“Essence of camphor,” Lloyd muttered to himself. “Powdered root of rose, petals of marigold…”
The vial bubbled and hissed, so Lloyd turned the Bunsen burner down slightly. No point in burning the potion.
“Excellent work Lloyd!” wheezed the old Professor, Gatworth Beaverton, in his squeaky voice. “Now to separate the solids from the liquids, eh?”
“No sir,” Lloyd replied. “First it must be boiled, then churned, then separated.”
“Of course, of course!” Gatworth cried out, clapping his crabbed hands together. “I forgot, how silly.”
Many of the class muttered and shot dark looks at their Professor. The Professor should be teaching the pupils, though more often than not the pupils taught the Professor. Nobody knew why the University kept the old man on.
Lloyd liked him though. Gatworth had an easy, happy and ultimately childlike nature, revelling in everything his senses brought to him. He was well into his eighth decade, but he still retained that sense of wonder that marks children’s lives.
“Easy to forget, sir,” Lloyd replied with a smile. “Very easy indeed.”
“Quite!” cackled Gatworth, going on his merry way up to his desk. Lloyd returned his attention to his potion.
Today they were making what was called Flame-sick, the essence of a sick fire. Exactly how a fire could get sick, nobody knew, but it was a potion made by the elves and it had some extremely useful properties. Namely exploding.
Lloyd loved potion-making, it was his favourite subject at the Arcane University of Paris. Paris boasted the best Arcane University in Europe, which was why Lloyd caught the train from London every day for it. The two hour ride was well worth it.
Lloyd looked up at his friend Eric and sighed theatrically. “What have you done now?”
“I have no idea.”
Eric was a large guy, just over seven feet tall: he suspected one of his ancestors had been an orc. His massive frame made him a good fighter, but a terrible potion-maker.
Lloyd leaned over and peered into Eric's vial. He muttered a snatch of song and lifted it from the flame that cradled it, the heat sparking off his spell-shrouded fingers.
“Eric, you are an idiot,” Lloyd said, resigned.
“You put in leaves of a dandelion. It's meant to be leaves of marigold. How you got those two mixed up I'll never know...”
“Can we save it?” asked Eric, downcast.
“Nope,” replied Lloyd. “I'll pop it in a jar and take it home though: I can make curdled sunshine from this for you. No point wasting potion!”
As Lloyd suited actions to words, Eric began the arduous process of starting again. “So have you thought any more about moving onto the campus with us?”
“I already told you,” Lloyd replied, again working on his Flame-sick, “I don't speak French very well.”
“You don't need to speak French to live on-campus. Leola doesn't.”
“Leola also happens to be an attractive elf who just needs to bat her eyelids to get anything she wants. I've seen mages go and get a scroll of translation so they can ask her what she wants.”
“It's cheaper, and it'll save you time. Plus, Paris is lovely.”
“It's not cheaper, cos you'll drag me out partying, the time I save will be spent sleeping rather than studying as it currently is and I prefer London.”
Eric sighed. “What if I asked nicely?”
Lloyd chuckled. “Won't work. I might be swayed if you tell me the REAL reason you want me to move on-campus.”
Eric faked a look of surprise. “The real reason? I have only your interests at heart!”
Lloyd laughed again. “Yeah, right. And I'm a master Astrologer. Come on, what's the reason?”
Eric sighed dramatically. “Alright, if you must ask, it's two reasons. One is that I need help with everything but fighting, and so you could help me more often.”
“I guessed that one,” Lloyd replied, eyeing his Flame-sick and pouring it into the churner.
“Yeah. I whipped a batch of Mental-juice and powered up my consciousness for a few minutes last night. Everything became clear to me.”
“Yeah, a few secrets popped up. Such as your middle name.”
“I don't have a middle name.”
“Sure? My mental faculties told me it's moron.”
Lloyd chuckled again. “And reason number two?”
“You're the only one who can resist her charms, Lloyd,” Eric began.
“I take two spoons of testosterone-dampener with my morning tea,” Lloyd cut in dryly.
“And I need you're help to keep her from taking over. I can't say no to her,” he finished, ignoring Lloyd's comment.
Lloyd rolled his eyes. Sure, Leola was attractive. All French lady-elves were. But she wasn't that attractive. At least, not to Lloyd.
“Please Lloyd? I promise not to drag you out partying every night. Come on, please?”
Lloyd groaned. “I like London! I like getting up and having a cup of tea at the local teashop.”
“How do you find time for that?” Eric asked, perplexed. “I barely make it to class on time.”
“I know. Which confuses the hell out of me. I have time to get up, get ready, enjoy a cup of earl grey while reading the Times before getting on my train and studying on the ride. And I take time with me tea. How you manage to sleep so long amazes me.”
“Please Lloyd? Please?”
“Do you know how weird it is to have a seven-foot-tall man who could probably wrestle a troll beg like a little girl?”
“All the more reason for you to agree so I stop.”
Lloyd sighed and stopped working on the Flame-sick. “Fine. On one condition.”
“Name it!” said Eric, ecstatic.
“We get a fourth room-mate. I'm not having just you and Leola all the time. Make it a girl too: two guys fawning over Leola would be too much.”
* * *