Thia stood outside the door; her eyes closed tightly. I have to do this, she thought. Father Philip told them not to hurt me. Keroys told all the priests and priestesses that I was under his protection, that I needed to be here. Maybe it won’t be as bad as I think.
Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, she opened her lilac eyes. Her hand found the latch. She pushed it up and slid into the small opening before she could back out.
The room was small. The far wall was set with opaque glass windows, illuminating the two long tables that faced the center. Behind the tables were lines of other acolytes. The quills remained in their hands as they all stared at her.
“Welcome, Acolyte.” The priestess behind the lectern nodded at her. “You are late.”
“My apologies,” Thia stammered. “I got lost. I know the way now. It won’t happen again.”
Several girls giggled, and Thia resisted the urge to look toward the sound.
“You are forgiven. Be sure it does not happen again. Much information is given at the start of each class, Acolyte. You will need all of it to advance, and I’m not open to tutoring those who fall behind.”
“Yes, priestess. I understand.”
“Good. There’s a place for you over there.”
Thia glanced to where the woman pointed. The long table had a single stool left on one end. As she walked that way, the girl closest made a show of distancing herself from the empty seat.
Thia settled herself, not bothering to say anything. The parchment in front of her was blank. Above it sat a quill and inkwell.
“Now that our new student is ready,” the priestess began. “Yes, Mychela?”
The classmate closest to her rose from her seat. “May I go to the infirmary, priestess. Something in the air is making me want to heave.” Thia caught the sidelong glance she made at her as the class erupted in giggles.
“No, you may not. Whatever ‘ailment’ you may think you have does not forgive rudeness. Nor does Keroys.” The priestess cleared her throat. “Now, let’s discuss the ramifications of a healing spell.”
Picking up the quill, Thia dipped the tip into the ink and took notes. I know you thought I’d be safe here, Papa. But for how long?