[Sound of rustling wind. A dog barks. A knock on the door. silence. Another knock, louder.]
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN: Mr. Donovan?
MR. DONOVAN: I’m afraid you have the wrong address.
BRUCE: Don’t play games with us, Mr. Donovan. Your daughter - is she at home?
MR. DONOVAN: You don’t have any right to come into my house, and-
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN: We have every right, Mr. Donovan. The law is very clear where unlicensed and unregistered mages are concerned.
MR. DONOVAN: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
BRUCE: I understand the impulse to continue trying to conceal her, but believe me when I say, it'll only make things worse.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN: Believe it or not, we don’t want to hurt you or your daughter. We just want to make sure she gets a proper education and that her gifts are put to the best possible use.
MR. DONOVAN: I don’t know what you think you know about my daughter, but I promise you-
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN: Mr. Donovan, the Institute has hundreds of seers at its disposal. They detected your daughter’s magical outburst almost instantly. But there is nothing to worry about. Late bloomers like Jenna are not uncommon at all, and there are tried and true procedures to get her up to speed quickly.
[ominous music starts]
BRUCE: Right now, neither of you are in any trouble, Mr. Donovan.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN: But if you lie to us again...
MR. DONOVAN: [Breaking down] I just, didn’t want to lose her. Since my wife died, she’s - all I’ve got left. And the stories they tell- about that school-
BRUCE: The Institute is the finest one of its kind in the entire world. Your daughter will be well cared for and given a top-notch education, and then sent out into the world to use her powers for the benefit of all of us.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN: It really is for the benefit of everyone. You wouldn’t want to be selfish, and deprive our great nation of your daughter’s gifts, would you? You want her to come along with us.
MR. DONOVAN: Are you...?
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN: I’m not compelling you. I could. But then a few hours after I left it would wear off and we’d be back to square one. Better if you agree with this on your own. Be reasonable. Besides, it’s not like you’re losing her forever. Just four years of school and five years of service then she’s free to do as she pleases.
BRUCE: And she can write to you. And visit once a year, during the holidays.
MR. DONOVAN: Your holidays.
BRUCE: Oswerian holidays. Don’t make this about religion. The point is you’ll get to see her.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN: Well, as long as neither of you does anything to make us think that wouldn’t be a good idea. So what do you say?
MR. DONOVAN: I don’t really have a choice, do I?
BRUCE: You don’t. I’ll be by in the morning to take her to her new home. If you’re thinking about trying to make a break for it- I wouldn’t. We’ve got people watching. You wouldn’t make it ten feet.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN: Do you understand?
MR. DONOVAN: I understand.
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN: Good.
BRUCE: And hey, try not to worry too much. I work in security at the institute. I’ll keep an eye on your daughter. Make sure she gets settled in.
[Ominous music fades out. Door shuts. Dog barks. Footsteps walking away.]
MR. DONOVAN: You heard all that?
MR. DONOVAN: Jenna, I’m so-
JENNA: We knew this was going to happen eventually.
MR. DONOVAN: We should have left when we had the chance. I just wanted-
JENNA: I know dad. Don’t… blame yourself, okay.
MR. DONOVAN: I’m going to be honest. If we try to run now, they will most likely catch us, and take you to the institute anyway. And then they’ll throw me in prison.
But it's your decision. If you want to try and make a break for it, I’ll be with you. We could try to reach your mother’s… old friends. In the mountains. Or see if the Order of Senkrit-
JENNA: I don’t think we’d get that far.
MR. DONOVAN: No. But maybe if we pretended we were going there to make an offering- to pray for your safe passage to the institute-
JENNA: Like Oswer’s ever cared about Ardovan gods.
MR. DONOVAN: Well, they let us keep them. That’s more than a lot of peoples can say.
JENNA: We fought for that.
MR. DONOVAN: And some day we’ll fight for more.
JENNA: I’m going. It’s the only way. Maybe I’ll learn something that can help in that fight.
MR. DONOVAN: I’m sorry.
JENNA: No, I’m sorry. This is all my fault. I let my magic-
MR. DONOVAN: Shhhh. It’s my fault. I never should have tried to hide you for this long. Not here, not where they could reach us. I just… wanted you to have a normal life. Wanted us to have a normal life. It was selfish.
JENNA: Dad, please.
MR. DONOVAN: It’s not going to be easy for you, keeping this secret. They have telepaths everywhere. Do you remember your memory block training?
JENNA: You only made me practice it every day since I was eight.
MR. DONOVAN: This is why, Jenna. [rummaging through a drawer] You’ll have to keep the blocks up all the time. It will take its toll. This will help.
