FRIDAY FICTION : CONTEMPORARY FANTASY
“…And that’s your spell?” High Magician Maurous looked down his nose at the grim trainee. “Miss Lucien, you do realize that spell creation is a significant portion of your overall grade and will affect your ability to graduate in a suitable standing for your station?”
Ravina Lucien stared back, calmly. Her second-hand apprentice robes showed their wear beneath the pulsing, glowing light orbs floating through the test hall. Her sleek, dark hair had already begun to curl and frizz. “I am well aware of the—requirements—High Magician.”
Another curled eyebrow arched upwards in disgust. “And this was your final project? A summoning spell so simple, a human child could perform it with the aid of the most basic of charms?”
Ravina’s hands slipped into the hidden pockets of her apprentice robe. “I-it took some complicated spellwork—sir.” She faltered beneath the stern gaze.
“Some?” Scorn dripped from the single word as High Magician Maurous turned away with a whirl of his fancy robes. Golden embroidery shimmered beneath the shining orbs, threads of burgundy glittering under the movement.
A rich, deep hue of red—a sign that this Magician’s hands were no longer clean. He had given to his flame—to magic—and thus, was no longer graced with the purity afforded to his counterpart, the esteemed Court Magician Ceros.
Glowing, faintly, with colors of silver and white, Court Magician Ceros stood tall beneath his high pointed cap, his wrinkled hands folded neatly in front of him. There was a barely visible twinkle in his pale blue eyes. “Might I ask as to why you chose a summoning spell?”
“What does it matter, why she chose it? There were a hundred and one possible spells to improve or build upon and-“
“Now, now, Maurous—children are curious beings. Something must have caught her attention. Perhaps it is something our old eyes have missed.”
“Missing more beneath that mop of hair, I would think,” Maurous sniffed. His golden eyes zeroed in on Ravina’s stiff form. “Well? Speak up!”
Ravina lifted her chin. “For my father—he is always—his glasses. He doesn’t see.”
High Magician Maurous frowned. “Isn’t your father human?”
“Pity. Perhaps if you had-“
“Maurous!” Ceros glowered at his old friend, silvery eyes gleaming with a fierce light. “Leave her be.” He swept forward from the judging platform to join them both on the small stage. “It—was—a bit simplistic, but the kindness of your act, is noted. I will take it into consideration when grading.” He smiled at her and then at his colleague. “As will you—old fellow.”
Golden eyes narrowed into flinty points. “I shall do no such-!” the word was bitten off with an audible squeak.
Ceros only smiled wider. “You’ll do exactly as I’ve said. Exactly. Thank you, Miss Lucien.”
Ravina stumbled off of the stage. She ducked her head, slinking down the aisle and into her seat in the fourth row, sixth seat.
A few whispers and snickers rose up around her, but they were drowned out by the despair of her own thoughts.
Her one chance to bring up the family name—and she’d lost it.
A basic Magician’s license was no small feat, but she’s hoped for more. For at least a Junior certificate—her mother’s magical blood would have allowed her to reach that far.
The rest of the ceremony blurred by and she watched, unhappily as her fellow apprentices were gifted their graduation tokens.
Only six others had seemingly failed the test—and it was due to incorrect spellwork or lack of control over their raw magic.
Raving almost felt sorry for poor Miss Belton—the pretty girl had been reduced to tears when her wand had exploded, taking High Magician Maurous’s official hat along with it.
As amusing as the sight was, Ravina couldn’t bring herself to even laugh. She’d only bowed her head, hands clenched tight atop her knees.
It wasn’t fair—it wasn’t fair!
Not for Miss Belton and not for her.
Magic was about feeling and emotion.
She’d poured her heart into that spell and yet—nothing had come of it.
The great bell tolled in the academy courtyard and the day’s testing came to a close. All who hadn’t been tested that day would return the following morning.
Those who had failed would have to repeat a year before trying again.
Ravina filed out with her group, her footsteps dragging as the dorm came into sight. This had started as such a wonderful day…
The Academy faded in the distance as the ground began to shrink. Ravina blinked rapidly to clear the tears forming inside of her sky goggles.
The only way back home was via Skylarks—well, Giant Skylarks—and it meant a cold, blustery sort of trip.
Her few things were neatly shrunk and packed into her apprentice’s knapsack, while her heavy-duty, spell-reinforced goggles were strapped to her head, beneath the hood of her inherited travel cloak.
Eventually, all recognizable details vanished and only the brightness of daylight and the blueness of the sky, greeted her.
There were two other young ladies also traveling back home—but they chattered excitedly to each other, showing off fancy broaches and ornaments—their graduation symbols.
Ravina hunched inside of herself, wrapping her arms around her legs, and working to make sure that her sticking spell remained active.
At this high altitude, it was easy to lose a grip on an active spell and to fall to the ground—well, her wing-sprouting spell wasn’t anything to write home about.
Eventually, the other two floated down to their respective destinations and welcoming parties.
The Skylark Rider had given a sad shake of her head, as the flight continued on out into the far end of the kingdom, towards the royal libraries.
Ravina made sure to tip well, before she accepted the puffy white cushion that would float her down to safe distance.
She glided into the courtyard of the main library and waved at the grizzled old guard that stood, keeping watch.
Old Ben grinned at her, lifting one crooked hand in a disjointed wave. “Welcome back!” he said, cheerily. “I knew you’d be back.”
“Is Da here?”
“Up in the tower—like always.”
Old Ben doubled over in a fit of sneezes. “Still—up—at—the—palace.” He managed to get out.
