Fan Fiction

The Care and Feeding of Magical Creatures

Azalea Ellis posting on behalf of Jaye Finch, per our agreement.


Late afternoon during the first few days of the break between Sebastien’s 1st and 2nd term

[Honeymoon Suite Inspired, Absolutely, Definitely Not Canon or Canon Adjacent in the Past or Future]

Thaddeus walked back from his meeting with the University administration, musing about his recent interference in his apprentice’s personal life. The Dean of the University refused to allow students to stay in the dorms over the break because the dormitories were scheduled to be cleansed magically, and the wards were to be strengthened and re-cast in preparation for the following semester. The University had grown increasingly paranoid about the possibility of a student triggering a mass break event, especially after his apprentice’s dramatic incident with one of his colleagues at the end of the winter term. Warding specialists had been summoned from several major arcanums to assist with the monumental task, and the University administration had spent the last few weeks working closely with the Red Guard to update their containment features. He had, of course, been consulted, but he had no interest in sacrificing the precious few weeks of the break when he could delve deeper into his research. The Dean had been eager to express his complete confidence in student safety measures for the next semester, and he reassured Thaddeus that his apprentice was welcome to stay in the dormitories or future breaks. Of course, the Dean was a fool. No amount of planning could prevent the inevitable.

But that was why they hired Thaddeus, after all. 

He had complete confidence in his skills to deal with most potential threats that could erupt at the school, but he cursed himself for the string of decisions that led him to this afternoon’s failed meeting. Allowing his emotions to get the better of him was one of his few lingering bad habits. 

He suspected his desire for company–for a companion–had spurred him on to make an exception for Sebastien Siverling’s intellect and exceptional talent, taking the young man on as his apprentice. He had imagined spending a few hours a week on private lessons with Siverling, being able to split his attention between the additional exercises and grading coursework, with no other disruptions to his life. 

Initially, Thaddeus had rejected the idea of acquiring a feline companion because the care and feeding of a pet would require a commitment of his time, possibly more than he desired. Cats were demanding, curious creatures that might disrupt his work flow. . .  Or, worse, spill coffee on priceless texts and leave ink prints on his belongings. He doubted that any affection he had for a cat would last if his research were to be destroyed. 

Contrary to his expectations, in a few short months he found himself spending more time on Siverling than he possibly could have spent caring for a pet. He found himself losing sleep, chasing the boy about the city to rescue him from his own reckless idiocy, and even resorting to petty bribery to keep the boy out of the hands of the coppers.

Offering to let his apprentice stay at his cottage until he could convince the school to allow him stay in the dormitories for the summer was yet another mistake. 

Now, after two days of Siverling sleeping on his couch, he had been forced to reassess his prior assumptions about his apprentice’s competence at life. The young man wasn’t semi-competent, he was utterly inept. Instead of sleeping, he stayed awake casting spells in the middle of the night. Instead of eating, he downed a cup of coffee and disappeared to the library until they kicked him out. Thaddeus supposed that the lure of the library was at least partly responsible for Siverling’s gaunt appearance, but a lecture on the many ways a thaumaturge could break their Will by neglecting to fuel their body’s basic needs was still not enough to get him to show up for dinner. 

He supposed he should be grateful that Siverling was, at least, fastidious about his personal hygiene. 

He walked up the winding path to his home and placed his hand on the door, opening it with a scowl as he released his hair from its tie and stepped inside. 

Siverling was sprawled on the floor in the living area, with the carpet rolled back and draped on his overstuffed chair to provide access to the floor. The boy was outlining a complex spell array, and although Thaddeus could not see the Circles in any detail, he wasn’t similarly spared from seeing the rest of the room. 

The boy’s luggage was tucked in a corner, but his satchel was hanging open off of the desk chair. It appeared as though the entire contents of the bag had been upended on Thaddeus’s previously neat floor. Components, books, pens, and chalk littered the smooth stone. Mathematical equations and smeared notes and gibberish covered the floor, with lines linking frantically from idea to idea, connecting notes on the baseboards to the floor where the boy kneeled. 

Thaddeus closed the door behind him slowly and firmly, pausing to allow the sound to penetrate his apprentice’s thick skull. The boy tensed, turned around, and opened his mouth as if to speak – and then quickly closed it. 

Perhaps there was some small amount of sense buried deep inside his brain. 

Thaddeus leaned back against the door and raised an eyebrow. Siverling swallowed audibly, and tentatively said, “It’s not… Well…” He cleared his throat and his poor attempt at an explanation evaporated in the air between them. “I got carried away. I apologize. I’ll clean this up immediately.”

Thaddeus said nothing, allowing the silence to sink into the room as he watched his apprentice start to erase the chalk markings on the floor with his ink-stained fingers and a handkerchief. He watched, letting the minutes pass as his glare waned into faint amusement. Before he allowed himself to shed his annoyance completely, he checked the desk and end tables for any damage to his precariously stacked sheafs of papers. He was certain that there must be a mug of coffee somewhere amidst the chaos. 

