Essairyn stared listlessly at the analog clock inscribed on the front wall adjacent to the door. The hour and minute hands ticked soundlessly across the vertical surface like two dimensional moving images. The ivory borders of the ebony colored hands were hard to see against the stark, white walls. Two slightly separated circles, the inner black, and the outer gold, contained the hands. In the dark, the black interface of the clock faded away to white. But the gold shimmered vividly no matter the amount of light available. The golden circle signified that a magical spell which utilized the world’s energy laid underneath. If one directly accessed the clock’s spell, its magic circle would appear inside the gold ring.
Many fixtures on the walls bore resemblance to the clock with their own golden borders. The board that the professor was writing on was outlined by gold along with a grid designated for student lockers on the back wall. Even the surface of all the desks contained the same spell. These magical appliances were one of the interior design signatures of the Knight-Mage Academy buildings. But only regional campuses large enough for a full, proper educative facility would bear these features. Additionally, only certain rooms were equipped. The main campus in Neu’arth was the only building that enjoyed these space-saving, highfalutin trademarks.
The proper term to describe these types of domestic spells was “high-magic,” very similar to what people denoted as “high-tech” back on Earth. When Essairyn first heard the term from a fellow classmate who was starry-eyed by the classroom interior, she nearly choked trying to withhold a burst of laughter. Humans in Sol’h’meyr were really partial to earthly concepts even after centuries of persisting in this world.
However, although Sol’h’meyr revolved around and advanced its civilization with magic as Earth did with technology, the latter was a basic aspect of average city folk life. But it played a minor role that was often supplemented with magic. The establishment of the internet along with Wi-Fi or cellular connection was absent in average civilian life. Advanced technological feats were only found in the enclosed environment of Neu’arth which specifically strove to mirror daily life on Earth.
Thus, outside of Neu’arth and the big cities, technology, including electricity, played little to no part of a commoner’s life. Television wasn’t present in rural households, and farmers didn’t use tractors or mechanical equipment. All in all, civilization across much of As’pyze was like eighteenth century Earth. From one region to another, it was like crossing into a different time period while remaining in the same era of magic.
While Essairyn found the culture lessons that drew parallels and differences from the two worlds interesting and enlightening, she was eager to start the combat or magic classes already. Much of what she had been taught in her first class of the day, “As’pyze: The mirror land of Earth,” only reviewed and reconfirmed her previous deductions about how humans lived in Sol’h’meyr. In terms of culture and society, she was most curious about the elementals who originated in and ruled this world. She also would have preferred studies on demons and spirits over humans.
Hence, her mind drifted off to musings about the high-tech classroom interior and how the permanent spells were engraved into the walls and various objects. She wondered if she could duplicate the spells back in her treehouse or tap into the world’s energy and make use of it another way. Surely, collecting magical energy from the world provided infinite opportunity for inventions as well as long-lasting, powerful spells. But the professor didn’t linger on this topic and only informed that such spells worked on inanimate objects and exponentially became more intricate to cast as the range of functions increased. The KMA, and closely connected SSPA, exclusively held the blueprints for world energy infusion. This was a startling fact to Essairyn who assumed that elementals would also know.
She distractedly tapped the desk screen and flicked through the pages of the virtual textbook. It wasn’t required for students to read the entire textbook. They merely had to attend the full one hour course everyday for the next week. As a traveler from Earth, she was automatically placed in the class. Besides her, Darren, and a few other travelers, most of the class were young teenagers or preteens who were born in Sol’h’meyr and had received standard schooling. The KMA was a combative school as well as a standard educative one. The latter was simply referred to as The Academy, while the former was referred to by the whole name or abbreviation. Standard students couldn’t rightfully declare themselves to be studying at the KMA without it being an outright lie. That’s because except for certain general knowledge classes, the facilities employed by knights or magical students were separate from the non-magical students.
Sighing, Essairyn peeked over at Darren from the corner of her partially-lidded eyes. I wish we could attend all classes together… Her elbow was propped up on the desk, and her head slumped on her palm in disappointment. Now that Darren had decided to join Essairyn on the Farinheld mission, the only way to convince the Knights to add him to the team was for him to become strong enough to not be a liability.
Earlier that morning, the new knight trainees had been assigned their official rank and were split according to their results as Aispin had told Essairyn. The first rank given in the entrance exam evaluation was only tentative. Most ranks remained the same, albeit with slight deviations for some. Darren had kept his upper-middle D rank for a knight while Essairyn was designated as low C rank for a knight and upper C rank for a mage. Since the regular m’u sensing magical device hadn’t measured her magic, her mage rank was only speculative.
Their third and fourth rank evaluations would be held at the end of the first and second week respectively. The fourth was their final rank as a fully initiated knight. From this point forward, knights would either be directly enlisted in local missions according to that rank, or proceed with their full education and training at the KMA. Any further rank advancements depended on mission achievements or grades. Ranks usually grew in small increments with few people who could actually break past their initial letter to the next one in a short span of time. Setting aside inherent talent, most humans took years to gain any significant advancements. Technically, all of the evaluations in the two week training period were to merely pinpoint a trainee’s true rank. Most people didn’t specifically train their bodies to increase magical aptitude or strength, so the stringent initiation training brought their capabilities fully to light.
