Chapter Thirty-Two: Applying

Makaadam University's wizarding program is best known for its work in advanced spell diagrams, including specialized runes; medical wizardry (in conjunction with our lightcraft, witchcraft, and biology departments); and the novel application of one-trick spells. The campus is spacious and located on the north side of Meren City; see map on page 4. Our faculty includes the celebrated Mir Kithen -

Talyn didn't know the local famous people. He could ask Leekath if any important choices came down to that. The school sounded all right. He put it in the "apply" pile.

The University of Daasen is widely recognized as the world's most competitive and rigorous program of wizardry on the square. Particular areas of interest to our world-class faculty include the theory of installed spells, weather magic, subconsciously controlled dynamic spells, sophisticated analyses, covert breaks, and the frontier of pull efficiency on utility spells. All University of Daasen students may take classes from any of our world-renowned departments of magic, academics, observational studies, and the arts (see attached catalog), and may participate in any number of student-organized special interest associations. Our main library holds over twenty million titles, as well as audio resources and -

It had been hard to find an informational pamphlet on U. Daasen. They seemed to mostly coast on their reputation - which was excellent. Talyn had asked Aar Camlenn about it, though, and Aar Camlenn said that their emphasis on research reportedly left them with brilliant professors who were terrible at teaching. The program was supposed to be very much "mage-or-corpse", with little help available for anyone who struggled. U. Daasen could always fill its slots. But Talyn liked learning without too much supervision anyway, and Daasen had to fill their slots with somebody; why not him? And they had a kamai department he could lurk in.

Bekat and Otilaar University of Wizardry offers a standard ten-tier wizarding program, and, through our partnership with neighboring University of Nelchar, optional access to academic programs. Our focused approach is ideal for would-be professional wizards who want a modern, practical understanding of spellcraft for promptly applicable use. Most can finish our complete curriculum in six to eight years, and an accelerated version is available -

Trade school. Talyn tossed the packet aside. He wasn't in a hurry and he wasn't interested in workaday spellcasting.

The University of South Harper prides itself on its interdisciplinary curriculum. Tier advancement for wizarding students is contingent not only on theory and practice of wizardry, but also on a respectable grounding in mathematics, the history of wizardry, international magical law, economics for wizards, academic writing, two seminars in Intermystic Studies, and one foreign language. We expect -

Talyn started a "maybe" pile. He did want to learn other stuff, but he was wary of having that much of it chosen for him. "Economics for wizards"? What was "Intermystic Studies"?

Six Crystals University -

The University of Lelek at Aam Aarbol -

Mitasorik College in conjunction with the Saaven-Inseeni Consortium of Learning -

And that was it. He had three very short piles.

There weren't that many universities in Esmaar. There weren't that many schools. People learned general knowledge at home, from books and family; they learned their jobs on the job, or took isolated classes in skills where that was impractical. What schools there were tended to be specialized in things that most people didn't care to learn intensively - so families wouldn't be able to teach them and the average town wouldn't be able to sustain a class in them. Wizarding schools were the most popular of these, which was why Talyn had actual choices to make - if he'd wanted to be a dancer, like Leekath's brother, it would be an Osaan guild school or nothing.

He was planning to stay in Elcenia for the long haul, for Leekath who needed her sunscreening spells and loved her job in Parliament, and he wanted to know more than just how to do its magic. People still made historical and fictional references he didn't get without mindreading on a regular basis, and he'd been around for a while now. So he didn't want to go to a trade school; he wanted someplace that would at least offer classes on history and literature. Maybe one class of review math to pick up the different vocabulary, but he didn't think there would be much changed between worlds on that count.

He could leave the country, but he didn't want to be away from Leekath. Teleportation and transfer points being what they were, that might have been less of a concern - but with Linnip empire-building, and other countries starting to notice and close ranks against it, he didn't want to risk being trapped across a political divide from his fiancée and perhaps prohibited from going to her.

He didn't much like that she was so attached to Esmaar, either, since its protectorate status put it explicitly on the Empire side of the divide.

But between the choices... he'd stick with Esmaarlan schools unless they roundly rejected him. He didn't want to go to school in Tava, where everyone was half his height and everything was even more tightly controlled by Linnip. There were no wizarding universities in Ryganaav, yet. And there were no schools he'd heard of that took boys in Linnip proper. If he could even set foot in the country without vomiting.

Leekath teleported into his room. "How's it going?" she asked.

"Okay," he said. "What do you know about Daasen?"

"The city, or the school?" she asked. "I know more about the city. I work there."

"The school," Talyn said.

"I know less. The reputation of course is that it's the very best for everything, that no one goes anywhere else if they can get in there, that all the best wizards - or mathematicians or historians or botanists or whatever - went to Daasen. I think about half of Parliament studied there."

