Chapter 12: Saturation and Tolerance

The class gazed back at Ms Luxford silently. Seeing that no one had any questions, Ms Luxford began to speak again, “Alright, now that you all have an idea of why you can’t begin to use magic yet, I should probably get around to explaining how it is that you should prepare yourself so that you can.”

She turned and walked a few paces to stand in front of the wooden board with the golden patterns around the edge. She lifted her wand, pointed it at the board, and began to move it in elegant curling motions, writing like she was using one of the ether markers they had been given. She spoke as she wrote, with her back to class, “Everyone has a different tolerance level to Ether, some people’s are naturally higher than others. This can be because your parents had particularly high levels of tolerance, although this isn’t always the case. It might also be because you were brought up in an Ether rich environment.”

She finished writing on the board and turned back to the children, “Your tolerance level is linked directly to your level of saturation. Your level of saturation is how much Ether is naturally present in your body, how saturated you are with Ether, and therefore, if you have a higher natural level of saturation, you will have a higher tolerance to Ether. The higher your tolerance and saturation, the less severe the effects of overexposure to Ether will be on your body, therefore before you begin learning to manipulate Ether, we will be working to increase your saturation and, in turn, your tolerance.”

Ms Luxford beamed around at the class when she had finished, she seemed very excited. ‘What a passionate teacher’ thought Kason as he gazed at her with slightly glazed eyes, her explanation had been informative and he understood what she was telling them, but she had been talking rather quickly and Kason felt a bit overwhelmed by the torrent of words.

After her speech, Ms Luxford reattached her wand to her belt and then pulled off the silver patterned gloves that hung beside the reattached wand. “Again, has anyone got any questions before we continue?” she asked as she slipped the gloves onto her fair-skinned hands.

Seeing that no one was going to ask anything, Ms Luxford ploughed on with her explanations, the class eagerly listening as she spoke. “The Ether in your body is not spread out evenly, so different parts of the body can have different levels of saturation and tolerance. To raise the saturation in a certain part of the body, that part must be exposed to higher levels of Ether than are naturally present in it, however, this amount cannot be very much higher, otherwise, you would experience all the problems that you’re trying to avoid. So I’ll need to measure the current saturation levels in each of your heads because that is the area that will need to have its tolerance increased.”

She then picked up a piece of paper which had been lying on the podium, “I’ve got all your names here so we’ll go in alphabetical order, once I call your name, come up here to me. While you’re waiting, you could get to know each other, you’ll all be with each other for more than a year from now on so you might as well get along.”

She then looked down at the list and called out, “Efemore”. A boy at the back of the classroom stood up from his desk and walked nervously toward Ms Luxford. Although Ms Luxford had told the class to get to know one another, they remained seated, watching curiously and slightly anxiously as the boy called Efemore made his way to the front of the room and stood before Ms Luxford.

Harper leaned towards Kason and whispered, “How do you think she’ll measure the saturation or whatever?”

“I don’t know,” Kason replied, paused and then said in a voice equally as quiet, “I just hope it’s not painful.” Kason hadn’t really considered how their teacher would test their saturation, but now that Harper had pointed it out, he began to feel nervous and began watching what was happening to Efemore with even greater focus.

Ms Luxford guided Efemore to stand in front of her and placed her hands on each of his shoulders. She smiled encouragingly at him and whispered something which Kason couldn’t catch, then held each of her gloved hands on either side of his head so that her palms faced inwards, a few centimetres away from his hair. She then closed her eyes and began to move her fingers ever so slightly in a kind of wave-like motion.

Kason and Harper, along with the rest of the class, watched this process with great attention but after a few moments, people began to shoot confused glances at each other. Ms Luxford and the boy Efemore had remained in the same position for almost a whole minute, both seemingly frozen in place by some mysterious force. There looked to be nothing happening at all that was out of the ordinary, except for the fact that they remained unmoving apart from Ms Luxford’s fingers which maintained their rather strange movements.

Kason caught a movement from the corner of his eye and quickly looked around only to see Harper looking at him with a questioning look in his eyes. Kason shrugged back at him and went back to watching. He couldn’t help but think that something might have gone wrong and the vague insecurities that had been floating around in his mind became, suddenly, more prominent.

