Fan fiction:The Mage Academy of Gea Kul/Chapter Four
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Similar tales came to my ears from other Maesters, and while we compared them with each other and marveled at Zia's skills and potential, we were stupidly careless about controlling the rumors. For this I blame myself. I felt nothing but awe and admiration for Zia, to the point that I sometimes found myself daydreaming about the legends she would create, once she grew into her full power. Foolishly, I imagined that others would share my reaction; that the students would be proud to know her and the Maesters honored to have instructed her.
It wasn't long before the folly of my expectations started to become clear. In just her second month at the Academy grumblings began to be heard from the students -- whispers that Zia must be receiving special favors and extra instruction to have progressed so rapidly. These complaints increased over time, and worse, some of the Maesters began to show an unwarranted dislike for the girl. Zia was too perfect; too beautiful, too quick, too cheerful. Her magical progression was effortless, her potential was boundless, and some of the less-gifted Maesters, men and women who had scratched and clawed for decades to pass the higher level proficiencies, felt threatened; jealous of a neophyte who already possessed greater power than they themselves could ever hope to manifest.
I did have some success in heading off that sort of foolishness amongst the Maesters. I reminded them that our loyalty was to our discipline and to the Academy, and that it was our duty and privilege to educate those who would one day surpass and replace us. Besides, Zia's talents were inherent; she could not have taught them if she'd tried. Furthermore, I'd never seen a student whose future I was more certain lay outside of the Academy.
"Augustus!" I joked with one aged and embittered Maester. "You can't think a girl of her age is going to take your position? Even were she not destined win great battles and bring glory to our discipline, she's not yet turned nineteen. You're safe for another dozen years at least!"
Augustus would never react to any sort of humor, but he and the other Maesters I spoke to seemed slightly assuaged. What I didn't think to address was the grousing from students, and the vulnerability of my fellow Maesters to petty remarks and rumor mongering. Most tragic of all, I was the source of many of the worst rumors, however inadvertently.
By her third month at the Academy, I'd taken to working personally with Zia, one evening a week. It was a natural arrangement; I had the time since as the Archmaester I did not teach any regular classes, and I missed working directly with the students. I also happened to be especially skilled at the one aspect of magery that Zia found most difficult to master; transformation and teleportation. The girl's personality was too strong, her will too powerful. She had great difficulty in sublimating herself into any sort of transformation, and allowing herself to dissolve completely, as was required to teleport, was nearly impossible for her.
My tutoring sessions with her soon became the highlight of my week, and while I told myself that my interest was purely professional, I will admit to rather savoring the grateful hug she gave me before and after each class. I sometimes found my eyes wandering, for Zia usually removed her novice robe while she practiced teleportation in the warm outer room of my office. I'd attended to queens and royal mistresses who could not pull the eye as this girl did, even dressed in nothing more revealing than tights and a well-worn tunic.
I taught her as best I was able, and never let my wandering eyes linger, but I was ever conscious of the fact that novices sometimes teleported right out of their clothing, as they struggled to learn to control their bodies and garments at the same time. The thought of the upcoming rank promotion ritual also entered my head from time to time, since I was certain Zia would be moving up to at least the first level. Like all students at the trials, she would have to demonstrate her magical competence, and do so without any aids, or even clothing of any kind. Such ceremonies were always well-attended by Maesters and older students, but I knew the first one Zia took part in would strain the seating of the lower amphitheater.
Still, though my thoughts sometimes strayed, our interactions were without fault. Zia's beauty was without equal in the Academy or all of Gea Kul, and she was possessed of a most captivating personality. But I never did more than pat her on the shoulder, or return the embraces she enthusiastically initiated. It was hard not to touch her; Zia was irrepressibly friendly, and never shy about showing her affection with physical gestures. What I should have realized was that not all men were as disciplined as me, and that Zia was all too forgiving of their trespasses -- a combination of traits that had earned her an undeserved reputation as a tease and a temptress. It was unfair, but what were young men to think when she embraced them freely, pressing her firm breasts into their chests and never admonishing them for daring to pinch her behind while she delivered them a kiss on the cheek?
Worse than overly-friendly men were the others of Zia's gender. Female students were a minority in the Academy, but they were as tough or tougher than their male counterparts, and they did not take to Zia. For all her friendliness, the other women could not ignore the effect she had on men. How were they to feel when every man in the school openly lusted after her? For her part, Zia was innocent in thought and deed. What must have seemed friendly gestures to her were turned, by rumors and innuendo, into seductive subterfuge.
By the time that Zia was half a year into her training, we Maesters had given up any thought of holding her to a usual schedule. She'd mastered all of the elementary techniques within weeks of her arrival at the Academy, and her raw abilities were mighty enough to beggar every Maester in the school. I'd consulted with several of the elders and devised a highly modified program for Zia, one that would allow her the freedom to continue stretching her abilities, while forcing her to learn the basics. I put a special importance on increasing her mental control. As powerful as she was, the danger was in her overdoing it burning herself out, if not unleashing destruction upon us all.
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