Training at the Wizard's Tower in Montsilt
Class and Casting
Wil and Airy sat at their desks writing words over and over. The ink dripped from their quills and followed the indents they made on the page with their thoughts. They may not be able to cast many spells yet, but they were already able to make that small dent in reality. Antum was satisfied. Magic could do so many things.
"Excellent work. Both of you. Next, go to page 32, paragraph 3, sentence 2. Take the 4th, 5th, and 9th words and write them ten times."
The apprentices flipped through the pages of their primers, found the correct words, and started writing. Once they were both writing, Antum gave a lecture on the importance of concentration, intending to teach them how to monitor their surroundings while concentrating on a spell. They would pause every ten minutes for a break and repeat the exercises for an hour.
The circular room contained every book Antum had bought, borrowed, or burgled. Floor-to-ceiling shelves overflowed with books. A fair few were stacked in crates on the floor too. In the middle of this concentrated knowledge were the two desks. Antum continued his lessons, "Good work! Now, take out your focus tools. Wil, cover the door to the parlor with a spider web."
Wil opened the top right drawer of his desk. The small round orb he pulled out had a delicate pattern encompassing it. He put one hand underneath and the other on top. With a deep breath, he closed his eyes and recited the incantation.
"Woah boy! Keep those eyes open." Antum cautioned as a conjured web covered the couch in the parlor. "That's ok. We'll have Arie tidy it up."
Arie had pulled a short wand out of her desk. She waited behind Antum until he called on her. "Yes, Arie. Use your wand to disperse the web with a bit of fire. Imagine the fire cleaning up all the strands. Nice and easy." Arie held the want in both hands and stepped toward the couch. Her steps quickened, and she squeezed the wand harder as she spoke the incantation. The blast seared the web and singed the couch.
"We need to keep working on accuracy but very good, both of you." Antum directed them to their desks.
Who We Want To Be
Next, open chapter 4 of the Treatise of Magic Automation." The students rearranged books to get the right one opened. Antum continued with a short lecture, "The primary function of a mage in the Etonia Wizarding Network is to spread Magic to everyday life. A farmer coming home from a day working in the fields doesn't need to clean dishes. That is what a magic spell can be designed to do."
"Wil, the hearth at your parent's tavern run goes to full capacity at 4 pm every evening. The pots know where they need to go to start dinner. It is all laid out in magical commands. It is like an algorithm to borrow a term from mathematics. Repeating this routine use of Magic will allow your power to grow and help people. Please begin your reading."
Ten minutes went by, and Antum absentmindedly skimmed through his books. He thought about how proud he was of his new students. Eventually, his thoughts returned to the accomplished apprentices he had before, but they were both gone. The sadness around thinking about them was profound. He had not been able to protect them.
Their rooms sat untouched on the third floor. He simply teleported to his private quarters on the upper floor. He had not worked up the nerve to clear their things out yet. His new students lived in town, so they didn't need the accommodations. It had been too soon to start new students, but Lavani- she helped. The new mayor's kind words and encouragement were healing. She suggested he offer the same to his students.
Antum looked up at Wil. He was focused on his reading. Antum looked over at Airy. She was wiping her eyes as she tried to read. He noticed a whimper come from her. The family she came to the town with was taking care of her, but there was no word from her parents. She was an orphan now.
It had been a difficult month for both of them. "Ok," Antum clapped. "Let's take a cookie break." Airy wiped her eyes again and followed Antum and Wil to the circle at the room's far end. As they each stepped onto the circle they disappeared. Without breaking a step, they reappeared on the second floor.
When they first learned how to use the teleportation circle, Antum had told them, "You just keep walking forward." It was a little disorienting because they were facing the opposite direction when they exited on the second floor. The bucket Wil had named "wobbly" sloshed over to them. The inpatient towels sped through the air, guarding the table until the trio washed their hands.
With all in order, they sat down at a long table. A plate floated over with milk and cookies. As they started eating, Antum said, "Magic can't fix everything. Sometimes you need cookies."
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I wrote this story as part of the Storytelling Collective's 2021 Flash Fiction February. I added it to the Short Stories of the Anhult collection because it also offers a view of the community in the forest.