My Best Friend is a Prince from Another World



Pt. II, Ch. 5: “I’m a mage with the Foreign Ministry"


Our apartment
Before dinner

We talked with Jack and Kai and Amy for a while, then headed out; most people had already headed for the streetcar except for a few die-hards who already had club activities.

We’d hadn’t gotten any written homework yet, but both English and our main Social Studies course had assigned reading. I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing, but the English text we started with was a thick compilation of short stories. Mr. Kirill had given us two to read and said to be ready to talk about them. For the social studies, I was going to just skim for tonight; this year was going to be mostly Feldaren history and starting with the early local history. I’d read an awful lot of that between the biography of the first emperor and preparing for the exam.

There was an unfamiliar car parked behind Dormer’s when we got back to the apartment, and it turned out that Dormer and an unfamiliar woman in a dark suit were waiting for us. “Joel, Mark, this is Ms. Yali. Legatus Matsumoto asked her to stop by.”

“Good to meet you both,” she said. “I’m a mage with the Foreign Ministry; the Legatus told me where you were from, and that neither of you had any prior exposure to magic. I’m here to evaluate Joel, to see if he can learn any. Mark, I’d be happy to include you in the evaluation if you’d like.”

Joel shrugged and looked at me. I’m sure I must have been grinning like an idiot, as Joel gave me an eyeroll, and Yali asked, “I’ll guess that’s a ‘yes’?”

“Yes, please,” I said. I knew from my reading that an awful lot of people in this world could do at least a little magic, but there was never any mention about whether the newcomers had been able to learn it.

She needed a little while to set up; in the meanwhile, Dormer asked what we wanted for dinner; I suggested pizza, Joel said burgers. Dormer knew a place that did both well. He was buying dinner tonight, and if we were hungry, we could head out whenever the evaluation finished.

The evaluation required four objects - they were on a wood tray on the dining table. Two glass spheres, around the size of a grapefruit or a softball - one was translucent, the other clear. The other two items were smaller; there was a piece of jewelry, made of silvery metal with a small, clear crystal attached, and a dull-colored metal bar about the size of a deck of cards.

She asked us to move chairs a few feet away from the dining table; then to sit down. She had Dormer close the blinds and turn off the light. The room still wasn’t dark exactly; the blinds weren’t great as I’d discovered over the past few mornings, to my annoyance, but it seemed that “not well lit” was fine for her needs.

“OK,” she said. “For simplicity, we’re going to have Joel do each test first, and Mark can repeat it right after.” To me, she said, “The accuracy won’t be as good for you, because you’ll have seen Joel’s responses, but it will save a lot of time.”

The first test was holding the metal bar for a moment. After Joel held it, I did. Nothing about it felt unusual; the surface reminded me a lot of D&D figures, or like the musket ball I had as a souvenir from visiting a historic fort with my parents a few years ago.

Once I returned it, she asked us, “Did either of you feel anything when you held it?”

“It felt cold,” Joel said.

When she didn’t ask me anything right away, I said, “It felt like a regular piece of metal.”

She checked off boxes on a sheet of paper. “OK, are you both ready for the next test?”

“Was that lead?” I asked in response.

“In part, yes. There’s a small percentage of magical ore alloyed in.”

“Magical ore?” Joel asked, while I got up and washed my hands.

“It’s a rare kind of metal,” she said. “It’s not very useful in a raw state, but it can be attuned and used as a power source for magic, or to keep magical devices operating.” I remembered reading about it in the textbook - the Wizards’ guild had settled their headquarters where they did, on an island over what was this world’s equivalent of the mid-Atlantic ridge, because it was sitting on a huge seam of the stuff. When they decided they’d lost the war, they blew it all up.

When I finished washing my hands and sat down, she told us, “Someone with a very high magical sensitivity would have felt it as warm or vibrating.”

“For the next test,” she said to Joel, “pick up the crystal.”

He did, and I thought for the briefest second that I saw a flicker of light in it. Joel clearly felt something, as his eyes went wide with surprise for a moment. “It feels warm,” he said.

“Interesting,” she said, and checked off some boxes. “Please pass it to Mark.”

As he handed it to me, I thought I saw another bare flicker of light. As I held it, it seemed like nothing more than a piece of jewelry; it was no warmer than any other small object someone had held in their hand for a few moments. I still, somehow, kept seeing small flickers of light inside it. I put it back on the table. The flickers died out.

“I don’t feel anything, but I keep seeing very dim flickers of light inside it.”

“Only flickers?” Joel asked. “It’s been glowing since I picked it up; I thought that was visible to everyone here.”

“Very interesting,” she said, and checked off some more boxes. “That’s excellent news.

“This means that each of you has at least some basic level of magical sensitivity, maybe more than basic. The light you each saw in the jewel wasn’t visible light; normally you must call out the power when casting, but Joel managed to activate it accidentally. What you saw was radiation of magical energy itself; the power stored in the stone leaked quite a bit when Joel handled it.

“What I don’t know is whether either of you would have seen anything if Joel hadn’t activated it.”

Her next test required her to tap both spheres with the jewel; as she tapped each, she muttered something under her breath. The translucent sphere, to her left, glowed with a clear white light. The transparent one to her right didn’t change at all.

“Do you see a light on the left?” she asked us. When we both said yes, she went on. “Good. That’s visible light, at a standard brightness.”

“Do either of you see anything in the clear one?” she asked. I shook my head and looked at Joel.

He’d done the same, and then said. “No, but I did see a flash when you tapped each of them with the jewel.”

“Very interesting.” She wrote something down on her sheet, then tapped the clear sphere with the jewel again, holding it for a moment. “Do you see anything in it now?”

“A faint light,” said Joel.

