Practical Exercise

He paused.  “Oh, wait.” He reached into his carryall.  I’d written my answers on House white paper, distinctly brighter than the norm. That had to be mine, rolled up and tied.  He picked  it up, glared at me, and used a weak breeze spell to waft it over everyone’s heads until it reached me.  

“I wouldn’t,” he said, “want any of you to have your thinking corrupted by reading that piece of trash!” He wasn’t quite shouting.  “Triskittenion.  Your paper.  It’s a piece of perverted garbage!  How dare you propose what you said!  I won’t have you in this class!  Out!  Out!”

“Sir,” I said calmly, “this is a mandatory class, for which I paid full tuition.  I am entitled to be here.” Somewhat later it occurred to me that taking a course from a Serene Master who hated you was a bad idea.

“I am giving you a recorded grade of pass with full credit. Rule 317B.  I am entitled to do that, and have!  You have passed this course, so you are not entitled to be here. Get out immediately!  Get out, or I shall summon the lictors and have you flogged!” 

Some of  my fellow students were looking for a way to hide. Several of the smarter ones were dropping extra items into their bookbags, preparing to run for a door in case the Serene Master started throwing spells in my direction.  I stood and bowed, formally, the bow of a landheir to someone whose rank you do not know. “I hear and obey,” I managed.  I fumbled only slightly in dropping items helter-skelter into my carryall, scooped up my cloak, and headed rapidly for an exit.

“Faster!” he screamed.  “Faster!”

I did not look over my shoulder when I closed the door behind me.  What was going on?  If this was a staged event, he should have told me about it in advance.   There are calming spells, whose overuse is highly unwise.  I nonetheless cast one on myself, then headed out the nearest exit door and took several sharp turns so I was completely out of sight of the exit. A travertine bench set into a tall barberry hedge called to me.  I set my down my carryall and shook out my cape. Then I took a minute to put my carryall into order, pens and notebooks clipped where they belonged, the book I’d been reading before class down at the bottom.  Now what?  I almost unrolled my paper without thinking.  Wrong.  I hit it with three counterspells and a detect.  It appeared to be inert.  With gloves on and wards up I used my pen-knife to cut around the seal, which I left in place.  For the first three pages, his comments had been glowing.  Then I reached the forest fire.  He’d written nothing. 

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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1 Response to Practical Exercise

  1. Enigma
    Enigma says:

    That escalated quickly

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