By Glenn Anderson
Lynette lifted her head from the puddle of notes and drool. Her quill had dried during her unwelcome nap; the candles reduced to pools of hot wax. Her belongings were messily scattered about, unofficially claiming a corner of the library. She rubbed her eyes and wiped the drool from her mouth.
There were no windows, and as such, no way to tell how much time had passed. Instead she was surrounded by towering bookshelves and pillars of parchment. Candles floated softly past the top shelves, faintly illuminating row upon row of tomes. She could see no other students; her studies had presumably taken her into an undesirable hour. She scrunched together her notes to recall what it was she was so focused on.
A new spell. How unsurprising.
A simple spell, or so she had thought. The book suggested by her professor was open to a chapter on how to fold the Ley to produce a multi-use ball of magic. In yesterday’s lecture, professor Isolde had stressed that the spell was a precursor to many, much more powerful spells. Despite countless attempts, Lynette had not yet been able to correctly fold the Ley.
She scanned her notes for the hundredth time, hoping that in her haze she had discovered the secret to all of wizardry and written it down before falling asleep.
She decided she would need some help, although Lynette hated asking for help. It was something she so rarely had to do before being admitted to the Academy. She was undeniably bright, but none of her previous academic pursuits could compare to casting even the most basic of spells. She stuffed her notes into her bag, but before returning the book she decided to attempt the spell one final time.
She thumbed through the pages illustrating the necessary movements and incantations. She cleared the remaining distractions from the desk and took in a deep breath. Swirls of blue light manifested before her. She reached out carefully and took them in her hands. She began to sculpt the tendrils, folding them over and over. A blue ball was forming before her. Finally!
However, when the ball was close to the necessary size, she lost control. Her precious strings of magical fabric began scattering this way and that, unravelling the ball at thrice the speed it took to make. When the last of the light had left her hands, Lynette slammed her fists on the desk, defeated. She snapped her fingers and the book floated back into its place amidst the shelves.
“Nice try,” a voice said.
Lynette jumped at the sound, whirling around to see another student.
“I do not know you,” she said.
The boy laughed. He was her age, no doubt. Young, adorned with the robes of novice, and carrying a cloud of arrogance not yet broken by greater minds. She guessed he had only been here a few weeks.
“I don’t know you either, but it was fun watching you struggle with such a simple spell.”
“Let’s see it then,” she challenged.
The boy smiled and slapped his hands together. He slowly pulled them apart, revealing red strings of magic between his hands. Lynette gasped.
He twisted his hands back and forth, and in a matter of seconds, pulsing red light surrounded him, ready for use.
“You should not force the Ley,” she warned, “it is dangerous, and unwieldy.”
“It is simpler, and more powerful,” he retorted. “You spend all this time trying to properly shape the Ley, when you could just seize it.” He casually dropped his hands and the magic dissipated. He sneered.
“Good luck on your spells, child.” And like a ghost, he was gone.
Lynette made her way to professor Isolde’s office. Although still unaware of the hour, she prayed the professor would be awake. Lynette had questions that needed answering. No longer was she concerned with the proper mana-folding techniques, but instead the very purpose of the Academy.
Her walking turned into a furious almost-jog. What was the point of studying wizardry when sorcery was just as good, and far simpler? Why did she have to go through all this trouble to learn what others could simply do? By the time she reached professor Isolde’s office door, Lynette no longer had questions, she had needs.
She pounded on the oak door.
“Come in.” She did.
The door swung open, revealing professor Isolde sitting calmly at her desk. The desk was meticulously organized, adorned with a variety of quills, inkwells, books, and parchment. Isolde gently lowered the scroll she was reading to address her student.
“Something troubles you, Lynette? Are you having difficulty with the assignment?” Lynette marched up to the desk.
“Why must we shape the Ley?” She demanded. Isolde instantly knew what had happened.
“You have witnessed sorcery,” she said with unperturbed neutrality. She motioned at the chair opposite her desk. Lynette slumped into it.
“Lynette,” she began, “you were admitted to the Academy quite recently were you not?”
“Do you think that in all the history of Calbria and the Academy that you are the first to have the realization that sorcery takes less knowledge and technique than wizardry to produce similar effects?”
Lynette was suddenly embarrassed.
“Do you truly believe you have found a flaw in the foundation of this organization and that there is no logical response to your query?”
Lynette hung her head in shame. “No, professor.”
“You are wrong then, my student.” Lynette raised an eyebrow.
Isolde stood up and walked around to Lynette’s side of the desk. She leaned casually against the desk and tilted up her wide brimmed hat.
“Wizardry is difficult to learn, sorcery is inherent, yet both are capable of using the Ley for powerful things. This is a truth we must all accept. However, being well-versed in how to shape the Ley is nevertheless an advantage.”
“In what way?” Lynette asked, curious beyond all definition of the word.
Isolde allowed herself a smile.
“Tomorrow, my student. In class. You will have an answer.”
The students trickled into their seats. Professor Isolde stood at the front of the class, accompanied only by a podium.
“Before we get started with the lesson, was anyone able to successfully cast the assigned spell?”
Lynette scanned her peers. To her delight, all of them carried similarly dejected expressions. All but the boy from the library. The boy’s hand rose from the crowd, along with his cocky smile.
Isolde looked at the student, then to Lynette. Lynette gave a subtle nod to her teacher. Isolde beckoned the boy to the front of the room.
The boy sauntered up beside Isolde. He clapped his hands together and began forming a red ball of hot magic. Soon embers of Ley danced atop the podium.
“Impressive,” she said. “Now, how might you use this spell?”
“As a weapon” he replied, “the spell’s purpose is to be summoned, and unleashed.”
“Perhaps a demonstration?”
Isolde pointed to a floating candle. The class fell silent. After only a brief hesitation the boy hurled his red sphere at the candle. In a brief flash, the ball and the candle were gone.
Isolde reached out and with a quick flourish she held a tidy blue sphere of her own.
“As I said in yesterday’s class,” Isolde began, her tone educational yet laced with a hint of amusement, “when properly wielded, magic can be used in a variety of ways.”
Isolde dragged her hand through the sphere and pointed to another candle. The magic crackled forward, obliterating the candle in an instant. Then she clasped her hands together and was suddenly on the other side of the room. Her students whipped around barely in time to see her again direct the magic into a burst of light. The room was filled with starry lights as Isolde walked majestically back to her podium and slack jawed student. She ushered him back to his seat.
“Our new student was correct in this: magic is a weapon. However, to be the best weapon, magic must be your sword, your shield, and your bow. It must be both your castle wall and your battering ram. To reach its greatest power, magic must be versatile. But make no mistake, this power is only available to those with the skill to wield it.”
Red magic may be easier to wield than blue, but it is destructive and harmful to the Ley. The Wizards know that magic is a gift, and must be studied meticulously and protected at all costs.
Study your tomes carefully as the Wizard in Ivion, the Herocrafting Card Game, coming to Kickstarter September 1st, 2020!