Join Date: Sep 2010
WARNING: I've been very, VERY sick all week and was delirious while writing most of this, so please take special care in catching mistakes. Thanks!
Part 5: The Master of Transformation
Ima felt her head spinning. Her first full day of classes started off placidly enough. She and Finley went to the designated dining hall for breakfast, sans their still sleeping third roommate, before starting the day off with Fire Spells I.
Ima felt a twinge of jealousy at Harold’s natural-flowing flames and the shrill sound of Ms. Diver’s commanding voice only seemed to serve as an accelerant to Ima’s wild spells. The only basic incantation Ima seemed to have a knack for was the basic fireball spell, which hit its training dummy targets more often than they did the wall.
Half singed and smelling of ash, Ima left for the ladies restroom after the class ended for the day to wash the aftermath from her chubby cheeks. She spent a little extra time primping prior to her next class, which was taught by a mage who always made her heart beat with a little extra speed than it usually did. Her messenger bag heavily bounced against her legs as she struggled to travel on tiny feet. She inwardly cursed the small form that seemed so slow in comparison to her old, long-striding body. In her fog of thoughts, she did not notice the form in front of her before her face connected with the back of his leg.
The blood elf scowled down at the blushing gnome as she gave a quick apology with sincerity in her shiny blue orbs. The black haired elf sighed as the gnome, who did not seem to bat an eye in the presence of his own fel-tainted vision, stood to find some of her books scattered in front of the classroom door. The black haired elf shook his head, placed his own heavy pack down, and began helping the student reclaim her materials with firm, pale hands.
“Hmm…heavy course load,” the blood elf commented as his emerald eyes scanned the titles on the books. When his vision grazed the three large tomes associated with Aethas Sunreaver’s class he gave a smirking snort. “Oh dear.”
“Is something the matter sir?”
“No, nevermind,” he curtly spoke, handing the books back to Ima who did her best to shove them all in her small bag, “You do know there are storage lockers about the campus you can put all this in, right?”
“Y-Yeah I know. They’re a bit pricey though.”
“Well when you’re spending all your money on books I suppose…”
“Don’t even get me started. I’ve never paid so much for such small books in my life! The Ice Bending for Beginners is only 25 pages but cost 100 gold even! With tuition, lodging, and food on top of it, I’ll have to work for the rest of my life to pay it all back.” Ima huffed, shaking her head in an attempt to shake the negativity with it. But when she looked up to the blood elf again he seemed less imposing at the sentiment.
“Yes well, they say it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to study here. I’m a recent graduate myself, but I’m one of the ones who didn’t get their debts absolved by killing lich kings, fire lords, or magic aspects,” the blood elf scoffed, seemingly exerting a great deal of restraint in his words, “I’m Auric Duskender, by the way. I’m Master Redmane’s personal assistant,” Auric spoke as he pulled a small, magically-coded key from his robes pocket and unlocked the classroom door. The little gnome seemed to perk up at the sound of the archmage’s name, which made Auric visibly sigh.
“I’m Ima. Will you be helping with the class today?”
“I’ll be wiping the drool off the floor,” he quickly muttered beneath a covering cough, “y-yes I’ll be assisting with some of the exercises. Interested in transformation, are you?”
“Very. I, um, hear some mages can turn things into penguins or kitty cats as well as sheep. Will we be doing any of that?” Ima asked with quick-blinking eyes. Auric cringed with a slight shiver; his ever-present scowl deepened as some of the other students began to approach. He pushed the door open, allowing them passage.
“Perhaps,” Auric nodded. Something about the little gnome’s enthusiasm made his ever-present sour expression slightly sweeten. But just as the small event had occurred, a set of angry blue eyes rendered it little more than a brief memory. Ima felt a firm hand grasp her arm and pull her into the classroom. She looked up to see an angry expression on the tall, high elf’s face as they traveled to a more private corner of the room.
“Bl-Blodwyn, I didn’t know you were taking the mini course. What’s the matter?” Ima squeaked.
“Where do you get off talking to one of, of THEM?” Blodwyn hissed, voice slightly cracking with genuine rage, as a few of the other students began to watch, straining to hear the conversation for a moment before turning to their own business.
“W-What? Who, Auric?”
“The BLOOD elf.”
