Competing Magic (Chapter Ten)
"Seriously, I know that you're a bonehead, but to think you've become this forgetful," Sir Quimbly said. "The International Guild of Magic really has fallen to allow someone like that to become a High Master."
Ezekiel had mixed feelings. On one hand, it was a relief that Sir Quimbly hasn't realized that Ezekiel was a fake thanks to Professor Wu's infamous stupidity. On the other hand, however, it irritated Ezekiel to no end to be called a moron.
"Are you seriously trying to pick a fight with me?" he said. "If you want, we can throw down right now!"
"Hmph!" Sir Quimbly sniffed. "I would love nothing more than to put an arrogant magician like you in your place."
"Then bring it!"
Ezekiel pulled out his silver pen while Sir Quimbly lashed out with his conductor's wand. Two magical energies, one blue and the other light, flew out of the magicians' respective tools and into the thick fog of vivid green glow. Within the fog, there were two flashes of light followed by the bellowing of many beasts whose stampede was halted.
"We'll decide who's better by finding out who can take out the most monsters," Ezekiel said. "It's a two-for deal. We find out who's better, and we save the school at the same time."
"That's what you said two nights ago," said Quimbly. "We couldn't determine who was better then. But who knows? Maybe we'll have a winner this time."
So this wasn't the first time this happened. Just as Ezekiel had thought, some big trouble was coming to the school.
"If we triangulate the location of the core of the formula for this supernatural phenomenon and disable it, the circuitry spreading this spacial distortion should cease to function," said Sir Quimbly. "First one to do that will be the winner. Agreed?"
Ezekiel glared at him.
"Why can't you just say 'find the heart of this spell and break it so no more monsters come out'?"
Sir Quimbly looked at him in surprise.
"You understood all that? How?"
Ezekiel growled. So he was doing that on purpose.
"Watch enough sci-fi shows with super heavy techno-babble, you end up getting the gist of it on your own," he answered. The reply just came naturally. Was that Professor Wu talking? It must be since Ezekiel doesn't even watch that much television.
"Whatever then," shrugged Sir Quimbly. "Shall I start the countdown?"
"Go right ahead," Ezekiel said as he crouched down, ready to charge forward toward the crowd of sinister shapes mostly hidden by the unnatural fog.
"Five . . . Four . . . Three . . . Two . . . One . . . Now!"
Ezekiel swiftly drew two Chinese words in the air which he recognized as "Search" and "Destroy". Beside him, Sir Quimbly closed his eyes in concentration as he mumbled in foreign tongue. A bright blue spark flickered from his wand. When both men were finished casting their spells, they unleashed their magic into the fog. The two spears of light pierced the fog. Fog parted only fleetingly, but that was enough for Ezekiel to finally see what was hidden within.
Terrible monsters lurked in this fog. Each one was more terrible than the last. They were slimy creatures, with pinkish flesh, long sharp claws, and tongues like toads'. Their eyes were round and blank like fishes. And thick spikes grew over their arms and spines that leaked of what could only be poison.
"Man, those are some ugly looking monsters," Ezekiel said. "I haven't seen something so disgusting before! I so don't want to go near them."
With their light superior to the fog's glow, Ezekiel could easily make out the two magic spells zigzagging left and right as they struck monster after monster. He willed his own silver streak to move faster and faster, giving it as much of his power as he could. In his mind, he could see a bright silver flame dwindle. Each time it did, he would will it to grow.
And it wasn't always a silver flame. Sometimes it appeared as a withering flower with silver petals. Other times, it showed itself as a small puddle of glittering water. He willed the flower to wither no more and grow into a great big tree. He made the puddle of water into an endless ocean. There was no limit to his magic power because he always made it stretch and grow. And the more his magic grew, the more magic he used to grow his strength, his speed, and his reach. This was the secret of the great Silver Wolf Mystic, the magician named the Infinite Well, James Jing Wu.
"These monsters are alive," Ezekiel said, just relaying the information his computerized glasses gave him. "They're not golems or puppets."
"No wonder they're not disappearing," said Sir Quimbly. "But where are they coming from? How did they get in here? I inspected this school's magical defenses myself! Nothing like this should have gotten through."
"Unless they were invited," said Ezekiel. "That's the only way to get onto school grounds. And as far as I know, only an invitation from the administration office would work. They handle student enrollments and official visits, after all. By the way, that's twenty to eighteen. My win."
"No, wait!" Sir Quimbly shouted.
"Uh-uh!" went Ezekiel. "I'm not going to let you sweet talk your way out of a loss!"
"That's not it!" shouted the magic teacher. "I just realized that the security here hasn't accounted for one thing!"
"What? Well, since we are seeing monsters here, I suppose that has to be true. But so what?"
"You imbecile! It's a rift! Those monsters are coming from a tear in the fabric of reality!"
Ezekiel blinked and stared at Sir Quimbly blankly. He still didn't get how that was important right now. Within the fog, there were two loud explosions, and then the fog started expanding upward, unable to pass the line of blue light Sir Quimbly had drawn.