Thus, Essairyn was concerned about whether Darren could join the Farinheld mission. Ever since last night, a strange inkling had crept to the forefront of her mind. It was possible that through this mission, they would be going their separate ways for good. Darren had no obligation to wait for Essairyn in her mission if he couldn’t come along. And Essairyn was adamant on not enrolling at KMA. Although, he hadn’t outrightly confirmed his decision to enroll after their two week training, he hadn’t distinctly expressed his assent to accompanying her to at least Neu’arth either. And Essairyn was pretty positive that her path toward Neu’arth wouldn’t be a direct one too. Knowing her penchant to wander, explore, and craft, it would be some time before she reached the pseudo-Earth.
Sighing once again, Essairyn’s head and shoulders sunk upon the desk. She frowned slightly and blinked up at the front board. The professor was still presenting the course material while circling key points and writing down extra information with smooth motions of his fingers a few centimeters above the wall’s surface. He didn’t seem to care that some students were nodding off and continued spiritedly teaching.
Rather than actively listening, Essairyn observed the functions of the board before peering down at her desk. Straightening her body, she pored over everything she could access through the school system interface once again. The network seemed to combine technology with magic, making the sci-fi dream of interactive, virtual screens attainable. But instead of images being projected onto the desk from some apparatus, no hardware existed. The desk’s magic spell linked to physical books in the Academy libraries as well as the magical stores of information in administrative data centers. It was akin to having a cloud storage and computing system, except everything was stored in perpetual, dynamic spells. Each regional campus controlled the flow of information, and the main campus served as a backup as well as the origination of all Academy knowledge.
The height of magicology, as it was amusingly dubbed, impressed Essairyn. Disregarding the aspect of magic, she wondered if all of the innovations in this world were bombshells to travelers from earlier time periods. Certainly no one from the industrial age would have ever imagined something as impalpable as the internet and all the odd and creative jobs that arose from the birth of the web. Hmm, maybe I’ll encounter flying cars or some other kind of flying vehicle here? Would all the rooms in a house be ‘automated’ by magic? Maybe a room could be the whole house by shifting into the kitchen, living room, or bedroom?! And then more people could live in a single place?! Oh wait, people like space. I like space. Essairyn quickly shook her head. I’m getting ahead of myself and starting to go on tangents. Who’s to say that my idea of science fiction is correct in a world with magic much less extrapolating from the modern Earth that I know.
Nevertheless, it was fun for the girl to imagine all the possibilities. Just like when she dreamed of fantastical feats and magical worlds back on Earth, her proclivity to daydream still prevailed even with the existence of magic. If anything, it instead caused all those imaginations to bubble up into a torrent as she played with the real possibility of being able to achieve all her imaginings. Deluged in her daydreams, Essairyn hardly realized that the hour had finally passed.
Darren awkwardly got up from his seat and looked over at the dreamy ebony-haired girl who was still lounging in her seat. It felt sort of strange to just leave his seat without having to take any class materials or school items with him. He came into the room without holding anything, and now he would leave as if he had been spectating a show rather than a course lecture. Eventually, he would get used to this change from college. Although, he didn’t necessarily mind not having to lug a backpack around everywhere.
As he began approaching Essairyn, she snapped out of her daze and shot up in her seat. After briefly gazing about her, she fixed her lavender eyes upon Darren’s umber orbs. Standing up, she met him almost halfway before they both turned for the door. Together, they walked the short distance in their overlapping routes to their next classes.
Both had something to say to the other, but Essairyn wasn’t sure where to begin. Thus, she appeared to be faraway to Darren, making him hesitate to strike up conversation. He had noticed that she was distracted during the lesson, so it made him wonder what she was thinking about right now. His thoughts flashed back to their conversation last night. Neither had managed to apologize to the other for their snappiness or sourness, yet they had been able to smooth over their wordless dispute nonetheless.
Realizing that she was contributing to the awkward mood as the more talkative one of the two, Essairyn quickly spoke up with small talk about the lesson. Darren exchanged ample conversation, but before they separated to progress down different corridors, he stopped the girl.
He looked directly into her clear eyes, searching for something he wasn’t sure. He too was stuck, grasping for proper words just like Essairyn since leaving the classroom. Tongue-tied in that fleeting moment, he decided to let it rest. His gut told him that she needed to settle her thoughts just as much as he needed to sort out himself. In the mission, would they straighten out their relationship and finally clear up what they expected from each other? Or would they drift further apart during these two weeks because of the class separation? He definitely wished to become stronger and stand solidly on his own, but due to their nature of their shared circumstances, his budding attachment to Essairyn left him beyond perplexed.
Barely three days had passed since they had met and the universe had thoroughly jilted him. It still lingeringly felt like a dream, yet in that span of time, so much had happened. He couldn’t believe that he was actually acclimating to any of it. This whole situation was madness. And she was the only thing that anchored him in the abandonment of his world. Darren was holding onto the single string that connected himself to his past and current reality. He hated this feeling, and yet he was too scared to let go.