Ether Ignition

Ms Luxford tuned away from the class and made a swiping gesture at the board with one of her gloved hands. The writing which had been on there before burst into silver coloured specks like many miniature fireworks exploding simultaneously, and were swept off the board in the direction which she had made the gesture.

She then pulled off her gloves and, after placing them on the podium, took her wand into her hand and began to use it to write on the board. “The stuff I’m writing down now is the basic theory behind the process I’m about to teach you. It would be a good idea to either copy this down or make sufficient notes so that you can remind yourselves if you ever have trouble remembering or if need to clarify something and can’t, or don’t want to, find me to ask.”

After she finished writing, Ms Luxford turned around and began to address the class. “The process of raising your saturation was once known as ‘Ether Ignition’, this is where the profession ‘Igniter’ came from. An igniter is someone who oversees the process of raising your saturation so in all your cases, I am your igniter.” Kason subconsciously nodded his head, having been told this exact thing a few moments ago, “We now know that the name ‘Ether Ignition’ is not really suitable to describe the process but the name has been solidly cemented in our culture so hasn’t been changed for anything more suitable.”

Ms Luxford grimaced slightly when she said this as if she was personally against the name not being changed. “Anyway, as I said before, to raise the saturation of a particular part of the body, that part must be exposed to higher levels of ether than are naturally present in that part. To do this, I could just send you all to someplace with naturally high levels of ether, such as the Astral Fields that are near the college. But apart from being highly inefficient, it would also be very dangerous, so the college uses these things to help you instead.”

Ms Luxford held up a little indigo coloured marble measuring a couple of centimetres across which she had at some point acquired while she had been talking, it looked to be a perfect sphere and glinted in the sunlight that shone through the windows. “This is a ball of solidified ether.” She said looking around at the class with a serious look in her eyes, “It is currently covered in a thin protective coating which prevents it from turning back into gaseous ether, but once that coating is removed, it will almost immediately begin to sublimate and after a few moments, it will disappear completely.”

“This is what you will be using, however, if you were to just use these marbles as they are, once you took off the protective coating, you would expose yourself to unsafe levels of ether which could result in serious injuries. To be able to safely use the ether contained in this ball you will be using this device.” Ms Luxford held up a something that looked like a transparent container in her other hand, this container was comprised of a semispherical transparent section which had the open end covered with a thin gauze of tightly woven, light purple threads.

“This is a small-scale version of a device called a ‘Regulator’, it has a storage compartment made from reinforced, ethefied glass fitted with an ether filter which will contain the solidified ether and regulate the amount of gaseous ether that can exit so that you are only exposed to safe levels of ether. To use this to raise the saturation in the brain, you just need to have this somewhere near your head, within roughly half a metre, and the gaseous ether will disperse throughout the air near the filter in that radius. To begin with, you should not expose yourself to ether for longer than an hour every day, otherwise, the build-up of ether in your brain will go into unsafe levels. If this does happen though, you should visit the healer as soon as possible for treatment.”

Ms Luxford placed the two items she had been holding on top of the podium behind which she stood, “At the end of every week, I will test the saturation of ether in your brains just like I have done today. Every time your saturation goes over a unit of ten Cs, say thirty or forty, you will be given a different filter which will allow more ether to pass through, allowing you to be exposed to more ether as appropriate to your level. This will allow you to progress at a steady rate because otherwise, you would find that your progress would slow down until eventually, you would no longer be making any as your brain would become fully tolerant to that level of ether.”

Ms Luxford looked around at the class again, giving time for those who were writing to finish. “Whenever these mini regulators run out of ether, bring them to our next lesson and I’ll refill them for you.” She said seriously, “You must also be aware that the process of increasing your tolerance isn’t something permanent. If you go for too long without being exposed to levels of ether around the level you have raised yourself to, then your saturation will begin to go down and your tolerance will decrease. So you must all make sure that even once you’ve reached the required level, you don’t become lax.”

Kason finished off his notes with a small flourish for his own amusement and looked up at Ms Luxford, she had laid her wand on the podium next to the ether marble and the regulator and was pulling her gloves onto her hands again. Once she had finished, she picked up the ether marble and placed the regulator in the centre of the podium so that all the children could see it, “I’m going to show you how I fill the regulator using this marble,” She said, “This isn’t really necessary, but it is pretty interesting so pay attention.”

She positioned the marble so that it was held between her forefinger and thumb, and then used a finger on her other hand to trace a line down the side of the marble facing the class. Once her finger had passed all the way from the top to the bottom of the marble, she moved the hand so that it was above the marble in a dome-like position.

