Prompt 40-Lesson Priority One

What do you think is the most important thing for today’s kids to learn in school?

“Spells and incantations are not the only forms magic can take,” lectured the old sorceress at the front of the room of about a dozen students. The youngest among them was only a shade past twelve, but he had already spent more time in the library reading the numberless tomes than the rest of his cohort and had learned a little about the various other uses of magic. Dak was glad Mistress Cilexea was finally going to teach them something new.

“They are simply the easiest to channel,” she went on, her sharp gaze falling piteously on a few of the apprentices near the front, “and some of you will be unable to do any more than that.” Her grandmotherly smile took them all in as she twisted the end of a long snow white braid at her shoulder. “That is not to say you cannot accomplish great things. Spells are our groundwork after all, we build on them and learn from them and create new beautiful things with them.

“Unfortunately, you are limited by your own wells. If you remember in our earliest lessons from the spring, I told you magic is not infinite. It draws on energy and so is limited by the energy you contain within.” Her clear, pale eyes fell now on Dak, though she continued to address the whole class. “The fact that you are here, in this mountain academy, listening to me lecture about magic in the first place, means you were born with sufficient energy wells to learn. It is not as common an occurrence as it once was.”

Dak squirmed in his seat. He knew he had more innate ability than anyone in the room. He wanted to learn more. He wanted to put his talents to use. He wanted to push the limits of his power and see where it would take him. His hand shot into the air.

Mistress Cilexea grinned knowingly. “You have a question, young Dak?”

“We don’t need to use our own wells though, do we? Master Elvior said it was possible to use magic even if your well was empty.” Dak admired the Grand Master more than any of the other Elders on the Council. He had hoped the old sorcerer would have taken him on as his apprentice, but the Grand Master had left the Academy again after a short visit a few months ago.

His sister had the same sharp lines in her face, though Mistress Cilexea’s eyes were kinder. “It is possible, yes,” she answered. “In fact, drawing from external energy sources is the only way for some to channel magic at all.”

“Then, even if our wells are small, surely we could still do more than cast spells if we had something else to draw from?” The question came from one of the apprentices in the front whom Mistress Cilexea had wordlessly indicated would be unable to do much more, a girl several years older than Dak.

“It would be unwise to do so,” the sorceress admonished.

“But why?” another of the older apprentices persisted.

Mistress Cilexea nodded, clearly expecting this response and pleased her pupils were questioning her rather than simply accepting her words as absolute truth. “Flow,” she said simply. The students looked around at each other quizzically, wondering if anyone else knew what she meant. Mistress Cilexea smiled. “What happens to a dam when the river rises?”

Understanding dawned on some of the faces in the room, but Dak was still confused. He had grown up in a city, not some low lying village farm. The girl who had asked the first question spoke up. “It needs to relieve the pressure or it will burst.”

“Thank you, young Blysse,” Mistress Cilexea said. “That is precisely why you must never try to channel more energy than you are built to withstand. Not only could you cause harm to yourself, you could hurt others around you.”

Dak frowned. Again he raised his hand. “But then, you could still draw the energy from something else, as long as it wasn’t more than your own internal potential, right?”

The sorceress regarded him over the others, her chin resting delicately on a closed fist. Dak met her gaze, unflinching. Something unreadable flashed through her eyes before she nodded. “You could,” she agreed. Dak smiled triumphantly before she cut him off with another warning. “It should not be done, though.”

“But why?” the same boy repeated from earlier.

“For the same reason,” Mistress Cilexea said simply. “Only instead of the internal flow, I refer to the external one. The natural flow of energy that keeps our world in balance. You must never take more than you give back. This is the most important thing you will learn in these walls. Control is necessary, but restraint is even more so.”

The students nodded their understanding. Dak was unconvinced. As Mistress Cilexea continued on, beginning her lecture on conduits and catalysts, his thoughts wandered back to the books he had been scouring in the library. There was so much more to be learned.

Notes: So this one is a day late. I was exhausted last night and couldn’t bring myself to sit at a computer anymore after work. But I still wanted to write a decent tale for this prompt so instead of doing another short ramble post like Wednesday I figured I’d just wait til morning.

This turned into an exploratory story for me. It takes place in the same world as the twins from the country prompt a couple weeks ago. I have this “epic” fantasy a la Wheel of Time in my head that I’ve been sketching on and off for years and this gave me an excuse to try working out a bit of the magic system in a classroom setting.

Think about your own worlds. What sorts of things would be important for kids to learn in them? What do your societies place emphasis on in education? Are those things actually important or is it just the way things have always been? There’s a lot to explore here. Get some ideas down. Write your own.

Monday’s prompt: What is the best road trip or vacation you have ever taken? Who was there? Where did you go? What did you see along the way?

That’s a good starting point. The more questions the better! I’ve had plenty of fun vacations to draw from, but we’ll see where I take this one. Have a great weekend, see you Monday!

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