Practical Exercise #2

Continuing my current novel in progress, one page at a time.

Entering student interviews were in Ellwood Hall, off to the far right, just this side of the Campus Martius. Campus Martius? We were, divine beings help us, required to study martial magic. As an heir of House Triskittenion, I’d been expected to master combat sorcery. I’d tried. My tutor grumbled that I relied too much on speed and brute force. He warned that would work poorly, given that I’m a young adult, not a grown-up. Grandfather Worrow was more tolerant, not to mention more demanding. For my first single-person hunt, I brought home the heads of three night terrors. Their skulls decorate my bedroom’s walls. After my first hunt, my tutor grumbled less.

I heard a high-pitched whistle to my left.  At the neighboring entry point, someone had opened a deep gate.  The gate’s surface was black, shot through with fluorescent clouds and bursts of particolored lightning.  Through it walked someone close to my own age, well, physical age.  He came through first, so he had to have opened the gate himself. Yes, I do know how to open a deep gate. That’s one of the things you learn to do to support really high-power spells. However, I am definitely not stupid enough to walk through one.  Yes, deep gating is surely an effective way to get here in a whole hurry from far away, as opposed to what I did, taking a long series of shorter walks across the Purple Sea.  Deep gates take you into the Void, which at my age is definitely a bad place to be.  OK, some boys think they are invincible and indestructible. 

I watched as he pulled more and more of his trunks through the gate.  He wasn’t keeping that good control of his gate, enough so that the wards around my arrival point, the wards around my steamer trunks, and finally my personal wards began to flicker into activity. I’ve opened larger deep gates, with people standing there to intervene if needed (it wasn’t), but my deep gates were rock solid and completely under my control.  His gate was unstable.  Before the matter got too serious, he pulled the last of his trunks through the deep gate and closed it.

The fellow to my left was doing something that rearranged his steamer trunks into a line suitable for towing.  He could wait.  I tapped my lead trunk once to get the attention of its spellwork.  It dutifully followed me, puppy-like, as I started down the hill. School housing, until I found a proper house, was off to the left, so I would need to walk the trunks there, sign for keys, lock up my  trunks, then walk all the way across campus to be interviewed. It was good exercise.

“Look out where you’re going, you idiot!” That shout was the boy from the next entrance point,  moving faster than I’d say was sensible for someone with all those trunks behind him.  He obviously thought  that I was  in his way.  “I’m Harold of House Fourbridge, soon to be a great combat sorcerer, so you get to wait while I pass.”  He made an insulting hand gesture.  Supposedly some students try to start fights – a massively stupid behavior.   Was that what he wanted?  Or was he just being crude?

I pushed my hood back from over my head and reached behind me, my left hand tapping my trunks to stop them.  Pushing back my hood meant I had my right hand almost at the hilt of my gnothdiar, while my left hand was out of his sight, where I used it to cast a shielding ward.  I wouldn’t dream of starting a fight, but if he did my trunks were now protected from damage.

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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