She then waited in that position, the class watching with rapt attention, their eyes fixed on the indigo ball. After a few moments, multiple strands of an almost invisible blue fog began to pour out of the place where Ms Luxford’s finger had passed over, the colour of the fog changed as it flowed in the air, sometimes a very faint, light blue; other times a darker colour. As soon as they escaped from the casing of the ether marble, the strands moved as if pulled by invisible strings, to a position just below the palm of Ms Luxford’s hand.

Kason let out a small gasp under his breath as he watched the process, he had never seen anything like it and he couldn’t help but be enthralled by the shifting colours of the smoke. As more and more of the gas escaped from the marble, its size began to decrease until it was about half the size it had been to begin with. At this point, Ms Luxford suddenly applied some pressure to the marble, causing it to fly out of its protective cover, once out it immediately began to issue huge amounts of the mist, obscuring the marble in the undulating haze.

This ball of mist was too, sucked up to hover just below Ms Luxford’s palm joining the swirling mist that had escaped the casing before. Once all the mist had been gathered beneath her palm, Ms Luxford lowered the hand that had been holding the now non-existent marble and pushed the palm of her other hand downwards towards the regulator sitting on top of the podium.

Ms Luxford then made a pulling motion with her free hand and the filter on the regulator detached itself and flew over to land gently in her grasp. She then moved her other hand, the one controlling the seething blue gas, so that it forced the mist into the transparent semispherical component, and quickly reattached the filter. She then picked up the regulator, now full of the shifting mist, and held it up to show the class.

The classroom broke into a quick bout of applause and Ms Luxford smiled, “That is, in a nutshell, how it’s done, although usually, it is much more efficiently.” She then placed her finger on the out edge of the filter, “To change the filter so that it lets the gaseous ether pas through, just rub around the edge of it in a clockwise direction, like so,” She moved her finger around the edge of the filter as she had described. There was no obvious change, both to the filter and the air above it so Kason could not tell whether this had actually done anything, but he didn’t worry about it. Ms Luxford was probably correct, she was their teacher after all.

“To close the filter you should just rub around the edge in the opposite direction,” Ms Luxford said as she did so. Again there was no change, but that was to be expected. Ms Luxford then placed the regulator on the podium and cast a brief glance down at a finger on her right hand upon which Kason noticed the glint of a blue coloured ring, apparently, it wasn’t only Brent who enjoyed the colour changing feature of the rings.

“We have just over an hour until you should all be released for lunch,” Ms Luxford announced, “In this time you’ll all do your first training session to increase your saturation. Also, remember that this should be your only session for today!”

She then made a grasping motion to the desk and more full regulators came flying out of it to hover in front of Ms Luxford. Just as she went to send them to the student’s desks like she had the ether markers, she noticed that someone had raised their hand. “Yes?” said Ms Luxford to the student.

“Ms Luxford, you said that we should only train for an hour to begin with, does this mean that as our tolerance increases we can train for longer?” The student who asked the question was a small girl with black hair who was seated in the front row on the other side of the room.

“Yes, that’s true, although you should first confirm with me if you’re planning to do longer training sessions.” Ms Luxford replied.

Harper leaned across from his desk to speak to Kason again, “That girl sure is impatient, it’s only the first lesson and she’s already asking how to train for longer.” Kason nodded, looking casually over at the petite figure who had asked the question. It was only the first lesson but she was already so concerned at only being able to train for one hour.

Kason sighed and replied to Harper in a hushed voice, “Maybe she’s just excited, I mean if we train for longer wouldn’t we be able to use magic sooner?”

Harper’s eyes widened slightly as if that reason hadn’t occurred to him, “That’s true, I’m gonna start doing longer session as soon as I can then.”

Kason rolled his eyes at him and went back to watching Ms Luxford giving out the regulators. When his arrived in front of him, gently landing on the desk with only the slightest noise to signal its landing, he immediately began to inspect it with ardour. He found, to his surprise, that the tightly woven gauze of purple threads was hard and inflexible, almost like it was a plank of wood instead of strands of thread.

Once all the children had a regulator in front of them, Ms Luxford snapped her fingers again to silence the outburst of talking that had begun. “Although we call this training, it is just exposing yourself to higher levels of ether so you’re not actually doing any work. For this reason, most students usually find the process quite boring so I would suggest ‘training’ whilst doing something else to occupy your mind. For example, some people have special head gear made so that they can carry their regulators while they walk and so can just do their training while they go about their normal day. For this hour-long session we will be doing now, I will hand out your timetables for this year and then answer any questions you have about the college or magic or anything else you may wish to ask about.”

She then indicated that they should activate the regulators sitting on their desks. Kason looked around quickly, just to make sure he had understood the method to activate it properly, and then rubbed his finger once, clockwise, around the edge of the filter.


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