The academy may have
been able to move everyone's luggage (at least with an 80
percent success rate), but the actual labor of unpacking was
still left up to the student. Troy, Kathryn and Donovan did so
without much hassle. Only Renee had the additional burden of
gathering everything that had been strewn across her room and
re-strewing it in a manner that she could find acceptable. She
didn't make much progress in the first fifteen minutes.
Everything was everywhere, from inside the dressers to under the
bed to hung from the ceiling. After managing to retrieve the
t-shirt dangling out the window, she sighed in exasperation.
Just then, the sound of
an intense power chord rippled through the unit, followed by a
guitar solo that was silenced before it ever really started.
Using it as an excuse to leave the room, Renee found Kathryn
holding the headphones for Troy's MP3 player at arm's length,
while the other hand clutched her ear in pain. Apparently Molly
had not deactivated the sound amplification spell. Molly did so
now, doing her best to mask the sheepish look on her face.
“Sorry,” she mumbled to
“What?” Kathryn cried,
louder than she should have. She walked into the bathroom to
find some pain relievers, rubbing her ears along the way.
“Molly? Are you sure you
can't help me sort everything out?” Renee pleaded.
“Day one is hell for
guardians. I am exceedingly busy.”
Taking a step toward
them, Troy said, “I can-,” before he was interrupted by the
glare. He froze in his tracks, spun around, and went back
into his room, closing the door behind him.
Renee sighed and looked
at the closed door leading to Donovan's room. “Well, maybe I can
borrow one of Donovan's minions.” Slowly approaching the door,
she added, “That's what minions are for, right?”
not possible either,” Molly replied, “Teleporting short
distances the way they do is fairly easy. Doing so across
hundreds of miles is prohibitively difficult for even the
strongest of magi.”
Donovan's door opened
and Bryce stuck his head out. “Anyone got any picture nails?” he
asked the room.
Molly didn't look at
him. She just folded her arms and sulked.
“You can't put nails
into the dormitory walls. It's against academy rules,” Molly
“Never mind, Bryce, I
found some!” Blaine called from inside the room and Bryce shut
the door. Seconds later, Molly and Renee heard him pounding
nails into the dormitory walls.
Before either sister
could re-enter their room, the front door opened. Kurt stood in
the doorway and smiled at them.
“How are things so far?”
Renee pointed at the
door. “Isn't that only supposed to open for us?”
Kurt looked at the door
handle. “Oh yeah...” He turned to Molly. “Might want to get that
As Molly shook her head
and went into her room to fill out a repair requisition, Kurt
stepped into the unit and let the door shut behind him. He held
up a dress in a dry cleaning bag and asked, “Is this yours,
Renee took it from him
and needed only a second to identify it. “Yes, it is! Where did
you get this?”
“Found it in my room.
Had the name Pearson on the tag and it's too cute to be
Molly's.” He laughed and added, “They must have the interns
moving us in today.”
While Renee returned it
to her closet, Troy opened his door and saw Kurt.
“Kurt!” Troy said,
exchanging a high-five with him. “When did you get here?”
“I've been here all day
helping kids move in. I'm over in 209, by the way.”
“Good to know you're
“I think they did that
on purpose. Why else would they put you in D?”
Molly entered the
commons again. “Kurt, while you're here, you might as well show
them around the campus.”
Kurt narrowed his eyes.
“Isn't that the guardian's job?”
Molly narrowed hers
right back. “Aren't you trying to become a guardian?”
Kathryn emerged from the
bathroom. “Come on, Kurt. I need to get out and do something.
Troy's iPod almost killed me.”
She smiled at Kurt. Kurt
relented. “Sure, I guess it's not a big deal. I need to grab
some dinner anyway.”
“Kurt,” Molly began,
sternly enough to command his full attention, “I do ask that you
do not, under any circumstances, tell them about a certain
Her emphasis on 'certain
somebody' suggested that Kurt would immediately know who it was,
but he just stared back blankly. “Who?”
“You know who,” was
Kurt thought for a
minute, then chuckled mischievously. “Oh- you mean Reggie.”