“O-Oh…” Ima blushed. Her heart sunk at the misstep. While in her troll form, interacting with one of the green eyed allies was second nature, but in her hurry and good nature, forgot to act as a good alliance member should.
“Look, I know you can be a little spacey, but you do NOT want to get cozy with one of those traitors. They’re nothing but evil, soul-sucking leeches.”
“B-But he works for Archmage Redmane, his assistant…he’s really nice…”
“Dalaran’s traitorous leader probably FORCED him to employ one of them. Look the only reason I’m taking the time to correct you is because, as a non-elf, you don’t know any better. Don’t you EVER let me catch you speaking to one of them again or I’ll see to it that you never set foot into another classroom,” Blodwyn threatened with a fierceness that made Ima take a step back. The good natured gnome, who trembled at the thought of expulsion by the elf with self-described deep family ties to the school, nodded as the pair walked to their seats.
Auric felt a shiver of annoyance run through him as a pair of ice-colored eyes pierced his persona. He wordlessly walked in as the whispers began to crawl through his ears like a small, venom-less snake. He did his best to organize his scrolls, ruffling them slightly to stifle the sound of distrusting voices, but the youths had heard many stories from their parents, fictions ringing true in their malleable minds. He did not bother looking up as he placed his quill and ink on the table and addressed the students.
“I am Auric Duskender, Archmage Redmane’s assistant. He will be here momentarily. He has sent me to let you in and take roll while he prepares for the lesson,” Auric cleared his throat and unrolled the list of names from the sign up sheet, “Ation, Ima”
Auric looked up to see a small hand raised. He looked back to the scroll and checked off the box next to ‘on time, present.’ His eyes scrolled to the next name on the list of six students.
“Camille, Jessica,” Auric spoke, looking to the young human teen with long, sandy-blond hair as she raised her trembling hand. He made a similar check before continuing.
“M-Mayblossom, Blodwyn,” Auric coughed. He did not need to look up to know a pair of glaring blue eyes and the young maiden they were attached to was present. Though Blodwyn was not exclusively an Elvin name, the Mayblossom family was renowned in Azeroth as skilled high elf tailors and archanists, weaving fine garb for the Sunstrider Dynasty for thousands of years. But when the sunwell was destroyed, those few, proud Mayblossoms that survived began making garb for the Stormwind nobles and Dalaran elites rather than the fallen royal house.
“Needlebean, Nora,” Auric called, regaining his momentary shaken composure, and marked the faceless, student as ‘absent.’ The next name made him look up with a sharp smile to the thin, red-haired human sitting in the back row. The young man’s ink-stained hands were furiously scribbling something that Auric could not discern from his seat in the room.
“Redmane, Doodles in class…” Auric smirked as a flash of surprised-looking hazel eyes met his own. A slight blush came to the teenager’s face as he stopped to place his quill down and raise his ink-covered hand, “Better put all that away before your uncle shows up, Gawain. He demands his students’ full attention,” Auric advised. Gawain Redmane quickly nodded, allowing some of his shoulder-length hair to slip in front of his eyes as he awkwardly opened his pack and began stuffing his masterpieces inside. A few of the girls scoured his form, finding little the thin, shy boy that resembled his charismatic uncle.
It was then, when Auric reached the end of the class sheet did a great, red-robed figure enter the room with a gliding stride. The teen girls in the room seemed to perk like wilting flowers receiving a refreshing rain. Auric resisted the urge to roll his fel-green eyes as Romulus cast his class a sparkle-toothed smile.
“Good morning everyone, I’m sorry I’m late. Chatty tourists always manage to catch me at the worst times,” he cheerfully sighed. The class stood and those who bore beaming eyes and rosy cheeks warmly greeted their teacher while those who did not share the condition settled on mumbling his greeting before instructed to sit.
“Only four this time? Wonderful! I prefer these more, intimate class sizes,” Romulus stated, pulling out his teaching notes from his gold, black, and crimson-bathed messenger bag, “So, you want to learn the fine art of transformation, do you? Can someone tell me what the word ‘transform’ means?” Romulus asked, looking up from his note card to the four teens sitting before him.
