A warm breeze, that held all the promises of summer drifted lazily through the College of the Arcane Arts. The gentle drifts plucked at the heavy heads of freshly grown flowers. Colourful blooms bobbing under the weight of encroaching bumblebees, busy at the task of gathering nectar for their queens.
Marcel Chavaron, 8th Level Mage of the Transmutation School of the College, was stood at the centre of a small patch of grass. Talking to himself and gesturing with his hands. He paced back and forth in the warm sunshine; practising for an upcoming presentation about the properties of metallurgy in application to human flesh.
His expression changed from intense concentration when he heard someone audibly weeping. Torn between discovering the cause and the task at hand, his curiosity won out.
Sat alone on a bench a young woman sat crying. Little more than a teenager the clearly assumed she had found some solitude to lament her sorrows.
“Are you all right?” The older mage asked, feeling foolish for the instinctive words.
The teenager looked up at him in relative alarm. “I’m sorry,” she stumbled over the words, trying her best to dry the tears on her sleeve. “I didn’t mean to disturb you.”
Marcel waved a hand to dismiss the notion. “It’s no bother, you’re clearly upset, is there anything I can help you with?”
She shook her head trying to deny her emotions. “No,” she started “It’s just,”
He smiled kindly down to her, encouraging her to give voice to her thoughts.
“I’m really struggling with one of the spells of my level and some of the people in my level aren’t being very nice.” She explained, her voice catching on a hard lump in her throat as she spoke.
“It’s Sophia, Level two, right?” Marcel asked, “May I?” He indicated to the space on the chair next to her.
She nodded and he sat on the bench beside her adopting a casual position to make her feel more at ease.
“What is it they’re saying?”
Sophia looked down to her hands as they wrung on her knees. A tear fell down her cheek. “That I’m not good enough. I’ll never master the level. I’m not talented.” She bit her bottom lip.
Marcel held back a laugh. “They’re just plain wrong.” He informed her.
She looked to him with a conflicted measure of distress with the desire for comfort.
He recognised the mixture of emotions within when he leaned to face her. “Firstly, I mean not to diminish your feelings, they’re perfectly valid considering what they’d said to you.” He offered her empathy and understanding. “What your peers have told you is wicked bullying, nothing more, but they’re very wrong. Magic, the way we use it, has absolutely nothing to do with this mythical ‘talent.’” He said with a small smile. “Anyone can learn the magical arts, it just takes time and dedication. There’s nothing innate about it.” Marcel explained. “As for level mastery, well, I abhor that sort of snobbery. There’s nothing wrong with retiring the college as a level one mage and making it out there in the world. Every level of magic has it’s merits and if you walked out that door tomorrow, there would be no shame in it.”
“I know,” Sophia said, waving her hand to try and dismiss the emotion running through her. “It’s just so frustrating, Professor Isenov set us a creation task. In my case growth…”
“Earth class, then?” Marcel asked and was rewarded with a nod.
“He wants me to grow a plant from seed.” She lamented.
“At level two, that is difficult,” Marcel offered his sympathy once more.
“I can do it. I know I can. I’ve done it before.” Sophia returned with promise. “But, whenever I’m watched. It doesn’t happen.”
Marcel nodded. Considering the length of his time as a student within the College of the Arcane Arts, Marcel had seen this line of thinking from many viewpoints. He recalled the days of shyness as a young teenager, yet desperately wanting to prove that he could do what was being asked of him. The uncertainness of his efforts in relation to the much desired progress that every driven achiever aspired towards and since had seen younger students beating themselves up, thinking that each Level of learning was a race to be first to pass the tests and move on; not appreciating the teachings of each level at it’s core.
“Can you show me?”
Sophia hesitated. To her Marcel was akin to one of the Colleges Professors, albeit much kinder in his approach.
“You don’t have too,” Marcel reassured her.
“No, no, I’ll try.” Sophia said, opening a pouch at her side and taking out a small seed. She held it between her forefinger and thumb and stared intently at the seed, being careful not to crush it against her fingers. Her brow creasing in frustration as, after mere moments, nothing happened. Soon, Sophia relented and gave up, holding the seed in her fist. “It’s no use.” She sighed. “I can’t do it.”
“If you’re open to some advice,” Marcel offered. “Maybe try letting go fo your emotions as you cast. It’s hard, I know.” Keeping control of their emotions when a mage worked was pivotal to their practise. While within the grounds of the Arcane College there was enough wards and safeguarding against Outside influences and they were sanctioned the moment they enrolled in the College. However, out in the realms of Parrvolis a mage that couldn’t control their emotions was as larger risk from being tainted by those that lurked in the Outside; demonic entities that would quickly possess and unsanctioned or errant mage – invoking the wrath of The Lights Witch Hunters.
Carefully, Marcel took the younger mages hand in his own. Holding her palm skywards, where the warmth a seed craves emanates from. “Close your eyes.” He soothed. His voice deliberately soft and calming.
“Take a deep breath and clear everything from your mind,” He moved his hand away from hers.
“Calm your thoughts.” He continued, his voice even.
“And when the moment is right, you’ll know.”
He watched her doing as he encouraged. Waiting patiently for the moment to be right for her to cast. Slowly the seed popped a small shoot from it’s side, the stem continuing to grow, small buds of leaves branching out from the stalk. As Sophia slowly opened her eyes to look at the small, growing plant a floret was growing upon the top.
A broad, proud smile beamed across the young students face. “I… I did it! You watched, right!?” She enthused at him.
The older student reached out for the newly grown seedling, Sophia carefully put it into his hand. “I can’t create life like you can.” He stated with a measure of his own regret. “I’m from the school of metallurgy,” he told her his birth-sign, the only aspect of magic that no mage had control over. As he spoke the seedling started to shimmer, little sparkles of light reflecting across the surface of it’s leaves. Before long, the entire flower was encased in vibrant silver, preserving it for eternity.
Marcel calmly nodded his head. “Keep to your teachings, refer back to the knowledges of your Levels and you’ll be a fine mage, Sophia. As for those teasing you, they’ll have their own trials to face one day. Be it in the College or out in Parrvolis. I can only hope that they face them with as much grace as you do.”