Chapter 51: Experimentation
Corrie had hoped that the combination of calming music and the dulcet tones of Professor Angew’s coaching would help her actually achieve trance. Trying the same thing over and over might not be helpful, but trying it in different contexts couldn’t hurt. So she really had tried. Alas, it was all for naught. She didn’t have any more success than she ever had.
Near the end of class, Professor Lal switched off the recording and asked the class, “Has anyone not succeeded in achieving the trance state yet?”
Corrie sighed and raised her hand, surreptitiously glancing around at the rest of the classroom to see if anyone else was. No. They’d all succeeded. She looked back at Professor Lal, who was frowning, her eyebrows drawn tightly together. “All right. The rest of you, there are about eight minutes left in the class. I’d like you to break trance, following Professor Agnew’s suggestions carefully, and discuss among yourselves. Feel free to get up and walk around the classroom. You should compare what you sensed in each other’s magic; that will help you gain a greater understanding of how magic works. I will be speaking with Corrie, but if any of you have difficulty or confusion breaking your trances, please do not hesitate to call me.”
Corrie put her hand down and folded her arms on her desk, unhappily awaiting Professor Lal’s presence. She knew she was going to have to tell her about the book, and the fact that they’d tried trance before. Otherwise the professor was probably going to make her try again and again, and unless there were new ways to do it that she hadn’t come up with, she just didn’t want to bother anymore.
Professor Lal actually went to the other side of the classroom to coach someone else, giving Dawn a chance to hurry over and lean over Corrie’s shoulder. She looked up and listened carefully to Dawn’s whisper. “Did you hear the instructions for breaking trance? That explains why I was so tired.”
She frowned. “Really? That’s pretty straightforward, but the book didn’t say…”
“I know. I’m thinking maybe it’s not as helpful as we thought.”
Corrie nodded and started to warn Dawn that she was going to tell Professor Lal about the book, but Dawn had already stepped away, and the professor was coming towards her. Corrie sighed, waiting for her to finish crossing the classroom. Much as she might distrust Professor Lal, it was clear that her magical instruction had been more to their benefit than the book’s had been.
“Now, Corrie.” Professor Lal sat down in Roe’s vacated chair. “You don’t seem very upset about not being able to achieve trance. I must say, I am extremely surprised. Inherent magic and ability to use magic in surrounding objects do not necessarily have anything to do with each other, but they do tend to correlate, so I assumed it would be easy for you.”
Corrie sighed. “I thought it would be easy, too. But… well, I have something to tell you about why I’m not surprised.”
“Dawn and I have tried it before.”
Professor Lal raised her eyebrows, but didn’t seem otherwise perturbed. “Indeed. I suspected Dawn was trying it, but… well, if she learned about it, I am only surprised that Roe has not tried it as well.”
“She wanted to wait until we got to it in class. I guess she was right.”
“Ah. May I ask how you learned what to do at all? It is similar to the way some groups teach about meditation, but I would not expect you to be able to access the magic by doing it that way, nor to know what to call it.”
“There’s a book Dawn found at the library,” Corrie said. “The author is Miranda Swick. I think the title is something like The Practical Use of Magic.”
“I see,” said Professor Lal. “I should like to take a look at that book, as I have heard of neither it nor its author.”
“I can bring it into class on Monday. I don’t think I trust it anymore anyway.”
“May I ask why you have not previously mentioned the existence of this book?”
Corrie looked down at her desk and traced the grain of the wood so she didn’t have to look into Professor Lal’s eyes. “It was teaching magic in a different way than you did. I thought maybe you weren’t giving us all the information, and then you’d get mad if you knew we were getting it somewhere else. Plus, we figured you would just tell us not to listen to the book.”
“I would have. But at least now you understand why, and I trust neither of you are permanently harmed by its misinformation.”
“No, I don’t think so.” She took a deep breath. “I’m glad you’re not mad at us.”
“How could I be mad at you for indulging your curiosity?” When Corrie dared to glance at Professor Lal, she was smiling. “I would prefer that you do it in safer environments, but I support your experimentation. Maybe next time you will even discover something I didn’t know.”