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Sep 18, 2021 1:27 PM
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Meditation, it turns out, is annoying.

He tries anyway, stubbornly.

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After enough time with no measurable progress he gets a sharp rap to the back of the knuckles of one hand as a reminder that failure is unacceptable even when it is inevitable.

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He scowls and tries again.

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He receives two more sharp raps before he manages the trick, at which point, what with him not having any idea what to with the magic in his hands, Savaross plucks it from him, does--something--with it, and congratulates him warmly before explaining how to use magic to produce a brief force against a provided object and leaving him to it.

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Using the magic comes much easier than grabbing it in the first place did.

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Good! Then over the course of the lesson he will probably only earn one or two more raps with the metal stick!

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The second time the stick comes for him, he uses magic to shove it away.

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"Clever," he says, "but that's not allowed," and he cuffs him in the ear, not hard enough to concuss him but hard enough that his head will be ringing for a little while.

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He snarls, but doesn't object further.

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Snarling earns him a warning look, but not another blow so soon after the first one.

Savaross continues to be congratulatory whenever he gets something right, and when the lesson is over he is told to tell the apprentice in charge of food that he has earned dessert tonight.

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Ooh, dessert.

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Yep, dessert. Some of the other apprentices eye it, but between his demonstrated ability to inflict harm surprisingly well without even using magic and the fact that he's still only five no one actually attempts to take it from him.

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Good. Because if they did he would hurt them. That is his dessert.

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This one is. But he won't be five forever, and a lot of the apprentices are older than him and know more magic.

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He doesn't have magic lessons every day; there are a lot of apprentices, after all, and even the ones receiving less special treatment than him get some lessons. The older apprentices are expected to tutor the younger ones in non-magic subjects like reading, of course. When he is insufficiently swift to learn something in a lesson, he is punished; succeeding earns him a little more leeway for slowness but not very much. He is assigned things to practice between lessons, and at the beginning of each he is checked for proficiency of things he was supposed to be practicing; if he has made insufficient progress he is punished. Occasionally Savaross will test him on some non-magical subject, and if he does poorly enough both he and the apprentice who was supposed to be teaching him are punished. He earns dessert only on the relatively rare occasions where Savaross deems him to have made exceptional progress.

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This is a recipe for a very hardworking five-year-old.

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As he progresses in magic the other apprentices slowly deem him an Acceptable Target. He does not get to eat every dessert he earns.

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Are they sure about that. Are they really sure.

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Some of them are not! Some of them, however, know way more magic than him.

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No one who tries to steal his dessert gets away unscathed, but eventually one of them does get away with his dessert.

His glare suggests that she is going to regret it.

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She left him enough control of his body to make facial expressions, and this is the thanks she gets? Well. She'll just completely ignore him while she eats his cake.

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Perhaps she should have paid closer attention.

The next day, she falls down the stairs.

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The next day he is not supposed to have a lesson, but Savaross calls him in anyway.

Apprentices, he explains, are a major investment of time and resources. Falling down stairs as steep as the ones in this tower can easily be fatal. Tassairen is to be commended on taking initiative in interpersonal problem-solving, but next time, he is to choose a method less likely to leave his victim dead.

However, this had not previously been explained to him, and she did survive, so he is not to be punished, this time, and has earned dessert again.

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Tassairen is very smug about this dessert.

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