JENNA: What is it? A necklace...?
MR. DONOVAN: A talisman. It was your mother’s. It protects a secret. One, specific secret, from telepaths.
JENNA: But what if they scan you?
MR. DONOVAN: I’ve been practicing partitioning longer than you’ve been alive, Jenna. Keep this on you and you’ll be safe. Just think about the secret you want to protect while you’re clasping it around your neck, and that should lock the magic in.
JENNA: What do I think about though? It’s… it’s my whole life, isn’t it?
MR. DONOVAN: I would start with your mother. I think everything else flows from her.
Actually, there’s something else of hers I should give you.
JENNA: A journal? A diary? But, I can’t read this. What language is this?
MR. DONOVAN: It’s not a language- I can’t read it either. It’s been enchanted.
JENNA: By mom?
MR. DONOVAN: By one of her friends more likely. This is photomancy, I think.
JENNA: How do I unenchant it?
MR. DONOVAN: I haven’t the faintest idea. But I suspect you’ll have an easier time of it on a campus full of mages than I will sitting at home.
MR. DONOVAN: Jenna, they read the student’s letters. Your mother always said… well, we should work out some codes. Simple ones. For things we don’t want them… catching on to.
JENNA: That’s smart.
[sad. contemplative music starts]
MR. DONOVAN: I’m sorry it has to be like this.
JENNA: It’s gonna be okay, Dad.
MR. DONOVAN: I’m the one who’s supposed to say that to you. [pause] Look, Jenna, you’ve always been… exceptional. And not just at magic.
MR. DONOVAN: Listen carefully to me Jenna. When you get to the institute, you must do everything you can to be unexceptional, all right? Standing out is how things get noticed.
JENNA: [trying to put on a brave face] You got it, dad. I’ll be boring and compliant.
MR. DONOVAN: I never said compliant. But don’t make any trouble you’re not sure you can get out of.
[Electromancy theme plays.]
NARRATION: Electromancy, created by Nathan Comstock. Episode 1- Electromancy 101
[Sound of a car pulling up, an engine hums in the background.]
JENNA: I think they’re here.
[Knock on the door. Door opens.]
BRUCE: Hello. You must be Jenna.
JENNA: Hi. And you are…?
BRUCE: Bruce. Bruce McCray, pleased to meet you. Are you ready to go?
JENNA: I just need one more minute.
BRUCE: Take your time. Can I get your luggage?
BRUCE: Just this?
JENNA: Just that.
BRUCE: You packed light.
JENNA: The institute provides a uniform right? And furnishings? What do I need?
BRUCE: Wasn’t a criticism. You’re right, we’ll provide everything you need. I’m gonna take this to the car if you want a moment to say goodbye to your father.
[Sounds of Bruce carrying the bag to the car. Short, sad melody begins.]
JENNA: (fighting back a tear.) Goodbye dad.
MR. DONOVAN: Goodbye. Good luck. It’s going to be alright.
JENNA: I hope so. I’ll write to you.
MR. DONOVAN: Yes. And I’ll see you in a few months.
[Melody ends. They hug. Mr. Donovan sobs a little.]
[Footsteps. Door shuts.]
BRUCE: Sure. Have a seat.
JENNA: Um.. Hi. I’m Jenna.
ANJI: Oh, sorry. My name is Anji,
JENNA: Nice to meet you. [beat.] You’re not the woman who was here yesterday.
ANJI: Oh no! She was just- well, we didn’t know what kind of man your father was. Best not to take chances. But once it was obvious you were both going to cooperate she went to attend to... other matters.
BRUCE: And good riddance to ‘er. Sonomancers wig me out. Well, most of ‘em anyway. Everyone buckled in?
[Engine revs, drives off.]
BRUCE: Anyone mind some music?
ANJI: Fine by me.
BRUCE: Jenna? You got a station you like?
[Some channel shifting. A country song in Ardovan starts playing.]
BRUCE: Not exactly my jam.
ANJI: Oh let the girl listen to what she wants. I’m sure she’s a bundle of nerves.
JENNA: I’m okay, actually. Um, I mean, any music is fine it’s just… you asked.
BRUCE: This is completely fine. Not like we’re going far anyway.
JENNA: How are we getting to the capital? Are we taking the train?
BRUCE: *snorts* Nothing so slow. We’ll be at the institute by lunchtime.
JENNA: That doesn’t make any sense. The capital is six hours away by train, and it would take us another two hours just to get to the station.
ANJI: We have a.. station… quite a bit closer than that.
JENNA: In the village? I’ve never heard of-
BRUCE: Outside the village. We’re almost there. Won’t take much time at all really.
