"Finally. At long last that’s one down…only four to go."
She let out an exasperated sigh and slumped back in her chair, the fatigue already beginning to show on her face. This was taking a lot longer than planned and the night was still young! Stacks of paper and piles of books cluttered the dimly-lit desk where the student worked, her scribbled notes and marked pages of reference threatening to spill off of the table and flood the room. Surely a mess of such magnitude would drown her – a proposition she briefly entertained before shaking her head and reaching up to rub her tired eyes.
Why did all the assignments and research have to come at once? It was as though the very blocks of stone that made up the school walls were against her. Every day she walked through endless hallways and yet somehow always ended up in the library no matter which path she took. Doors seemed to open and close when she wasn’t looking, as if someone living in the building was leading her through a giant maze.
This had been one of her hardest years yet at the academy, and though the year was nearing completion a daunting list of tasks still lie ahead. Her teachers were especially demanding of the students as of late and many seemed almost eager to teach those wonderful life skills perseverance and dedication continually. Not a day went by without one of her peers mentioning the approaching summer months, each of them eager to sleep in their own beds instead of the ones that held them captive at school.
She allowed herself a slight smile as the memories of previous years cascaded through her mind. Through her closed eyes she could almost picture the big puffy clouds that stretched across the bright blue sky, her skin tingling from the warm sun and the wind blowing through her hair. The mere thought of getting to see friends and family almost made the illusion too good to be true, for those were the days she got to spend the most time with her best friend.
How she wished he were here to lighten her spirits and encourage her efforts. It never seemed to matter what rose up in front of her – he always did his best to keep her sane and wrap his arms around her when it was too much to bear. She’d spend many hours just sitting with him and listening patiently while he rambled on about his adventures in far away lands. He did that rather regularly when time allowed and there were words to be said, though he’d be quick to stop when she calmly reminded him of how long he’d been talking.
This current quest had seemed more time-consuming than previous ones, and she often caught herself pondering his whereabouts and hoping he and his party were safe. She had faith that they would all return unharmed, but some days it was easier to believe than others as news from distant towns filtered in unbearably slow. Still, he had promised that one day he would return from his journey and the two of them could see each other again. Long was the wait between their reunions, and the oldest of dragons would find the task of separating them daunting on those days.
Her smile faded as she was brought back to the task at hand – she needed to put in several more hours of work before resting and was wasting time. As she picked up her quill and scooted her chair back up to the desk she took a deep breath and forced herself to relax. She needed to focus if any progress was to be made, and judging by the height of her candle she had little time remaining this evening. Tired, yet unwaivering, the student dropped her gaze to her paper and began to write…