The next morning began with Henry mentally prodding Damien awake. He groaned, blinking the sleep out of his eyes as he sat upright and squinted in the dim light of the rune circle.
“Somebody is outside,” Henry said. “It’s not Delph or the other kids that live in the nearby caves.”
That was a great way to get rid of the rest of Damien’s drowsiness. He leapt out of bed, throwing his clothes on and hopping from foot to foot to get the blood flowing.
Should I be concerned?
“Can’t tell,” Henry replied. “I can detect their magic, but it’s rather faint. That normally wouldn’t be a cause for concern, but I’m detecting at least eight different types of energy. That’s not a common amount of magic for a single person.”
Damien glanced over at Sylph’s bed. She was gone.
“She left a little less than an hour ago,” Henry said, answering Damien’s question before the boy could even ask it. “Someone showed up at the door then as well. There’s a good chance this is your teacher, but don’t let your guard down.”
Damien nodded, pinching himself once to fully wake up. He combed his hair back and opened the door.
A short older man with a white beard that reached his chest stood before him. The man wore a small black cap with a wide brim and his suntanned skin resembled a prune. He looked up at Damien with two grey eyes and gave him a small, yellow-toothed smile.
“Good morning,” the man said. His voice was remarkably strong for someone of his age. It sounded like a forty-year-old man was speaking rather than the aged one before him. “I hope I haven’t arrived too early.”
“Good morning,” Damien responded, clearing his throat. “And it’s no problem. I was already awake. Practicing and stuff. Are you my Magic Theory teacher?”
The man let out a chuckle. “In a way. I’ll be taking you to class once you’re ready. It will be starting shortly.”
“Well, I’m ready,” Damien said slowly. The man just raised an eyebrow and gave Damien a pointed glance.
He looked down and his face flushed. His coat was on inside out. He tossed it off and quickly shrugged it back on with as much dignity as he could muster.
“Ah, good. I was worried that the fashions of youth had evaded me once again,” the old man said once Damien had finished. “I presume you’re ready now?”
“Yeah, I’m ready,” Damien said with a sheepish grin.
The old man stepped forward and extended a hand. Damien shook it. The moment their fingers touched, a spark of electricity coursed down his arm. The man’s body crumbled away, blown by the early morning breeze. The remains of the man’s body formed into a flickering gray portal.
A violent force yanked Damien forwards. Before he could react, his fingertip touched the gray energy. There was a subtle pop as Damien vanished, leaving behind nothing but the smell of o-zone.
Damien stumbled as hard ground rose up against his feet. He nearly fell forwards, but managed to pinwheel his arms and regain his balance.
He stood in what looked like a large classroom. There were several rows of wooden seats on one side, and the other had a large board with a bin of chalk beside it. Several other students stood or sat around Damien, varying looks of befuddlement on their faces.
An old man identical to the one that had appeared before him a few moments ago stood beside the board, tapping his foot on the ground and stroking his beard with both hands.
What the seven planes was that?
“Eight,” Henry corrected. “And that was a teleportation spell. A decently advanced one.”
You don’t sound very surprised. Why didn’t you warn me he was about to teleport?
“What’s the point of that?” Henry asked. “It’s not like you were in any danger. Besides, it was funny.”
Damien rolled his eyes and sat down in one of the chairs. They weren’t the most comfortable thing he’d ever sat in, but it was better than the floor. There was a small platform at the side of his chair attached to a lever arm.
He tugged on it and the platform lifted up, twisting as it went over his legs and turning into a makeshift desk. Many of the other students had already figured that particular trick out. Damien joined them in watching the professor.
Over the next few minutes, he said nothing as half a dozen new kids appeared in the room. One boy let out a loud shriek as he arrived, but he quickly snapped his mouth closed when he realized where he was.
One by one, everyone sat down in the chairs. Finally, the old man cleared his throat and walked to the center of the room before them.
“Welcome to Magic Theory,” he said. A piece of chalk floated out of the bin behind him and started to draw on the board while he spoke. “I’m not one for formalities, so please call me Greg.”
The chalk wrote out his name at the top on the board.
“Now, this is a smaller class than I’m used to. There are only fourteen of you, but that’s fine,” Greg said, still stroking his beard. “Before we begin, I’d like to answer any questions you might have. Please raise your hand if you’ve got a question.”
There were a few moments of silence. Then a large boy several seats to Damien’s left raised his hand. Greg nodded in his direction.
“With all due respect, Professor Greg, I’m going to be a combat mage. Why do I need to learn Magic Theory? It’s for researchers.”
“First, I asked you to call me Greg, not Professor Greg. Greg is my first name, not my last,” the professor said. A smile tugged on his lips. “And for your second question – understanding how your magic works will greatly improve your abilities to use it in a fight. Does that answer your question?”
The boy didn’t look particularly pleased with the answer, but he gave the professor a small nod. “Yes, Pro – ah – Greg.”