Excerpt: Gathering the Hoard

Tori was on a mission. It was a super important mission that he wasn’t about to let anything distract him from. Jerney was missing and Tori had to find him.

Well, not missing exactly, Tori reminded himself. Jerney was ‘in a meeting’ and ‘shouldn’t be disturbed’. But Tori was bored and he wanted his Jerney to come out and play.

Tori hovered outside the doorway that led to the meeting room. He could hear voices inside. Jerney’s voice speaking firmly and Bay’s voice arguing relentlessly. Evan, the maji who had volunteered to help teach basic reading and writing to the younger students, added something small to the discussion every now and then, but mostly Bay’s arguing and Jerney’s calm disagreement echoed through the door.

A quiet rumble sounded from Tori’s fire stomach, unhappiness making the flames inside flare and twist. Jerney was going to be in his meeting for a long time. Tori’s shoulders slumped and he headed down the hallway towards his hoard room.

Mission failure.

The bed he and Jerney shared, tucked into a corner of the large hoard room, was piled high with pillows and blankets. Jerney had made the space private by surrounding the bedroom with dressers and other large and heavy bits of furniture so only by stepping through the one open walkway could someone see the bed.

Tori stopped into that opening and sighed again. He was too awake for a nap. His other bed, a large pile of multi-colored, uncut rubies covered by a thick quilt was unappealing as well. That was in the center of his hoard room and all sorts of sparkly pretties filled the space around it. The room had been dug out under the hill the school was built against specifically for Tori’s hoard.

Tori huffed in annoyance, not understanding why his hoard wasn’t holding his interest. Usually he could spend hours shining and dusting until Jerney had to shield his eyes when he walked in from all the shiny. Instead, Tori headed back into the school. Classes were done for the day; the children usually ensconced behind desks in classrooms were outside playing in the spring air.

The melting snow provided hours of fun, but not for Tori. He walked outside anyway, ignoring the giggling and happy kids all around him, and climbed the hill the school had been built next to. His hoard was buried somewhere deep underneath, but the still frozen grass and hard earth under Tori’s hands and feet made him forget that.

The school wasn’t huge, but considering they had started with three students when it first opened twenty years ago and they now had approximately one hundred fifty—well it made Jerney happy to have so many young witches to train.

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