I awoke to a rather loud snoring, right in my ear. There may have been dribble there too but I ignored it.
Lyphia was sprawled across most of the bed including my side, her soft leg over my own, her arm across my chest.
I smiled to myself as I remembered the night we had shared together. Lyphia was passionate, I’ll give her that. I ached all over, but it was a pleasant, satisfied ache. Now I had to figure out how to get out of bed without disturbing her.
I decided the best option was to move quickly, she would settle back down. I wiggled her arm off, then I rolled. Right out of bed. She didn’t even notice.
I stood looking at her for a moment, even like this, she was beautiful. Hair splayed out. Limbs everywhere. I could stand here all day watching her sleep, but I had a job to do.
I went into the bathing chamber, had a wash then got dressed. I didn’t put my boots on, I carried them, then snuck out of my room, closing the door quietly on my way out.
I walked to the main room, Sophia’s door was open as I passed.
That meant she would be in the main room. she was, so was Airis. It looked like they were in the middle of a game of tag. I stood in the doorway a moment, watching them run around laughing and shouting at each other. Then shushing themselves when they got too loud.
“What do you two think you are doing?” I shouted at them.
They froze then slowly turned to face me. The guilty look on their faces was priceless.
Sophia looked at me then down to her feet, Airis just looked at me.
“I hope you were having fun, because its lesson time soon. Sophia, you’re now a mage with barely adequate suppression of your power, we need to give you more information so you can understand, that, I think, is the largest thing missing. Once your understanding catches up, I hope you’ll make great strides,” I said to her.
Sophia looked up at me with wide eyes, then nodded.
“Airis, you are Sophia’s companion, you will join her in all her lessons from now on, you will help each other to learn. You will support each other. You will protect each other. and hopefully you will care for each other, I don’t want this to be a distasteful idea to either of you,” I said to them.
Airis nodded, shared a glance with Sophia, smiled then looked back to me.
“Good, now I want some breakfast, can you two please go get what you think you will need for class, and get changed into something better than nightwear,” I continued.
They ran straight past me, I walked over to the table, picked up a bread roll, bit into it as I sat in the nearest chair. I pulled my boots on then finished the rest of the roll. I grabbed another one while waiting for Sophia and Airis.
Sophia had changed into a mage training uniform. when had she gotten that?
Airis was in a similar outfit. Avery really had outdone herself. I needed to find out how she was doing, soon.
“Good that was quick, if you are both ready we can go down to one of the lecture rooms. here is our home I would prefer there to be a distinction between training and home despite where we live,” I said seriously. I was starting to sound like Jase, it must have been my nerves.
They both nodded although they looked nervous too.
“Follow me then.”
I stood and walked to the door, they followed along quietly.
We walked down the halls, past the other crowds, groups of masters and their students. I even got a few respectful nods, which was novel.
It didn’t take us long to reach the lecture floor. I knocked on the first door, a student opened it and declared it was taken.
I wasn’t put off, I tried the next one, it was open and empty, perfect.
I walked in to the lecture room, hall was more like it, down between the staggered rows of desks, to the open semicircle at the base of the room. I stood in front of the large glyph-screen, which used to be a chalk board when I’d had classes
Around the edge of the circle were smaller circles, four of them. inside them were the elements. Fire,earth, air and water. The lesser elements weren’t often included. It was so rare for someone to awaken to one, although an expansion into one wasn’t that uncommon.
I looked up from the circles, to see Airis and Sophia standing just inside the door. “Come on, we haven’t got all day. Find a seat and pay attention,” I said sternly, as much as I wanted to ease them into this, I needed them to understand that I was their teacher here.
They picked a desk about halfway down the short alley of desks.
“Everyone ready?” I asked with a grin. “Good, then we will begin with. What is magic?” I stood looking at them.
They looked back with puzzled, scrunched up looks of confusion.
“Nothing, huh? I know you are young, but this is an interactive class, I can’t teach you if you refuse to think. Let’s move on. How do you use magic?”
Sophia’s arm shot up.
“Yes Sophia, you don’t need to put your arm up. There are only the two of you here.”
“You just do,” she said quickly. A smile hovered on her lips, fragile but there.
“Is that your final answer?”
Sophia nodded looking less sure.
“You’re right. and you’re wrong. magic, once you’re used to it, is like moving your arm, you don’t think about it. you just do it,” I said smiling.
