Kason awaited the next society meeting with mild curiosity. Ms Hargreve had ended their previous session without introducing the new teacher who would be taking the sessions in her stead after she stopped. Since the only thing Kason, or any of the students, knew about the new teacher was that they were called professor Kinora, there was little he could do apart from asking around to see if anyone else knew who they were. Kason and Harper put this question to Nixon, the next time they saw him. Luckily for them, it turned out that Nixon did know who this teacher was and proceeded to tell them about him.
“Professor Kinora, well…” Nixon began, “He’s a relatively new teacher, from what I know. Started about half-way through this year I think. I’ve never even met him personally, but from I’ve heard he’s a bit like old Alivor in the library; dislikes the students and, unlike Alivor, seems to equally dislike his job. I don’t know if that description has been exaggerated or not, but if it hasn’t, then I’m not sure how he even managed to get hired here in the first place.”
Kason and Harper listened to Nixon ramble on for a few more minutes before extricating themselves and evacuating to the safety of their dorm floor’s common room.
“He doesn’t sound very pleasant, does he,” Harper said once they had sat down.
Harper nodded in agreement, voicing his concerns about how the society would be with that kind of teacher leading it. They sat down, talking about how bad this professor Kinora might actually be and eventually got back onto what had happened at the last society meeting.
“What are you going to do about Roan’s challenge?” Kason asked.
Harper snorted, “Ignore it obviously. If I don’t do anything, neither can he. It takes two to compete, after all. Anyway, I doubt he was really serious…”
The next society meeting came quickly and Kason made his way with the usual group over to the Training Ground. They arrived there slightly early, hoping to arrive earlier than the new teacher. They achieved this objective and when they arrived, there were only a few others present.
The teacher did not turn up until exactly the moment when the session was supposed to start. Kason had been looking around absently, wondering where the teacher was when suddenly he noticed a man in a swathed in a green cloak standing where Ms Hargreve usually stood when she started the session. He had no idea when the man had appeared and many it seemed, hadn’t noticed him at all.
The man took off his cloak and laid it on the ground by his feet before lifting his head to survey the group of students before him, many of whom were still talking, unaware of his presence. Kason took in his features as the man stood there, he had hair so pale it was almost white, a long, pointed nose and eyes that seemed as if they had never smiled in their life.
The single word was spoken quietly but was heard by every member of the group. It sounded cold and indifferent – uncaring, even – and the lively chatter of the crowd died away the instant it was spoken. The man, presumably professor Kinora, continued to survey them, his face impassive.
“I am professor Kinora,” he said in the same apathetic voice, “I will be overseeing the running of this society from now on. Other teachers may have given you permission to call them ‘Mr Kinora’ or ‘Sir’, but not me. If you require my assistance, you will address me as I tell you to. Either by ‘Professor’ or ‘Professor Kinora’.”
Kason glanced at Harper and caught his eye. Harper made a worried face before looking back as professor Kinora started to speak again. “I have been told that you have all achieved some level of competence with the telekinesis spell, but I would like to see it for myself.” He looked around at the students and pointed at five of them in turn, including Kason. “You five, show me what you can do.”
One of the students he had pointed to raised his wand but professor Kinora’s voice cut across his actions, “Not there! How am I supposed to see how you do if you’re standing so far away? Come to the front. All of you.”
Kason made his way, slightly nervously, to the front of the group. Once there, professor Kinora had them all perform the spell, one after another and then sent them back to stand with the other students. “I see that there is quite a range in ability within the group. Some are up to standard,” he glanced in Kason’s direction, “and others not so much. You will all continue to practice the spell for this session. I was told that you were ready for me to move on to the next spell, but obviously, the majority of you are not. Now go! Practice, and maybe when you get up to a reasonable standard we shall continue on.”
The group dispersed into their smaller sections as they usually did for practice, and professor Kinora began to move amongst them as Ms Hargreve had, giving advice. As he moved with the others to their usual space, Kason couldn’t help but notice that the senior division students seemed to have placed themselves as far away from professor Kinora as they could.
They spent the session practising the telekinesis spell, which Kason found to be very boring. Having already been told by Ms Hargreve that he had pretty much mastered the spell’s use, he spent his time idly, trying to get the pebble to achieve the same level of competence. He had hoped that his senior division student instructor would have managed to procure that book of flavours that he had said that he would, but so far he hadn’t contacted him about it.
Professor Kinora came to their group around halfway through the session and stood, observing them as they practised. He stepped in after a few minutes and spoke, rather harshly in Kason’s opinion, to Alford and Harper about their ‘poor’ control of the leaf and then returned to watching for a moment.
Kason continued his practice, hoping that by ignoring him, he would go away sooner. He made the pebble float above the tip of the practice wand and move about in a figure of eight and was just allowing it to move in circles around his wrist when a voice by his ear startled him.
Kason jumped forwards in shock and almost fell over. He collected himself and looked over at the professor Kinora who had been standing behind him.
“I had thought that you were one of the better ones when you demonstrated earlier, but…”
Kason’s face fell at these words, but he just nodded and continued to look at professor Kinora. The professor looked back as if waiting for Kason to say something, then snorted lightly and turned away, his eyes flicking up and down Kason, momentarily pausing on his chest. Kason looked down, wondering what had caught his eye, and saw that the locket he always wore, had fallen out of his uniform and was laying on top of it just above his chest; its silver winged doors glittering slightly in the light. He tucked it away and scowled at professor Kinora’s retreating figure, feeling hurt by his comments.
