Practical Exercise

“Weren’t you lucky,” the boy next to Janice asked, “that Fourbridge didn’t call your bluff?  I mean, you can’t power that gnothdiar, can you?’  That was the fellow who said I carried a peldiar. He hadn’t quite been holding hands with Janice, but it was clear they were close friends.

“My gnothdiar is a bonded implement,” I said.  I gestured with my left hand.  Every channel in the gnothdiar came up in the same instant, full ready power,  their glows illuminating the table.  The gesture, of course, was for show.  For all that a gnothdiar is most powerful when held, only total idiots set things so they need to move in order to call their spellcaster.   “Bonded to me.  I bonded with it by driving all its channels at the same time, up to their power limits, while casting the bonding spells.”  Janice looked skyward.  She obviously didn’t believe a word I was saying.

“We’ll get to see you do that next week,” another boy said.  “I’m Abner Whitfield, by the way.” He said it as though I was supposed to know who he was.  “First year students show up on the Campus Martius. It’s the combat Practical Examination. You show your combat magic, then get placed in Martial Sorcery classes.”

“We’re supposed to know combat magic?”  Dairen asked.  “That’s not in the admission rules.”

“Everyone knows…” Abner began.

“No, the young man is correct,” Master Courtenay said. “You’ve never studied combat magic, Dairen?”

“My family builds instruments.  Fancy lenses.  Time fractionators.  Nothing violent,” he mumbled.  He looked more frightened than ever.

“Let’s talk about this later, Dairen.  After lunch?” Master Courtenay said.  “There are special rules.  You’ll be fine.”

“Different question,” I said.  “General library access?   I see that textbooks get bought, but I like to read.  The library rules say ‘standard ward passage’, but nothing else mentions how the ward passage is set.”

“You saw your advisor this morning?” Courtenay asked. I nodded agreement. “You should have signed a promise to obey the rules. Did you?  This goes for you too, Dairen.”  We both agreed we had. “The wards are renewed daily. Tomorrow you have full library access. Despite megallenia of fairy tales, the library actually does not have restricted shelves. There are a lot of books that make you prove you’re up to understanding them,  before they let you open them, but you can take them off the shelf safely.”

“That includes books on fixed-spell alteration methods,” Abner added. I must’ve raised my eyebrows. What was he talking about?  “Methods for altering your personal spells.”

I raised my eyebrows further.

He frowned. “Your agelessness spell.”

“Alter my agelessness spell?” My tone of voice didn’t make it sound like a question.  Was he another idiot? That sounded remarkably foolish.

About George Phillies

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