Chapter6


Spider ended up in the plant pot anyway, covered with the dust cloth. While it was true, it was being obnoxious, it was also an opportunity to deprive the class of a huge sense of mirth, most of it at Raze's expense. Added to that was the fact that the class would have been there all day with Spider's antics, and Spider didn't mind in the slightest. Raze did, however. His body, brain, and eyelids were screaming out for sleep and he planned on a solid, two hour nap before his next lesson.

"Rather harsh." Spider said moodily as Raze retrieved it from the pot. "It's important for kids to know that their tools are extensions of their bodies."

"It didn't take much to work out where that was headed." Raze chided.

"Hypocrite. How long have you been with me? Less than a day? So far you've infused my incantations, given me a good buffering with window cleaner and a woolly scarf and put me down your pants in the cemetery! Don't tell me that was all for my own good." Spider retorted.

"Stop manipulating situations. You know perfectly well the reasons for those actions. Stop being a git."

"Speaking of gits, how come Potter got a nifty little bed thing for his stick? Where's mine? It's hardly fun having your sweaty mits round my fundaments all the time." Spider complained.

"A harness? I suppose it would be more practical than carrying you about. I think Theo's came with the staff and I'm not sure who stocks them." Raze explained.

"Well I want one with a bit more to it than that one. It was a bit basic. I'm valuable! I need protection and comfort."

"We'll try the armoury then the saddle-makers. I'm sure they can knock one up."

Spider ended up nestled against Raze's back in a reptilian leather harness lined with soft fur and decorated with studs and spikes. Raze ended up with a bill that was equal to a quarter of his salary. At least Spider was content and quiet. By now, not only had Raze missed his nap, he was late for his lesson. It was a practical lesson for his field trip four, in the training yard and Raze twitched his nostrils when he saw his students idling about.

"Come on you lot! Water extraction and transportation!" Raze ordered. His four students nodded and trudged away looking rather disgruntled. Seth Larkin actually turned round and gave Raze a dirty look before walking into the back of Berwick and tripping him up. What was all that about? Surely Spider hadn't upset them? They were all having a great time back in the classroom. He received a few more dirty looks from all of his group. This was actually getting to Raze. Of course pupils frequently resented their teachers, that was simply a thing that was and always would be unchangeable, but Raze always knew the reasons for it. Usually harsh assignments or theory examinations. This time, he couldn't think of a single thing he'd done to upset his class. Quite the opposite. They were all very enamoured with Spider and Spider itself had been with Raze the whole time. "Right!" He strode over to the group. "Never mind looking at me like that. What's the problem?" The students just muttered and looked at the floor. "Look,I can be a bigger arsehole than all you lot put together and we have a field trip coming up. Just the five of us. Isn't that cosy?"

"You were out of order." Theo spoke up and the others agreed.

"I won't deny that I can be, on occasions but I usually know how." Raze replied. "So? What am I supposed to have done?" Theo looked daggers at Raze. Normally Raze would have sent him yelping with a few static bolts but this looked more than a student's pissed offness. "I can't amend, apologise, rectify anything if I don't know about it. Come on, into the classroom, Theo."

"How could you!" Theo exploded. "How could you do that? I know you have a 'hands on' sense of humour but I thought even you had limits!" He now had enraged tears in his eyes and Raze was shocked to his bones.

"Theo. Theo listen to me." Raze tried to steer Theo away from the others, for privacy. Theo shook him off and glared at him. "Theo I have no idea what you're talking about. If I'm the cause of your mood just now then it's something I've done, or said, unintentionally."

"You said a Mage's chosen conductor was a possession that no one could ever put a price on, even if it had no monetary price at all." Theo said miserably.

"That's true. I've never used a tool but I know plenty of Masters who have, and still do. I've seen the care and respect they show them, regardless of what they are and what they're made of. One of my old Masters used the insole out of a farmer's boot!" Raze could still remember the magically fortified slaps associated with it.

"But you do now." Theo nodded to the straps of Spider's 'bed'.

"Spider? Well I've never actually used it. I found it. I told you that and I also told you I hadn't had chance to study it. Theo what in blue soddery is the problem? Just tell me!"

"You get a fancy arsed staff and your fat head expands." Theo took a few steps back and Raze was too surprised to lunge at him. His ego had always been a tad on the big side. "So you have a grand staff. The grandest of the grand. No other staff is comparable. OK we get it. You didn't have to damage mine."

