A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

Hello everyone and thank you for reading!

Also, this is late but to everyone that imagined Claygon as Darkseid when he was flying...yeah that's exactly what I was referencing, lol.

Alright, onto the chapter!

“Well, look at that, none of us flunked out.” Alex grinned as he looked up at the board. That was an understatement.

For Magic Lore II, Art of the Wizard in Combat II, and The Alchemy of Potions II, Alex’s name was emblazoned in glittering gold letters at the top of the lists of the top ten best performing students in each class.

Across the board, dozens of lists were posted and scores of students had gathered around, murmuring and pointing. Throughout the crowd, cries of frustration mixed with cheers of joy as proof of their achievement, or disappointment at the absence of their name, was revealed.

The names of Alex and his cabal-members appeared on a lot of top ten lists. On one list in particular—The Art of the Wizard in Combat II—the top four places were filled by four very familiar names.

In gold lettering, indicating first place: Alex Roth.

In silver lettering, indicating second place: Isolde von Anmut.

In bronze lettering, indicating third place: Khalik Behr-Medr.

In fourth place: Thundar, Son of Gulbiff.

Prince Khalik quietly looked up at the leaderboard, then glanced over at Isolde, before extending his hand. “Well done, it seems that you have bested me.”

Isolde attempted to be nonchalant, but Alex could clearly see the excitement sparking in her blue eyes as she shook Khalik’s hand. “It was a near thing, I am sure.”

“But a win is a win.” The bearded young man shook her hand. “Your combat spells and use of them truly showed their quality when we fought the xyrthak. Aaaah, my family would be ashamed of me. My earlier performances left me…complacent.” He grinned viciously. “It shall not happen again, Isolde.”

A smile of challenge grew on her face. “We shall see, Khalik. We shall see.”

“I’m just happy I got fourth again.” Thundar clapped and rubbed his hands together. “No shame in not getting past you monsters. And I got fourth in Body Enhancement, that’s one better…Illusions is still seventh though.”

Alex glanced over at Thundar. “I haven’t seen you pull out the illusions much in Baelin’s class.”

“Because most of them aren’t practical yet,” Thundar said. “First year illusions is all about making small illusions: tiny images, ghostly sounds and stuff like that. We didn’t get that much into learning bigger spells: we just honed the basics, for the most part. Second year’s when we get into some of the fun stuff, and I can’t wait. You know what the first spell they teach you is in second year? Invisibility. I’m gonna abuse that to no end. Monsters won’t have any idea what hit ‘em. It’ll be great to finally get more use out of that course than only illusionary duplicate.”

“I can hardly wait.”

Alex looked back at the board. His smile widened. “Khalik, I avenged you!”

He pointed to his name in gold lettering at the top of Val’Rok’s second year, second semester Mana Manipulation class. Isolde’s name was in silver directly below his.

“Well done!” the prince clapped him on the shoulder. “I knew there was a reason I became friends with you. Already weaponizing those bonds Baelin was speaking of!”

“Hmph,” Isolde sniffed. “Congratulations, Roth-”

“Why are you calling me by my last name in a super cold voice?”

“-just keep that place warm for me while you can. I am gaining your measure, and you will taste defeat soon enough.”

Alex smiled. “Oh coooome on, Isolde, you got the top spot in basically every other class you touched. Can’t you just give me this one?”

“Not even for a moment.”

“Aaaah, mercy, Lady von Anmut!” he cried. “You truly have no mercy, you evil wizard!”

“Before you call me an evil wizard, I should like to point out that you stuffed a mana vampire like a duck meant to be pate, then drained it dry like a tick all to power your monstrosity.” She glanced at Claygon on the other side of the hall.

I may be biased, but I’m pretty sure it deserved that cuz…y’know, it nearly killed me,” Thundar said through clenched teeth.

“Truly, it did,” Isolde said. “…but is what Alex did not exactly what an evil wizard would do in an old story?”

“…yeah okay, good point,” Alex said, looking through the crowd of students at Theresa and her good friend—Zhao Shishi—who were celebrating Shishi’s success in Life Enforcement. It looked like the young woman had placed third.

While he looked at them, he also noticed lots of students already filing out of the hall with shoulders slumped.

