The effects of Ether

After Kason activated the regulator, he placed it on the desk with the filter facing towards him. Once she saw that everyone had successfully activated their regulators, Ms Luxford produced a stack of paper sheets from within the podium and began to hand them out the same way she had all the other items. While Kason waited for his to arrive, he played with the regulator sitting on the desk, batting it back and forth between his hands and letting it roll on its curved surface.

His timetable arrived after a short while, floating down out of the air to land on his desk. Just after it landed, it suddenly moved and swatted at his hands which were still playing with the regulator. Kason jerked his hands away from the regulator, surprised by the sudden movement of the paper, and looked quickly up at Ms Luxford to see her giving him a look that said quite clearly that he had been doing something he shouldn’t have been. Kason blushed and looked back down at his desk feeling rather foolish.

“Oh yeah,” Ms Luxford said absentmindedly after she finished handing out the timetables, “I have noticed that some people have evidently already begun to train their tolerance or have naturally high levels of ether. Can those who fit into either of those two categories, that is those who have a saturation level of over forty Cs, come to me after I release the rest for lunch so we can get you sorted with filters more suitable for you.”

Kason heard Harper let out a quiet sigh, “So close.” Kason realised he must be thinking about his saturation which was thirty-nine Cs if Kason remembered properly from their discussion earlier. Kason thought slightly dejectedly about his measly thirty-two Cs of saturation, but then remembered that Kayla’s had been even lower and felt slightly better about himself.

Ms Luxford then jumped up and sat on the podium, her legs dangling down the front. “Right, does anyone have any questions they wish to ask then?” She asked lightly, swinging her legs slightly back and forth.


Several people asked questions, some about mundane things such as whether students were allowed to visit the city of Constantin while they were at the college, to more unusual topics such as were there any other advantages that came with raising the saturation of ether in their bodies. Ms Luxford answered them all in an informative and in-depth manner, leaving Kason feeling much more learned than he had when he first entered the classroom.

There was one particularly interesting thing that he found out as Ms Luxford elaborated on her explanation of the benefits of raising one’s saturation. “Having a higher concentration of ether in a part of the body will generally improve the functionality of that part of the body up to a certain point. This is why mages who have raised the saturation of their entire body can live for many times longer than those who don’t. You will learn something of how this all works when you begin learning advanced biology in a year or two, but the most crucial benefit for you lot at the moment will be the increase in your ability to memorise and remember things.”

The class let out a collective ‘Ooh’ and Ms Luxford smiled at them, “As you increase the saturation of ether in your brain, you’ll begin to realise that you have less trouble memorising things. For example, many of you would probably have trouble entirely memorising your timetables in just the time available to you today, but when you get your new timetables next year, you’ll be able to memorise them the day you get them.”

A burst of excitable chatter spread throughout the class at this news, “That sounds great!” Harper said to Kason, his blue eyes shining.

“Yeah!” Kason replied, feeling equally exhilarated at the prospect.

“As I thought, I’ll have to begin long training sessions as fast as I can!” Harper exclaimed clenching his fists in anticipation. He then turned and called out to Lexia, who sat in front of him, “Hey Lexia!”

Lexia turned around and looked at Harper, giving him a questioning look.

“Do you have super memory or anything yet?”

Kayla burst out into laughter, evidently having heard what Harper had said. “Super memory?” she giggled, “What’s this super memory thing? I want some as well.”

While Kayla continued laughing, covering her mouth with a hand to let Lexia speak, Lexia gave a light wry smile and answered Harper’s question, “I do find it easier to remember things now, but not to the extent Ms Luxford described.”

Kason furrowed his brow and raised his hand, “Yes?” Ms Luxford said, seeing his raised hand.

“W- Well, if it works like that, is it possible to never forget anything if your saturation is high enough?” Kason asked feeling quite uncomfortable as people stopped talking to look at him.

“Good question,” Ms Luxford commented, “It might happen eventually, but as far as we know now, that is not possible. You see, having a high saturation only improves what is already there. For example, if your right arm isn’t very strong then raising the saturation in it won’t suddenly give you big muscles. It will make you stronger but only in relation to the muscles you already have, if a person with stronger muscles has the same saturation as you, they will be stronger than you. The same works with our memory, us humans forget things that’s just how it is, so no matter how much our memory is improved, we will still forget some things.”

Kason nodded his head and made a note of this on the desk, just in case it turned out to be useful. “Of course if any of you guys decide to go into research after you leave here, then this could be something you research. Maybe one of you will be the one to make a big breakthrough and discover a way to never forget,” Ms Luxford said smiling around the class again, “I expect great things from you all.”

Kason pictured himself standing in front of some complex magical equipment, sharing some findings with colleagues, explaining how he had found out how to make it so no one would ever forget. It gave him quite a grand feeling just imagining it.

The class then went into a lull, everyone seeming to have run out of questions. “Has no one got anything else they want to ask?” Ms Luxford asked, looking around, “We have about ten minutes left before lunch so if you have anything else then now’s the time to ask.”

