top of page

The Speechless Sorcerer


Chapter Four: After-hours
Chapter Five: Homecoming
Chapter Six: Knowledge is Power
Chapter Seven: Meet the Parents
Chapter Eight: A Walk on the Wild Side
Chapter Nine: Hidden Beauty
Chapter Ten: The Ugly Truth
Chapter Eleven: Bullies Big and Small
Chapter Twelve: Expectations of Greatness
Chapter Thirteen: No Two the Same
Chapter Fourteen: Power and Potential
Chapter Fifteen: The Shroud
Chapter Sixteen: Those Who Seek Death
Chapter Seventeen: Fight or Flight
Chapter Eighteen: Cheese and Cowards
Chapter Nineteen: The Smallest Voice
Chapter Twenty: First Words
Epilogue: Somewhere to Belong

Prologue: Failure

Rothe Firless was a failure.

No, he had been a failure.

But that all changed today. Today he turned it all around. Today he would score a victory.

Against his step-father’s shame.

Against his mother’s nagging.

Against his own failings.

Today was the day he would find a job, move out of his parent’s attic and show the world exactly what he was made of.

Rothe was almost skipping as he approached the head magister’s office.

Today was his day, he could feel it!


“No,” said the head magister.

“Please,” begged the would-be magister.

“I will not say it again, mister Firless. The Royal Magic Academy is an institution with a three hundred year history and a reputation to match. Every year we produce dozens of high level sorcerers who go on to find employment in high-ranking government positions and market-leading companies. You, a mere level three sorcerer, are simply unfit to even be in the same room as our students.”


“No buts, mister Firless. If you were perhaps a level five sorcerer we could at least consider you for a substitute position, but with your level it would be a disgrace. Please leave.”

Rothe opened his mouth, but the words were simply not there. He could have tried to argue and state his merits, but he knew how that would go. No, he would not be reduced to a blubbering mess in the head magister’s office.

Not again.

“Thank you, for your… honesty,” Rothe eventually said, holding back his tears until he was well away from the office.

Sixteen attempts at getting a job.

Sixteen failures.

Wiping his tears, he began the long trek to the job agency…


“Again?” asked Belto, the job agent in charge of Rothe’s case.

“Again,” replied Rothe.

“How many times is that, twelve?”

“Sixteen, Belto.”

Belto said nothing for a time. Rothe knew that there was a bet in the office on how many rejections he would have before finding a job.

Belto had said seventeen.

Apparently there was a decent amount of money  for the winner.

“So, what was the reason this time, Rothe?” Belto asked, with a deep sigh. It was almost closing time and many of the job agents had left already so that they could start their weekends early.

Belto, unfortunately, had been caught in the entrance when Rothe arrived.

“The same thing as all the others, Belto,” Rothe replied, recalling the look of disgust on the head magister’s face, “They couldn’t possibly allow a lowly level three sorcerer to teach their esteemed students.”

“Figures,” Belto replied, “A sorcerer is only as good as their level, and unfortunately yours is… well, not great.”

“I’m well aware, thank you,” Rothe replied, looking glum, “But it can’t be helped, so, maybe we should look for something in the countryside? I heard that there are a few academies in the sticks who employ level fours.”

Belto fidgeted for a moment before replying, “Look, Rothe, maybe it’s time we started aiming… lower?”

“What, like an assistant magister position?”

Belto shook his head, “More like… a janitor?”

Rothe couldn’t believe his ears.

“A… janitor?” he asked, feeling numb.

“Or a meat packer, or maybe even… a sewage worker?”

“I thought that you were supposed to help me find a magister’s position!” Rothe exclaimed, starting to lose his temper.

“And I tried, but it’s becoming obvious that with your level we need to start being realistic about your job prospects!” Belto replied, raising his voice, “These are the jobs we find for our other level threes!”

“I- Rothe started, before suddenly stopping. He could feel that he was starting to lose control. Taking a deep breath, he said, “I have always wanted to be a magister, ever since I was six… I can’t imagine doing anything else…”

Belto, placing his hand on Rothe’s shoulder, said, “Well, maybe it’s time you try?”


Rothe left the job agency in a state of despair. He had told Belto that he would think about what he had said and give him a reply on Monday.

For a moment, Rothe tried to picture himself as a janitor, mopping up spills and cleaning up rubbish.

He shook his head, trying to dislodge the terrible vision.

