This piece is currently about 86 pages, untitled, and largely unedited; it is set in the Tower Earth setting.
“Magic is . . . a sort of paradox. It is simultaneously simple and complex. We know at its basic level magic is willpower properly applied to energy. Thus, grab energy, shape it, release. Nothing could be simpler, right? Wrong. If it appears easy, it probably isn’t; if it appears difficult, it probably is.
“As you know, there are three major conceptions of magic. To the witches, magic is an art. To the wizards, it is a science. To the warlocks, well, I’m really not sure, I’ve never gotten a straight answer out of one.
“Whichever tradition you began in will tend to color your understanding of high magics. For instance, wizards tend to treat alchemy like baking, a series of precise measurements and instructions. Witches tend to treat alchemy like cookery, winging it as it were.
“Ultimately, as every sorcerer learns, you don’t need any of that crap. It’s all training wheels. All you need is willpower, a touch of imagination, and a staff to act like a capacitor so you don’t fry yourselves.
“Because, make no mistake, as sorcerers in training, you will eventually be working with levels of power beyond the dreams of any low mage. It is easy to become hooked on that power, we do occasionally have to put down addicted blood mages or run interventions for those hooked on the products of alchemy. But, both are rare.
“All that said, sometimes the props help provide or reinforce focus and concentration. In our most high stress moments, we fall back on the old aids, much like muscle memory. In short, don’t worry about forgetting what you’ve learned before, it will never truly go away. Here, at the Tower, we will build upon that foundation.”
As introductory speeches went, it was not the most uplifting or spirited. But, it certainly had its effect. There were no cheers. There were no shouts. There were more than a few stunned expressions, frozen in a frankensteinian mix of excitement, interest, disbelief, and sheer terror. None of the assembled new students said a word.
Just like every incoming class, Jacobs decided. The headmaster truly had a way with words that was at once inspiring and terrifying. Awesome, in every sense of the word, old and new. Of course, a third of those kids would try to drop out immediately. Whether the headmaster would allow it or talk them out of it was another story. They would probably lose a couple, less than a handful, if prior experience was anything to go by.
That wouldn’t change how few were interested in his basic classes, though. Some would be excited, there were a couple every year, diamonds surrounded by the rough, unclear, rocks of those who never understood the excitement of poring over ancient documents and piecing together elements of forgotten cultures and magics.
“As you know, the Authority has deemed high magic, sorcery in particular, illegal to teach on Earth. And they were quite right to do so. The forces involved are potentially very dangerous. Even here, where we take all possible precautions, there are still accidents. We still occasionally lose students. Learning high magic can never be completely safe. Keeping that in mind, you all have a choice. It is not too late to leave, to return to Earth. But, doing so, you will remain low mages, never knowing the high magics. The risks of learning are potentially great, but the rewards—socially, intellectually, and in terms of personal power—are even greater, I believe. But, I cannot choose for you. You must do that for yourselves, but you must do so, unfortunately, in a short time. After tomorrow, there will be no chance to leave for some time.”
Out in the corridor, near the classroom door, Jacobs nodded. The heavy, reinforced, wooden door was slightly cracked. Just enough for the headmaster’s voice to carry a certain distance and an observer in the hall to see a cross section of the new students. It was rather impressive, Jacobs thought, that the headmaster still taught introductory classes for new students. Not many people in his position did so. But, Headmaster Waite took a more hands on approach in some aspects of the Tower and seemed to take personal responsibility for every student in the school. Or so it had appeared over the few years Jacobs had been teaching.
A young woman rushed past Jacobs, a trickle of sweat running down the side of her face. She pushed the door open enough to slip through without pausing and stopped a few feet into the room.