Thursday, 15 April 2010

Noblegarden Redux

Kyr's worries had been justified. Sure enough, after the exam and his individual interview with the magus, he had been told that he would indeed be specialising in fire, a 'pyro' as the other students damningly referred to the specialty as. Most of the students had been right about their path; gut instinct often being a useful measure of a situation. Some had protested, some had even dared to argue with the magus, but all to no avail. Kyr had chosen not to waste his breath and accept the inevitable. He consoled himself in part by the hope that as he advanced and became more experienced, he could take up frost as a second speciality at a later date, and in the meantime, well he did get on quite well with some of the frost students and everyone liked to discuss their knowledge, brag about it, really, if one was being truthful. Kyr planned to spend as much time as he could studying the students and seeing if he could pick up any useful tips along the way...

Unfortunately for Kyr, the magus had decided that the mid-spring festival, Noblegarden, would provide an excellent proving ground for the young trainees. Historically this had been useful to the magus, as well as a certain level of talent, and willingness to buckle down and study, the trainee mages needed to accept that sometimes rewards came via the ability to consistently apply ones self to a repetitive chore. Spells and incantations could be learnt by nearly anyone really, anyone who could read and mutter lines of text again and again until it imprinted itself on their memory but the ability to really stick at something was even more vital. Every year the magus weeded out the students who were unwilling or unable to undertake a menial task via the Noblegarden Festival. He gathered the students together at the beginning of the week long celebration and advised them of their task.

"Every year," the magus began, "we celebrate this festival, and the masses cram their mouths with chocolate with little or no regard for symbolism, for the cycle of life it represents; of birth, death and re-birth. In years passed you will have been one of these people; eating chocolate, maybe wearing special robes or suits give to you by your doting parents. This year will be different." The magus paused and surveyed the group of students looking at him. Every year he assumed that one of his students would know what was coming, that someone would have slipped up and passed on one of the 'mysteries' to prospective trainees. It had yet to happen, and this gave him a huge amount of satisfaction. Though he will never again have the youth of his trainees, never again have a firm, strong body, never again have joints that rarely ached, never again have vision that was all but perfect, he still had the fear and respect of all the students he had ever taught. Even the unsucessful ones held their tongues and passed nothing on.

The magus nodded in satisfaction and continued. "You have always taken part in the egg hunts willingly, I assume? Greed being a very motivating factor." He again surveyed the students, nodding anxiously before him. "This year you will again hunt eggs, but this year you will have to find something other then chocolate. A few eggs, very few eggs will contain a magical tome that you will need to learn a spell, when you are sufficiently advanced in your lessons. These eggs look exactly the same as the eggs that will provide you with chocolate and can be traded for clothing. The tome is only visible to students of the magical arts, so any notions you may have about cajoling or enlisting younger siblings or friends, or paying for the services of those in need of the gold," the magus paused and his brow knitted as he glanced briefly in the direction of the clique the students referred to as the 'golden few', the students of the affluent families whose magical abilities could be traced back generations (explaining both their riches and their influence), "will ultimately be pointless. And consider yourself lucky that I give you this warning. Mages should have integrity and I should not need to advise you of this fact, but I do because you will have to work hard enough. Additional hindrance will not help you. You have exactly a week, one week from today you will each be standing before me with your own tome. If you do not have this tome, you are not required to be here, I will find you individually and speak with you. Finally you should note that I will not be interested in seeing any of you until the time I have stated. If you choose to spend sixteen hours today searching and are rewarded you effectively have a 'week off', however I would assume that you will find constructive ways to occupy your time, and I would suggest that you continue to study. Equally if you choose to search for an hour a day, the same applies. You have recently undertaken one exam. I would not assume, if I were you, that this will be the last one you take." The magus smiled, causing the students to look at each other in consternation and suprise. "Enjoy Noblegarden my apprentices, and happy hunting."

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