The doors swung open, much quicker than the wizards had intended, and slammed into the walls. The twins looked at each other with surprise and awe … surprise that the giant stone doors were almost weightless and awe at the sight and sounds before them. They have studied magic for years, traveled all over to gain different insight, but never had they seen the splendor of the domed water arena. The sound of the doors echoed back at them multiple times as the sound bounced around the open room, the 100 yard circular pool doing nothing to lessen it. As they stepped forward to the water and looked down to see the underwater coliseum style stadium, their instructor hissed at the echos, twisted his wrist in a quick spell that stopped them, then spoke to his assistant “Please make another reminder for the custodial guild to please put doorstoppers at all four entrances.”
The pool is exactly 100 yards across, perfectly circular, with 10 feet of pebblestone surrounding it. The walls are all smooth plaster, water proof, with murals painted all the way around that depict the various magical lessons that are taught there. The building is domed, initially 10 feet high at the outer edge (the four doors are aligned with the compass and are all 8 feet tall), the dome rises to 50 yards above the water in the center.
The dome above, a honeycomb of tinted glass, sparkled in the afternoon sun and provided more than ample light to see the entire arena below. Tarlaya started to kick off her shoes while her brother Lartus began to take off his cloak. They had both set down their gear on the ground to undress and The Crimson Evoker (aka Rewton Redcloak), having dismissed his assitant, walked over and simply pushed them both into the water while they were off balance. They both cried out in surprise, and then as they surfaced, it became panic. They flailed around for nearly 30 seconds, neither knowing how to swim, before Rewton said simply “Stand up.”
In naming Rewton Redcloak as “The Crimson Evoker” I have just decided that it is canon for all graduates of the Caldera Magical Academy to be given a moniker by the faculty … and yes, I love Full Metal Alchemist.
Embarrased, the twins stood in the knee deep shallows of the pool, then stepped out and awkwardly stood there for a bit before Lartus asked “Does this mean the session has started?” Rewton kept his stern look for an entire minute, he had to count it out because he wanted to laugh so hard, before he finally broke down and said “Yes, of course.” before smiling and continuing “To be honest, I wanted to kick your gear in but I wasn’t sure if I could keep it all dry and didn’t know what you might have in there!” he finished with a laugh. Relieved, the twins waved their hands over themselves to magic away the water which, once it all landed on the ground, it flowed gently through the pebblestones to the water. As they dried themselves, Rewton magically floated their gear away from the water and against a wall, where a locker rose up from the floor and opened to accept the gear before then closing and receding out of sight.
The floors are pebblestone for two reasons, and if you grew up with a pool you just might know why. The water can easily run through the cracks/grooves back to the water without creating puddles, which means that you can walk on it easily without fear of slipping on a wet surface or a puddle. I also originally was thinking about lockers and seating and tables around, but this place is primarily for training in the water, so I figured it would be a waste. And when you get into the physics of moisture in a room like this, a sun lit dome as well, non magical materials become a hassle, so I devised the force locker pocket spaces as a solution.
“Ok, I knew that water was a weak spot for you, but I didn’t realize it went so far as an inability to swim. When you approached via flight, it didn’t even occur to me that you couldn’t swim! Anyway, my schedule is full and I don’t want to dilute our training with swim lessons, but I will reach out to Swell, the Aqua Warlock, to see if she can fit you in this week.” Rewton turns toward the door as it opens, seeing his assistant lead a custodian into the building. “Zap!” he calls to his assistant, “These two need to get in Swell’s next class.” he finishes, and then waves his assistant off on this latest task. He turns back to his twin pupils “Ok, I know you are experienced wizards, but I am not making any assumptions about your background, training, or knowledge. We start from basics, and we start out of the water casting in.” he walks up to stand between the two of them. He then lifts a leg twists his body a little, arm behind him, then steps forward, flinging a flat rock he didn’t have a moment before, skipping it across the water. “Let’s start with telekinetic projectile, and how solid objects interact with the water’s surface.”
Hey, I made it a point that guilds are everywhere, right? While Swell is a low level azarketi witch, who really just enjoys the teaching experience (both magic and swimming/diving), how scary would it be to be told you were taking swim lessons from “The Aqua Warlock”!?
They had paid Rewton for 10 lessons, over 5 weeks, not realizing how intense the course would be. They had heard of the water arena, it was why they came, but they just hadn’t processed what the training would be like. Tarlaya had envisioned something like an outfit made of bubbles so that she would move and breath without getting wet while Lartus just hadn’t given it much thought. After their first lesson was simply skipping rocks on the water and throwing spears into the water, they joked (in their room at night) that they could have paid less for a fisherman to teach them. To ensure they didn’t waste any more time out of the water, they took their swim lessons seriously. They spent the next 3 mornings in a shallow pool under the tutelage of Swell, with a bunch of children, learning to float, then dog paddle, and finally swim. They spent their evenings experiencing life in the city.
I mean, seriously, you fly to this amazing city to learn magical water combat and you aren’t going to take in the sights between lessons?
They step up to the water for their second lesson. Tarlaya asks “Are we changing into our swimwear today?” to which the Crimson Evoker laughs “Oh … no. Ha! You need to be able to swim and fight and cast in your most awkward clothing. Surely you don’t expect to be traveling the world in a swimsuit!” he hops into the shallows, purposely splashing them both. “Get in.” he says as he walks a couple of feet and then steps down, so that the water is up to his waste. “Today, is much like last week.” he pauses as the twins look at each other confused. “You need to be able to perform simple evocations and conjurations, maintain them, and walk and attack … all with the weight the water that is soaking into your clothes and dragging at your feet, knees, waist, and arms as you move about …”
We gloss over underwater combat in our games with simple “take this feat” rules, but actually being able to move your body to do simple things under water can be scary hard if you have not practiced and trained for it. And swimming (mostly) naked is a far cry from swimming clothed.
They did not go out that night. They were exhausted by the added strain that moving through water caused, let alone what it did to their spellcasting ability. Again, not wanting to waste their time and money on this trip and this training, they spent the next couple mornings swimming with Swell, but these days they practiced casting while doing so. Rewton was happy to see that they were actually putting in the effort and impressed with how quickly they mastered the third lesson, which was neck deep water and simple swimming while performing the same simple casting tricks. For their fourth lesson, he started off by saying “Today is a dry day, at least to start.” as he summoned a force locker and retrieved a series of wands from it. “This one here”, he holds a wand with a zigzag pattern out to Tarlaya, “will allow you to summon bolts of lightning, while this one here,” he hands a charred wand with a fire motif on it to Lartus “will let you summon balls of fire.”
Tune in next time as we find out how the Crimson Evoker intends to teach our twin adventuring wizards all about lightning bolts and fireballs … IN WATER!
Thank you for following along! Please join us at our Discord server https://discord.gg/Rt79BAj to let me know what you think or to simply have a chat!