Chapter XII: The Witches and the Ward (5/8)Mature

The children arranged themselves in their ordered places, the black lines were patterned not only across the floor, but up the walls and onto the ceilings, could duels happen upside down? Will thought with wonder. The lines were in parallel, marking twenty of so long aisles from left to right. White lines near the walls were back lines, and fluorescent yellow lines were drawn near the centre, marking an aisle straight through the middle.

Will took his place near the north wall, Tayna at the south, and Conway patrolled down the centre, making sure all was in place. 'In professional duelling, I can assure you that it is much more complex. When a magus challenges another in the street, a good amount of time can be taken to draw up the boundaries. You're only starting out, so just the basics are necessary. The objective is simple, remain within your section, not crossing the side lines, the front lines or the back lines during your attacks and defences. If you do cross the line, this happens.' Conway raised a purposeful foot off of the ground, and stomped down on the front line at Tayna's section. The strip glowed brighter, and slowly drew forwards her, lessening the space. Meanwhile, Will's front line extended for him, his eyes lit up happily.

'As you can see, it is not in your interest to step over the line. However, for your opponent, it is exactly what they want.' Conway took his cane from his side and dragged it past him, as he did so, the diamond lit up and the lines resumed to normal like pulled on a leash. 'It gives them more space to prepare for a stronger attack, and you less space to defend. If you continue to cross or be forced out of the line, your area will become tighter, until you are left with this.' He quickly tapped the ground with the cane, and Tayna's front line zoomed towards her until she was left with just a square of space.

'When your opponent has nowhere left to run, you are given one chance to spellcast and knock them from their space. If you succeed, you win.' Conway's eyes became hooded and warning. 'If you fail, however, then you are given the lesser space and they are given the one-chance spellcast.' Mouths fell open in perfect 'O''s, whispers hissing through the room. Conway drew back the lines, then raised his cane towards the ceiling.

'There are...alternatives, however. You are not limited to the ground. If you have the ability to use the walls or the ceiling and launch a successful attack, you charter points, so that if you are attacked, those points will be reduced instead of your perimeter. These rules are much more applicable in professional competitions, of course. The limit to junior competitions is two hours, after which a truce is called. At a higher level, time is unlimited. Several times I have participated, duels have gone on for full days, it becomes a competition to stay awake.'

 Will looked ahead at Tayna, then found Andrel standing against his brother, a victorious smile already plastered across his face. Conway moved to the side, allowing the duelling partners to meet in the middle, shake hands and take the conventional ten paces backwards. Facing the wall, Will felt footsteps approaching, and saw the professor at his side.

'How are we today, Will?' he asked, quietly and calmly.

'Good...sir,' Will replied, hoping to sound polite.

'I'm glad you haven't made any more escape attempts,' he smiled. 'Now, how is your spellcasting coming along? Any progress in the Old Three?'

'Is that what the languages are called?'

Conway nodded patiently, 'correct. Human languages, believe it or not, but rather beautiful, and very effective. Do you know many enchantments?'

'Not really,' Will shrugged, 'I've never done it. I just think about what I want to happen and it...does.' 

Conway's eyes widened, 'are you telling me you can use mens magick already?' Mens magick? Will vaguely remembered Lady Almara asking him that on his first day. 'Does the principal know about this?'

'Don't think so, sir,'

'Well, if it is true, then you will do perfectly fine.' Conway leaned in closer, and with a friendly smile added, 'just try not to scratch our beautiful princess up too much.'

Will smiled, 'yes, sir.'

Conway drew back, and raising his cane once more to the sky, spoke loudly. 'Now, withdraw your wands!' They did so, material swishing all around as wands of different shapes, colours and quality were revealed. 'And...begin!' The tip of the cane glowed brightly, all of the lines lit up momentarily, humming like gears in motion.

The End

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