"Narax went to the University of Nenise. Even though Ertydo is awful about dragons," Talyn observed. "And he's the best."

"I know," Leekath shrugged. "I don't know why, though. I suppose you could ask him. And I'm going here, I didn't wait to be eligible for university, but honestly, that was more because I wanted to go to school like Khi, sooner rather than later."

"I think I will ask him," Talyn said. "I guess I might as well apply to every place where I'd go if they were the only one to take me. The fees are pretty small. I can just make more translation nuggets."

"Do those sell very fast?" Leekath asked.

"Yeah, and Kaylo thinks it's beneath him to make them in any quantity. He used to do them for obscure languages when the kiosk at the circle got a special order but lately I think Korulen's doing most of that instead. I can do Martisen-and-Leraal nuggets just fine, though, and they sell heaps of those." Talyn scooped up his yes and maybe piles, and started looking for the attached application forms for each. "How were your classes?"

"Fine," said Leekath absently. "I really thought tenth tier theory was going to be hard. It's mostly review, to make sure we haven't forgotten anything critical. I could have fit in another politics unit, I think."

"Does Binaaralav have a lot of academics? For a school of its type?" Talyn asked, glancing at the trade school he'd discarded.

"More than most specialized magic schools do, I suppose," Leekath said. "A perfectly normal amount for a school that takes children. We spend less time at home and there's less chance for our families to educate us, so the school picks up some of the slack in other subjects. Khi's school had non-dance classes. He took as few as he could get away with, though."

"I'd imagine," Talyn said. "He's kind of obsessive."

"He's like Aaihhhi," Leekath said. "Just about something else."

"Are you?" Talyn asked.

"I don't think so. Maybe I would have been, if I wasn't a hearer," she said.

Talyn reached out to bat at her ponytail; it was getting long. "Well, I like you how you are," he said.

"Good," she said, sitting on his bed and peering at one of the discarded pamphlets.

Talyn started filling out forms. Name, entry tier, desired start date, academic records (if any), letters of recommendation -

"Who should I ask for letters from?" he asked Leekath.

"How many do they want?" she asked.

"Three. Four for Daasen."

"A parent is customary - you should substitute Rhysel, I think, since your parents haven't taught you in a long time and couldn't write in Leraal. And whichever wizarding teacher from Binaaralav has the most respect for you even if you never took a wizarding class with them. Maybe Aar Camlenn. And me for the third. For Daasen's extra, ask Narax, even though he never personally taught you."

"You, really? But we're engaged."

"They're not expecting unbiased reporting - often they have nothing to go on but a parent or an uncle or something, and a couple of friends, since plenty of perfectly acceptable candidates won't have any school history. I'll disclose that we're engaged and everything. But I'm going to be a graduated wizard in a month and a half, and I work in Parliament, and I'm in a position to know something about what you can do. I'll be - and you should tell Rhysel to be - really specific. We can't just say that you're great because of course we'd say that, but if we can come up with exact ways that you're great, that's more informative. I'll start mine tonight."

"I guess," said Talyn dubiously.

"What're universities like in Barashi?" Leekath asked. "Or Restron, I guess."

"A lot of the Martisen-speaking places are about the same really, it's not important to specify," Talyn said. "Everybody goes to school when they're kids, for a few years - optionally for more, and a lot of kids do that, especially ones whose parents aren't professionals and can't take their kids as apprentices -"

"Not everyone does apprenticeships?"

"Some people can't get one or don't want one or are hopeless at what they start on," Talyn said. "There's unskilled workers, and people who just stay home and raise kids, and unemployed layabouts, on Barashi. Farmhands, retail workers, carriage drivers - you don't really need an apprenticeship to do that. Come to think of it I don't think my mom finished her apprenticeship. She started on one for... seamstressing? Something like that. And quit or got dismissed and never picked up another one. She's actually pretty bad at sewing even still. So she sells the things my dad digs up on his expeditions, and other knicknacks."

"Oh," Leekath said.

"But anyway, people who want to do more school have plenty of options. I never attended a university so I don't know much about them. I didn't even go to as much school as most people. Innates can access kamai young."

"Is finding apprenticeships a problem with kyma too?"

"Not really. If you have kamai ability at all, you can find a kama to take you, even if you're not very bright," Talyn said. "Some won't take spontaneous manifesters though. Grandfather wound up with more than his share of those, including Rhysel. And Nevyn."

"Nevyn was one? I didn't know that," Leekath said softly.

"Yeah. He was all trained out of the periodically annoying the spirits of the dead into haunting him by the time you met him."

Leekath suppressed a giggle. "That sounds awkward. Anyway. You can reuse the letters if you want, but it's better to edit them a little for each to play to the strengths. Like, for Daasen, I'd go on about how you don't need much supervision, and how you're an innate kama they'd be proud to claim later, but for - what else have you got?"

