Temptation: Part Three
It was Monday morning and Kayli was catching up on some much needed sleep in her Magic History class. She'd spent most of the weekend fetching ingredients for Artro, several of which needed to be collected by moonlight, and had gotten little sleep after crashing Friday night. She'd all but forgotten about their adventure in the woods and had now turned her attention to preparing for midterms, which currently consisted of taking a preparation nap.
She awoke with a start as Sweetpea jabbed her in the side with a pencil. Kayli jumped and barely managed to contain a yelp. She glared at Sweetpea, who simply rolled her eyes and pointed to the front of the room.
"...So choose wisely! This will account for forty five percent of your midterm grade!" A bell sounded and Kayli looked to the clock in surprise. Wow, class really flew by when you were unconscious. She gathered her books and walked out the door, falling into step with Sweetpea.
"So what am I choosing wisely?"
Sweetpea laughed and rolled her eyes at her friend. "Your midterm project topic. We're supposed to research the history of one of the magical elements. Maybe I should do fire, it would match my colour after all." She snickered and shoved her books into her locker. Kayli frowned thoughtfully and turned down the hall.
"Be right back!" she called to a surprised Sweetpea as she raced back to Magical History. When she arrived, the history teacher, a Starry Yurble by the name of Helena, looked up in surprise.
"Why Kayli! What can I do for you today?"
"I wanted to ask about the midterm project. The one we have to do on a magical element? I think I know what I want to do my project on."
Helena smiled warmly. "Why that's excellent! So what have you chosen? Water? Earth? Maybe something a little more challenging? Air?"
"Um, no. I was wondering if I could do my project on Black Magic? It's a type of Dark Magic after all." For a moment Helena simply stared at Kayli, eyes open wide and slack jawed. Then she quickly started packing up her books, refusing to meet Kayli's eyes.
"Now I-I don't know where you heard that term before, but Black Magic is not to be discussed in this classroom, do you hear me? No ma'am, not in here, I don't want to hear you say those words again, no not again, not in this classroom..."
Kayli stared in surprise. "But I just want to research it! It's not like I'll even be looking up any spells, just its origin! Please, Artro has already told me a bit about it, I could probably get him to suggest some research books!"
The older Wizard abruptly stopped what she was doing and looked at Kayli. "Artro told you about this? And he would be okay with you researching this... topic?"
"Sure he would!" Kayli lied. In truth she had no idea what Artro would think, but who cared? This might actually make Magic History bearable. Helena studied Kayli closely for a moment before nodding.
"Alright. I'll talk to him myself. As long as he's fine with you researching in this area, I suppose I am as well. But you will under no circumstances research or include any Black Magic spells in your report, is that clear?" Kayli blinked in surprise and quickly nodded. Helena inclined her head and frowned. "Well, I suppose that's alright then. Now you'd better hurry to your next class, you don't want to be late."
"Thank you so much!" Kayli called as she hurried out of the room before Helena could change her mind. Finally, something in school that actually interested her! Now all she had to do was convince Artro that this project was a good idea...
Later that day, after classes had finished and most students had retreated to their rooms to study for midterms, Kayli quietly pushed open the door to Artro's office. In one wing she carried a Herbal Coffee, and in the other a Blueberry Jelly Doughnut; Artro's personal weaknesses. She was actually hoping that, along with approving her project idea, Artro would agree to switch her into more advanced classes. Why waste her time with basic spells and potions she's already mastered? It made perfect sense for Artro to advance her, but still, Kayli was nervous.
As she entered her mentors cramped office Kayli opened her mouth to begin her carefully rehearsed speech, but quickly stopped herself when she saw that Artro was deeply absorbed in his work. He was carefully leaning over a large spell book, muttering to himself as he quickly took notes on a pad of paper. His desk, and his entire office for that matter, was strewn with books of every shape, size and colour. There were books on the desk, under the desk, even hovering over the desk. There were piles on the floor, on the chairs, and on every surface available. For the books who couldn't find a place, they simply flew around the room, waiting for Artro to call to them. Kayli took a step back as a particularly large book with wings whizzed by her head. She waited patiently, hoping that Artro would somehow acknowledge her presence, but after a few minutes of Artro working diligently Kayli finally cleared her throat. Artro glanced up in surprise and smiled warmly at his apprentice.
"Why hello, my dear! And to what do I owe the honour? What's all this now?" Kayli quickly set the doughnut and the coffee down and smiled serenely at Artro.
"What? I can't bring my wise, kind, old mentor a snack now and again?" Artro simply smiled and took a sip of the coffee, waiting for Kayli to begin.
