For those of you that might have seen the most recent blog post, I have published a novella titled Dawn’s Arrival. This is a fantasy/horrorish story that takes place in my own universe. I describe it as “Harry Potter meets Frankenstein” in a way. Anyway, to drive some interest, I figured I’d post part of the first chapter! Check it out below and, if interested, buy the ebook or paperback here!
“I understand what you’re saying, Mr. Foxx, but I simply cannot continue to allow you to skip years every time you ask me! It just isn’t fair to the other students, many of whom have studied here for far longer then you have, nor is it fair to you.” The Grand Master said, raising his hand to gesture around the room in frustration. “Have you even bothered to form connections with either your peers? Or the faculty for that matter?”
“I have friends, Sir. If that’s what you’re asking.” Shifting my gaze away from the man’s doubting grey eyes, I turned my attention to the many books and various items of interest around the office. I didn’t understand what being social had to do with learning. Seemed more like a distraction, honestly.
“According to the various reports I’ve gotten about you, many of which express concern, I find this hard to believe.” The older man sighed and followed my gaze as it traveled across the many hundreds of aged texts and miscellaneous trinkets. “Social connections are an important part of academia, Mr. Foxx. Both during your education and beyond.”
Hearing the frustration in the man’s voice, I finally tore my attention from a section of the wall and the various books on it. Some of them had titles I had never heard of and I wondered if I might borrow them. Feeling grey eyes bore into me, I finally looked at the older Mage. From his appearance alone he didn’t seem like much. Middle-aged, approaching his fifty-seventh year, with graying black hair and a neatly trimmed beard. He was well dressed, as a man of his position should be, and had a face lined with signs of stress and exhaustion. Part of me felt bad for coming to him with my complaints, but I dismissed it. That’s his job. He should be used to for it.
“I understand, Sir. I just feel that it is a waste of my talents to be studying subjects that I already understand. I don’t believe my current professors have the ability to teach me any further.” I could tell from the thinning of his mouth that he didn’t appreciate my dismissal of his staff’s abilities. “Not to say that they aren’t masters of their fields – I’m certain they are – but the subjects they’re teaching…bore me.”
I cringed inwardly, knowing that I had sounded more like a child than a grown man, but held my ground and kept the man’s gaze. It was the truth, and nothing would change it. I was bored and felt like I was being stagnated by the educators I had.
The man trained his gray eyes on me, and rubbed his neatly bearded chin, scratching at a small patch of white hair. After a while he sighed and leaned back in his dark, red-leather chair, tapping his fingers on the surface of his desk. “Richard, your ability to grasp magic is extraordinary. Beyond anything I have ever seen in my decades of teaching. Truly it is a remarkable gift, and I am sorry you feel you are not being challenged in your studies.”
Sighing in relief, I lean forwards, “Thank you, Grand Master!”
“Allow me to finish, please.” Lowering his hand, which had been raised to stop me from speaking further, the Grand Master gestured around him. “I felt the same way you do when I was a young man. Not to the same degree, I would wager, but similar enough. The complexity of the courses is not geared towards a Mage of your gifts. A common issue with generalized learning, I’m afraid.”
The man pauses before gesturing to me, his lips taking a slight downwards tilt. “I cannot, however, continue to allow you to skip forward. Your knowledge and control may exceed the level of your peers, but your impulsiveness and lack of social connections worry me. I have seen many men and women fall apart after moving too far, too fast.”
Grimacing as he finished his explanation, I slumped in my own dark red leather chair. Doing my best to withhold a sigh of frustration as I considered his words carefully before shaking my head and lifting my gaze to meet his. “Sir, please. It feels like I’m getting nowhere, and it is frustrating. Surely I can do something? I’ll do anything! Just let me skip ahead one more year, just one!”
“No, Mr. Foxx. I don’t think that is in your best interest. My duty as the Grand Master of this university entails more than just your academic performance. I need to watch out for your mental and social well-being as well.” Leaning back in his chair and turning his gaze to the ceiling in consideration, the older Mage tapped his fingers together. “Have you considered maybe that you’re approaching your education here in the wrong way?”
“Sir?” I tilted my head in confusion. “The wrong way?”
“Yes. You’re so focused on mastering the courses provided that you’re not looking outside them for materials that interest you. You’re tunnel-visioning your education.” Gesturing around him, the man continued. “You showed interest in the many tomes and scrolls in my office, yes? Why not examine them closer and tell me what you discover.”
