8 – What I want to do

Spear woke up to someone knocking on his door. He groggily got up, and noticed that the sun had been up for a while. He opened the door and found Claude in front of it. The other boy narrowed his eyes at him.

“You’re late!”

“I’m sorry…”, Spear said groggily.

Claude rolled his eyes. “Let’s go eat, I’m hungry.” They walked to the refectory, which was still full of students eating their breakfast. Spear felt very uncomfortable, and kept looking at his feet and avoiding any contact with the other kids. They sat down and one of the kitchen staff put plates of food in front of them. Everything looked amazing and Spear started eating, looking only at the food and trying to pretend there weren’t other people around him.

Claude managed to keep the attention of the other students at the table; they kept glancing at Spear, some in curiosity, some in confusion, some looking offended by his behavior, but Claude kept them from bothering him in any way.

Once they were done eating, they left the refectory and Claude told him that he’d wait for him for lunch, and not to be late this time.

“Uh… There’s no clock in my room…”, Spear told him awkwardly. Claude sighed.

“Students don’t normally spend all their time cooped up in their room…”

“I’m sorry…”, Spear said looking at his feet. Claude rolled his eyes.

“Come with me.” They walked back up to the third floor, to a room full of spare furniture and supplies. Claude handed him an object. It was similar to the clocks on the walls, but smaller and made to sit on a desk. “Now you’re out of excuses!”, Claude said while smiling at him; then he left to go to his classes. After a few moments, Spear went back to his room.

There, he noticed the books on his desk. He dreaded talking to the librarian but he didn’t want to get in trouble. He reluctantly walked to the library. The librarian stared at him from the moment he entered the room, which made him feel even more uncomfortable than he already was.

“Uh… I wanted to… apologize… for not coming to the library in the past couple days…”, he said hesitantly, avoiding eye contact. The librarian kept staring at him. After a long, awkward pause, he continued: “Uh… would it be ok… to keep the books for a while longer? I will bring them back well before dinner…”

The woman scoffed. “Apparently the schoolmaster wants you to have priority over the books here.”, she said with a tone that suggested she was deeply offended by the idea. Spear looked at her with confusion. After a few moments she scoffed again and rolled her eyes. “That means that you can keep them as long as you want.” She then looked at him as if daring him to say anything.

“Oh… uh… thank you…”, he said hesitantly, a little surprised. After another awkward pause, he left and went back to his room to study.

✤ ✤ ✤

Some time after lunch, Spear heard a knock on his door, and heard Miranda’s voice from the hallway: “Come to the practice room.” He quickly got up from his desk and left to follow her. They found Silvia waiting in front of the room.

“Miss Grommer, thank you again for your kind help.”, Miranda said to her, and she nodded. Then the schoolmaster addressed the boy: “She’s here in case you hurt yourself; that should not be possible, but, well, this whole situation should not be possible, so better be safe.” Spear didn’t know how to feel about this. They entered the room, and Miranda asked him to show her what he’d been doing. The boy sat in front of the usual pendulum and made it swing. He explained how he would meditate and try to sense it. Miranda raised an eyebrow. “Who taught you to do this?”, she asked.

“Uh… I read it in a book… and Claude showed me this room…”

“Hmm. Try it again.”, she said.

“It’s… really painful…” Spear wasn’t looking forward to it. Miranda pierced him with her eyes. After some hesitation, he closed his eyes; as he did so, Silvia put her hands around his head. After a moment, he screamed in pain, and opened his eyes, breathing heavily.

“I don’t feel anything wrong with him…”, Silvia said to the schoolmaster, really puzzled by this. She held him while he regained his senses.

“Hmm. We’re in uncharted territory. I suggest you try with your eyes open, paying attention to the pendulum, and focusing only on it; you need to be able to endure the pain and narrow your focus. If you can limit how much you’re sensing, it should stop hurting.”, Miranda said.

Spear looked at her. He really didn’t want to do this. This felt worse than the whip lashes.

“You think he’s sensing more than just the pendulum?”, Silvia asked Miranda.

“From how he describes it, he’s sensing the whole room, probably more.”, Miranda said.

