The next several months flew by for Justan. The awkwardness that he felt when he first entered the Mage School faded quickly and he settled into a routine. Justan knew that his time in the school was short and he was determined to make the most of it.
He packed his day full of activities, leaving himself practically no idle time. This amazed the other students, impressed the teachers, and worried his friends. They were afraid that he was going to burn himself out.
Every day he awoke before the sun rose and left for his morning exercise. There had been some difficulty at first. His plan was to run ten miles a day, but the paths by the front gates of the school were much too curvy and crossed over themselves so much, that it was hard to measure how far he had run. A much better idea soon presented itself.
One of the professors told Justan that the wall bordering the school was two miles around. With the help of Riveren and Zambon, he was able to get permission from the captain of the guards to run up along the top of the wall. The path was level and wide enough for him to pass the patrolling guards without interfering with their duties.
Justan’s next problem was the school dress code. All students were required to wear robes while inside the school and they had to be kept presentable. If a student had a physical duty that required a lot of sweat and dirt, he was allowed to have one set of work robes that did not have to be kept in immaculate condition. After a few mornings tripping over his robes every step of the way, Justan realized that he was going to have to find a way to get around the rules.
He spoke with Professor Beehn about the problem and got more than he bargained for.
“Your robes don’t do you much good when running, eh?” The portly wizard smiled and leaned back in his chair. “The rules are unbending when it comes to the dress code. However, in this particular case there is some gray area. You see, technically, though owned by the Mage School , the wall is not part of the school grounds.”
“Does that mean that I can wear my regular clothes while running along the wall?” Justan asked.
“If you got permission from the right person.”
“Who would that be?”
“Why, me of course,” the professor said and leaned forward. “I might be convinced to let you do this, but there is a condition.”
Justan’s eyes narrowed in suspicion, “And what would that be, Professor?”
“Let me be frank with you, my boy. This school has a problem. The students and the faculty here are, on the whole, rather unhealthy. It is a trend that I have noticed with increasing distress over the last few years and even I, as you can see-.” The wizard patted his belly. “Have fallen prey to it.
“Magic is a very taxing endeavor and takes much of the body’s natural energy. The students are often falling ill and seem to have problems paying attention in class. This is due, I believe, to a lack of exercise and proper diet.
“I have spoken with the cooks on this matter and they are doing their best to provide more healthy food in our meals, but that is only part of the problem. I was hoping that you, Justan, could be part of the solution. You see, I am impressed by your energy and your willingness to put forth good effort to keep your body in good order. I was hoping that you would help others do the same.”
Justan looked askance at the pudgy wizard, “And what would you have me do, sir?”
“Oh, nothing much. Not much at all, really. A small thing. All I ask is that you allow others to run with you in the mornings.”
Justan reluctantly agreed. He really didn’t like the idea very much. Part of what he liked about the early run was that no one else was about. He enjoyed the solitude.