"Close your eyes, concentrate on the rose. Look at each individual petal, how they curl out to form the flower, how they overlap each other. Think of how the stem attaches to the rose, the leaves angle out from the stem and the thorns attach. Now with that picture firmly in place sprinkle a few rose petals in front of you and push with your mind. Push the picture from your mind into the hand that held the petals."
"Now open your eyes and look at your rose." said Master Clarisse. As she told her student to do this she looked at the mess that was in his hand. It looked nothing like a rose or any other flower she had ever seen.
"What do you call that? You do know what a rose looks like don't you? Jorge, if you want to be a spell caster you must learn how to concentrate. To be able to blot out everything else from your mind, only see the spell you are trying to cast. If you ever succeed and become a Battlemage you will be casting spells with arrows whizzing passed your head, dire monster screaming in your face and blood splattering your body. All this and letting none of it interrupt what you're doing. Now try again."
"Look at it in you mind. See only the flower you're trying to make. Study each individual part of it and then push it into your hand."
"What is that? Do you call that a flower? That is a mess. Concentrate! No, don't concentrate, leave. Today is a total waste of my time and yours. What is the Master going to say about this? Just leave."
The young man looked up from the mess of flower petals in his hand and tried to speak. Twice he tried to say something and then bowed his head and slowly left the study room. Concentration was the key and today he just couldn't. A thousand things, no a million things were going through his head. News of the devastation at home, news from the battle front and news of Saranne.
Jorge walked down the passage, through the door and into the garden. First he compared the thing still in his hand to a rose. Point by point he studies the rose and looked at his hand. Dropping it he walked over to a nearby shade tree and hit it. He continued to lash out at the tree as if by pounding it he would be able to forget all the troubled thoughts that were racing through his head.
"Young man, you are not doing my tree nor you hand any good there. Don't you think it's time to stop?"
Looking up with a start Jorge saw Wilson the gardener standing there watching him.
"How do you stop thoughts from coming into your head and interrupting your concentration? How do you see the beauty of a flower and forget the ugliness of war, the horrors at home and the slaughter of your loved ones? How?" he asked the old man.
Taking his arm Wilson led him over to a nearby bench and sitting down said, "Son, if I could answer your questions I'd be the best and most famous Mage ever to come from this school, not just an old man working in the garden. Hold your hand up so I can see it."
Wiping away some of the blood with a corner of his tunic the old man saw that the skin was only torn up a bit and there didn't appear to be any serious damage. Flexing the fingers he saw that full movement was still present.
"Looks like you injured your pride more than your hand. Things a little hectic today?"
"Yes, I had a session with Master Dommer which led to him yelling at me when I couldn't do the simplest spell and now Master Clarisse abruptly dismissing me when I couldn't concentrate enough to produce a rose. I just can't get all the news from home out of my head."
"Son, it takes nature years to produce a rose. First it has to grow the plant, then the bud and finally the flower itself. What makes you think you can do the same thing in just moments? I don't care what the Masters tell you, you can't hurry nature. It's just not your time to create a rose or do the simplest spells. That doesn't mean you can't do them, just that you can't do them now."
"Bring your books out here under the friendly, open skies of the garden and study for a while. I always find that walking around here, looking at all of this loveliness helps to calm my troubled thoughts and you might find the same thing. Run along."
Back in his cubicle Jorge gathered up the books and scrolls he had been studying and returned to the garden as suggested. Walking through the plants and flowers he came to a small grassy knoll where he sat and looked over his books. Fleeting thoughts of home went through his mind as he studied. At peace with the world around him he tried to become at peace with his troubled thoughts. The raid on his home village, the slaughter of his family, of Saranne. Why? Why the slaughter of them? They weren't hurting anyone, weren't threatening anyone, they weren't part of the army. They were only peaceful farmers. Going about their lives making things grow, producing not destroying, creating not tearing down. His brothers and sisters who had not even began to experience the wonders of life, destroyed. Why?
Slowly the words in his books began to make sense again as he put away his troubles and was able once again to look at the pages. In his mind he pictured not a rose but a simple daisy. A daisy like the many that grew around his home. When he opened his eyes he saw the flower in his hand. Bright and yellow like his mother grew and loved so and he cried. Holding the daisy in his hand he cried for those he had lost.
Wiping his eyes finally he placed the flower in his book and went on with his studies. At peace in his mind he was able to pay attention to the words and their meaning, to make sense of what they were trying to impart to him. As the day ended and the darkness began to overcome the garden he created a small light to shine on his books so that he could continue to read. The same light that Master Dommer had yelled at him for not producing earlier.
Finally tired and hungry he snuffed out the light and rose from the knoll to find something to eat. Only then did he become aware of Wilson sitting on the bench nearby.
"Feeling better now son? I thought the garden might help you. Being surrounded by growing thing always helps me put a different perspective on things. Here things grow, blossom and produce their flowers or fruit and then die back for the next year, each in turn. They renew themselves each year just as the Maker planned. You have to renew yourself and go on with your life just as the Maker planned for you also."
"Go get something to eat and then sleep. That's part of the plan also."
"Thank you, Wilson. It did help and I am hungry." The young man walked past the older man and entered the building.
"Today we study something a little more difficult. I know some of the spells you have been studying have been hard but today we study the hardest thing there is, controlling the mind of another. With this spell you can convince an enemy you are a friend, you're not there or what ever it is you are trying to make them think. Controlling someone's mind is easier on those who are less intelligent. The smarter and more intelligent a person is the harder this spell is to cast successfully."
Just then two of the students jumped to their feet and yelled. They backed away from their desk with eyes large in shock.
"Master Dennis and Mistress Abigail, would you please resume your seats? The monster is gone."
"Another thing that aids in the casting of this spell is someone who is not paying attention to his or her surroundings and what is going on around them." This produced giggles from several of the students. "Someone who is distracted, asleep or unintelligent is easiest to convince. Now here is how this spell works. We will break it into its different parts..."
The Master continued to instruct the students on the different pieces of the spell, how they fit together and how they interrelated to come up with the desired effect. He had the students go over the pieces time after time until they had them firmly in their minds and then they started to put the pieces together. All afternoon they worked on this spell and the related parts.
Jorge took his books and walked to his grassy knoll. The plants looks different all buried in leaves and wrapped in rags against the winter wind and snow. The grass had died back but still the knoll was his place for contemplation. It was where he went over the day's lessons and put them in order, pigeonholed each piece into the correct order, deciding on the rightness or wrongness of the spell for himself. Some spells he knew he would never cast, they felt wrong to him, for him, while others seemed natural and felt right for him. It was these that he concentrated his studies on. How to work them, how to improve them and how to make them more powerful or more adaptive to what he wanted them to do.
"Wilson, why should I want to control a person's mind? That was today's lesson and while I think I have all the parts of the spell and can make it work I don't see the why of the spell."
"Jorge, do you think all these plants grew like they are? I trimmed them, watered and fertilized them and shaped them into what they are. I controlled them. As a Battlemage you might not want a sentry to see your army approaching his camp. Or you might want him to see an army when there's only a few of you. Your task as a Battlemage is to help win the battles and to help keep your fellow soldiers alive. By influencing and controlling someone's thoughts you might be able to do this."
"Yeah, but is it right? Is it right for me to control someone else's mind when I'm not even sure I'm in control of my own?"
.... There is more of this story ...