He found the nearly empty mug on the floor–thankfully safe from any priceless historical texts or his manuscript–and rescued it and an overturned ink pot from creating any further messes. He could clean the entire room up in a fraction of the time, of course, but his apprentice was the one responsible for this disaster, and he would require a small amount of time to muse on his mistakes. Thaddeus, realizing that most of his lingering irritation could be attributed to simple hunger, went to the kitchen and toasted bread to prepare several sandwiches. By the time he finished preparing their dinner, Siverling stood tall and composed at the entrance to the kitchen. 

Thaddeus handed him a plate and waved him to the table, waiting until they were both seated to speak. “The Dean and the University Administration will not allow you to stay in the dormitory over the break.” He took a bite of his sandwich and watched his apprentice carefully. There was no reaction other than the flash of emotion deep within Siverling’s eyes that he quickly replaced with his usual mask. Thaddeus assumed the emotion was horror, and continued to eat, perversely enjoying the charged silence that stretched between them. 

“I can find somewhere else to stay. I tried to explain to you before that this is an enormous miscommunication. Dryden—Lord Dryden–is not nearly so bad as Titus made him out to be. I do have other friends in the city. . .”

That was most certainly not an option. Thaddeus had no reason to doubt Titus, but even if his friend’s story about the unhealthy obsession Lord Dryden harbored for his apprentice was partially true, he would not allow Dryden to have further interference in his apprentice’s life. The young man had already proved that he was foolish enough to put himself under someone else’s control, and that could interfere with Thaddeus’s plans for his future. He finished his first sandwich and continued to the next, still carefully watching the young man sitting across from him. 

“I told you that you would stay here until you could resume living in the dormitories. I see no reasons to change our arrangement. However, from this point forward, I expect your behavior to change.”

Siverling stared at him for a few moments with his dark, assessing gaze, and nodded, then turned his full attention to the sandwiches on his plate. 

Thaddeus watched him finish the plate of food with a faint sense of satisfaction, and decided that, perhaps, he should be grateful that Siverling didn’t shed.

Chaos in the Riptide

Per our agreement, I, Azalea Ellis, am posting this content on behalf of Jaye Finch.


Month 3, Day 25, 5:30 p.m.

(Set between 148 and 149)

Thaddeus strode from his office towards the library administration center with a purpose, parting the stragglers in the hallways with his scowl. As he walked through the open doors, he preemptively glared at the administration assistants to deter any further amorous advances from the staff.  In the past, he might have taken a malevolent pleasure in allowing them to embarrass themselves, but over time he found himself less amused by the prurient interest that Gilbrathans seemed to have with him. Perhaps, due in part to his expression or the end of term distractions, the behavior of the woman on duty was professional as she handed him a small message. He read it and immediately left, traveling towards the University exit and hailing a carriage once he was at the base of the cliffs.

As Thaddeus headed back to his favorite book store, a small, multi-story shop on the edge of the Mires, he mused over the latest incident he rescued his apprentice from.  He had expected more surprises as he continued to assess the progression of Siverling’s abilities in their private lessons, but to learn that he could cast with a conduit touching any part of his body was as startling as it was intriguing. There were thaumaturges throughout history who, reportedly, could cast through conduit contact on any part of their skin. While this was not a topic that he was an expert in, one of the texts he recently acquired about the People contained a small anecdote about the ability, asserting that it was a genetic predisposition instead of a learned skill. 

He had not been entirely honest with his students or his colleagues today, of course. After decades of attempts, he could barely cast a simple levitation spell with his conduit pressed in the crook of his arm or between his wrists. The overpowering riptide of magical energy that his Will effortlessly channeled slowed into the barest trickle once the conduit lost contact with his hands, as if he was a leviathan of the rainforest cut down to the roots. 

But Thaddeus had no incentive to admit to other professors that he was not capable of performing fantastical feats of magic, especially those that his apprentice demonstrated with ease. Now that he had time to contemplate his earlier decision, Thaddeus decided that he made the correct choice on the way to the underground shelter–he would prefer not to draw more unwanted attention to his apprentice. Idly, he wondered if he knew of the thaumaturge who laid the foundations for Siverling’s exceptional control and force of Will, but he dismissed the thought. When the next term resumed, there would be plenty of time to sate his curiosity about his apprentice’s background. 

As he exited the carriage and paid for his ride, the warming air filled his nose with the city scents, salt air, and the faintest stench of the Mires. The bookstore was one of many buildings in Gilbratha that had seen better decades, with several additions piling on top of each other to create a cramped, multi-story shop that catered to the esoteric interests of academics. He suspected that the shop may originally have been a front for criminal activity, considering the location and niche offerings. Perhaps it still was.

