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  • The Parliament House

READ THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS: Summoned by Mckayla Eaton



“This Handbook was created as a supplementary learning tool for young witches and wizards. All young magicians should look to their tutors as their primary source of instruction and knowledge.” - A Handbook for the Young and Magical. Introduction.

Alton lay on his side, watching the red numbers on his bedside clock change and listening to the heavy breathing of his roommate.

The town house and the street outside were quiet. Of all the places Alton had traveled for his studies, this was one of the nicest. Too bad it also came with one of the worst tutors.

Edgar Daniels was a small, thin man with a nasally voice and a perpetually bad attitude. He ran his house like a military base and Alton was public enemy number one. It wasn’t Alton’s fault he was smarter than his tutor.

Though Daniels probably wouldn’t hate me so much if I didn’t point it out.

Alton looked across the room at Brandon. As far as roommates went, Brandon was decent. As far as wizards went, Brandon was horrible. He didn’t even seem interested in magic. He didn’t do the readings or the exercises. He’d sleep in everyday if it weren’t for Alton, and he spent more time texting girls than he did studying.

Alton sighed. Brandon was probably the most normal wizard Alton had ever met.

Alton rolled onto his back and closed his eyes. Daniels hated him and refused all his requests for a new tutor or to let him do more advanced magic. Brandon was nice, and they got along fine, but he was distracted and often needed the lessons repeated to him. They were holding Alton back.

Snoring broke the peace in the quiet room.

Alton’s eyes snapped open and he looked at the time. One o’clock. Daniels would be asleep.

Now that he knew Brandon was sleeping soundly, Alton threw off the sheet and quietly got out of bed. He grabbed his phone from the side table and went to the door. Turning the handle slowly, he managed to open it without the latch clicking. He was probably being overly cautious. Daniels slept with earplugs and an eye mask. The chances of him waking up were slim.

Door open, Alton crept down the hallway, sock feet slipping soundlessly over the hardwood. He paused at Daniels room to listen. There was no snoring yet, but the door was shut and there was no light coming from underneath the door. Alton continued down the hall to the stairs and made his way to the living room.

The space consisted of two leather loveseats, a coffee table, some paintings, and four bookcases. No TV. No video games. No fun in Daniels’ house. That didn’t bother Alton. He’d come for the books.

Most of the shelves were bare except for a few framed photos and potted plants—the kind of nick-knacks people that don’t read think belong on bookshelves. The top shelves were the only ones with books on them. There was an assortment of classics, cheap paperbacks, and one collection of four older volumes. Alton used the light from his phone to read the spines.

An Examination of Complex Enchantments: Volume I.

Alton slid the first book off the shelf, then paused, holding his phone against the cover to block the light. He thought he’d heard a noise.

He went to the doorway and peeked out. The house remained dark, Daniels’ door at the top of the stairs was still closed. Alton went back into the living room, closing the door quietly behind him. He placed his palm flat against the wall and cast a minor enchantment.

The already quiet room became dead silent. No noise would escape, if someone pressed their ear to the door, they would hear nothing.

Alton sat down on one of the loveseats and opened the book. Using the light from his phone again, he read over the table of contents. He skipped the introduction and historical notes chapter and flipped to the part on Advanced Enchantments of Inanimate Things. The first exercise was simple, Alton had seen it outlined before in a book he had similarly borrowed from his last tutor. He’d need the next volume to get any new information.

He had just stood up when he caught something move out of the corner of his eye, causing him to spin around.

The door to the living room was open and Daniels, dressed in a plaid bathrobe and worn blue slippers, stood in the doorway scowling at Alton.

“The problem with simple soundproofing enchantments is that you also impede yourself from hearing anything on the outside,” Daniels said, crossing his arms over his thin chest.

Alton sighed and returned the book to the shelf. He knew that. He knew you had to add a second layer to the enchantment so that it wasn’t soundproof both ways, but he hadn’t thought Daniels would wake up.

“I didn’t mean to wake you, Mr. Daniels” Alton said, trying to smooth over the situation before he got a lecture.

“You didn’t. I was already awake.”

“At one in the morning?” Alton asked, turning back to his tutor.

Daniels had an unpleasant look on his face, like he was chewing on a lemon and trying not to show it. “Yes. You have a visitor.”

