“The paradigm shift of the equilateral line placement creates an intermediary between the runescape and the individual’s chakra. To induce causality, one must understand the exact rate of possibility. Only by calculating how unlikely something is to happen, can one use their own internal chakra to induce a spontaneous event. Now… turn to page 52 of the Introduction to Magic, where we will read the words of Professor Tigress… who argued that only through angular shifts, one can break the unilateral nature of the shape, while inducing one’s will to take form.”
My foot was suddenly stomped on quite painfully, causing my eyes to pop open. “You’re snoring! Don’t embarrass me!” Brooke hissed.
It had been over a week since I had started going to school regularly. Madison remained at home with Aunt Rose. Rose splurged and got her a computer and camera, allowing Madison to create videos. Although I was never that interested in this worlds version of the internet, according to Madison, her channel has been doing exceptionally well. It took a little bit of snooping, but I realized that part of the reason that Madison was so successful was that she mentioned me. Few women in this world had a brother, so speaking of a brother whom you still live with is naturally a rare event. Part of me wanted to know what she was saying, but I was a little worried to check on her.
That bastard Oswald also took over as my lawyer. Being dismissed by a man, my previous female lawyer was quite haughty. She told me I was making the biggest mistake of my life and then stormed out angrily. At least it was over will, and I was now attending school regularly on the disguise of Clarice. Brooke had been sticking to me like glue, unwilling to allow me to even pee without her presence. She wanted to make sure I didn’t cause any more trouble, but it’d be nice if she just took me for my word.
That’s what lead me to the Introduction of Magic. If this was the intro, I couldn’t imagine the intermediary class that Rebecca was in, let alone the advanced classes Madison has been in. Every lecture sounded much the same as this one. The woman in front of the class droned on about vaguely mathematical terms until my eyes and ears felt like they might bleed. I was really excited about the concept of magic when I heard about it, but now that I was in the class, somehow, it was the most boring thing I’d ever been involved in.
I knew the magic in this world was nerfed compared to my imagination, but this took that to the extreme. The magic involved using complex algorithms to calculate certainty. That was the basis of magic in this world. Possibility and impossibility. It was basically a concept in physics. Reactions could be spontaneous or nonspontaneous. When there is a greater amount of energy, you could induce a spontaneous reaction. However, with magic, you’re always trying to induce a nonspontaneous event. Thus, to make something happen, you have to know exactly how unlikely to happen it is.
So, for example, if I wanted to make a fireball, I’d have to figure out how unlikely it’d be for a fireball to suddenly form in front of me. I’d have to understand heat, humidity, environment, and then I’d have to use my internal chakra, as they call it, to bridge the gap between the possible and impossible. Basically, I had to flip reality like a coin. Positive and negative, those are concepts we understand in electricity, magnetics, and apparently magic too. Magic is received through a pole reversal. How easy it is to cast magic depends on two factors. The distance between possibility and impossibility, and how close the calculation is to determine the impossibility factor.
A magic castor couldn’t determine every factor that might affect the formation of a fireball, so the worse their calculations, the more difficult it was to force a reversal that resulted in a fireball. That was the basics of magic as I understood it, and I certainly didn’t gain that knowledge from this instructor. No, I learned most of it reading the Introduction to Magic book. Brooke, who was doing poorly in Introduction, was shocked that I just sat down and read the whole book one day. Perhaps that was one of the rare cases where having my other world memories came in handy. Unlike most teenagers, I wasn’t against sitting down an entire evening and reading a textbook. Then again, it could just have easily come from this world, where I had grown quite accustomed to reading to fill my time in my years of house arrest under my Mother’s care.
Class finally let out, and I nearly cried tears of sweet release. However, when I headed out the door, a familiar face appeared in front of me. It was Rebecca, who seemed to be loitering in front of my classroom. Her eyes brightened upon seeing my face, which told me that she had been waiting for me. My initial impulse was to make up an excuse and flee the other way, but then I remembered Oswald’s words. Finally, I gave a sigh and walked towards her. If there was anything she said that helped me in my case, I would have to take it.
