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Cala stared around in awe. She hadn’t seen this many students crammed into a classroom before, and there were still people coming in.

“Why is it so busy?”

Her roommate Emmeline smiled. “Mrs Clutcheon runs the required classes,” she replied. “So all of us newbies have to attend, plus everyone who’s on remedial.”

She blinked. “Remedial?”

Emmeline nodded. “Anybody who’s pulled a stupid stunt and put themselves or others into danger. The daft kid who wandered into hell, the one who blew up the alchemy labs, whoever summoned that fire elemental and burnt down the dorms, if they ever track ’em down – they all have to take remedial classes. Resit all the basic stuff. Shh, she’s here!”

Mrs Clutcheon was a large and imposing woman who looked like she might have some giant in her heritage, and the entire classroom went silent as she walked in.

“Good morning class,” she said.

“Good morning Mrs Clutcheon,” they replied in perfect harmony.

“We are here to talk about the basics of magic,” she said, settling herself behind the desk. “Before you graduate, each of you will choose a speciality, but there are some aspects that are common to all magics, and you may frequently find yourself wishing to make use of magics outside of your specialisation. This class will make sure that you know all you need to know.

In the air above her, a series of cloud symbols appeared, each representing a field of magical study and practice.

“Now. First principles. There are some magics which mix well, and some which do not. Can anyone give me an example of magics which do not mix?”

Many hands were raised, most from the older students who looked like they’d taken this class too many times.

“Emmeline,” Mrs Clutcheon said, choosing one of the few first years to volunteer. The girl stood up.

“Faery magic and demonology,” she said.

The teacher nodded. “Go on,” she said. “Explain why.”

Emmeline swallowed hard. “Um. Because… because the demons can see the faeries? They know what you’re doing, you can’t surprise them. Or trick them. Which is key to dealing with demons because they’re pretty nasty, in general.”

Mrs Clutcheon nodded.

“A good example, dear. Sit down. Demonology is an excellent example. It rarely mixes well with other magics, especially those which deal with sentient creatures. Can anyone give an example of a subject that does work well with demonology?”

Another forest of hands went up. Cala sat quietly and paid attention. This was all new to her.

“Antonius,” Mrs Clutcheon said, calling on a very pale boy dressed entirely in black.

“Alchemy,” he said, not bothering to stand. “Alchemists can work with the humours of the human body, and a demon is the ideal creature to supply them.”

Mrs Clutcheon frowned. “Accurate, thank you. But working with human humours is also entirely illegal and banned by the Council of Elders. Bear that in mind, young man, and you might not have to take this class a seventh time.”

A giggle rippled through the classroom.

“Now.” Mrs Clutcheon stood, and Cala could have sworn she had grown a full foot taller while she’d been seated. “We will go through the subjects one by one. Let’s begin with elementalism.”

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: I have featured Cala and the magical school she attends a couple of times, and I’m thinking of working it all into something a lot bigger one day. This is more of an incidental appearance for her, but a reminder that I have to work out my magical system properly if I’m setting stories in a school that teaches it!)