Today was the day where magical potential would be tested. A young girl stood in line. She wasn’t really expecting much. However, this was something that everyone did, and it was free. That was the only reason she was even trying. The small possibility of being capable of decent magic was enough, since then she might not have to continue her parents career of cleaning up stables and other such dirty work such as sewer maintenance.
She had been a bit late, since she had been helping them. She ended up near the end of the line. Behind her was a little boy who looked very nervous. She wasn’t sure why. He had nice clothes on. Maybe the son of a low noble or merchant? If he couldn’t become a wizard, he still had a good future to look forward to.
As the line progressed forward the girl came to the understanding that after touching the orb, more glowing was better. She wasn’t sure exactly what it meant, but it was better. She waited, and eventually her turn came. Her hand touched the orb. It lit up… bright. In addition to that, she saw sparkles in the air around it. That was good, right? This was very good. She was excited, and went to talk to the wizards. She should be able to get into the school with these results, right? It was only out of the corner of her eye that she vaguely saw the boy behind her touch the orb to no effect, but her mind didn’t really register the event.
Elation turned to depression as the girl was told she couldn’t get into the school, because she couldn’t read. Of course she couldn’t read! That was what schools were for, weren’t they? She should be good at magic. She knew she would be good. She took any chance she could to see people performing magic. It seemed… they said a bunch of fancy words and then fire came out. The girl tried it. She had trouble remembering all the words, but she still made something like a fireball. She wasn’t sure whether it was a good result… but it should be. After all, there orb glowed so brightly. So what if she couldn’t read? She’d heard there was a test to get into the school. The real school, and not the preparatory one. That one involved actually being able to use magic. She could take that test… in fact, they would even let her take it for free because of her results. Honestly, she didn’t know what she would have done if they hadn’t.
The test of magical skills occurred out on a field with various training dummies. Fortunately, others were tested before her. Otherwise she wouldn’t have even known what some of the spells that were asked for were. How did one even make a lightning bolt? She’d only seen them in storms, occasionally. She didn’t really remember the chant… but she still made a lightning bolt, or at least something like one. That still wasn’t a bad result.
Then, she was brought to another room, and a quill and paper were set before her. A written test? She hadn’t heard about this. All she could do was sit there staring at it for the entire duration of the test. Why did it have to be writing? It wasn’t fair. However, she was still in the room with others. She wouldn’t let them see her as a crying little girl. Besides, maybe her practical results were good enough… She could only hope.
Unfortunately, hope wasn’t good enough. After all of the names of those who passed were read, mostly nobles and others with nice clothes, her name hadn’t been called. She walked out of the room in a daze. Many of the children and others who had taken the test and failed were running to their parents. She couldn’t, however. Her parents had to work. They couldn’t afford to take time off. They had already done the best they could by buying her some nice secondhand clothes to wear to the test. She understood that, but she wanted to be in their arms, crying. Instead, she was just walking away, crying.
“Wow, I didn’t think I was going to get zero points on the practical test. I must be pretty stupid, huh?” A voice laughed in a self-deprecating fashion.
The voice of the little boy came from next to her. Had he seen her crying? Of course he had. What was he even doing here? “Hah. You must be… pretty *sniff* pretty stupid.” This kid had decent clothes. He would certainly have been taught… how could he get zero points? The thought of his failure didn’t really make her feel better though.
“Yeah, I’m pretty stupid. I can’t do it even though someone taught me how to read. Actually, I heard that nobody taught you how to read and yet you can still do magic, you must be pretty good.”
Pretty good at magic? She supposed she was. However, apparently that didn’t matter. She’d still failed. “Y-yeah? But, I still wasn’t good enough. I didn’t know what magic they wanted me to do, so I couldn’t get a good enough grade to get in.”
“Well, yeah, it’s hard to do anything without someone to teach you. Why didn’t you enter the training level? It’s more for people your age anyway.”
“T-that’s because… *sniff* because I couldn’t read, so they wouldn’t let me in. They let me take this test for free, though, so I tried it, but I failed.” What was this little boy even thinking? He was also her age. He could definitely just attend the regular training and take some time. Tears started streaming down her face even more. This was probably her most miserable day.
“Are they stupid?” Those weren’t the words that she had expected to hear. She had expected being called stupid herself, maybe. Instead, the boy was glaring at the tower. “They wouldn’t put in the effort to teach someone with your potential? Do they not want good wizards?” He paused momentarily. “You know… I could teach you to read.”
“You… you could? But… you’re six, aren’t you?” Sure, he could probably read, but she doubted he could teach her. Besides, why would he?
“So? You’re seven, I guess, but I know how to read. That’s all that’s necessary to teach someone, at least a little. Me teaching you would be better than nobody, right?”
It would. She wanted to learn to read, even if just a little. However, he’d probably want money. Maybe not much, a few coins. He was even younger than her, but everyone wanted something, and she had nothing to give. “I-I guess I could try. I have to, umm, go home now though.”
“Well, if you want to try to learn, come by my house. We have lots of books and stuff.” He gave her easy to follow directions to his house, from the magic academy. All she knew was there were some very fancy streets there. “Just ask for William, okay?”
“O-okay. I’m, uh, Lila.” She wasn’t sure whether she would go. On the other hand… he was just a little kid. Maybe he would just try to teach her for a couple days. If she learned anything… that would be alright. More importantly, if she didn’t try, she would hate herself.