In front of Harper, Lexia slowly raised her hand into the air. Ms Luxford saw and indicated that she should speak. “Ms,” Lexia began tentatively, “Sometimes I’ve heard my father talk about a place called the ‘Caliginous Barrow’ but whenever I asked him about it he wouldn’t tell me what it was. Can you tell me about it?”

Ms Luxford looked at Lexia, her casual, smiling expression morphing to a more solemn and thoughtful one. “No, I can’t tell you about it. Aside from the fact that I’m not allowed to tell you, I don’t know about it much myself. Once you enter the senior division, depending on what you do, you might be able to find out more.”

The class was unusually silent after this, Ms Luxford’s usually cheerful voice having taken a serious tone, heavy with foreboding. Then Ms Luxford smile returned to her face and the heavy atmosphere in the classroom dissipated as suddenly as it had come.

Kason was still thinking about the place Lexia had mentioned, ‘Calig-something Barrow was it? It sounds like a mysterious place.’ He thought, his hands subconsciously messing around with the regulator again. He then suddenly became aware of what he was doing immediately stopped, casting a guilty glance towards Ms Luxford to see if she had noticed, luckily she hadn’t.

A short while later, Ms Luxford told them to deactivate their regulators and get ready for lunch. Their equipment, she told them, could be left on their desks because they would be coming back to this room after lunch, so the process of tidying up only really consisted of removing any writing from their desks. After they were ready, Ms Luxford reminded those who already had high levels of ether to stay behind and dismissed the rest of them, telling them that they had to be back in an hour.

Kason and Harper left the classroom and entered the hallway outside, it was relatively empty, with only people from their class making their way to the door that led to the nexus area. Kason, who felt a bit confused about this, pointed it out to Harper, who was equally clueless, so they decided to walk up the corridor a short way and if there were students still in classroom 1c.

They walked a short way up the corridor and past the door to classroom 1c, casting quick glances through the doorway as they went past. Given that there were no windows that looked into the classrooms from the corridor, they could only look through the doorless doorways that each classroom had and, because Harper pointed out that they would look a bit weird if the just stood and stared into the classrooms, they opted for the drive-by approach of quickly looking inside while walking past.

Inside the classroom, they saw students still sitting at the wooden desks on the floating teardrop chairs, with the teacher, this one a young man, stood at the front behind his podium. The layout of the classroom was exactly the same as the one they were in. They returned back to the doorway to their classroom a few moments later, arriving just as Kayla walked out of the classroom. She spotted them walking past as she exited the room and called out to them, “Hey, do you mind if I follow you two for lunch?” She asked, “Lexia is staying behind because she needs to get her new filter and everyone else I know are in classes that haven’t been released yet.”

“Yeah, that’s fine, we don’t mind,” Harper replied, Kason also nodded to indicate his approval. Kayla smiled at them upon hearing their answer and skipped over to stand next to Harper as they continued their walk down past classroom 1a and through the door into the nexus.

Once in the nexus, they exited to the flagstoned courtyard and made their way towards the junior dorm building, or more specifically, to the dining hall which was inside. They reached the dining hall quickly, decided on a table and picked their food from the menu which popped up out of the table as they sat down.

Their food arrived a few short moments later and they began to eat. While he was eating, Kason suddenly remembered that he hadn’t checked his timetable at all since he recieved it. He fished it out of one of the pockets of his uniform and placed it on the table next to the bowl which contained the orange coloured soup he was eating.

Harper, who was sitting next to him, spotted what he was doing and leaned over to have a look as well. The timetable was set out as a table, with days labelling the rows and times labelling the columns, there were a total of five lessons slots each day, each being an hour and a quarter long and one slot in the middle for lunch. Although there were five slots per day, Kason noticed that at least one of these slots was empty each day, he wondered what they were for.

“I don’t really know why we have timetables this year,” Kayla said from the opposite side of the table, evidently having spotted what it was they were looking at, “We have all our lessons in the same classroom so it’s not like we’re gonna get lost somewhere in between.”

Kason shrugged but Harper, unexpectedly, gave an answer, “It’s so we can get us used to using them. We’ll be in different classrooms for each class from next year onwards so it’s better to get used to having a timetable now instead of having to adapt suddenly next year.”

Kayla shot a shocked look across the table at Harper, “How did you know that?” She asked

“My brother is in the senior division, he said that’s how it works.”

“Cool, has he said anything else about the junior division? Did he tell you how all the years work? Do you have all your optional subjects planned out?” Kayla began firing a barrage of questions at Harper, who tried his best to answer them all. Kason couldn’t help but let out a chuckle at this scene because Harper was usually the one to be firing rapid strings of questions at other people, it would probably do him good to have a taste of his own medicine, he thought slightly vindictively.

Kayla continued to bombard Harper with questions, trying to extract as much of what Harper’s brother had told Harper from him as possible. Suddenly, she broke off from her interrogation and waved to someone who was standing in the entrance of the hall, Kason turned in his seat and saw that Lexia had entered the hall with Alford, evidently finished getting new filters for their regulators from Ms Luxford.


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