No. He was going to become a magister. He just needed to keep trying, even if that meant Belto would lose his bet!

“Excuse me, but is the job agency still open?” a kind, old voice asked.

Without turning around Rothe replied, “I’m sorry, but they’ve just closed. You’ll have to try again on Monday.”

“Oh dear, that is quite unfortunate,” the old man replied.

Curious, Rothe turned to face the unseen speaker. He expected to see a pensioner, perhaps looking for a little extra spending money.

Instead he found himself face to face with a tall man wearing the scarlet-coloured robes of a head magister.

For a moment Rothe froze, thinking that the head magister he had seen earlier had come back to continue insulting him, but this man had kind, violet eyes and a mop of white hair.

“Ah, where are my manners,” the old man said, before offering his hand, “Head magister Arnold Winkleshin.”

Rothe took his hand gently, and replied, “Rothe Firless, pleased to meet you.”

At the mention of his name recognition dawned in Winkleshin’s eyes.

“Firless… Firless… you are not related to Leopold Firless by any chance?”

“I am,” Rothe replied, “He is my step-father.”

“I see…” Winkleshin said, mostly to himself, “The Firless family have produced some great magisters throughout the years, have they not?”

Rothe nodded.

Until me, he thought, but did not say.

“How fortuitous! Here I am in need of a magister and the very person I encounter belongs to a magister family! I don’t suppose you have a magister’s license?”

“I do,” Rothe replied, amazed at how well this way going. Perhaps if he just kept his mouth shut he could finally achieve his dream.

But his mother had taught him that the truth always came out in the end.

And so, with a sigh of regret, he continued, “However, there is something you must know. Head magister Winkleshin… I’m only a level three sorcerer, so I can’t-

“Oh that doesn’t matter to me, but thank you for sharing,” Winkleshin said, brushing the matter aside as if it were a stray piece of lint.

“What?” Rothe blurted out.

“Hmmm? Oh, your level? Well, for the job I have in mind it won’t be a factor.”

“Um, what’s the job?” Rothe asked, head spinning.

“I am in need of a magister for a very special group of children. I need the position filled as soon as possible, and of course room and board will be provided.”

Room and board?

“Wh- what is the name of your academy?”

“Ah, I didn’t say, did I?” Winkleshin asked, with a smile.

Rothe shook his head.

“Well, I am proud to call the Ascendant Academy my home,” Winkleshin said, puffing out his chest.

The Ascendant Academy was one of the most famous academies in the world. It had produced some of the most famous sorcerers over the past century and was attended by the children of nobility and business leaders.

Rothe almost fainted at the name. He had sent a letter, years ago, asking to be considered for a job there.

The Academy hadn’t even bothered to reply.

“So, what do you think? Will you take the job?” Winkleshin asked, still smiling.

Rothe hesitated for a moment. On one hand, he had just been offered the thing he had been dreaming of since he was a child, on the other…

Was he truly the right person for the job? He was only level three, and he had a… condition…

Rothe looked into Winkleshin’s eyes and made his decision.

“I shall do my best to not disappoint you, head magister…”

“Excellent!” Winkleshin exclaimed, “Now, I must be off, but you are to report to report to your classroom on Monday. Any questions?”

Rothe had about a thousand, but he settled on asking, “Um, which classroom will I be teaching in?”

Winkleshin hesitated for a moment before replying, a strange expression flashing across his face, “Of course, I haven’t said, have I? You will teaching Class… Negative Thirteen… and now I really must be off!”

Without waiting for a reply, Winkleshin stepped away and started chanting.

“Over seas and under the earth, wrap me up in light’s embrace and send me across to a place where I belong!”

A heartbeat later a sphere of blinding golden light enveloped the head magister.

As the high-level teleportation spell took hold, Rothe fancied that he heard the old man speak.

“Now, let’s hope he lasts longer than the last one…”

And then he was gone, leaving Rothe half-blind and stunned.

Once his vision finally returned Rothe took a deep breath.

He was a failure.

But not for long.

Chapter One: The Unteachables

“Remember, you are amazing, handsome and the best magister to ever live!” Rothe said, for the hundredth time.

However, the man in the mirror did not look enthused.

Instead he looked like a child playing dress-up.

Dark green magister’s robes that were too short at the sleeve and too long at the hem. It had been a miracle to find a tailor willing to work on a weekend, so Rothe couldn’t really comment on their handiwork.

