Class 2's first lesson had gone well – at least by OFU standards, which list student discomfort as the highest imperative. Complaints to the Administration about the spinning kicks Pretty Butterfly punctuated her instruction with (the hairstick had been retired after Esme's fall – it had made its point) were returned by a sniggering Death of Rats – and there's only so many times you can hear 'SNH SNH SNH' before you give up. The group were on their way to their second lecture – which presented a minor problem for the Administration.
"Students? In my University?"
Mustrum Ridcully strode down a corridor, deliberately lengthening his steps so that the OFUDisc pest had to scurry to keep up. "I won't have it, sir, I simply will not have it."
The pest in question – an Administrator in a sensible suit with a white t-shirt just visible underneath – sighed. "Not for long, Archchancellor," he said. "This isn't like last time."
"You mean when you and that bird-woman insisted I had to house the lot of you?" Ridcully snapped. "Good. Nothing but trouble, students."
"Which is why we intend to make a brief visit, teach them that magic is Not To Be Meddled With, and move on," the pest agreed. The Archchancellor raised an eyebrow.
"That's your game? Well, can't say I object to the lesson, at least." He sighed, stopped, turned to face the Administrator. "This came from the Hat, you say?"
"Directly, sir," the pest acknowledged. Ridcully nodded.
"Drat," he said. "Then I don't seem to have much choice. All right, lead the way."
The Administrator blinked. "I wasn't asking you to teach them..." he managed. Ridcully snorted.
"What – tell one of the Faculty they have to teach students? Not on my watch, sir. This Archchancellor won't lead where others follow!" And off he marched, leaving the pest staring in his wake.
Phoebe already had a backache from pulling herself onto a low-flying monolith, leg-ache from the five-mile hike beforehand, and various other -aches from Pretty Butterfly's kicks on her return (she had, it appeared, unaccountably missed most of the lesson). Now she could feel a headache coming on. All that was needed to complete her misery would be people shouting and screaming.
"Right then, you chaps!" came the bellow on-cue. "As Archancellor of this University, I am here to whip you into – oh I'm terribly sorry." The robed figure of Ridcully entered the room and stopped dead. "I may have the wrong room."
"I don't think we're what he was expecting," the girl next to Phoebe whispered, and giggled. Phoebe's chance to reply was lost in a high-pitched squeal, and a pink-clad girl flung herself towards Ridcully.
"Mustard!" she screamed as she threw her arms around him, not noticing (or not caring) how the wizard's entire body stiffened. "Mustard Ridicully! I'm your biggest fan ever! Oh em gee!" Something hit the ground with a thud just outside the door, and Phoebe caught a glimpse of a small suitcase.
"His face'll match his robes soon," Phoebe's neighbour murmured, and held out her hand. "I'm Liliac, by the way. Like the colour only not."
"Um, Phoebe," said Phoebe, shaking her hand. The other girl had blonde streaks running through her otherwise brown hair, and Phoebe couldn't resist asking, "Did you put that on your form?"
"The application?" Liliac's lip twisted. "No, I was boring. I should have, though. Your Death thing is awesome."
"Well, sort of," Phoebe agreed dubiously. She glanced towards the door, where the Ridcully fangirl was still clinging, making soft 'oh em gee' noises all the time. The emotion building up in Ridcully appeared to have reached boiling point, and sure enough (to mix up the metaphor a little), it erupted.
"What. Is. This?" Ridcully ground out. "You – girl – explain yourself."
The fangirl beamed up at him. "My name is Lindyellwen," she said in a rapid, singsong squeak. "I'm the princess of the Silverwood only I didn't know that because I was kidnapped at birth and raised by an evil person but my real parents Killewonwyn and Jonydkled found me after years and rescued me and also I'm the mistress of air and water and guardian of the book of light and-"
"Be quiet!" Ridcully cut her off. "Don't you breathe, creature? What are you?"
"I'm not a creature!" Lindyellwen protested. "I'm an elf and I happen to be two million eight hundred and ninety-three thousand nine hundred and four years old!"
Phoebe sprang to her feet without any clear idea why she was doing so – it certainly didn't feel like another call to the Duty. "You're no elf!" she exclaimed. "I'm the only elf here!" She stopped, gasping for breath, and realised everyone was staring. She felt her cheeks start to burn and sat down hurriedly. Burying her face in her hands, she mumbled, "I don't know why I did that."
