A polite request from the Magic School Chancellor asking her to stop by Professor Jues’s office and stop her quacking . . .
“Oops . . . might have not realized how much oomph I put into that one. I wonder who’s giving her lectures?”
She shook her head, finished eating, cued up answers to the messages that needed it and stepped back out into the house a minute after she’d left. Sighed, and headed for the School of Magic. Professor Jues’s office door was closed, with three students sitting against the wall.
They eyed Rael, as she walked up and knocked. “She won’t let you in.” The little dark one shrugged. “We need to know when the class will start again, but she won’t talk to anyone. We figured she was still quacking, but we could do yes-no questions. But . . .”
“Right.” Rael circled her hand, tried the knob. It turned, and she opened the door. Jues leaped up behind the desk, flushing with sudden anger and Rael slipped in and locked the door behind her.
Jues bared her teeth and hissed.
Rael reached out mentally and snapped the Quack spell. “Sorry that lasted so long, I’m still retraining after childbirth. Let’s see, now your hair . . .”
“You, you . . .” She put her hand to her throat, “Bitch! You hideous pervert, fucking natives and letting them get you pregnant! You . . .”
Rael tuned out the rather unimaginative cussing and studied the woman. And when she stopped for a breath, jumped in. “Why? Are you trying to destroy the Directorate students?”
“I follow the rules, you stupid traitor! It has nothing to do with me! The Directorate thinks they have the best? Ha! Prove it, run with a handicap, or quit like sniveling cowards!”
And you enjoy it . . . but if it’s not your idea to handicap the strongest Oners . . . whose is it? And how long has this been going on?
“So you’ve been teaching for eighty-four years? How long have these rules been in effect?”
“Over sixty years. After Granite Peak, we changed all the training procedures, all the selection criteria. That’s when Directorate Studies split off to be an entirely separate School. Stupid egotists started acting like they were better than the rest of us, but all those Bullies and Rapists needed was brute force spells and shields. And they could learn those in the field, away from people they could poison with their brutal outlook on life!”
How utterly fascinating.
“Well, to get back to the issue of your hair . . .”
“Bitch! Don’t you dare use another spell on me. Get out. Now!”
Rael got up and walked out without another word. Closed the door behind her, and eyed the three girls. “I’d recommend going away, and just showing up for the lecture.”
And I need to research this bloody stupid University!
The three afternoon classes were about the same, beginners with promise.
The fourth class, the three students who’d had mental, physical, and energy shields, who could already collect power . . .
“Milo, relax. You’re collecting too much power for these minor tasks.” She ran them through a few cycles of raising and lowering shields, holding two, and then three shields at once.
“Ekve, drop all your shields. Stretch, relax. Meditate and quiet your mind.”
The boy squinted at her. “But I’m no good at this, I can’t hold more than a single shield. I . . . I have to try harder.”
Nods from the other two.
“Even though I’m lousy at Theory.” Milo added.
A glum nod from Infu.
Rael sighed. “I am investigating the situation. The long and short of it is that Professor Jues just purely hates the Directorate School students. She always uses her discretion to lower those score by a full point. The head of the Directorate School Magic Department always protests, so she raises them half a point. When Yppo died late last semester, she went completely bonkers and lowered everyone two full points. And an additional point, for the two best students.
“You, Inuf, and Milo. Flunked the three of you. Ekve, Kev? Yeah, that grade that popped up? That was the unrevised grade, before she downgraded you. Three point five, and you’re a freshman, not juniors like these two.”
“Milo, why didn’t you take Intro until you were a junior? C’mon. Fess up.”
“I . . . started here to piss off my dad. I figured I’d just get an education, a job, be a widget at Interior or something. Away from my father’s control freak attempts to ‘help’ me.” He squirmed. “Then last years I met some incoming students, all bright-eyed and hoping for X Teams and adventure and . . . and . . . something clicked. So I took that damned class.”
“And you did very well, good enough, with a strong glow, for Professor Jues to target, all through the semester, giving you the lowest possible point whenever possible, and then losing it and being blatant in her attack.”
Rael looked at the three of them. “You are the best. And you’re all three going to be very strong magicians.”
:: Now. Telepathy. ::
They all blinked at her voice in their minds.
And caught on very quickly.
She sent them off to their dinner and stumped off for home herself. The sun was nearly down, the breeze chilly after the warm dome.
I’d better stay away from Jues for a long time. Else I’ll kill the bitch for what she did to these three.
And . . . what about Qamar? She’s got a worse case of zero self-confidence than these guys.
How long did they have to pound at the daughter of a Prophet to make her doubt herself?
“And why do it?”
“Do what?” Xen’s deep voice invisibly beside her.
“Don’t tell me you were watching.”
“I wanted to see how well the greenhouse was working. Your students were quite impressive. Poorly trained, for their age by Either Wizard or Mage standards. When do children start getting lessons?”
Rael winced as she walked into the Soft Building. “Odd isn’t it?” Still invisible? What are you up to, God of Spies? “We don’t do any training at all until they touch the One—grasp power, as you would say. Then they get meditation practice.”
“Ouch. But that would explain why they need to be in the enclaves. No control until they’ve had a couple of years of lessons?”
“Now that we’ve met you lot, seen what you can do . . . I’m thinking we need to start earlier. A lot earlier.” She unlocked the door of the office, well, antechamber and . . . jolted to a stop.
“Ah. Dog crap on the carpet. How nice!” Xen snorted and gestured. The turds disappeared, smears and all. The magic lock on the sliding doors was undisturbed, her office proper untouched.
Locked outer and inner doors and walked home to collapse.
Xen handed her a glass of red wine, and set a tray of various yummies beside her.
“Are you trying to spoil me?”
“Yes.”“Good. Because teaching a couple of college classes in Magic theory is turning out to not be the break I thought it would be.”