(This scene of Jamison, Cole, and Lorica having dinner at Elira’s house is one of the earliest that I wrote when I began working on The Brumal Star. It showcases the evolution of the characters as well as ideas that became canon to the story, such as Edmund Warde’s distrust of magic users.)
“I remember when I was little, my mother had these really big scarves and I could wrap myself up in them and they would my robes, and I pretended I was a magic user. I would go outside, and pretend the birds and the squirrels could talk to me. And I’d convince myself they could understand me,” Lorica said.
“One day, Edmund came home early and saw what I was doing. He got really upset and didn’t let me do it anymore. I don’t know why. I think he never trusted magic users.”
“I would never want to be a magic user. I heard that if you flunk out of magic school, they follow you around for the rest of your life,” said Cole.
“Pff, where did you hear that?” said Lorica.
“My cousin said so,” said Cole.
“I’m sure it’s just a rumor. They would never be allowed to spy on people!” said Lorica.
Jamison raised an eyebrow. “I should think you’d both be wiser than that by now, especially you, Lorica.”
“What do you mean?” asked Lorica. She spooned more potatoes onto her plate.
“The Abele-Calare, wherever they are, are never above domestic surveillance. Just in case, of course,” he said.
“Why?” asked Cole.
“Well, let’s put it this way. You know the old adage about if there’s a rule about something, it’s because someone screwed up somewhere, and that’s why the rule exists?”
“I guess so,” said Cole, chewing his roll.
“Well, the law that states that all former students of any magic school on Ransara who drop out or do not graduate under the guidance of a master must be watched thenceforth. This is because many years ago, there was the young man in Caldrie who dropped out of their Araskolsa to become a baker with his uncle. The story goes that he never really wanted to be a mage in the first place but that his parents were the ones who pushed him to do it. Anyways, he had the talent, but it grew stronger than he could manage.
“He used it here and there to cheat his duties in the bakery; you know, to help mix the ingredients or speed up baking times. Mostly harmless stuff. Except this one fateful day, he cast an incantation to get the bread dough to rise a bit quicker as they were under a holiday crunch and were extra busy, so he thought this little trick would help move things along.”
“Well, the dough kept rising and rising, and rising, and showed no signs of slowing down until it had overflowed right out of the pan onto the floor, where it kept on growing until it reached the corners of the kitchen. He knew he was in big trouble when it started oozing out the windows and flowing out of the building and down the alley. By then, it had become sentient and rampaged its way through town, sweeping citizens along its path and engulfing them completely.”
“A killer bread dough that escaped!” said Lorica.
“They said it was like a humongous dough-worm creeping down the city streets,” said Jamison.
“I’ll never look at a loaf of bread the same way,” said Cole. “So what happened?”
“The Council in Caldrie were called in to subdue and destroy it. They rescued who they could, but there were a lot of fatalities, and many more injured. There was lots of damage and the uncle nearly went bankrupt paying for some of it. The rest had to come from the town’s coffers. He lost his business. Of course, he disowned his nephew, who went to jail, and when he got out, he was forever watched to make sure he never used magic ever again.”
“Wow,” said Lorica. “That seems unfair that the uncle lost the bakery because of what his nephew did, though.”
“I agree,” said Jamison. “The entire account is described in the Magic on Ransara book Elira gave you. I recommend you take a look at it. There’s also an account of a student who dropped out of the Araskolsa in Gansell to become a horse trainer. He spontaneously grew powers that were beyond his control.”
“What happened?” asked Lorica and Cole, in between bites of roast pork.
“He had been trying to use magic covertly to train the horses but it backfired terribly. The Calare of Gansell had to intervene before any more horses sprouted ten or twelve extra legs and other body parts, stampeded into the city streets, crashed into market stalls and people and whatever else was in their way.”
“That sounds ghastly!” said Lorica. Cole agreed.
“Indeed,” said Jamison. “This is what happens when magic is not contained. But wasn’t a complete disaster. Some of the horses only levitated out of their corral. They all had to be ‘corrected’ by Calare mages. You can be certain they mustn’t have been too pleased to be charged with that task.”
“No, I suppose not,” said Lorica, wiping her mouth. These stories were enough to scare anyone off magical training.
Too bad there wasn’t a single thing she could do to get out of it.