chapter 2

let the magic begin.

Pope & Bear Magical Academy sat in the ancient town of Dollop, which was located at the borders of both the human and Faerie realms, just a hand-span away from Avalon and a leisurely walk from Tír na nÓg. It was so close to Faerie that, as Mathylda mentioned as she spiralled into the town, the more tolerant Faerie Folk sometimes came to trade goods.

Mathylda alighted before the Academy with a whoosh of great wings, setting the longship gently to the ground. Then, seemingly oblivious to the activity around her, she tucked her head under one wing, wrapped her tail around the other and fell asleep, perched like some sort of giant flying dinosaur vulture.

As the children filed from the longship, passing apprehensively under the shadow of the resting dragon, they found themselves staring first at the grounds then up at the Academy itself.

Kate had never seen a stranger building.

The first thing that caught Kate’s eye was the large sign, at least two metres wide and made of a dull grey granite on which, in embossed letters, was written "Pope & Bear Magical Academy", and over which someone had neatly stencilled “Jasper’s” in bright red paint. It made her smile and wonder what Mrs Jasper must be like.

Looking past the sign, the nearest facade resembled an ancient Roman temple, with four stout pillars that seemed to bend beneath the massive triangle of its roof.

And yet the architecture didn’t stop with the Romans. It exploded left and right into crenelated walls, towers, windows, and buttresses from several other ages, as if the architects couldn’t make up their minds and decided to throw in whatever they thought would work. And they didn’t seem to be done, as more work was apparently underway somewhere in the back of the building.

All the kids stood and stared, just taking it in.

"In five years", Kate thought, “if I don’t get expelled for being half Fae, I’ll become a fully-fledged witch here”.

As she looked about, other children were arriving from everywhere. It was a spectacle of mundane magic: they zoomed in on brooms, appeared in puffs of brightly coloured smoke, stepped off small flying contraptions, emerged from clouds, walked out of walls, landed astride hippogryphs and pegasi. Others came in on magic carpets, in magic wardrobes, magic crock pots and a host of other kitchen appliances.

Some had clearly been attending here for a while, but there were others like her that were magical newbies — or mewbies, as Mathylda derisively called them. Kate realized that one day all this would seem normal, but right now it was simply the most astonishing day of her life!

Kate nearly jumped out of her skin when a commanding female voice boomed out, seeming to come from the very walls of the building.

"Alright, alright, move along, no gawking. You’ve all seen buildings before. Intake 1784C please enter, you’ll be escorted to your classroom."

Kate had no idea who was talking, or to whom, and she found herself looking at the wall as she pointed to herself, mouthing "Me?"

"Yes, of course you, the dopey-looking lot, next to the overgrown chickensaurus. I swear they get stupider each year. How is that possible? Surely there’s a point below which you can’t sustain intelligent life or even breathe, but they keep managing it… A marvel of evolution. Move, you lot!"

"You’d better go in," said Mathylda opening an enormous eye, “Mrs Jasper’s always cranky on intake day. No, actually, she’s always cranky.”

"I heard that," replied the wall curtly.

The huge double doors opened before them and the children crowded into the Academy. As Kate strolled into the cavernous main hall, she looked up and saw something that made her catch her breath. An enormous blazing chandelier hung from the domed ceiling high above, but not one fixed with baubles or glass. It was a swirling mass of stars, an entire galaxy in miniature. The tiny lights were like drops of sunlight held up by connected threads of gold.

As she stared up, the lights started separating and zooming off in every direction. One of them swiftly grew bigger and she realised it was coming straight towards her.

For the briefest moment she thought it was going to run straight into her nose and she started to flinch, but then it stopped not more than 30cm in front of her, tinkling and jingling with a lovely bell sound before darting down a passageway to one side. She wasn’t sure what it said, but clearly it wanted her to follow it, so with a laugh and a skip, she did (NOTE: Experiment 1: Floating tinsel orb experiment (you can find it at the end of the chapter.)).

