Chapter 34: Challenge

After Kason’s successful attempt at making his leaf float, he was rewarded with a lecture from Ms Hargreve on the proper construction of safe spells. He sat to the side of the group and listened to her harp about spell boundaries and energy management, interjecting whenever she paused with a suitably sombre sounding word of agreement and repentance.

“Luckily I broke the ether stream and stopped your casting before any real harm was done,” she concluded, and then sighed, “All the same, I must congratulate you on being the first one to make your leaf float. Well done.”

She sent him a smile, which he nervously returned, and began making her way back to the group, “Once you’ve finished resting, continue trying to levitate your leaf. Once you can make it float stationarily at a constant height, then try doing the same with your pebble.”

Kason returned to Harper and the others after a couple of minutes. When he got back, he was met with many impressed comments, not just from his friends, but others who had witnessed his feat. He blushed at first but soon became more lively, his sombre mood that had come about from Ms Hargreve’s lecture being replaced with one of pride and excitement.

Soon enough, however, most of his admirers went back to practice the magic themselves, enthused by his success, and he was left to continue his attempts at improving his magic. He offered to describe his experience to Harper and the others, thinking that it might help them but was rebuffed by all except Harper.

He felt slightly hurt at this but Harper, nodding sagely all the while, explained that their pride was probably what had made them do it.

The first meeting of the society finished at three o’clock that day. By the end, several other people had managed to cast their first spells as well, those being Lexia and some others who Kason didn’t know. At the end, Ms Hargreve gathered the students together again and told them that the society would meet again at the same time in a weeks time. In the meanwhile, she said, they could practice their telekinesis, but only if they could get a teacher or member of the senior division to supervise them.

Luckily for Harper and Kason, they spent their time with Kamadus in the evenings anyway, so they could ask him to also oversee their practice at that time as well. The original agreement with Jerald would have seen them return to their own dorm rooms with the devices long ago, but after the slight accident at the get-go, Kamadus had decided that they should stay with him as long as they were using the devices. They asked him that very night and he said that if they were just going to practice in the time they usually took to chat before going to bed then it would be fine.

The next day, after lessons finished, they asked Ms Hargreve for the practice wands and other equipment they had used at the society and brought them over to Kamadus to keep for later. That evening, they both spent half an hour or so practising aided telekinesis before they went to sleep. Harper got his leaf to rise for a couple of seconds before letting it drop, an achievement with which he was obviously delighted.

Kason also managed to perform the spell again, although he encountered the same problem he had before. Luckily enough, he was able to spot his mistake and stop the spell before he came to any harm. As he watched his leaf wind its way through the air to the floor, he pondered why this particular problem was occurring.

As with his first attempt, he had somehow ended up casting a spell without the appropriate boundaries. Setting boundaries for a spell was an essential part of the construction process as they limited the amount of ether a spell could consume. As a spell carried out its effects, it consumed the ether that had been gathered beforehand. If, however, the ether gathered was fully used, the spell would begin to feed off the ether stream – the stream of ether sent from the caster which carried instructions on what the spell should do. This then resulted in the caster having to send more ether to make sure the spell continued, which took up more energy and could lead to death in very extreme cases. Or that’s what Kason remembered learning from Ms Luxford.

He thought for a while longer, listening to the light scratching from where Kamadus sat as he wrote on a piece of paper at his desk. Then, shaking his head with a helpless expression, he gave up and went over to give Kamadus the practice wand and leaf so he could get ready for bed.

It took Kason almost two weeks to fully master aided telekinesis, although only when he did it with the leaf. He could make the leaf float at a constant height, or fly around wherever he directed. He had tried to do the same with the pebble but was met with a lesser amount of success. He had asked at the latest society meeting why it was so much harder to do it with the pebble than with the stone and had been told that it was mostly to do with its weight.

This doused his hopes of lifting something as heavy as a person any time soon, which effectively put a plug on his and Harper’s plan to cast the spell on each other at the same time so that they wouldn’t have to walk anywhere.

On the last meeting of the society that would be led by Ms Hargreve, she had them all demonstrate how far they had come with their casting. Kason was the only one who had managed to master the spell using the leaf and was one of the best with the stone. Lexia, and Kayla to a lesser extent, was also close to mastery of the spell using the leaf, as well as a few others including Roan.

Alford was the best at using the spell on the pebble, which made Kason wonder whether he had dubbed the leaf to puny for him and concentrated all his efforts on the stone and Harper, to his credit, had managed to come somewhere in the top half of the group.

After the demonstration, she let the all carry on with their practice while she and the senior division helpers went around as usual and offered advice, based on the performances they had seen. Harper talked idly to Kason as they and the others went to find a less crowded space to practice.

“I never thought that I’d get that good,” he said with a pleased expression, “I suppose it’s due to all the extra practice we’ve been getting,” he chuckled.

Kason nodded, he too felt that getting half an hour practice every evening was helping tremendously.

“Oh, so that’s how you got so good,” said a voice from just behind them, “I was wondering what had happened.” They turned and saw Roan walking nearby.

“I was beginning to worry for you Harper,” he continued, “I mean, if you’re dad’s any standard to go by, then the current form you’re showing is quite the mystery.”

Harper glared at Roan and said, “Like you’re dad’s any better.”

