The view of Alfheim city from up close was breathtaking, and much more impressive than Leif's previous view from the arch-like structure. Once they'd traversed the path heading into the heart of the city, the beautiful blue-ish white hues of the buildings around them practically sparkled in the light, the sunlight's rays bouncing and reflecting from the surfaces of every structure. The buildings in Alfheim were varying in size from something similar to the small shops people owned in Leif's hometown, to as large as twenty times the biggest inn he'd ever seen. Most of the buildings, large and small, and roofs that lef up into spires, similar to what the archway had, giving all of Alfheim a futuristic, magical aesthetic.
Another thing that both surprised and impressed Leif was the glass adorning the buildings in the form of windows and walls. The town he grew up in wasn't poor, but it wasn't rich either, and only extremely wealthy people that usually lived in one of the six larger cities outside Alfheim had something other than holes crafted in the walls for windows. Leif wondered to himself if the living space he would be given would have a window, and it it would be somewhere close to Eirik.
The group neared the end of the path into the city, placing them in a circular center area, paved with white stone bricks, complete with little flecks of grass poking up between the stones. The outer edge of the circular area had paths leading to other parts of the city; one heading to Leif's left, one to the right, and one straight, further into the city. Between the three paths were buildings and bushes filled with littel fruits, nestled close to each other, and dozens of magicians in many-colored robes bustling back and forth, going about their business. In the center was a large fountain, crafted from the same white stone as the bricks, and four layers high, crystal-clear water trickling down from each layer. Leif could hear the light splashes of the water fountain, accompanied by the sound of a light breeze and birds chirping in the distance.
This place was like a dream, everything felt so surreal to Leif, and he had a hard time believing he'd actually made it here and passed the test. Back home, Alfheim felt as if it was lifetimes away, and now he'd finally reached his destination. However, he was aware this was probably the easy part. He'd already accepted that the training in magic would be exhausting and grueling, but he was determined to learn.
Leif's quiet thoughts were disrupted as the girl with the immensely dark, curly hair approached him from behind, the one Yaga had said was named Tanya, a Light magic user. "Hi! I'm Tanya. You're Leif and Eirik, right?" She asked with a smile as they continued to follow High Wizard Yaga.
Before Leif could answer, Eirik spoke for him, "Yep, that'd be us. How are you?"
"Ooh, polite and cute. I'm doing just fine, thank you. In fact I'm actually pretty excited about this, aren't you? Alfheim is far more impressive than I'd imagined, and I'm from Heartland." Tanya replied, giving Eirik a wink. Eirik's face quickly turned red and he looked away from Tanya, forwards again. Leif chuckled to himself quietly at Eirik's reaction. Eirik always had a hard time talking to girls, but it seemed he crept out of his shell to greet this girl, and then quickly went back into hiding when she flirted with him.
Leif had only heard of Heartland before, but it was supposedly the largest and most wealthy of the six cities outside Alfheim. Leif couldn't imagine any city even coming close to Alfheim in terms of beauty, which explained Tanya's reaction. He looked at Tanya's clothes, and could tell immediately that her or her family was wealthy, as they weren't dirty or worn, and she had jewels in the rings and necklace that she wore that shone bright in the light of the sun. Leif had met some wealthy people coming through his small town on occasion, and they all seemed snooty and stuck up, but not Tanya. Tanya's introduction was probably more amiable than Leif's own would be.
"Alfheim sure is incredible. I've dreamed about coming here since I was a kid. Eirik probably only came so he could stay with me and talk to cute girls." Leif said jokingly, nudging Eirik in the ribs with his elbow, causing him to grab his side and chuckle a bit, his pale white face turning rosy again. "Oh, shut up Leif." Eirik replied, keeping his face turned away from Tanya. Tanya smirked and said nothing more as the group followed High Wizard Yaga.
They had turned left from the entrance, following the path with more buildings on their right, and the outer edge of the city to their left. The view looking out from the city was just as amazing as the city itself. A river flowed around the edge of the city, evidently they had passed over it on the path entering, but Leif had been too busy gazing at the buildings to notice. Walking through the city they passed dozens more magicians, some of them waving or expressing a verbal greeting to High Wizard Yaga, but most seemed to know he was busy and moved along quickly.
They finally approached a building constructed in the shape of a plain rectangle, the entrance facing outwards to the forest around Alfheim. The front side of the building had lots of the glass windows, and above the heavy wooden doors was a wooden plaque with the letters AR embossed on it in black.