“Do not utter his name
in this unit!” Molly commanded.
“Understood,” Kurt said
with an obedient nod. “So just these two?”
“Yes. Renee needs to
finish unpacking and I don't want to know what Donovan's doing
“Sounds good.” Kurt
turned around and opened the door. “C'mon kids!”
As Kurt led Troy and
Kathryn out, Renee ran after them. “Wait up! I need a break so
I'll go with!”
Before Molly could
protest, the four of them were out the door. Kurt, Kathryn,
Renee... and Troy. And Molly wasn't lying; she was exceedingly
busy. Too busy to do anything but grumble and wish that Claude
could have piggy-backed with Blaine and Bryce. It was going to
be a long three weeks without him.
original layout of Central Academy had been plotted very
deliberately, with special care towards enriching the presence
of magic on the grounds. This was most evident in the overhead
map of the academy upon its inception. Mystical symbols
representing diverse religions and philosophies seemed to jump
out from the carefully calculated placement of Central's
buildings and walkways. East and west intertwined while pagan
beliefs merged with the more stuffy religions in perfect
course, the ensuing constructions, expansions, renovations and
demolitions had since rendered the whole thing a disorienting
mess. The only religious experience that could be gleaned from
looking at the modern campus map was a frustrated cry of 'what
the hell?' Still, Kurt managed to lead Kathryn, Troy and Renee
through the jungle to at least give them a fair chance of
knowing where the important structures were.
the clinic. Very good to know,” Kurt said, pointing out the
medical facility in between bites of his chicken sandwich. Kurt
had already gone through one of the dining halls, as all four of
them considered that the most important stop on the tour.
the clinic, Kathryn pointed out a large, flat field with a small
set of bleachers. “What's that field for?”
a lot of physical training involved, so it's used for class a
lot,” Kurt answered. Smiling at her, he added, “But when it's
open, feel free to get a soccer game going.”
smiled back. “Nice. I certainly will.”
steps behind them, Renee tried to stay positive, but she was
still holding out for something magical about this magic
academy. An empty field wasn't quite it.
wrong?” Renee was surprised to see Troy actually talking to her,
and even more surprised that he had noticed her disappointment.
Now that she was at the academy and beginning to comprehend the
reality of it, she thought she was repressing her inner fangirl
She sighed and carefully
answered. “Nothing. Just not quite what you'd expect, you know?”
shrugged. “I didn't really know what to expect. What's there to
compare this to?” He looked around wistfully, not noticing the
incredulous look Renee was giving him. She wasn't sure if he was
being open-minded about the experience or just ignorant. “Enjoy
it for what it is, I guess,” he added. As he turned her way, she
smiled involuntarily- partially because she didn't want him
catching that look she gave him, and partially because that kind
of resigned optimism was what drew her to him in the first
you're right,” she replied, drawing a big smile from his face.
She glanced aside and caught sight of the northeastern edge of
the campus. There was no fence or road marking it, but the empty
field gave way suddenly to a thick forest in the distance. Even
with the descending sun shining right into it, Renee saw only
darkness beyond the woods. As such, her imagination ran with it,
especially when she could make out a slight gap in the trees
that could almost be mistaken for an entrance.
Continuing her talk with Troy, she said, “I guess I just
pictured things a bit differently. That's pretty easy to do
here. Take those woods over there.” She lightly brushed against
his arm (to get his full, undivided attention) and pointed to
her 'entrance,' “I mean I'm picturing all sorts of wild stuff in
there. Monsters, demons... maybe a centaur or something.” She
sighed and added, “But the scariest thing in there is probably
some guy's deer stand.”
Kurt, who along with Kathryn had been in earshot the whole time,
looked back at her, then at the woods. “You mean the Forest of
“Unspeakable Peril?” Renee said with about as much unbounded joy
as one could give to those words, “Now we're getting somewhere!”
nodded, not too excited about it. “Yeah, there's a bunch of
crazy things running around in there. It's part of the
curriculum. Every academy has to have one, you know.”
they call it the Forest of Unspeakable Peril?” Troy said
we all call it the FUP,” Kurt said, smiling coolly.
it we don't go in after hours?”
it's a great make-out spot actually. Get in there, a couple imps
find you, try to scare up some trouble... oh, you're gonna
made sure to look at Kathryn. She was smiling. He raised his
eyebrows in an overwhelmingly poor attempt at subtlety. She
burst out laughing.
