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01 June 2019 @ 07:59 am

Chapter Six

The Academic Life

“First day of classes. Wish me luck!” Rael dropped a kiss on her almost-husband’s head.

Xen eyed her up and down in running attire. “Run fast, don’t freeze.”

“Not a chance. Ta!” Another kiss on Exzy’s uncombed red hair, and she was off.

She stepped through the door to her office, and trotted down the stairs and out. The lights were on at the track, the winter sun two hours away from rising. The coaches did a double take as they recognized her.

“So, is having a professor’s score on the board good or bad?” She grinned as they swapped glances.

The older guy laughed. “Might make some of the Laaaadddies try harder. And I suspect it’ll remove any excuses.”

The younger one was taping away at his comp, and Rael’s name popped up on the board. She wave her thanks and bounced out to the track. Pushed herself a little. With the fast room and all, she’d had three months to recover from pregnancy and childbirth. And she’d been running, stayed in shape . . .

Arno ran up beside her, and managed to stay with her for two laps. Ryol showed up for the last lap, and was straining to keep up with them.

“Catch you guys later. Come see my office tomorrow. Today’s going to be busy.” She veered off the track and checked the board. Not a bad time . . . but last year it would have been an off day.

She was feeling the burn in her legs, and breathing a bit quickly after a mere two kilometers. “Out of shape.” She backtracked, office to house, for a shower, breakfast, and to contemplate what to wear to look professorial.

I have Basic Magical Practicum at eight, then I’ll observe Joke’s and Lenny’s first classes. And Advanced Martial Arts.

Right after lunch, my two classes. So maybe I should check and see if anyone’s signed up for the Basics, then go observe . . . take my karate gear with me, in case Ikku wants me to demonstrate anything.

She opted for warm clothes for the practice. In case I wind up sitting on the cold hard ground.

More likely, no one will be there.


Everyone was there.

Milo, sporting a spectacularly bruised face, shuffled to the fore. “We all got an email about our grades. Now we can all sign up for Basic Practicum.”

“I see. All right. The problem is that what I am going to teach you is dangerous. So the class size will be limited to five.” She ran quick estimate of the group. Seventy some. Oh. My.

How many of you are seniors? None? Excellent. Then we have time to straighten this out. This week and next, I’ll run the very beginners level, get your mental shields up to snuff. Then we’ll see how many practice sessions we can fit in between your class schedules, and mine.”

She looked around, then waved at the practice field, a slightly sloped acre of neglected lawn, with a high bank at the back to catch the stronger spells. “Spread out. Sit on the grass, cross-legged, and show me your mental shields. Some of you may have enough training already to skip these early lessons.”

She talked them through raising and lowering shields, keeping their own thoughts in and other people’s thoughts out. With her comp in hand asking names and taking notes.

“Tomorrow there will be no practice. Find time to come by my office and we’ll see how we can best fit everyone in.”

It’s going to keep me out of trouble!

She dismissed them, and slipped unnoticed into Joke’s first class, where the young woman was having no problems with dominating a room full of teenagers.

An hour later, around the corner in another small lecture room, Lenny was getting a bit of backchat from a pair of older students, but handling it well.

She slipped out early, dressed out in her black gi, black belt with the green rank band, and headed for the dojo. Hopefully just to observe today.


She caught Ikku before class, as the students were trickling in.

“I talked with Kael and Ajha, yesterday, about what they’d like me to teach the Team Trainees” Rael eyed the young men frowning at her. “Kael especially mentioned mixed magic and martial Arts. Do you need my assistance with that?”

“Ha! As if a women could be any good.” One of the young men crossed his arms and stared at her.

Ikku sighed. “Wave? Perhaps that is not wise to say such a thing to Rael Withione Montevideo?”

“Oh right. The most incompetent assassin in the Multiverse? Do you think we actually believe those claims about Auckland? Funny how the helicopter shots were at the wrong angle, but really, she was slicing through metal and concrete?”

Rael looked him up and down, looked back at Ikku. “If he’s not too stiff from yesterday, perhaps a bit of sparring?”


She barely made it to Advanced Magical Theory. Cleaned up, in a business suit. Refused to limp as she walked into the huge auditorium.

Which was stuffed.

“Well, I wasn’t expecting quite this many people.” She brought up her class syllabus on the big screen behind her. “I’m Professor Rael Withione Montevideo. And this is a tentative syllabus, since this is the first time I’ve taught this class.” Hell, it’s the first time I’ve taught academics, rather than practice.

“The first thing I need to know, is how far Professor Yppo got in the text book in last fall’s Magical Theory class. How many of you were in that class?”

“About a quarter of you? Good. This is the table of contents from the textbook from the class. Did he get all the way . . . I see a lot of shaken heads.” She pointed. “How far?”

“Chapter twelve . . . sort of all of it.”

“Right, about two thirds. Now someone who took it before . . .” Point.

“Same, finished chapter twelve.”

“Right. So the syllabus is going to get some serious revision. I’ll have that ready for you on Wednesday. The test times are about right, just the subject matter will change. So you’ve all got the book, and I’ll add another later, when I see how fast we progress.”

“Now, a quick refresher . . .”

Chapter Seven

Home Sweet Home

“Hmm, I’m almost afraid to ask how the first day went.”

Rael flopped onto the couch. And held her hands out for the baby. “I am badly in need of healing spells, and I was even tempted to try the wine. I wound up have to beat up, excuse me, spar with . . . I lost count. I think it was twelve bloody stupid—but well trained—men. And even one idiot woman.”

Xen touched her head and the pain went away, and her muscles unknotted. “Ryol called and said the Team Trainees didn’t take well to the concept of a woman being able to teach them anything.”

“I said mixed magic and martial arts . . . but today it was all muscles. Wednesday, I’ll see if they’ve got much in the way of magical training.”

“Yes, Urfa called and said you declared war on the School of Magic.”

“Well, the first three shots have been fired. One verbal, one cyber, and one small grass roots rebellion with a mere seventy-six students wanting me to teach them basic magic, rather than going to the School of Magic for the class.”

He snickered. “Very sensible of them.”

“Oh, and my Comet Fall Magical Theory class was packed. Standing room only, and people outside with the doors open.” She smiled as the baby reached and grabbed her short hair.

“Well, you might be the Empire’s expert.”