He was blonde today, clean-shaven and topped with a wide-brimmed hat with a bent point. It had been given to him on the day he received his magister’s license, and had spent the past two years stuffed underneath his bed.

A pair of golden eyes completed the look, an instant identifier that he was a sorcerer. Everyone else in his family had either red or violet eyes, showing that their magical potential was much greater than his own.

No, don’t think about them…

“Remember, you are amazing, handsome and the best magister to ever live!” he repeated, but the man in the mirror refused to accept his words.


The ferry to Rain’s End Island took the better part of the morning. The island was owned by the Ascendant Academy and was located in an isolated corner of the map, far from the capital of Eldheart. Only a few people were taking the ferry that day, mostly non-sorcerers who couldn’t simply teleport directly to the academy.

Rothe, standing at the ferry’s bow, was unimpressed. He had been expecting a grand sight upon arriving, but a heavy fog which surrounded the island kept the academy from view.

For a moment he pictured his future. His students, as befitting the reputation of the Ascendant Academy, would be bright and well-behaved. They would no doubt welcome him with open arms and eagerly await his lessons. By the time they graduated, they would be masters of dozens of spells and wise in the ways of the world. They would no doubt thank him, by name, during their graduation, as they received their levels -nothing lower than a seven, surely- and entered the world as confident and prepared adults.

“We’re here,” said a gruff voice behind him.

“How can you tell?” Rothe asked, as he stared at the featureless fog before him.

“Just watch,” replied the unseen man.

A moment later the fog began to dissipate. Slowly the island was revealed, as structures and features emerged from the gloom. The most noticeable sight was the massive stone wall which Rothe knew encircled the entire island. Directly before them was an enormous gate, flanked by two statues. The statues bore the likeness of Athos and Zethara, the sorcerer couple who had founded the academy centuries ago. They stood facing the sea, hand in hand, welcoming all to their home.

As the ferry sailed towards the wooden dock, Rothe felt a mixture of excitement and fear creep over him.

There was no turning back now…


If Rothe had been expecting a welcome of any kind, he would have been disappointed. After the ferry unceremoniously dropped him and his luggage on the dock he waited for thirty minutes for someone to fetch him. He knew that it was already half-way through the school year, so after one last pep-talk he gathered his things and started walking towards the academy.

Thankfully it wasn’t a long journey, and soon the buildings, halls and towers of the Ascendant Academy were in sight. It was a massive collection of buildings, some dating back over five hundred years. The oldest building, The Hall of Athos, was his first destination. It seemed that most of the student-body held their classes there, and if that was the case then it was likely he would find his classroom easily.

The Hall towered over the surrounding structures, its minarets and roof lined with statues marking it as a central piece of the academy. Beside it, connected by several suspended (tunnels), were the dormitories where the children slept and played. The Academy accepted children as young as ten into its hallowed halls, and they spent up to eight years training before graduating.

A select few students, those who advanced quicker than their peers, could finish their schooling even faster, some as quickly as five years.

Rothe had taken the full eight years.

Approaching the Hall, he found children of every age wandering the grounds. All of them wore dark red robes and wide-brimmed red hats, marking them as students. They travelled together in groups of two and three, moving with determination and focus. A few of the older students were seated on the freshly-cut grass outside the Hall, practicing their spells and reviewing their theory.

Rothe felt a smile form on his face.

This was where he belonged, not in some packing plant or fetid sewer.

Approaching one of the students, he waved and asked, “Excuse me, little miss, but could you perhaps point me in the direction of class negative thirteen?”

The girl, who couldn’t have been older than twelve, let out a short scream before running away.

How strange.


“Pardon me, but could you please tell me where I can find class negative thirt-

The boy didn’t even wait for Rothe to finish speaking before he darted away, looking fearful.


Five for five, Rothe thought, as he recalled the shared looks of panic and fear the students had shown.

Perhaps his class was comprised of powerful would-be sorcerers who liked to challenge the rest of the student-body to duels in order to test their mettle?

There had been a group of students like that, back at his old academy. Young men and women with more power than sense who liked to show off what they could do.

And often use Rothe as target practice.

Well, he could work with that. A few honest conversations about responsibility and restraint and he should have the class all sorted in no time.

