Chapter 36: The Professor’s Suggestion

Thinking back that night, Kason supposed that they were pretty stupid, expecting to be able to bring the book out. Back at the beginning of the year, Alivor had given them an explanation of how some books would be restricted. In his excitement at finding the book, Kason had forgotten about this fact and so, it seemed, had everyone else.

The issue of getting the book out of the library wasn’t as much of a problem as they had initially thought after their failure. At first, they tried going to some other apprentices, explaining their plight to them and hoping one of them would be sympathetic to their cause. This approached almost worked on one of the apprentices but was foiled at the last moment by the sudden appearance of Alivor, who gave them a stern talking to before marching grumpily off with his apprentice at his heels.

They also had to think about how they were going to acquire their practice wands. Given that they could only have them if they had a supervisor willing to oversee their training, they also went about trying to find someone who would be willing to supervise them. They spent another couple of days after their initial discovery trying to solve both of these problems with little success.

Then, when they had all begun to get rather tired of the whole thing, the solution to it all presented itself in the form of Nixon. On one particularly dismal evening Harper, who had gone to visit his brother, appeared suddenly in the doorway to the common room where they were all sitting in gloomy silence.

“Nixon said that he could get the book for us AND be our supervisor!” He told them breathlessly.

So, with no further obstacles standing in their way, the group met up with Nixon the next afternoon after lessons to collect the necessary items before going off to begin their practice. When they met him, Nixon had already collected the book so all that was left was to get their wands and then, steps light with eager anticipation, they went off to the Training Ground.

That short afternoon was much more productive than the entirety of their last society meeting, at least in terms of their proficiency with the spell. The book proved to be rather useless, being geared more towards students with a higher level of basic understanding, but because Nixon was there, this did not matter as much.

It was rather useful that, as Ashton had pointed out all that time ago when Kason had first arrived in Constantin, Nixon loved to talk so much. When they approached him for help or advice, he always jumped at the opportunity to talk. He never seemed to be bothered by their many questions and queries and looked eager to explain to them the many intricacies that they failed to grasp as they read through the book.

It was mainly due to this sound advice that Kason, much to his own surprise as the others’, managed to cast the spell that evening, just as the sun was sinking below the trees of the Forest. He looked with wonder at the spot where the scarlet ball of flame had momentarily burst into existence just above his palm and his eyes traced the orange sparks that danced through the air to land on his still open palm.

He looked up and grinned widely around at the others, his eyes landing last upon Nixon’s face who was smiling down at him as well. He felt a great surge of gratitude towards Nixon but it was soon submerged under his rising feeling of excitement as his mind fully processed his achievement.

By the time the next meeting of the Young Questers’ society came, both Lexia and Alford had also managed to successfully cast the spell and Kayla and Harper had managed to produce sparks, if not a full-blown flame. They all marched proudly down to the Training Ground, anxious to see what kind of expression, the cold impassive face of Professor Kinora would show when he saw how far they had come in such a short time. So they were rather shocked when they saw that it wasn’t Professor Kinora who was standing in front of the small group of students who had already arrived. Instead, it was Ms Hargreve.

They stood at the back of the small group and conferred amongst themselves, wondering what had happened to the Professor. Kason was quite glad that he wasn’t there – although he wanted to surprise him with their sudden increase in skill, he would still much prefer and nicer teacher, like Ms Hargreve, overseeing the session.

Ms Hargreve started the session with an announcement. “Professor Kinora had something important and so will not be able to oversee this week’s session, which is why I am doing it in his stead.” There was a short cheer from the listening students, which Ms Hargreve greeted with a small grin. “He will, however, be back again for next week’s session.” She concluded at which the students’ cheer turned to a groan.

That session, she walked amongst them as she had before when she had taken the meetings. Kason’s group were the only people who had even gotten close to casting the spell at the beginning of the session, something for which they received lavish praise from Ms Hargreve. She brought them all up to the front and had them demonstrate their ability to the watching crowd, most of whom looked suitably impressed with the exception of Roan and a few of his friends, who were scowling.

The session passed with a far more friendly atmosphere than the last couple had and at the end, Kason left with a spring in his step, clutching to his chest a small notebook bound in a thick leather cover. By the end of the session, both Kayla and Harper had also managed to conjure a fireball and the other three had managed to create a sustained fireball that could be thrown or otherwise launched in some direction with the help that Ms Hargreve provided. Many others in the society had managed to

The book which he held so protectively was the notebook that he had been promised by his senior division instructor a few weeks prior. The black-robed young man had come up to him in the middle of the session to carry out the transaction, which Kason had been more than glad to go through with. After obtaining it, Kason had quickly flicked through the pages and was surprised to find that the back half of the pages in the book were blank. He asked the senior division student about it and he found that this was so he could make his own notes on the flavours he encountered.

Throughout the following week, the five friends continued their evening spellcasting practice under the surveillance of Nixon. They demonstrated the results of that week’s society meeting to Nixon, who applauded their effort, and then suggested that they learn a simple water conjuring spell as well, saying, “It would probably be a good idea to be able to put out any fires you accidentally start.”

The book that they had found for helping them learn the fire conjuring spell also contained information on spells for all sorts of other elements, including water. So in the week before the next session, they all split their time between continuing to improve their ability with the fire conjuring spell and learning the new water conjuring spell.