“Same here,” I said.

“Is it solid, or flickering?” she asked.

“Solid,” said Joel.

“Flickering a little,” I said.

She tapped it again, briefly. “Is it solid now?” she asked me.


“A little brighter for both of you?” she asked.

It was. The test went on, with various taps, and questions about the brightness. Joel saw it a little more easily than I did, but it wasn’t until we started another section that our responses differed a lot. This section consisted of changing the colors of both spheres, and then asking if the brightness in the translucent one matched what we saw in the clear one.

She told us to let her know if the hues didn’t match, and otherwise, to let her know how bright they seemed - like the first part, she would adjust trying to match the brightness of the translucent one. Joel saw the orange and red much more easily than I did, and two others in blue and white less easily; the other odd finding was that the hues did not match for me several times, most strongly on a couple of green ones, while they always matched for Joel.

Then, we were done.

“That’s it,” she said. “I’ve got a few notes, but this was very clear-cut. I don’t think I’ll need them.”

“Really?” asked Dormer, getting up. He’d been sitting on the couch, and I’d forgotten that he was still here. He turned the lights on, and then came over to the table.

“Yes. Let’s go over your results first, Joel. You have an average sensitivity for magic overall, but a very high sensitivity to solar magic, and probably an attunement to it. That carried over in the tests to sensitivity with related elements like fire.

“You’ve got, exactly as one would expect for a solar attunement, a poor sensitivity to lunar magic and related elements like water. I’m not set up to test for it today, but I’d be interested in seeing if you had some level of resistance there. Given the results of the test with the power stone, I would expect you learn to use solar magic quite easily. You’re a little old to learn a lot of magic, but I think that day to day spells should be very manageable.”

“I’m not sure what that means,” said Joel, “but it sounds good. Dormer told me while ago there were some I should learn if I’m able.”

“Now, for you, Mark. You also have an average sensitivity overall. I can’t say whether it’s slightly weaker or stronger than Joel’s, because of how we did the tests all together.

“Now, as for sensitivities, I have to ask you a question - have you ever been told you may be red-green colorblind?”

“No,” I said, “and I can see red and green, but I just don’t always see color very well.”

“Mark, the milder form of red-green colorblindness doesn’t mean you can’t see the colors, just that they show up a little differently from how they should. It’s quite common, and mostly harmless. You should get an eye doctor check for you - I’m surprised since you have glasses that you weren’t screened for it, and if it bothers you, there are spells to cure it either temporarily or permanently.

“Without knowing that, though, the best I can say is that either you have the mild form of red-green color blindness, or you may have a few mildly reduced sensitivities - especially to life magic. Unlike the lunar magic, it’s very easy to check if you’re resistant - would you mind if I did a brief test to see?”

“What would that involve?” I asked.

“I’ll cast a spell that gives you clearer vision temporarily. If it works, you’re not resistant.”

“So, I won’t need my glasses?”

“Yes, for several hours,” she said.

“OK, let’s try it.” I’d always been curious about contacts.

She held the jewel for a moment; she muttered something, it flickered, and after she put it down, she walked over and touched the side of my head. The world got oddly blurry, and I realized I’d better take my glasses off; I did.

“Can you see well now?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Excellent, you’re not resistant to life magic,” she said. She looked at her watch, and then went on, “It’s just before 5. It shouldn’t wear off until you’re asleep overnight, but you should bring your glasses with you if you leave the house, just in case.”

She started packing her things up, and Dormer had a last question for her. “I’d planned to ask Legatus Matsumoto to arrange for someone to teach Joel, since he’s turned out to be capable. Are you likely to be the one she’ll ask?”

“She expects you to ask, and already spoke with me about it. If you formally request the ministry’s help with this, yes, I’d be the one teaching him. I’ll tell you the same thing I told her - he’d be better off with someone with more teaching experience. Since you know her, I’ll bet you can guess what she told me.”

“Something on the order of it being a politically sensitive matter,” he said. “If so, yes, it is.”

“Yes, that’s almost exactly what she said,” said Ms. Yali, “and if discretion is what’s needed, then please confirm with the Legatus. I'll have no problem starting lessons next week sometime once she signs off.”

“That’s excellent news, I’ll do that,” said Dormer.

After she’d packed and gone, Dormer drove us to dinner. The place we went was called The Haven; it wasn’t far, just a bit north of the main station. While we were waiting for my pizza, Joel’s hamburger, and Dormer’s half roast chicken, Dormer asked us how our day at school went.

“Pretty well, I think,” said Joel. “We only had about half of our classes today.”

I shrugged. “The people in our homeroom seem nice.”

“Did you get to know anyone yet?” asked Dormer.

“There are a couple of guys who we sat down behind who were friendly; Jack and Kai,” said Joel. “Kai said he was Ambassador Matsumoto’s nephew.”

“Joel also volunteered for the class trip committee,” I said, “and I think it was mainly to get to know the second-year representative.”

Joel turned a bit red.

“Oh?” said Dormer. “A girl, I take it?”

“She’s cute,” said Joel. “Besides, she had a point about making sure people from the other classes don’t make all the choices about the trip.”

“Sounds like a good day,” said Dormer, giving Joel a grin. He didn’t ask anything more about our class representative, and the conversation moved on to lunches. Dormer did not remember the food there fondly at all, and Joel again declined to have Dormer’s housekeeper prepare lunches. It also turned out that Dormer remembered quite a few of the teachers we’d have, including Mr. Kirill; I’d known he was young, but it came as a bit of a shock to realize he’d only graduated five years ago.


About the author


  • California, USA

Bio: Amateur SF/fantasy writer. Professional computer geek. Something of a grouchy old man, but mostly harmless.

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