So your kid turned out to be a mage
(Something I constantly keep in mind is that people are people. Even when fantastical stuff happens, someone has to think about the everyday mundane things. Which mean epiphany first responders need to really have their shit together when dealing with terrified parents.)
I'd ask how you were doing, but that's usually a stupid question at times like this.
Most kids that age are busy getting hit with the puberty stick and doing stupid stuff. Half the time, it's just because it looked like a good idea in the moment, the rest of the time it's to annoy you. I mean, worst case scenario there's an outside chance somebody's pregnant, but at least jacking up your car usually isn't on the table at the age of twelve. But, that ain't an ordinary kid you got, and tonight ain't an ordinary night.
How did I know they're twelve? They're always twelve. Twelve is when this happens. Growth spurts, hair in funny places, telekinesis, it's all part of growing up magic.
I'll keep the refills coming. We'll make sure you get home safe. But you'll want to pace yourself. You want to take the edge off, not wake up tomorrow thinking this didn't happen.
Name's Jake, by the way. Jake Warwell. My cousin Millie's the one filling your kid in on what's going on. Which means I get to fill you in on what's going on. I know it's a shock. And I know it's a lot to take in. But the sooner you wrap your head around it, the better prepared you'll be to help out your kid. That's important in ways you might not even realize now.
I know you probably have a lot of questions. I've done this enough that my usual speech answers most of the big ones. So bear with me and we can Q and A at the end.
First thing to get right is that most of what you considered true when you woke up this morning is still true now. Grass grows green, gravity works, same guy's President, Death, taxes, all that stuff. Most important of all, you're still the parent, and they're still the kid. The job just got a lot scarier, but it's still the same job.
Second thing is that a lot of stuff you took for granted as make-believe is also true. More things in heaven and earth, as the man said.
Third thing is that your kid is one of those rare human beings that can manipulate loopholes in the law of reality in ways we call magic. I put the emphasis on human being because that's what they still are. There's a lot of sentient people who aren't human running around, but magi are still human, period. Remember that.
Fourth thing is that the magic is permanent. No substitutions, exchanges, or refunds. No takes backsies and no escape clauses. Congratulations, you're now the proud parent of a strapping young mage.
Fifth thing is, this country's got a fairly good track record of getting young magi educated and ready to lead lives as more or less fulfilling as anybody else's. That ain't always been the case, so you lucked out there. Mericuh.
We don't know how many magi there are, or how often they're born. We do know that they're pretty rare. But not so rare that the folks in charge haven't put together a school system for them. Had it about fifty years or so, in the US.
Before you ask, no, your kid isn't going to some boarding school in the woods somewhere. You've still got a move in the near future. But it'll be more or less in this part of the country. Families get hooked up with housing, job placements, most of it you won't know is being arranged for you. Just roll with it.
Your kid's gonna go to school like any other kid. And one class a day, they'll learn magic. It's called study hall. So while the rest of the school grounds them in the real world, study hall shows them how the Otherworld works.
There's not really any other options. I mean, if you were a part of a big magical family, you might be able to arrange an apprenticeship, the way they did old school. And if you were of the one percent and magical, I hear they got their own deal. Then there's the conjurers, and that don't apply to you either. Bottom line, there is no opt-out. Not one that you'd want to use. The life expectancy for mages who run out of the study hall system before graduating is less than a year. That's not because of some draconian magical government enforcers. That's just because the world is cruel, magic is not a substitute for a support structure, and there's a lot more ugly out there than magic.
After graduation, they might go on to study more magic, or they might go on to do something they have a knack for, like everyone else.
No, we don't have magic college. We have a bunch of people from both factions show up the summer after graduation, usually including all the old magic teachers they had over the years.
Oh, yeah. They're not really political parties or anything. They're more schools of thought about how to do magic. They more or less get along here in North America and more or less the same way in Europe. You don't have to join one or the other, but most who seriously study magic after graduation do.
First there's the Daedeli. They're smaller numbers wise, but individually tend to be more powerful. They're the old-school types. Big on long apprenticeships and knowing what you're doing when you're gonna mess with the universe. On the one hand, they usually live longer and end up more powerful. On the other hand, it's run by a bunch of crusty old guys who are into everyone knowing their place in the hierarchy and ain't into innovation.
Then there's the Nimuen. There's more of them, and they trend younger, more diverse, and a lot more creative. Any new magic that gets discovered, chances are there's a Nimuen behind it. Unfortunately, magical experimentation has a high casualty rate. And because most Nimuen don't consider themselves bound to old traditions, it means the arguments are nigh constant.
But that's not really an issue until graduation. Until then, the big deal is trying to grow up like all the other kids, while at the same time having to figure out the Otherworld while they're at it.
So, yeah. The kid's probably gonna grow up fast. And they're gonna need you more than both of you are gonna realize. They're gonna need you to show 'em how things work here in the real world. Then there's gonna be times when the Otherworld is the problem and you're gonna have to swallow your pride, stand back, and let them take care of it.
Then there's gonna be times when the worlds clash. And nothing you can think to do seems right.
I don't want to scare you. But since your kid will hear the rumors, I want you to have the head's up. I told you mages are human, and it's true. But that means we're vulnerable to all of humanity's sins. Murder, rape, slavery, war, all of it.
Study hall teachers get a lot of autonomy in how they teach. A lot of old customs giving heavy powers and responsibilities to teachers combined with not enough resources to provide accountability. Most of the time it just means you get a jerk for a teacher that year and you ride it out until you get a better one next year. Overall, the system worked until it didn't.
About a dozen years back, a senior year teacher seduced two of her students and tried to sacrifice the senior class in a necromantic ritual. Not her study hall, the graduating class. Maybe 300 kids. Her graduates couldn't get proof of what she was doing to anyone with the power to stop her in time, so they fought her by themselves. Twenty kids against someone with more experience than all of them combined and the malice to use it all.
They managed to stop her in the end. Half of them died in the fighting, most of the rest are still jacked up in one manner or another. Most of the real world thinks it was a gang shooting at a graduation party.
There were investigations and trials, and not much came of it. Mind magic, especially mind reading, got a lot more popular. Especially with the more authoritative types. And necromancy didn't exactly get banned, but it's a good way to get looked at funny. Of course, the real fun there is that nobody can exactly control what kind of magic they're good at. No more than they can control what kind of sport they're better at playing.
So yeah, that's kinda where the Otherworld is at right now. Can't tell if it's more or less messed up than the real world, y'know?
Look, this is a lot to dump on you, I get it. Hard enough raising a kid through one jacked up world where you're supposedly the responsible adult. Now you got to raise them through another world where you're an innocent bystander at best.
But here's the thing. We got a saying: Magic ain't a substitute. Not for common sense, not for compassion, not for integrity, not for anything.
Whatever hopes you've had for your kid, you don't need to control magic, theirs or anyone else's, to make it happen. You want 'em turning out wise, or strong, or kind, you don't need magic to guide 'em that way.
Nothing wrong with being proud of what they do as magi. The important bit's about being proud of them as people.
Go ahead and keep the bottle. I'll come back when we're ready to roll out.
Copyright © 2020 By Jay Peterson. All rights reserved.