Three of the four seemed quite pensive, racking their brains for an intelligent and impressive answer. The fourth’s hazel gaze kept drifting from his uncle and to the bag that contained his drawing implements. Romulus gave a wary look to his nephew but mercifully called on another student to answer.
“Miss Camille, what do you think ‘transformation’ means?” Romulus cast an encouraging smile as the blushing human barely found the strength to stand while giving her answer. Her knees still shook but her answer did manage to escape.
“T-Trans-f-formation m-means to t-turn one th-thing into an-another,” Jessica quickly uttered and hastily fell back into her seat. Despite her ability to read Common a full year ahead of her peers, Jessica’s voice had faltered ever since she first dared to speak. At first her parents smiled and laughed at her strange vocal impediment. As Jessica Camille, who had come to be known as “Susie Stuh-stuh-stutter” to the primary school boys, grew, the smiles turned to looks of concern and, at times, shame. She expected to hear the same sound of snickering and side commenting that she always did around her peers but despite the pounding fear racing through her she received nothing but a smile and a ‘very good’ from her teacher.
“An excellent start miss Camille: simplistic, but necessary. Now, that we have the foundation, who can lay some stone and mortar down on that thought…miss Mayblossom, how about you?” Romulus asked as the neutral-faced high elf stood, straightening her robed a moment before speaking.
“Transformation is the process in which physical shapes are magically altered to fit another, more appealing shape to the caster,” she smirked as Romulus gave an approving nod before taking her seat with her nose slightly more turned up than Ima was used to seeing it.
“So we have the simple act of physical change in an object, and the magical altering of an object based on desire, splendid. Let’s keep the momentum going. Miss Ation, what can you tell us about transformation?”
“Um…Transformation is when, um, something changes on the outside but stays the same on the inside? L-Like when you turn your enemy into a sheep: he becomes a sheep but he can still think like himself and be himself mentally…” Ima blushed. Romulus’s smile turned into a half smirk as he gave a firm nod.
“It looks like this class has all the pieces to the puzzle of understanding the transformative arts. All three of you are right, but only have one aspect in mind. By the end of this mini-course I hope to expand your notions of Transformation and how it can serve you in your studies as well as in ‘real life’ too,” Romulus spoke as he turned to Auric and motioned for the assistant to stand beside him. Auric visually hesitated but the unpaid rent bill in his bag and crumbs of yesterday’s lunch compelled him to obey.
“Let’s take the first point: ‘Turn one thing into another.’ This can mean many things. Does the object change on its own accord, or does it need some kind of catalyst? That, of course, depends on what is changing. Take for example,” Romulus paused and pulled a small green ball from his robe pocket, “This green ball. Is this ball going to change on of its own will?”
The four students shook their heads. Blodwyn snorted at the concept as Gawain stifled a yawn. Jessica and Ima eagerly waited for the soothing, deep voice to continue.
“Of course not. It is not conscious, does not think for itself therefore, it needs a catalyst. As miss Mayblossom so eloquently put it, magic is a mage’s catalyst of choice.” Romulus asserted as the ball changed from green to yellow, then to blue, then back to green again in Jessica and Ima’s adoring site. Blodwyn’s look of incredulousness at the human’s alleged ease with magic shifted to one of approval.
“Archmages like myself can easily change an inanimate object like this ball with minimal effort. But you will not encounter such easy obstacles out in the world. Your enemies, debatably, will be sentient, thinking beings. Possibly other mages with the same schooling and knowledge as you possess. How does one cope with an enemy they may not be able to handle in outright combat?” Romulus smiled as his hands began to take on the familiar purple sheen that always made Auric’s stomach lurch. In a flash of purple light, a small black and white kitten balefully whined where the dark-haired blood elf once stood. Romulus picked up his assistant, who hissed at the touch, and began stroking his furry back.
“You employ your ‘cat-a-lyst’, in this case an arcane polymorphing spell, and disable your target. Now, this is where things get tricky. While my good assistant here is immobilized, he is still dangerous. Without his kind nature or his paycheck keeping him docile, he could bite or claw or escape to alert his fellows to my presence. None of which would end well for me. This is where the last piece of the puzzle comes in. Never underestimate the subdued opponent. Our spells can and will be removed at any time. A high priest or priestess can remove our magic with the aid of the light’s blessing if they chose. While Auric here is currently a kitten, he can become a master of my doom just as quickly,” Romulus set the kitten down and returned the blood elf to his true form.