“Clarice! How good to see you here!” Rebecca smiled glowingly, then turned to Brooke and frowned. “Oh, you’re here too.”
Brooke made an annoyed sound. “Hello, Becky… you run out of bitches to seduce so you’re preying on Freshman now?”
“If either of us liked them young, it’d be you, old woman.” Becky shot back.
“O-old!” Brooke reached to her side, looking to grab a sword she luckily wasn’t allowed to carry on campus.
“Hey, what’s that?” Becky suddenly pointed at Brooke’s forehead, causing her to nearly go cross-eyed. “Oh… never mind, it’s just a wrinkle.”
With that, Becky spun away from Brooke while Brooke started rubbing her forehead and mumbling angrily. She gave me another smile, her eye’s glowing happily.
“Clarice, how about you come with me?” Becky asked, grabbing my arm and pulling me along, giving me little room to protest as Brooke remained distracted.
“H-hey!” Brooke was checking herself in a pocket mirror for wrinkles, only realizing we left after we were a block away. “Where are you going?”
“Hmmm…” Becky smiled. “My magic class, of course, you don’t need to come. Haven’t you spent enough time ogling the girls?”
“Not more magic class…” I could help but stop and groan.
Becky chuckled. “Unlock introduction, which is mostly magic theory, the invocation is a major part of our class, I really want you to come!”
“Eh… about the shower room…” Despite Oswald’s advice, I was determined not to walk into a situation like last time.
“Don’t worry, about getting, you can just watch me!” Becky said excitedly, spinning around once we reached the outside of the locker doors, “P-promise me you’ll wait and watch?”
“Ah…” I scratched my cheek. “Yeah… I guess.”
“Great!” Becky nodded, and then excitedly ran into the locker room.
“What is that all about?” I muttered, only to receive a surprised look by Brooke.
“Do you honestly not know?”
“Hah…” Brooke suddenly looked flustered for a second. “That… magic is… ah… how do I describe this… a turn on?”
My face twisted in disgust. “Magic gives people a sexual thrill?”
“N-No! You don’t get it!” Brooke shook her head and then sighed, “What I mean is that women… I mean… particularly amongst each other, magic is like a status symbol.”
“You’re right… I don’t get it.” I admitted, causing Brooke to sigh.
Brooke tried one last time. “What I’m saying is that Becky is trying to impress you.”
“Huh?” I was taken aback by that comment. “Impress me? Why would she try to impress me?”
“Seriously? How dense can you be? Rebecca has a crush on you. She wants to show you magic to impress you!”
“R-really…” My face twisted in shock, but I started to understand what Brooke was getting at. “So, it’s like a guy playing a competitive sport to show off to a girl?”
“What man would waste time showing off?” Brooke sniffed. “This has nothing to do with men anyway. Men are only focused on looks. If anything, a girl who can cast magic well would make a man uncomfortable. It gives men an inferiority complex. You missed it, but the first week that advised us not to cast magic in front of men unless we wanted to reduce our chances.”
“Chances?” I raised an eyebrow
“It’s not like I was interested!” Brooke stamped her foot. “I have no interest in men. However, I know many women who like to attract female partners by using magic. Magic takes a great deal of insight and intelligence. It shows strength, smarts, and some say it’s an indicator of future sex. Clearly, any woman would find a strong magic user sexy.”
I smirked, my eyes turning mischievous as I noticed a certain inflection in the way Brooke spoke of this and remembered what Rebecca had said. “Has Brooke been watching the Advanced Magic practice to admire said, sexy women?”
Brooke broke into a blush. “N-none of your business! B-besides, we still have an agreement that you’ll bear me a child. I-I’m still looking for a suitable candidate, that is all it is!”