Furrowing my brow in confusion, I push my chair back from my side of his desk and make my way around the room to do as he asked. Coming to the first of many texts, I noted that it was dedicated to fire magics, specifically, on their construction in environments that aren’t suited for flame. The texts to its left detailing the subject further, focusing on specific environments like the southern rain forests, the arctic north, and even underwater. A series? I wonder if I can borrow these…
A quick glance showed that the author of the texts was the same individual – one Tellan Norn – I continued to browse the shelves. As I explored, I started to see a pattern and by the eighth text I had come realize what he was trying to show me. “These are all the same subject matter, aren’t they? Most of them, at least. Elemental Magic and their theory and application.”
“Indeed, Mr. Foxx. Can you remember what my Mastery was in?” The Grand Master said, genuine curiosity in his voice.
“Yes, you mentioned it in your introduction during my first year. Ulirk Tyam, you obtained an Elemental Magic Mastery two and a half decades ago while studying here.” The memory was enough easy to recall, as was what came after his introduction. “You put on quite the demonstration. I believe Professor Daylin called it “beyond risky and foolish,” if memory serves.”
At the mention of the, rather infamous, tongue lashing the Grand Master had received from the Alchemy professor, the older man waved his hand in dismissal. “Do you understand what I am suggesting here, Mr. Foxx?”
“I believe so, Sir.” Letting the man change the subject, I turned my attention back to the shelves I had been exploring before. Tracing the bindings of one of the newer tomes, written by the Grand Master himself, I gave the obvious answer. “You want me to pursue a Mastery, Sir? Wouldn’t that be tunnel-visioning, as you called it?”
“Not necessarily. Please, sit and let me explain.” Turning to look at the man, who gestured me back over to the desk, I made my way back to my seat. Once I was situated, he reached over to small side desk and grabbed the handle of a silver kettle, lifting it from a metal tray. “Tea?”
“No, Sir, thank you.” Shaking my head at the offered drink, I waited patiently for the man to pour himself a generous cup of the hot drink. After adding sugar and milk to his drink, the older Mage leaned back in his seat and continued.
“In a matter of speaking, yes, a Mastery is a form of “tunnel-vison.” Sipping from his drink, the Grand Master took a moment to savor it before looking back around the room. “But many Mages, including myself, choose to focus their attention on a singular subject in their later years, as you know. This is what I suggest. Consider it a hobby with future benefits.”
“So, you will encourage me to start on a Mastery early, but not allow me to skip a year in my general academics?” The logic had me confused, and I couldn’t help but feel that the Grand Master was being slightly unfair. “Wouldn’t it be better to just allow me to move ahead in my studies and place me with students that are doing the same?”
“There are no students doing the same, Mr. Foxx. Mastery is a self-driven pursuit with limited oversight from any professor. A far cry from the classroom-based studies you are familiar with.” Reaching into his desk, the Grand Master dug around – pushing aside several objects and muttering to himself. “In most cases, you are assigned a specific instructor as a “guide” to the process, but I believe I can fill that role.”
“I would be honored to have you as my guide, Sir. May I ask what you’re looking for?” Watching the man with curiosity, I leaned forward to try and catch a glimpse of some of the objects in the drawer. Due to the poor angle, I could only see an ink pot and several pieces of parchment.
“Just a little something that might assist you in your new studies – Ah! Here it is.” Removing his hand from the desk, the man closed the drawer and offered me a pin. It was a simple thing, an iron book with a large rune engraved on its front, but any student at the university would recognize it.
“Sir? Are you certain?” Reaching out to take the offered object, I looked it over in poorly disguised shock – knowing its implications. “I mean, I will gladly take it, but I want to make sure you’re not making a mistake…”
“Yes, I’m sure. Unrestricted access to the library, and the tens of thousands of tomes that lie within it. Find something that interests you, Mr. Foxx. And do be careful, some things are beyond even your understanding. I trust my faith in you will not be misplaced?” I felt a compulsion to raise my eyes to meet the piercing gaze of the Grand Master. His grey eyes burning through my brown ones, seeking…something.
“No, Sir. I won’t abuse this gift you’ve given me.” Shaking my head, tearing my gaze from his, I pinned the iron book to the front of my robes. “I promise.”
“Good. Make sure you don’t lose that pin and come to me if you have questions or concerns regarding your studies – specifically your Mastery. My door is always open to you, Mr. Foxx.” Nodding at the man’s words, and knowing a dismissal when I hear one, I reach across the desk to shake his hand and made my way to the door. Turning to bow my head in respect before slipping out of the large office.
Read More: The Knight that Wasn’t by Cody Ragland
That’s all she wrote for that brief glimpse of the story! To read more, please check out the full book on Amazon! You can get the ebook for $2.99 or the paperback for $6.99. If you enjoy it, please share it around and leave a review – any bit helps!