[Music stops. Car stops. Door and trunk opening.]
JENNA: So we’re just pulling over in the middle of the woods?
ANJI: There are certain things we don’t like people like your father seeing.
JENNA: People like my father?
BRUCE: Normies. Mundanes. People without magic. Obviously they have to know something about us but that doesn’t mean we have to rub it in their faces all the time. Hang on, I have to make a call so they know where I left the car, then we can go.
JENNA: Go where? How? Why are we leaving the car?
BRUCE: Hey it’s me. Yeah it’s about two miles down the road just Northwest of the Donovan house. Ok great. Thanks. Bye. Alright, Anji, you ready?
ANJI: I think I can manage. Jenna, I take it you’ve never teleported before?
JENNA: Wait, what?
BRUCE: Nothing to it. Well for us, anyway. Anji’s gonna do all the work.
JENNA: Why are you drawing on the ground?
ANJI: Just for safety. As long as you stay inside the lines, you’ll stay in one piece. And that’s basically all you need to know. Ready?
JENNA: Uh… I guess.
[Whooshing sound, like air being slowly and then more suddenly sucked out of a room]
[We hear a lot of talking in the background as well as a lot of whooshing sounds.]
JENNA: *deep breath* Whoa.
ANJI: Welcome to teleportation hub three. Next stop - The Royal Institute for the Study of Sorcery. I’m afraid you’ll have a bit of a layover, though. I’m only a five- I can’t do four hundred miles in one go. Anyway, I have to go rest before my next trip. It was nice meeting you.
[beat. footsteps walking away.]
JENNA: Ok, so where are we?
BRUCE: Teleportation hub three.
JENNA: right, but where? And also mages can teleport? I thought that was only in old “Mage Ranger Zero” comics.
BRUCE: You’d be surprised how accurate those old comics can be. Well, in some ways. In other ways they’re trash. But, yeah, mages can do a lot of things we don’t like to advertise. Teleporters are pretty rare, though, and they can only go so far in one go, so -we have places like this. As for where we are, a few miles outside Lake City, if I remember correctly. But it doesn’t really matter since we’ll be leaving the same way we came in. As soon as our new blinker gets here.
BRUCE: Teleporter. Spatiomancer. Call them what you will.
JENNA: So they just ferry people from hub to hub all day?
BRUCE: Pretty much.
JENNA: Sounds like a boring life.
BRUCE: They’re doing their part for King and country. You will too someday. Plenty of work out there for a lightning mage.
JENNA: Is that what I am?
BRUCE: Well, officially who knows. But signs point to yes- you did electrocute that boy.
JENNA: He's not dead.
BRUCE: No, and that's fortunate. Lot less paperwork for us, for one.
JENNA: I wasn't trying to hurt him, I just-
BRUCE: Na, na, nah. ‘Course you weren't. It's no one’s fault. But when you get to the Institute you’ll learn control.
JENNA: What about you?
BRUCE: What about me?
JENNA: What’s your…
BRUCE: My aspect? I'm a faunamancer.
JENNA: So you do magic with animals?
BRUCE: Sure, when it comes to that. But I work school security. Not as exciting as you'd think.
BRUCE: How you feeling?
JENNA: Umm… fine I guess? All things considered.
BRUCE: It's normal to be nervous. I meant physically though, some people teleport better than others.
JENNA: Oh. Yeah I feel fine. Physically.
BRUCE: No nausea?
BRUCE: That’s good. Bodes well for your career anyway. Your service. Oh! Looks like this is our guy.
BLINKER: Hello. Ready to go?
[Birds chirping, children laughing and playing.]
BLINKER: Welcome to the Royal Institute for the Study of Sorcery. Your home for at least the next four years. I’m going to go take a nap, two hundred miles certainly takes it out of you.
[Sprightly music starts playing.]
ELLIE: Over here! Hey.
JENNA: Um.. hi.
ELLIE: Are you Jenna? My name is Ellie, lightning mage, class two. I’ve been asked to be your guide while we get you settled in. This way, please.
ELLIE: Give her a minute to catch her breath, will you? Sorry, my little brother has just been approved to teleport inanimate objects. He wanted me to ask you if he could get your trunk.
[Footsteps, followed by a teleportation whoosh.]
ELLIE: Hopefully he’ll meet us in the dorms - provided he’s not halfway across the continent by now.
BRUCE: Alright, well, if you’ve got it from here…
ELLIE: Yes, Bruce. Thanks for bringing her.
BRUCE: Bye, Jenna. Be seeing you.
