Defenses

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```                                                  Imryll walked through the desks of her students, looking over their shoulders. When she came to Darren, she stopped and laid a hand on his back. "You have a great gift for magic, and Arlen has sung your praises with the healing arts." She gripped his shoulder, adding, "But with a little more focus, you would be a better defensive spell caster."
Darren sighed and turned to the correct page in the book.
She released her grip and resumed meandering through the classroom, addressing her pupils. "Despite requiring greater attention, it's not impossible to excel in this field of magic. Remember, this specialty doesn't require brute strength."
"What's more important than raw power? Maxwell asked.
"You should know that already," the teacher said while walking to her desk. As she sat on the edge and looked over the class, she folded her arms across her chest. "Can anyone answer the question?"
"That's correct, Kira," Imryll replied with a warm smile. "It's like martial arts in that regard. Brute strength will always lose when it's up against a mage that uses subtlety."
"Then why can't I ever defend myself against you and the other instructors?" Norry asked.
"Because you're not half as clever as you think you are, Nory."
A few of the other students snickered.
Imryll scanned the classroom with steely eyes. "Unfortunately, I'm able to repeat that statement for each of you in this room."
The class fell silent, while a smirk grew on Norry's face.
"Now each of you is intelligent," Imryll continued. "Yet, just like relying on brute strength, depending upon your intellect won't take you where you need to go. While I insist on logic when we're working on mathematics, that strict hold upon reasoning is not well suited for defense. Yes, I teach you the rigid defensive spells. But depending on those will limit your defenses to your raw ability."
The students nervously picked at their books, letting a silence build.
The teacher closed her eyes and muttered something under her breath. She opened them and stared at Roland. "What would Volodar say about someone who sparred while relying upon brute strength?"
"He'd mock them as fools," Maxwell replied.
"Agreed," Roland concurred.
"This class is more similar to Volodar's martial arts regimen than he would care to admit," Imryll commented as she slid off the desk. She resumed her walk between the students. "Now, let's have a demonstration." She laid a hand on Norry, "Head to the back and start preparing an offensive spell."
Norry leapt from his chair and scampered into the corner and began crafting his attack.
She stopped next to Darren and tapped his shoulder. "I want you to prepare yourself to defend against Norry's strike."
Norry's eyebrows rose as the corners of his mouth curled into a grin.
"Yes, ma'am," Darren answered. With a sharp inhalation, he asked, "Release the rigidity of logic?"
She leaned down and whispered, "You are correct, now place this challenge into the context of martial arts. Norry is preparing a haymaker. Is the best option to throw your shoulder into the attack?"
"No," Darren muttered.
"What's the proper way to counter it?"
"To get underneath the strike and deflect it," Darren murmured. He turned and looked up into his teacher's emerald eyes. "Is that all I need to do?"
"No," Imryll replied. Standing up, she addressed the class. "Besides understanding the technique of blocking the incoming strikes, you must identify the incoming spell. Keep in mind trying to redirect a lightning bolt with a disc of water will do nothing to protect you." She turned her head and stared at the halfling. "Are you ready?"
"Oh, I'm ready to go," Norry said with menace dripping from his words.
Imryll gripped Darren's arm. "Are you?"
"No," Darren responded, while he climbed out of his desk. "But, I suppose I can't delay this."
Imryll straightened and addressed Norry. "Once Darren is in position, you may unleash your spell."
"I am ready for you, Darren," Norry replied.
With a deep breath, Darren unleashed his senses and felt for the attack while he walked to his place. He faced his classmate and probed the strike.
Darren closed his eyes and continued probing Norry's prepared attack.
"I'll take that as a yes," Norry declared as he threw his spell.
"I wasn't ready!" Darren howled as he reached for his power. He took another moment to study the spell's construction and fumed at the complex nature of the magical construct. Norry wove fire, lightning, and force into a coherent attack. Darren pulled upon his abilities and shaped a defense consisting of earth and energy. He thrust his counterspell up into Norry's strike, driving it into the ceiling.
"How did you do that!?" Norry cried as the spells plowed into an absorption rune etched into the ceiling.
Maxwell raced from his desk and grabbed Norry's shoulders. "You were supposed to wait until he was ready!"
"Let him go," Imryll commanded. She stalked over to the pair and separated them. "Norry, why did you unleash your attack early?"
"I was probing his attack," Darren said as he pulled Maxwell away. "When we're dueling, that signals our readiness."
"This wasn't a duel," Maxwell grumbled.
"Agreed," Imryll commented as she glared at the halfling. "In fact, I specifically told you to wait until he was ready." She narrowed her eyes, adding, "And for this exercise that included allowing him to get an understanding of the attack."
Norry looked at the ground muttering, "He deflected it just fine."
"While his attempt was valiant," Imryll said, lifting Norry into the air with a spell. "I forced your attack into the ceiling."
"How much would have come through?" Darren inquired.
"Enough to severely injure you," Imryll snarled as she pulled the halfling to her. "We don't tolerate this kind of behavior, Norry. You pull a stunt like that again, and I'll ensure Leodar throws you out of the Academy."
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