Practical Exercise

Whatever it had been, it appeared to be dead.  Dance of the Air, just for a moment, let me step over the body fragments and stand on unmarked sod. Before it was too late, I remembered to cast spell-breaker enchantments, one after the next, as fast as I could.  The creature’s remnant trace magic vanished.  It was not coming back. 

The skin in my wrists wasn’t quite to the point of blistering, but I had burns on the backs of both wrists.  I’m not a medico, but I do know to cast healing and cold spells on burned areas.  I let my gnothdiar damp itself, not all the way but enough that the drain was no longer painful. I almost released my void nodes.  Then I realized the dead creature could be a trick, an illusion to get me to power down completely.

What just happened?  This was supposed to be a minimum test of my skills with combat magic.  If I’d stepped into the ring without honoring House Triskittenion’s attitude toward mock duels, I’d now be dead.  If I’d been from a House that didn’t take combat magic seriously, I’d be dead.  If I’d been most of the fellow students I’d watched, there might not have been enough of my body remaining to consign it to the Goddess of Fire. I’d cast a remarkable number of spells in almost no time at all.  I’d been drilled in doing that; Grandpa’s drills had saved my life.  On due consideration, I had summoned considerably more Fire of the Presence than I’d ever done before. 

My hands were shaking.  Post-combat response.  If it weren’t for the honor of the thing, I’d rather have done without.  A simple cancellation spell, too complex to cast while I was in the middle of combat, took down the wards around the circle.

I turned to face the docent who’d superintended the contest. He had some explaining to do.  No.  He was lying on the ground, bound,  gagged, and in a suspension spell.  He was also standing…One of those was a glamour.

“You!” the standing docent screamed.  “You!”  He added two impolite words.  The first is physically impossible for a young adult.  The second? I’ve never shape-changed into a female dog.

“Take that back!” I snapped.  Some insults cannot be allowed to stand. Those two words were one of them. 

About George Phillies

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