iDisclaimor: I don't own the Valdemar series or any of the characters (did you really think I did?) They all belong to the wonderful, talented Mercedes Lackey./i

Herald-Mage Savil stalked through the halls silently. Her footsteps pounded wearily across the new wooden floors. The air was damp and chill, and she could almost feel another onslaught of the blizzard that occurred a few weeks ago. The council meeting had lasted well over midnight and she could see the first hints of dawn streaming through her windows. She glanced lazily at the two other rooms in the suite, Mardic and Donni's. Both were asleep soundly in their beds, Mardic half-sprawled with a book in one hand. She gave a wry half smile at the two forms and then crawled into her own bed.
'I'm getting too old for these meetings,' she thought, pulling a blanket around her to block the draft that carried through the hall from the garden suite, 'I just can't be up till these hours anymore, especially-' she groaned audibly remembering suddenly what awaited her in the morning, 'especially when I have a new trainee coming in the morning.' She pushed those thoughts out of her mind. Those worries could wait until the morning with everything else.

The conversation around him stopped when Tylendel entered the room. He felt eyes watching him as the chatter slowly resumed. He caught snatches of it as her walked through the hall.
"I heard he walked in half alive. Didn't even know what a Companion was until Gala explained it to him."
"They said he's royal or noble or something."
"Well I feel sorry for him, he's got Savil teaching him." One of the younger courtiers wrinkled his nose in disgust. Tylendel used all his training to keep himself from going white at the prospect of a teacher who was worse than the ones at the ones at home.
: It's all right Chosen. I am here. I won't leave you.:
Tylendel had to believe her. He had never found a person, or creature, more trust-worthy than she was, but he still wished she'd been allowed into the hall with him. He approached the doors trying desperately to ignore the conversations around him. He knocked timidly at the doors and a tall, fore-bearing woman opened them and stared down the bridge of her nose at him.
"Tylendel, I presume?" she said shrilly. He nodded weakly. "Do you have an escort?"
"Aye, no ma'am, just Gala." A short, stout man standing next to her said. She nodded, and gestured for Tylendel to sit down which he did gratefully, hoping to calm the shaking in his knees. The man gave a quick nod to the woman and left.
"I am Herald-Mage Savil." She said in a no nonsense tone. "You will be under my instruction until you have graduated and received your Whites." She gestured to two shadows in the hall, and they shuffled in front of him. A short, fair skinned girl a few years older than him, he guessed, and a boy about the same age as her, who looked as though he'd been born and bred on a farm. "These are Mardic and Donni," she continued, "they are third year trainees and outrank you. They shall also be mentors when I am not around, and can help you if you need it." Tylendel nodded again. "When you are not in classes, you will be expected to help with kitchen or clothing duty, or spend time with your companion."
Tylendel's eyes lit up at the mention of his Companion. 'Seems like a good one,' Savil thought dryly. Her first reports were that the boy was second in line for the heir at his keep, and usually that meant he would be a stuck-up prat. He was certainly handsome enough to play the part. Though only fourteen, he was already growing muscles that would only be improved with his training. Dark gold curls formed a halo around his head, and beneath that, warm brown eyes sparkled with intelligence.
"Donni," she said, pushing her initial impression aside, she was never any good at judging people anyway, "help Tylendel work out his lessons, and then take him to Kayla to arrange a weapons-work class for him. Mardic, check to see which of the rooms Margret cleared out, Dominick's or Kirgan's, and put his packs in the empty one."
The three trainees departed and Savil took a moment to relax on the couch, still exhausted from the previous night. She glanced at the Tayledras feather masks hanging on her wall. 'A break to visit them wouldn't be such a bad thing,' she thought remorsefully, 'if I could spare a moment.'