It was easier to learn the water conjuring spell after having already learnt a conjuring spell for another element. Or at least, Kason found it to be that way. The hardest part, he found, was finding an incantation that could embody the process of conjuring the required element to a high enough level. Balls of fire, or water, did not usually spontaneously pop into existence, after all, meaning that the whole process was so abstract, that describing it succinctly and in a way that Kason could easily picture was quite difficult.

Towards the end of the week, however, he managed to create small bursts of water that did little more than flow through his fingers and wet his feet before the spell cut off. This made him pretty disappointed, given that he was aiming for the same kind of ball that he had accomplished with the fire, but this disappointment was offset by his relative success in the other spell he was practising. The Analyse spell.

Given that this spell was not very difficult and could be practised almost anywhere, he had taken to carrying around the little book of flavours wherever he went so that if he ever had a bit of time to himself, he could find something to quickly pick up and analyse. He had gotten quite good at identifying basic flavours, such as ‘rock’ or ‘wood’, although both of these could also be identified further into specifics like ‘granite’ or ‘redwood’.

The week passed by quickly and soon, Kason and the rest were once again on their way to the Training Ground. They approached with less excitement than they had last time. Sure, they were all quite proficient with the fire conjuring spell and could probably give Professor Kinora a good shock, but having had Ms Hargreve for the last week’s session, it was hard to stomach going back to Professor Kinora.

They trudged onto the grey, spongey surface and made their way towards the crowd of idling people. As per his usual routine, Professor Kinora appeared mere moments before the time the session was supposed to start and promptly issued his order for silence. He observed them for a few seconds, his indolent gaze passing over them, and then began to give his instructions for the session.

His orders consisted of mainly going off and practising the fire starting spell he had shown them before while he roamed around and inspected their progress. He gave no explanation for his absence the previous week, nor did he answer the question when it was posed to him by an inquiring student. Instead, he brushed past the topic, saying it was none of their business, and dismissed them to begin their practice.

Kason practised the fire conjuring spell rather half-heartedly. He already felt that he had a firm enough grasp on the spell, after all, he could conjure the fireball in less than a second with the use of his wand and sustain it for longer than a minute. And after having conjured up over a hundred practically identical fireballs over the past week, he had rather gotten tired of the experience.

He was lazily making his fireball spin slowly around the tip of his wand, trying to exert the same control over it as he might have done with the leaf or the pebble when he heard an annoyingly familiar voice hail them, or more specifically Harper, from a short distance away. Roan sauntered over to them with a nasty grin on his face, flanked by several other white-robed boys.

“Hi again Harper, haven’t talked to you in a while,” he began, “so, how’ve you been? Oh wait, I don’t care.” He smirked over at Harper’s stony face, “I didn’t end up hearing back from you about my competition proposal, so I took that as your firm acceptance. And, I went ahead and prepared a list of things we might compete in.”

He paused for a second as if waiting to see if Harper would react, before continuing, “First off, there’s magic. We could compete in our competency with spellcasting, but I’m sure your woeful efforts would go to vain, as I am obviously the better spellcaster. I mean, I’m not sure how you managed to fake casting the fire spell last we-”

“I didn’t fake anything!” Harper cried finally, glowing at Roan, his fists clenched

Roan put on a mock look of surprise, “Really? I was sure your midget friend had somehow managed to-”

“What’s all the noise about here?” came a cold, disinterested voice from nearby.

They all turned and saw Professor Kinora walking slowly towards them, looking as dead as ever.

“Nothing, Professor.” Roan said, politely, “We were just discussing something.”

“An unnecessarily loud discussion,” Professor Kinora commented coldly, “and one that shall be continued at a lower volume, if you wish it to continue.” He made to turn away, but then seemed to decide against it. He carried on walking until he stood amongst the group of students.

“Given the volume of your ‘discussion’, I couldn’t help noticing that you lot seem to be planning your own sort of contest?” He began. Roan and Harper both glanced around at their respective groups of friends, before turning back. Roan nodded, uncertainly.

Professor Kinora smiled slowly, the muscles of his cheeks moving with agonising slowness to produce an expression which only made his face all the less appealing. “If I may suggest something,” he continued with baleful slowness, “I would be interested in overseeing your little, ‘contest’. I feel it would allow me to get a better understanding of the student ability here and, if you haven’t already decided on a form of contest, might I suggest a duel?”

All of the students present looked confused at this. They remained silent, pondering, until Kayla voiced their question allowed, “What do you mean by a duel? Professor.”

“A duel, silly girl. Surely you’ve seen the duels in the coliseum?”

Kayla flushed slightly, lowering her head. Kason looked at Harper, feeling anxious. He wasn’t sure whether Professor Kinora’s involvement was a good thing or a bad thing, although he thought probably bad, but a duel? Surely they didn’t even know enough magic to duel.

“Professor,” Harper began, “I- I’m not sure that’s a good idea, we don’t have an arena and we don’t know nearly enough magic and-”

“Worry not, I will prepare you and the arena.” Professor Kinora said, laughing softly, “Everything will be ready for the time.” He turned and walked away, leaving the students to look silently at each other, feeling more than a little perturbed.

My apologies for how long this chapter took to come out. I didn’t intend to take a break like that but things happened (mainly me being lazy) and things jus turned out like that.

Anyway, thanks for reading!



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