“A visitor?” Alton asked in surprise.

Daniels turned and walked away. “He’s in the kitchen,” he called over his shoulder.

Alton followed.

A visitor? In the middle of the night?

The kitchen lights were on, something you couldn’t tell from the bottom of the stairs. Alton cursed himself for not making sure Daniels was in bed before sneaking a peek at the books he’d explicitly expressed were off limits.

At least the visitor got me out of a lecture.

A stranger sat at the kitchen island, stirring a cup of tea. Alton had no idea who might want to speak with him so badly that they’d come to his tutor’s house at one in the morning.

The man stood as they came in and held out a hand to Alton. His black coat looked a little too thick for the time of year, but so did the dark green sweater he wore beneath it. He had a close-cut beard that hadn’t yet decided if it wanted to be white or gray, like the old men who dressed up as Santa and sat in malls at Christmas. Beyond that, there was nothing jolly about him. He was thin, with a nose that had been broken more than once and wrinkles around his eyes and forehead. They distorted his face in a way that didn’t touch his eyes, which appeared ageless.

“I’m Professor Victor Orvius. I apologize for the hour,” the man said. “I have business to attend to back home or else I would have postponed meeting with you until daylight.”

“That’s alright,” Alton said, shaking Orvius’s hand before sitting on the stool across from him. “It’s not like you woke me.”

“You’ve had many tutors,” Orvius said. His voice was hoarse, tired. He claimed to be in a rush, but his tone was patient as he casually went back to stirring his tea.

“Yeah, five including Professor Daniels,” Alton said.

“It’s unusual for a student to be moved so much. Your previous tutor told me it was because you surpassed their studies and they had nothing left to teach you. Is that correct?”

“I requested to be moved.” Alton said, wondering why these questions were important. “I felt like my tutor couldn’t teach me anything new.”

“You were ill placed then. Did you not take a test?”

“I did.”

“And you did poorly?”

“There are no wizards in my family,” Alton said. “When I was tested, I didn’t know anything about magic. I couldn’t answer a single question.”

“You’ve advanced significantly since then.”

Alton shrugged. “I read a lot.”

“Yes, your tutors mentioned that.” Orvius removed the spoon from his teacup and tapped it on the rim to remove a few clinging drops before setting it on the counter. Alton watched him as he sipped it and appeared to find it satisfactory.

“I’m looking for a student like you, Alton. I have a new method of instruction that is challenging and slightly… unorthodox. I need a quick-witted pupil capable of learning things without constant guidance from myself.”

That sounded perfect, exactly what Alton had been looking for. A way to advance, a way to really prove what kind of wizard he could be.

It sounded too good to be true.

“I’ll take my tests in a year,” Alton said, cautiously, trying to figure out the man’s motives. “I need to pass if I ever want to practice magic on my own.”

“My instruction will only better prepare you for the Chamber’s examinations,” Orvius said.

Alton nodded slowly as he thought about the offer. “What’s the catch?”

“As I said, the instruction is experimental, so I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t question my tactics while you’re studying under me. Aside from that, there’s no catch. I’ve already filled out the necessary forms for the transfer of a student and another boy is lined up to take your spot with Professor Daniels. If you accept, your transfer will be just the same as the ones you’ve done before.”

“He’s a professional by now,” Daniels added, “a flight risk.”

Alton ignored the slight. He’d made up his mind. “I’ll do it.”

“I have some tests for you first,” Orvius said, not blinking an eye at Alton’s agreement, “to make sure you’re as good as I’ve been led to believe.”

“Right now?” Alton asked.

Orvius removed an orange from the fruit bowl sitting on the far end of the island. He placed it on the counter between them. “Enchanting.”

“Giving an inanimate object a property it wouldn’t otherwise possess.” The definition rolled off Alton’s tongue without hesitation

“Very good. Do it.”

Alton looked at the orange. He’d come to realize that the difference between a good spell and a great one was in its execution. The trick was to perform it without anyone noticing. You had to make every move, every twitch, look natural. Spell Casting was fairly easy to do undetected, but Enchanting was much harder. You had to actually touch the object you were manipulating.

Alton opened a drawer in front of him, removing a knife. He held the fruit with his fingertips and began slicing. When it was in four even pieces, he put down the knife and sat back on his stool.