But he wouldn’t be able to help them if he couldn’t find them, so, turning to the Hall, Rothe sought out his fellow magisters.

‘Fellow magisters’… he liked the sound of that…


It wasn’t hard to spot his new colleagues. Like him, they wore dark green robes and pointed hats -although theirs actually stood straight up- and walked with confidence and conviction.

He approached the nearest magister, a woman who seemed twice his age -putting her in her middle years- and asked, “Excuse me, my name is Rothe Firless and I’ve been asked to teach class negative thirteen.”

Before he could ask where he could find them the woman broke out in a sudden fit of laughter that grew more intense with time. She was barely breathing by the time she staggered away from him.


Approaching another magister, this time a greying man with blood-red eyes, he asked, “I’m so sorry to trouble you, but I am looking for class negative thirteen. Do you know where they are?”

The man contemplated him for a moment.

And then he started weeping.

“Oh you poor thing!” he cried, tears staining his formerly pristine robe, “And so young!”

It wasn’t long before his colleagues came to collect him, shooting daggers at Rothe as they did so.

Was it something he had said?


Rothe was starting to panic. It was already past noon and he hadn’t even seen his class. He couldn’t afford to lose this opportunity, not after the speech he had made to his step-father.

In hind-sight it may have been a tad bit premature…

He was currently walking around the Hall of Athos, hoping for a miracle.

Instead, he crashed into someone, sending them flying to the floor.

“Son of a half-rotten troll!” he heard a young woman exclaim.

Looking down, he found a woman covered in blood.

‘Oh hellfire I’ve killed her!’ Rothe thought, as his immediate future flashed before his eyes.

The headline would probably read ‘Magister kills woman on first day, brings shame on parents and academy!’

“Could you lend me a hand?” the corpse suddenly asked.

It was then that Rothe realized that the blood, while copious in volume, was also black.

That wasn’t normal, was it?

“It’s squid ink, you bloody fool,” the woman spat, as the moment wore on.

“Ah, I’m so sorry!” Rothe exclaimed, reaching down to pick up his almost-victim.

“About bloody ti-

And then she saw his dark green robes.

The woman, without missing a beat, gave a little cough and said, with a sweet tone, “Ahem, pardon my clumsiness, magister-

“Firless. Rothe Firless,” Rothe said, bewildered.

“Ah, magister Firless. I am Clare Contraire, academy nurse. My apologies for getting in your way,” Clare said, with a meek voice.

Rothe took a moment to compose himself before speaking. In that time he took in the academy nurse, noting her long, fiery red hair and scarlet eyes. She was wearing white robes and a small cap, as befitting her station.

“Let me guess,” he said, probably overstepping his boundaries, “You have to pretend to be all sugar and smiles for the students and faculty but that isn’t the real you?”

Clare’s smile dropped by a tiny fraction, however, she recovered marvelously, “Magister Firless, I haven’t the faintest idea what you are talking about. Everyone knows that academy nurses are kindness incarnate.”

“Sure…” Rothe replied, not believing her for a second but also not having the time to argue, “Anyway, do you think you could help me? I’m new here and I’m looking for my classroom.”

“Of course!” Clare said, with forced mirth, “What class are you teaching?”

“Negative thirteen,” Rothe replied, already bracing himself for laughter or tears or some strange mix of both.

“Ah, I see,” Clare replied, seemingly unfazed, “They are over at the Lonely Tower. I can show you the way, if you want?”

“Please do.”

Rothe followed Clare with mixed emotions. Whoever the students of class negative thirteen were, they were clearly something special…


Clare led him away from the Hall without looking back. They were soon approaching the forest which bordered the academy, but even then Clare did not slow down. She guided Rothe to a narrow path which ran between the giant, twisted trees of the ancient forest.

“Do you come out here often?” Rothe asked, as he ducked under yet another long hanging branch. Perhaps his class had been given their own practice area, so that they could let loose their powerful spells without worries.

“Almost every day,” Clare said, moving between the trees with barely any effort. It was clear that she knew the path well, at least.

“I see… and the location, it is quite far from the main grounds…”

“Of course, someone might get hurt otherwise,” Clare said.

A moment later they emerged into a clearing which contained little more than an old, tilted tower. It rose up into the air, curving and twisting at odd angles which defied the laws of physics, logic and common sense.

“The Lonely Tower, I presume?”

“Correct,” Clare said, before reaching into her robes and pulling out a flask filled with black liquid.