There was an electronic beep, and she turned her head to see Liliac slipping a complicated-looking bit of equipment back into her pocket.
"You're a Token Elf," the other girl informed her. "Apparently that means you can't stand the presence of other elves; your instincts tell you you're the only one."
"I am the only-" Phoebe snapped, cutting herself off with a hand over her mouth. "Okay, but why? I applied as a Tolkien elf."
"Because there's no Tolkien here," a whispered voice said from behind them. "Believe me, I'd know."
Phoebe turned to see a short, bespectacled girl leaning forward. "How?" she asked. The other shrugged.
"I applied to OFUM, but they say my papers got misfiled. Cazzie, by the way. And you must be Phoebe. You're a little bit famous."
"Um, nice to-" Phoebe began.
"Magic!" boomed Ridcully in a faintly desperate voice, and the three girls looked round to see Lindyellwen pinned to the floor by a small ambulatory suitcase, leaving the Archchancellor free to teach. Liliac's lip set in a thin line, but she ignored Phoebe's inquisitive look.
"Magic is what makes the Discworld, what keeps it going. It is in everything; indeed in some ways, Mr. Stibbons tells me, it is everything." Ridcully looked over the class. "Which of you... children can name any of the groups who use magic?"
"Wizards!" several voices called at once, and Ridcully nodded, a hint of satisfaction on his face. Encouraged, a girl named Hawkelf added, "And witches!"
"To a lesser extent," Ridcully agreed. "A wizard draws-"
"And priests!" shouted another student. Ridcully scowled.
"Gods-bothering is hardly the same as magic. To continue-"
"Don't forget astronomers!" put in a girl dressed as either a vampire or someone who has never heard of the colour 'not black'. The wizard's face darkened further.
"Men who stare at the sky all night-" he began, but was interrupted again – by Cazzie.
"Sourcerers, too," she called, and shrugged when Phoebe and Liliac stared at her. "I never said I didn't read Discworld," she pointed out.
Ridcully's face was thunderous to behold. "There are no sourcerers on the Disc," he declared, "and-"
"Sure there are," one girl – Andy – said. "There's one in Class 4."
"No, didn't you hear?" put in her friend Saphie. "She got downgraded. She's just a saucer now."
The sound of Ridcully's teeth grinding filled the room. "But perhaps," he said in an exquisitely polite tone, "the theory of magic is not the best starting point. We will proceed directly to the practical demonstration." He pushed up his sleeves and began to mutter under his breath, coloured lights springing into existence around his head. The class leant forward to watch – except for the few most cautious, who leant back instead (and Phoebe noted a few of the oldest ones trying to sneak out of the door). Finally, Ridcully straightened up, one hand held in front of him. "Observe," he said, "the common fireball."
The mini-Luggage Mustard Ridicully leapt away as the incandescent orb struck Lindyellwen full on. The class gasped in dismay – Liliac actually started to her feet – and Phoebe braced herself for the call of the Duty. If ever there was a fangirl in need of a death...
But the call never came. Her lurid pink top still smouldering, Lindyellwen leapt to her feet and gave Ridcully a brilliant smile. The Archchancellor spluttered, "But... how?" The smile widened.
"Oh, Mustard," she said affectionately, "how clever of you figuring it out!" She turned to the rest of the class, still beaming. "Didn't you know?" she asked them. "Elves can't die."
Ridcully tried to dodge, but moved too slowly. With Lindyellwen's arms once more locked around his waist, he scowled at the class. "Can't die, eh?" he grumbled. "We'll see about that, whatever you are." He drew in a deep breath and bellowed:
Disclaimer: All Discworld canon characters and locations are the creations of Sir Terry Pratchett. The Official Fanfiction University concept is the creation of Miss Cam. Phoebe is based on an application to OFUDisc by Fawkes Phoenix. All other students are based on applications to OFUDisc. All details of (and mistakes in) plot, narrative and dialogue are mine. Thanks to the Irish Samauri for betaing.
Author's Note: Lindyellwen is based entirely on her application form. Right down to 'Elves can't die'.