I started to walk around the circle, until I reached the earth circle, I sent a flow of power into it.
A spire of rock rose to waist height.
“This is easy once you have a handle on your power. But where does you power come from?” I asked as I stood next to the slowly growing spire. I forced a bit more magic into it. It slowly shifted into the shape of a sapling.
I walked away keeping a part of my attention on it as it grew and changed. There was no answer from my students.
“Your power comes from the magic which comes through your links. Everyone has one, mages have more than one. But what makes the links different?
“The person?” Airis offered.
They were both staring at my tree.
“Nearly,the location of the link is what makes them different. They are rooted deep in our minds. There, from almost the moment we are born. Our minds grow around them. But we all grow in different ways. How we see the world. How we think. How we feel. Are all different.”
I looked over at them, they were entranced by my stone tree. with a thought I shattered it. they jumped. Shards of stone whirled round in a small controlled cyclone before going back into the the circle.
“This is where I introduce the word concept. Does it mean anything to you?” I said with an intensity they found hard to face.
“Ideas” Airis suggested.
“Ideas given form, yes. A concept is a collection of thoughts and feelings that we use for our magic. Enchantment is nothing but these. The raw manipulations like the tree, don’t use them in such a pure way but they are central to everything we do. I used growth for the tree. What does growth mean to you?” I asked.
“taller” said Sophia
“age” Said Airis at the same time.
“Exactly, growth is just a word, but it means different things to different people. It isn’t an idea. Ideas can’t be communicated like that. It takes a great many words to express an idea well. But a concept in the magical sense is everything. It takes every meaning of a word or an idea, and combines them in a very complicated web. It takes years to build up a clear understanding of the concepts you already carry, let alone build new ones. Sophia, you have made plants grow and you have propelled stones. What concepts do you think you understand?” I asked.
“Umm. growth. and move.” she hedged. her earlier confidence gone.
“Ah, movement, yes. You will know that. Everyone does. One of the first we all learn. Good.”
I stood in the very center of the room, I put on my most serious expression.
“Your magic is thought, it is ideas given shape. They are your leverage against the world. So sharpen your minds, they are all that stand between you and helplessness.”
As a finish I sent out my power to earth and water. I made both circles rise up balls of water and earth floated into the air, they danced around me. flickering into different shapes. a tree, a fish, a cat, a bear, a wave. I ended with them formed into a pixie and sprite, hovering behind each shoulder.
Sophia and Airis were stood clapping and hooting at my little show.
I let the elements go back to their respective circles.
Then I bowed.
“Thank you both. That is the lecture section of this class done. This is your assignment. Pick a concept, and explore it. Words associated with it. Thoughts that come to you in connection to it. But a word of caution, don’t pick an abstract. Things like love or trust or honor. Pick something solid, found in nature. The abstracts are a long ways off.
I walked over to the glyph screen.
“i will guide you just this once, what is your choice?” I said.
“Damage,” Sophia said.
Airis nodded, his eyes locked on me with a fascination I didn’t understand. He couldnt use this.
“Alright, damage it is,” I wrote ‘damage’ in large glyphs in the center of the screen. “ This is the exercise, think of words that spring to mind.”
“Break,” Sophia said.
“Fracture,” Airis offered.
I wrote these on the screen too. They took it in turns throwing a word out. The web of connected words grew.
“Feelings?” I asked. “At the moment this is just a mess of words. You have to own it. You do that by attaching emotion, memories. Anything that helps you get a deeper, a more personal, image of the concept.”
And so it went like this for about half an hour. I stepped away from the screen and faced them.
“Do you both have your screens?” they nodded. “Good, copy what is up her onto them. This isn’t enough. Each thought. Each idea. Each feeling. Needs to be your own. This is how concepts are built. This is how they are yours. Over the next few months I will teach you how to put them in a shape that you can recall, like this,” I gestured to the screen, “But in your head. It takes time and effort, but you can’t be a mage without them. The dreamers can get by on feel, they don’t need to know all the mechanics of it, but you need to understand exactly what you are doing. One day all this will come naturally as you internalise The levels of versatility and power you will be dealing with deserve nothing less than your utmost,” I said gravely. I fixed my gaze on Sophia.
She looked back, daunted but resolved. Her face was pale but her jaw was firm her eyes focused.
“Thank you both for your time. Anyone ready for lunch?”