Jovially, she said, “See this is the kind of thing we don't get
from Molly. You make this sound like it could actually be fun.”
yeah, it's mostly college students here. Plus this whole magic
thing leaves us pretty detached from reality. It's a three-week
party, especially in our dorm.”
And I bet you have all the connections,” Kathryn said, nudging
shoulders with him.
nodded, still carrying that boastful smile. “Oh yeah. My
brothers told me all the hot spots and my parents are in with
the faculty. I'm a good friend to have.”
has to be nice to have family in the system,” Renee said,
partially to remind Kurt that there were others in the group
besides Kathryn, “Too bad we all have normal parents.”
sudden stop, Kurt turned to Renee. The all-wise insider became
just another clueless student for a moment. Only a moment
though, as his bewildered look vanished instantly.
yeah,” he reminded himself. “You guys wouldn't know about Troy's
that mystery solved, he resumed his confident stride. That is,
until he realized that none of the other three had moved. He
stopped again and felt six eyes staring at him. Then, suddenly,
only two eyes. Finally realizing that this was, perhaps, a major
plot point, he turned around; Renee and Kathryn were looking at
Troy. Troy's eyes, of course, were fixed right on Kurt's.
this about Troy's dad now?” Troy said, folding his arms.
Everything suddenly became quiet in their corner of the campus.
A cold wind swept past Troy, Kurt, Kathryn and Renee. Students
walking past them froze and stared at them before dashing away,
deciding they didn't want to be involved. Professors in the
nearby faculty building closed and shuttered the windows of
their offices. The sun hid behind a large cloud.
Actually, only the last bit with the sun happened, but the
timing of it was eerie enough to fool Troy into thinking the
world had stopped.
first thing's first,” Kurt said to Troy, “If you're wondering
where's he's been all this time, I don't know either.”
began to say, “What do you-” before he was rudely interrupted.
“Ohmigod!” Renee exclaimed, bounding in front of Kurt and
beaming with irrepressible joy. Her inner fangirl could be
contained no longer. “What happened to him? Did he die nobly to
save the world? Left on a perilous mission and was never heard
glanced at Troy for a moment before turning back and suggesting,
with far too much pleasure, “Went to the dark side??”
Kathryn were too stunned to respond. Heck, as much as Troy was
infatuated with her, he was pretty freaked out too. But not
enough to deny her an answer.
parents got divorced,” he said, somewhat irritated. Then,
downright offended, he added, “What do you mean 'went to the
sighed and calmed herself down before smiling at him and
replying, “Sorry. Those are all the missing dad clichés I could
didn't even know he was missing.”
whole story of him getting a divorce doesn't bother you at all?”
Kurt asked, narrowing an eye at Troy.
shrugged. “Well, yeah, it took some time to deal with. But I got
over it. Pretty well, I think.” He turned to Kathryn. “Right?”
nodded and cracked a smile. “Yeah, you went emo for a few weeks,
but you got better.”
it's not a story,” Troy said to Kurt, “Dad's still paying
alimony and everything.”
the way the subject was introduced, now Kurt was the one asking
Troy the questions. “When was the last time you heard from him?”
some thought, Troy answered, “Sent me a card for my birthday.
Had fifty bucks in it.”
fifty? Nice!” Kathryn replied.
continued, “Let me rephrase that: when was the last time you saw
him in person?”
