Today, Lucy was going to show she could do magic. Not that Douglas hadn’t seen her do magic before, but creating a small light was merely a cantrip, barely anything of note. It only took a few magical words and a tiny bit of power, with basically no image except ‘light’. Not that most people could do it still, but Lucy had been able to do it since she was six, and Douglas was almost that same age himself now. There were higher standards for her than for people in general.
The two siblings and their father were outside the tower- no real magic was fit to be practiced inside the tower. There were too many sensitive books and the tower itself if something went wrong. At best, they would later cast some spells from atop the tower… once it was determined they could perform them properly. Not that Douglas could do any magic at all yet.
Lucy took the other two out to a nearby clearing, one full of boulders and dirt and not much else. That and the scorch marks on the rocks told Douglas he was about to see fire magic- plus sneaking out behind Lucy and watching her.
“Father, brother.” Lucy turned to the two of them, “Today I will be performing some real magic, though it is but a simple cone of fire spell.” She turned back towards the boulders and started chanting. Douglas recognized the words- he had heard them before, all together, from her. He had also heard most of them individually during various forms of practice, from both Lucy and their father. Douglas also recognized the runes that flowed out of her outstretched hands, appearing as she spoke each word. Then she was finished, and the final spurt of power was added to the spell. A cone of flame, nearly five meters long, sprayed out in front of her, dashing over the rocks. It was far more than she had done during practice, and Douglas could see she was breathing heavily and sweating, but she turned towards the two of them with a smile.
“Congratulations,” Xavier said with a smile, “You have real power. Next we should work on some more… practical spells.” While impressive, shooting fire out of your hands indeed wasn’t a practical spell. After all, for starting a fire a single spark was enough… and more fire didn’t contribute to any sort of career as a wizard… except a war wizard, and those weren’t needed that much. It was also a good way to get killed.
Douglas smiled, putting in as much enthusiasm as he could to pretend he hadn’t already seen it. He showed the piece of slate he carried with him that he used for a writing board- his family had been quite willing to learn his sign language with him as he developed it, but sometimes it was just easier to write things down. “Congratulations, you’re a real wizard now!”
Lucy smiled, trying not to cry tears of joy at her accomplishments. She hugged her father and her brother, trying not to think about the fact that the latter would never be able to do magic, even though he wanted to so much.
Douglas knew his father and sister tried not to bring up his inability to do magic. It was a touchy subject- for them. Douglas didn’t care, because he knew they were wrong. He could do magic. Or at least… he would. He just had to figure out how. He could feel the magical power flowing through his veins- there was no way he was going to let it go unused. The only issue was that it was impossible.
Magic needed words, an image of the spell, and power. The latter two Douglas had no issues with. Imagining a spell was just as easy as imagining how a tower of various pieces would balance on top of each other. He’d seen spells cast by his father and sister, read the descriptions in the books, and pictured them in his mind over and over. He could feel the power moving around inside him- but it had nowhere to go. Without magic words, it couldn’t get out of him.
That was the sticking point. Magic required speaking the words, and he couldn’t speak. The words were what made it magic and not just uncontrolled power and imagination. Magic needed spoken words and… and… Douglas ran to the library. He’d spent most of his time over the past couple of years reading, especially poring over ‘The Basics of Magical Incantations’. He almost had it memorized. Actually, he thought he did. Memorization was important to wizards, because if they couldn’t memorize a spell, they couldn’t cast it… with some inconvenient exceptions. The point was, he had the book memorized… except maybe he didn’t, because he couldn’t remember some words that should have been in the book. So he checked.
“Magic is both very complicated and very simple. Each spell only has three parts though the complexity of each part varies by the spell. First and most important are the words. Without being able to speak the words of power…”
Douglas shook his head. Apparently he had remembered incorrectly. He could have sworn it didn’t mention speaking the words. Then again, what did it matter? It was implied. He folded up ‘The Basics of Magical Incantations’ and put it back on the shelf, right next to the other copy. The other, older edition. The older version was harder to read- the magic preserving the ink had faded at one point, and the text with it. Now it was enchanted again so it wasn’t getting any worse, but the language was older as well. The newer one had been copied to be easier to read and… Douglas had to pull down the older one to check.
He started to read the introduction. “Magic is at once both convoluted and straightforward. Spells can be divided into several distinct parts. Words, image, and power make up the whole. Most essential are the words, magical in and of themselves. Without the words of power, no spell can be formed.”
That was it. Douglas remembered starting to read that edition once, and found it wasn’t clearer than the other or more insightful… but it had stuck in the back of his mind. The thing was… maybe it was a coincidence. Again, it could have been implied that the words were spoken. Douglas had to read through the rest of the tome to find out.