Chapter 38: History with a side of muscle pain

After this ominous statement, Professor Kinora instructed them to do a variety of stretches before sending them off to jog up and down the length of the Range. After five minutes, which seemed like forever to Kason, he stopped them and gave them a list of other exercises to do, while he went and rested beneath one of the trees as he had been doing when they first arrived.

When they finally finished roughly fifteen minutes later, Kason and some of the others were already breathing deeply and had sweat forming on their brows. Alford, Harper and Lexia seemed to be faring better as Kason judged by their breathing. He felt a stab of jealousy towards the three of them for a short moment but as he saw Professor Kinora coming back over to them, it quickly turned to trepidation.

After the warm-up, Professor Kinora set them various tasks to complete, such as climbing trees and sprinting or pulling heavy weights up and down the range. Kason, having already been slightly out of breath at the beginning, felt like he could almost hear his muscles screaming in process at the treatment they were receiving and though they were given ten-minute breaks every so often to help alleviate their fatigue, he was still dead-tired by the time Professor Kinora called them together again.

“That’s all for this evening. Go jog once down the range again, then walk back up here. You’ll be free to go after that.”

Professor Kinora then made to walk back to his resting place, when suddenly an angry outburst caused him to turn again.

“Why should we be doing stuff like this? Surely we should be learning magic instead of wasting time running around like this!”

Professor Kinora turned and sent an annoyed glance towards the speaker, one of the boys from Roan’s group. “A healthy body makes a healthy mind, as the saying goes. And I doubt any of you have the ether tolerance to learn any useful spells.”

“But you’re a teacher! It’s your job to teach us spells and stuff to prepare for the duel. If this is all we’re going to be doing, I might as well not come anymore!”

Professor Kinora sent a scathing look to the boy, who recoiled slightly, “It is precisely because I am your teacher that you should do exactly as I say! I will teach you magic, only when you are ready.” He paused for a short moment, then continued, “And if you don’t have a very good reason for not turning up to one of these sessions, I will make sure that you get punished.”

A while later Kason slumped down into one of the chairs in their floor’s common room. He closed his eyes and tried to forget about the ache that was slowly setting into his limbs. He rolled over and looked at the others, sprawled in similar fashions across various other items of furniture. The ‘tutoring’ had probably been the hardest thing Kason had done since coming to the college, at least in terms of physical exercise.

He hoped that a good night’s rest he would help him feel better and at first when he woke up the next morning he thought it had. But then he moved and all at once, the dull throbbing from the previous evening came back in full force.

He persuaded himself to get up and go down to breakfast, then wobbled into the classroom just before Ms Luxford entered. He sat at his desk, trying to find a position that was comfortable. The first lesson that morning was language, followed by science and then history. Language and science went by quickly enough and Kason rather enjoyed them, at least they took his mind off his aching muscles.

The history lesson began and Kason let out a sigh. They were studying the founding of Nevadil, a topic which he had thought sounded interesting, but had soon realised was almost the dullest of all those they had studied so far.

“As part of our study into the early days of Nevadil, it is important that we look at the way magic was used by the people who lived back then,” Ms Luxford began, “Before we begin, can anyone tell me any of the differences between the modern Athian magic system and the older Anoran magic system which was used at the time of Nevadil’s formation?”

There was silence around the classroom for a short while, then someone raised a hand. Ms Luxford signalled them to speak and so they did, “The Anoran system was more powerful than the Athian system wasn’t it?”

Ms Luxford smiled, “Correct, but only partially so; I will explain in a minute. Anyone else?”

“The Anoran magic was slower to cast!” someone else added

Ms Luxford nodded and waited for other suggestions. Once it seemed that no one else had anything to say, Ms Luxford began speaking again. “The Anoran system was the official magic system in the magical society of Anor’phi and was designed to be able to bring about great displays of raw power. The mages of the empire were able to wreak destruction on a much larger scale than anything our mages possibly could. However, this power resulted in their magic being much more unstable than ours, and much more difficult to learn. From studying records of the times, it is thought that the average age for a fully trained mage in Anor’phi was around thirty years if you were lucky, and closer to forty if you were not. The Athian system, developed by the Seven Great Mages, was made to control less raw power but in exchange, gave stability and ease of learning, as evidenced by the fact that you lot will be fully qualified by the age of twenty-five. In its creation, it is also thought to have borrowed much from the long gone civilisation of Ouroak although that is mostly speculation.”

She paused and, seeing the students’ curious expressions, began again, “Ouroak was a nation, though only in a broad sense of the term, which existed many hundreds of years ago in the south around lake Aleria. There will be a segment on them in your third year, although it’s not a very big one.”


That evening, Kason and company dragged themselves back down to the Range to meet Professor Kinora for their training. Throughout the day, Kason had felt the ache in his muscles dimish to the point where they hardly hurt at all in comparison to how they had been in the morning. The others also seemed to have recovered, although Alford and Lexia didn’t seem to have been affected that much to begin with.

