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Opulence: Another Peek
I drive up to the gate, leading to the huge group home. It’s brick, old, and three stories. This is the local area for trainers and apprentices to stay. I moved out a while ago, when my basic training officially ended and I turned eighteen. Since then my office, at the nearest O.P.U.L.E.N.C.E. building, has been more than enough. I travel a lot.
“This place is huge. Are you sure we’re allowed to be here?” Evan asks, gaping at the fortress from the window of the car after I turn down the music.
“I have the code and they’re expecting us. Rooms have already been prepared, along with a work space. Walter’s even here. He was my trainer, and now will over see my work with you,” I say, not mentioning how upset he’d been with me when I took the time to tell him what happened, during a bathroom break.
“So he’s your boss?” Evan asks as I put in the code and pull up to the residents’ driveway.
“No more than I’m yours. He’s simply my teacher and superior in the organization. I have plenty of respect for him, but I report to others, not him,” I say with an eye roll at the very idea.
Evan says as I pull into a parking spot, “You realize I don’t know any magic. I don’t even have any stuff, like clothes. This is all a bit sudden.”
“Best to keep a brisk pace or you’ll have time to think of how odd this all really is. You don’t need to worry about any belongings. Your room is furnished and we’ll provide everything you need for magic training. Besides that, all apprentices have a cafeteria to eat at, that costs you nothing. You also have an apprentice uniform, which you’ll be fitted for first thing,” I say as I leave the car.
“Great, this is sounding almost as bad as school,” Evan sighs.
I grumble as I lead him to the main entrance of the estate, “You were never this chatty back at school. I wish I’d known about your complaining before I signed on to be your trainer.”
I don’t mention that he’s my first apprentice, and I would have taken anyone.
“I’ll take you to Walter first. Then I’ll show you your room, our work space, and where you will be able to find me. I don’t normally stay here, but as your trainer, I have to be readily available. After all that, you’ll be fitted for your uniform and I’ll give you a tour of the place. I’m sure you’ll find it to your standards,” I say confidently.
“Wait,” Evan says, grabbing my hand to stop me.
I act on reflex, everything happening before I have the chance to realize I have him turned around, pressing the pressure point on the back of his neck as I hold his arms behind his back. He gasps in shock and pain. Then I realize what I’ve done and release him sheepishly. One such as myself, small and cute, I need to have fast reflexes. The places I go aren’t always the most civilized, and I look like I could easily be taken advantage of.
“What was that for? It really hurt!” Evan exclaims, rubbing his arms.
“Sorry,” I say, slightly embarrassed. “What were you saying?”
“Sure, just go on like nothing happened. I was going to say that you’re rushing things a bit. I don’t even want to be here, not that you bothered to ask,” Evan says, dryly.
I shrug and continue moving toward the building, saying over my shoulder, “That doesn’t really matter, Evan. Every person with the power must be trained, under law. It will be easier if you see this as helpful, instead of mandatory. You could really hurt someone, without proper control of your abilities. Besides, you should be very comfortable here. It won’t be forever.”
“How long will I be forced to live here?” He asks.
I ignore his negativity and say, “It depends on how well you commit yourself to your studies. If you don’t accomplish the basic training then you have to stay. Once you have you can request to be moved back home, where you’ll be put into contact with a tutor in your area.”
“You’ve been here for over a decade. Is that how long it takes for â€˜basic training’?” He asks as I open the front door and usher him inside.
I laugh lightly and say, “Of course not. I completed that years ago. I’m well within the realm of mastery. It just happens that I have no where else to go, and trust me, I don’t mind. I would much rather devote myself to the power. I don’t see it as a punishment, but more of a privilege.”
“You mean, I don’t have to go back home?” Evan asks.
I raise an eyebrow and say, “I thought you were eager to go home and be back with your parents?”
He laughs, a harsh noise and says, “If what you’re saying is true, that everything here isn’t that bad, then I’m fine with staying here until I’m eighteen. My parents never wanted a child, and even less so after they had me. I doubt Iâ€˜ll be missed.”
Evan finally comes into the house and I close the door behind me. In the foyer there are smooth, hard wood floors, with large closets along the walls. The room leads out in three ways, forward and to the left and right. There are lights set dimly with no windows besides the one above the front doors.
“I’ll take that for you Miss Wordsworth. I hope you had a most pleasant trip,” A middle aged woman says as she rushes in, face flushed, dressed in a staff uniform.
“Thank you, Kate,” I say as I hand her my light-weight, green trench coat.
“No problem Miss. I’ll take your’s as well young man,” Kate says happily, reaching for Evan’s coat.
He hands it to her awkwardly and she quickly hangs them up and puts them in the residents closet. The clothing is neatly labeled in sections for apprentices, trainers, and such. Evan watches her perform this task uncomfortably. He will soon have to get used to it, seeing as staff and such will be around him often now. I don’t see why people are distressed by servants, since it’s their job.
“Evan, this is our housekeeper, Kate. Usually the butler comes to the door. Kate, this is the newest addition to apprentices, Evan Grant,” I say to them both.
“So nice to meet you, Mr. Grant,” Kate says with a smile and a slight nod of her head.
“You can call me Evan,” He mumbles back.
“Mr. Grant, there is protocol here. I don’t mean any disrespect, but this is a formal relationship. Now, would you like me to show you two to your new accommodations?” Kate asks expectantly.
“Actually we’ll need to be shown straight to Walter,” I redirect her.
“Of course. I’ll show you myself this time, Mr. Grant, and don’t hesitate to come to me if you need help. Other than that, I run this estate. I do not play tour guide or bell hop. I am very busy and while I’m here to serve, serving you is not necessarily my main task. I organize everything, so one of the other staff will usually perform these tasks. I shouldn’t want you to be confused by it,” Kate tells Evan politely, while telling him firmly where she draws the line in the sand.
“No problem,” Evan nods, a little confusion showing on his face.
Kate wisely ignores it, trusting me to clear things up later on estate etiquette, and says, “Very well, this way then. He’s on this level, in his office.”
Kate leads us out of the foyer, to the left. It’s basically one main hallway, decorated with ornate light fixtures, intricate paintings of important organization members, burgundy rugs with gold details above the hard wood floors, cream walls, and gold trim. Overall the appearance is grand and sophisticated. It seems warm even though it isn’t necessarily.
As the three of us continue we pass countless doors, large, dark wood ones. Behind them are offices for the employees here, trackers and trainers that are currently here doing desk work. This is mainly the newest and oldest members. They are not doing field duty at the moment, but are still involved. The first offices are secretaries and other low ranking members. Since I’ll be actively training, my office will not be among these.
Kate takes us a little further before stopping and announcing, “Here we are. I assume he is expecting you. Should I send for any refreshments?”
“I’m sure we’ll be fine,” I say distractedly, ignoring Evans eager expression.
“Very well Ms. Wordsworth. It’s very nice to have you back here, and it’s very nice to meet you Mr. Grant,” Kate says courteously before moving back the way we came.
“Who is Walter again?” Evan asks as I’m reaching for the door.
“Hush! Would you like him to hear you say that?” I ask, removing my hand with a jerk. “Walter is my trainer and who we will be reporting to. You had best remember that. If you excel, or fall behind, he is who you’ll be dealing with.”
“So he’s your boss,” Evan smirks.
“Just try not to say anything stupid,” I sigh before throwing the door open and entering, Evan following behind.