No one in the class was making noise anymore, the people who had been conversing in hushed tones were now silent and a tense atmosphere had enveloped the classroom. Suddenly amidst the silence, Efemore let out a large breath of air and stumbled backwards, Ms Luxford also moved, reaching out to grab his arm and steady him. She gave Efemore another of her encouraging smiles and Efemore smiled back, looking slightly awkward still but noticeably more relaxed in his bearing.

Ms Luxford motioned for Efemore to go back to his seat and turned to speak to the class, “I forgot to mention but you might feel a bit dizzy after this is done, but apart from that you shouldn’t feel anything else.” She then used a finger to jot down something on the sheet of paper she had with the pupils’ names on and read out the name of the next person on the list.

Efemore began to make his way back to his seat as Ms Luxford was speaking. He passed next to Harper on his way and Harper called out to him as he did, “Hey, Efemore!”

Efemore looked at him blankly, “Erm, yes you are?”

“Oh, right yeah, I’m Harper. Anyway, how was it?” Harper looked at him expectantly, a gleam of enthusiastic curiosity shining in his eyes. Kason also listened closely, wanting to know what it was like, he noticed that Kayla and Lexia in front of them had also turned around in their seats to look at Efemore.

“Oh right, well…” Efemore’s eyes became slightly glazed, “Well, I didn’t really feel anything much. It was a bit weird really, my mind started to feel a bit hazy though and I sort of felt a bit sleepy? I’m not really sure how to describe it.” He then looked around and saw all the people looking at him with their expectant gazes, he laughed a little nervously and said, “I think you’ll get what you mean when it’s your go.”

He then walked back off to his seat near the back of the room, when he approached, Kason heard one of the people in the seats near where Efemore sat call out to him, “Hey Ef, how was it…”

Harper turned back around to look at Kason, “What do you think of that!” he said with obvious delight, almost bouncing up and down in his seat with excitement. Kason grinned at his boisterous behaviour, although he felt just as much excitement, he still felt a little anxious and so wasn’t as visibly excited.

“It seems pretty simple doesn’t it,” he replied looking at Ms Luxford as she went through the same process with the next student she had called up.

“I can’t wait for my go!” Harper said, still bubbling with excitement.

“You don’t need to be that excited,” said a voice, it was the girl, Kayla, who was sitting in front of Kason, “It’s not like you’ll be able to use magic as soon as you’ve been tested.”

“Yeah, but still… It’s a new experience and that’s exciting.” Harper replied whilst turning to face her, seemingly unfazed by her comment.

Kayla rolled her eyes at him then suddenly reached out to grab the arm of her friend who was sitting next to her, “But listen to this! Lexia’s already started training to raise her saturation, haven’t you!” She looked towards her friend, who had turned around and was looking at her with a disapproving look on her face.

“Kayla, you promised you wouldn’t…” She began to say in a quiet voice but was cut off by Kayla.

“Oh, what’s the harm, you should be proud of yourself. It’s not like it’s a bad thing.”

Kason, who had been listening in on the conversation, let out a noise of surprise and looked at Lexia.
“Can you use magic already then?” He asked her feeling eager anticipation rising within him.

Lexia looked at him, seeming a little shy at the attention, and began to speak, “No, I can’t use magic yet. Although I’ve begun to raise my tolerance already, I’ve not gotten to the stage where I can use magic.” Her voice was still very quiet, so quiet that Kason almost had a hard time hearing what she said.

“Oh,” Kason said in a low voice that, despite being quiet, couldn’t hide his feelings of disappointment.

“That’s amazing!” Harper exclaimed, “Is someone in your family a qualified igniter?”

“Ah, yeah,” Lexia replied in her quiet voice, “My father teaches at the 14th College.”

“Cool!” Harper cried getting still more animated, “You must know quite a bit already then, can you help us is we have problems when we’re raising our saturation? Do you know… ” Harper was interrupted by Kayla who, seeing her friend squirming uncomfortably under the barrage of questions, jumped in to save her.

“Harper!” Kayla said sharply, cutting off Harper’s palaver, “Can’t you see you’re bothering her?”

Harper seemed to see Lexia’s face properly for the first time, he noticed her uncomfortable expression; gave a nervous chuckle and apologised. An uncomfortable silence prevailed over the group for a few moments before Kason raised a question that had been bothering him since a few moments back.

“What’s an, umm, igniter?”

The other three children looked over at him, surprised. “You don’t know?” Kayla asked incredulously.

“Kason has lived in a metaphorical ditch all his life,” Harper said, smiling teasingly at Kason.

