While they passed the papers around, Mardalan opened the storage locker and carried out several handfuls of candles of every type—from fat white pillar candles to tiny candles that appeared to shimmer, obviously intended for birthday cakes. After laying the candles on the floor, she returned to the storage locker and brought out several plastic bags. She lay them in among the candles, then stepped back. “Please come up and choose candles,” she said. “One per person, please, but choose whatever you would like. Please also select one item from a bag, then return to your seats.”
Dawn, Celeste, and Annie gave it a beat for other people to start, then made their way to the front with the rest of the class. Dawn was glad to see that there were plenty of pillar candles; she didn’t want to mess with a candle that she had to hold up. Mardalan wasn’t supplying any candleholders. She grabbed a red pillar candle that her hand barely fit around.
Now that she could see into the bags, she realized that they contained other magical accoutrements. The one nearest her had semiprecious stones in a variety of types and colors. The other two had colorful strings and feathers.
Stones seemed like the safest bet. She reached her hand in and picked one at random, coming out with a tiger’s-eye. Figuring that they hadn’t been given instructions on how to select other than “whatever you would like” and she liked both red and the golden-brown shimmer of tiger’s-eye, she decided she was done and headed back to her desk, where she set the candle and stone next to each other.
Annie joined her a moment later, sitting down with a finger-sized white candle and a long gray feather. She gave Dawn a sideways smile. “I like feathers.”
Celeste took her time and was the last to decide, but returned to her desk with a blue pillar candle and a green striped stone, turning the stone around and around in her fingers.
Mardalan had been speaking to the people in the front-row seats, quietly enough that Dawn couldn’t hear her—especially since the rest of the class seemed to have decided that if they weren’t getting instructions, they might as well start talking. That included Celeste.
“Does your boyfriend live in Sayer, Dawn?” she was asking. “I know I’ve seen you around there.”
Dawn nodded. She’d seen Celeste around, too—there was no mistaking that head of shocking pink hair. “He and I both live in Sayer, actually. I’m on the second floor with Corrie and Edie, and Rico is on the first floor, with his roommate Shad.”
“Oh, I know Shad!” Celeste grinned. “He’s a really sweet guy. Rico is lucky. Is he very… understanding?” She gave an exaggerated wink.
Dawn looked away, a little embarrassed, and was surprised to see that Mardalan was already speaking to Annie. She tried to keep an eye out for her friend, making sure she wasn’t too freaked out by Mardalan, or being threatened. Annie didn’t seem freaked out, though. She was blinking and nodding at whatever Mardalan was saying.
It was a good thing Dawn had looked up, because now Mardalan was stepping over to her desk. “Red and tiger’s-eye, I see. Interesting choices, Dawn. What kind of spell do you think you might do with these?”
Dawn frowned. “I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking about that—I just grabbed things that I liked the look of.”
Mardalan nodded. “Red is good for violent or passionate magic. It could be a love or, better yet, lust spell, or one to increase your strength against an enemy.”
Dawn raised her eyebrows. The only enemy she thought she had was Mardalan. But the teacher was continuing.
“As for tiger’s-eye, it is a stone of protection, to help see the future, or to attract wealth. Can you think of any way to combine those properties to create a spell that would be worth trying?”
Dawn stared at Mardalan for a moment, then looked back down at her red candle and shimmering brown stone. She would not, she was determined, do a lust spell. Not that she needed any such thing. She was also not going to give Celeste the satisfaction of responding to her comment about Shad being understanding.
And she certainly didn’t want to do a spell about violent magic, either. Could she do something related to love? She certainly didn’t want to make anyone fall in love with her. If tiger’s-eye was a stone of protection, could she use it to protect Rico, her love? That didn’t seem to make any sense. And she wouldn’t want to do magic to protect the love between her and Rico—if it needed magic to hold it together, it wouldn’t be worth saving. Anyway, she had no reason to think their love needed protecting.
But seeing the future, that would be interesting. She certainly liked to imagine that she and Rico would get married in a few years and spend the rest of their lives together, but wouldn’t it be nice to know for sure?
She nodded, biting her lip, and looked up at Mardalan. “I could combine the love aspect of the red candle with the seeing the future of the tiger’s-eye and look at the future of my relationship.”
Mardalan pursed her lips. “Yes, I suppose that will do. Place the stone on top of the candle, next to the wick, and concentrate on the future of your relationship as the candle burns.”