“Are there any questions?” Romulus asked with shining eyes that seemed to be casting their own spell. The girls, too busy wading through the pink and yellow mind-clouds of their day-dreaming, shook their heads. “Alright then, let’s get some practice in before the end of this session then. Let’s see…Ima and Gawain, pair up. Jessica and Blodwyn, you two get together,” He instructed, motioning for the students to stand and moved to the spots he prescribed.
When the students stood in their assigned spaces, Romulus moved them to face one another before handing both pairs a single coin and instructing them to do a coin-toss. Ima called heads, but the spinning coin landed on the ground showing her its rear. Blodwyn’s luck was similar as an uneasy frown spread across her face.
“Alright, what’s a lecture without some actual practice? Those who won the coin toss: ready your mind. You’re about to do some casting. Those who lost: try to stay still and it will all be over soon,” he chuckled. Romulus instructed the winners of the coin toss on the proper stance and technique behind casting the polymorph incantation. “We’re going to start with a basic level sheep polymorph spell. I take it you’ve all had some experience with –“
“Uh, scuse me?” Gawain asked with a voice that might be considered deep after a few years had passed him. But the raised brow and mocking tone only someone of his 15 years could muster grated on the usual calm teacher’s nerves.
“Why the hell are we casting on each other? Shouldn’t we be starting small like transforming rubber balls or something?”
“Well if you can learn to transform a person, you can transform a ball. Now…” Romulus continued to give pointers as well as the proper tone in which to cast the incantation before allowing the students to practice.
Jessica did her best to speak the words properly as she concentrated on the image of a sheep in her mind, but the most that Blodwyn felt was a slight tingling sensation in her ears and the taste of almonds in her mouth. Romulus encouraged the shy, soft-spoken girl to try again. While her words were no sturdier, her will was solid as Blodwyn felt her stature shrink a little. While the form of a sheep never took hold, Blodwyn stood at knee height with the itching sensation of wool about her shrunken form.
Romulus waved his hand, returning the elf to her natural state before moving to check on his nephew and Ima’s progress. A deep frown came to his usual chipper face as he spoke to Gawain through gritted teeth.
“Gawain, I thought I said to practice the SHEEP polymorph spell. Why is she a TURTLE?”
“I like turtles,” Gawain shrugged with a small smile at his uncle’s contained annoyance. Auric, whose tall ears heard the comment from his place in the room, stifled a snigger. Ima felt her soft back brush up against a hard shell as she stumbled around with a dizzy feeling in her head. When her mind started to clear, she felt a dark pang of fear run through her.
“Changer her back to her real form please,” Romulus roughly sighed. Ima’s heart nearly stopped as she desperately tried to find some small hole to skitter into. Her mind raced as the thought of Gawain removing the spell that changed her shape into a turtle, that it might also bring her blue-skinned, tusk-mouthed form to the surface as well. Gawain looked to her then back to his uncle with an antagonizing gaze.
“You sure? I think she looks nice like that.”
“Just change her back into a gnome, NOW please.”
“Alright, fine,” Gawain sighed as he began concentrating on a counter spell. Within moments Ima felt her form contort again, but when she opened her eyes again she found 10 pudgy, pink fingers on her short arms and her gnomish disguise returned.
The class concluded shortly after, with the next session only a few days away. They would be taking their transformation practice and applying it to a few more basic things before returning to practice on one another once more, according to Romulus’s syllabus. As Ima left the classroom she gave a heavy sigh. Though the thought of learning more from the charismatic archmage made her smile, the threat of exposure caused her thoughts to drift to skipping the next session all together.
But the gloomy thoughts were quickly wiped way from her mind as the sight of Harold and Finley came to her bright blue eyes.
“Hey Ima! How’d the class go?” Finely asked as she adjusted her heavy book-bag. Harold gave her a nod of greeting, eyes seeming to ask the same question.
“It was…interesting. How about you two? Were your classes fun?”
“Oh they were a blast. Turns out your friend Harold here is in my Fire-Spell lore class. We were about to head to dinner, wanna come?” Finley asked. Ima gave a warm smile and nodded as the three headed off towards the dining hall with a fruitful first day of classes behind them.