Going to Asthrifel

“You’re sure you don’t want to go to the Tower.”

Artemisia’s parents hovered closely, her mother clutching the last of Arta’s trunks as if that might make her change her mind.

“The Tower accepted you,” her father reminded her. “It’s not common for women, not at all, but considering your family lines…”

They’d been having these conversations for months. Artemisia knew all of her lines by heart, and all of their lines, too.

“That’s lovely of them. And the Pumpkin invited me too. And Asthrifel gave me a full scholarship and a promise of a fellowship if I keep my grades up.” Artemisia tried hard to not sound exasperated. “It’s a little late, anyway.”

“The Tower’s classes don’t start until next week.” Her mother stepped forward. “Sage was very happy at the Tower.”

Her brother Sage was enough older than Artemisia that she was closer in age to his son than to him. “I know. But I think I’ll be very happy here. At Asthrifel.” She tilted her head towards her dormitory room. “It’s a little late to back out, it really is. Let me finish getting moved in?  You can come visit in a couple weeks and assure yourselves it’s not a bad school. Not an awful school, at least?”

Her mother sighed. “If you’re certain, dear, I suppose there’s nothing more we can do to change your mind.”

“There’s nothing you can do to change my mind, short of a spell or a potion.” Artemisia held up the medallion Sage and his oldest son had made her. “And I’ve got familiar protection against both of those. In case, you know, someone here at Asthrifel tries to mess with my mind.”

“Sage is so thoughtful.” Her father’s teeth were grinding audibly. “Well, if we can’t change your mind…”

“I love you both, but you can’t.” She hugged her parents. “I’ll be home for the Equinox Ceremony, don’t forget. You can ask me all about Asthrifel then.”

“Well, if you think there’s anything about a mainly human University that we need to know about…” her mother sniffed. “Fine, fine. Enjoy your classes in science or whatever.”

“I love you,” Artemisia repeated. “I’ll see you on Equinox.” She held her breath until they left the room, and watched them out her dorm window until they’d left the parking lot.

She could have gone to the Tower, she supposed. But Asthrifel’s Curses program was actually a lot more robust.

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