“More squid ink?”

“Great for burns, if you can believe it,” Clare replied, before stepping forward and pushing the tower’s massive doors open. Inside was a spiraling staircase which ran all the way to the top.

It was a grueling climb but Rothe’s excitement gave him superhuman strength. He was almost there… Soon he would meet his class filled with bright and powerful students!

After a while, they reached the top of the tower. A small landing gave way to a stout wooden door.

Rothe went to open it, before being stopped by Clare.

“Look, you seem like a… nice person,” she said, “And from what I can tell Winkleshin hasn’t told you anything about this class, correct?”

Rothe nodded.

“Well, it’s not really my place to say anything about the… Unteachables. Just, go easy on them, alright?”

Taking a deep breath, Rothe nodded and pushed the door open.

He was ready for whatever lay on the other side.

A heartbeat later, the door swung open, revealing a scene of utter chaos.

He had been wrong, it turned out, very, very wrong…

Chapter Two: Roll Call


That was the first word that popped into Rothe’s mind as he tried to take in the scene before him.

Pure, utter chaos.

The curtains were on fire.

The desks were flying through the air.

The students were huddled in the far corner of the room.

And there was white elephant looking confused in the middle.

Rothe felt the panic rise in his mind, but he had been fighting it since he was six.

First, take a deep breath.

Rothe did so.

Second, close your eyes.

Rothe did so.

Third, recite the mantra.

Spells and stones can break my bones, but words can never rule me.

When he opened his eyes, Rothe was calm and collected.

Right, now where to start?

The elephant looked more confused than enraged, so that could wait, and the flying desks were well above head height.

That left the raging fire attacking the drapes.

Clearing his throat, Rothe summoned the power which dwelt within him and clearly said, “Water of life, grace the stage!”

Immediately a sphere of water formed in his hands, swirling and spinning without end. He sent it at the fire, where it quickly snuffed out the spreading flame.

One down.

Looking up, he thought for a moment before exclaiming, “Force of earth and pull of ground, let sink what abounds!”

It took a few seconds for the magic to take hold of the flying furniture. Once it had, it gently brought the desks down to the ground, placing them in a small heap.

A higher leveled sorcerer could probably have arranged them exactly as they had been before, but Rothe lacked that ability.

Finally, he turned to the white elephant which seemed to be enjoying the attention.

“I’ll handle this one, magister,” Clare said, as she appeared at his side.

Raising her hand towards the misplaced creature, she said, “Beast of land, taken from home, let go of this place, go and roam!”

The white elephant blinked for a moment before vanishing with a loud pop!

Rothe gave his companion a sidelong glance. That had been a rather high-level spell.

“Are we going to talk about the (white) elephant in the room?” he asked her, feeling a bit foolish.

“I’d rather not, magister,” she replied, with a coy smile.

Turning to face the huddled mass of children, she said, with a loud and clear voice, “There we go, all better! Now, let’s all be good girls and boys and line-up for your new magister!”

Clare paused for a moment before adding, “And please raise your hand if you’ve suffered any burns from this little ordeal!”

Seven hands were raised into the air.


Rothe waited patiently while the children lined up in front of Clare. One by one she took them by the hand and examined them for any burns or bruises. After that she took out her jar of squid ink and started dipping lengths of cotton bandage, turning the material black as night. Within a few minutes the children were sporting an assortment of black headbands, armbands and kneebands, looking as if they were mourning a fallen magister.

Rothe thought back to the chaotic scene and hoped that they would never have to put on black for him.

Once every child had been treated Clare gathered her things, blew a kiss to the children and, coming closer, whispered, “Remember what I said, go easy on them… and good luck!”

And with that, his only ally left the room, leaving him alone with seven silent students.

After a momentary pause he let out an awkward laugh and exclaimed, “Well, that was certainly an interesting introduction, but how about we try and do it again… maybe with slightly less fire this time?”

The assembled students nodded.

“Excellent!” Rothe said, as he moved over to the magic imbued blackboard sitting against the far wall.

Taking a piece of rainbow-coloured chalk, he began to write out his name.

When he had finished, he turned to his class and said, “My name is magister Rothe Firless, and as of today I will be in charge of teaching you.”

Blank stares greeted his introduction.

Hmmm… how to break the ice?

Ah, that’ll do.

