Atlasdam was as bustling as ever Cyrus noted as he walked through the city’s entrance. Fortune favored him with mild fall weather, a cool breeze ushering him through the city streets as he made his way to the library. “Ah, it has been so long! But first things first, I must get materials to truly help me study this in detail.” Most people would choose to go home and rest after a long journey such as Cyrus’, especially considering Cyrus not only helped several others on their own adventures, but completed his own as well. However, cyrus is not like most people and thus the professor made himself comfortable looking through all the tomes that adorned shelf after shelf, grabbing ones he thought would prove useful for his studies.
“Some things never change, do they, Professor Albright?” A familiar voice teased followed by a giggle.
“Hm?” Cyrus looked over his shoulder to see Therese giving him a friendly smile. “Oh Therese! It's nice to see you again. Have you been studying in my absence?” He seemed pleased to see his pupil in good health after the events that took place just a short while ago. The girl nodded.
“Ah, y-yeah! Just like you said!.” Therese’s smile faded and she looked down nervously. “Um...Professor. A-about what happened back there..a-at Stonegard, I...I didn’t mean to.. I-I mean I didn’t think it would co-” Cyrus interrupted her, now facing her full on, his expression serious.
“Therese, it’s ok. I have you to thank for saving my life.” Cyrus frowned slightly. “I just offer my deepest apologies for failing to protect you completely. It is my duty as your professor to keep you safe from harm while in my care. You should never have been subjected to such horrors as the ones you witnessed that day….It is my hope that you forgive my shortcomings in time.” He sounded genuinely disappointed in himself, recalling the grim memory while Therese quickly shook her head.
”N-no professor! You did nothing wrong! ..I-I shouldn’t have even been there...I shouldn’t have been eavesdropping but when Headmaster Yvon spoke of...of killing you, I..I just, I just had to-” Therese’s eyes welled with tears, her body shaking at the thought. “...This whole thing...was my fault…” Cyrus’ frown deepened and he lifted her chin with his hand free of books so she would be forced to look at him.
“Therese...Regardless of the rumor you spread, I was bound to seek out that tome eventually, thus yielding the same chain of events. The only crucial detail that may have been altered would be you timely arrival at Stonegard.” Cyrus dropped his hand from her chin and closed his eyes in thought. “Yes...had you not took to overhearing vital information on my whereabouts and consequently learning of crucial assassination plans, I most likely would still be stuck in a pit left for dead.” He concluded with a nod.
“Again Therese,” Cyrus hoisted his stack of books up with both hands again. “...do not fret that you spread that lie about myself and the princess. Perhaps if I hadn't neglected a pupil starving for knowledge, you would not have felt compelled to try and gain attention in that manner. Now if you excuse me, “The professor walked past Therese, starting his exit. “I will be taking my leave now. There is much to study.” Therese stood there, still trying to process his words.
“O-oh but Professor!” She finally called out. Cyrus just waved his hand in the air. “Do take care, Therese, I expect to see you in class beginning next week!” Therese just sighed happily to herself, watching the scholar leave with his stack of books.
“Oh Professor….you haven’t changed at all…”
Cyrus had made his way back to his old office in the palace. It appeared to have been left in the state it was upon his sudden leave. A quill left in an inkwell on his desk next to a stack of papers waiting to be graded. Two ceiling high shelves adorned opposite walls of his office, every ledge filled with books, scrolls, trinkets and other intriguing items. In front of his desk were a matching chaise and chair, a candle holder resting on the arm of said chair. Sunlight flooded the room as Cyrus smiled, his sanctuary still intact. He placed his stack of books on his desk, took off his robe and draped it over the back of his chair. He stood there a few longer moments, just seeming to take in all the nostalgia. Perhaps the weight of all the scenes he witnessed were finally weighing down on him. Before he could fall further into this trance, Cyrus remembered something and he walked back over to his door. There he opened the mailbox that was mounted on the door so people could easily slip documents or papers into a metal slot form the outside and he could retrieve such items later. However, he didn’t expect to feel an envelope in there and quickly pulled it out. Surprised, he looked over the handwriting and smiled.
“Hm...A speedy reply from Lady Azelhart? She usually doesn’t respond for at least a week or two upon receiving my letters.” He mused, taking a seat at his desk as he opened up the letter.
Primrose...I hope this is just a speedy reply and not urgent news of something unfortunate developing…
Cyrus dreaded the possible thought the second it came to mind before shaking his head and reading his friend’s reply:
Dear Professor Albright,
That is wonderful news indeed, Cyrus! You’ve been travelling for quite some time now. I’m glad things seemed to have worked out in the end for you. A visit? That sounds lovely, but I’d hate for you to have just gotten home and already back travelling again. I know Noblecourt is not too far from Atlasdam but still…. Perhaps it’d be best if I visited you instead? I have been home far longer...plus I am of nobility, if need be I could be useful in one of your lessons? Forgive me if I’m being too forward.
