Gayle stood in front of me, holding up a pair of tarot cards and giving me a speculative look. It made me a bit uncomfortable because she was a complete stranger who’d just showed up out of nowhere and I didn’t know the first thing about her.
“Amylia asked me to tutor you a bit and help you catch up,” Gayle told me pleasantly. “She also said some other things, but…” She paused to glance at Sylvie and Eve. “I think we should meet up after classes so we can talk in private.”
“Um…okay,” I responded uncertainly.
“For now, maybe I can show you some nice tricks. She held up her tarot cards.
“Actually, Eve was showing us a few spells,” I said, gesturing to the blonde girl.
“Oh no,” Eve quickly protested. “If you want to show us something, I’ll be glad to watch.”
I was a little startled by that since I would have thought Eve would be annoyed at the interruption. Instead, she almost seemed eager to see what Gayle had to show us.
Gayle smiled and handed me one of her tarot cards. I held it up and saw that the picture on it was of a picture of a mannequin who was wearing a flowing pink ball gown, almost like what you’d see in some Disney cartoon.
“I like to paint my tokens,” Gayle told me. “Customizing this way not only makes them work better, but it’s also a matter of pride.”
I nodded at that, knowing that aunt June had a somewhat different perspective. In fact, aunt June had said that spending a lot of time to customize tokens that were only going to be destroyed when you used them, was a waste of time and a mark of vanity. Of course, this was also coming from the same woman who loved to use jewelry as her tokens.
“See if you can feel the magic in it,” Gayle told me. “Once you get enough practice, you can actually feel the pattern inside. And if you know your patterns well enough, you can get a good idea of what the spell actually does.”
“I can feel the magic,” I replied, closing my eyes and trying to extend my senses. I wasn’t able to make out what the pattern looked like though.
“Now invoke it,” Gayle instructed me. “It’s keyed to the word invoke.”
I hesitated a moment, not feeling comfortable about using someone else’s magic when I didn’t even know what it would do. Still, Sylvie and Eve were watching expectantly so I did as Gayle asked and said, “Invoke.”
The card crumbled to ash in my hand as the magic was released and swirled around me. A moment later, I was surprised to suddenly find myself wearing a pink ball gown…exactly like what had been painted on the card.
“Not exactly your color,” Sylvie commented with a smirk while Eve burst out laughing.
I grimaced and glared at Gayle. “It’s only a conjuring,” Gayle assured me, looking amused. “Normally it would last for about an hour, but I can take care of it for you.” With that, she held up the second card in her hand and said, “Invoke.”
The gown vanished from around me and I let out a sigh of relief. It was bad enough looking like a girl. I sure as hell didn’t want to dress like one, at least not like that.
After this, Gayle showed us some tricks for drawing the symbols and lines in a spell circle more quickly. “When you’re trying to cast multiple spells in a row, this shortcut can help cut down on the preparation time.”
When the class ended a short time later, Gayle told me, “I’ll meet you in your room after classes are over. She gave me an odd look, one that seemed sympathetic. “There are some things that we need to talk about.”
Gayle smiled at me and then left. Sylvie and Eve both watched her go with odd looks on their faces.
“I can’t believe Amylia asked her to tutor you,” Eve blurted out.
“Why?” I asked in confusion. “Who is she?”
“She’s the best duelist in the school,” Sylvie said.
“Someone challenges her to a duel every couple months,” Eve told me with a chuckle. “But she always wins. And she has quite a reputation among the other seniors…”
“A good reputation or a bad one?” I asked curiously.
“That depends on who you talk to,” Eve admitted. “Some of them think she’s the antichrist while others think that she’s the second coming. I’ve heard some really ridiculous rumors from some of the seniors and don’t know what’s true and what isn’t.”
“I do know one thing,” Sylvie told me with an amused look. “I heard she’s got a sorcerers mark and that it sometimes turns her into a guy.”
“Into a guy?” I asked in surprise. “That must be why Amylia asked her to tutor me.”
“Probably,” Sylvie agreed.
I went to my next class after this, though I spent the entire time alternately thinking of Gayle and the fact that aunt June was supposed to come tonight. I was looking forward to seeing her again.
Once classes were over for the day, I went to my dorm room and waited for Gayle. I didn’t have to wait long before she knocked on my door.
“You’re probably wondering why Amylia asked me to tutor,” Gayle said when I let her in. She looked almost amused.
I frowned for a moment before responding, “Someone told me that your sorcerers mark is that you sometimes turn into a guy…”
“Turn into a guy?” she repeated, staring at me for a moment before she abruptly burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” I demanded, feeling even more confused by her odd behavior.
“No,” Gayle told me with a grin. “I was born a guy. My mark turns me into a girl.”
I was startled by that revelation. “What?”
“My mark makes me allergic to magic,” Gayle told me with a chuckle. “Whenever I’m around too much magic, I break out in estrogen.”
“Wait,” I said, feeling a little confused. “You turn into a girl?”
“When I use magic,” she agreed. Then she gave me a wry look and added, “You can imagine that’s a bit of a situation for a sorceress.”
I stared at Gayle, feeling excited that I was actually with someone else who knew what it was like to change like this. However, I also felt a surge of jealousy.
“So you can change back into a guy?”
“If I go long enough without using magic,” Gayle admitted, looking almost self-conscious about it. She sat down on my bed and told me, “I usually wake up as a guy, but it’s been three weeks since I last spent any real time as a guy.”
“But if you change whenever you’re near magic,” I asked, “why are you in the sorcerers course?”
Gayle was silent for a moment, looking thoughtful as though trying to decide how to answer me. “I had the opportunity to learn sorcery so I made the decision.” She shrugged. “It was pretty weird at first but I got used to it.”
I snorted at that, wondering how I could possibly ever get used to this. I looked down at myself, hating the idea of getting used to this. I might have a girl’s body, but I wasn’t a girl.
“Look, I’m not going to tell you that being a girl is great and that you’ll love it,” Gayle told me. “I think there are lots of great things about being a girl, but my situation is different from yours. Still, I can help you make things easier.”
For a moment, I just stood there, staring at the older girl who’d made herself at home. Then I smiled in relief and said, “Thank you. I’d really appreciate that.”
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