[strange sound effect, followed by the flapping of wings]
JENNA: Did he just...?
ELLIE: Yeah, everyone likes to show off around here.
JENNA: I thought faunamancers could just *talk to* animals?
ELLIE: I wish. [beat, footsteps.] So anyway, we’re heading down to the lightning mage dorm. We’re a pretty friendly bunch. I think in no time people will have forgotten your powers sprouted so late. Ok, this way.
JENNA: Why is it freezing in here?
ICE MAGES: Hey Ellie. Sup Ellie? Hey. [with footsteps]
ELLIE: Yeah, you get used to that. Ice mages and fire mages tend to affect the temperature around them, which wouldn’t be a huge deal if they didn’t travel in packs.
JENNA: I think I’m going to have a lot to get used to.
ELLIE: Seriously. I’ve been here since I was nine and I’m still getting startled by things.
JENNA: Nine.. so you were a late bloomer too?
ELLIE: I don’t think so. Most people start showing between six and ten, so I’d say I’m pretty much on track.
JENNA: But some people do show earlier than that, right?
ELLIE: I guess. It’s super rare. And they usually end up crazy powerful. Why?
JENNA: Uh.. no reason. Hey, how big is this place anyway?
ELLIE: Sixteen floors, but the bottom ten are a lot larger than the top six. But this is just classrooms and stuff. Some of the student housing is dug into the mountain, and some is in three separate buildings connected by crosswalks on the ninth floor – that’s where we’re headed now. You’ll get a great view of the grounds from the crosswalk.
ELLIE: Okay, so right under the courtyard is the Pazik court. Pazik is pretty much all we do for entertainment around here – well, besides the dueling circle. Technically fall is Pazik season and dueling season is in the spring, but there’s… unofficial tournaments during the off season. That are a lot more laid back.
JENNA: I play Pazik!
ELLIE: You play mundane Pazik. Magical Pazik is.. well, you might still make the team next year!
[Sound of birds flying overhead. Short uplifting melody plays over next two lines.]
JENNA: Wow. you weren’t kidding about the view.
ELLIE: Never gets old. C’mon, the lightning mage dorm is just across the bridge.
ELLIE: Here we are.
[crackle of electricity, followed by mechanical creaking.]
JENNA: So until I can do that on command…
ELLIE: Oh, any amount of electricity will activate the door. So any lightning mage can get in, even a class 1. Okay, right this way, and through here, and.. viola!
Welcome home, roomie.
JENNA: Oh. We’re... roommates, then?
ELLIE: Yup! Isn’t it great? Suitemates, technically, we each have our own “room” but they’re tiny- pretty much just closets with beds. The third door is Pem, you’ll meet them soon. They’re in class right now, I got out today so I could come get you, plus I’m pretty far ahead… Anyway there’s uniforms for you in the closet, bathroom is down the hall, so take a minute to get changed and settle in and then we’re going to go find out how many stripes you’re getting.
ELLIE: Yeah, like these. See?
JENNA: And that will determine what class I’m in?
ELLIE: No. I mean, you go… you like went to school right? Everything for the normal classes like transfers over, your math and science and stuff. The stripes are just for magic.
JENNA: But I just found out I have magic. I haven’t learned any yet!
ELLIE: They’ve got a machine that can tell someone’s magic potential. How much you’ll be able to do. I’m a class two. See? Two stripes. That means there’s an amount of magic I can do, and no amount of training is going to improve that. There’d be no point in training me with the class sixes. I’d just be learning things I’d never be able to master.
JENNA: So once I have stripes…
ELLIE: They’re final. But it’s okay. We can still be useful. And there’s so much less pressure on us.
JENNA: Sorry if this is, um, not… Okay, I don’t know the etiquette around this so I’m just gonna say it. You’re talking about me like you know I’m not going to have very many of these stripes.
ELLIE: Sorry. I don’t know that. But usually the later someone shows their powers, the less powerful they end up being. It’s not 100% though. Anyway, better just to find out. Do you need to shower?
JENNA: I teleported here. Didn’t exactly break a sweat.
ELLIE: Change clothes and let me know when you’re ready and we will go see Professor Summner.
[Humming and whirring of machinery. Some beeps and clicks. Footsteps.]
LEONARD: Just a moment. Just a moment. Jenna is it? Have a seat, we’re nearly done. Just need to finish calibrating it. Actually, Ellie could you give me a hand?
ELLIE: Sure, professor. But aren’t you going to introduce yourself?
LEONARD: Oh, yes, right um. Sorry, I forget my manners sometimes. Dr. Leonard Sumner, I teach Thaumaturgy, Sonomancy, and a little bit of History here and there. And I run this infernal machine whenever they have need of it.