Kason was going to refute this for being unjust, but seeing Harper’s mischevious grin he didn’t bother, besides he had come to realise that it was more or less true.

Lexia then began to give an explanation, “An igniter is someone who oversees the process of raising one’s tolerance. A lot of things can go wrong if this is done incorrectly so Igniters have to undergo a test to show that they can correctly guide people through the process.”

“Why is it called an igniter though?” Kason asked, the name didn’t really fit the description so he wondered how it came to be called as such.

“I’m not sure,” said Lexia furrowing her brow, “Sorry.”

“Ah, it’s okay…” Kason said, feeling a bit uncomfortable with her apology.

They continued talking for a while and then Harper was called up. He came back and said more or less the same thing as Efemore had, except he assured them that he didn’t feel dizzy at all afterwards. Kayla went up next, after the boy who was on the other side of Lexia, and then Lexia a few minutes later. Once almost everyone else in the class had gone up, Kason’s name was called. He walked up to Ms Luxford, his apprehension much abated by the lack of accidents so far, but not completely dispelled.

He stopped and stood just under half a meter away from her like all the other students had and looked at her as she smiled reassuringly down at him, “Are you ready?”

Kason nodded and Ms Luxford moved her hands to either side of his head as she had done for the other students. She then closed her eyes and began to do whatever it was that she did, her fingers making minute movements, in and out.

Kason waited, trying to determine what was happening, but felt nothing. Before he realised it, he began to zone out, his gaze becoming unfocused and his mind beginning to spin. He felt like he was drifting off to sleep, except it was happening very slowly, and in his muddled brain he could vaguely hear what seemed like voices whispering reticently in his ears, although they were so quiet it could’ve been his imagination.

Then, he suddenly came sharply back to his senses. The abrupt transition from his half-asleep state to being fully awake made him stumble backwards and Ms Luxford had to catch him by the arm to steady him. She then looked down and smiled at him encouragingly, he gave a weak smile in return and she chuckled, “Remember the number thirty-two. I’ll explain what it means in a minute once everyone has been done.”

Kason nodded obediently and returned to his seat, “Welcome back,” Harper said as he sat down again, “How did it go?”

“Ah, it was fine,” Kason replied, still feeling slightly muddled, “It really does make you feel weird doesn’t it.”

Harper laughed and nodded his head in agreement, then went back to discussing something with Kayla, evidently, they had been in the middle of something when Kason returned. Kason took up his ether marker which was lying on the table and jotted down a small ’32’ in the bottom right of his desk so that he wouldn’t forget what he the number.

Kayla saw what he had done and spoke in a curious tone, “Is that the number you were given after?” Kason nodded and she sighed, “I don’t know, but bigger is probably better right? I got thirty-one” She took up her marker and jotted down the number ’31’ in a neat cursive script. Harper saw what they were doing and quickly chimed in to add his results,

“I win then, I got thirty-nine!” He said triumphantly and wrote the number down on his desk with a flourish.

“Lexy what did you get?” Kayla said curiously, tugging on Lexia’s sleeve to get her attention.

Lexia turned from her conversation with the boy on her other side and said, “I got fifty-nine.”

“Wow,” Kayla exclaimed, “Bigger must be better then, otherwise you wouldn’t have been told such a large number.” She then sighed looked around Lexia at the boy whom she had been talking to, “What did you get Alford?” She asked.

The boy who appeared to be called Alford turned around and replied in a deep voice, “I got forty-four.”

“Oh,” Kayla looked surprised at the answer, “I didn’t know you had already begun training as well.” Alford nodded, a solemn expression on his face. Kason was surprised with the result as well and was going to ask Alford how long he had been training for, but before he could Ms Luxford snapped her fingers creating a loud, reverberating sound to attract the classes attention.

“Right, you’ve all had your saturation measured now. The number I told you is the saturation of Ether in your brain, measured in Constanti or simply Cs. The required concentration of Ether to begin using magic safely is about one hundred Constanti and so you will all have to keep on raising your concentration until you reach this threshold.”

Ms Luxford looked around the classroom, “The typical amount of time it takes for a student to raise their saturation from thirty Cs to one hundred Cs is just under a year so to complete the process, most of you will require the majority of this year.” She beamed around at everyone again, “Well, seeing that it’s going to be a long process I’ll now instruct you how to raise your concentration so that you can begin as soon as possible.”

This is the next chapter if you spot any mistakes or have any ideas feel free to leave a comment.



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