Discussions on the gaming forum I frequent have me thinking about the Magic School genre. Personally, I like the idea of magic instruction being handled by higher, rather than primary or secondary education, since this allows for magic folk who are competent in the mundane world.
I don’t want to explain everything, but I figured it’d be good to explain that much.
“School full of fucking magicians, and they’ve got me on a fucking plane,” I grumble softly as I stand in line for security, shifting the weight of my body and my bag from one supporting leg to the other. As I neared the tables, I started working my feet out of my loosely tied canvas shoes before stopping as the speakers above squawked-
“Holders of maroon and chartreuse checkered tickets, please see the security attendant designated by the same coloured badge, for a special process.” I looked around, pushing my foot back into my shoe, and held the red and green patterning of my ticket up to be seen by a guard who’d met my eyes. It was subtle, but his uniform was older in style than those worn by the other attendants, and not just 80s shoulder pads style. The pants were plain and simply made, black with a stripe of red and green banded ribbon up the sides, the shirt more of a pale blue tunic, not tucked in, with a slightly darker vest, more of a doublet, over it. On the upper chest of his vest, there was an embroidered patch of a shield, an orange band across the top, the rest maroon, save for a smaller red shield centered upon it with a stripe of pale blue down it’s center. He nodded as he saw my ticket’s checkered edge and waved me over.
“Are you, er, with the university?” I asked, recognizing the colours of his badge from the letter that had arrived a few months ago, unbidden, and deeply confusing,
“I am,” he replied, “please, follow me. I just want to see if there are any others…. ah, yes.” He gestured again to people in line, and I was shortly joined by four more people. Nervous, unsure. Only one seemed perfectly at ease. He had the confidence that often came to the conventionally attractive. I looked him over as he strode up, greeting the guard with a distant warmth. He was tall, his build solid, muscled, but not overly bulky. His hair and teeth impeccable, and his clothes quite expensive.
The other four of us traded a sidelong glance as we all knew this was some trustfund pissant. His manner with the security attendant was that of a man accustomed to dealing with servants, underlings and hired hands, which must be dealt with in a magnanimous, but firm manner, to keep them in a good a mood even as you reminded them of their relative station.
“Yes, hello, Mr. Cascara,” the guard said, practically forgetting the rest of us, “I was told I would be he- serving you today.”
“Mm, yes. I do hope this bit about procedure is for the, er, mundies’ benefit?”
“Oh, don’t worry, sir,” the attendant said, ushering us through a door, “it’s perfectly quick process, nothing like the ordeal they must go through. Wouldn’t want the wrong sort to get through and be a danger to the new year of students.”
The four of us not obviously brought up by someone made of more wood pulp than an actual tree rolled our eyes as one, and, to my amusement, so do the attendant as Mr. Cascara stepped past him.
“So, I take it you have a good idea what this is all about, Cascara?” I said.
He turned, his face knit in something between offense and incomprehension that someone addressed him in a room clearly containing only a single peer.
“Mr. Cascara, please,” he smiled fakely, “Yes, my family has been in the University for generations. We’ve contemplated moving to England so that we may start our instruction much earlier, but so many of the family inv-”
“Right, so you know what’s going on. Good on you,” I said, cutting his recitation of the family wiki article short and silently enjoying the look on his face as he suddenly wasn’t allowed to finish gloating. “I’m sure your family thinks it’s hot shit, but the mark of a good breeding in this instance would be making your knowledge available to the people who clearly don’t have generations of immersion in this world, not making sure the school employee knows what you think his place is.”
Cascara scowled. “So you’ve chosen to make enemies before the term has begun,” he said. “Well, it’s certainly a novel concept. I didn’t particularly expect you lot to know your wands from your asses, but this is a surprise.”
“Wait, wands? We get wands?” said one of the others, a slim young woman in glasses behind me.
“The letter mentioned something about them,” I said before turning back to Cascara. “Fuck sake, stop this bullshit peerage routine. We all can trace our lines back to fabled magicians, that’s how this works. Just because your family is so carefully arranged that most of the members are of the illuminatable percent doesn’t mean you’re better.”
“Yes, it does,” Cascara said, “Tell me, have you received tutoring in spells? Dueling? Metabiology?”
“Formal? No, but I’d lay wager that much of mythology was based on what comes from the Other Realm, so there is a certain amount of autodidactism going for me.”
“IF you needed a bezoar, where would you look?” Cascara asked, the question mark replaced with gloating.
“Stomach of a goat. Failing that, a cat’s stomach or the stomach of a nervous preteen young woman with poor habits. A bezoar is an accumulation of hair and undigested food particles commonly found in goats, but more commonly heard of these days in ‘bizarre surgery’ listacles online, and standing to reason possibly discoverable in cats, which are believed to cure poison.”
Cascara was slightly taken aback. “Luck. What is the procedure for homunculus creation?”
“Combine the master’s blood or scum with clay and a few various herbs in a mason jar, shake to combine, and bring to around 150 degrees Fahrenheit, the optimal temperature of compost, and maintain that for 40 days, after which time the now transparent humanoid form should be kept at 104 degrees Fahrenheit and fed blood daily for 40 weeks. Of course this is my own surmising of the accuracy of medieval texts. It’s entirely possible that it does in fact require specifically semen, specifically horse manure, etc, but I’m going out on a limb that such things are medieval reference, not absolute necessities.”
Cascara was silent a long while as I smirked. “What,” he said with a smug self-satisfaction, “is the purpose of the Philosopher’s Stone?”
“While the Philosopher’s Stone’s most known capability is facilitating the transformation of base metals, such as lead, into higher metals, such as silver or gold, its purpose was the transmutation of the human form, purifying the base flesh into a higher form, potentially one which is immortal, certainly one which is rejuvenated. Of course, I am self-taught from what is considered mythology, so I cannot know what the true purpose is, but that is what the mythology posits, and I’ve been right so far, so I feel fairly confident in saying that the true purpose of the philosopher’s stone is to rejuvenate the alchemist and grant them immortality.” I see from the corner of my eye the amused smiles of my fellow lost wights–magically gifted peoples whose families forgot their lineage. Cascara clearly wants to find some way to prove his superiority over me.
No one’s under any delusions that his likely-magically-augmented physique is somehow anything but superior to my all-natural flaws-and-all body bricolaged to an approximation of my satisfaction with transition hormones. But this has nothing to do with physiological giftedness. This is all about the wealthy lording around over the lower class. Gee, look at that, magic’s no cure for human bullshit.
The attendant cleared his throat, “There is a plane to catch, ladies and gentlemen.”
I looked to the attendant and shouldered my bag again, “yeah,” I said, looking back to Cascara, “I’m sure the plane won’t mind us continuing our measuring.” I turned and followed the attendant through the door, “Not sure how much the inches matter when it’s clear I’m still unrolling measure tape and Cascara here’s already tucking his away making apologies and saying this never happens to him.”