Kayli nervously pushed her hair back, trying to remember what it was she had planned to say to Artro. Gosh, why was she so nervous? It's not like she'd never asked Artro for something before. "Okay. Okay. Two things. Number one; I'm sure you've heard from Helena that I want to do my Magic History report on Black Magic." She waited for conformation and continued when Artro nodded silently. "Well, I know you may think that this is a bad idea, but I think that this could really be an educational experience for me. This would be purely research, no practicing magic, and it's something I'm really interested in. All I need to do is research the history behind the magic, something you've already told us a bit about! You could read everything I research, and make sure it's appropriate, and give me your insight as well. Just please, please consider it, this is the only element that interests me." Kayli heard the whine in her voice and stopped at that. She held her breath as Artro silently considered her opinion.
Finally, the old Wizard rose with a sigh. "You know that I try to be fairly open minded when it comes to my students and their magic, as some teachers at this school fail to do. I believe that we as Wizards should always be learning, always striving to improve ourselves. But there are some areas that even I refuse to acknowledge, even on purely an educational level. Black Magic is one of those areas." Kayli's heart sank as Artro continued. "I know that you're merely interested in the topic and wish to indulge your curiosity, but Black Magic is not an area to be tampered with. It's all too easy to give in to temptation, to do what we wish instead of what is right. My demonstration in the forest was meant to be just that; a demonstration. I'm afraid you're going to have to be satisfied with what you already know and leave it at that."
Artro nodded thoughtfully and rose. "Alright, you said there was something else you wanted?" It was clear that Artro wanted nothing more than to move on from their discussion and get back to his research. Kayli struggled to mask her disappointment and frustration as she thought back to her second request.
"Yes. Yes I was wondering if you would move me up to some more advanced classes." Kayli straightened as Artro blinked in surprise; she was done with working up to her requests. "I'm at the top of all of my classes, and quite frankly I'm bored with magic at this level. I need a challenge. If you allowed me to work with older students in more advanced classes I would greatly benefit from the experience." Kayli struggled not to squirm under Artro's gaze. Finally, the old Wizard began to nod.
"Yes, well that's certainly an interesting proposition. Never been done before in the history of this school, I hope you know." Artro rose and began to pace. "I'd have to discuss it with your other teachers, see what they say. Maybe in a semester or two we'll move you up." Artro nodded happily and sat, thinking the matter resolved. He turned back to his notes, a clear dismissal to Kayli.
Kayli gaped at her instructor before blurting out, "But that's so far from now! Why can't I be switched now?" Artro looked up, once again in surprise.
"But my dear, these things take time. And you're already half way through the semester! I can't just snap my fingers and move you to another class. Although I guess I'm not a very good Wizard if I can't." Artro chuckled, but stopped at Kayli's fierce expression. "Now I know you're bored, but I'm afraid you'll just have to stick it out until at least the end of the semester. There's nothing I can do about it. I said I'd review the matter next term, and that's the best you're going to get. Now you'd best be off to your room, so that you don't miss curfew. I'll see both you and Sweetpea in class tomorrow." And with that Artro picked up another book, and began skimming for the information he needed. Seething, Kayli turned and stormed out of the room before she said something she'd regret. This wasn't over, no not by a long shot. She might not get to research what she wanted in Magic History, but her class level was another matter. One way or another, Kayli would convince Artro to advance her. She just had to figure out how.
"So not only did he forbid me from researching Black Magic for my project, but he won't consider switching me to harder classes until next semester! I can't BELIEVE him." Kayli sighed in frustration and flopped down on Sweetpea's bed. After her meeting with Artro, Kayli had gone back to her room to study, but found herself too frustrated to focus. After sulking around for a while, and giving her desk a couple of good kicks, Kayli had stormed over to Sweetpea's room to blow off some steam. She glanced over at her friend, who was sitting at her desk, focused on replicating a Vanishing Potion for tomorrow's class. Sweetpea carefully sorted through her ingredients, looking for the perfect Beetroot to add.
"Hello? Are you even listening? You know I was kind of looking for some sympathy." Kayli pouted dramatically as Sweetpea glanced over, causing the other Uni to smile.
"Who me? Sympathy? You must have me mixed up with your other best friend." Sweetpea selected her root, and cautiously added it to her mixed. She studied the potion closely, waiting for some obvious malfunction or explosion. When none came she smiled and turned back to her friend.
"Did you really think he'd give you the okay to research something so dangerous? I can't imagine why you'd even want to. The whole idea of taking someone's magic just gives me the creeps."
Kayli shrugged and picked at a loose thread on her sweater. "I don't know, it just interests me. Not that anything else at this school does. Besides, if you take magic from a tree it's not like it even matters..."
