The Neophyte series: The Adept (3)

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Magic Versus Science


I had been a Spellcaster for sixteen years and a Sage for about ten. I learned all I knew from my grandfather, Sir William Embers, the former Sage of Untamed magic. I also learned to fight with my fists from my father when encountering a close-combat situation. No djinns would escape unscathed and sometimes they never escaped at all. I could fight dark Vampires with my hands tied behind my back and still win. I was taught to always win every fight or duel, hence being known as a Duel Master.

But against my mother? Impossible.

Brunch had started and my mother apparently reserved me a seat next to Dr. Nicole. She was not afraid to strike a conversation with small talk.

For most of the brunch, I kept to myself unless spoken to. I was thinking about the different ways to let my mother down. Dr. Nicole was asking me a question.

“Pardon?” I asked, suddenly embarrassed.

“Where did you study, Sir Tristan?” The doctor asked.

I cleared my throat before answering, “My grandfather taught me.”

The young lady let out a soft, airy laugh. “No, I meant your academic background. What degree do you possess?”

I practically felt my mother’s eyes and ears in front of me even though she was two seats away.

“I have no such qualification.”

Her olive-green eyes darted back and forth, a perplexed look with a tinge of concern and perhaps condescension.

“Oh, so as a Sage, you just…cast magic spells?”

Definitely condescension.

I avoided her gaze and cut a piece of the poached egg on my plate. “We do more than that. We run the Academy and teach new Spellcasters. And as a Sage, I do possess academic knowledge in order to teach my students, just not on paper.”

Dr. Nicole nodded. Her smile seemed plastered. I caught her olive eyes dart to her mother before returning to me.

“You seem like an intelligent man. Have you ever thought of pursuing a degree in philosophy or psychology?”

“I read here and there,” I replied nonchalantly. “When I have time.”

“Surely you understand the laws of physics and the human body in order to cast any spell?”

I avoided her gaze or my eyes would give away my irritation. I wasn’t sure if it was my pride or patience that she was testing. “Certainly.”

After the brunch ended and everyone fed, Dr. Nicole asked me to go with her for a stroll in Wynona’s back garden. I did not stand a chance to disappear into the kitchen again. We stepped out through the backdoor with the escort of the butler, tall hedges running along on both sides like a maze. We followed the path.

“Your family is kind and my mother seems fond of you. But to be honest with you, Sir Tristan, I am not thoroughly convinced.”

I did not offer any response. She continued after noticing.

“You’re awfully quiet, sir. Am I intimidating you?”

I held my gaze on her. “You do not understand much about spellcasting for you to challenge it, so I offer no words of comfort. My responsibilities as a Sage include protecting the sanctity of the Magic realm and everything in it.”

“Words of comfort for whom, my good sir? Do you not trust that a woman would seek to understand the field you’re in?” She was challenging me. Her eyes darted back and forth, tone hardening at each word.

I sighed inwardly. “I am not here to debate you nor do I wish to engage in a conversation with someone who does not even believe in spellcasting.”

“And do you not believe in science, sir?”

“I believe that both science and magic go hand-in-hand. It’s what makes me a good Spellcaster.”

Dr. Nicole eyed me before softening her tone. “You are a confident man. Do you not feel the need to prove me wrong?”

“You have your beliefs and I have mine.”

We started walking again. “A man of valour and strength not only possesses infinite capabilities in his physique, but in his spirit and intellect too. That is what I believe.”

We arrived at an opening, a fountain built in the middle of the green maze. It was a breath-taking sight; a marble-chiselled fountain of spring spouting clear water that glistened under the midday sun.

My thoughts went to Heidi.

“You think I am closed-off,” I said as we stood to face the water fountain. “Pray tell, do you think I am hostile to you, doctor?”

“Quite,” she admitted.

“Then you misunderstood me indeed. You are a charming woman and a good man is out there for you.”

She tilted her head, her sand-coloured hair looked golden brown in the midday light. “Will you not be him, then? Does my scepticism turn you away?”

“It is neither your scepticism nor poor judgement of my forte that turns me away. Forgive me for my arrogance if I had portrayed any, and forgive me also if you were duped into agreeing to speak with me.”

A slight grin formed on her lips. “Such bold words. I was never ‘duped’, my good sir. And I only merely tested you. I test all men that I am to marry.”

I stifled a flinch. My mother and her promises.

“Doctor, I am not—“

Low, heavy breathing interrupted me from behind some hedges. We turned our attention immediately to a tall green hedge, unable to detect the source of the disembodied sound. I moved closer to the fountain but the bubbling was loud.

“Sir Tristan?” Dr. Nicole called. As I turned, her eyes were fixated on a spot to my left.

A stout man with a balding hairline without eyes in his sockets. I grimaced.

“Go back inside,” I told Dr. Nicole.

However, she stayed where she was, too petrified to move.

“Who are you?” I asked, pointing my wand at the…thing.

In a husky voice, it spoke, “Don’t be scared…let me—“

Frozium!” I cried and froze him where he stood. I whirled around and grabbed the doctor by the shoulders before teleporting us back into the mansion.

I shut the backdoor and windows and commanded the butler to do the same to all openings of the house. Something malicious was abound. The old butler nodded and immediately rushed off.

“Listen, doctor,” I said to her, my mind beginning to move fast. “Go into the drawing room, tell the others to follow you and direct the other two Sages to head to the kitchen. Make haste!”

She did so and I headed straight for the kitchen. I shut the windows, eyes peeled towards the back garden. Within a minute, Wynona and Jesse joined me.

“Tristan? What’s going on?” Jesse’s eyes were blue and wide.

A figure appeared in the distance in the garden. I nodded my head towards it, “That.”

I tightened the grip of my wand. Wynona and Jesse readied theirs.

“Are the others safe?” Jesse asked, eyes glued to the figure that was beginning to approach.

“They’re in the drawing room. My father can protect them, he will know what to do,” I replied.

“Who is that?” Wynona asked, standing at my shoulder.

The figure moved closer to the kitchen, her red eyes bright. She had long blonde hair, porcelain skin with a sneer on her lips. She held up a palm with a fireball floating above it.

Jesse muttered, “Is that—“

“Renee,” I muttered.

A deafening explosion blasted the kitchen window but just in time for Wynona and I to cast a protective shield around us. The smoke and debris enveloped the dome, the impact landing all around us. The three of us ducked instinctively but somehow, the shield would not hold.

“Is it me or is my shield weakening?” Wynona asked, screaming above the falling debris.

“Mine too,” I said, then turned to the other two Sages. “We need to leave the kitchen!”

On a count of three, we removed our shields and Jesse teleported us to the drawing room where the others hid. The radius of the blast was not large enough to affect the rest of the house other than the kitchen.

I was about to cast a shield when a second explosion occured from the front door, deafening and blinding us for a few seconds. As it blasted, the walls crumbled and shards of glass from the full-height windows crashed onto the floor, bricks and other debris flew about and buried us in the rubble.

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