Aturi short story
Aturi of the Dream Cave Band
City of Shiahan, Shia Empire, Year 1050 Post Downfall
Aturi climbed the stairs to his new dormitory room, clutching the bundle of student robes he’d been issued. After a busy day of examinations, orientations, and a whirlwind tour of not just the Tower of Elemental Harmony but all five towers of the Shiahan University, Aturi wasn’t sure what he wanted more, to finally sit down and catch his breath or to run right back to the university library—three whole stories full of books!—and curl up in a corner to read something he’d never known existed until today. The orientation tour leader had assured all the new students that they were allowed to borrow as many books as they could carry, but Aturi didn’t quite believe that.
Bright globes powered by fire magic lit the staircase. Aturi wondered if they stayed on constantly, or if someone had the tedious job of casting the spells to turn them on and off. At the top of the stairs a narrow hallway papered in sober tan ran right and left. Floors, walls, and ceilings all met in crisp, measured edges, rather than the curves Aturi was used to. No colorful borders or decorations were to be seen, just a small, neat scroll hanging beside each door. Aturi checked the numbers on the doors and examined the scrolls. They showed peaceful views of the ocean, painted in a bland foreign style, each with a saying by a famous mage, written in Shian script.
“Excel in your studies and your future career will be secure,” the first scroll said, beside the door to room 21.
Aturi counted his way past rooms 22 through 25 until he found the one that matched the key he’d been given. “Room 26,” the scroll read. This sea-scape had three mountainous islands rising in the distance, and the maxim stated, “He who has knowledge must apply it. He who has yet to obtain knowledge must confess his ignorance.”
Aturi tucked his bundle of robes under his arm, balanced his rule-book, class schedule, and supplies list atop them, and tried his key. It turned smoothly.
Inside, sunlight filtered through a slatted window onto a clean wooden floor, bare walls, a rolled-up bedroll—and over on the other side of the room, a rolled-out bedroll with someone sleeping in it.
This is the second of five short stories by Jessica, set in the world of Madrahar before the events of the Orphaned Gods series. Illustration by Ruth! The whole story is available for patrons over on our Patreon.