Death is but a memory to me. It’s most of what I see nowadays all across Vienna and the world at large-- thousands of people in Needy Lines awaiting meals, rooms, supplies, all of them homeless during the long winter months. Many will die, and the rich will do nothing about it.
It’s not their fault that this is happening to them. Work is hard enough to come by, and so many would rather keep the wealth to themselves rather than share it.Some, like my husband, made bad investments by choosing locomotives over the airships. They’re broke.
We’re broke, really. After my Rísen died, his debt became mine. I’ve nearly paid it all off since then, but I still owe half a million star gears to the Wellington Company. A history professor on my salary would be lucky to pay that off in six months, let alone two weeks. At least there’s no interest--
My eyes opened, and I was drawn back into class. “Yes, Lucille?”
“The bell rang.”
I glanced at the ancient mantelpiece clock on my desk. “...so it has,” I said. “So sorry, children. Class dismissed!”
As the students rushed out of the room, I felt my shoulders slump and a sigh escaped my lips. That was the second time today I had missed the bell. Now, though, we had lunch, and thus there were no classes to dismiss. I sat in silence for a few minutes, wasting away part of my hour of freedom as best I could. I had little else to do, at any rate. Rare was the day that I’d eat three meals, and rarer still that I would eat at the Keep.
Ormshire Keep was my place of work. I have to date been a history professor and assistant dueling teacher for almost half a century. I had spent a decade here as a student, and before I became a teacher, I frequented the school’s library each Saturday. This school has been my life these past fifty-eight years, and my nine years before school now seem to be grim and bland.
I opened my eyes and turned my head towards the doorway before standing up. Maybe… just maybe… Professor Grandwatcher would be obliged to give me a sleeping draught. Just as I hardly ate. Sleeping was a rarity as well. I gave my empty classroom a quick but thorough glance before I stepped out into the hall. Withdrawing my wand from a pocket in my robes, I quietly muttered, “Guarlius,” moving it over the keyhole and locking my door.
I turned down the passageway, heading into the drafty stone stairwell, the tap-tap-tapping of my shoes on the steps echoing softly as I walked. The damp, chilled air was always a horrible consequence when going down to the lower levels-- Lenos and I had begged for the potions classroom to be moved to a higher floor for years-- but it was bearable compared to the horrid mines of Maugrym.
I reached the maple wood door that stood between myself and her classroom and silently wondered to myself whether or not i was bothering her. Mayhaps she had a student that needed additional work, or she was having a meaningful conversation with the Headmaster again. Shoving those thoughts aside, I lifted the iron handle and walked into her classroom.