Troy thought about the answer, the more he frowned. He had never
given it much thought before, and it suddenly seemed like his
father wanted it that way.
couple months after the divorce, he took me to Bristol,” he
said, eyes to the ground. “I was eleven. Has it really been four
years since then?”
had been the first, and only, father-son outing since the
divorce. Certainly the trip to watch forty insanely fast cars
race around an insanely minuscule track was an experience of
unparalleled awesome for Troy. The event had established in
Troy's mind that future get-togethers with Dad were to be
treated as rare and special occasions. So rare, as it turned
out, that they never occurred again.
took a moment to let Troy question everything he thought he had
known about his upbringing, then made the (rather obvious)
revelation: “Our dads were in the same unit here. I guess they
made a good team. That's why Dad wanted me to look out for you.”
are you from anyway?” Kathryn asked, “If you're whole family's
in this, does that mean you're not from this world or
of. I grew up in Milwaukee.”
revelation, a surprised Renee asked, “Wait, are you saying you
go to our school just to keep an eye on us?”
to Renee, Kurt looked at Troy curiously. “You didn't tell her
about all that?”
wasn't allowed to talk to her, remember?” Troy replied. Then he
turned and said to Renee, “Say, is all that on hold while we're
think so,” Renee replied- more curious than sympathetic. Before
anyone could dispute, protest or lament that statement, she had
forgotten about it and started walking toward the dorm. “We
should be getting back so I can finish unpacking.”
a contemptuous look, Kathryn watched Renee go by, then followed.
stayed behind with Kurt. When everything was laid out before
him, Troy understandably felt a tad bitter over the whole thing.
Not so much towards his father, who seemed to go out of his way
to sever ties as cleanly as possible... and treat Troy to one
hell of a show on the way out. Troy was upset because this news
uncovered questions that he should have already been asking.
When some of the answers were 'because Daddy knows magic and
fights demons for a living,' Troy couldn't help but feel like an
idiot thinking it was all normal family behavior and not worth
ended here. He looked Kurt squarely in the eyes and asked the
question that should have been on his mind since that weekend in
Bristol: “Where's Dad now?”
scoffed. “I told you, I don't know! I don't spend all my time
looking up other people's relatives.”
Two events highlighted
the first Sunday for most of the freshmen at the academy. First
was the collective hangover from the wild opening night party on
the first floor of Hall D. Thanks to Molly (and the whole 'under
18' taboo), our heroes in room 202 didn't participate- they were
merely kept awake most of the night by the revelers. The second
event, often made more excruciating because of the first, was
the examination to determine each new student's trigger. As Troy
and Donovan had already stumbled upon their gestures, they were
allowed to pass on this event as well. Renee and Kathryn, on the
other hand, were right on time for their 11:18 appointments.
Since the clinic was too
small to accommodate such a massive undertaking, the
examinations were held in the library. This location had another
advantage: although Renee and Kathryn had arrived on time, the
practitioners were quite behind schedule and the library stacks
made for a well-stocked waiting room. Renee browsed the aisles
and thumbed through various ancient tomes and grimoires. Kathryn
settled for the latest issue of Sports Illustrated.
Just as Renee had
settled into a chair to check out the Cliffs Notes for the
Voynich manuscript, a young man approached them.
“Are you from D-202?” he
Although he didn't look
much older than any of the other students, he wore a lab coat
and that made him important. Kathryn and Renee nodded.
“I can see Troy now.”
“I didn't think he
needed to go in. He knows his trigger,” Renee replied, setting
her book down.
“Oh,” he said
pleasantly. He pulled a PDA out of the coat's front pocket and
happily stabbed at it with a stylus. “How about Donovan?”
He raised his eyebrows
at the girls. “Really? Two in one unit? I've never seen that
before.” He sounded genuinely impressed, but equally relieved
that he could knock them off the list.
“We're ready to go,”
The examiner looked at
Kathryn before nervously turning back to his PDA, mumbling,
“C'mon, we've been
waiting for twenty minutes.”
“I guess it's okay...”
“Can you do both of us
at the same time?” Renee asked.
He fidgeted with the
PDA. Still uncomfortable, he returned it to his pocket and said,
“We are behind schedule, so sure. This way, please.”
The examiner, who
introduced himself as Joe, was not a doctor. In fact, all the
practitioners were the MST equivalents of premeds. Joe led Renee
and Kathryn to one of the isolated study rooms in the library.
It was small and private and served nicely as an examination
“So how do you find our
trigger?” Kathryn asked.
