Taryn shuddered remembering the day, the exams had been hard, harder than anything she’d ever faced before, and still she woke up with nightmares. The Craft always has a cost, that was the clear message of the exam, and she had paid for her past uses, paid in full with interest.
After receiving a “passable” grade on her exams, her esteemed mentor Connery had decided she needed to study the Craft abroad before returning to England to work. She had thought perhaps this would be a free visit back home, but Connery had other ideas in mind.
After a long flight she arrived in Satu Mare, Romainia, and took another extended cab ride to the “nearby” Carpathian Mountains, here she was met by a young women and a horse drawn carriage which took her up a mountain road and after a four hour bumpy ride, brought her to the 24th Nome. It was much smaller than the 3rd Nome at Stone Hedge. The main room opened to be about 25 square feet and extended into what appeared to be a large laboratory/library. There was also an ancient wooden stair well that led up to a second floor. Taryn put her bags down and looked to her companion to see what was next, the young women said nothing, she merely nodded that she should stay here and headed up the stairs. A few moment later she heard one of the doors open and was greeted by none other then Eric Strauss, the Archmagus of the 24th Nome.
He was gorgeous, short cropped hair, and well-muscled, his grey eyes could convey a thousand thoughts were present, and yet reveal none. He gracefully descended the stairwell.
“Ms. Parker? I am Eric Strauss, forgive me for not meeting you at the road, but I was kept away on urgent business, I trust Inza treated you well?” he paused for a moment, long enough for her to nod, and then continued “ you will have to forgive her, she has taken a vow of silence in order to power a particularly potent spell come next year’s equinox, until such a time, she will not utter a word” Taryn nodded again, and then silently cursed herself for standing their like a statue and nodding inanely. Eric continued down the stairs and bent down picking up her bags
“Uh…aa…. Ummm… you don’t need to do that…” she finally managed to sputter, she immediately felt silly as his seemed to light up and examine her anew as she spoke.
“It is my pleasure Ms. Parker. Now if you please, I have set aside a room for you upstairs” he began to climb the stairs and she took the first few steps building up the courage to speak once more
“Taryn…. You can call me Taryn… uh… Archmagus” she said turning a brilliant red, why she acting so foolish, she was engaged for crying out loud, to a wonderful man, yet here she was stuttering like a thirteen year old with a crush. He stopped and turned to her.
“We are pretty informal here Taryn; the Nome consists of myself and Inza, and now you, when it is just us you may refer to me as Eric, we really only use titles when we deal with Visitors from other Nomes.” The climbed the stars and passed two rooms, one appeared to be a small kitchen with wooden cabinetry and a small circular table in the back, the other door was closed. Hidden from view of the front door she quickly saw another stairwell rising to a third floor, at the top there was a small landing that was surrounded by four doors, Eric stopped before the first one. “Here is where your studies begin Taryn…” she blushed, the way he said her name… “…What did you learn from your exam?” she paused a moment and then answered quickly, she had always done well with school and rote answers.
“All magic has a cost” she said confidently, he smiled, and so did she.
“that’s correct, it takes some many years to learn that lesson, I’m glad you picked it up so quickly, now… keeping that first lesson in mind, here is your first task at our Nome. Picture your room… what kind of space, furniture and items you will require, once you have it in your mind, you must will that room to be on the other side of this door. You will only get one attempt at this so please think carefully, as you will live in whatever you create, once you have created your room please move in and make yourself as comfortable as possible. We will meet again in the kitchen and speak of your time here.”
She nodded, it was the easiest way to assure she didn’t stutter and she was worried about her task, what would the cost be, and what should she create. Eric nodded his head and departed back down the stairs leaving Taryn to concentrate and wonder what this place would ultimately offer her, and why was she here.