Excitement bubbled through Sarai. She was almost giddy as she walked the final few miles down the road to the great city. It had been days since she’d left her small village, days since she’d hugged and kissed her parents and younger sister before setting out. None of them were happy about her leaving, but it was something she was determined to do. They had all helped to prepare her, even though the were saddened to see her go. Her mother had packed up as many baked breads and cheeses as Sarai could carry. Her little sister had sewn a cloak for her in a hue that reminded her of autumn leaves. And her father had even given her a few gold pieces to take with her. The gold had meant a lot, as her parents had very little money. All of it she cherished, each small thing they did for her helped make her journey bearable.
Her grandmother had been a great mage. During her time, she’d worked for the king as a healer. When the old king passed and his brother Rius took over the kingdom, all people of magic were forced into hiding, spell books were burned, and battle mages murdered in their sleep. The old king was afraid of magic, for reasons unknown to Sarai. Grandmother had told her of it once, but had been very vague. In fear for their lives, Grandmother and Grandfather had ran in the dead of night and eventually settled in the small village at the base of the western mountains. Sarai’s mother and father were happy there, as was her grandfather. Sarai was not, nor had she ever been. She wanted something more, something greater for herself. Her grandmother was the only person to understand Sarai’s need to leave, her need to become something greater.
She’d always been a misfit in the village. Always the one in trouble. She couldn’t help her curious and rather nosey nature, she was who she was. In a small quiet village, being too curious or too loud was frowned upon. So, Sarai was an outcast everywhere except in her grandmother’s home. She’d spent much time there, being educated by the very wise and powerful old woman. She could start fire, bring about the wind, call to animals, and many other small spells. She even knew the art of healing, though not to the extent of her grandmother. She was well on her way to learning all Grandmother knew, even though her Papa frowned upon it.
That is, until her grandmother fell asleep and never woke. Sarai had been horribly depressed and went days without eating or drinking. But one night she dreamt of the old stories, of how the kingdom used to be before King Rius. She saw schools of magic, with books of spells as far as the eye could see. A place where battle mages trained beside knights and healer mages worked beside the doctors. That morning, a herald came to town and told of the heir apparent, Prince Joshua defeating his uncle in battle and had taking the throne. He was to restore the kingdom to it’s former glory, restoring it to the way his father had built it.
Sarai had been elated, overjoyed, and almost broke into dance when she heard that King Josiah had even reopened the Mage’s libraries and that soon the University would also be reopened. The Kingdom would be training mages again! She’d immediately prepared to leave for the great city. Her dream of dreams was to be a battle mage. Though, she doubted she’d be able to pass the test to make it into the University. Mages were usually trained fully by the time of their eighteenth year. Though her grandmother had taught her much in her nineteen years of this earth, Sarai knew she was not ready.
Grandmother had prepared her for this as well, she had told Sarai of mages in the great city who would train you for the test for a price of several gold pieces. Sarai had saved her whole life for a moment like this. So, with hugs and kisses goodbye, she rode on the back of a cart taking fruit to be sold outside the great city. The cart had taken her as far as the road that led to the great city. Which, was where she now walked alone. The trees were becoming more sparse the closer she came, letting sunlight fall in beams through their canopy. Every so often she passed someone on horse back leaving the city, all of whom had seemed just as bright and joyful as the sun beams.
She hadn’t walked for long when she heard the sound of life that could only be the great city. Distant music flowed to her, making her steps almost more like dancing. Real minstrels! She was excited beyond belief to see them, to buy food from one of the vendors in the market, and to find a room that would be her home. But mostly, she was excited to find a teacher ... someone to prepare her for the test.