"Makaadam, South Harper, Six Crystals, and Lelek," Talyn said.

"I'd say something about how you're doing in non-magic classes, for South Harper, and for Lelek I'd probably go on a bit about how you're from Barashi because they try really hard to have lots of student diversity. Six Crystals gets to hear all about your kamai background and your involvement with the shren cure. Makaadam hears about all your interesting connections with interesting people, at one remove or two - through me, through Rhysel, through Master Revenn, etcetera."

"Good to know," said Talyn.

"You'll want that kind of emphasis on your petition papers, too," she said. "They give you an idea what they look for in the pamphlets. By the time they call you in for a wizarding aptitude test or an interview or both, you've gotten in, you just have to not offend anyone or demonstrate that you have no aptitude at all."

"So Daasen wants a mutually beneficial attachment of names?"

"That's a good way to put it."

"I can probably pull that off," he said with a smile.

"Probably. But apply to the others too," Leekath laughed.

"Why didn't you go to Daasen?" Talyn asked Narax. He'd loitered outside the dragon's office with a book until Narax came down the hall.

"Hello, Talyn, how are you?" Narax asked rhetorically. "Because I was vaguely nauseated by the way Daasen acts with prominent graduates. The University of Nenise does it too," he laughed, "but I knew they'd stop the instant they knew what I was."

"Oh. What do they do, exactly?" Talyn asked.

"University publications go after anyone who's accomplished anything - even if it's not in the field they went to school for - and want interviews, credit, endorsements. If you make money, they want it. If you make policy, they want that. They like naming buildings after people so they can casually mention them to students or faculty they're hoping to recruit. I wouldn't have minded a building, actually, but the solicitations for money and the telling reporters that the wonderful professors taught me everything I know - didn't fancy it."

"Makes sense. But Daasen's good?"

"Daasen's good. Go there if you can get in and if you think you can take it."

"Will do," said Talyn.

After a few weeks of waiting, Talyn got three acceptances, and two rejections. He was a little surprised that one of the acceptances was from Daasen. It was very condescendingly written, but it was still an acceptance.

Makaadam's acceptance permitted him to defer until the last quarter of 11254. That would give him a full three-and-a-half-month term at Daasen to determine if the pressure would cook him.

The evening after his last letter arrived, when he was penning his acceptance to Daasen at the dining table, Rhysel asked him if he'd thought about moving out.

"Not really, no," Talyn said, looking up. "It's not hard to get between here and Daasen - oh, they accepted me, I decided to go there, if it's too much I can go to Makaadam instead. You don't charge me rent or anything. And I'm still technically an apprentice."

"Well," Rhysel said. "If you were thinking about it, this would be a good time. I can add another floor to the tower..."

"You've got a spare room already for - the baby, though," Talyn said, not sure how he felt about Rhysel's forthcoming child's name of "Reven". "Or are you thinking you'll move the twins into separate rooms?"

"Not until and unless they ask to be split up, no," Rhysel said. "But I've agreed to take on another apprentice. And you're really well beyond apprentice level, however little of it is because of me."

"Well, um," said Talyn. "Thanks."

"Don't feel pressured to go," Rhysel said. "It's really no trouble having you here, and I can expand the tower -"

"Maybe I should think about it anyway," Talyn said. "I'm engaged, and you're not related to me, and we're definitely not moving in with Leekath's folks."

Rhysel nodded. "Well, I'll put Evlain - the new apprentice - in the baby's room-to-be for the time being. If you're out by the time he's born, she'll take your room then. If you're not, I'll add a floor."

"Sounds good," Talyn said. "Er, but can you not officially Journeyman me until I do move out?"

"Why?" Rhysel asked. "You know that you're -"

"I understand I'm good enough and everything," Talyn said hastily, "I'm not standing on ritual or anything. But I think my parents expect me to move back in with them for a while when I'm done with the apprenticeship - to help out with the little ones, or around the shop, or on digs, or just generally to not be so far away all the time. Ranel did, before she got her own tower. And I don't really want to move there. Visit lots sure, but not live there again. If I already have a house or an apartment or a tower or whatever by the time you promote me, I can make like I never thought that and they won't give me a hard time."

"Okay," shrugged Rhysel. "That's your business."

"Where did you find a new apprentice?" Talyn asked.

"Through a very circuitous route," laughed Rhysel. "There are a lot of miracles in early adolescence whose parents didn't pick them up and who couldn't find adoptive parents - and interest from parents is petering out, so they're not very optimistic. The shren houses are collapsing, and they don't have much of anywhere to go. Ryll decided that it would make sense to set them up with Barashin apprenticeships. Evlain wanted to be a kama, but enrolling in regular school didn't appeal to her. So I'm taking her on, because I'm the first kama Ryll thought of."

