Oct 14, 2019 1:30 AM
Margaret in Neuroi World
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"Nope! Thanks so much for being willing to teach me! I'll teach you anything you want to know about too. Or if I make a neat broom in Broomcraft and you want to ride it you can."

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"That would be fun! Thanks! It is nice to have friends."

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"It is!"

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Classes continue. They push everyone fairly hard. Some are better at learning academics than others. They split the girls into two different classes at different paces soon. They also put the young ladies through some light exercises disguised as games and mention that a good witch is sharp in mind and magic and body.

But before that, the special classes start! It looks like around a dozen others chose this class, too. It's in a large room with stone floors and small windows. There is a fancy-looking 'broom' made mostly of metal at the front. Sleek, with strange prongs of metal flaring out at odd angles, mostly down and back.

The teacher opens with, "Come up and have a close look, everyone! I want to start you off with something interesting, so this is a spare very new steel-body broom I was able to get my hands on. Can anyone guess what features might make it a good or bad broom? Don't worry about being wrong, guess!"

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(Margaretta ends up in the faster class despite her minor remaining language troubles, and dislikes the exercises but acknowledges that they're a good idea.)

"Maybe it's good because the sticking-out bits point in directions you can use to steer better? Or because they point those directions for some other reason."

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"It's not as long as a regular broom."

"Does being metal help?"

"It looks easier to stay on than a stick."

 

"Yes, they serve a similar purpose to the bristles on a regular broom! Yes it is, for some things being metal helps, and yes! That last question is a good one. How a broom flies is only one thing about the broom. How easy it is to use and how durable it is, or how expensive it is or how easy to repair, are also very important."

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If the teacher still appears to want comments, Margaretta adds, "This one looks harder to build or fix but also harder to break."

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"It is a lot more expensive and needs special care and maintenance, yes. Wood is the traditional material for a good reason. It's cheap and durable if properly made. Steel is much, much more conductive to magical energy, which changes a lot of things about how the broom works. But for now I need to explain the basic theories behind broomcraft. To your seats, everyone!"

Why witches can do the things they can do is not really understood, but what is happening in a broom is mana - magical energy - being converted directly into force through an object. Witches can channel mana into some objects and it will just sit there, but to fly they push mana through a broom. They can do that for object they touch if they get a feel for it! If you were very, very good you could fly a chair!

However, 'flying' anything too un-broom-like usually just results in the thing flying off in some random direction, being smashed to splinters, or being crushed as it is pushed in every direction at once. Something about the 'broom' design makes the force easy to control, to channel down, back, left and right.

Understanding pouring mana through objects as innately as possible is a key skill for broomcrafters. There are math problems and diagrams and theories they will learn later, but the first step is to practice doing it and get a good feel for it.

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Margaretta applies herself diligently to both diagrams and practice. She already has a lot of experience pushing mana through metal things! She hopes her special will make it easier to deal with metal brooms.

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Some of the students are clearly trying a lot harder than others. Grenadine has a natural talent for feeling - and seeing - the flow of mana, which the teachers constantly complain about her not applying.

"I don't wanna." 

"Remember your English lessons, young lady."

"I do-not want-to," she carefully enunciates each syllable, "I wan-ted to do the outdoor class. You said this would be fun but it is not."

"Sometimes we have to do things that are not fun. This class will teach you valuable skills for the future, for magical development! You should follow Margaretta's example and apply yourself more. If you continue to misbehave, your time at the school will become less pleasant. Here, just work out this problem, and this one, and then you'll be done for now. I'll come back in a bit and help you in a bit."

(Vague grumbling in a foreign language ensues as Grenadine gives in and tries to do the math.)

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Margaretta makes a face. She is doing this because it is fun and because she wants to work on cool things, not to give teachers an excuse to give her friend a hard time! She would offer to help Grenadine if she wasn't worried that it would look like she was agreeing with what the teacher said. Instead she passes her a note when nobody's looking.

