Chapter 36

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          Safely ensconced at the back of the room, Kallai was glad that Transformation was the last class of the day. Even after three full periods, she was still getting looks from her fellow Indigos, her absence during the morning having been noticed by all of them. She ignored them as best she could, her attention on Magi Halpho.

            The white-haired Magi was puttering around the desk below them, fussing with something hidden from view by the expanse of solid wood. After a few moments he turned around to look at them. His drooping mustache quivered as he spoke. “Now, now. Attention class,” he said, raising his arms as he always did, though no more than a handful of people were actually talking. “Today, we’ll be moving your education on. You’ve accomplished much in the art of Transformation, being able to change the states of elements just as you’re capable of changing an object’s very composition. You’ve finally progressed to where you’ll be transforming living creatures.”

            Whispers and excited murmurs erupted all over the classroom, as classmate grinned at classmate. It was said that some of the most difficult, and most impressive, magic was that of living Transformation. Anyone who wanted to be considered a truly spectacular Magi had to master the subject.

            Kallai only frowned and flipped her textbook to the correct section. She wondered what they’d be changing, and prayed that when they were forced to practice, she didn’t make whatever it was explode. Not only would she feel awful killing something, but the resulting carnage would probably set her to throwing up.

            Magi Halpho continued, elderly voice wavering as he spoke loudly. “Now, I’m sure you all remember that while Transformation can change objects into other objects, the only thing it can’t do is create life. We can change a living thing into a different creature, but its essence, its very life force doesn’t change. No mage, no matter how powerful, can create life from nothing, so today, we’ll be starting with these.” Their teacher ducked down then, coming up with a small, covered rectangle. He pulled the cover off to reveal a glass terrarium filled with jewel bright dragonflies.

            He nodded as Kallai sighed with relief. Even if the worse happened and she did explode one, a dragonfly wouldn’t likely hit more than her with its ichor. She refocused her attention, realising that Magi Halpho was talking. “…and so the symbols needed are variations on those that you know, incorporating all the many elements that make up each creature into one, over-arching symbol. As you can see,” he said, flipping the blackboard over. “I’ve already drawn you the symbol for a dragonfly. Now, I want each of you to copy down this symbol, and a second one, this one which you will make the appropriate changes to that will cause it to change a dragonfly into another creature. You have ten minutes.”

            Kallai joined her classmates in a scramble, hurriedly copying down the dragonfly symbol. Finishing the last curve, and feeling her hand ache slightly from her rapid sketching, she gently ran the end of her quill over her cheek as she considered her options. Her first thought had been a bird, as she found it difficult to think of changing a flying creature into one who couldn’t. It seemed almost cruel to her, to rob something of that ability.

            Both of her symbols were properly dry, her inkwell recapped, by the time Magi Halpho called a halt to their drawing. “That’s enough,” he said. “I’ll be calling on a few of you now, to come up and demonstrate your changed symbols. If you’ve done it correctly, we’ll see your dragonfly change. If you haven’t…we should be able to find out where you went wrong. Now, what should we do today? Hmm…”

            Kallai couldn’t help the reflexive tightening of her stomach at the thought of being called up. Magi Halpho had long given up looking for volunteers, and his way of choosing students was both creative, and ever-changing.

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