As he watched Professor Kinora move away from them, Kason shared a concerned look with Harper. Why had Professor Kinora suddenly taken such an interest in their activities? Usually, he would have just told them to quiet down, then informed them of their inadequacies before wandering off to bully some other poor soul. Perhaps they had misjudged him? Perhaps his usual indifference was just a facade and he was really just like any other person? Kason rather thought not.
Kason then glanced over at Roan, whose eyes were also following Professor Kinora’s retreating back. He too had a rather strange expression on his face, something between concern and pensive thoughtfulness. An uneasy silence prevailed over the group for a few moments before Roan turned back to speak to Harper.
“Well… That’s decided then. You can’t get out of this now Harper.”
Harper stared at him in silence, his face impassive. Roan held their eye contact for a short moment more, then he turned and walked away, his friends walking quickly after him. Harper watched them leave and then turned back to Kason and the others.
“What do you make of that?” he said, his voice sounding slightly hoarse.
Kason wondered how Professor Kinora would prepare Roan and Harper for their upcoming duel. He wasn’t sure whether the Professor would keep to Roan’s original timeline for their confrontation, but if he did, then it would mean there was still quite a while left for them to learn new things. Of course, this would pass in no time if the time taken to learn all new spells was like it had been for the few that Kason had learnt so far.
His query was answered soon enough, however. During one of their lessons only a few days later, Harper was called out of the lesson by senior division student who said that Professor Kinora wanted to talk to him. He left, looking nervous and returned about half an hour later trying to hide what seemed to be a worried expression.
Kason wanted to immediately find out what had happened but as the lesson was still ongoing, he waited impatiently for the small break between lessons, before pestering Harper to tell him what Professor Kinora had said.
“He said he wants to give us extra tutoring!” Harper exclaimed. “If it were any other teacher I would be happy, but given how he’s been in the society sessions, then I doubt I’ll learn anything at all!”
Kason smiled ruefully, feeling sorry for Harper in his predicament. “At least you’ll still be able to practice with us in the evenings if there’s anything you’re stuck with I’m sure we, or your brother, will be able to help you.”
Harper shook his head looking vaguely distressed, “He’s scheduled it all in the evenings, so I wouldn’t be able to come and practice with you lot any more. It’ll just be me, Roan and Professor Kinora.”
“Sounds like fun” Alford snorted sarcastically.
“What’ll he be teaching you?” Kayla asked
Harper thought for a moment before replying, “He didn’t say, but it should be combat stuff shouldn’t it? Like force, disabling and destruction spells.”
“I doubt you, or any of us, would be able to perform any decent spells of those types,” Lexia pointed out, rolling her eyes, “My dad only starts teaching them in the third year of the junior division.
Harper shrugged, “As I said, he didn’t say so I’ll just have to find out when they start.”
That evening, the four of them left to meet Nixon in the usual place, Harper having left them a short while earlier to go to Professor Kinora. When they met, Nixon inquired about the whereabouts of his younger brother, and they informed him of his newly established meetings with Professor Kinora.
Nixon too expressed his surprise at the Professor’s interest in their duel. “I would think it’s a bit inappropriate on Kinora’s part to suddenly authorise a duel between students like that,” he mused as they walked through the overcast evening gloom at the end of their practise session. “As far as I’m aware, duelling shouldn’t even be allowed between students until the second year of junior division, although that’s probably to prevent some fourth-year beating up the first years, who can’t even use magic yet.”
Kason suggested that it might be because of them being participants in the Young Questers’ society, and Nixon shrugged, “All the same, I hope Harper’s careful.”
They split off from Nixon, who carried on towards the senior dorms, and waited in their floor’s common room for Harper to get back. When he did about half an hour later, Kason stared at him in shock. He had a couple of scrapes on his face and his college robes looked dishevelled and dirty like he had just dragged himself through the Forest again.
“What happened to you?” Kayla asked, standing up to let him sit down in one of the comfier seats.
Harper sat, with eyes closed for a few moments, then let out a long sigh and opened his eyes. “Can you imagine what he had us do?” he said in a tired voice.
The rest of them remained silent. “He had us run laps around part of the Training Ground and climb trees and all sorts of other stuff! No magic at all! How is that supposed to help us with spellcasting? If I wanted to do stuff like that, I would have signed up to the bodybuilding society! I swear, the Deadmoor will grow green again before I go to another one of those sessions!”
Harper’s outburst ceased and he seemed to slump deeper into his chair. The others sat silently looking at him, not knowing what to say. Kason shivered where he sat, wondering whether he would’ve been able to do all that, he rather doubted so.
“Well, he could be making you exercise to build up your stamina. Spellcasting is quite energy consuming so having good stamina increases the number of spells you can cast,” Lexia said into the silence.
“It’s a duel as well, so you’ll probably end up running around a lot. Better stamina would help you go on for longer,” Alford added.
“Yeah, yeah. Okay, I’m just tired.” Harper stood up unsteadily and made his way back over to the door and paused, “I’m going to bed, I’ll see you all tomorrow,” then he was gone.