“First thing- take off
your shirts,” Joe replied, trying not to make the procedure
sound as awkward as it was. He failed, but Renee and Kathryn
nervously complied. From a tray in the corner, Joe retrieved
what appeared to be a round brush, about one inch in diameter,
with thick two-inch-long bristles.
As Joe approached Renee
with it, she asked, “It this going to tickle?”
“Probably,” he said as
he planted the brush on her chest, just above her heart. The
other end of the instrument had a small eyepiece. Joe looked
into through this enescope.
“Try to relax, okay?”
The situation made that very difficult.
The enescope led Joe
towards Renee's right side and toward the shoulder. Once he
reached that, he carefully took Renee's upper arm and began to
lift it gradually. After pushing the arm up and down twice, he
finally froze it at a downward angle.
“Hold your arm there,”
he instructed. Renee did as Joe moved the enescope down to her
elbow. He repeated the process with her lower arm, rising and
lowering it to see which position drew the greatest flow of
energy. He positioned her elbow at a right angle and again told
her to hold it there.
“Starting to feel it
“Yeah,” Renee replied,
astounded that it was true- she did feel an energy flow.
He moved up to her hand
and examined Renee's palm and each finger carefully, before
concluding that every finger but the thumb should remain
outstretched. This established the trigger point. The second
stage was the gesture. After some further observation through
the enescope, Joe brought her arm forward and her hand downward
in a slow swiping motion.
Returning her arm to its
trigger point, Joe said, “Now close your eyes and picture
generating a ball of light.”
She did and Joe repeated
the swiping gesture. As her arm swung across her body, light
formed in her hands, grew into a ball... and promptly fell onto
Joe smiled. “And next
time hang onto it and you're all set!”
Renee looked at her
right hand, in awe. “That's amazing... can I put my shirt on
“Yes,” Joe replied,
turning to Kathryn. “Your turn.”
Kathryn held her arms
out. “Go easy. It's my first time.”
It was not easy,
however. While the procedure for Renee was fairly typical, Joe
had a much harder time identifying Kathryn's flow. After a few
excruciating minutes nosing the enescope around her upper body,
making Kathryn all the more uncomfortable in the process, he
raised her right arm, balled her hand into a fist, and pulled
the arm down like a slot machine. Nothing happened.
“Hmm... according to the
readings, that was it, but the energy flow is barely
distinguishable,” Joe said, concerned, “Just a moment.”
He walked over to the
far corner of the small room and pinched his ear. A moment
later, Joe started talking, presumably with a supervisor on the
other end of his telepathy. From the conversation, Kathryn
figured out that her magical energy didn't flow towards her
trigger point as readily as Renee's, which was apparently a
problem. After a brief discussion, Joe wrote something down on a
pad of paper, tore the top sheet off and gave it to Kathryn.
“Take this to the
bookstore. They'll know what to do.”
Kathryn found the
writing completely indecipherable. Truly, Joe was well on his
way to becoming a successful doctor.
As Molly had to explain
to Renee, wands and other such magic items were not normally
handed out to students. The MST considered the raw ability to
master one's trigger far more important than the additional
power gained from a focus item. They were like calculators and
spell-checkers: useful at saving time and energy, but frequently
crutches leading to laziness and over-dependence. Molly made it
clear that any students resorted to using them were, to put it
So, naturally, when
Joe's prescription for Kathryn turned out to be for a shiny
bronze staff, Renee was both elated and totally jealous. Even
Kathryn liked the idea of being required, per doctor's orders,
to carry a large stick with her for the next three weeks.
Grasping it with both
hands, Kathryn swung it up and down like a samurai sword. “You
know, forget magic. One of them hounds show up again, I'm just
gonna bash its head in.”
“Well, at least it's
over and we can cast spells with the boys now,” Renee said,
extending her arm to demonstrate. She swiped her arm forward,
this time remembering to hang on to the light ball and even
saying “Illumitorium” for good measure. She happily looked over
her creation, adding, “I can see how Donovan is so amused by
Kathryn ran up about
thirty feet, stopped, and smiled. “Okay, Renee, you got a ball
and I got a stick. Let's see if your pitching got any better.”
