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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Fantasy · #2261021
A bumbling sorcery student almost burns down the girl's dorm with magic gone wild.
Prompt: the girls [sic] body was charged with electricty [sic] and shes [sic] dangerous to everyone
Word Count: 1500
This is a prelude to
 A SpellTo Calm the Wind  (E)
Winner. A sorcery student aces a question on her exam...she hopes.
#2260133 by Graywriter down south

Clarinda stared glumly at her spell book. Whatever had made her think she could be a sorcerer? Her spells wouldn't work. Nothing was going right. The dark night and the heavy rain pelting against the dormitory window only reinforced her gloom.

“Gloria,” she called to her best friend and room-mate at her desk across the small room, “can you help me with these fire spells? I can’t seem to raise so much as a single spark. Maybe it’s all this rain.”

“I doubt that. I know you’ve been trying hard, because I’ve seen the smoke coming out of your ears. I thought for sure your brain was smoldering.”

“Ha, ha. Look here, does this or does this not say ‘Ignis imperatus creatarus’? And is that or is that not the spell for starting a fire?”

Gloria came and peered at Clarinda’s notebook. “I’m not sure what that says. It looks like a tiny gargoyle with inky feet hopped across the page. But it should say ‘creatatus’.”

Clarinda took her quill and scratched at one of the gargoyle footprints. “Thank you. Now, what about this one? To warm a small room. Use the general preparation followed by incantation of ‘Ad calefacto adamo vagina.’”

“Oh, Clarinda!” Gloria giggled and blushed. “Wherever did you get that one? That spell will, um, warm up a part of a girl’s body. I’m absolutely certain Ms. Fangustin wrote no such thing.”

“Come to think of it, Anthony Cressida whispered it to that chesty Ferina Plumkin while I was taking notes. I guess I got them mixed up. At least that explains why I got hot pants, but no fire.”

“Here, copy from my notes while I take a break.” Gloria passed over her spell book and headed for the toilets, muttering quietly as she went, “Ad calefacto adamo....”

Her tongue clamped firmly between her teeth, Clarinda diligently checked her notes against her friend’s, and made several careful corrections.

Magic is so capricious, she thought. Hold your tongue wrong, or forget to look cross-eyed, or say one stupid word wrong, and the spell fails, or turns your pencil into a worm, or something. Well, let’s try again.

She ran through the general preparation instructions, which in this case involved placing tinder (a crumpled page from her notebook) on an altar (a pie plate) and focusing her attention. She sternly incanted, “Ignis imperatus creatarus!” Nothing happened. Oh, right. Should be ‘creatatus’.

Just as she recited the corrected incantation, more firmly this time--IGNIS IMPERATUS CREATATUS!--lightning streaked the sky and thunder shook the entire building. Her hair stood on end, her skin tingled down to the tips of her toes, and she was lifted bodily out of her chair. All the lamps and candles in her room went out.

She blinked in the sudden darkness. There were shrieks and curses from up and down the dormitory. Apparently all the candles and lamps in the dorm had gone out. She heard doors bang open and girls began wandering the halls, calling to each other and laughing.

Clarinda realized that she could see her room in a dim red light. She felt pleasantly warm, even hot, all over her body, but noticed a smell of smoke. Looking at herself, she realized that she was glowing a pleasant cherry-red, and her clothes were on fire. So was the desk where she had rested her hand.

She rushed into the hallway, not realizing that wherever her feet touched the floor, she left a tiny blaze. Everyone gasped and drew back from her. “Clarinda, you’re on fire!” several shouted. “Stop! Drop! Roll!” called one. “Leave,” yelled others. “Get outside in the rain!” someone sensible advised.

Leaving a blotch of fire with every step, she fled.

# # #

The downpour sizzled off her heated skin. Her clothes had pretty much burned away, but she found it pleasant being naked in the rain. She murmured the fire incantation, pointed at a nearby bush, and was delighted when it burst into flames. A few charred saplings later, she realized she need only think the words and she got fire. She held out her open palm, and despite the pooling rain, created a handful of fire. Wow, this was great stuff! For the first time, she felt like a real sorcerer.

She looked back at the dormitory. Smoke streamed from a few windows, and groups of soggy students milled around in the quad, but the downpour and the spells of the masters and some senior students had evidently extinguished the flames.