That didn’t last long, however. In the evening after the tutoring session, Kason was once again in the common room, draped over the arms of his favourite armchair, wondering whether or not he could just sleep where he was for the night. The tutoring session had been much the same as the previous day’s and Kason was beginning wonder whether whatever punishment Professor Kinora could arrange would be any worse than the torment each of the sessions was turning out to be. Even though he thought about skipping sessions, sometimes more seriously than others, he continued going; along with the rest, and as the days went by, he gradually got used to it.

One session during the second week of their tutoring, Professor Kinora had them doing a particularly difficult set of exercises. Kason had taken off his college robe as he had found it was quite restrictive and made feel like he was boiling. He had laid it and his necklace down at the base of a tree, near where Harper had placed his and went over to the others to complete the routine.

After he finished, got unsteadily to his feet, wiped the sweat from his brow and made his way back towards the place where he had left his clothes. As he approached, however, he saw Professor Kinora leaning against a tree trunk nearby, holding the locket he had set down in his hands. He was gazing at it intently, turning it over and over in his palm and only looked up when Kason drew near. Kason looked at him feeling rather nervous and wondering how best to ask to have his necklace back, but Professor Kinora spoke before he reached an answer.

“This… This necklace is yours, is it?” he said slowly.

Kason nodded, an inexplicable feeling of disquiet washing over him.

“It is rather… Beautiful,” Professor Kinora said idly, “I wonder, could you tell me where you got it?”

“It was from The Stars at Midnight,” Kason replied, his mouth feeling rather dry, “In Constantin.”

“Ah yes… I have heard of that shop, I must visit it some time…”

Professor Kinora went back to examining the locket and Kason wondered briefly what he was looking for. He didn’t sound like he usually did, the cold undertones of his voice were absent and he didn’t sound nearly as disdainful as he often did when talking to the children he taught.

“Oh, but there is some kind of lock on here. Is it a locket? Do you mind if I take a look?”

He poked the lock with one of his long fingers, even as Kason was saying he didn’t mind, and the twin winged doors sprang open to reveal the ebony stone behind them. Kason, studying Professor Kinora’s face, saw one of his eyebrows rise slightly as he first beheld the stone.

Then he turned to Kason, “What’s this?”

“It’s, um, just a stone that I found lying around the college,” he stammered, “I thought it looked good and so I had the man at the shop put it in the locket for me.”

Professor Kinora nodded, gave the stone one last glance, then pushed the silver doors closed and handed the necklace back to Kason. “It’s quite a nice necklace, isn’t it. Make sure you’re careful with it.”

He then walked past Kason and over towards the other children, passing Harper, who was making his way over, on the way.

Harper let out a great sigh as he reached Kason, “Man, that was pure torture!”

His long blond hair was currently plastered quite comically across his forehead and he was breathing heavily. Kason grinned and nodded in agreement. Harper then went to his own pile of clothes, picked up a water bottle he had left lying on the top and came back over. He saw Kason still standing with his necklace in his hand and nodded to it.

“What are you doing with that?”

Kason, who hadn’t realised that he was still holding the locket, looked down absentmindedly and then glanced in the direction Professor Kinora had walked off in.

“When I got back for a drink, Professor Kinora was looking at it,” he said, “He seemed quite curious about it, asking where I got it and what the stone was.”

“Puzzling…” Harper said, his brow furrowing in thought, “Or perhaps not, maybe he’s just a jewellery enthusiast?”

Kason laughed, the thought of Professor Kinora having an interest in something like jewellery was amusing, to say the least. Harper joined in his laughter and soon they were both out of breath again. The two of them chatted for a while longer, trying to recover as much as they could before they were called back over by Professor Kinora to begin whatever the next brutally exhausting workout would be.

During the rest of the tutoring sessions of that week, Professor Kinora showed no more interest in Kason’s necklace. He carried on delivering gruelling workout regime after gruelling work out regime but although they were all still excruciatingly hard, Kason could feel himself slowly becoming stronger. At least he didn’t get out of breath by simply doing the warm-up anymore. On the evening before their day off, Professor Kinora called them all together at the end to speak to them.

“I can see you’re all enjoying these sessions,” he said with a cold smile. There was an indignant snort from someone, but Professor Kinora ignored it and carried on, “I thought that I would let you all know that I have gotten a facility for you to hold your competition. And, seeing that there are only a few weeks left until that time comes, I have decided to begin teaching you some spells in preparation.”

No one said anything, but Kason could practically feel the excitement from everyone at these words. “We will begin in two days time, as on Athiday I am away from the college. I expect you all to come with your most recent ether saturation level memorised, though if it is less than 120C, then you might as well not turn up.”

There was some anxious shuffling of feet, but silence remained amongst the students. Professor Kinora surveyed them for a moment longer then turned away, waving a hand in a gesture of dismissal.



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