember leaving my diary out like this for all to see; in fact, I specifically remember placing in back in my desk when I finished writing in it just before class... And dear me, this chair is incredibly uncomfortable! I don't ever remember it being so... well, unaccommodating! Before the enchantress had the chance to turn around and discover the source of her confusion, the visitor finally made his presence known by means of a reserved cough. Startled, Sessimine jumped out of her seat and onto her desk.

"Prince Aias! Oh my! I'm terribly sorry, I didn't even realize you were here!"

The prince rubbed his temples. "No, no. I was so busy reading through some of your books here that I didn't notice you enter. The clicking of your heels caught my attention just as you approached the desk, but before I could say something I suddenly felt a strange aura come over me. My thoughts scattered and my mind went completely blank... I'm assuming you had something to do with this, but what exactly happened, I'm not quite sure."

Sessimine took a few more deep breaths, her hand resting over her heart. "Okay. I think I can pull myself together now. Forgive me, Prince Aias, I seem to have let my mind wander. I'm becoming a regular Madame Idane!"

Aias arched a brow. "What do you mean?"

"Well, we enchantresses manipulate the minds of others with our own, right?"

"That's my understanding."

"Yes, well, this becomes so second-nature to us that we often fail to realize that we're doing anything out of the ordinary. Occasionally, an enchantress will start daydreaming or get lost in her own thoughts and start imposing her feelings upon those around her. There was a famous enchantress ages ago by the name of Masumi Idane who was notoriously bad for her absent-mindedness. She was a brilliant woman and made a number of notable contributions to the field, but she her daydreaming became so frequent that she had to resign her position as Provostia of the school of enchantment. Anyway, I must have transposed my own state of mind onto you without realizing it." Sessimine giggled to herself and stood up momentarily to adjust her dress before sitting back down upon her desk. "You'll have to forgive me for saying this, but you make for a terrible cushion! Now what exactly where you doing in my office, anyway?"

Aias grinned. "Waiting for you to come back?"

"A charming response." The enchantress glanced down at the diary on her desk. "I see you were also making good use of your time by reading through my personal thoughts. Even though I suppose they're yours to read through as you please, being the prince and all, I'd appreciate it if you'd refrain from such invasions of my privacy."

"My apologies. If it provides any consolation, rest assured that I would never violate your privacy without good reason."

"Oh really? And might I ask what your good reason is?"

The prince stood to his feet and began pacing about the room; for the first time, Sessimine realized exactly why Aias had been talked badly about behind his back. The heir to the throne, besides lacking arcane talent, was not a physically imposing man, either; in fact, with her clogs on, the enchantress was nearly as tall as he was. At face value, there was nothing particularly noteworthy about the man, save his royal birth. Still, there was something about Aias -- something she couldn't put her finger on -- that just wasn't right; being the woman of curiosity she was, Sessimine had to find out just what this was.

"Well? Have you nothing to say?"

Aias stopped in front of a life-sized statue of Montlasalle. "Do you really think you'll be reborn a goddess when you die?"

"Of course I will! My dearest told me so. Its not that hard to believe, is it? I won't be the only one, either -- I just happen to be Montlasalle's favourite. Now are you going to answer my question or not?"

"Very well. If I'm going to be sharing my dreams with someone, I want to make sure she's trustworthy. My visions are very personal and I do not desire them to be public knowledge."

Sessimine extended her hand and examined her nails, her back still facing the prince. "Fair enough. So have I earned your confidence?"

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