“But… that’s impossible!”, Silvia said, looking at her wide eyed.

“I know!”, Miranda said, a huge smile on her face.

Spear looked at them in confusion. Am I failing so badly that everyone is amazed by it?

“Miss Grommer, would you forgive me for dropping formality while it’s just the three of us?”, Miranda said. Silvia was surprised to hear this.

“Of course, schoolmaster.”, she replied.

Miranda kneeled in front of Spear and grabbed his shoulders. “Spear, I need you to try again. This is not physically hurting you, it’s just pain. It will go away if you learn to control it. Do you trust me?”

Silvia was taken aback by seeing this, but she said nothing. Spear hesitated. “Uh… of course… I trust you…”, he said, still not entirely convinced. Miranda kept staring at him with her piercing eyes. After a few more moments, he took a deep breath and faced the pendulum again. He stared at it and focused on it. At the same time, he tried to access his magic sense – the dull pain in the back of his head. It was harder than just focusing on the pain, but after a bit it came back in full force; he tried to endure it, but he almost passed out.

“Maybe we can try giving him a numbing potion?”, Silvia said, a look of concern on her face.

“No, I doubt that would work, besides, he needs to be able to focus.”, Miranda answered.

Spear was still struggling to fully regain his senses; Miranda sighed.

“I think we may have to stop here for today. Spear, please try again tomorrow. Try to spend as much time as possible doing this.”, she said, then addressed Silvia: “I don’t think your presence will be necessary, he’s not really getting hurt.”

“Actually, if Spear doesn’t mind, I would like to assist him tomorrow too…”, Silvia said, surprising the schoolmaster.

“That’s very generous of you, I’m sure he doesn’t mind. I’m grateful, Miss Grommer.”

“No need, schoolmaster”, she said bowing deeply, “I just don’t like not being able to help.”

Miranda nodded and, after making sure Spear would be ok, she left. Silvia helped him walk back to his room. Before parting, she addressed him: “I have classes all morning tomorrow, and I have training at the clinic in the afternoon; I’ll try to come back a little early; let’s meet by the practice room, say, one hour before dinner time?” He just nodded; he was curious about what she meant by “clinic”, but didn’t ask. She said goodbye and left, and the boy decided to study some more until dinnertime.

✤ ✤ ✤

Claude found Spear already waiting in front of the still almost empty refectory. “I can’t believe you voluntarily left your room early!”, he said with a big smile.

“I’m sorry…”, Spear said. Claude groaned loudly and went to sit at a table; Spear followed him and sat next to him. Plates of food started to appear and they started to eat.

“Hi!”, Silvia said, sitting in front of them. Claude immediately nodded to her.

“Uh… hi…”, Spear said. Claude narrowed his eyes at him.

“So, you can speak to people besides me?”, he asked.

“I’m sorry…”, Spear said quietly, avoiding eye contact. Claude rolled his eyes and sighed heavily.

“Claude, don’t be mean to him!”, Silvia said reproachingly. More food had been delivered in front of her and she started eating too. Claude narrowed his eyes at her.

“How do you know each other anyway?”, he asked.

“I’m trying to figure out how to cure his headaches.”, she said.

“Headaches?”

“When he uses his magic sense, his head hurts so much that he passes out.”

Claude rolled his eyes. “I’m not falling for it. What’s the real reason?”

“That’s the truth!”, Silvia said indignantly, feeling offended. Claude narrowed his eyes at Spear.

“Uh… it’s been hurting since yesterday morning…”, Spear told him.

“Wait… that can’t possibly be true… you want me to believe that you learned to use your magic sense yesterday morning?”

“Uh… well… I think I sensed something on fourthday…”, Spear said in an apologetic tone.

Claude stared at him, then he stared at Silvia, then he stared back at him and his eyes grew wide.

“He’s a big mystery!”, Silvia said with a smile. “The schoolmaster is training him personally!”

Claude’s eyes widened more and more. Spear kept eating awkwardly.

✤ ✤ ✤

It was firstday and Spear had two hours of intermediate physics in the morning again; he studied in his room the rest of the day, still trying to catch up with the rest of the class. When he got tired in the afternoon, he decided to go to the library to read more of the Barry Hotter book; he knew there was a chance he’d forget his appointment with Silvia, but he did his best to check the clock as often as possible.