Ravina drew her wand and tapped his shoulder, muttering the words for a mild healing spell.
The sneezing stopped. Old Ben wiped his nose on one armored elbow.
They shared a smile and then she leaned out, bopping his helmet with one hand, before dancing out of reach.
“That’s no fair-!” he called after her.
But she laughed as she raced up the side stairs leading up to the North tower.
“…And so I didn’t graduate,” Ravina tipped her teacup to the side. She squirmed in her seat as her father looked her over thoughtfully.
It was odd, being pinned in place by that unnerving white stare—but she knew he was seeing her the only way he could. The only way his scarred eyes would ever let him.
“Did you do your best?”
“Then you did well.”
“We’ve always managed, haven’t we?” He asked, mildly. “Your mother is a strong and brave woman, who manages to look after both of us, no matter how much grief we give her. We’re both proud of you, for all that you’ve done—and what you will do. You don’t need some fancy pants High Magician to give you a piece of gold and tell you it’s alright to be magical.”
Ravina flushed. When it was put that way…
Her father smiled, the expression softening the severe lines on his weathered face. “Why don’t you show me this special spell of yours?”
“Only if you’re not busy or anything…?”
“I’ve only taken an entire hour out of my research for you,” he said, dryly. “Not the least bit busy, poppet.”
Ravina was out of her chair in a heartbeat, her arms flung around his neck. “You’re the best,” she whispered, before drawing back. “It’s a summoning spell, but see—I thought it’d be great, if things walked to you.”
“Walked?” Eyebrows rose in curiosity. “Really?”
“Just—listen, alright? It sounded like a good idea, but Da, if you summon something, you have to listen for it, right?”
Her father nodded, slowly.
“You have to know where you left it, most likely, to know what direction it could be coming from and then you have to listen to hear the wind chimes so it doesn’t hit you in the face.”
Twin spots of red dotted her father’s cheeks. There had been several memorable occasions—a broken nose for one—in which summoning spells had gone haywire.
“So I thought, what if it walked to you? You can hear the feet and the spell allows the things to get out from under your feet—so you won’t walk on them and they’ll come to you.”
Ravina complied, swishing her wand through the air. The pair of garishly painted glasses at the far end of the room, sprouted miniature arms and legs, sliding down the study table and trotting over to meet them.
“I can hear it…” her father said, wonderingly. “It’s—happy.”
“You can—it worked!” Ravina did a little dance. “I tried to add something to the spell. You know, since summoning is easy? I thought, what if it gave the objects a sort of—personality? Like, they want to help you. They’re happy to be used, that sort of thing.”
“It’s happy alright,” her father said. He stretched down and held out a hand, where the pair of glasses was currently climbing up his leg. It stepped into his hand, chattering softly.
The arms and legs vanished, enchantment wearing off as he slipped them on, the desired object having reached the final destination.
He felt the frames and then the lenses, a smile beginning to work its way across his face. “Ravina—this is—do you know what you could-?”
“Do I?” Ravina snorted. “I could summon the King’s armory from out under him. I could put an entire city into uproar. I could turn any inanimate object against anyone—from a simple summoning spell.”
“I would hardly call that simple, darling,” said her mother, Lady Alverette, from the doorway. She entered then, dressed in her finest riding outfit. Her official title was Royal Horse Whisperer, but she worked with any sort of equine creature, a stable position with a modest salary. “I expected to see you before Old Ben.”
“Mum!” Ravina bolted across the room for a hug. She sank into the lovely, strong arms that wrapped around her. “I’m back.”
Her mother laughed. “So I see,” she said. “Richard—you’re supposed to tell me when the paint wears off.” She scolded.
Ravina turned. Her father was fiddling with the glasses—there was nothing out of the ordinary for them.
Except that the lenses had rather realistic eyes painted on the front and the frames were bright, neon blue.
“I’ll do it. I was practicing a new style,” Ravina pulled her mother across the room, summoning a chair and some refreshments at the same time.
Her mother suppressed a smile when the chair leapt to come to her side, coaxing her to sit down.
Snacks and a fresh pot of tea began to assemble itself together, as Ravina took her father’s glasses and spelled the lenses clear again.
She squinted through them, lips pursed in thought. “Which one let’s you see clearer?”
“The simplest ones,” he said. “The more complicated—I tend to smudge them and then everything’s blurry.”
“That’s because you’re always forgetting you’re wearing them,” her mother said. “Ravina—this is very well done. The enchantment doesn’t linger anywhere. Is it traceable?” She’d reached for the fresh pot of tea and found it to be entirely ordinary, as if the hot water hadn’t poured itself and tea ball hadn’t crawled into the teapot.
Ravina’s smile wavered. “I tried,” she said, softly. “I wanted to make you proud.”
“You always have,” came the quick reply. “Though I am curious.”
“Darling!” Her father straightened. “Don’t.”
“What?” Lady Alverette sat up straight, sipping delicately from her teacup. “I haven’t even asked.”
“Don’t do it,” he turned to Ravina. “Don’t.”
“He’s grown complacent,” Lady Alverette hummed. “Thinks that he’s all that—won’t even pay attention to my daughter?”
“Our daughter,” he corrected. “Ravina.”
“Ravina,” her mother said, sweetly. “What was that you said about summoning the King’s armory?”
A/N: Goodness me, it’s been eons since I’ve written a Friday Fiction NOT on an actual Friday, but this little gem was put in my head by a comment from a certain someone today. The story practically wrote itself and well, I needed the headspace, so I had to share. Would you like to see more of Ravina? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading~!