‘It doesn’t work like that.’
Molcur sighed. This one was going to be trouble. ‘Magic doesn’t work like that.’
‘Why not?’ The student glared at him as though it was Molcur’s own fault. Judging by his life so far, Molcur thought she could have a point.
He shrugged and wiped the sweat off his brow with the end of his beard. ‘Magic is complicated.’ He sat down on one of the stools, automatically checking it for frogs before he sat. Once he’d accidentally sat on one of a student’s first spells. What made it worse was that the frog that time had manifested itself inside out to begin with. It took weeks to get the stains out of his robe. ‘Well,’ he said, casting his eye around the laboratory.
‘Well, it should work however we want it to… shouldn’t it?’ The student, said.
Poppy, that was her name, Molcur remembered now, not a good name for a magician, even a female one.
There were some old wizards and magicians who said that women, girls, could not be wizards and magicians, they had the wrong sort of brain for it, they said. Molcur had been teaching magic to boys such a long time, since… since the Incident, anyway and he had yet to find any two that had the same sort of brain. In his experience, girls and boys, men and women weren’t that different, certainly not in brainpower anyway. Women usually had more sense, but that was about it. Sometimes, he knew – especially after The Incident – stupidity had its own rewards.
Poppy stared at him. ‘Why?’
‘Why doesn’t magic work the way we want? After all, we make it, create it… don’t we?’
‘Ah, no.’ Molcur settled himself down. He was going to enjoy this. He liked talking about the theoretical stuff, or as he called it, ‘talking bollocks’. It was much better than all the sweaty, tense, stick-waving, mumbling and inside-out frogs and confused junior royalty you often got with the practical stuff.
He looked up at Poppy, standing expectantly in front of him. He realised this time maybe he’d met a very different mind this time. She looked like someone who would not fall for his usual half-concocted bullshit, no matter how eloquent. This one would only accept the truth.
This, Molcur thought, is going to be a bit of a bugger. He had absolutely no idea what the truth was.