Practical Exercise

With that, the Serene Master launched into his lecture.  Barlow had good teachers, but Aduriel was amazing.  Of course, I thought, if he’s been doing this for thousands of years, he’s had more than enough time to perfect his lectures.  For the first gesture magic spell, he showed the full score, not just the basic hand gestures but the  accompaniments and finger adjusts. The hall had a large cleared area.  For the dance spell we were walked through the spell, several times.  Two of the guys at the front of the class were called on to demonstrate on real black grade diamonds,  One succeeded. One needed two tries; on his first try the diamond burst into flames. I was really interested in the paper whitening spell. The pattern was seven filled hexagons, of which I knew six.  The seventh I’d never seen before.  I checked carefully to be sure I’d copied it exactly.  The wand magic spell was obviously the pattern spell, pre-loaded.  Finally he reached the sand magic spell. He had little bags of colored sand, which he put down in an intricate pattern while chanting a very basic incantation.The last bit of sand went down.  He clapped once.  He had on his desk a small block of ruddy granite.  Suddenly it was pale yellow.  Some of the sand in the pattern wasn’t there any more.  Weird.  I’ve never heard of anything even vaguely like that.

The basic thoughts appeared again on the display screen.

“And that is enough for today,” he said. “Class dismissed.”  He then pointed at me.  “If you have a moment?”  I nodded.

We waited for everyone else to leave.  “Aren’t you the young lady who fought the golem?” he asked.

“Yes, Serene Master,” I answered.  That seemed to have gotten around in a hurry.

“Are you sure you’re recovered?  I do record these lectures if you need to sleep things off,” he said.

“That’s very kind of you. Burns on the wrists were most of it.”  My wrists were still both swathed in enchanted silk, mostly so that if someone grabbed them I wouldn’t feel the pressure.  “Waking up for lectures, a few days ago, would have been bad, no, challenging.”

“Challenging. A fine word.  You know, most of your fellow students would not have survived that ambush. A secret to successful spellcraft  is to avoid unneeded challenges.”  He smiled.

“Yes! Thanks for the advice,” I said.  “I’ll try to follow it.” I remembered to bow before I withdrew.

A half-hour later was the course on Estate Management.  It looked mostly to be very basic accounting practices.  The course description, such as it was, came with a warning: The Gentleman’s Pass is not available for this course.  Passage of this course is mandatory for a degree.

I followed my usual practice at Barlow Academy and sat toward the rear.  Instructors are often happy to see students sitting closer and closer to them.  They are sometimes less happy with people who try to fade from sight, unless those people occasionally speak up with intelligent questions.

About George Phillies

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