Sorry about that. Also it's really cool how well you can trace mana flows and I want to learn how. If you can teach it and it's not just you being really strong or trying really hard.

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It's my special. I can see magic. Except it's not really seeing or hearing or smelling. It has colors that aren't colors. And I can make it echo. And magic can be rough or cold and stuff.

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Oh wow, that sounds really useful and fun. I love my special and the extra sense it has but yours is pretty great too.

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It's great but it's so great everyone tells me what to do

You wrote down more notes than me why doesn't this work I can't remember?

And below that shaky handwritten line is a sketch of one of the spine arrangements.

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Margaretta puzzles over the spine arrangement for a moment, then realizes she's at risk of losing the flow of the lecture or getting caught passing notes or both. Instead she finds Gren after class and points at the diagram. "This spine is too big, so some of the energy that should go into this one goes into it instead, which makes a dead spot here. And if you make the gap gig enough that that doesn't happen, you get a dead spot down here instead. Or at least that's what I understood the problem as being; does it sound right?"

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"Maybe? It's really complicated. I did something different. The teacher said my idea was bad even when I explained that it'd be slower but harder to crash."

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"Did she think it wouldn't be harder to crash or did she think being fast is more important? Or some other thing like it would be expensive to make?"

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"I dunno. I was so mad I forgot what else she said."

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"Oh well. Maybe you can ask again later if you're curious. I can't wait until we get to start doing things ourselves instead of just looking at examples!"

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Shrug. "I already told you I wanted the outdoor class. But maybe. I think they might make that boring too. It feels weird to be indoors all the time. Reading and doing math and things."

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"Well, maybe you can go be outside for a bit before the next class starts. I'm wondering if I have time to go to the library."

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"And we still have the talking to someone else who did the class thing. Have fun reading things, I'll be outside!"

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"Bye, have fun!" Margaretta heads toward the library on general principle, but she'll stop if she finds Mala on the way.

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They keep learning at as fast a pace the teachers can reasonably manage. Math, reading and writing, flying lessons, navigation, etiquette and procedures. People in the sleepy little village they fly over sometimes are happy to wave up at the little witches flying around above them! Apparently a bunch of the students' families live there, too.

Occasionally the school is visited by Important People in fancy clothes - the adults all bustle around and make lots of fuss about how well the young witches are learning, but the visitors aren't very interested in actually meeting students, apparently.

Once four weeks have passed, it's about time for the special magic classes to begin. They have been scrambling to find appropriate teachers. The class for their special magic can't really be held in groups, except for a few pairs or trios with similar powers. There are three witches who can shoot lightning with differences in control level and kind, two who can shoot fire (with subtle differences there, too), three with generalized telekinesis (same deal), two who can do geases, two who can fly really really fast, two who can make ice all around them, two with magic for aiming with weapons. Everyone else is unique enough not to benefit from groupwork.

One day, her math teacher keeps her after class for a minute. "We think we've found someone who would be good at helping you learn to use your special! Miss Jacqueline Blucher. She also has a metal-related special and comes well-recommended. However, she wants to teach you for whole days at a time, because she is rather busy and travelling here and back to Karlsland takes a while. You'd miss your usual classes for those days and have to catch up on what we covered later. We could find someone with a more convenient schedule but who might not be as good at teaching you how to use it if you'd rather not miss whole days at a time though."

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All the classes are awesome except etiquette and procedures, which Margaretta does see the point of but wishes it didn't have one. She's just as happy to avoid the Important People and their unknown agendas as they are to avoid her. Learning medicine from half-remembered lecture descriptions isn't as good as actually taking it, but it's better than nothing.

When she hears that she has a potential special teacher, she is So Excited. "I want to get as good at using my special as possible!" she chirps. "Missing days and making up the work is alright, I can ask other students to tell me what happened in class. When can Ms. Blucher and I start?" She bounces up and down in eager happiness.

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