This chapter was written by Scylla.
Like all of the royal line, Scylla’s parents maintained a residence here. Of course, the little mansion stood out like an eyesore, with all of the probes and antennae bristling up over the roof. Compliments of Papa’s experiments.
Her mother had once complained three years ago when she came home to find the ballroom converted to a two-story laboratory bay. It was going to be even worse this year, now that he added the aether down converter for the link to the Tower. The only traditionalist décor was the courtyard gardens and the small, unassuming statue of the Staff of Eldering within.
As expected, Scylla had been chosen to attend the Academy due to the aether-potential of her royal bloodline. She’d been whirled away from her early-childhood home, the Research Sector of the floating Islands of Azys Lla.
The girl knew the tales of the first Allag skymage Azys, and how she had commanded the great islands to float in the sky. Scylla was certain that she too, would make islands fly.
But for now, she choked back her tears and anger as she stared at the stains on her robes.
Some common toad-faced mud-eating long eared creep had to come along and ruin her life! He’d embarrassed her in front of the entire class! Stole her best friend Clio away from her! And worse, even as a first-year, he could manipulate aether well enough to smolder her robes into flame!
Scylla ran down the curving paths, through the artificial forests in front of her home, following the shadow of the Syrcus Tower that loomed over her door. The Azyslis estate was sprawling and luxurious compared to the ancient, rusted hulls of the family ship back on the islands. Still, she found herself terribly homesick for the floating lands, especially when she was experiencing crises like this.
Maybe I should just ask to be transferred. Twelve generations of technologists and archmages were trained at Azys Academy. Why wouldn’t that be good enough for me?
As she came to the front plaza, she scuttled quickly wall-to-wall, having memorized the patterns the robotic watch-bits that patrolled the area.
No. I’ll tell Mother and Papa. They’ll make Amon apologize. But I’ll still kick him out of the Academy! He can be trained to clean pellet waste tubes instead!
She had almost made it past the marble white halls of the transport garage, when several circular glowing blue lines of light surrounded her feet in acknowledgement of her presence.
Scylla winced as the intruder alarm whined in the room and froze.
Papa? He wasn’t supposed to be home yet!
“Look what the Shabti dragged in, Taz.” Her papa’s warm, deep voice sounded from behind his latest hobby project – another revision of the hyper-conveyance vehicle.
He wore his hair wild, letting it hanging in front of his red Allag-noble eyes. His sharp cheek-bones didn’t hide the stubble-beard evident from long hours at the Aetherolabs.
“Lord Diokeles.” TA-Z4, her papa’s Iksalion assistant, lifted his beak over from under the vehicle and gave a nod of respect. “Returned from first week of Academy, the most Honorable Lady Scylla has.”
“Someday, I’m just going to have to work on those Iksal speech patterns,” the bearded man mumbled, before crawling up over his latest project. Then, as his eyes focused on her, he let out a small cry.
She must have looked like a walking calamity to him. Her flushed, temperish cheeks and tear-streaked face couldn’t hide the tidings of a bad start at school.
He leaned down, gaze trailing over the stains and charring on the robes. “Wh….? How did THAT happen?”
“Papa…” Scylla choked back a sob, standing defeated at the door, wiping her nose. This was a final defeat to a long week of hard-fought lost battles.
“What a mess.” The technologist put his tools aside and kneeled down with his arms open. His voice was laced with a small bit of mirth. “Did you get lost and end up in the hound cages?”
“Does this look like something funny to you?” Tears spilled down the curve of Scylla’s cheeks as she motioned to her mud-stained velvet robes. “You’re impossible! Just like the toad-boy!”
“Toad-boy? Scyllllaa?” Her papa’s smile faded into worry.
“Just leave me alone!” Scylla cried all the way down the halls to her room, sprinting away from his grasp.