I chuckled even as Brooke grew agitated at me. I thought I understood what was going on now. Magic in this world was a bit like a sport. It was glorified in their games and their movies. While it didn’t hurt to be good at it to help you get a job, it wasn’t really necessary. Still, women couldn’t help but admire other women who were magically… endowed.
Women who wanted a man would shun away from Magic because men wanted to feel stronger, and being magically weaker was a turn-off. Perhaps there was no separation of power between men and women. Men could learn magic just as much as women, but a key factor in it was the math, which meant a man needed a proper education. Did that mean that Ben was actually educated? Perhaps it was the custom in his family to privately tutor him. He certainly didn’t get that education at Amaryllis. Well, after meeting Oswald, I knew there were educated men in this world.
It all explained why my mom dismissed magic so much. She had gone to school initially with the intent of finding a man. Meanwhile, I recalled Rose once going to great lengths to show me her magic. Even though I had asked about it only in passing, she had worked very hard to produce a flame. I originally thought it was because of her own sense of pride. Knowing what I know now, I realized that Rose was actually trying to impress me! Well, she wasn’t as knowledgeable about boys as Morgan, so she probably forgot about Magic being mostly a female turn-on. I recalled her focusing so hard to make that flame, and how disappointed she was when I wasn’t impressed.
“What is it?” Brooke demanded as I stared off in contemplation.
“Ah… just thinking I need to give my Rose some extra attention when I get home. Madison is going to be jealous.”
“Are you bragging about your harem!” Brooke growled, raising her fist. “You looking for a fight?”
As I was raising my hands, Rebecca came joggling out of the locker room. She had her hair up in a ponytail and she was wearing some very tight form-fitting shorts and a bra. It was actually very erotic. Rebecca was prone to wearing very loose clothing mostly, likely as a form of protest against the male-geared public. However, this was the first time I got a real look at her body. Becky wasn’t as muscular as Brooke, but she was slim and athletic. The tight shorts really showed off her butt, and even her boobs looked bigger in the sports bra. I found myself staring at her body in a very impolite way.
Becky noticed me looking and stopped jogging. Rather than get offended, she looked down and blushed. However, she was wearing a smile on her face as she did it, which showed she was pleased by my reaction. Brooke elbowed me hard, causing me to snap out of it. I shook my head and looked away, ignoring Brooke’s vengeful stare. Given Becky’s reaction, maybe it was true that she liked me. No… that wasn’t true at all. She like Clarice, a completely false construct.
“Stop bullying Clarice.” Becky’s face turned sour when she glared at Brooke. “You already said you’re not dating her, why are you always around her? You’re into her, right?”
Brooke coughed. “That’s… I’m looking after her, that’s all!”
Becky stared accusingly at Brooke, which seemed to do some damage. Brooke lowered her head and turned away. I really couldn’t read what was on Brooke’s mind at those accusations. I myself had been wondering about Brooke’s feelings for me for a while. We had been in a few tight spots recently, and I had grown the impression that she liked me more than a little. Or… that was just vanity speaking. She was a lesbian and this wasn’t some fantasy where a guy could turn a girl straight. The level of hubris I had to even consider it just showed that I wasn’t even immune to the effects of this world.
I didn’t get to dwell on Brooke’s feelings long, as Becky grabbed me and excitedly pulled me out to the field. Rather than heading out to a gathering of about two dozen other similarly dressed women, she pulled me over to the bleachers. She all but sat me down, nearly skipping as she went. W-was showing off your magic really such a big deal in this world? It was starting to seem like the apex of lesbian flirting!
“H-here-“ Rebecca pushed a book into my hands while looking the other way. “I-it’s my notes and drawings. I thought you might want to look at them to get a grasp on what we’re doing out there.”