Despite Harper’s reluctance to go to any more of Professor Kinora’s tutoring sessions, he still ended up continuing. As a result, he came back the next two evenings looking just as dishevelled and exhausted as he had the first time. After his fourth session, he came tumbling through the door to the common room with unusual vigour and immediately tripped over his own feet, landing spread-eagled on the carpet. He heaved himself off the floor, flushing at the laughter that came from the group who had looked over as he came in, and proceeded on his way over to them.
“No sessions for almost forty-eight hours!” he exclaimed in a satisfied voice as he sat down heavily on one of the chairs.
“Do you have the tarisday off then?” Kason asked.
Harper nodded and nestled further into the cushions of his chair. They continued chatting about various things for a few minutes, Harper joining in occasionally, but mostly remaining silent. Eventually, there came a lull in the conversation which was broken by Harper.
“Hey, guys. Umm…” he began, “You know, err…”
Kason looked over at him feeling slightly surprised, it was unlike Harper to have difficulty expressing himself. They waited patiently and Harper, after taking a moment to collect himself, began to speak again.
“So, you know Professor Kinora obviously thought that the duel was just between me and Roan right?”
Everyone nodded. “That’s how I thought it was always supposed to be,” Alford added, “was I wrong?”
“Well, Roan technically challenged all of us, but I didn’t tell you as I wasn’t planning on going through with it. Anyway,” he let out a long sigh, “Roan blurted out that the competition was supposed to be between our two groups during tutoring earlier and…”
“And?” Alford said, not understanding the significance of his words.
“Well, he’s asked me to tell…” Kason’s heart began to sink as he guessed what Harper was going to say, “He asked me to tell you guys that you will need to come to the tutoring sessions as well from now on.”
Silence prevailed over the group for a couple of seconds after this announcement, then Kayla spoke, “So, are you saying that we’re to take part in this duel as well?”
Harper nodded, not looking at her.
They spent the rest of the evening discussing what exactly went on during Professor Kinora’s tutoring sessions, their discussions interspersed every so often with complaints from Kayla about how she hadn’t even said she wanted to take part. This made Kason begin to feel quite guilty, after all, it could be said he was the reason that they had all been involved with the competition instead of just Harper.
After one particularly long bout of complaining, Kason felt like he had to come clean and rather nervously explained his part in the whole thing to the others. Halfway through his explanation, he was cut short by a fit of giggles.
“I’m not really that annoyed,” Kayla said lightly and Kason looked down, suddenly feeling rather foolish.
As the evening of the next day came around, the five of them brought themselves over to the Training Ground for the second time that day to meet with Nixon for what would be their last practice meeting with him.
The society meeting that day had been pretty standard fare. Professor Kinora had decided that they could move onto another elemental spell and, in a gesture that surprised Kason, allowed them to vote for which spell they would learn next. He had also, about half-way through the session, come over to make sure that they had all received the message about his tutoring sessions, but apart from those anomalies, everything was the same.
They met up with Nixon in the usual place and immediately explained to him how they wouldn’t be able to do the evening sessions anymore. Upon hearing this, he suggested that they do a little presentation to show how well they had come along in the casting of the various spells they had learnt.
So, for that last session, they had fun messing around with the spells they had learnt so far. Showing off how far they could throw fireballs, or how much water they could conjure all at once. It was fun to play around with the spells, although Kason suffered from a minor burn on the back of his hand from when he had lost control of one of his fireballs, which promptly imploded in a shower of sparks. All too soon, however, it was time for them to go back to their dorms. They said goodbye to Nixon and thanked him for his help before going back to their rooms.
The next day came and seemed to pass all too quickly for Kason’s liking. The history lessons, which always seemed to drag, flew by with uncanny speed and before Kason really realised what was happening, it was evening and they were all assembled to go together to Professor Kinora’s tutoring.
They marched out of the junior dorms and, following Harper’s lead, traipsed in the direction of the Training Ground. That, however, turned out not to be their destination because they walked past it and on up to the Range, a place Kason hadn’t visited since their tour of the grounds on their first day.
They went through the gate in the wooden fence and walked inside onto the neatly clipped lawn. As Harper then led them down to where the targets would usually be but was currently clear, Kason saw Roan already standing there with his gang, waiting. Roan evidently noticed them too, because he sneered at them as they approached and opened his mouth as if to speak, but was prevented from doing so by Professor Kinora’s voice.
“You were almost late,” he commented, giving Kason a fright. He cast he gaze all around but couldn’t figure out where his voice had come from. Then he noticed a shift in the shadows of one of the nearby trees and Professor Kinora appeared wearing his pine-green cloak.
“That hardly matters, however,” he continued, “Now that you are all here, we will begin our…” he paused and gave them a glance which Kason thought contained a slight smirk, “Tutoring.”
One thought on “Chapter 37: Tutoring”
Thanks for the chapter, great story !