“I know that I am a stranger to all of you, so how about I tell you about myself and then you can do the same for me?”


“Let’s see… well, I am twenty-seven years old, I was raised in the capital, Eldheart, and I studied at the College of Eld. Oh, and I have two older brothers who are also magisters.”

‘Uther, level seven, and Pierce, level eight,’ Rothe thought, but did not say.

“I think that’s everything, so now you know a little about me, but I still don’t know anything about you.”

On his desk was a page with the students names, so, after a quick glance, he called out, “Rose Berg, could you please tell me a bit about yourself?”

A young girl, roughly twelve years old with short black hair and violet eyes stepped forward.

She opened her mouth but no words came out. Shaking her head, she stepped back into line.

That wasn’t a good sign…


A moment later another girl, roughly the same age and with red eyes and neat auburn hair stepped forward and said, “Excuse me, magister Rothe, but Rose suffers from Nospeak, which means-

-That she can’t hear a thing!” another boy said, cutting her off. He had the same eyes and hair as the girl, marking them as siblings.

“That’s not what I was going to say, Mischief!” the girl exclaimed, looking upset.

“Was too!” replied her twin brother.

Rothe glanced at the page once more.

Melody and Mischief Matters, both aged twelve.

And apparently fond of finishing each others sentences.

“Thank you, Melody, and don’t worry, I know what Nospeak is,” Rothe replied.

Nospeak was a rare malady that caused a sorcerer to lose their voice, sometimes for good. It was unusual for someone to have it in such a prestigious academy, but he could learn to deal with it.

After all, it was only one student.

“Very well, let’s hear from Viv Farlow next!”

A boy aged eleven with golden eyes and brown hair stepped forward. Taking a deep breath he said, “itz n plesh ta mit yu, m’gist Roh…”

Rothe almost started crying.

“Thank you, Viv. Let me guess, you suffer from Whisp?”

Viv nodded, eyes glued to the wooden floor.

Whisp, another malady which caused soft, mumbled words.

It only affected one in every thousand children.

But the odds of having two children in the same class with a speech malady?

One in a million.

Rothe was starting to see a pattern that he definitely didn’t like.

“Next, I’d like to hear from… Tim-Tom Tallenger. Is he here?”

Another boy stepped forward. Red eyes, a mess of wild strawberry-blonde hair and a mischievous smile.

Please… please let him be normal…

“Like me, would what Rothe you to magister about know?” Tim-Tom said, with a confident tone.

Rothe sighed before asking, “Crosswords, is it?”

“One it in got!” Tim-Tom replied, with a broad smile.

Crosswords, yet another speech malady that caused a person to rearrange their words without control.

The pattern was growing more evident.

Only two children left.

“Alright, Noel… hmm, Eldson? Are you by any chance part of the royal family, Noel?”

The last boy, eleven years of age with dark hair and features, smiled a smile that did not reach his golden eyes, and said, “Yessss, I am part of the esssteemed Royal Houssse of Eld. My father isss the ssssecond prinsss, Alexossss. And yesss, I ssssuffer from Sssnaketounge.”

“Thank you… Noel.”

Rothe tried to keep it together.






Six speech maladies in one classroom.

It was unheard of.

Taking a deep breath, he asked, “Josi Ralton, are you here?”

Josi, the youngest girl in the class at ten years old, stepped forward. Her olive skin and long dark hair complemented her violet eyes which were hidden behind a pair of square glasses.

“I am here, magister Rothe,” the young girl said, in a warm, gentle voice.

Rothe almost let out a shout of joy.

Finally, he had found someone who-

“And it is a pleasure to meet you, magister dung-for-brains!”

Rothe froze.

“Pardon?” he asked, hoping that he had heard wrongly.

“I’m sorry, sometimes I say the wrong thing, you piece of moldy cheese,” Josi said, looking embarrassed.

Rothe felt his world shake.

Shaking his head, he said, “And Madlips makes seven…”

Chapter Three: A Lesson in Chaos

Rothe had to take a seat.

He wanted to laugh, or cry, or maybe both. He had been a fool to think that things would finally go his way. Finally made a magister? Here, have a class of unteachable children.

Perhaps this was Winkleshin’s idea of a practical joke?

Maybe he would burst into the room and explain that this had all been a test, and that the children had merely been pretending?

Rothe looked at the door.

It remained closed.

So, he had two choices.