JENNA: Nice to meet you. I’m Jenna.
LEONARD: Yes, I heard. Transfer student. From Ardova, yes? Cold up there this time of year?
JENNA: Every time of year, really. Except a few weeks in the summer.
LEONARD: Well, you’ll like it here I think. Much nicer climate anyway. Ellie, will you help me out? I need to get a baseline. Give me the strongest jolt you’ve got.
ELLIE: Of course, professor.
[Sound of crackling electricity, followed by a wailing siren - a single low note rising in pitch and then falling. Then another.]
LEONARD: Two point three repeating - that sound about right?
ELLIE: Maybe, but- I don’t know, it felt like at least a 2.7.
LEONARD: Hmmm. Let me -[chanting] Vatticay Muticar Jellicee
[Siren wails again - four times.]
LEONARD: You’re right, the sensitivity is a little off. Jenna, do me a favor and twist that knob over there? That one, yes. Give it two good turns.
JENNA: Um, okay. [Sound of creaking knob.]
LEONARD: Alright Ellie. One more time if you’ve got it in you.
ELLIE: One more time.
[Electric crackle again. Siren goes for slightly longer.]
LEONARD: Two point Six-five. Close enough?
ELLIE: Yeah that seems about right.
LEONARD: Brilliant. Alright Jenna, your turn. Full blast, into the machine. Right here.
JENNA: I can’t do it on command. I’ve literally only done it that one time.
LEONARD: It’s alright, I’ll help you. Center yourself. Concentrate. Take a few deep breaths.
[Jenna taking deep breaths.]
LEONARD: Magic comes from the same place inside each of us. It’s only the form it takes that is different. Feel it all throughout your body. Think about it pulsing through you like blood. Focus on your heartbeat. Can you feel it?
JENNA: Not really? Maybe? I don’t…
LEONARD: Okay, I’m going to use Sonomancy on you, if that’s alright. It will put you into a kind of a trance, and it should help. Is that okay?
JENNA: So you’ll like, control me?
LEONARD: You’ll be able to break free easily if you feel at all uncomfortable. It’s just a way of helping you along so we can get you placed. Alright?
JENNA: Okay. Sure.
LEONARD: Alright. Here we go. [chanting again] Day-ooowa- ay Vaygo see nok. Day-ooowa- ay Vaygo see nok. Day-ooowa- ay Vaygo see nok. *in a gentle, soothing voice.* Now, unleash your full power into the machine.
[Extremely loud and long stream of electricity. The siren wails twelve times. Dialogue continues over it.]
ELLIE: Jenna! Are you okay?
LEONARD: Holy Lord of Summer.
BRUCE: What’s going on? Why is it wailing like that? Is she okay?
ELLIE: She’s breathing. She’s - she’s opening her eyes.
BRUCE: Leonard, what the hell is going on?
LEONARD: Everything is fine. The machine… overloaded.
ELLIE: What do you mean, overloaded?
LEONARD: I mean, the machine can rate any magical outburst up to a twel- [he stops mid word.]
JENNA: Whoah. What happened? I think I blacked out for a moment.
BRUCE: What were you going to say, Leonard?
LEONARD: You know, I think I’d better talk to the Dean before I report my findings. Why don’t you two take Jenna to the healers while I check in with him.
LEONARD: I promise I’ll have her results soon. It’s just with something so… unusual it's best to be certain before we go spreading it around. I’ll… be in touch.
BRUCE: Alright Ellie, you heard the man. No blabbing about this till we get an okay from the Dean. I’m going to take Jenna to the healers. You should… get back to class.
ELLIE: Can’t I come with you?
BRUCE: Not the way we’re going, kid.
[Shapeshifting noise. Flapping of wings and bird-of-prey screeching.]
ELLIE: Guess I’ll go to class then. Almost over anyway.
[Ellie's theme plays again, this time with a flute melody over it.]
Electromancy is written, produced and directed by Nathan Comstock. This episode was sound designed by Olanrewaju Odatayu with music by Thomas Dwyer. It starred Azul Nova as Jenna, Austin Hendricks as Ellie, Joe Kearney as Bruce, Zachary Robb as Dr. Leonard Sumner, Gareth Bowley as Mr. Donovan, Ivuoma Hall as the Mysterious Woman, Nerys Howell as Anji, and Anthony Morales as the old teleporter. The Ardovan folk song was written by Thomas Dwyer with lyrics by Nathan Comstock and performed by Nathan Comstock. You can find out more about us at www.electromancypod.com. We’ll be back with another episode in 2 weeks.