Saturday, Sept 12th, early evening
Shopping gallery, Riverside terminal
On Friday, the student council received the printed copies of this year’s school directory and would be distributing them through homerooms on Monday. Elise had helped herself to an extra and then left a message with Magnus Trading to let them know she had it.
She was not surprised on Saturday when Brinna Jekanis caught up to her as she left work, just as she’d done a couple of weeks prior. Brinna, once again, suggested going into the same lunch counter.
After they sat down, and Brinna ordered coffee for them both, Elise handed her the directory. Brinna took it and passed an envelope back to her.
“My uncle saw a very interesting news report,” said Brinna. “Do you know what I’m talking about?”
“Have you heard anything about it at school?”
“Yes,” said Elise. “It sounded horrible. They cancelled classes on Thursday when he was found.”
“Is there anything you can tell me about that student?”
“Not much,” said Elise. She was suddenly uncomfortable and wasn’t sure why. “They said it was an intentional killing, and what his name was. Alvar Leto. I hadn’t known him.”
“I’m afraid not.”
“That’s alright, miss,” said Brinna. “I’m sure my uncle explained it, but we just keep an eye out for things that could affect the shipping business. If he had been the child of someone important, it could mean there is instability on the horizon, and we can get ahead of higher costs before the insurance rates go up.”
“Along with your pay, there is a list of students we would appreciate more information on. I know it may not be possible to find anything, or there may not be anything interesting to find, but if you find anything our company is prepared to be especially generous.”
“And you’re looking for anything that could impact foreign trade?”
“Yes,” she said. “Especially among the newer students. We had someone helping us, but they left at the end of last year.”
“I’ll do what I can,” said Elise.
Brinna smiled. “I’m glad to hear that. They say time is money, and if you find anything, the sooner we know the more generously the company could reward you.”
The two said their goodbyes, and Elise left for the long train ride home. When she got there, she found her original copy of the second-year classes’ roster. She wanted to see if it had any reminder of who Alvar Leto was, and when she saw his entry, she realized why she’d been so uncomfortable earlier.
Leto had been one of the two foreign transfers she had pointed out to Brinna when they’d spoken previously. His address was at the embassy, so he must have been the child of someone important. What a horrible coincidence! she thought.
The envelope she’d received today had the same amount as last time – two imperials – as well as the list of names. She found herself torn on whether to try to find more information on them.
Sun, Sept 13th, just before 8 AM
A knock on my bedroom door woke me up. I looked at my alarm clock, and yelled out “C’mon, let me sleep!”
I was about to try to get back to sleep when Joel said from outside the door, “Ms. Yali’s here, they want to start lessons early. Do you want in or not?”
“Fine, fine,” I said. “Do I have time to shower at least?”
“Probably,” Joel said. Then he yelled downstairs “does Mark have time to shower?”
I couldn’t hear the response through the door, but Joel passed it on. “If you’re quick about it.”
I rushed through my morning routine, a little annoyed to be up early on my one day to sleep in, but the chance to learn some magic was too good to pass up.
When I finally made it downstairs, Yali was already talking Joel through something. “…and you should keep it on you whenever you go out. You can draw on it for spells, and it will help keep up ongoing ones like your wards.”
I grabbed one of the not-quite-English-muffins that Dormer’s housekeeper had toasted up, and a couple of slices of fruit while they were talking. They’d given him a power stone – essentially, a magical battery – to help him along while he was learning to concentrate power in himself. Kelder’s had mentioned them, but they’d sounded exotic and expensive.
When they finished discussing it, Yali had a question for both of us. “Have you been practicing?”
Joel shook his head.
“Just the light spell,” I said, and I thought “brissetay” and concentrated on my right index finger. There was a flickering silver light shaped like a candle flame, slightly bigger and brighter than it had been last week. I had found it interesting enough to repeat it in my down time at home, and found that as I repeated it, just saying the word became enough, and with further repetition had been able to just concentrate on the word without even saying it.
“Very good, Mark. You should really help Joel practice, it will help.”
“Sure,” I said, and then to Joel, “Just get me after soccer practice, I guess?”
“Both of you really need to work on the exercises in the teacher’s manual, too,” she said. “Do you remember what I said about power sources last week, Joel?”
“That we could accidentally use our own life force rather than magical energy?”
“Close enough. Your body’s own energy is magical energy,” she said, “but you really don’t want to use it except as a last resort. Before you can do anything more useful with magic, you need to get a feel for where the power comes from. One sign of a strong mage is to have a constant sense of the power around them and what they could draw on.”
With that, she opened the teacher’s manual, and we started on exercises, much like last week. The exercises were a little more complicated, and she said the goal was to be able to draw in magic from your surroundings or something like the power stone, and then keep it until needed. “It’s a bit like breathing in,” she said, “but instead of a physical diaphragm, you are exercising part of your spirit.”
Because neither of us were any good yet at sensing the ambient energy, trying to draw from it was pointless. Instead, she had us use easier power sources – in Joel’s case the power stone – and she let me use the block of lead with magical ore in it we’d used for the sensitivity test. Once we could sense the power there reliably, and she had us use clear globes – they looked the same as the ones from our initial tests – and has us try to get a feel for releasing power into them. When we did, they glowed, and she wasn’t happy.
“Mark, do you see color in yours?” she asked.
“No,” I said. “His is light green.”
“This can be one of the nuisances of colorblindness for teaching this,” she said. “What colors do you see, Joel?”
“Mark’s is a very pale green, a lot lighter than mine,” he said.
“That’s what I see, as well. The good part is neither is solidly green, which would be coming entirely from your own body. The globe reads attunement, and by convention green is for life magic. You both need to practice until you can make that fully clear.
“Mark, you’ll need to get Joel to help you practice this for now. If you ever decide to learn advanced magic, you’ll want to get a non-color-based tool to test for attunement.”
“What kind of tool, and where would I get it?” I asked.
“One of these days you should check out a magic shop,” she said. “It’s a niche need, and a good shop could recommend options better than I could. Until then, have a look in Kelder’s, there’s an appendix on magical and alchemical tools.”
“Of course, magic shops are a thing,” I said.
“Where else would we get our tools?”
She asked. “If that’s settled, let’s go ahead and have both of you practice until –“ she stopped to look at her watch “– let’s say 11. After that, we’ve got something else for today.”
We practiced until then, each of us alternating between trying to gather magic from the items, and then channeling it out. By the end, I could no longer see the green in Joel’s although he could still, and he said mine was almost clear.
When we finished, Yali said that she would leave the two globes to practice with, but that she couldn’t leave the magical ore. “It’s potentially dangerous unsupervised,” she said. “Joel, it’s fine to let Mark borrow the power stone when you’re in the house here, but please keep it with you the rest of the time.”
“Ok,” he said. “You said there was something else for today?”
“Yes,” she said. “We’re going to visit a temple.”