One, run home and face his parents.

Or two, try and teach the Unteachables.

A few minutes later, he made his decision.


Rothe tried to get rid of the dust which now clung to his robes.

It didn’t help.

He had spent the past twenty minutes dragging the students desks into position. He could have used magic, but he didn’t trust his spells given his current condition.

When the room was finally organized and the students were seated he faced them and said, “Thank you, for your patience. It is always a challenge to deal with changes such as a new magister half-way through the year. I will try to teach you and help you grow to the best of my ability. Now, I am not sure how much your previous magister covered before their-

“Mental breakdown,” said Mischief. Apparently his habit of finishing sentences was not limited solely to his sister.

“Right… well, as it is our first lesson together I think we should review the basics. Magic, as you no doubt know, is the reason why we are all here. It allows us to cast spells and create wonders, and this academy exists to train you to cast all sorts of spells. Of course, not just anyone can use magic. Only sorcerers, for some reason, can access magic and shape it using their words in order to produce spells. When you graduate from this academy, you will be assigned a level which reflects your mastery of magic, in addition to a few other [conditions]. Now, who can tell me how many sorcerer levels there are?”

Josi slowly raised her hand.

“Yes, Josi?”

“There are ten levels, you mudwomper.”

Rothe paused for a moment, mentally erasing the insult before replying, “Correct! And it is important to know that your level will determine a great many things about your future. What jobs you can acquire, what spells you can cast and what opportunities you can discover. Therefore it is important for all of you to do your best in your studies, master your magic and achieve the highest levels possible!”

Blank stares from the students.

Rothe empathized with them, for a moment. He was fairly sure that they had heard those words before, but with their maladies it would be difficult for them to graduate, let alone achieve a high level.

No, that was a concern for another day. One thing at a time.

“Alright, so how does magic work exactly?” he asked the class, not expecting an answer, “Magic is a powerful force which flows through the earth and the air at all times. In order to harness it we must first shape it into a form that suits our needs. To do this, we use spells. Spells, simply put, are a collection of words which tell the magic what we want it to do.”

“Like father telling the maidssss to clean up his messss?” asked Noel.

“Uh, yeah, kind of…” replied Rothe, “Today I thought that we would talk about one of the simplest spells sorcerer’s use. It is quite useful, as you will soon see.”

Moving over to the singed curtains, Rothe pulled them together, instantly bringing the classroom into darkness.

“Remember, pronunciation, grammar and intonation are key to producing successful spells,” Rothe said, as he returned to the front of the class, “Watch closely.”

Taking a deep breath, he said, “Light burning bright.”

Immediately a ball of pure light burst into existence above his open palm. It was roughly the size of an apple and shone with a golden sheen.

His brothers could produce spheres of light the size of a room…

Now was the hard part.

“Alright, I’m going to call you up one at a time and we’ll see how you do.”


Rose looked at Rothe.

Rothe looked at Rose.

“Light burning bright,” he prompted.

Rose opened her mouth, but the words of the spell did not come out.

Well, he should have seen this coming…

“Thanks for trying, Rose…” he said, as gently as he could manage. Her violet eyes -a sign of her enormous magical potential- were already filling up with tears as she made her way back to her seat.

Shaking his head, Rothe called forth the next student.

How could he teach a speechless sorcerer?


Melody Matters strode towards the front of the classroom with confidence.

Her brother, Mischief, was sitting at his desk. Rothe had decided to separate the twins, in the hope that they would be able to complete the spell individually.

“Light burning bright,” he said, emphasizing the pronunciation and intonation of each word.

“Got it,” Melody replied, before turning to face the classroom.

Stretching out her left hand, she said, “Light burning-

At that moment Mischief’s voice cut through the darkness, shouting, “Black as night!”

Immediately a sphere of pure darkness swirled into existence above Melody’s palm. She let out a small shriek and tried to pull her hand away. The spell, now free, quickly grew and soon encompassed half the room. Whatever it touched was inverted, as black became white and light became dark. A moment later the spell faded, leaving Rothe with stars in his eyes.

Melody stamped her foot and turned to her brother, saying, “Argh! Why do you always-

-Do the right thing!” Mischief finished, looking somewhat guilty.

“That’s alright, Melody. You can take your seat,” Rothe said. If he squinted he could still see the inverted classroom.