As Kathryn crouched into
her batting stance, Renee gripped her light ball, nodded,
returned the smile, and whirled an underhanded pitch at the
'plate.' Kathryn swung, connected and sent the sucker flying.
“Jeez... I got all of
that one,” Kathryn remarked as the ball refused to consider
falling, even as it traveled 300 feet. They watched as the light
ball, somehow growing ever brighter, kept going until about the
500 foot mark. At that point, one of the windows of Hall A
sacrificed itself to finally halt the ball's progress.
By the time the occupant
of that unit looked out his window for the perpetrators, Kathryn
and Renee were both in full sprint back to their dorm.
There wasn't a party
downstairs that night, but an excited Renee still had trouble
sleeping. Thankfully, her first class wasn't until ten on
Monday, so she patiently waited the hours out until her
excitement was finally subdued by the sleeping pill she had
When she woke up the
next morning, her eagerness to begin her training picked up
right where it left off. She selected her outfit carefully:
while Molly had told her that the campus's casual atmosphere
permitted any attire beyond pajamas and bathing suits, she
wanted her appearance to send a clear message that she would not
be coasting through this academy.
First off, however, she
needed to freshen up and take a shower. Crossing her fingers in
hopes that she could sneak into the bathroom with no one
catching sight of her extra-tousled bed head, Renee creaked open
the door and saw only Molly reading a newspaper on the couch.
Renee dashed across the commons to the bathroom, where she found
the door locked.
“Kathryn beat you to
it,” Molly said without looking up and without much sympathy.
“Sounds like she'll be out soon.”
Indeed, the water had
stopped, so Renee stood by the door. “Are the boys up yet?”
“Troy had to be at his
physical training course at eight, and another class immediately
afterwards. We won't be seeing him for the rest of the day.”
“Physical training at
eight in the morning?” Renee cringed at the thought. From the
course description, physical training basically took all the
worst P.E. activities ever subjected to a student throughout
school, then combined them into a single three-week regimen and
capped with a magic version of dodgeball that allegedly made it
all fun. “He ended up with a rough schedule, didn't he?” she
Molly suppressed an evil
smirk. “Yes... funny how that worked out.” One of her favorite
responsibilities as guardian was setting schedules for her
recruits; she was especially proud of the nightmare she had
envisioned for Troy.
“Is Donovan up?”
Frowning, Molly glanced
at Donovan's door, which to her knowledge hadn't been opened
since the day they arrived. She aimed her finger in that
direction, executed her trigger, and listened for the sonic boom
emanating from his room.
“He is now,” she
answered coldly before going back to her newspaper.
Renee smiled. This kind
of cruel mischief was one of the big reasons she was so fond of
learning magic. She was continually impressed with how scary
Molly was when she performed it so casually.
screamed from inside the bathroom. The door flew open and she
stormed out, securing the towel wrapped around her hair and
removing the toothbrush in her mouth.
“Okay, that is not
cool,” she cried, walking halfway to her room before stopping
and turning back at the bathroom. She and Renee briefly caught a
glimpse of Donovan before he slammed the door.
“Did he just...” Renee
began, but she couldn't fathom the idea enough to continue.
“Yeah, bastard just
popped in while I was brushing my teeth. Thank God I had clothes
on.” Kathryn turned to Molly, still irate. “You gonna do
something about that?”
Molly already was.
Quietly, she stood up and walked into her room, no expression on
her face. She emerged moments later with a marker. Renee and
Kathryn silently watched on as Molly drew a circle on Donovan's
door, then filled it in with seemingly-random arcane symbols.
She capped the marker, pocketed it, then silently cast a spell,
striking the circle with her finger. The circle glowed for a
second, then vanished.
“That will suffice,”
Molly said, returning to the couch and her paper.
Kathryn folded her arms and stewed while Renee tapped her foot
impatiently outside the bathroom door. “Nice hair,” Kathryn said
to Renee, who grumbled unhappily, but said nothing in response.