Sweetpea turned sharply. "It doesn't matter? Just because a tree can't express pain doesn't mean it can't feel it. How would you feel if someone stripped you of your magic, of everything you cherish and what truly makes you who you are. It's likely that such short sightedness as that caused the catastrophe out in the forest we saw the other night. First it's trees, then it's petpets, and you know what? Pretty soon it's neopets who don't matter anymore, and then where are we? We've lost everything that we hold dear, our very essence, the very soul of magic. Is that what you want? For magic to become some kind of corporate game where all anyone cares about is making a profit, no matter the cost? Because you know what? I sure don't."
Kayli's mouth dropped open in shock, unsure of what to make of her friend's rant. "I... I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. I just don't see why Black Magic has to be such a secret. And what does Black Magic have to do with losing our 'Essence'?" Kayli smiled, trying to make a joke out of it, but Sweetpea simply sighed and rubbed her head, as if suddenly burdened by a great sadness.
"No.. I'm sorry. But they were right to refuse you. If people found out about taking magic from others... It would be exploited. And we would lose everything. Sorry, I guess I got a little carried away." She smiled weakly and Kayli shrugged, masking her annoyance.
"Don't worry about it, I need a good talking to every once and a while. Takes me down a notch." Sweetpea finally laughed and Kayli grinned.
"You? Taken down a notch? As soon as Mystery Island freezes over. Okay, enough serious stuff, let's go research for our projects."
Kayli sighed and linked arms with her friend as they headed out the door and towards the library. "Great. Maybe I'll do 'light'. Sure it's the lamest of the elements, but at least Helena and Artro will forget all about me and my interest in Black Magic."
Sweetpea laughed and shook her head. "Not likely. I'm sure you've made quite the impression on those two. They're not likely to forget you or your 'interests' anytime soon."
Kayli frowned as they passed the Magic History room. Helena looked up from her work and watched Kayli as the two girls strolled by. "Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of."
Several days later Kayli and Sweetpea were seated at a table in the library, trying to research for their History projects. Sweetpea had a small mountain in front of her, whereas Kayli had a single book on the history of light faeries.
"Really Kayli? ONE book? Are you planning on failing?" Kayli stuck out her tongue at her studious friend.
"Nerd. I'll get more. Later. It's not my fault history is so boring." Kayli carefully crafted a paper airplane and sent a burst of wind through the library to carry it to the garbage can. The librarian looked up and gave Kayli a stern look. Kayli smiled weakly and Sweetpea smothered a laugh.
"Yeah, if you're still allowed in the library later. Go look for more books, please. I don't want to have to go through next year's Magic History without my best friend. You know, because you'll have failed and will be stuck back a year." Kayli scowled, but stood just the same.
"Fine, I'm looking. Try not to implode from knowledge while I'm gone."
Sweetpea laughed again, only to be shushed by the librarian as Kayli stalked off towards the shelves. "Fine, she wants books, I'll get her books." Kayli grabbed a cart and began adding books at random. When she'd collected a small mountain and finally run out of steam, Kayli slumped down on the floor in defeat. Fine. She would do the stupid project on Light Magic. But that didn't mean she had to like it. Stupid teachers and their stupid rules. It's not like she actually wanted to cast any spells, she just wanted to learn something new. What was the harm in that? Isn't that what school was suppose to teach?
So wrapped up in her own thoughts, Kayli didn't notice the book until it crawled into her lap. Charmed, the book had managed to inch its way off of the stack and had landed with a graceful thud next to Kayli. Then, when it had still failed to capture her attention, it had started to inch its way into her lap. Surprised, Kayli picked up the book. It had a plain, dark purple cover and hummed happily as she flicked it open. "Hmm.." Kayli murmured as she flipped through the pages. Now what were the odds that likely the only Black Magic book in the school, perhaps the only book left in all of Neopia, had managed to find its way into her lap? Kayli glanced around, but found no one nearby. Why was the book even here? The Librarian definitely didn't know about it; she would have disposed of it a long time ago. So who put it here? Well, Kayli had stopped believing in coincidences a long time ago, and if the book thought she should read it, why shouldn't she?
Carefully, Kayli tucked the book in her bag and glanced around. No way was she going to check the thing out and risk the librarian reporting to Artro or Helena. This would be her little secret. Besides, what did any of them know, Sweetpea included? Someone could definitely research Black Magic and stop themselves from giving in to the temptation of evil. Well, she conceded, not just someone. The Wizard would have to be powerful enough. This experiment would be the perfect way to not only challenge herself, but to prove to Artro that she was ready for something more advanced. And, she promised as she headed back to Sweetpea, at the first sign of danger she would return the book and forget the whole thing. Smiling, she sat down next the Sweetpea and opened her book on light faeries.
Sweetpea glanced up from her own work. "Find anything?"
"You could say that." Kayli nodded and patted her bag for reassurance, making sure that the book was still there. Things were definitely going to change around here.
To be continued...