Young Bartholomew has been a student of magic - a mystic - for some time, but never in all his years of study did he anticipate a journey like the one that he is about to embark upon. In this inversion of classic world transportation stories the protagonist arrives at earth from another world where magic is the norm, and technology a byproduct.
Bartholomew was late for class. That was bad enough on a regular day, but today… Today it was catastrophic. Professor Millweed was lecturing today, and her punishments were a matter of legend. Students had been known to leave her office in stretchers after such offenses.
At least he was well versed on the topic. That had to count for something.
Professor Millweed would be discussing the core theories for tier three runic magic. Bartholomew was competent up to tier five, and working towards six. The tiers represented the increase in difficulty of runic magic as relating to the number of runes being used in a given sequence. The tiers ran from one to thirteen. There were records of some going beyond that, but they were unreliable.
Millweed was one of those rumored to have gone beyond thirteen. An accomplishment of that stature was the sort of thing that a professor published. It would have skyrocketed her career. If it had been true. She was a true master, but not an anomaly.
Many schools of magic were taught at the Academy of Mystics. Bartholomew was proficient in three, and actively pursuing two more. He was an unusual student. Most were keen to stick with one or two fields of magic, and maybe spend a little time in one of the sub-schools. Very few students went to the lengths that he did.
He arrived to the lecture room red in the face, gulping for air. Glancing at the clock, but already knowing what it would tell him. It was a fascinating design; a floating bubble of water filled with a rigid line of miniature fish that served as the clock hands. And those fish were telling him that he had missed the window. Not only was he late, but he was late enough to be refused admittance.
“Mister Bartholomew. Kindly do not interrupt my class. Go to my office, and wait upon my convenience. Spend that time reflecting on how you might have avoided this, and don’t touch anything.”
This was delivered with such a venomous tone that Bartholomew suspected her mother of being a scorpion. Feeling angry, and ashamed, he forced himself to relax the fist clenching his bag. He didn’t like it, but he didn’t see that he had much choice. If he wanted to stay at the school, and continue practicing magic then he had to do as she said.
“Of course, professor. My apologies.”
A long, boring walk later he was in her office sitting in the most uncomfortable chair that he’d ever encountered. It was the only one besides the professor’s, and discomfort was better than whatever protections she might have woven into it. At least he had his books with him.
Bartholomew was reading one on runic enchantment, hoping to score a more favorable impression with professor. If she would show up. There was no clock in here, but it felt like hours had gone by; much longer than the lecture should have lasted. She wouldn’t just leave him up here, and not come up after the lecture. Would she?
He had work to do, and besides; he was bored out of his mind. What was that globe on her desk? A map, clearly, but not of their planet; the shape was right, but that was about it. Bartholomew edged closer, eyeing the engraved landmasses, and associated notations.
“…America.” Wasn’t that the name of Millweed’s daughter? Bartholomew couldn’t recall. He’d never met her, and likely never would.
Engrossed in the object he forgot himself, and reached out – touching the unfamiliar cartography as he spoke. Pain seared through his fingertips. Panic set in. Bartholomew tried to yank his hand back, but couldn’t – the globe was pulling him in. He fought it with all his strength, but it was a losing battle. In moments Bartholomew was gone, and the globe sat upon professor Millweed’s desk, spinning.