Find out what project you picked for Claire to make in today’s episode! If you need to catch up, a list of the previous episodes can be found here.
“A ring. Something that might indicate imminent danger. Made with night metal. The rest I have still to work out.”
The announcement brought a frown to Patron Canterbury’s lips. He adjusted his round glasses which gave him an owlish quality.
“You know a project like this requires my full approval, but without a meticulous plan, I cannot provide it. Until you’ve worked out the details, I’m afraid you cannot progress.”
“Patron Canterbury,” she said, hating the pleading tone in her voice. “I need this project, or my career will be over before it began.”
“You might believe that, but especially after what happened, and the campaign in the press about safety in the Hundred Halls, I cannot accept your proposal. Pick something much simpler. The Hall tomes have countless projects already outlined that you can choose from. They’d be excellent examples of your skills that any reputable employer would be excited to enjoy.”
“Please. You know I can do it. A night metal ring is well within my skillset. I don’t have time to plan so I was hoping to do the project airtajal?”
“Airtajal? I would not recommend that, especially in your circumstances.”
“Recommend? Or forbid?”
“The latter, I’m afraid. There’s a reason we require detailed plans beforehand, so unfortunate accidents like the one that killed Mara don’t happen.”
“But I didn’t have anything to do with her plan,” said Claire, exasperated.
Patron Canterbury raised an eyebrow which made her want to flip over the desk in frustration.
“I didn’t put my name on that list.”
He bunched up his lips. “I believe you, Claire. But that’s not who you have to convince.”
“So you’re not approving my project?”
He sighed heavily. “I’m afraid not, Claire. I would recommend, given the short time frame, that you pick something already outlined. It’s your best way forward.”
With her heart in a vice, Claire rose to her feet, bid her Patron a good day, and left his office. She wandered the halls, avoiding others, until she found herself before the statue of Stephen Adolphus. He died in the 1950s during an accident in the foundry, the same thing that killed Mara, a wet charge beneath the metal bath causing a steam explosion.
The Hall had looser rules back then, but after his death, the Metallum Nocturne was considered closed until years later when Edward Canterbury, an alumnus, took over as Patron. The first thing he did to assuage fears about their work was set in place rigorous safety rules around the foundry and the practice of magic. Rules that Claire had completely agreed with—until now.
The loss of her project and the lawsuit were like dual ends of a clamp around her soul. She couldn’t escape them. If she didn’t find a worthy job, a task made more difficult by Mara’s parents, then she’d never be able to afford the lawyers required to beat back the lawsuit.
A rote project from the Hall archives would never provide the job she needed, nor satisfy her own desires when it came to foundrycraft. Creating masterpieces from raw metal and her own imagination was what made her years in Metallum Nocturne a joy, but now she was facing down ruin.
She said the word out loud even before she realized what she meant by it. As she looked into the bronze face of Stephen Adolphus, she found inspiration in his tragic tale. Despite his death, there’d been no mage from the Hall that had come close to surpassing the artifacts he’d made during his tenure.
Patron Canterbury would never approve her to work in the airtajal style that had been more common back then, but if she didn’t tell him then he couldn’t stop her. If she picked an easy project from the tomes and worked on it during the day to satisfy him, she could work on the ring during the night when no one was paying attention.
Claire put her hand on the base of the bronze statue. It was unexpectantly warm.
“I vow to make a night metal ring that would make you proud, Patron Adolphus.”