Roan raised his eyebrows and sighed, “Yes, I suppose you’re right,” but then he grinned, “but that being the case, doesn’t that make me – who hasn’t done any extra practice – more talented than you?”

Harper rolled his eyes and moved to walk away, but was stopped by Roan next words.

“If you’re dissatisfied, then how about a competition? We’ve not done one of those in years. Not since – well…” Roan’s face darkened momentarily but then regained its impassive nature.

Harper turned around to face him again, an annoyed expression on his face, “I thought I told you back then that I wouldn’t compete with you anymore?”

“Oh yeah, well, times change,” Roan said brightly. “So how about just before the beginning of next year?”

Kason stood to the side as the two of them argued. He saw that the other three had gotten quite a way away from them and anxiously sought an opportunity to interject so that they could get moving again. He made several attempts to no avail until Roan noticed his agitation.

“Hm? You wanna join in as well Kason?” he said and smiled nastily, “I mean, if you want to, that’d be fine. We could make it a big thing – I’ll invite some people, you could bring along the others you hang out with, we could make it a spectacle.”

“No. Thank. You.” Harper said and turned abruptly, “Let’s go.”

“Okay, I’ll get the people on my end then!” Roan called after them and laughed as they walked away.

They caught up with the others who had stopped when they realised that they were no longer just behind them and found their preferred spot and began their practice. Ms Hargreve came over to their towards the end of their session to give them her parting advice.

She gave Lexia advice on how to fix the last few mistakes she was making with her control of the leaf and told Alford to make sure he could control the leaf as well as the pebble. She gave Kayla much the same advice as Lexia and had Harper show her his spellcasting again, pointing out improvements that could be made as he did it and lastly came to Kason.

“Well, I can see that you’ve more or less mastered the spell. From what I saw earlier, your control of the leaf was superb and with the pebble, all you need to do is just practice.” Kason smiled shyly at the comment and thanked her in a small voice. She prompted him to show her the spell again so that she could check more closely for any minor adjustments, and Kason obliged – making the leaf float up above his wand, then around his head and ultimately back onto his palm.

“Yep, you’ve got it,” Ms Hargreve said, “This spell may have taken a long time to learn, but you’ll find that as you get more used to casting, the time it will take you to learn other spells will decrease.”

She pondered for a moment then began again, “That’s the only spell I was supposed to teach you. In all honesty, I’m not actually a teacher associated with the Questers’ society so I’m not sure what they would move you onto next.” She fell silent again for a moment and then called over one of the senior division students moving nearby and spoke to him in tones that Kason couldn’t hear.

She turned back a minute later and told Kason that the student who had come over would now take over his instruction. “That is, for the rest of this session. Next time Professor Kinora should be back.” She then walked away to see to the last few groups of people, leaving Kason with the senior division student. The student looked down at him.

“Do you have any idea what you’re doing next?” he asked – Kason could tell it was a male by his voice. Kason shook his head and the student made a troubled expression, “Probably elemental spells right? Ahhh, I’m no good at them – not cast one in years.” He fell silent and went back to thinking.

“Oh well, I suppose I’ll try and teach you one of the Questers’ society’s signature spells. What focus are you using? Ah, a wand,” he tutted and rolled his eyes, “Well, it should still work…”

He pushed up the sleeves of his robe and revealed his gloved hands. “I’m going to try and teach you a spell we call Analyse. It’s very useful for helping you try to determine what something is made of, and if you don’t know what it is you’re trying to analyse, then hopefully this will allow you to identify it.”

He bent down and picked up Kason’s pebble from the floor and placed it on the palm of his left hand, displaying it to Kason. “When you cast Analyse, it gives you feedback straight to your mind in the form of…” he paused as if struggling for words, “flavours? It’s a bit like you’re tasting something. All the components of the object you’re analysing will be shown as a different ‘flavour’ in your mind and if you can learn what each of these ‘flavours’ represents, then you can tell what the components are.”

He stretched out his right hand over the pebbled, closed his eyes and muttered a word under his breath. “For example, this rock… Hmm, I can taste what we call just ‘rock’ and then a hint of iron? Perhaps,” he opened his eyes, “Overall, not a very interesting object.” He then handed the pebble to Kason.

He then explained how the spell was supposed to function, as well as words that were commonly used as its incantation, and set Kason to trying it on the pebble himself. It took him numerous attempts to get the spell to work, but when it did, he immediately felt it.

A rush of strange sensations overcame him as he felt a rush of, something, come streaming into his mind. The sensations were, as the student had said, only really describable by the word ‘flavours’, however that didn’t really encompass everything either. It felt so strange to Kason that he freaked out and dropped his pebble.

The senior division student laughed upon seeing his reaction and said, “Yeah, it feels weird to begin with, keep trying.”

Kason did so, and soon could hold the spell for up to a minute before he had to cancel it. Unfortunately, he could make neither head nor tail of any of the sensations that the spell was feeding back to him which left him feeling quite downhearted. He said as much to the student.

“That’s about right for a newbie,” he said, “Most of us at the Questers’ society keep a notebook which is quite good at describing common flavours and allows you to get used to it. I could try and get one for you, although it might cost you a small amount.”

Kason nodded enthusiastically and his instructor said that he would try to get it sorted for their next session. Kason then went back to practising the telekinesis spell, having decided to wait for this booklet before trying to do the Analyse spell again, and soon enough, the session came to a close.



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