“They look depressed,” Thundar noted.

“Indeed,” Isolde said. “And I suspect such an atmosphere will become omnipresent across campus soon enough.”

“That’s quite the procession,” Alex said, watching the mass exodus of students streaming out of one of the insulae close to where he and Isolde had been walking and chatting on the way to the library.

“Ah yes, ‘The Migration’ has begun,” she said with a slightly muted note in her voice.

‘The Migration’?” he asked. “Also, uh, a lot of them don’t look very happy.”

It was true, a lot of the students were filing out of the insula—loading possessions onto mules, horses, more exotic beasts of burden or sky-gondolas—looking as though they’d just watched their lover run off with someone else. Their eyes hardly left the ground and there was a slump to their shoulders that Alex had only really seen in folk who’d suffered a pretty big loss.

“There is a good reason why many do not look pleased,” Isolde sniffed. “A number of them are leaving the university, not to return: the exam marks are back, as are the final marks for the semester. Students that were on academic probation are being given the great, dirty boot.”

“Academic probation?” Alex asked. “What’s that?”

“Ah, I suppose you wouldn’t really have a reason to be aware of that condition,” she said. “When one performs poorly at Generasi, they are given a letter of warning and a single semester to correct their efforts. If they do not manage this by an elapsed period of time, then they are expelled from the university.”

Alex winced, then his eyes widened, taking in the sheer amount of dejected students. “You mean…all of them are being kicked out?”

“Indeed,” Isolde said, her voice somewhat detached. “You saw how much smaller the second year class for Mana Manipulation was. I am told that it only shrinks from there.”

“Yeah, I mean I heard that classes have a pretty high uh…not-pass rate, but it’s something to really see that in action.” He whistled. “I wonder what’s going to happen to all those wizards.”

“In truth? Some of them will live good lives,” Isolde said. “If they have the drive, at least. Even having mastered first-tier spells gives one advantages in life. One might not be able to become an alchemist without the practice and the higher level courses, but any sort of craftsperson would benefit greatly from knowing a few spells. Take even your Wizard’s Hands. How much would a carpenter accomplish with two floating hands assisting them?”

“Huh, that’s a good point,” Alex said. “And I guess they could self-teach themselves, or go to another university.”

“Indeed.” Isolde nodded. “Wizardry is not an easy art by nature, and Generasi is not an easy school by nature: what you see is inevitable. In any case, we should stop gawking and go choose our own courses.”

“Yeah right, right, thanks for coming to the library with me, anyway. Not that you’d turn down any invitation to the library.”

“…what was that?”

“N-nothing,” Alex said quickly.

He glanced at Claygon behind them and sighed. All this time gaining control over himself, his emotions and his thoughts with The Mark. All this time mastering the beginnings of magic.

…and he still couldn’t stop his mouth from going renegade at times.

“Well, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it?” Alex whispered in the library. In front of him was the course guide for second year and his registration list, ready to be filled out and returned to Hobb, the registrar.

He glanced around, smiling at his new surroundings.

With proof that he had mastered a second-tier spell, he’d been granted full access to the floors of the library reserved for second-tier spells and their equivalents in alchemy.

It was a bit of a thrill to be down there.

While structurally the areas were nearly identical to the first few floors of the library, the books were already very different. The spell-guides were more advanced, the formula books for alchemy more complex—and larger—and the books on general magic lore more difficult to understand unless one had sufficient training.

In a way, being on this floor made him feel far more like a real wizard. The students here walked about with bags and books following them around using force constructs like his own Wizard’s Hands or telekinetic spells, which were more advanced. Some even used minor teleportation spells to call books and other things to them as they selected their courses.

Another difference was how few people there were on this floor. He grimaced. ‘The Migration’ was likely already at work. Imagining the lower floors, he figured that the deeper floors would become lonelier and lonelier as less students advanced in skill to be able to gain access to the knowledge held down there.

Still, it felt like those here were all wizards with some level of skill or experience, rather than novices who’d barely scratched the surface of wizardry, like he had been.

And now, he could dive even deeper into the art.

With that thought in mind, he turned his attention back to the course guide and began choosing his courses. Since he’d paid for the summer semester, he could—but was not required—to pick his courses for the fall. Instead, he could wait until near the end of summer to do so: which would allow him to see how some of his ‘experiments’ with different summer courses went.