Experiment 1: Floating tinsel orb experiment

(click on the link, there are magical experiments for you to do at the end of most chapters)

She hurried through strange halls in pursuit of the small glowing spark, which seemed to sing to her alone, in a lilting, celestial melody. Other mewbies were escorted by similar wisps, leading them down galleries covered in tapestries, floored with ancient stones worn smooth by the passage of thousands of children’s feet.

They turned into corridors large and small, took numerous stairways and even a long curved ramp lit by what looked like a stream of glowing silver that cascaded down the centre of the spiral. Kate made her way through this maze in somewhat of a trance, and was soon completely lost.

Occasionally she caught snippets of Mrs Jasper’s commands, seeming to emanate from walls all throughout the building. "Brats, bringles and bogninnies" was bellowed and later, “order is the column of strength supporting integrity…” then it was lost.

Finally she found herself inside a cavernous classroom which she immediately recognised as being devoted to the study of potions (on account of the large sign saying "Potions" just to the right of the arched door).

As she entered the room, her little wisp guide floated lazily to the ceiling, and as more students arrived with their own guides, the room became brighter and brighter.

She gazed around at benches and tables littered with pots, pans, books, beakers, and bottles. It was exactly what she imagined a potions room at Jasper’s would look like. Everything was worn and well-used, and there was an odour of magic and must.

The classroom was arranged in a three quarter circle around a slightly raised central stage about four metres across, in the centre of which was a large crystal cauldron supported in a black metal frame, sitting over an unlit bed of firewood. The cauldron was filled with a deep green-brown liquid. "Sludge", thought Kate, “I love sludge.”

Her glance lifted to a carving over the door of a dark scene in which a sick or dying man was fed something from a bottle by a strange being radiant with light. She was transfixed because as she moved slightly, the scene moved too. A lot like a hologram, but clearer and done in stone.

She stood like this swaying left then right, until her rather goofy trance was suddenly broken when someone collided with her as they came through the door.

"Oops, oh gosh — sorry."

Kate stumbled backwards, and so saw her assailant from the feet up. The girl wore bright red sparkly shoes, with white socks pulled up tight and fixed at the top with matching red ribbons just below her perfect knees. Above swung a red and white tightly-pleated skirt, cinched tight with a wide black belt studded with rubies (surely fake, but still). Her shirt was crisp white, lace-trimmed, with puffy sleeves and fine silver bells worked into the cuffs that jingled as she moved. A choker of black lace circled her neck, on which was suspended a larger silver bell like those on the cuffs.

Finally Kate’s gaze arrived at the head of this magnificent, if somewhat unlikely creation. She found a short girl with frizzy blonde hair and mismatched eyes that were comically wide with surprise. "Goodness gracious, I’m ever so sorry." she exclaimed. “Isn’t it amazing, I can’t stop staring at the will o’ the wisps. They’re wonderful.”

Kate noticed that she spoke with the typically posh accent of the Northern border towns.

"That’s alright," Kate replied. “Are we in the same class?”

The girl goggled at her. "Maybe, I really don’t know. What class are we supposed to be taking now?" She giggled. “I tend to get a little lost sometimes. My name’s Gilda, by the way.”

Before Kate could reply, a smooth, amused voice behind her said, "You’re supposed to be taking potions with us now, Gilda. You really should pay attention to your schedule, it’s why they handed it out to us. You don’t want people to think you’re stupid & Fae brained, do you?"

Kate turned to see a nattily-dressed boy, with perfectly combed dark hair and an arrowhead nose. His accent placed him from the same region as Gilda.

"Thank you, Nathan," Gilda said, in a playfully scornful way. “Who really has time to remember all these things? Good to see you again, I suppose.”

Nathan nodded to Kate. "Nathan Jackson. Nice to meet you."

Nathan’s remark about Fae was unexpected and rattled her, so she simply replied, "Yeah, Kate."

"Gilda and I are from the same neighbourhood. She’s from the famous Pickwick Clan of the far North."

"It’s a really small clan," Gilda added. “Mostly known for reforesting the New Amazonian and such. Nathan’s family is much larger and far more important, isn’t that right, Nathan?”

