I wanted to write something magical. High fantasy. Harry Potter. So here it is…
His name was Thaddeus, Thaddeus Constellariae the Ender, but none of us called him that. To us, he was just Old Thad, always hanging around in the hallways. He’d yell at us if we got too rowdy, it was his duty as a teacher, but we knew that his heart wasn’t in it. Most of the time, when he wasn’t giving his dusty and dry lectures, he just sat and watched.
Most of our class didn’t have much respect for this man. Not only was he dusty and dried-up, like most of our teachers, but he didn’t even use magic! What could he hope to teach us? All of us, even bumbling Quincy, could work the rudimentary forms. We could summon forth showers of sparks, pull and push the world around us, reach out and make little adjustments to our reality to give us something more.
We had the gift. And Old Thad didn’t.
And yet, the school still kept him around. For some reason, they thought that he was a valuable resource. He had been here forever. Longer than anyone’s memory could stretch back. For as long as there had been the academy, there had been Old Thad.
Yes, some of his lectures were useful. He mainly talked about theory, about constructing deeper enchantments with many layers, and the results always sounded impressive. But he never put on demonstrations. There was never a show in Old Thad’s class.
Instead, he’d ask us for alternatives. Always asking about the alternatives. “How else would you handle this?” he would say. “What if you couldn’t use that magical spell? What else would you do?”
What stupid questions! we all thought. Of course we’d use magic! Why even think of anything else?
The older students never seemed to give Old Thad any trouble. We asked them why, tried to figure out why they gave this daft old man such reverence. “Just wait,” they’d tell us. “He’ll let you in on his secret soon enough. It will change everything.” But they’d say no more.
We all made wild guesses about this secret, about what it could be. Thaddeus Constellariae the Ender. The name was engraved on his door, on the plaque on the front of his desk. Ender of what? Some students thought that he was the one who pushed for dark magic to be regulated. Some claimed that he had brought peace to a strike between the academy and the teachers.
A few students even suggested that perhaps he had been involved in the War of Darkness, when the very powers of good and evil had picked up spells and marched off to battle. Continents had been razed in that war, entire civilizations summoned into being and then banished as though they had never existed. Reality itself had been all but broken, before peace had somehow been established. The man who had finally ended the annihilation had been known as The Ender. But it couldn’t be the same person.
That war had been millenia ago.
The end of the school year was rapidly approaching. For once, we began to look forward to Old Thad’s lectures. Was this going to be the day that he finally revealed his secret? We were dying of curiosity.
Finally, when we walked into Old Thad’s classroom one day, there were no diagrams on the dusty chalkboards behind his desk. There was just Old Thad, sitting on top of his desk.
“Take a seat,” he told us as we entered. His voice was as ancient as the rest of him, dry and dusty like the rest of him. We sat, our notebooks and quills out.
“No notes,” he said, and we put our notebooks away.
“You all know the First Forms,” Old Thad began as we straightened back up, our books back in our bags. And we all nodded. The First Forms were the absolute basics, taught to all wizards as a way to channel their magic when their abilities first appeared. Even infants could perform them in rudimentary ways. They produced nothing more than a flash of light, a small clap of noise, a little shower of sparks.
Old Thad raised one hand, his voice speaking the words of the Opening Form. We all waited, watching for the little glow of light around one finger that came with the final word. But as Old Thad finished, nothing happened.
His form had been textbook. The results were clear. We all understood.
Old Thad couldn’t do magic.
As our mouths fell open, Thaddeus lifted his non-glowing finger. “That is my secret,” he said. “And now, I will tell you how I got this way…”
To be continued…