While perhaps the most academically-inclined school heads, Althea knew full well that her post carried some political role to it. She did not particularly enjoyed this aspect but she knew how to play the game. As such, she would sometime hosts cocktail parties, dreary affairs where she and her colleague would network or discuss administrative concerns. Some of her students would act as the waiting staff for these events. Perhaps counter-intuitively, such assignments were intended as reward for meritorious neophyte mages. A chance to rub elbows with the movers and shakers of the academy, to see who’s who from up close.
Eventually the guests would start to bid their farewell and their number would dwindle until Althea and her three best friends, Marjan, Aikio and Iriyani, remained. At this point, a handful of group of scantly clad male student would pose for their benefit while they discussed matters of a more personal nature.
Tonight was one of such parties, it was getting late and the remaining waiting staff was down to the three would be models for what followed. While many would consider this to be degrading, for Hasdrubal it was just an occasion to display the fruits of his labour. After all the bodybuilder is both artist and canvas… A living work of art.
Yes, it was all good fun… With one catch, Hasdrubal had seen how scathing the women could be to a model who would not live up to their standard…
Turok entered the kitchen and gave an Hasdrubal a nod. The orc was gigantic, a towering figure standing almost a feet over Hasdrubal, a tall man himself. But Turok was something else… possibly the strongest man under the academy’s roof.
Turok’s eye turned to the androgynous looking elf quietly undressing at the other side of the room, he quickly sized him up and scoffed.
«Who’s the new guy?» inquired Turok.
Hasdrubal, already stripped to a loin cloth, poured olive oil in his hand and started rubbing his arm and chest. He handed the pitcher to the orc.
«That’s Kyras. He’s alright.»
«Tell me why you are here, Hasdrubal.»
Althea did not turn while addressing him. She continued transcribing scroll his back to him while Hasdrubal stood at the entrance of her study.
«We encountered a trio of…»
Althea cut him off: «I’ve read your written briefing. Tell me why you are here.»
Her intonation was not accusative, but matter-of-facty.
Hasdrubal audibly sighted.
«I thought my companions would not be able to overcome the foes without my assistance. I assumed retreat was inevitable to cure the blindness the creature had afflicted upon me. I’ve lost my nerve.»
«What could you have done?»
«I could have casted an obscuring mist. Hinder the skeleton visibility to even the playing field, protect myself and my companion from the creature’s gaze.»
«What have you learned?»
«With no means to cure blindness or deafness at our disposal we are particularly vulnerable to curses affecting our ability to see or hear. However, a transmuter should not bound by what is.»
«What will you do?»
«I am working on a spell, one that will enhance the senses of the caster to the point he would not be hindered by the loss of one of his senses.»
«Good. There is nothing else to discuss. Dismiss.»
«Kyras, come over.» Hasdrubal intoned.
Kyras having finished changing, complied. His eyes betrayed a certain apprehension.
In a different context the elf’s delicate figure would have attracted the desirous glance of a many womanfolk but stripped of his courtier clothes, it contrasted unfavorably to the husky builds of Turok and Hasdrubal. This realization had not escaped Kyras.
Hasdrubal picked up a few reagent from his spell component pouch lying on the ground.
Hasdrubal concentrated and touched Kyras shoulder. «Fus Ro Dah!»
Kyras immediately started bulking up under the effect of the spell. He assessed his new-found strength by flexing his right arm. Kyras smiled and his eyes flared with a new confidence.
He wouldn’t look pathetic, Hasdrubal thought to himself, but he would still look out of place…
Hasdrubal looked around saw on the counter a glass sphere serving as a plateau ornament. Hasdrubal pulled the small sphere from its tripod and handed it to Kyras.
«Take this. When you’re posing, alternate between contemplative and intense and imperious. You’ll do just fine.»
Kyras smiled and nodded to Hasdrubal before retreating to his corner to practice.
«Why did you help him?» asked Turok
«I seem to remember you giving me pointers when I started too, Turok.»
«Ha! And now I have to contend with you upstarts stealing my thunder. Serves me right.» quipped Turok before letting out a loud laugh.