Voss watched Steph work for a moment before rapping on the door frame. Steph laid her silver chisel down and stepped back from her work bench. Voss stepped up at her wave and took a long look at Steph’s thesis project.
“Afternoon Professor,” Steph said. “I’ve made a lot of progress in the last week.”
“I can see that,” Voss replied. The pygmy dragon skeleton’s wings were fully wired, the necessary rune work adorned the skull, and the ribcage and arms had been fully constructed. But it was still only half constructed.
“I thought you had the tail and haunches roughed in a week or two ago,” he commented as he took a closer look at the rune work on the skull.
“Well, I did, but I found a more streamlined version of the rune work-“
Voss barely listened. He hid his sigh. Steph was backtracking again.
He interrupted her explanation. “Steph, constructing the dragon is only the basics. You haven’t started any of the ritual work or incantations.”
Steph moved to the workbench and began aligning her tools. “I’ll work on the dragon over winter break and have it done before spring term. Most people don’t start ritual work until then. I’m a little behind, but I can’t say I’m surprised, I did want to tackle something difficult, there were bound to be setbacks.”
“I know exactly how complicated your senior project is. I signed off on it because I believe you capable of completing it. I still don’t doubt your skill or ingenuity.”
Steph glanced over from her tools and Voss held her gaze. “That said,” he continued. “I have some concerns about your progress.”
“I promise I’ll catch up. I know I’m lagging, but-“
“Steph.” Voss rubbed his forehead. “I want you to audit the Death Rites 101 class.”
Steph frowned. “Professor Anderson already has a TA. Unless Leandra quit on her, is everything alright?”
“Leandra is still Professor Anderson’s TA. I said I want you to audit. Sit in on the class as if you were taking it again.”
“You want me to take Death Rites 101? I placed out of that freshman year, it isn’t a requirement.” Steph folded her arms.
“Hear me out.” He waited for her slight nod before continuing. “You are tackling a difficult necromantic fusion project. You have stopped and started multiple times during the process in order to make incremental and often times irrelevant changes. In short, you’re delaying. By all accounts, even with a project this challenging, you should have finished your articulation a month ago. Think of Death Rites as going back to the basics, becoming comfortable with broad theory as a break from your project, but still in the mind set.”
“I understand the theory, Professor Voss. I know what I need to do I just want to do it in the best way possible. Auditing a beginner class is a waste of my time I could be spending on my project.”
Voss took a good look at the stubborn line of Steph’s shoulders. “Take the class or I walk. I think it’s that important, Steph.” He would hate leaving. It was in the line of his back and the way he leaned his elbows against the table. And his sincerity was in the angle of his feet and the regret in his eyes.
“Why? Why is it that important?” She would have to take it. No other professor could support her project the way Voss could. Every other professor would want to know why.
“Because you’ve lost touch with the purpose of the work, and you won’t hear it from me. So I am doing what I can. I’ll give you lab access over break and another set of incumni stones after you sign.” He removed the audit papers from his robe pocket and extended them to Steph.
She took them. She scrawled her name on the audit papers and thrust them back at him.
“I’m taking this up with the academic council as interference with personal research.”
Voss nodded and left. She would take the class. He would face the council and the inevitable reprimand. It wasn’t his place to talk to students about problems, and Steph was denying she had any so violently he’d barely gotten her signature. Death’s gate, but he hoped this worked.