Hopefully that would fade with time…


-see how you like it!” Melody exclaimed, finishing Mischief’s spell. The resulting ball of light quickly deflated like a struck balloon, zooming away and impacting the ceiling with a soft whumpf.

Mischief returned to his seat with a scowl on his face.

“Thank you… both of you,” Rothe said, rubbing his eyes.

If nothing else he was learning a lot about speech maladies.

“Tim-Tom, you’re up!” he called, while slowly edging closer to his desk. It would hopefully shield at least his lower half. He was starting to understand what had caused the chaos he had witnessed upon arriving in the classroom.

Tim-Tom, unusually, decided to walk to the front of class on his hands, with his legs wavering in the air. When he reached the blackboard he flipped right-way-up and, after clearing his throat, said, “Burning light bright!”


It took several minutes for the ringing in Rothe’s ears to stop. His vision returned soon afterwards, but he found that he was still seeing double.

The students, all fourteen of them, slowly picked themselves off of the floor.

“Sorry, I’m…” Tim-Tom muttered. He had been the closest person to the flashbang and therefore had taken the longest time to recover.

“That’s… alright,” Rothe said, words sounding strange to his tender ears, “You did your best…”

Tim-Tom nodded before returning to his seat.

Via cartwheel.

“Who’s left…” Rothe muttered, as he picked up his fallen chair, “Ah, Noel!”

If anyone could perform the spell, it would be a descendant of the King of Eld.

“Sssorry, my throat isss acting up, magissster Rottthe…” the young boy said, pointing to his neck.

“Ah, of course…” Rothe said, not believing the boy for a second.

But magic could not be forced, so he let the lie stand.

“Hmmm, that just leaves Josi. Would you please come forward?”

As Josi carefully made her way towards the front of the class Rothe wondered how her malady would affect the spell. There had only been a handful of cases of Madlips in the history of the kingdom, so information was scarce. If her affliction was simply limited to the odd insult, then she should have no trouble with this spell.

“Um, Magister, this might be a-

“Great idea!” Mischief finished, earning him a look of contemption from his sister.

Rothe should have listened.

But it was too late.

Josi had reached the front of the classroom.

Taking a deep breath, she said, “Light, dying embers of the last star, bring forth your fury!”

Thinking quickly, Rothe dove forwards, arm outstretched, and shouted, “Conceal and contain, oh force of power!”

Immediately a sphere of translucent crystal formed in the air in front of Josi. A moment later her spell came into being, trapped by the crystalline shell.

Rothe stepped forward and stared in wonder.

Josi had created a hole in space which spun faster than the eye could track. It pulsed with an unsettling scarlet light and, after a moment, collapsed in on itself, destroying his containment spell as if were made of wax-parchment, instead of reinforced crystal.

“Not again!” Josi said, with tears in her eyes, “I’m so sorry, you mound of fleshy fungus!”

Rothe automatically deleted the last few words which had just entered his brain.

She doesn’t mean it, he told himself.

Kneeling down, he placed a gentle hand on the young girl’s shoulder.

“That’s okay, Josi, no one was hurt.”

Josi nodded.

“Well, that’s everyone…” he sighed, once Josi had returned to her seat.

Not one of them had been able to cast the most basic spell in the syllabus.

This was impossible…

It was at that moment he felt something tugging at his robes.

“I dndt gt trn,” a voice mumbled.

Looking down, Rothe saw Viv’s golden eyes staring back at him.

“Oh, sorry Viv. Go ahead,” Rothe said, without any enthusiasm.

This class had defeated him and it wasn’t even time for supper.


Viv, holding his finger in the air, mumbled, “Lgt brng bite…”

A moment later, a miracle occurred.

Above Viv’s finger, looking like a miniature sun, was a tiny ball of golden light.

It wasn’t big or impressive in any way, but it was stable.

It was enough, for a start.

“Well done Viv!” Rothe exclaimed, feeling a surge of positive energy, “You see, class, it can be done!”

The students, possessing a resilience only found in children, quickly gathered around Viv. They oohed and aahed as they watched the tiny orb flicker and wobble.

‘I can do this…’ Rothe thought, ‘But I’m going to have to find a new way to teach them…’

End of Sample

In order to read the rest of Unteachable and find out if Rothe is able to make it as a magister of the Unteachables, please purchase "We Lift Them Up"

Add WLTU Cover

Add Unteachable Cover

bottom of page