“You genuinely hope they’re rare?”
“Else I’ll be needing a whole lot of help.”
Narrowed eyes all around. Yep. I subtly said I’d need a lot of money.
Adse snorted. “If the University is going to be tasked with training Warriors, clearly the School of Magic is the proper location for that.” A glance at the scorched dorm. “As the Directorate School lacks the necessary staff to safely train . . .”
Eshy bristled. “I don’t believe the Magic School has a sufficiently large practice ground . . .”
“For explosions? No. But enough magically trained staff? Yes.”
Urfa shook his head. “This is an entirely different sort of training than the School of Magic currently teaches. And yes, it is beyond what the Directorate School usually deals with. But we’re not starting from zero, which the School of Magic would be. Plus the connections with the Directorate, which include access to several different training grounds we can utilize, as well as borrow personnel for certain aspects of the training.”
The University Chancellor nodded. “Indeed. Urfa, keep anything that might be dangerous off the campus and someplace where nothing can be damaged. I will consider the best way to handle the training of very strong magicians.
“Right now, why don’t you all join me for lunch?”
Which turned out to be a bit protracted. Rael arrived back at the practice field breathless and late, to find her women students being interviewed.
Oh. My. One. Those are the Society Page Newsies!
“. . . the New Girl Warriors! You six are going to be famous!”
No, no, no, no, no! Their parents are going to kill me.
Joke and Lenny were off to the side, with Dog and Ice. All four trying to not be noticed.
Not a hope Rael wouldn’t have been noticed. So she didn’t even try.
“Sorry I’m late. Now if you Newsies could stay back out of the danger zone,” Rael pointed. “That’s the closest spot where you can see the students’ faces, if you want pictures.”
She eyed Ryol, who nodded. “I’m allowed to watch, but not touch power. If just being near is painful, I’m to leave immediately.”
“Right. Go back there and try to not give the Newsies anything you don’t want to see in the headlines.” Rael dropped her voice to a faint breath. “Xen.”
“Too late. They recognized me.” She rolled her eyes. “Sorry about Granddad. My head hurt too much to point out to him that you were letting me reach for the stars, and that he wasn’t allowed to chain me down, not even out of love.”
Rael hugged her. “Don’t say that to him. Please. Now get well back.”
Letting her reach for the stars. Oh. My. One.
She turned back to the other five. “I’m sure it will come as no surprise that we are going to do some control and safety drills . . .”
Ryol, squinting, departed early.
She sent the other girls—young women, dammit—off a bit early, in the vain hope that the Newsies would go away.
The nine young men trotted in right on time, as a group, and got mobbed by the Newsies. And hammed it up a bit. Rael gave them a few minutes before breaking it up and putting the trainees to work on control drills.
Closed her eyes and studied their auras for complexity. Five of them are ready for a bit more.
She moved Milo, Osti, Agny, Eggo, and Fun down to one end of the line, and showed them how to shunt power they couldn’t deal with around their core and into the ground as heat.
“It’s better to not collect it in the first place, but for instance, if you were under attack, and an energy shield weakening, you could take some of that power and shunt it into the ground, relieving the pressure on your shield. You will get better with practice, to the point that you can do what the Fallen call channeling, and never actually internalize the power, as if the shunt were external to yourself, like holding a hose.”
She held up a fireball. “Milo, put up a soft energy shield, and shunt this power as I feed it to you.” A trickle at first, increasing until he was sweating. She stopped. “Nice. Agny? Your turn.”
They all handled it well, and the other four looked disappointed when she shook her head. “Not yet for you four.”
Kev grinned. “Hey, I’m not the only one left out, this time.”
Then the Newsies homed in on the big tall Team Trainees.
Ha! They can’t tell the difference . . . and there isn’t a lot of difference, other than that the others are younger, stronger than you, and getting stronger yet.
They preened for the Newsies, and Rael ran through control exercises and then let the chop firewood from a distance that had the Newsies sitting up and taking notes and pictures.
Her helpers all followed her home—well, to the office.
“That’s where Ryol was headed. She said she was going to kick back and ignore the world.” Dog grinned. “I don’t know how she expects to get the world to ignore her . . .”
All the “Trainee Warriors” were there, in and out of the antechamber.
“Oops, sorry, magic lock.” Rael tripped it and let them all in, blocked the trailing newsies and locked the outer door.
Joke rolled her eyes. “I hope I can get out of here and go home in a few minutes. Before rush hour.”
“Did you drive?”
“No I use the Metro . . . what are you plotting?”
“To teleport you someplace useful.”
“Ah . . .” She patted pockets. “I have to get my stuff out of the office . . .”
“Right.” Rael craned her neck, “Hey Arno! Let everyone into the house. Order pizza or something. I’ll be right back.”
“I’ll come too, and grab my briefcase, then we can lock up for the night.” Lenny followed them out.
A few newsies still hovered. “Don’t you guys have deadlines?”
She tossed up a shield across the hallway and walked away.
Joke looked back. “I wish I could do things like that . . . And get away with it.”
Rael giggled. “Oh, they love it when they can claim The Rael blocked them.”
“Heh.” Joke hunched her shoulders and closed in on the right corridor wall. “I hate this corner. I usually go all the way around to avoid it. Poor Dr. Yppo!”
Rael boggled. “Oh, I assumed he’d died at home. It was here?”
Deeper hunch. “In Puwd’s chair. At her desk. See, everyone knows she keeps a big first aid kit. Anyone who needs a bandaid or antacid, goes straight to her.”
“Umm, for a heart attack?” She looked left, at the corner office. Nothing to see, but the closed door to the outer office where Puwd reigned.
Lenny and Joke swapped glances.
“Well, see . . . Dr. Yppo was sort of a hypochondriac.” Joke scurried around the corner. “The Friday before he wanted my opinion of this mole. And started to pull up his shirt right there in the meeting room!”
Lenny snickered. “About five people told him to stay dressed and go see a doctor about it.”
Joke managed to hunch even further. “He tried to cut it off in the men’s room, with a slice and took a bit much. Bled all over in there, and down the hall, and all over poor Puwd’s chair, smeared blood allover getting the first aid kit out and a big nano patch on . . . then he keeled over and died.”
Lenny nodded. “Poor Puwd. I was walking up the steps out front and heard the scream.”
“I was already inside and ran to see what the problem was . . . I really wish I hadn’t.”
“Well.” Rael shook her head. “That’s . . . One! Poor man. I suppose he was so focused on the cut that he didn’t recognize the cardiac symptoms. Damn. I hate blood. I’ll have to be nicer to Puwd.”
“Yeah. It shook her. Dr. Eshy bought her a new chair and desk, and had Oliver put in all new carpet. The hallway, just got shampooed.” Lenny thumped Joke’s shoulder. “Sorry. Shouldn’t dwell on it.”
They collected their stuff and walked back out, locking up.
“So, I have a recognition point, a place I can teleport, need the main entrance.”
“Perfect.” Joke sounded relieved. “That’s where I grab the tram.”
Real felt the hallway, the relationship to her office bubble. Then the memorized feel of the sidewalk at the front entrance. She grabbed both their shoulders and stepped to the sidewalk.
“Whoa!” Lenny spun around, grinning. “Now that is how to travel!”
Rael grinned. “I’m glad you like it. See you tomorrow, Joke. Lenny, you want pizza?”
She touched his shoulder and stepped to the antechamber. “Can’t teleport in or out of bubbles, corridors, or through gates.”
“And you miss the brisk walk through the spring flowers.”
“Yep.” Rael led the way through the office. The kids had the door to the house open and the gang spread out from there to the back yard.