The boy shrugged. "We do well by ourselves when it comes to artefact trading. I’m still keen on getting a scholarship though." He turned to Kate. “So Kate, tell me about your family. Where do you come from?”

Kate was not about to say her mother was a Fae refugee, and she suddenly wished she’d thought of a story to tell about her family. "We’re from out East," she said. “My dad’s a teacher, and my mum’s a…a trapeze artist. Yeah.”

Gilda clasped her hands. "Oh, a performer. I love the circus. You take us to see her next show."

"Uh, sure. She’s really in her element while in the air."

"That’s very interesting," said Nathan, although Kate thought he wasn’t interested at all. “Potions is my thing, you should sit near me. I’ll try to help you to keep up. Anyone know what our teacher is like?”

A few of the other students shook their heads as they started to take their seats.

Suddenly all the candles flickered as a light wind blew through the room. At the centre of the class, the fireplace under the cauldron burst into flames, and the gooey contents within quickly started to boil.

Everyone gasped as the green ooze started to rise from within the cauldron.

"Revolting," muttered Nathan as he stood to see more clearly.

Thinking that it wasn’t the goo which was revolting, Kate couldn’t resist - she quickly placed a small red dot of paper on Nathan’s seat.

"Now we’ll see who’s stupid," she thought.

The giant green goo monster rose higher and higher until suddenly, with a loud and peculiar-sounding squawk, it froze solid and toppled out of the pot and smashed on the floor.

"Oh, drat," said a flustered-looking witch who appeared amidst the shattered ectoplasmic ooze. “Must do better. Someone help me out of this mess.” she said, in a slightly annoyed tone. Kate and Gilda both rushed forward to help their teacher to her feet.

"Drat and blast, if I didn’t put too much sticky dragon snot into the pot. Quick, you," she said, pointing to Kate, “what does dragon snot do in a potion?”

"It’s a binding agent for the inimicables, Ma’am. Some things like elbow wart and rhino toe mildew just won’t mix, and dragon snot holds them all together."

"Well, very good my dear, and thank you." She adjusted her hat and her half-moon spectacles, then peered around at the class. She wore a feathered cloak and an old bent wizard’s hat that bore elements from the periodic table.

"Hello, children, sit, sit." she ordered. “You may call me Professor Fluttersquawk.” The chalkboard behind her wrote her name for emphasis, though it forgot to cross the t’s so it was spelled “Flullersquawk.”

The professor cleared her throat. "Fluttersquawk. Mind the t’s, if you please." The chalk drew a line and came up with “Ftullersquawk.” Frowning, the professor corrected it herself.

"Right. Students, this is first year potions. There won’t be any dragon snot needed in these classes. First you need to master the simple potions that you can make from things in your own home, and then in second year, well, then things get interesting. So let’s begin.

"First off we’re going to do a little voodoo. Ha, yes voodoo." She looked down her long nose at the class, “Nothing nasty like zombies or anything. No, we’re going to make a volcano erupt. Ha, on your first day and all.

"Each year, Sohos volcano has the most splendid eruptions — the old girl is like clockwork. But this year, it’s a bit stuck. We think the poor dear has come down with a cold. Fancy that.

"So, now, we’re going to help her a little. First we create a simulacrum. Does anyone know what a simulacrum is?"

The chalkboard helpfully wrote ‘simutacrum’. Annoyed, Fluttersquawk corrected the word and, pointing to a cup of chalk by the blackboard, said, "For goodness’ sake, stay there until you learn to spell."

"Professor, a simulacrum is a man-made miniature, a model that can be used to affect the thing it looks like," said Nathan, looking quite smug.

"That’s right, very well said, so we shall build some little volcanoes. We shall bind them, or twin them with Sohos, and then make our model volcanoes erupt. If we all do it right, it should be just the slap on the back she needs. Now, let’s get to it.

"Who can follow these steps and get their volcano to erupt first?" Kate jumped up quickly to get the materials she needed, and to move away from Nathan.

Moments later Nathan started to wiggle on his seat, and within ten seconds he was jumping up and down scratching furiously at his bottom while the other kids stared in amazement.

