Chapter 17: The Book
Corrie spent her history class thinking about her magic class—she’d been doing that a lot lately, and this time it worked out, since Professor Drehmer (she still wasn’t sure how she felt about him) didn’t call on her. She didn’t think she’d be able to answer any questions unless they were about floods.
She was impatient for the day to end, so she could get the book from Dawn. Finally, after dinner they both returned to the dorm, and Dawn handed it to her. “Just don’t lose my bookmark,” she said. “But you can read as much as you want before you give it back. I don’t really understand how to use it yet anyway.”
“Thanks,” said Corrie. She walked back to her room intending to discuss the book with Edie—but her roommate had already vanished, though they’d walked back together from dinner. Corrie spent a puzzled couple of minutes trying to decide whether Edie had left or whether she’d taken her purse with her to the bathroom before she remembered Edie mentioning that she had plans with Leila that evening. She hadn’t seemed quite clear what they were, but she was sure there were plans. Well, Corrie couldn’t really stop her there, even if she still didn’t like Leila very much.
She piled up her pillows and stretched out on her bed, her head propped up on the pile, but she couldn’t open the book quite yet. Her mind returned, once again, to the flood she’d caused in Professor Lal’s class. It was embarrassing, especially since she’d been so proud of how well she was doing in that class, how easy magic was for her—luckily, she hadn’t told anyone how she felt about that. At least Professor Lal had been able to stop the flood and dry most of it (Corrie’s jeans were still damp, and she’d tossed them into her hamper for the next time she did laundry).
But she still had no explanation for why she hadn’t been able to stop the flood. Professor Lal had explained that this sort of thing happened sometimes, and she shouldn’t blame herself, but that didn’t really make sense. She’d learned to stop and start the fire as easily as breathing; if anything, the water should have been easier to stop, since the ball of magic didn’t seem quite as strong when she was doing water magic. But letting go of the magic hadn’t stopped it. She’d tried pushing it away, pulling away from it, blocking it from her mind (the last had been a dismal failure)—true, as the flood increased and she started to panic she may have been clumsy, but nothing had stopped the water until Professor Lal had stepped in.
And, too, it made her uncomfortable that the professor could stop her magic. Yes, it was probably a good thing, especially in a beginners’ class, but wasn’t this supposed to be her personal magic, the magic she found within herself? How could someone else reach it? And could the professor affect it in other ways? Could another magic practitioner stop her magic entirely, or change what she was doing with it? Professor Lal had offered no explanation.
She frowned and picked up the book. Maybe it would have an explanation. Or maybe the kind of magic it advocated starting with didn’t work the same way. Maybe it wouldn’t fly out of control like that, or allow someone else access to your psyche.
That was what she hoped for. Because she still didn’t believe Professor Lal was telling them all the truth—or that she would ever want to.
Corrie flipped past the contents and introductions at the beginning of the book until she’d reached the content itself. Magic is a strange and dangerous, but extremely rewarding, practice that almost anyone can learn, the text began. Corrie settled in, wanting to skip past the cheery introduction, which took the same optimistically educational tone as books she remembered from her childhood without imparting any specific information, but she didn’t want to miss anything useful, especially since the chapter was entitled “Beginning the Use of Magic.” Still, it was dull.
Finally, after a section break (if only she’d seen that sooner, she could have skipped to it), the real information began. There are two main sources of magic: the ambient magic that is inherent in all things, but primarily the earth, and the magic within each person. The former is accessible to all, both convenient and simple to use; the latter is limited to only certain persons and can be dangerous.
Well, that certainly made her sit up and take notice. Metaphorically, of course. If there was magic in the earth—and everything else—why hadn’t Professor Lal so much as mentioned that to them? Why not start with a source of magic that was accessible to everyone? Corrie frowned and read on.