Authors: Jack Simmonds
Magisteer Commonside was immensely boring. As we left the class, I was still none the wiser as to what Numerology actually was. “One more lesson!” said Hunter whizzing past us in the corridor. At least the next lesson wasn’t too far away.
“We’re with another two forms in this next lesson,” I heard Joanna say to Ellen, just ahead of us.
“Do you know who?” I called. Joanna turned and shook her head.
“Good luck,” called Gret, giggling as half our form including Jake, Simon and Graham turned away down a corridor towards Magisteer Simone’s — it was their turn.
We carried on along the biggest corridor in the school, dubbed ‘The Big Walk’ as it was the longest and most used. It connected the Hall and the Chamber and numerous classrooms and corridors. It was lined with all the most important paintings, donated to the school over the years. Partington said we will study them in a few years with the Magical Art Teacher — Magisteer O’Connell. That didn’t fill me with excitement, they were just boring paintings.
As we passed the Hall to the left below, over the wooden bannisters we saw some unfortunate people going out to practice Riptide already.
“They’re keen!” I said to Robin. And then I spotted the white haired girl, dressed in a green and black Riptide kit. My heart leapt into my throat with utter shock. Not because of her, but because of someone else — she was right. My brother Harold was standing ahead of the line. His dark eyes still and focused on his form. This was a dream, I was sure of it.
“Watch it!” said someone behind me as I stopped stock still gorping down into the Hall at him. Surely my eyes were playing a trick on me? Was it an illusion? A trick? But then, his dark eyes drifted upwards, ever so slowly to me. And he smiled. A vicious, evil Blackthorn smile.
“Right, come on Snares, let’s go practice!” he called. His form, the Snares, including the white haired girl, cheering.
Then I felt Robin tapping me on the shoulder. “Avis? Earth calling Avis! Come on we’re gonna be late… What’s up?” he said.
“My brother, Harold. He’s here,” I said. Robin’s face dropped.
“So that girl was right? What you gonna do?”
“What can I do?”
“Go tell the Lily?” said Robin clicking his fingers.
I scoffed. “He was the one who employed him?”
I sighed, nothing was ever simple was it? “Come on, let’s get to lessons.”
As me and Robin approached Magisteer Yearlove’s, me in a dream with my stomach churning with anxiety about my brother being a Magisteer at the school, I heard Robin suddenly call out.
“Tina?” he said.
“Robin? Avis?” I looked up now as Tina was waiting outside the same classroom with half her form. “Are you with Yearlove now too?” she said, her excitement rising.
“Yes, we are!” said Robin and Tina jumped on him causing her form to look on perplexed. Then she launched herself at me.
“You ok?” she said. “You look like you’ve just seen a ghost!” she laughed.
Robin grimaced as he whispered. “He’s just found out properly that his brother now works here as a Magisteer.”
“No way!” she said. “Who?”
Robin raised his eyebrows. “Magisteer Blackthorn of course, of the Snare’s form.”
Tina looked guilty now. “Not that tall, dark, handsome new Magisteer?” she laughed. “Oh god, it is isn’t it? Avis, I’m so sorry. What do you think he’s gonna do?”
I shrugged as another half of a form came round the corner. “I just want this day to be over.” I said.
“Come sit with us at dinner,” Robin said. “Avis has something else to tell us that he forgot in Gnippoh’s.”
Tina’s beautiful face lit up with excitement again. “What? Tell me now, go on,
“Not here,” I said, as a man’s head poked out of the classroom door, piece of paper in hand.
“Form’s… Hubris, Condor and Swillow?” he said and we all nodded. “Right, in you all come then…”
“Too many men Magisteers if you ask me,” Tina whispered under her breath as we all filed in. As my eyes adjudged I saw with amazement, that this room was different to the others. Compared to Simone’s grey room, Wasp’s circular dome, or Commonside’s tiny broom cupboard — Magisteers Yearlove’s room was magnificent. It looked like a cathedral. Golden beams stretched from ceiling to floor propping up a colossally high pitched roof. Stone arches held up a second floor, which ran around the outside of the room. Under these stone archways, stuffed into the shadows were piles of old stuff: battered books, silvery instruments and old paintings, mostly covered in large cloths.
The ceiling was decorated with the most elaborate magical paintings of the scenes of the magical war and the Jermain and Shaun-John magical revolution. The images were so cool, popping out of the ceiling whenever you looked at them — like real cool magical art should be — not like those boring paintings in the corridors. Colour streamed in through the stain glass windows, casting a rainbow of light across the white stone floor. Stairs floated in mid air at the far end of the room, in a spiral with no hand rails — right to the very top of the ceiling. It was so magical and awe inspiring that it made me completely forget about Harold.
At the very end of the room was a miniature version of Hailing Hall. A life-size model of the entire school complete with Riptide pitch, floating island and grounds — and it was moving! The trees swayed, the statues moved and the sun beat down upon it. The top of the centre spire of the model was complete with a blue glass dome — where we had our lesson with Magisteer Wasp.
“Hmm…” hummed Magisteer Yearlove looking about with the rest of us. “I suppose it is rather special isn't it? Have you seen the
?” he pointed to the model of Hailing Hall. As we moved closer to it, we realised it was behind a thin, nearly invisible, glass dome. Magisteer Yearlove, who was tall, with short black hair and a black beard flecked with grey, approached the, whatever he called it, and waved his arms. It gave a small cracking sound as the miniature school split in half and opened outwards.