I nodded dumbly while Rebecca gave another smile and a wave before running out into the field. My heart thumped as I saw her head off. It really felt like a boyfriend coming to his girlfriend’s game. I actually didn’t have all that much luck in high school, so I never really had that kind of experience. However, my desire to praise and encourage this girl who was working hard to impress me surged forth. I had to forcibly suppress myself before I found myself mentally adding Becky to my list of girls at home, not that this was anything but a pipe dream.
Brooke also sat down, but two rows back and on the edge. She kept close as was her job, but she was still clearly bothered by Becky’s lashing comment. She had an expression of deep concentration which sort of made it look like she was pouting. I wouldn’t tell her that, as it would assuredly lead to me being beaten up. Instead, I decided to watch the class. This was the big one. Real magic being cast by training magicians. I eagerly watched as the girl’s lined up to begin class. The instructor came out and-
I was immediately disappointed. Easels were brought out a moment later, and the white canvas was placed on each one. Everyone went to their own easel started painting. I was completely lost. I was expecting to be seeing spells being tossed around. Fireballs and water and everything was being tossed back and forth in somewhat epic battles. Well, I mean, I didn’t expect it to be like in the few movies I watched. I knew enough to know those were glorified like guns were in my world. Still, I expected more than for this to turn into an art class.
I started to flip through Becky’s book as I grew bored. She and the rest of the students were deeply concentrating on their paintings, dipping into various inks and drawing on the canvas in front of them. A few would occasionally pull out a reference book and look between the book and their canvas. I was confused at first, but as looked more at the book, I started to understand it based on a few of Becky’s side annotations.
Basically, as I had already learned in Introduction, magic was mathematical. However, invoking magic required visualizing the math. That’s what we hadn’t covered in my class yet. The concept of runes. There were only two ways to properly cast magic. One, memorize the mathematical equations in entirety and modify them in your head on the go. This was an impossibility to all but the greatest math geniuses. The second was to create a rune.
A rune was essentially a drawing that represented the mathematical concepts. To invoke a spell, you could work out the rune for the spell. So, for example, if I wanted to spontaneously create fire, I needed to work out the impossibility of fire being created, and after successfully completing the math, I needed to convert it into a rune. At the first level of spellcasting, I would basically continuously look at the rune, feeding magic to it to invoke the spell. This is how Rose once cast fire for me.
However, there was a second form of magic, which involved memorizing the exact appearance of the rune and then using that to induce magic on the fly. This was considered advanced level magic. For Becky and this class, the goal was to cast a spell by drawing a custom rune on the spot and then invoking magic through it.
Of course, fireball Rune’s have been worked out before. For all intent and purposes, you just needed to memorize the core of a fireball rune once. However, each situation you needed to cast the spell, conditions would be different. Wind speed, temperature, humidity… the next step in magic was figuring out how to alter the runes to account for those changes. A true magician at the highest level could account for those changes in an instant.
In short, what Rebecca and her class were doing was taking a base spell, and trying to create their own Rune to take advantage of the current environment here. Once painting a rune, they would try to invoke the spell. By the time I figured this out, the class had been going on for an hour and people were only just finishing their Runes. These were students, after all, and a far distance from the best magic users in the world. I rubbed my head, which hurt a bit after sifting through a hundred pages of notes.
The fact I was even able to understand this much had to do with Rebecca’s impeccable notetaking. I had read the Introduction of Magic, but it had always made Runes and mathematical equations sound like two different things. This was especially confusing because my Introduction teacher kept using geometry terms to describe algebraic concepts!
“Clarice! Watch!” A voice cried out excitedly.
I glanced up to see Rebecca walking forward with her filled Canvas in her hands. At this distance, I could only vaguely see what she drew, but it appeared to be an image much like several of the ones in this notebook. As to what it did, I was not nearly far enough to guess. The fact she drew it almost completely from memory already showed the distance between me and her in education.
“Alright, Rebecca, give it a try.” The instructor, a fat little woman with triple bun encouraged. “Try to invoke your magic.”
