Chapter 1

The ringing: it was all he could hear. The explosion had made a crater no less than five feet across, but he was completely unharmed… aside from the tinnitus, but that was a non-issue. He started channeling Life into a basic heal and pulled out his notebook, recording the results of his experiment while the sound in his ears began to fade. He had been working on two spells today. The first was the spell that had created the crater.

The spell, a mixture of Fire, Storm, and Life, had reminded him of several things. First, Life was sympathetic to both Storm and Fire; they mutually enhanced each other. Second, Fire and Storm did not have that relationship and reacted like young children desperate to show you who the cooler one was. This reaction, strengthened by Life, had grown far beyond expectations and he had exhausted the second spell to stay alive.

This second spell was his long-term project, his magnum opus, his masterwork that still had a long way to go before he would consider it complete: a new class of shield spell.

He had, over the five years of his studentia, cobbled together a way to cast an absorption and then power a shield through it. This made a shield that ate the magic it didn't block and lasted until the underlying spell was worn down. It wasn't a straight conversion; there were still losses that made both less effective when considered separately, but the two combined could tank much more magic than if they were independently cast.

It was an extremely convoluted process, but that was why he was spending so much time on it. The only downside left was that it took far too much time and etherium to be useful in duels. While the cost was not really avoidable, he was certain that the time aspect could be fixed.

As he finished up with his notes, he noticed that the ringing in his ears hadn't gone away. In fact, it had gotten louder… and developed an intermittency that was really famil- wait, he knew that sound. It was his student journal. Someone must have sent a message.

He walked over to the gazebo and picked up the thick tome from where he had left it. The message was from his instructor and it immediately grabbed his attention.

Good Afternoon Young Wizard,

I know you are occupied with your extracurricular projects today, but I have just received some materials that may help us solve that little problem you've been having with your spellcasting. If you could, meet me in Ravenwood in half an hour, and we will discuss it.

Cordially,

Arthur Wethersfield

With that, Arlen hurried to gather up all of his equipment and then made his way to the gateway that led from his lonely cottage to the Olde Town.

Maybe he could finally get his dueling license.