Well, ‘experiment’, to be precise.

Looking over his first year courses, he’d picked ones that he’d thought would be useful. That had included Force Magic which he’d felt should build on the foundation of what he’d come to Generasi with. The class had actually been pretty helpful…but if he was completely honest, he was hitting a wall in it.

Some of the spells in Force Magic—especially the attack-oriented ones—really set The Mark off. Learning those spells was extremely slow and difficult and—in the end—wouldn’t be of much practical use to him in combat or in anything else.

It was time to change his approach.

Now that he’d learned the basics, he could continue to teach himself specific force spells that could be useful. The more advanced force armour spells would be high priority, as well as some of the larger versions of ‘Wizard’s Hand’.

High-tier spells like Wall of Force, would also be really useful.

For his summer courses though, he’d decided to take three: two would help him progress faster in his biggest strength in wizardry: alchemy. Taking only three courses instead of a full course load of five, would leave him with time for himself, for any work with Jules and Baelin, or to take extra shifts at Shale’s Workshop if any came up. It would also leave him with time to spend with Theresa’s parents when they arrived in a couple of weeks, and more time to spend with Selina.

Since they’d finished sculpting the golem, he’d been so busy again, that he wasn’t spending enough time with his sister. He needed to change that.

And as for his ‘experiment’ course…

He flipped open the course guide to a first year course:

SUMM-1020: Summoning I. Call upon spirits of the ether to enact your will in the world. Begins with the binding of lesser elementals.

Without hesitation, he wrote it down in the course register then flexed his fingers, thinking back on The Traveller’s message.

There was something about him and teleportation magic. He wasn’t sure if he would call it an affinity, but something about that type of magic worked really well with him, even when it was cast on him. In magic, summoning was similar to teleportation, and the one summoning spell that he knew—Summon Stone—had come really easy to him despite him having no experience with such magic.

Summoning could be a very dangerous art—he never would have considered taking it before he’d realized he seemed to have a…strange ‘talent’ for it—but it would help prepare him for the courses on teleportation magic that were available for second years and above.

Summoning would also give him an edge in combat situations if he learned how to call monsters.

He thought back to the fight with the clawed monsters at the estate. Claygon had been a massive force in that battle, but his golem could only be in one place at a time. Summoned monsters would make it so that he could increase the numbers on his side at any time he needed to.

Smiling to himself, he wrote a new title at the top of one of the pages in his many notebooks: ‘Operation Roth Army’.

He was about to close the book, when he happened to glance at a page partway through the course catalogue. His eyes narrowed at the course description.

MBO-1550: Magical Botany I. Explore the world of magical plants for beautification of one’s stronghold, the growing of one’s own alchemical components, to grow food for the specialty diets of one’s familiars and magical creatures, or for one’s own pleasure. Held in the Botanical Gardens.

Alex blinked at the entry.

‘Well, well, now that’s intriguing,’ he thought.

It sounded kind of perfect as something to try during the summer semester. It would help him begin acquiring his own supply of magical fungi and plants, it sounded relaxing, and a course like ‘magical gardening’ sounded like the exact type of course he could exploit without triggering The Mark.

And besides, if he took the course, he’d be able to pass some of what he learned on to Khalik. It might help the prince not only with some applications in earth magic, but also with whatever was brewing between him and Sinope, the beautiful dryad they’d met at the patrizia’s ball.

‘You’ve got my back, man, well you bet your ass I got yours,’ Alex thought.

He wrote down one more course for the summer semester.

A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

I've been talking about Generasi having a very high standard to allow students to pass, so I wanted to show the consequences of that at some point.

Alright, that's it for me for the week. I got my friend's pathfinder game tomorrow—he's got us hopelessly outgunned, lol—and I got to mentally prepare to have our asses kicked lol.

Cya Tuesday!

Big thanks to all my readers—I appreciate each and every one of you—and a very special thanks to my patrons on my Patreon

If you want, I'd love it if you boosted me on Top Web Fiction through the following link.

Join us on discord!

Support "Mark of the Fool: A Progression Fantasy"

About the author



Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In