Rebecca nodded, no longer affording me another look as she grew in concentration. She held the canvas to her side, pressing her other hand against it. She then stared out into the field, in the opposite direction of any of the students. Some had stopped working to watch her. I was waiting for some feel, some build up of magic. I didn’t know what to expect. Glowing lines, static rising, a sudden pressure… any of that would have been expected.
However, nothing happened. In fact, nothing happened for so long I was thinking it had failed when suddenly there was a poofing sound. It was light, but seemingly from nowhere, a white thing suddenly gathered about five feet from Rebecca. It hovered for a second and then hit the ground with a plop. When it hit the ground, it immediately burst apart into a white powder. It was only at that moment that I realized it was snow.
Rebecca had conjured a snowball out of nothing! I mean, compared to the epic magic, it wasn’t impressive, but it was genuine magic and the first I had seen all day! Rebecca was panting hard as if she had run a mile.
The teacher nodded approvingly. “Good job. However, you used a lot of your energy to conjure this, and it wasn’t what you were intending, am I right?”
Rebecca blushed, deliberately avoiding my direction. “N-no… it was supposed to be solid ice.”
“What do you think went wrong with your Rune?”
“D-did I not account for a factor?”
The teacher smiled. “Yes… there were actually several factors that could have made your invocation easier. You didn’t account for our altitude. You forgot we’re on a floating island. The air is thinner and drier up here. Try to take in some of those ideas and try again.”
Rebecca nodded again, and as she headed back to her easel she shot me another look, although it was less happy. I was guessing she was trying to impress me and it came up a little short. However, as I watched more students go, I realized that she was in the top half of her class. One student couldn’t invoke anything. A second student managed to invoke just the slightest breeze. It sounded boring, but considering this was actual magic, my excitement and drive was burning by the time Rebecca was back to fixing her Rune.
Growing excited, I flipped through her book and saw a Rune that I liked. Pulling out a page, I started replicating the rune on a fresh sheet of paper. I picked this Rune because it was particularly well annotated. It was written in ink pressed hard on the page to show it was important that this rune was difficult to conjure and only used as an example because the environmental alterations were very simple to grasp.
Basically, despite being a rune that wasn’t terribly useful, it had educational value. Thus, I decided to use it. I was shocked to see there were over fifty environmental factors noted in the image. More than that, there was something called a second-tier environmental factor. Basically, changing one environmental factor altered other environmental factors creating a cascade effect. Thus, not only did the rune need to be altered to accommodate the environmental factor, but all other environmental factors as well. As the teacher said, altitude affected temperature, humidity, and pressure. So, if you changed the altitude line, it’d have an effect on all other lines.
Rather than bored, I found this really interesting. It felt like a puzzle to me. It was a complex mixture of shapes and angles all working off of each other. I was starting to see a certain kind of beauty within this magic. I could feel the power of it.
“Huh?” A strange feeling started to come over me as I scribbled down the Rune.
It was a strange pulling. It felt as if the Rune was hungry. The more I fixed the Rune, the more I began to feel this suction. I didn’t really understand it. It was as if the Rune was missing something. It was as if the Rune wasn’t complete.
“Clarice! I’m going to try again- wha-“
I reached out and touched the Rune. Its pull was so strong now, that as soon as my fingers touched the paper, I felt something being yanked out of me. I let out a cry as I felt as if my insides were being yanked out.
“Wait! Stop!” I heard the scream of the teacher.
A moment later, there was a massive sonic boom. I was struck, my hand losing contact with the Rune as it flew away. No… it wasn’t flying away. I was. I slammed into the back of the bleachers. After a flash of white, I finally settled down, feeling like I had just been hit by a car. The world was looking strange and tilted, wobbling back and forth. There was a horrific ringing in my ears. As I forced myself up, I saw that I had flown about five feet up. There were several people running towards me, but my eyes were locked on the spot right in front of where I was standing. There stood a crater three feet wide!