Chosen One, 36

What Schools Don’t Teach Is Just as Important as What They Do

Ao3 Link

The ceiling had a crack in it. Isaac hoped that had already been there and that he hadn’t done it. He chose to believe it had been there already and that some other poor student had put it there by accident one day.

“Are you all right?”

Isaac nodded from his place laying on the ground. His head had stopped spinning already. “Yeah.”

Diana reached down and helped him up, and Isaac sighed, stretching a little and pretending that his back wasn’t bruised. “What did you do?” she asked him, looking worried.

Isaac shook his head. “Not what you were trying to show us.”

How Isaac had managed to turn a lesson in how to change air temperature into a small explosion was beyond him, but he took some comfort in the fact that he wasn’t the only one who’d done it wrong. Spencer had started a fire and Jillian had frozen the floor for a metre all around her.

Isaac wondered how Diana taught this class without having a heart attack. A room full of idiots who didn’t know what they were doing trying to use magic must be the most stressful thing in the world to manage.

“Try again,” she suggested, looking around at the rest of the room. Her assistant was an apprentice named Ned, and he was walking around the wide, empty room that Development was held in to make sure that nobody else blew themselves up trying to make it warm.

Isaac nodded, wincing as his head protested just a bit at that. He reached for the Pillars, touched Shadow the way Diana had showed them. Trying to feel the air around him, Isaac willed it a little cooler this time, since warmer had blown him up.

Diana watched as he did it, and the temperature dropped by a good few degrees all around Isaac. “That’s better. Now make it warmer since I assume that’s what you did last time.”

“Yeah,” Isaac nodded, took another breath and shifted his hand, preparing to warm the air.

“Ah.” Diana reached out, put a hand on Isaac’s wrist. Not that a hand on his wrist could stop him from doing magic, since using the Pillars wasn’t a tactile thing—as she kept reminding them—but Isaac stopped, looked up at her. “You’re a little too high here.”

“Oh.” Isaac moved his hand a little lower, which moved it closer away from the intersection with the branch Pillar. And he cast the spell, warming them both up. “I must have been too close to the…”

A shrill screech filled the air and they both looked over to see Aaron stepping back from something. “I’d better go help,” Diana said, smiling at Isaac.

“Yeah. Thanks.” Isaac nodded and let her go, wondering again how anyone had the patience to teach this.

The screech went on for a bit because Diana never fixed their problems for them unless someone was about to die, and she patiently stood there with Aaron and showed him how to fix whatever he’d done. Isaac watched as she did. Aaron had been using Dark to cast the spell so he hadn’t done it the way Isaac had, but it looked like he’d pulled funny on it when trying to warm the air and had made the air yell instead.

Why that was a thing, Isaac didn’t claim to know.

Using Dark, Isaac tried to do the same temperature spell now, hoping that he didn’t blow himself up again. His hand tingled for a moment and Isaac paused, flexing it. That had been happening on and off since Cameron had healed him at the banquet. He’d been assured that it would stop after a few days. But for now it served to remind him that he needed to get better at magic, because a slightly deeper cut would have left him with a few less fingers.

It would be easy enough to just say he’d never go to a banquet at the castle again so he wouldn’t get involved in assassination attempts on royalty anymore. But Nicholas had said that some of those people had been there to kill a mage—one of the three of them. And someone had attacked Peter in all the chaos.

If nothing else, Isaac was going to get better at magic so that he could stop people from hurting Nicholas and Peter.

“I don’t get it,” Aaron was saying to Diana as he tried to figure out what he’d done. At least he’d managed to turn the screaming off, though it sounded like he might have dimmed his hearing thanks to the noise. “Peter did it right—and I was watching the way he did it and doing the same thing.”

Isaac looked up, away from his own spell and over to the two of them. Everyone else in the room was doing their own work, and he didn’t think anyone else had heard Aaron except for maybe Andy. Isaac hadn’t been watching Peter, but he had glanced in his direction earlier.

Peter had been using Light to cast the spell.

Both twins were Dark mages.

Isaac wandered over there, frowning a little and trying not to look worried.

“You should learn from me or Ned, not from another student,” Diana was saying to Aaron. “Nothing against Peter, I’m sure he was doing it well. But for teaching, it’s better if you follow what the instructor shows you.”

“Hey, Aaron?” Isaac asked, getting a look from Diana but watching Aaron instead of her. “You use Dark, right?”

“Yeah,” Aaron nodded, glancing at Diana as if uncertain suddenly.

“Do you ever see anything else?”

