Captain Favion Mageson never thought he’d see a group of wizards training for battle, much less that he’d be commanding them. He didn’t want the job, but since it had been forced upon him, he was going to see that these men and women could keep up with the soldiers. They of course resented him for it.
He watched them work. Some of them ran laps. Some of them trained with the sword. Still others were away at the firing range. Their hearts weren’t into it, but he hadn’t expected dedication. There was one man in particular who was working hard on doing as little as possible. This man would make a fine example.
Favion walked over to the patch of sand where the sword master was trying to instruct the slacking wizard. As he moved, he made a “come here” motion to Captain Jethrey, the wizard who had been appointed Favion’s second in command. Her help was necessary when dealing with these wizards. They didn’t respect Favion’s authority unless she backed it up. He sometimes told himself that it was because their combined front was more intimidating than Favion’s command alone. He knew better though. He knew it was because they would only accept the command of another wizard.
“Is there a problem here, soldier?” Favion asked.
The wizard didn’t answer. Instead, he swung his sword half-heartedly, pretending he was focused on his training.
Favion glanced at Captain Jethrey, who nodded and grabbed the man’s arm.
“Acolyte Rekler!” she barked. “Did you hear Captain Mageson?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize he was talking to me,” Rekler claimed. “I’m not a soldier.”
“What do you mean, ‘not a soldier’?” Favion asked. “If you’re under my command, you’re a soldier.”
“I’m in the Wizard’s Guild, not the army. We work together, but I’m not under your command,” Rekler said, throwing his practice sword to the ground.
Favion blew his whistle, giving the signal for everyone in the company to assemble. The wizards all jogged over, but Favion put a hand up to prevent Rekler from joining them.
“Acolyte Rekler has a concern,” Favion announced. “I think some of you share this concern, so I will address it now and save myself the trouble of repeating myself.”
Favion paused to look each of the wizards in the eye.
“You may not have signed up for the army, but you’re in it now. I am your commanding officer. I will give you whatever orders I see fit and you will obey them as if you were any other soldier in the army. Is that clear?”
Most of the wizards gave the obligatory “Yes, sir,” but Rekler was noticeably silent.
“You still have questions, Acolyte?” Favion asked.
Rekler chewed on his lip warily.
“If you don’t object now, you will have no grounds to complain later,” Jethrey advised.
“I’m here to kill pincerlings just like everyone else,” Rekler said. “I just don’t see the point of pretending to be soldiers. I’m a wizard. Why am I wasting my time learning to use guns and swords? Those are for the soldiers. My job is use my magic to rescue them once they’ve failed.”
Favion shook his head. Why were all wizards such idiots? They thought they were so special just because they could tap into the physics of another universe.
“You paid attention during your initiation to the Wizard’s Guild, right?”
The gathered wizards reacted in a variety of ways to that question. Some were shocked, others angry, still others seemed to wilt at the memory. It was a sore point for most wizards. After a year and a half of training and testing to prove that they are stable, trustworthy, and able to keep a secret, they are finally initiated in a private ceremony in which they learn the Guild’s greatest secret: the more magic they use, the more likely they are to transform into the creatures they fought.
“Yes. I know your secret,” Favion told them. “And I know that the Wizard’s Guild teaches you not to use your magic unless it is absolutely necessary.”
“But, why be wizards if we’re not going to use magic?” Rekler argued. “We’ll just be giving up our greatest advantage.”
“Magic should be a last resort,” Jethrey reminded him. “We should not use it recklessly.”
Rekler didn’t appear convinced. Favion hadn’t expected this to be so easy.
“Let’s think this through,” Favion said. “What do you do when you see green pincerlings?”
“I step back and let the soldiers handle it,” Rekler said.
“They’re weak. They can be killed with bullets.”
“What if you’re alone? What if there is no one with a gun to kill them for you?”
“I guess I’ll have to use my magic.”
“Don’t you see how short-sighted that is?” Favion shouted. “If you carry a gun, you can kill them and not waste your magic. Does that not seem preferable to transforming into a monster?”
“Sure,” Rekler admitted.
“In order to do that, you need to know how to use a gun. That’s why we’re training here.”
“OK, fine. I see how it would be a good idea to use guns, but why are we training with swords?”
“What do you do when you see yellow or dark blue pincerlings?” Favion asked.
“I let the soldiers kill what they can. When they get overwhelmed, I use lightning or a fireball.”
“How long does it take to get one of those spells off?”
“I can do it just like…”
Rekler raised his hand as if he were about to snap his fingers. Jethrey slapped his hand and glared at him. Idiot wizards act like they want to be pincerlings.
“I can do it pretty quickly,” Rekler said, embarrassed.
“How much better would it be if you could support the soldiers and kill more pincerlings before you resort to magic. In not asking you to use the heavy weapons like the hammers or maces. We’ll still let the soldiers crack the armor. You just need to get your blade between armor plates. You don’t have to be the best swordsmen, especially not against the blues. They’re so slow. This way, you won’t need to use as much magic, and the soldiers will hate you less.”
“What do you mean by that?” Captain Jethrey asked.
“You think soldiers enjoy fighting for their lives while you sit back and wait to use your magic?”
Jethrey looked thoughtful, but didn’t comment.
“What about sky blue?” Rekler interrupted. “What is your non-magical solution to them?”
“Anti-tank missiles,” Favion said.
“And the pink ones?”
“Use your magic. I hate to say it, but the pink ones are best handled with magic. I’ve heard of people getting lucky shots as they materialize, but they stay solid for too short a time before they disappear and jump somewhere else. There are usually too many people around so trying to hit them while they bounce around is dangerous.” Favion shook his head. “I hate magic, but even I won’t complain if you use it against the pinks.”
Favion looked at Rekler and gestured for him to rejoin his fellow wizards in formation.
“Everything I am training you has one purpose – to save lives. Even if you don’t think about the soldiers who you will help, think about your own lifespans. My dad and brother were wizards. They used to always spout the Guild’s rhetoric. I used to roll my eyes, but even they overextended themselves eventually. When they changed, I had to kill them. That’s why I’m training you on this stuff. I’m just trying to postpone the day when I have to kill each of you.”
On that cheery note, Favion dismissed them to continue their training.