Cyrus paused, unable to hide the smile on his face. “She does boast a good point. Primrose always has good judgement so I expect nothing less from her.”
... Also thank you for the kind words and advice during these months; they were very appreciated . i must be honest with you though, Cyrus. As of late, my thoughts are keeping me up through the night...Scenes of the past...scenes from my journey...I’m all torn inside having to convince myself even of my trust in you at times. ...Forgive me for this confession. Even now as i write this response I feel the need to scrap it and rewrite it all over once again. I just feel so...lost and...you have provided me insight and new ways of thinking of solutions to my dilemma.
On the matters of being honest, by the time you read this letter, I’ll already be-
A knock interrupted the Professor’s reading and he quickly stuffed the letter away. “Come in!” He called once ready for his unannounced guest. It was a rather long moment before the doorknob turned and the door slowly opened, revealing a hooded figure. “I-its me Professor Albright, Therese!”
“Oh it’s just you Therese, what can I…. What are you doing?!” Cyrus’ calm demeanor vanished noticing the dagger in her hand, her arms shaking.
“Professor….you...Why would you say such hurtful things to me?” Her voice sounded genuinely sad. “How...after everything I did for you? After saving your life? After acing every single one of your tests? How could you do this to me?” With every question she took a step closer, her voice growing more bitter. Cyrus was standing now, his signature spell book in hand. “Therese what on earth are you talking about?”
“Professor Albright I know you aren’t as oblivious as you want me to believe. You know exactly how you insulted me.” She finally threw off her hood, her face in a twisted grin, tear-stained face. Her eyes looked void of all consciousness. “Mocking my affection for you….Completely ungrateful for all the things I did for you!” Her grip on the dagger tightened. It was quite evident Therese was not acting of her own volition but Cyrus did not have time to figure out what could possibly have possessed his student.
“Therese…” Cyrus warned, taking a defensive position. He knew very well most of his spells could cause permanent damage to her if he channeled too much energy into them.
“And then you finally return and give me false hopes all for what?” Therese hissed, raising her dagger to strike. “If I can’t have you...than no one can Professor!” Cyrus was stunned by her complete irrational display.
Before Therese could make her move, a second dagger flew through the air, knocking Therese’s from her hand. “Cyrus enough standing around and move!” A voice called out.
Both Cyrus and Therese looked to the doorway, a familiar dancer now in it. He was in shock at this entire situation- his star pupil attempting to assassinate him and his former comrade standing in his doorway out of nowhere. Therese glared at the woman in the doorway, pulling Cyrus’ face down to her level. “Look at your wench now, come to save the day huh? As if she could ever hope to come between us and our-” Without wasting anymore time, Primrose walked over and backhanded the girl off of Cyrus with enough force to send her straight to the ground.
“....Hey there Professor Albright,” is all she said, giving the man time to possibly fathom the series of events that just happened.
“P-primrose?! How did you-”
Primrose had kneeled down next to the unconscious student, digging through the pockets of her robe for something. “Well...I did say by the time you finished reading my letter I’d already be heading to Atlasdam. ...I didn’t mean to create anymore trouble for you, but Therese...She was acting very oddly. So I followed her here.” She explained calmly, fetching a dark blue crystal from the robes pocket. “I believe this had to have been the source of her extreme behavior. I watched her pull it out back at the library.”
Cyrus kneeled next to Therese as well, grabbing the crystal from Primrose’s hand. “....You know….I did not wish to be greeting you in such a way, but I am glad to see you. ...Did you sleep on your way here?” He questioned while still looking over the crystal. Primrose shook her head as he stood up, lending a hand out to her as well. “Cyrus...I know you already know the answer to that.” He took a closer look at her face once they were both standing and noticed her disheveled appearance, curls falling out of place, the rings underneath her eyes, tear stained cheeks. Even then her beauty shone through but that wasn’t what was important to him.
“I’ve seen one of these crystals before- it’s meant to heighten someone’s emotions to the extreme. The victim loses all control of any moral senses and act upon each and every intrusive thought that comes to mind. And I’m almost positive I know who could have planted this foul thing on her.” Cyrus explained calmly. “Please allow me to free Therese from this wicked device and I will make you some tea.” They both looked down at Therese, then back to each other, before Cyrus destroyed the stone entirely.
“She’ll awaken soon with no recollection of her actions, I will take her to the infirmary.”