"This is the Apprentice Residence. This will serve as your new home until you've been promoted to the rank of Ensign, and from here on you will be known as Apprentices of Alfheim. Luckily for you, all our previous Apprentices have move up in rank, so the building is empty. There are two floors, each with 10 rooms. Please come inside with me." High Wizard Yaga instructed.
The group entered the Apprentice Residence, the heavy wooden doors closing shut behind them. Inside was a lounging area, complete with bookcases and benches, along with some potted plants and ornate rugs to add color and life to the structure. The main section split off to the left and right, and further into the main area was a set of stairs, leading up to the second floor. Leif had expected it to smell sort of grimy, considering how many people had lived here before him, but the AR smelled fresh and somewhat floral, presumably from the plants in the room. Like the archway, there were no torches attached to the walls to provide light. Instead, the walls had a soft glow, bright enough to easily see, but dim enough to give the room a relaxing atmosphere.
"Now that we're inside, please listen carefully, as this is important. You can choose any room of the twenty here you'd like, however your decision is permanent until you've ranked up. Outside each door is a small, stone square embedded in the wall. To choose a room, place your hand on the square and will some of your life energy towards it, like you did in the initiation and the door will open. Once you've successfully opened a door, you cannot change rooms. The stone plate will also ignore any life energy that's not yours, to keep unwanted visitors out. You can let people into your room by opening the door for them, either from the inside, or outside. The exception to this rule would be that any magicians of the rank High Mage or higher can open your room from the outside in cases of emergency only. I know you don't understand the magician ranks right now, but it will make sense once you receive an explanation. For now, please choose your rooms and then meet with me back outside when you've finished." High Wizard Yaga stated, then turned and left.
The boy Leif knew as Allen headed down the hallway to the right wing of the building, saying nothing. The rest of the group stared at each other for a minute, saying nothing. Leif was the first to break the silence, "Eirik, let's go take a room upstairs, I want a nice view."
"Sounds good to me." Eirik responded. They both headed upstairs, Tanya and Baxter following behind them. Krissa headed down the hallway opposite of Allen, to the left.
The second floor of the AR looked exactly like the first, with a wing on either side, each with five rooms. Eirik and Leif wanted rooms next to each other, and Tanya communicated that she'd be nearby as well. Baxter followed them silently, not saying a word. The four of them ended up choosing rooms all in the same wing, resulting in one empty room left on their side.
They were all about to attempt unlocking their rooms when Krissa came up the stairs, looking towards their small group. "I don't like the view downstairs." She said plainly, heading for the remaining empty room. Leif instantly saw through her ploy, and realized she probably just didn't want to be alone downstairs. He didn't mind, so he didn't say anything. Krissa didn't seem like the joking type, and he didn't feel like alienating someone on his first day in Alfheim.
The five turned towards their doors, placing a hand on each stone platform. After a few seconds, several clicks were heard and the sound of doors opening followed. The door in front of Leif was made from the same wood as the entrance door, but much less thick since it was an interior door, and arched at the top into a point. It was rather plain-looking aside from some black metal trim around the bottom. It creaked open, revealing the room inside.
The room's walls and floor were crafted from the same material as the rest of the building, giving off a soft glow that illuminated the area. There was a large bed to the left, and Leif assumed it could only be made from down considering how soft it was to the touch. The room was actually pretty bare, but very roomy. The floor was covered mostly by another ornate rug, patterns of brown and red decorating its face. Opposite from the bed was a thigh-high bookcase, filled with books of varying sizes and colors. The most impressive thing in the room was the half-glass wall on the opposite side from Leif. Immediately he approached it, gazing outside. Below on the ground was Yaga, waiting for the Apprentices to return, and beyond him were the green plateaus outside the city limits, complete with their own hills and waterfalls, the water seemingly falling to nothingness. Even further than the grassy plateau area was the thickly overgrown forest that surrounding Alfheim on all sides. Leif knew from coming into Alfheim that the forest wasn't very deep, as they passed through it in just a few minutes, and further than that were some rolling hills of plainland.
Leif couldn't have been happier about his room. Sure, there wasn't much in it, but the window was mostly what he wanted, and he doubted that he'd spend much time in his room anyway, aside from sleeping. He glanced behind him to the hallway, and noticed the others shuffling towards the stairs, closing their doors, and decided he'd better get a move on. He left the room, closed the aging wooden door behind him, joining Eirik and the others as they descended to the first floor.