"Mr Jackson, is this a new form of dance?" asked the professor quizzically.

"My bum miss, aaargh!" and with that he flew from the classroom while the kids erupted with laughter.

"Little racist snot," Kate thought with satisfaction. “Let the battle begin…”

Experiment 2 : Soho’s simulacrum

As the class finished their model volcanoes, Professor Fluttersquawk bobbed on her heels in glee. "Goodness!" she cried, “You’ve got it just right, and as you can see Sohos volcano is starting to erupt even as we speak.”

Fluttersquawk scuttled to one side of the class and pulled on an old, large, mechanical looking switch at the base of two long poles. Instantly rings of electricity started climbing the long poles to the roof where they disappeared with a slight pop and crackle. Next she waved her hands in a rather odd way, and suddenly in the centre of the room the children could see Sohos like they were looking down on it from high in a hot air balloon. Kate was sure she could actually feel the hot wind rising from the fuming volcano.

As they watched, lava started shooting hundreds of metres up into the sky, in tall, beautiful plumes of fiery heat.

"Egads, that’s building up strongly. I hope we didn’t overdo it."

And at that very moment Sohos blew out her year’s supply of lava in one huge volcanic sneeze.

Fluttersquawk nearly jumped out of her skin, and then stood staring at the dramatic eruption as if frozen. Without thinking, Kate shouted, "Stop the simulacrums, everyone!"

"Yes, yes, let’s do that now." agreed Fluttersquawk, pulling herself together.

Everyone in the class leapt into action and ran around splatting all the small volcanoes in the room, smashing them with their hands. Pandemonium ensued, with children, walls, and floor soon covered in flour and chocolate. Foam flew to the sound of wild laughter, but soon enough Sohos calmed down and the eruption proceeded in a more stately fashion, for a volcano, anyway…

"Awesome." thought Kate, but her glee faded as she looked about. The classroom was destroyed — and ugh, the state of her hair.

Fluttersquawk looked around the room with a huge smile, "Oh, that was so much fun. But now, it’s time to clean up." She waved her hands and spoke in a deep and resonant voice, “Lavendos levitos.

Electricity from the strange poles in the centre of the class arched towards each other in buzzing, beautiful torrents. Then things in the room started to rattle, bump and vibrate. All the kids’ hair rose as static electricity filled the room. Then with a pop, all the equipment jumped up and started to put itself away.

Chairs righted, desks lined up in orderly rows, and platters and beakers shook themselves until all traces of liquid and flour were gone, then shot across the room to their places in the cabinets along the classroom walls.

Best of all, their clothes washed themselves clean. It was the most amazing thing. The cloth filled with water (but didn’t drip), bubbles formed, flour and chocolate floated away, and then the clothes actually shook themselves dry. It was hilarious. Two minutes later they were clean, dry and ready for the next class.

Fluttersquawk put her hand on Kate’s shoulder and very sincerely said, "Thank you, my dear." She was so relieved that, as a special prize, she flew Kate out of school that day on her very own personal cloud.

Kate thought that her first day at Jasper’s couldn’t have been better...

< -~- >

Experiment 1   floating orb

will o wisps

Will o wisps generate high levels of willo power, that’s how they glow and float.

We can’t generate willo power, but we can do the next best thing.

Let’s make a floating tinsel orb. These use static electricity to make a ball of tinsel float in the air, much the same way as Will o wisps do.

You need

What to do

You can read all this, but if that seems like a drag, go to the Popebear website when you can watch this video.

Notice — it takes him a while to find something that produces enough static.

Here’s the written instructions:

(from the amazing wizard, Science Bob.)

Arrange 6 strands of mylar together and tie them together in a knot at one end.

Tie them together again about 6 inches or 15 cm from the first knot.

Cut the loose mylar strands off just past each knot.

Charge the PVC pipe by rubbing it back and forth through your hair for 10 seconds, but that may not work, you can try wool blankets, silk scarves. See what works for you.

Hold the mylar orb (by the knot) above the charged pipe and let it drop and touch the pipe.