A few minutes before the agreed upon time, he went to the practice room to wait for her. He sat in front of the usual pendulum. He stared at it and was scared of having to try again. Fifteen minutes or so later, she entered the room.

“Hi! Did I make you wait?”, she said.

“Uh… hi… no… I…” He wanted to say that he was hoping she wouldn’t come and he could just go back to his room, but he was ashamed of himself and said nothing. She sat next to him.

“Ok, so… I’ve talked a bit with Master Nantee and did some research… Apparently it’s rather common for wizards to get a headache if they overuse their magic. Nothing like you are getting though, and definitely not by just using the magic sense. So it’s still a mystery, but, if what the schoolmaster said is true, you may be overusing your magic sense.”

“Ah… thank you…”, he said and frowned; “Why are you doing all this for me?”, he asked, knowing that he wasn’t worth it.

“Helping people is what I want to do. It’s why I came here. So this is just me doing what I want to do; I’m not really doing anything for you.”, she said, looking directly at him and with a smile. He avoided eye contact; she was just another person he would disappoint. After a few moments, she continued. “Anyway, I think that what you should be doing is trying to shut your magic sense out; like closing your eyes or covering your ears or whatever. You want to sense less, not more; once you can do that, and get rid of your headache, then you can try to sense a little bit more, and see how far you can go without pain. What do you think?”

He looked at her, deep in thought. What she was saying made sense; additionally, doing the opposite of what he’d been doing seemed a far better idea than experiencing that pain again. He had no confidence that he could control his magic sense, but it was worth a try. He stared at the pendulum; there was actually no reason to be in this room for this, but they were here now. He sighed and closed his eyes. Instead of trying to focus on the dull pain in the back of his head, he tried to push it away. No matter how much he tried, though, it was still there. After many minutes, he opened his eyes. Silvia was looking at him with curiosity. “Uh…”, he said, “The pain is always there… I don’t know how to make it go away…”

“Hmm…”, she scrunched her eyebrows in thought. “Have you tried focusing on something else?”

He thought about it for a second and shook his head. Then he closed his eyes again and tried to think of something else. Eventually, he started imagining the adventures of Barry Hotter he had read about. He started picturing in detail all the scenes in the book – he could almost hear the characters talking and see them going to visit places and battle enemies. Then he felt something on his shoulder; his eyes snapped open to see Silvia staring at him with some concern.

“You’ve been sitting there with your eyes closed for a long time…”, she said.

“Oh…” He realized that he had been lost in his imagination again. “I’m sorry…”

She shook her head. “Did the pain go away?”

“Uh… not exactly… but I kind of forgot about it…”

“Hmm… I’m not sure if that’s progress or not.” She was deep in thought for a few moments, but then added: “We have less than ten minutes before dinner, is there anything else you want to try?”

After thinking about it, Spear shook his head. They got up and walked towards the refectory.

✤ ✤ ✤

Claude was surprised to find Spear and Silvia already waiting for him in the refectory. On one side, he was glad that the boy was starting to make friends. On the other, he was curious about what was going on between those two; clearly a lot of stuff was happening around Spear, but Claude had little hope of getting anything out of him directly. As they sat down and the staff started to deliver food, he considered if he wanted to get involved more; if he did, maybe he’d find out what was really going on; but, he was already busy with all his responsibilities. However… if the schoolmaster herself was willing to teach him personally, then maybe he should make time for him too.

“So… you guys are going to meet again tomorrow for practice?”, he asked.

“Yes, I have another busy day so we’ll meet at the magic sense room one hour before dinnertime.”, Silvia answered.

It was tough, but he decided he could make it. “Do you guys mind if I tag along?”

Silvia shrugged and looked at Spear. “Uh…”, he said awkwardly, “I don’t mind…”, even though he would feel even more self-conscious about failing with more people around; he was too ashamed to say it though.

“Ok then, I’ll be there!”, Claude said and started eating.

Next chapter: 9 – It would be silly to say that it should be impossible

Spear of Aiste by Gabriele Santilli is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0
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