“Oh, um…” Aaron looked at his brother now, who’d come over as well. “Well, sometimes I think I do. But I mean, the Pillars are bigger than they look, like we learned in Development, and they don’t always stay the same shape, right? Sometimes you think you’re seeing something funny and it’s just part of your Pillar that you don’t recognize.”

“Yeah…” Isaac wondered. “Hey, Peter?” he called.


“Can you show Aaron your temperature spell?”

“Isaac, what are you doing?” Diana asked, as Peter’s footsteps came closer.

Isaac smiled at her. “Remember what you told me about the chosen one back in the fall?”

“I told you a lot of things.”

“That he could theoretically teach other mages how to use all three Pillars?”

Diana blinked. “Isaac…”

“I think you were wrong about that.” Isaac had been wondering this for a little while now. He’d seen the way they taught magic here. “Peter?”

“Sure,” Peter said, and he reached up and manipulated Light, fingers brushing over the Pillar as he made the air just a little cooler around them. “There.”

“Yeah, see…” Aaron said. “That’s what I was trying to do. But…” He touched Dark, made as if to do the same thing.

Peter’s eyes had gone a little wide. Diana had fallen very silent as she watched them.

“Aaron,” Isaac said quietly. He looked at Andy, who was watching Peter curiously as well. “Your spell isn’t working because you’re using the wrong Pillar. Peter’s using Light.”

“But that’s…” Aaron looked at Diana now. “That’s impossible.” It sounded like a question.

“Maybe not,” Diana said, looking at Peter now. “If the chosen one…”

“What if it doesn’t have anything to do with a chosen one?” Isaac interrupted. “Peter, you know that thing I did to show you all Light in the room that time?” At Peter’s nod, he asked, “Can you do it?”

“I think so, it was just…” Peter tugged on light, gave it a bit of a squeeze, feeding some of his own power into it, Isaac now realized. The Pillar started buzzing a little.

Suddenly everyone was paying attention to them now, and Isaac heard more than a few exclamations. Diana’s eyes had gone wide, and she was looking at the Pillar in Peter’s hand. “Oh, my God.”

Isaac looked over his shoulder, at Nicholas. He looked like he’d been hit by something. “Nicholas, try that with Shadow,” he suggested.

Still looking stricken, Nicholas jolted out of his trance and looked at Isaac for a long second before nodding, and reaching out to squeeze Shadow as Peter had for Light. The same thing happened, the Pillar buzzing, more illuminated than usual. Everyone in the room was looking at it now.

Not even looking, Isaac tugged on Dark, did the same thing again. This time there were no exclamations, just a silent wonder from everyone, including Diana and Ned.

Isaac turned back to Diana, the room illuminated by the three Pillars, strongly visible. “When Peter first saw Light, they told him he couldn’t because it was too early. Aaron talked himself into believing he’d seen Peter use Dark for his spell. Elena gave a whole lecture about how it’s easy to mix Pillars up and think that we’re seeing things we’re not. But what if she’s wrong? What if we’re all wrong?” he asked. “What if the only reason the chosen one can see all three Pillars is because nobody told us we can’t?”

“Oh, my God,” Diana repeated, hand reaching out to touch Light.

“Diana, what if the only reason most mages can’t use all three Pillars is because the academy taught them that they couldn’t?”

Diana touched Light, looking for a moment like she might cry. “All this time,” she whispered. “All this time it was right there.”

“And you didn’t need a chosen one to show it to you,” Peter said quietly.

“He’s right,” Nicholas agreed. “Aaron was already seeing Light without Peter’s help. He didn’t need it shown to him, he just needed to know what it was. It was always there for him—and for everyone.”

“You just needed to all stop telling each other that it wasn’t,” Isaac finished.

“The things we could have accomplished…” Diana said, shaking her head. “I could see it when I was your age. I convinced myself I couldn’t. I let them tell me I couldn’t. And then I couldn’t. I’ve done it now to…so many students. And I almost did it to all of you too.”

“It isn’t your fault,” Isaac told her. “It’s what you were taught.”

“Not anymore,” Diana said. All around the room, students were touching Pillars they hadn’t been able to see until now. “We won’t be teaching anyone not to see ever again.”

Isaac nodded, looking at the buzzing Pillars. Light, Shadow and Dark were illuminated brightly and humming as they were touched by so many people at once. And as the ability that had made Isaac, Nicholas and Peter special became normal, Isaac couldn’t help but wonder about the seven other threads of power he could see, the ones that weren’t buzzing, that nobody was touching.

Previous (Story)

Previous (Series)

Next (Story)

Next (Series)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s