It should repel away and start floating. If the tinsel keeps sticking to the pipe, the tinsel is probably not thin enough and you will need to try another kind of tinsel. (You will usually have to "recharge" the pipe before each levitation.)

How does it work?

It is all about static charges. Similar static charges repel away from each other. When you rub the pipe in your hair you give the pipe a negative static charge. The orb is attracted to the pipe at first because the orb has a positive charge. As soon as the orb touches the pipe, it picks up a negative charge.

Since the pipe is negative and the tinsel orb is now negative, they repel away from each other and the orb levitates.

The orb will also take on more of a "ball" appearance when charged since all the tinsel strands are repelling away from each other.

Did you notice the orb is attracted to other objects around you — including you? That is because most objects (including you) have a positive charge.

LET’S MAKE IT AN EXPERIMENT

The project above is a DEMONSTRATION, it shows something, however an experiment answers something. To make it a true experiment, you can try to answer these questions:

Experiment 2  Sohos volcano simulacrum

volcano

Modern magicians call spells "constructs". This is partly to do with the fact that human magic generally requires apparatus (equipment) to work. The apparatus helps to channel the power of the wizard.

We’re going to make a volcano simulacrum:

First make the ‘cone’ of the volcano.

Mix 6 cups flour, 2 cups salt, 4 tablespoons cooking oil, and 2 cups of water. The resulting mixture should be smooth and firm (add more water if it’s too stiff). If you like sprinkle it with cocoa to give it a nice brown color. Alternatively you can add a little red and blue food color to the flour for a similar result. You can even drizzle the sides with sauce. Be creative, but please, ask your parent for permission before making too much mess.

Stand a bottle (any sort, but not too big and with a smallish opening at the top) in a large baking pan and mould the dough around it into a volcano shape. Don’t cover the hole of the bottle and try not to drop dough inside it.

Three-quarters fill the bottle with warm water and add a bit of red food color (this can be done before sculpting if you don’t take so long that the water gets cold).

Add 6 drops of detergent to the bottle contents. The detergent helps trap the bubbles produced by the reaction so you get better lava.

Add 2 tablespoons baking soda to the liquid.

Slowly pour vinegar into the bottle. Watch out — eruption time.

There is a complete online guide here from ThoughtCo

Baking soda volcano

Chemistry: Vinegar and baking soda volcano: what’s going on?

The baking soda and vinegar volcano erupts because of an acid-base reaction (in chemistry an acid is the opposite of a base). When they come together there is a reaction. The stronger the acid and base the stronger the reaction, (so you must be careful) :

baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) + vinegar (acetic acid) → carbon dioxide + water + sodium ion + acetate ion

Acetic acid (a weak acid) reacts with and neutralizes sodium bicarbonate (a base). The carbon dioxide that is given off is a gas. You guessed it, carbon dioxide is responsible for the fizzing and bubbling during the ‘eruption’.

We can use symbols from the periodic table to represent this. Note Don’t worry if you don’t get this, we’ll build up to understanding the periodic table over time:

Sodium bicarbonate NaHCO3(s) +

Acetic Acid CH3COOH(l) → (gives)

Carbon dioxide CO2(g) +

Water H2O(l) +

Sodium ion Na+(aq) +

Acetate ion CH3COO-(aq)

where s = solid, l = liquid, g = gas, aq = aqueous or in solution

Breaking it down:

NaHCO3 → Na+(aq) + HCO3-(aq)

CH3COOH → H+(aq) + CH3COO-(aq)

H+ + HCO3- → H2CO3 (carbonic acid)

H2CO3 → H2O + CO2

Did you know?

Did you know that frozen carbon dioxide is called dry ice? It’s used at Halloween and in movies to make fog role along the ground so that things look really creepy.

Carbon dioxide (which is a by-product of many chemical reactions) is also a large contributor to global warming (can you find out why?).

Homework

Do some research and see if you can draw a molecule of Carbon Dioxide (hint: use Google and check out the images). You can send your drawing into Jasper’s School facebook page if you like.

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