Armageddon Avoidance 101

Submitted for Contest #51 in response to: Write about someone who has a superpower.... view prompt

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Jul 19, 2020

Fantasy

This really wasn’t how I had imagined attending the All-Seeing Academy would be.

As a young witch attending The Bradblaith School of Elementary Magics, I was something of a teacher’s pet. I won the Junior Conjuror’s award four years in a row, I was top of my class in Spellbinding, Familiar Care and Potions – and my Runes reading age was off the charts.

Which is why I was so excited to graduate and begin afresh, attending the All-Seeing Academy and majoring in Prophecies and Interpretation under the tutelage of Professor Petyr Dulin, a well-respected ex-warlock from the Institute of the Arcane.

I set to my prophecy classes with enthusiasm, expecting that I would be every bit as competent a seer as I had been at my other magical studies. But the thing is, is I’ve been having some… slight difficulties with predicting the future.

My tea leaves are forever drying up and clumping together, my crystal ball only shows me past events concerning an elderly mage from Bognor Regis named Alfred and even the most mundane, garden variety prophecies haven’t come to light!

I tried predicting hot weather in Death Valley in August (it snowed – I’m not sure that’s even meteorologically possible), I predicted a roaring fire in the hearth of the Grand Hall that would burn hot and bright for the freezing November evening ahead. That evening the fire was mysteriously producing a low, cold blue flame. Even last Wednesday’s lunch didn’t pan out, and it’s the same every Wednesday. It’s even permanently charmed onto a board outside the food hall!

You can probably see where I’m going with this. It’s not that I’m just bad at prophesying, it’s that whatever I foretell won’t or can’t happen. I must be the unluckiest fortune teller in magical history.

Despite feeling like a complete failure and wondering whether I should major in any other kind of magic, my friends and fellow students are very kind about my abject failure to predict even a £10 lottery win, and I make light of the situation by coming up with oddly dire and gloomy prophecies at parties to amuse the rest of the first-year students. How about being cursed forever by a haunted pen? I’m sure with my bizarre talents that the victim would become a best-selling author in no time. 

Still, when I was called to Professor Dulin’s office just before the final exams, I wasn’t filled with glee. I was certain I was going to be expelled, or maybe I was finally being offered a place in a class for the augury limited.

After arriving at the office and wrapping three times on the sold oak door, I gloomily entered the office, uttered a quiet greeting, and apprehensively took the proffered seat across from the Professor, who gestured silently for me to sit with a serious but gentle expression on his face.

We were not alone. In the dark cherry wood hardbacked seat next to me was a slightly unkempt looking middle-aged witch. Her hair was just about confined within long black braids, with wiry silver hairs escaping the barely contained tangle. She sat patiently beside me with her fingers entwined in her lap, lips slightly pursed.

“Morgan, I’d like you to meet Ms. Blair. She is a senior Thaumaturgy Vanguard at the Institute of the Arcane, and she and I have worked alongside each other for many years. She has kindly agreed to meet with us this afternoon.”

He nodded slightly in the direction of Ms. Blair, before turning his attention to pouring tea from a squirming, purple furry teapot into three slightly chipped china teacups on the desk. The aroma of chai tea filled the room, and I could almost hear my heart hammering in my chest. What did this mean?? Surely I wasn’t so bad at my studies that I was in serious trouble… or being taken somewhere?

“Nice to meet you” I squeaked, trying not to shake as I picked up my cup of tea.

Flicking her eyes towards me suddenly, Ms. Blair seemed to ignore my pleasantry and began to speak suddenly, in a slightly hurried and animated way, getting straight to business.

“The Institute was very impressed when Petyr told us of your work. It’s not very often that this happens, you see, and we were of course very surprised to hear of your talents. Very surprised indeed! This is why this meeting has taken so long to happen, you understand… we had to be sure. We’ve been studying you and your prophecies very closely all year.”

I blinked once. Swallowed. Blinked again, quickly. My throat felt very tight, and I had an unpleasant tingling sensation creeping up my spine.

“I... uh, huh?” I said, stupidly.  

Ms. Blair again seemed not to notice that I had spoken, and continued, almost feverishly.

“As you know, prophecy is the gift of sight only! And sometimes only a very fleeting, murky view of what will come to pass in the future. Just a few small details of an unstoppable, unchangeable event. You possess a far greater talent, child, the superpower of being able to change future events. To STOP them from ever happening!”

She stopped for a moment, flicking a piece of lint from the magenta lining of her robe.

“… Even if the way in which you currently change the future is slightly…unrefined, shall we say?”

After briefly pausing to fondly pat the teapot, which was grunting and snuffling quietly on the desk, she brightly continued.

“But of course, we can change all that! That’s why we’re inviting you to join us at the Institute. You are officially invited to enroll as a Predicament Termination student, working alongside our Armageddon Avoidance team. Once you have attended 3 years of classes, followed by Institute training, you’ll be instrumental in helping us to save the world!”

So, I wasn’t terrible at prophecy, quite the opposite in fact. Who knew a true superpower could override innate magical ability? Guess I’m not so bad at my studies after all. 

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