Finally, a loud click
designated the bathroom door unlocked. “Incoming,” muttered
Molly as the circle on Donovan's door reappeared, glowing once
With a mighty thud,
Donovan appeared in front of his room. Or, more precisely, on
the floor in front of his room, on his back, and seemingly in
Renee,” Molly said, calmly. She stood and approached Donovan.
“What was that?” Kathryn
seal. Bathroom will have one by the end of the day.” She leaned
over Donovan and looked him in the eye. “Now that you know that
countering a teleportation spell is incredibly simple, perhaps
you'll learn to walk like a normal person?”
Donovan glowered at
Molly, but Molly simply returned to the couch without another
word. He picked himself up off the floor and retreated to his
room. At least he tried to, anyway.
“The door seems to be
locked,” he said.
“So it does,” Molly
replied, not looking up. She didn't need to remind herself that
he was wearing a loose Ninja Turtles t-shirt and bright blue
“Have a lovely day at
school,” she added.
appeared self-conscious about wearing his bedclothes to school
(more due to their composition than the concept of it), it
turned out that the disparity between his attire and Renee's
represented a fair cross-sample of the student body. Several of
their peers were dressed tastefully, while plenty of others
looked like they had crawled out of bed five minutes ago. In
fact, while nobody gave a second glance to Kathryn and Renee's
clothes, Donovan did receive a couple shouts of “yeah, Turtle
Power!” on the way to the first class. He did not appreciate the
The first class for the
three was an introduction to the Weaving classification of
magic. As it was required for all freshmen, the lecture hall was
filled to capacity. Kathryn and Donovan voted down Renee's
choice and they sat as far back as they could. As they did,
Bryce appeared and handed Donovan a black t-shirt and a pair of
As Donovan chided Bryce
for his lateness, Renee sighed, “I so need minions.”
The class started a
little late because of a malfunction of the sound system: it was
incompatible with the professor. Prof. Tabitha Melrose may have
been an expert mage, but audio technology was a totally
different beast. She was a professor with a soft voice that
resounded on the words spoken instead of the tenor of them. She
was a professor with the kind of dedication that always kept her
pursuing new facets of her field of study, never taking time
away from her research. Finally, she was a professor with a
large cadre of teaching assistants who did all of the actual
lecturing for her since she wasn't a strong speaker and spent
all her time researching. As a result, she may not be mentioned
in this story again.
Today, however, was the
first day of class and Professor Melrose felt obligated to at
least make an appearance. Once her TA had fixed the sound
system, she leaned in close to the microphone and attempted to
summarize what they would be studying for the next three weeks.
As she mumbled a lot and the concept of Weaving was quite
abstract, she failed miserably. The idea was that MST newcomers
took a course in each of the schools to get a basic grasp for
what they were and learn the essential spells in each, which in
turn would help establish which one each student specialized in.
Professor Melrose made none of that clear.
As other students
desperately tried to decipher what she had just said, Donovan
emitted a low chuckle. “What?” Kathryn asked, clutching her
staff. “And keep in mind I'm holding a stick.”
“Soon I will exert my
supremacy over all of these inferiors!” Donovan boasted. “For
they come in clueless neophytes while I possess the powers of
light and teleportation!”
Kathryn shook her head,
annoyed, and attempted to see what was going on at the lectern.
Apparently Professor Melrose, defeated, left the podium to her
“Hi, I guess I'll be
running the show here,” she said with perfect clarity,
“Basically, we'll be going over the basics of Weaving and
teaching the fundamental spells that everyone should know-
light, flight, teleportation and energy transfer. We'll
definitely hit the light ball today, and you guys always ask us
to teach teleportation right away.” As an aside, she added,
“Yeah, I know the campus is too big, especially the parking
The TA paused to wait
out a round of laughter that neither Kathryn, Renee nor Donovan
heard. The TA continued, “So yeah, light ball today and
hopefully a primer on teleporting if we have time. If not, then
we'll get to it Wednesday, I promise.”
Donovan narrowed his
eyebrows at the TA. Renee leaned in next to him and teased, “All
that work and you're a whole week ahead. Isn't that great?”
He grumbled. His path to
conquest was perhaps a little steeper than he had planned. One
that would even involve taking notes in class. This was a
troubling development indeed.