"You really have no brains," Sir Quimbly said, rubbing his temples. "If a rift is the source of this mess, it'll only get bigger if hit by spells of destruction. And the rift gets bigger, more monsters will come through! You've made things worse!"
Now that last part, Ezekiel understood.
"Me?" he angrily shouted. "You're the one who said we should destroy it!"
"I said no such thing!" Sir Quimbly said. "I said to disable it! You were the one who interpreted my words to mean 'break it'!"
"Well, how else was I supposed to interpret that? This is why you shouldn't use overly complicated explanations!"
"Don't pin this all on me!"
"You know what?" Ezekiel cut in. "Enough. I'll take care of this. Just sit back and work on some nerd stuff or something."
"And let you hog all the glory? Don't forget, Wu, we're still in the middle of a match!"
As the two men squabbled like immature children, the monsters began to emerge from the unnatural fog. Neither bickering mages seemed to take notice as one reached out to them with slimy hands.
"Yes," a voice whispered to the monster. "Reach for their throats. Strangle them. Break their necks. Tear them apart!"
The monster lunged towards the men with deadly intentions. But just as its large beefy fingers were about to crush the two men's throats, it felt a strong, painful impact against the center between its shoulder blades. Its targets faded and vanished, merely illusions created by the real deal.
"Too slow," said Ezekiel, sneering at the fallen misshapen beast. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw two flashes of blue light. He turned around to see several of the ugly brutes get tossed into the air by the explosions Sir Quimbly was causing with his magic.
"Same to you," he said. "At this rate, it'll be my win."
That won't do, Ezekiel thought. He had to catch up and get a lead in this competition, and he knew just the spell to help with that. Waving his pen with a flourish, Ezekiel summoned all the twigs and leaves to gather at his feet. He struck the pile of discarded greenery with a bolt of silver light and willed them to change shape. The shape he had envisioned for them was man-like, dressed in ornate silver robes, like something out of a Chinese period drama. Each of the faceless mannequins bore a strip of paper on their foreheads and donned on cylinder black hats with rounded red tops. And each one was just as strong and powerful as he was.
In rapid bursts, the puppets leaped forward, launching themselves towards the monsters, and attacking with unnatural strength. Any monsters that had fallen were picked up and discarded back into the fog. Within that mist, Ezekiel could hear the wails of the monsters. There was unseen chaos within.
While his puppets and Sir Quimbly distracted the monsters, Ezekiel went to work, struck with an idea of how to solve this problem. If the rift was the cause, all he had to do was close it. But first, obviously, he'd need to send all the monsters back into the rift before doing that.
Ezekiel took a deep breath and summoned a massive amount of power. By his guess, the amount of magic he was commanding could reduce the entire school to ash. He used some of that magic to speed up his own time. Everything around him went slow-motion. Now he could take his time to craft the spell. To him, casting a magic spell was like writing a thorough essay. Detail was everything. He nitpicked at the grammar, erased any words that he thought would not work, and added as much as he could, leaving little room for errors.
When he was finally done, he allowed time to flow normally again and unleashed the sentences of silver written Chinese. The stream of glowing words spiraled into the fog, weaving around the monsters until it reached the center of the fog.
The rift, as Sir Quimbly called it, was a gap on the ground in the middle of a grassy courtyard. Beyond it were twinkling green stars, the whistle of turbulent winds, and the bellows of unearthly creatures that had no place stepping into our world. Just above the gap, the words that Ezekiel had written in the air burst. One sentence became a wall of light, preventing more monsters from coming into our world. Another sentence twisted around in a spiral, becoming a vacuum to swallow up whatever monster was already out into a funnel that led them back home. The remaining sentences acted as stitching over the gap and pulled the two ends of it together.
Once the last of the monsters was swallowed back into the other side, the rift was closed shut and sealed, leaving no trace of its existence behind.
"My win," said Ezekiel, sneering triumphantly at Sir Quimbly. He enjoyed the scowl on the other magic teacher's face.
"Fine," he said. "You win. This round, anyway."
"Aw, is someone being a sore loser?" Ezekiel taunted.
"Grrrr," Sir Quimbly growled through clenched teeth.
"Well, doesn't look like there aren't any more monsters around, so I'll just leave everything else to you," Ezekiel continued. "You can handle that much at least, can't you?"
He tapped his toes twice against the ground before hopping high into the air towards the roof of a building. Ezekiel hopped from building to building until he reached the boy's dormitory building. Just before he reached the ground, the spell finally wore off, and he no longer looked like James Jing Wu. His image dispersed as black smoke, and he looked like Ezekiel von Ghoul once more.
"Whoa!" Ezekiel cried out.
Since the spell wore off, that meant he no longer had the inhuman skills of Professor Wu. And as he was still falling, you can guess what happened next.
That's right. The moment his feet touched the ground, he lost balance and tumbled down face first into the grass.
- Competing Magic (Chapter Nine)
Ezekiel tries to master a new spell.