He ducked slightly as he walked in, breathing deeply to fill his lungs with the unmistakable scent of the old bookstore, antique texts mingling with the new in the dusty shop. The light crystals were dim but plentiful, and every nook and narrow aisle was adequately lit, with stools scattered in corners to access the shelves that reached to the ceiling. The proprietor stepped partway down the stairs and asked, “Are you in a hurry today, Grandmaster Lacer? Your order is here, but I received a small shipment of miscellaneous texts from an estate sale that are supposed to be from the Blood Emperor’s reign. I haven’t had a chance to evaluate their authenticity, but they struck me as something you might be interested in.”

“I have a few minutes,” he said as he followed the shopkeeper to the second floor and perused the crate. He found nothing of particular relevance to his research, but that was to be expected. He browsed the stacks, picking up a newer book that had information on pre-Cataclysm magical artificery. Rumors suggested that the University expedition may have uncovered artifacts in addition to the books, and Kiernan had hinted that he might have the opportunity to examine the haul–perhaps some of those items could be from before the Cataclysm? His lips curved upwards in a faint smirk, and he paused to rein in his thoughts. Excitement was no excuse for making baseless assumptions, no matter how fascinated he might be about the whispers passed between the faculty. The discoveries were almost guaranteed to be valuable, but it was unlikely that even a small percentage of the rumors he heard were based in truth. 

The normal ebb and flow of the University gossip had been swept into a tsunami with the arrival of his mysterious apprentice, and while he attempted to ignore the inane chatter of the students, it was impossible to avoid completely. Even he had heard a few variations on the kraken rumor that started at the beginning of the term. 

Thaddeus strongly suspected it originated from Munchworth. 

His smirk widened maliciously when he recalled the petrified looks on the faces of the upper term history students last month when he assigned them demerit points for repeating the drivel. In any case, it did not matter. His new agreement with Kiernan would provide more than enough opportunities to indulge in petty vengeance that would be more satisfying to him than a simple cutting remark in a faculty meeting.

Thaddeus wondered how his apprentice ignored the ever-increasing outlandish rumors, and almost laughed to himself at the absurdity of his speculation. The real wonder was how Siverling managed to survive his first term, or even into his teens, with such a proclivity for recklessness. Practically, of course, he was an imbecile, but he was such a thaumaturgic prodigy that Thaddeus found himself willing to go to surprising lengths to protect the young man. He doubted that his guidance and criticism would be enough to keep Siverling from participating in perilous adventures in the following term, but Thaddeus was uninterested in wasting his time on someone who would kill himself before he achieved his Mastery. Perhaps he would have to find a different way to tailor his message to Siverling, as the boy didn’t seem to absorb his lectures about good judgment as voraciously as he consumed lessons in free casting.

As he walked down the stairs, he asked the proprietor, “I am searching for a gift to express my affection to someone I care for. A gift to communicate that I want them in my life.”

The older man attempted–and failed–to keep the surprise off his face, and walked to the counter. He rummaged in the cabinets beneath and pulled out a copy of a book titled Dream Work, putting it in Thaddeus’s hands. “Ah! A gift for a lover, perhaps? This is a personal fav-“

“Something more practical,” Thaddeus interrupts, setting the book of poetry onto the counter. He glanced about the displays and spotted a self help book with a trite title, leafing through it rapidly while tuning out the shopkeeper’s banal remarks. 

He closed the book and set it with his other selections. How utterly appropriate. “This will do.”

The shopkeeper stared incredulously at the book, “I’m not sure if that will send the message you intend… Most ladies prefer something a bit more, ah, heartfelt.”

Luckily, Thaddeus was not interested in purchasing books of poetry for a potential lover, and he doubted that his apprentice would be unclear about his intentions after reading this particular book. It was not as if he was giving the young man jewelry, after all. He paid for his books, carefully storing them in a satchel he had created with a library’s worth of shelving tucked neatly into the folded space. One never knew when they might need to have the right book on hand. He nodded a brusque farewell and entered the darkness of the street, hailing another carriage to take him back to the foot of the cliffs.

As he rode up the incline to the University, he carefully removed the brown paper covered parcel of his special order from the folded space in his bag. He unwrapped it and held the three books in his hands with an almost visceral excitement. Blood, Bone, and Gold: Casting with Creative Conduits, Out of Bounds: a Timeless History of the Native Tribes, and Nomadic Tribes of the Continent, the latter of which was a series. An abundance of curiosity about the world was, after all, the first virtue of a thaumaturge.

In the back of his mind, a question remained. What if she did not live up to his expectations? What if his carefully constructed idea of the mysterious woman was flawed, and he had created a simulacrum of her that was nothing more than what he wanted to be true?

Standard disclaimer: I, Jaye Finch, do not own anything in the Practical Guide to Sorcery Universe or any related source material or characters  and will not make any money off of this creation. I retain my rights to have it shared or taken down now and in the future. 

PGTS is owned by Azalea Ellis and she retains her copyright to her books, characters, universe, and all related source material. She has my permission to publish this and any other writings I send her to her website or social media under the penname. Neither of us will profit off of this writing, and the story is intended for entertainment purposes only.