My Roommate at the Mage's Guild
Relaxing on the bed of her dormitory room, Zhang Yalin carefully opens the envelope and pulls out her letter.
Congratulations young mage, Harbingers is delighted to invite you to our guild.. …
Gasping for joy, Yalin sits up, knocking her forehead on the stone roof of her bed cubby. Ouch!
If there’s one thing Yalin misses about her home city, it’s big bedrooms and good furniture. Rolling out of her bed cubby built into the stone wall, Yalin rubs her forehead.. “Ugh, at least that’s the last time I’ll be doing that. Starting this Friday, I’ll move into the Harbingers guild house. I’ll get to live in a nice room and become friends with nice guildmates!” Yalin stares at her messy, cramped room that she shares with five other people. “Goodbye all of you!”
On Friday Yalin rushes home from school and goes to her dormitory room to pack up all of her stuff. Then she signs out of her dormitory and drops off her keys then heads north to another district of the city. Though Yalin hasn’t been this far north, she spots a map after passing through the gates leading in and finds the guild house easily. It’s a huge building of five stories tall, made of smooth stone and ornate trimmings. Flags hang from the upper floors. It joins other buildings to form a square and a courtyard in the center.
Ascending the steps to the guild house, Yalin feels knots forming in her stomach. Honestly she’s surprised she got into this guild. It has an acceptance rate of only 10%, and Yalin’s grades at school aren’t that good. In fact while Yalin is good at memorizing information and writing essays, her classmates often mock her for being bad at magic. The entrance test she took for Harbingers last month felt hard, but perhaps something shined in her application that convinced the guild to accept her.
“Stop spacing out,” someone says.
Yalin jumps and turns around to see a tall girl with dark skin and her curly hair dyed green. “Kali Ning,” she greets, dipping her head. She met Kali during the entrance test. Her magic roused the Harbingers guild master, and Kali got an acceptance on the spot. Not only that, but the guild master also assigned her as being the captain of the first-year members, so Yalin thinks she should get on her good side.
It seems Kali is already upset. “You’re blocking the door.”
“Sorry!” Yalin steps to the side to let Kali enter first, then Yalin catches the door and enters after her.
A guild member is standing in the entry. “Welcome, young mages. Your names?”
The guild member hands them each a packet. “Inside you’ll find the list of rules and your keys to your room and the front door. Once you get settled in, dinner will be in an hour. Then it’ll be orientation.”
Dumping the key into her hand, Yalin trots upstairs to the second floor behind Kali. The girl unlocks a door and enters. Staring at the number marked on her packet, Yalin repeats, “202. 202.” Her eyes flick to the numbers posted on the door. Then she finds it. 202. Only, it’s the same door Kali disappeared through.
Inserting the key, Yalin opens the door. Kali turns around, staring daggers at her. Then her eyes widen. “You’re my roommate?”
Gulping, Yalin nods. “I guess so.” She steps softly to the bed and drops her bag at the foot. “I can’t believe they put me in the same room as the captain…” she mutters.
“I can’t believe they put a feather-brained girl like you in my room.”
“I’m not feather-brained,” Yalin pouts. She’s being judged just for spacing out in front of the guild house. Something anyone could do seeing such a magnificent building for the first time.
“I used to sit behind you in the dormitory dining hall sometimes,” Kali says. “I see you staring dreamily at nothing all the time.”
Yalin blushes. “I didn’t notice you…” It’s true Yalin daydreams a lot, but that doesn’t give Kali the right to call her feather-brained!
While Kali goes to attend a special meeting for captains, Yalin unpacks her clothing into her dresses and places her handheld mirror and hairbrush on her nightstand. Then she lies on her bed. “Ah, so nice to live in a normal room again like the one I had at home rather than that tiny dormitory room. Life in the guild will be great, and I’m sure I’ll charm that mean roommate one day…” The bed being so comfortable, Yalin drifts off.
The sound of someone clearing her throat shocks Yalin up. An older guild member is standing at the foot of her bed. “You’re late for orientation,” she says in a disgusted voice.
Jumping out of bed Yalin follows the guild member to the grand hall, made of beautifully carved stone embellished with imagery of dragons. Sitting on a bench beside her roommate, Yalin listens to the guild master giving a speech. Then her stomach grumbles, earning her the mean look of her roommate.
“Oh no, I missed dinner,” she whines.
“Shut up, feather-brain!” Kali hisses.
By the time orientation finishes with a tour of the entire guild house, it’s almost ten, the bedtime for first-year girls. Running up to the guild member touring them, Yalin asks if she can get some food.
“No, you had dinner.”
“I missed it.”
“Oh, you’re the girl who overslept. It’s your fault. You’ll have to go to bed hungry.” The guild member drops Yalin off at her room and coldly departs.
Changing her night clothes behind a curtain set up in a corner of the room then sitting on her bed, Yalin begins to sniffle. So hungry… She isn’t used to being treated like this! She had been so excited to get into the guild, but all the people here are mean!
She feels something depressing the bed beside her and looks up to see Kali sitting down. Kali extends a packet of nuts in her hand. “Here. I brought this. You can have it..”
Yalin stares at the snack. “I thought you hated me.”
Kali shrugs. “I’m the captain. It’s my job to ensure all the girls in our year are doing alright,” she says grudgingly. “Especially since you’re my roommate I’ll look bad if I let you mess up. So I’ll turn you into a responsible girl.”
Yalin smiles and takes the snack. Yalin has to admit it’s been a little hard since starting school. Her mother used to force her to study at home, but she’s cut off from her parents here. And there’s little support from her teachers—they mostly think she’s clueless and focus their efforts on the students brimming with potential.. To have Kali give her this special attention, Yalin feels kind of special!
Eating the nuts, Yalin tells her, “Thanks! These are really good!”
Kali smiles, softening her severe face, and Yalin can’t help but realize when Kali isn’t scolding her she’s actually quite cute, her green curly hair framing her face perfectly. Perhaps being roommates won’t be so bad after all.