One of the hallmarks of Young Adult lit is the depiction of school life. The schools may be quite unusual (like Hogwarts or Vampire Academy), but many of the stresses involved are familiar to us all. In this scene, Shiloh has a less-than-edifying encounter with a bully of a new teacher.
Shiloh sat in a small classroom with a dozen children, all under the age of ten, save for her. In front of each of them sat a bowl of water. At the front of the room stood Kevin Rangeborn, professor of Farsight. He’d been away on a pilgrimage to holy sites in Gerne; this was, therefore, Shiloh’s first class with him. It wasn’t looking too promising. With hair more salt than pepper and a face full of frown lines, he glared down at his students with narrow eyes.
“Scrying, properly performed, can change the course of history. It can reveal danger, expose treachery, provide insight. Or it can be a cheap parlor trick for rich people with too much time on their hands. I’ve no doubt that for most of you, it shall be the latter, if you can see anything at all,” Master Kevin proclaimed. “Farsight arises only in those who possess an affinity for the element of water. If your magic is devoid of water, you will see nothing. Visions do not come to a busy mind, nor to a soul burdened with sin. Your mind must be calm as the glassy surface of the water. Your soul must be pure as the driven snow. The Gods show nothing to those filthy with misdeeds and vile magics.”
He turned his eyes on Shiloh, his expression full of disgust. Her ears flushed pink as her hair, and she pressed her lips together to keep herself from replying in anger.
“Begin,” the teacher ordered.
The children obeyed, looking skeptically into the water, breathing deeply. Shiloh did the same, though her mind was roiling at the professor’s obvious antipathy. She closed her eyes and tried to let go of her anger, then gazed down into the bowl, letting her eyes become unfocused.
For an instant, she caught a glimpse of Queen Rose standing on a wooden platform, in tears, wearing only a simple shift. In a blink, the image was gone. She raised her eyes to find Master Kevin standing before her, glowering.
“You needn’t bother trying. You reek of dark magic. The Gods do not reveal truth to the unclean,” he hissed. “No wonder Edmund didn’t bother trying to teach you farsight. Even that traitor knew you were unworthy. He should have killed you in your cradle.”
Every child in the class had given up the assignment and focused their wide eyes on the spectacle at Shiloh’s desk. Shaking, she stood to face the professor. Drawing herself up to her full height, she barely came up to the man’s chest. Still, her expression must have conveyed something of her rage and of her power, for the large man took a step back when she looked up into his face.
“Master Kevin, I would so hate to be a waste of your precious time,” she said, her voice sickly sweet and her eyes blazing. “After all, who can know how much time one has?” And with that, she turned on her heel and strode out of the room.
She kept walking until she found herself in the Temple in front of the shrine to the Mother. She knelt down onto the pad and bent to rest her forehead on the railing. A few tears fell, hot and silent, onto the stone floor below.
You shouldn’t have let him get to you, she scolded herself. You know better than to let them see it hurts.
“Are you alright?” Brother Charles asked, coming up behind her.
She lifted her head and brushed aside a tear. “I’m fine. I just walked out of class in a huff.”
“What happened?” the priest asked, taking a seat on a bench nearby. Shiloh rose to join him.
“Master Kevin started talking about how unclean I am, and how the Gods would never show me anything, so I needn’t bother taking his class,” she explained, voice hot.
Charles rolled his eyes. “Kevin is an ass. Always has been. We shared a room our first year here. He’s always been . . . strident. I considered murder on a number of occasions.”
Shiloh laughed. “Will the headmaster be cross with me if I don’t continue taking Farsight?”
“I doubt it,” Charles replied. “You could always ask to study it independently. I’m sure there are books in the library. Master Hatch is quite adept, I’m told. Perhaps he would be willing to tutor you.”
Shiloh sighed. “Somehow, I doubt it. I should probably go tell the headmaster before Maser Kevin gets to him first and makes it sound like I did something wrong.”