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Brayden’s Catalyst 1

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Brayden very much wished to attend the great college of wizards. He was not, however, invited to do so. He resolved to gain entry through illicit means and become a self-taught magician.

His first attempted approach to the grounds was under the cover of night. He meant to scale the walls at what he scouted to be an unwatched edge. He soon found that the statues standing sentinel over over the walls were in actuality very patient golems. His second and fifth attempts involved unsuccessful bribery, while everything in between involved digging. One may begin to surmise why he was not invited.

Brayden continued to monitor the entrance to the college, hoping that inspiration would hit him at some point. It did one fine spring day when he saw a young woman exiting the college grounds riding in a carriage. Though he saw her for only a brief moment, the image of her blonde, curly locks and soft, pouty lips stuck in his head. She looked to be everything he’d ever wanted in a woman and just looking at her filled him with a sense of desire. He immediately set off to follow  the carriage.

As he stepped off, a hand grabbed Brayden’s shoulder. “You don’t want to do that,” a woman’s voice said.

“Andy why not?” Brayden asked as he turned. His eyes first focused on her body, she was dressed in student’s robes that looks a size too small for her bust. He raised his eyes to her face and found himself looking at something quite the opposite of the vision of beauty he’d just witnessed. Her head was hairless and tiny horns protruded from her forehead.

“Because that was a man,” she said. “Catalyst,” she said, and offered an open hand.

“What?” Brayden instinctively shook it.

“It’s my name,” she said, breaking the handshake.

“Ri–ight. And what kind of name is Catalyst?”

“An Ofyddar name.”

“It’s stupid,”

“It’s better than Brayden.”

He looked shocked. “How did you know my name?”

“You’re stupid,” she replied, and let out a short laugh. Brayden frowned. “Let me explain, and I’m only doing this because I feel sorry for you. If I didn’t like you, I would have let you go after Princess George.”

Catalyst led Brayden toward the entrance gates of the college as she said, “You haven’t been unnoticed in what you do and you’re a bit of a joke around here. You think that because no one’s called you out when you’re hiding that you’re hiding well. And you think that because the walls are so well fortified that the people inside won’t look out. What’s going on is that we’re so well fortified we don’t feel the need to call you out when you’re stalking about. Do you follow?”

Brayden stuttered a bit, then finally let out an affirmative sigh and a nod. He looked away, ashamed, and glanced at his surroundings. He was inside the walls, for the first time in his life. Catalyst continued, “Now, I know your heart’s in the right mode, but your head’s not. What I figure is you need to be told what you’re doing wrong, and then maybe you’ll learn to do things right. Do you know what else you did wrong tonight?”

“Besides briefly lust after a cross-dressing man?” Brayden asked. Catalyst had walked them to some stone benches in the shade of the wall. The sun was getting low and soon the whole front courtyard would be covered in shadow. “Go on, tell me,” he said as he sat down.

Catalyst laughed. “You touched my hand.” She sat down next to him. “I took your name from that contact, and in exchange I gave you something I know.”

Brayden was confused by this at first, but he soon felt a piece of information bring itself to the front of his mind. It was like trying to remember a dream. He had everything there except the words to complete the thought. “You aren’t supposed to do that,” he said.

Catalyst looked immediately ecstatic. “You’re right, I’m not. How did you know?”

“I just d—” he paused, how did he know? It dawned on him quickly. “You told me when you took my name.” Brayden laughed as he rested his forehead in his hands and placed his elbows on his knees. “What do you want with me?” he said after a moment.

“You’re going to help me,” Catalyst replied. “You’re going to help me perfect this information transfer. In exchange, I’m going to let you have access to the library. I’ll check out books that interest you and bring them to my quarters, where you will be staying.”

“What if I don’t want to?”

“You will want to.”

Brayden thought for a moment about his alternatives. Finding that he didn’t have any, he said. “I want to.”

“Excellent,” Catalyst said and stood. “Come with me, it has been a long day and I need to relax in a long, hot bath.” She leaned toward Brayden and gave an exaggerated sniff of the air about him. “You will want to join me.”

Brayden, feeling the same airy desire as when he saw the she-he leaving the grounds earlier, replied, “I certainly do.”