The Education of the Beast

The kobold, a primordial dog-like humanoid beast of fur and anger, sat patiently at its desk listening to the droning of the lecturer. The walls of the expansive lecture hall were lined with books. The desks on the raised floor in front of the lecturer’s podium were completely filled with fellow magic users in training. The kobold sat near the back, briefly wondering why it was wasting its time here before being mentally reminded that this was the only way it was going to pass remedial magic studies.

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“…central to the point of magical exploration is the concept of alteration of mental state on behalf of the practitioner and, as appropriate, the subject of manipulation. Central to Rimfizron’s Theory of perspective…”

The lecturer was an erudite, a member of a race of dark-grey-skinned but physically frail high men known both for their towering intellect and the resulting arrogance. He was wearing a fine grey adventurer’s robe and gesturing with his wand as he spoke. The kobold always hated erudites… at least, when they were alive. It rather enjoyed eating severed erudite heads which had been slow roasted over the tribal fires for a day. The lecturer had noticed the kobold had stopped paying attention to the lecture and fixed it a condescending stare. The kobold snickered to itself, it would have to remember to gather a band to raid for erudite heads later, but now it had been reminded of the importance of study.

“…in the four schools of approved magical discourse at the university, first the practitioner convinces themselves of this new reality, and this is initially insanity. However, through the application of arcane power focused through the appropriate mantras, reality can be subtly altered…”

The kobold was bored again. It picked up the scroll laying on its desk and started to eat the vellum off of the wooden handles. The vellum was aged griffin skin, much better than the week-dead small animals corpses that the kobold sometimes sufficed with, and the ink of the strange arcane symbols added a cloying taste that it rather enjoyed. Why did these foolish mages not eat their scrolls? The kobold noticed that the lecturer had stopped and was waiting for its attention again. It obeyed, suddenly grateful that none of its fellow classmates minded the interruption.

“… with Wizardry, the mental framing serves as a conduit to raw power which is exerted most commonly in the form of elemental destruction. Warlocks have a similar focus but exert more biological agents of destruction such as unfettered disease. Conjurers seek to manifest new matter into reality, be it edible sustenance, a tool, or even a living familiar…”

The kobold began to grow agitated, chewing on the wooden scroll handles viciously with a guttural growl, like a puppy tearing into a hard bone. It realized it did not understand a thing this erudite was saying. It worried it going to fail the exam but, now that it thought of it, it did not even what an exam was. For that matter, it did not remember how it come to be here in this lecture hall, surrounded by these revolting humans, erudites, and gnomes. Why did it care about any of this?

The kobold suddenly realized that it knew this lecturer. It had seen him somewhere before, though it knew not where. All it knew was that it hated him, for reasons beyond being an erudite, and that hatred was deep. The reaction was instinctive for the kobold. It gathered its energy and waited for an opportune moment to pounce and rip out his throat…

“…however, the last school of magic, that of Illusions, decided that simply to stay within the realm of the mind was enough. Rather than exerting arcane power to manipulate reality, this school exerts arcane power to manipulate the mind. This can be harnessed for beneficial aspects such as curing mental afflictions or overriding natural safeguards for greater performance. However, it can also be harnessed against foes…”

With a yipping warcry, the kobold charged, launching itself over its desk and over the backs of its classmates. They ignored it, still rapt with the lecturer’s incredibly boring lecture, even as it savagely clawed their shoulders for traction. The lecturer had noticed, however, and had stopped speaking. The erudite simply stood there and looked directly at the kobold as it approached, staring. Even through its bloodlust, the kobold found itself fascinated with his eyes, incredibly deep pools of black, perhaps with an invisible sparkle of magic within. By the time it had reached the lecturer, its inertia had slowed to walk, its bloodlust mostly subsided. It simply stood there and stared back.

The walls of the lecture hall melted away and the kobold was standing in the Butcherblock Mountains. Reality was thicker here, it knew it had been daydreaming, but not how long. It was then that it noticed two corpses of its comrades nearby. There was not a mark upon them, but there was the sharp smell of magical discharge in the air. The kobold turned and looked, there he was, the erudite who was just lecturing him back at the academy. Mind-bogglingly, there were two of them, twins that were not twins but rather the same.

Shock set in as the events folded together in its mind. The kobold had never been to a magical academy, much less one belonging to those weak Qeynosians! It was a brave warrior of the Yapsnarl tribe, marauders of the Butcherback Mountains, and it had been for its entire life! Moments ago, this erudite and its twin had attacked its tribe with strange magics, causing many of them to claw about their ears and throats before suddenly dying. The kobold had finally managed to overcome the mental chains preventing it from reaching him with its claws. However, then the erudite had then faced him, wove his hands in the air, and…

The ever-calculating mind of Egarim, erudite Illusionist adventurer of Qeynos, surmised that the larger kobold was almost entirely recovered from his mesmerization spell. It was a formidable opponent, the only one strong enough to consistently break his immobilization enchantment, and thus he determined his odds to be best when engaging it alone. He mentally commanded his illusionary doppleganger to distract a trio of lesser kobolds. He would deal with them promptly, but first he needed to keep the larger kobold occupied awhile longer. With well-practiced focus, he prepared his mind, mentally returning to his last lecture at the academy. Egarim began to trace the arcane symbols in the air…

“However, it can also be harnessed against foes…”

The kobold, a primordial dog-like humanoid beast of fur and anger, sat patiently at its desk listening to the droning of the lecturer. The walls of the expansive lecture hall were lined with books. The desks on the raised floor in front of the lecturer’s podium were completely filled with fellow magic users in training. The kobold sat near the back, briefly wondering why it was wasting its time here before being mentally reminded that this was the only way it was going to pass remedial magic studies.

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