The rain tapered off to a drizzle. Her inner glow and its accompanying euphoria faded slowly, and she began to feel cold in the night air.

Oh, Aerlon, what have I done? I almost burned down the whole girls’ dorm. I am in so much trouble! If the headmistress doesn’t kill me, I’ll be in detention for the rest of my life.

She brightened at that thought: a lifetime of detention meant she wouldn’t be expelled and forced to go home and marry that horse’s back-end, Darrell. She brightened even more at another thought: there was no need for her to be cold. She conjured a cheerful glow in her cupped hands, wrapped herself in flame as temporary clothing, and set off to face her punishment.

# # #

A hall monitor led the cooled and re-dressed Clarinda to the office of the headmistress. As they approached, they could hear a loud argument through the closed door.

“The girl is a menace, a walking disaster,” Ms. Fangustin screeched. “She is distracted in class, takes shoddy notes, fails to complete assignments and those she does attempt she messes horribly.” Clarinda squirmed: that was all true.

The monitor knocked, opened the door, pushed Clarinda into the room, and fled. The trembling novice found herself facing the furious Fangustin, while the headmaster and headmistress, calmer but clearly disapproving, looked on.

“Well, close the door and come in, child,” invited the Mistress Leafbrook.

Clarinda approached timidly. The adults were seated, but there was no chair for her. Evidently she was to stand in fact while they stood in judgment.

“You stupid amateur!” began Ms. Fangustin. “Of all the fool stunts to pull! You nearly--”

“A moment, please, Ms. F.,” interrupted Master Runebluff. “Would you be so kind, girl, as to tell us exactly what happened in the dormitory earlier this evening? Leave nothing out, please.”

She told them everything. When she got to the girl-part-warming spell, Ms. Fangustin looked like she’d swallowed a rat, while the Heads merely nodded for her to continue.

“Very good, thank you,” said the Master. “Do you think you could demonstrate? It’s quite all right, with us here, it will be safe. We’ve prepared a fire in the grate. Would you light it, please?”

Clarinda looked over at the fireplace and saw tinder, kindling, and logs ready to go. Without moving from where she stood, she ignited the tinder and watched it blaze.

“Excellent. Now can you do the Handful of Fire spell for us?”

Clarinda held out her cupped hands and carefully created a soft bed of coals. When the Master nodded, she grew it into small flames; at another nod, a roaring blaze. At a gesture from the Mistress, she folded her hands and the flame cut off.

“See? I told you she’s a danger to herself and others,” snapped Ms. Fangustin. The Master waved her quiet.

“Does it hurt you to work with Fire, child?” asked the Mistress.

“No, ma'am. Normal magic gives me sniffles and stuffed sinuses, but the fire spells are fun and easy.”

“It is intriguing that you find it easy. Clarinda, what you are doing is advanced Elemental magic,” began Runebluff.

“What she is doing is risking the lives of every student and master in this school,” interrupted Fangustin, “and she needs to be punished and then expelled!”

“Please do not interrupt again,” warned Runebluff sternly. The teacher responded with a haughty huff.

“Clarinda, there are post-graduate sorcerers who cannot do this as quickly and easily as you. I daresay even Ms. Fangustin would struggle to match that speed and ease.” Fangustin turned red and looked furious.

“My concern is for the safety of yourself, others, and the school. You are known to be impulsive, and to attempt spells without due concern for preparation or correct incantation. For this reason, we will restrict your ability with a binding spell. Your access to the element of Fire will be limited, as will your control. Further, for the sake of student discipline, you will serve one month of detention, under direction of Ms. Fangustin.” He looked at the teacher. “Does that satisfy?”

“Not nearly, but I suppose it will have to do.” She looked pleased, though, and her wicked smirk showed that she was already thinking of ways to make her student’s life miserable.

“Very well. Your first detention will start after supper tomorrow. Damage to the dormitory was minor and your room is restored and ready. You are dismissed. Ms. Fangustin, please do remain.”

Clarinda wandered back to the dorm deep in thought. A month’s detention was firm but not harsh. A limit on her ability to harm was reasonable. Just as an experiment, she tried to ignite the paper in a near-by trash basket: nothing. She held out a palm and was able to call up a small fire.

Good enough, and definitely better than being sent home to a forced marriage to Darrel-under-the-horse’s-tail.

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