"Fun," remarked Talyn.

"One hopes," Rhysel agreed.

The more Talyn thought about it, the less he thought that he wanted to live in a tower. The point was to make a kama's location obvious to the neighbors, so they'd be easily found by anyone needing help. But random Elcenians didn't know that, and that didn't seem to be the lifestyle he was headed to anyway.

Talyn didn't know what he was going to do, career-wise, but "sit in a tower and wait for people to need help" didn't sound like it.

Leekath would remain entitled to live in Binaaralav student housing until she finished her kamai classwork, as well as her wizarding program, but maybe she'd want to live with him. So rather than going on a househunt in Daasen by himself, he asked her.

"Ooh," Leekath said. "I think that would be a good idea, to get a place in the city. Or maybe a suburb like Kantar. But living right in the city would be nice - it's easy to think teleportation means it doesn't matter where you put your home, but that's not true. You can only teleport places you've been. Daasen's full of great stuff, so much that it'd take forever to have already been to it all."

"You can go to transfer points you haven't visited," Talyn pointed out.

"Only if someone teaches you the signature. You still have to know you want to go to the place before you can arrive there. We'll be able to walk out the door and go exploring. And people who can't teleport will be able to get to us easily. Daasen's got very good city scoots, and it's on most intercity scoot lines. Aaihhhi doesn't know how to teleport - he gets other people to bring him to and from work from Mifaar. But he could fly to anyplace within Daasen and just visit, and it would still be really inconvenient for my fheeil or sister to do it."

"Fair enough. Apartment or house?"

Leekath made a thoughtful face. "The categories are kind of blended in the middle of a dense city. Daasen's got a lot of buildings with ten- and fifteen-bedroom 'apartments' stacked on top of each other, a floor or two or three apiece with a stairwell on the side of the outer wall. I think those have noise problems, though, and we can't fill that kind of space. Maybe a roof cottage?"

"Roof cottage?"

"They're expensive for the amount of space, but I make good money and I've barely spent any so far, I think I could ask for a raise after I graduate and then comfortably pay for one myself," Leekath said. "They're little almost-freestanding houses on the tops of those buildings, and they use the rest of the roof as a yard. I mean, usually everybody who lives there can use the roof, but the cottage has more convenient access."

"Sounds interesting," Talyn said. "But why are you assuming you'll pay for it?"

"Well - no reason, I guess," Leekath said. "What are you planning to do for money? More translation nuggets?"

"It'd be too easy to flood the market," muttered Talyn. "There's definitely a limit on how much of that I can do. Um."

"For that matter, how are you going to pay Daasen's tuition?" She wasn't even challenging, just curious, like he was liable to have pulled a source of income out of nowhere.

"Uh, Rhysel said way back that she'd give me some money to start out. That'll cover tuition for at least the first half and by then I might earn a scholarship. I guess it... might not cover rent," he said sheepishly. "I was going to look into tutoring in Daasen's kamai department... but that's not a guarantee I guess..."

"It's not a problem," said Leekath. "Even part time, working in Parliament is a good living. We handle sensitive stuff; no one wants poor government officials tempted to sell national secrets, or take bribes to put in lines in legislation, or go to fancy restaurants with special interest representatives and listen to them argue a lot because that's the only way we can eat well. This is a general statement I mean - obviously I eat great." She grinned at him.

"Right," said Talyn with a weak smile. He'd actually had no idea that Leekath was drawing an appreciable salary, let alone one that would let her rent a house on a roof in the capital of Esmaar "comfortably". If her aaihhhi had asked her to she'd probably have taken the job for free. But she had been picking up the tab on more of their dates since she'd started working...

"The more I think about living in a little roof cottage with you, the more I like it," Leekath sighed.

"It sounds great to me too," Talyn said. "You don't mind footing the bill for rent? While I'm in school, I mean. I'm sure I'll find something to do after that."

"It's fine," said Leekath. "Actually, if I move out of the Binaaralav dorms, I get a break on my room and board bill. Which Aaihhhi's currently paying, and I bet if I ask him instead of Fheeil he'll give me the difference for as long as I'm still in school."

"Right," said Talyn. "When would be a good time for you to go poking around Daasen for places?"

"Fenen afternoon," Leekath replied. "I'll come here and teleport you there. I'd like to be as close as work as can be, to make it really easy for Aaihhhi to come by whenever he might want to - he's really sensitive to how long distractions from his work schedule take."

"Sounds like your aaihhhi, yeah," said Talyn.

"Speaking of how very well I eat," murmured Leekath, leaning her head onto Talyn's shoulder.

"Drink up, love," Talyn said, smiling and wrapping his arms around her as twin spots on his neck went numb.