“How do rituals work with how humans process magic?”
Zoe Baxter stopped her lecture on foci and glanced over at Benjamin Yeets. The sleepy eyed boy flinched away as Zoe’s eyes settled on him. She tried to avoid frowning.
“Excellent question, Mr. Yeets. Don’t be afraid to ask a question if there is something you think I can explain. There are no stupid questions.”
A lie to be sure. Zoe had been asked her fair share of stupid questions in her five years of teaching. An atmosphere of fear was not what she wanted to cultivate. Something she had failed at her first year of teaching.
There were still fifth and sixth years who she had during her first year that refused to do anything but take notes and ace tests.
“Rituals,” Zoe said, “are essentially large, single purpose foci. You’ll learn more about them in your third year, but a short lesson won’t hurt.”
She picked up a black marker and drew a large circle on the board. With a repressed smile at its neatness, Zoe turned back to the class. “Rituals start with a circle, generally large enough to fit oneself or an object within. There are a handful of rituals that will affect things outside the circle, but these are few and far between; not to mention they are significantly more dangerous than a regular ritual.”
Zoe turned back to the board and continued drawing out marks and lines within the circle as she spoke. “If you were to channel magic into the air around you, nothing would happen. It would dissipate with barely a noticeable rise in local magic levels. If you stand within a properly formed ritual circle, however, the magic you channel becomes trapped. The large amount of raw magic is one of the main dangers of rituals.
“The lines and characters drawn out within the circle,” she pointed out the spots on her own drawing, “will direct your magic. Malformed directions are another big danger. Properly formed, your magic flows along your written will and acts as you wish.”
She tapped the circle on the board. “This, for instance, will cause a stone placed within to glow. The magic you release into the ritual circle will siphon into an illumination spell within the stone.”
Several of the students had half formed ritual circles drawn out in their notebooks. Their pens scratched on their paper as they copied down the circle.
A number of students didn’t. Neither Juliana nor Eva even had their notebooks open. Miss Eva, she expected mostly due to the young mage’s familiarity with runes. The two types of magic weren’t related apart from writing things down, but they were similar enough that Zoe expected her to have experience in unorthodox magic systems.
Mr. Anderson and Irene Coggins weren’t copying down the circle either. With their parents, they would have some extra knowledge. Shelby Coggins, on the other hand, barely seemed to be paying attention. Her attention was wrapped up on the boy beside her.
One or two other students, including Mr. Weston and Mr. Bradley, weren’t touching their pens. Though that may have been laziness rather than a real reason.
“Miss Coggins,” Zoe said, both twins looked up but Zoe’s gaze remained on the lighter haired of the two, “why are you not copying down the circle?”
Irene shrugged with a sidelong glance at the table holding her twin. “I know a spell to make light, and I doubt it would be hard to learn an enchantment to do the same thing to a rock. Seems a waste of time to draw out a big complicated circle for such a simple thing.”
“A valid response, though if you were caught in the wilds without a wand, you might be wishing you paid attention.”
“Doubtful,” Mr. Anderson said half under his breath.
Zoe cocked an eyebrow at him, but Juliana had her hand raised. “Miss Rivas?”
“You marked down the circle but failed to mark the circle as a container. If you try to channel magic, it will dissipate as if the circle wasn’t even there.”
Zoe smiled. Genoa taught the girl well, it seems. “Correct. This circle is worthless as it is. As I mentioned before, we won’t be getting into a full course on rituals until your third year. They’re dangerous when you don’t know what you are doing.”
Eva shifted in her seat, looking very much like she wanted to say something. Zoe ignored her.
“There are a number of other, intentional, errors that will safely disperse magic,” Eva ceased her shuffling at that and Mr. Anderson gave a small nod, “just in case any of you think you know how to correct that error.
“If any of you do think to try out a ritual, I’d advise you to seek the guidance of an instructor. Otherwise, wait until your third year.”
Mr. Weston raised his hand, surprising Zoe. She looked to him and nodded.
“I heard you had to be naked to perform rituals. Is that true?”
Where a boy who had been raised outside of a magical family heard that, Zoe could only guess. If Mr. Anderson’s quick glance out a window was any indication, Zoe wouldn’t need too many guesses.
“That is correct for the most part. Something like this,” Zoe tapped the board behind her, “you could probably stay clothed. Anything with a person at the center or intended to affect a person should always be done nude. Even most others should be done nude, especially if you are inexperienced. Designs in clothes have been known to interfere with magic flows in rituals.
“Another reason they are considered dangerous.”
A good half the class blushed at that. Mr. Weston’s hand shot straight into the air once again.
Zoe didn’t need to call on him, what he wanted to ask may as well have been written on his face.
“No, Mr. Weston. If we perform any rituals in class, they will be exceedingly simple and with the protection of myself or other instructors.
“No nudity in class.”