His skin color was a mixture between pitch black and ash-grey.”Adept!” Phyllis leaned over the handrails, the young man turned around after he had twitched in shocked surprise. “Come up here!” she ordered in her usual way. “Yes master!” he replied saluting and hurried off. Moments later Phyllis opened tge doors to the rooftop garden for him. “Name?” she stood him up straight. “Ghanus of the spook hills.” Phyllis heart stopped for a moment. Last names in the empire were given after the place where the younglings grew up. Spook hills was the school that Gajus and she had went to years before. “Age?” she couldn’t recall exactly how long ago it had been. Was it twenty? Twenty-two? Less than twenty?

“Twenty-one! I just started in the citadel this season.” with military accuracy and discipline the young fungal didn’t look at her but kept staring straight. “Whom were you calling out to?”

Phyllis could observe that the young man felt thunderstruck, but tried to not show it, he inhaled violently, tried to find an excuse.

“Adept?” Phyllis walked away from the doors. “Close those doors will you?”

Satisfied at the sound of the closed doors she waved him to the far end of the rooftop garden. Perhaps, she thought, it had happened twenty-one years ago. “Again Adept, whom were you calling out to?” Phyllis sat down at her favorite spot, right in front of the two florals. She was curious at his reactions to the two. Displaying extraordinary discipline again, Ghanus didn’t twitch, he glanced at the two from the corner of his eyes, but maintained his stance.

“I would prefer not to answer that question Master.” was Ghanus’ stern reply. Phyllis was amused at his polite and acceptable reply, but she had a hunch that she had to follow. “At ease adept.” she finally released him from his stiff composure.

“I think, young Ghanus, that you heard a whispering voice, and if I am right, not for the first time in your life. Am I correct?”

Ghanus’ facial expression twitched. She could clearly see his resistance to talk about the delicate matter melt away behind the stern facade erected by his upbringing. “How do you know?” finally breaking the awkward silence.

As his inhibitions had molten away, so was Phyllis’ smile. “Because I hear that whispering voice as well. I have heard it for what feels like ages. A constant companion in my dreams, it murmurs away in the background, sometimes barely noticeable, sometimes as if the voice hissed directly in my ear. Today I’ve heard it for the first time while being awake, until it suddenly disappeared.” Slowly losing his composure Ghanus looked around the garden, scanning mechanically the area for a seat.

Upon Phyllis offer he sat down beside her.

The two stared for some time at some points in the distance. “Why?” he finally lifted his gaze staring at the floral before them, he got up and marched toward her, lifting her head with one finger by the chin. “Why do we hear that whispering voice?” he completed his question, relieving Phyllis of her worries he might question the validity of the treatment the Florals received. Disdain in his eyes he studied the face before his, letting go of her chin he wiped the finger on the rack that the floral was mounted upon. “I don’t know, normally you don’t go around ask others if they hear a strange whispering voice that might just be your own mind losing sanity.” Phyllis also got up and wandered to the Floral Ghanus was standing in front of. “But now that I know it is not a figment of my imagination, and that you know the same, we can work together to discover the true meaning of the voice.” Ghanus looked at her with his eyebrows raised as to question how they should work on that subject. His doubting face let Phyllis blood run cold.

It was the same doubting expression that Gajus made. “I will request you as my pupil.” she stated dryly, turning away again. Normally a master who had a pupil finish the training had a few months off to get the habits of the old pupil out of his mind, unless the master request a new one sooner than that. “With all due respect, Master, how do you expect to convince the magistrates that I am fit to be taught by someone of your finesse?” Phyllis turned around, a flame shot out of her hand, transforming into a mushroom a flames danced on her palm, next thing Ghanus saw was her disappearing together with the fire. Out of nowhere a dancing female figure of fire and flame appeared where Phyllis had been standing, “Do you think you can recreate it?” surprised Ghanus turned around to find Phyllis behind himself.