The session went past in monotonous practice, as did the next. Throughout each, professor Kinora continued to live up to his reputation of being generally unpleasant, in fact, Kason could not recall hearing him say anything remotely positive about anyone so far. This much dampened Kason’s excitement and enthusiasm for the society and he supposed that others also felt the same. The general atmosphere of the students at the society had become significantly more subdued ever since professor Kinora had started leading it.
At the end of their second session with professor Kinora, he announced that, despite not having walked amongst them at all that session, he thought that they should be ready to move onto the next spell. This elicited a slight cheer from the crowd of students, which died away when professor Kinora gave them a particularly cold look. Thus, the next session, Kason and turned up with a slightly happier feeling than he had for the previous one.
Professor Kinora gathered them together as Ms Hargreve had done when she taught them the telekinesis spell. “Well, I’ve been told that the spell I can teach you is any one of the basics from the elemental branch of spellcasting. So, I’ve chosen a simple fire starting spell; it should be straightforward enough for you all.”
He then explained the necessary theory and shooed them away to practice. As Kason walked with Harper to their usual practice spot, he thought that he had much preferred Ms Hargreve’s explanation, which had been more in-depth and had featured a demonstration to help their understanding. Harper also complained loudly as they walked, moaning about how knowing the theory wasn’t enough to translate the spell into reality.
That session, Kason fumbled around with various incantations and approaches to the spell, all of which failed. He consulted with Lexia and the others, wondering whether they could offer him any insights, but unfortunately, they were as clueless as he was. In the end, no-one managed to successfully cast the spell, which Professor Kinora made sure to admonish them for at the end of the session.
Kason left with Harper and the others, feeling rather put out. They made their way back to their floor along with Lexia, Kayla and Alford, and all entered the common room where they flopped down onto the chairs near the fire.
“Well, that didn’t go very well did it,” Alford said, breaking the silence
There was a general mutter of consent from all of them and then silence again.
“It’s just not fair!” Kayla burst out, “He hardly gives us any instruction and then just sets us loose and expects us to be able to cast the spell immediately!”
“Did you see that look he gave us when he was telling us how badly we did? It looked like he was enjoying it,” said Harper.
“I’m surprised you managed to see any emotion in those eyes,” commented Alford, “They might as well belong to a dead man for all the emotion they show.”
Kason stayed silent, listening to their exchange. He too felt that they had been dealt an injustice, but he couldn’t think of anything they could do about it. After all, Professor Kinora was a teacher, and it wasn’t like he would listen to them if they said anything. Most likely, he would just laugh at them or something and just carry on with more of the same. Another depressed silence developed, all of them swallowed by their own thoughts.
“How about we go and learn the spell by ourselves?”
Everyone looked over at Lexia, who had just spoken.
“What do you mean?” Alford said.
“Well, surely there must be books in the library or something that have instructions on how to cast spells in? Why don’t we try and look for them? I’m sure they’d be more helpful than the professor at any rate.”
Everyone brightened at this bold idea. Kason hadn’t considered this, but it was definitely possible now that he thought about it, they were at a college that taught magic after all. He looked around at the others, who seemed equally invigorated, and noticed from the corner of his eye the alcove in the wall of the that housed the common room’s own little library.
“I’ll check in there!” he said excitedly, pointing towards it.
Harper jumped up to join him in his search and together they looked down the spines of all the books the little library heald but unfortunately didn’t find anything that seemed like it might contain any spells. They returned back to the other three to report their findings, feeling a little bit disappointed.
“I would’ve been surprised if there was a book like that in there,” Alford said, smiling wryly as they rejoined them.
Having eliminated that option, the five of them trooped out of the common room and towards the library in the main building. They arrived on the raised circular dais and immediately split up to consult the plaques on the end of each of the bookshelves for a subject area which seemed promising. Soon enough, Kayla came to find the others, saying that she had seen one which read ‘The Elements’.
“I thought that it would be a good place to start,” she explained.
They all thought that that was as good a place as any and so they all went to scour the shelves for any promising material. After about ten minutes of searching, Lexia called them all together again and presented them with a book titled ‘Elemental Spellcasting: A Beginner’s Guide’. She then leafed through a couple of pages and showed them a section where it gave an explanation of a basic fire conjuring spell like the one Professor Kinora had begun to teach them.
“This looks like a good one, doesn’t it!” Lexia said excitedly.
The others nodded. “See if we can borrow it, we can’t practise in here and it would be a hassle to have to come back in here every time we run into a problem,” said Harper.
Lexia nodded and dashed off to find Alivor or one of his apprentices. The others waited around in the aisle, distractedly looking for any other books that seemed promising. Kason found himself reading the spine of the same book several times in a row, concentrating more upon listening for the sounds of Lexia’s returning footsteps than upon reading.
Eventually, he heard the sound of footsteps getting gradually louder and knew they signified Lexia’s return. He looked up expectantly, waiting impatiently for Lexia to arrive, but when she turned into their isle, Kason saw that her face wore a dispirited expression. His heart dropped as he realised that there must have been a problem. They all rushed up to her and asked her what had happened.
“We can’t take it out,” Lexia said miserably, “I found one of Alivor’s apprentices and he said that only students in second-year junior division and up could borrow it.”
The rest of them look at her in dismay. “We could make a copy of the segment we want, couldn’t we?” Harper asked.
“No, Alivor is very strict on stuff like that. Apparently, he’s got some harsh punishments set up.”
They all stood in despondent silence, wondering what could be done. Kason sighed to himself, they were so close! That book would allow them to avoid Professor Kinora’s ridicule, but where one problem was solved another soon emerged. How were they supposed to get the book out of the library?