…” we chorused. Inside were tiny paper models of everyone in the school. It was incredible. I saw the Chamber, just below the school, with it’s domed roof and circular tables with a sparse amount of people eating or working. Their little papery form busy with eating, writing or messing about. And the Library, all the way over on the third floor with its own cathedral like room, with huge tottering walls of books and the river right in the middle complete with mini boats. I spotted Magisteer Simone with the rest of our form lining up in a very straight line. The paper models of our form mates moving ever so slowly. High up in the spire was Partington sitting at his desk eating an apple. A blue fizz of light erupted from the Riptide stadium, and I saw the green and black kit of the Snare’s jumping around the Habitat, which looked like a sandy desert — my brother Harold in the stands, stood arms crossed. Yearlove pointed a long finger to the middle of the school, where, in a big cathedral room, twenty or so paper models were staring ahead at a tiny life size model of Hailing Hall.
“Incredible isn’t it?” he said. And we all sort of nodded, open mouthed. “If you get a magnifying glass, you can see you looking at models of yourself, and the models of models… makes your brain hurt after a while…”
After getting over the glory of the room and its many distractions, Yearlove summoned twenty comfortable leather chairs into a horse shoe around him. The girls were paying a lot of attention to Yearlove, their eyes swimming with dreamy adoration. “We try to keep things informal here. I am not going to push you to learn, that’s up to you. If you want to do well and learn what can be one of the most complicated and dangerous magics then you’ll do well to take in as much as you can. But, if it’s not for you, please take yourself away — I have no problem with that. There’s nothing worse than one person infecting the rest with apathy,” he paused for dramatic effect. “With Spell-craft, your imagination is the only limit. There are an infinite amount of combinations, some mix well, others don’t, they come with trial and error. That Magiexemplar,” he pointed. “Was made with the forging of hundreds of Spells, which enchanted it, giving it life.”
“Did you make it Sir?” said a boy from one of the other forms, who looked longingly towards the model.
Yearlove nodded. “It was a labor of love. In fact, I must confess, that I created much of this room too. It used to be just a classroom, but I thought… how awfully boring, let’s make it an interesting place to learn.”
Tina, next to me, cleared her throat. “I couldn’t help notice Sir, that it’s bigger on the inside than on the outside…” she said pointing towards the small door we entered through.
“Another forging of Spells that you will learn toward the end of your sixth year. It’s only really Wizard architects and a handful of builders that know that enchantment. But I, as an advocate experimenter and amateur inventor, made my own.”
It was hard not to like Magisteer Yearlove, he was modest and interesting, good looking and charismatic. He introduced us to the world of Spell-craft by getting us excited, even though my whole body ached and head hurt as the sun dipped beyond the horizon come the end of the lesson. Yearlove also committed every name in our class to memory in one go. We went round the circle saying our names.
“Tina Partington,” she said, blushing.
“Aha, Partington eh? Well, let’s hope you have inherited your father’s skill!” Tina smiled and whispered something like
before he came to me.
“Avis Blackthorn,” I said, a lot more confidently than I would have last year. There was a little breakout of muttering from the boys of one of the other forms, and I could have sword I heard ‘
told you so
Yearlove bowed his head and smiled. “Ah yes, the
Blackthorn. Glad to hear that Avis,” he smiled.
“The very clever Outsider?” Yearlove offered. “I remember the end of school assembly,” he winked, causing Robin to go a deeper scarlet than our robes. “Whose next?”
“Jasper, Jasper Gandy…” said a good looking, very sure of himself boy. “From Swillow form Sir,” he said as Yearlove raised an eyebrow as he tried to remember Jasper.
?” he said, twisting his beard in thought. “I remember, your father works for the King doesn't he?”
Jasper coughed a little awkwardly before muttering. “Yes Sir, he
Yearlove blinked before asking, “Did? You mean he left?”
“No, he died Sir.”
Yearlove, who was crouching slightly, swallowed and got up, touching Jasper on the shoulder before adding. “I’m very sorry to hear that,” a tiny bubble of tension filled the air. Robin glanced sideways at me and grimaced. Tina was staring across at Jasper with a pained expression, her eyes swimming with empathy, or something.
We all made our way down to dinner, talking excitedly about the excellent lesson with Magisteer Yearlove. “I am absolutely starving!” said Robin. “I could eat ten plates of sausages right now!”
Robin laughed. “How do you reckon the others got on in their first Mental lesson with Simone?”
I spluttered, imagining Simon limping around and moaning. “If they’re lucky we’ll teach them how to summon some Mango Perry from the table.”
Robin gave me a funny look. “Well, I am not revealing that little secret, unless they’re nice to us…”
“Oh you boys!” said Tina who caught up with us, hearing the end of our conversation. “What’s that noise?” she said. There seemed to be some commotion coming from up ahead, in the Hall. We rushed forwards, Robin and me slightly behind Tina, our bones creaking and cracking as we jogged. Reaching the bannisters at the top of the Hall, all I could see was the tall ginger and purple cloaked Magisteer Nottingham berating two men and a woman. They were not dressed in school robes, and looked to be scrabbling for the exit. Notebooks and pens jumping up and running after them.
“And take your camera with you!” called Magisteer Nottingham, throwing the boxy metal camera towards a be-speckled man who caught it, then turned and shouted back.
“If you just let us interview him, it will save all this nonsense!”
“YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE!” blasted Nottingham, charging forwards. “If Ernest Partington wanted
interview, he could find you! He knows where you are, now… SOD OFF, before I set the
The three reporters yelped and ran for the door. Tina jumped down the stairs five at a time. “Good riddance you filthy SPRATS!” she bellowed at the top of her voice. Magisteer Nottingham turned to her, looking very red in the face.
“No need for language like that Miss Partington,” and with that he turned with a flick of his purple robes and marched back to the Chamber.
Robin and I exchanged glances, before Tina said a little loudly: “Coming to dinner or what?!”