Practical Exercise

The classroom for Fundamentals of Magic was large and well-lit.  One entire wall was a single pane of glass…or something equally transparent.   The windows in the buildings occupied by the Construction faculty were reputedly all made of single sheets of diamond; I couldn’t tell what this one was made of.  The walls were heavily warded; the class included demonstrations during the lectures.   I’d arrived early and sat toward the back of the room, counting  heads as people entered.  This lecture section was primarily for people interested in Construction or General Magic; I spotted three people from the General Magic table in Miller’s Refectory.  They each stared when they saw me; so did several of their friends.

By and by, the lecturer entered. He was a tall man with ginger hair and a van Dyke beard. “I am Serene Master Aduriel,” he announced.  “You may address me as ‘Serene Master’.  I have been teaching this course for more than fifteen thousand years.  Passing through this room have been future Serene Masters, High Patriarchs, Lord Justiciars, Magnates, Revered Healers,…not to mention many fine students who returned to their Houses as magnificent decorations due to the teaching of Dorrance.” 

‘Magnificent decorations’, I’d been told by Master Courtenay, referred to students whose chief expertise would lie in the collection of Gentleman’s Passes, the formation of friendships leading to house alliances and trading arrangements, and various improper acts supported by tampering with unaging spells.  To those people I’d be polite; friendships between houses might eventually blossom.

“Our lecture today is on whitening spells,” Aduriel said.  “A whitening spell makes something white.   First, I’ll show a gesture magic spell that can only be cast well off-campus, so say the wards, for summoning a white-out, a blizzard.  Then I’ll do spells that can be cast here, a dance magic spell for whitening diamonds, a gesture magic spell for whitening flour, a pattern magic spell for whitening paper, a wand magic spell for bleaching clothing or hair, and a sand magic spell for summoning the iron out of granite.”  As he spoke, his words appeared on the chalkboard behind him.  Someone had created a good voice-to-text incantor, or the words were written in advance, and were now waiting to be summoned.

“That’s what you need to know from this lecture.  I’ve given you a list of processes, and a path for attaining each of them.  We now recess for an hour-tenth.”

I leaned back in my seat. Perhaps two-thirds of the students did not quite run for the exits. Most of the rest exited more gracefully.

“Adara?”  The speaker was Antoine Troisrose, one of the other first-year people from the Master Courtenay’s general magic table. He’d been carefully watching me at lunch, not said anything.  “I know we haven’t known each other for long, but this year would you like to share relaxing our unaging spells?”  He sounded quite sure of himself.

About George Phillies

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