"What?" Raze almost fainted. "I haven't even held your staff! Theo I would never, ever do that! How is it damaged? I swear I have not touched it. Let me see." Theo took his staff from its harness and held it gently in his hands. Around the end of the beautiful white wood was the word 'Dick'. Raze would have tittered for a month had this not been so distressing for Theo.

"Laugh if you want. Hilarious, I know." Theo hung his head and looked at the brown lettering.

"I didn't do that. I'd never do that. Excuse me please." Raze marched off to the rhododendron bushes and barged behind them. He stripped off the harness and flung it on the ground. Spider clattered against the garden gnomes.

"What the naff ...? I was asleep! You clumsy swine, Raze." Spider complained.

"Yes you'll have plenty of time for sleeping when you're back in that Slag heap!" Raze shouted.

"Huh? Why?" Spider wailed. "I'll behave, I promise. I won't swear at the kids anymore and I won't tell them about your tombstone fetish."

"Theo's staff! Do you know how much that staff means to him? Do you?" Raze bellowed. "He's looked after it since he was eight years old! Maybe you're armed to the teeth and indestructible but no bugger cares when it comes to out and out bullying. You ... drainpipe!"

"I don't have teeth." Spider pointed out. "Pardon my non comprehension here but what in Torment's Tits are you on about?" It snapped. "Potter's stick is bullying me? Only in it's xylem."

"You bullying it!I can't believe you're such a shit, Spider."

"Oh I've always been a shit but never a bully."

"So why scrawl Dick on Theo's staff? A bit childish, even for you." Raze growled. Spider stayed quiet. "Sulking won't help. That was just ... despicable." More silence. "Spider? Are you listening to me?"

"Oh what?" Spider shouted. "What do you want? I'm busy."

"Busy with what?" Raze asked warily. "Don't make me come over there."

"That staff is bloody numb! Go and fetch it, Raze."

"Eh? No chance. Why? So you can add 'Knobhead' to its decor."

"I want it to speak up and get me out of the Slag heap here! It's ignoring me." Spider said.

"Just you get off it." Raze grabbed Spider and stuffed it back into its bed. "How many more times? It cannot speak. Even if it could, why would it talk to a knob like you?"

"It's a staff thing. I don't have a knob either. Dick is its name, you steaming great dullard!"

"Not your decision." Raze said stubbornly, although he had a feeling creeping up his spine that he was going to have a lot of apologising to do.

"Dick's decision. Oh it's fine, don't listen to me eh? You even took notes! Or was that just to show off? The staff sensed it's name. About time too after eight years. Simpleton stick."

"Is that true?" Theo and the group had made their way over. "Master Raze?"

"What are you asking him for? Yes he's long, thin and stiff but he's certainly no staff. I said all this in the classroom. I think you need a detention or ten for not listening. Cloth ears." Spider sniffed.

"So my staff marked itself?" Theo asked in marvel. "It wrote its name for me to see?"

"Yes! Letter formation's a bit rough but that's because it's as slow as its owner." Spider said in exasperation. "Well? Call it"

"Er ... what do I do?" Theo looked around nervously.

"See that astronomy tower up there? See if your Dick has a windfall spell. Be sure to keep a tight hold of it." Spider sniped.

"No!" Raze intervened. "Spider, stop being an arse. Just say its name to it, Theo. Sort of an introduction type thing."

"OK." Theo nodded. "I'm Theo, how do you do. I'm pleased to meet you Dick." He glanced at Raze, then at the group. "Dick? Can you hear me? It didn't work."

"Yes it did." Spider told him. "Your Dick wiggled."

"Did it?" Theo looked delighted. "So what happens now?"

"Well it knows who you are. How nice for it." Spider sniped.

"Shut it Spider." Raze said irritably. "Theo this is amazing, really it is. I've been a Mage for years and I've seen nothing like it." He walked Theo towards the ornamental fountain.

"Yay! a drowning!" Spider whooped. Raze casually took Spider from its bed and dropped it in the water.

"Theo one thing you shouldn't do is compare your Dick to Spider." Raze said and Spider gurgled a laugh that made bubbles. "Spider is probably hundreds of years old and I'm guessing it was crafted in the days of magic that was far more powerful than ours. It would be impossible for anyone today to create something like Spider. I just happened to have the misfortune to find and call the impudent little sod."

"I know. This is my Dick and that makes it unique."

"Absolutely." Raze agreed and retrieved Spider from the fountain. "Maybe Spider could help you with Dick."

"Certainly. Where's the cat-house?" Spider quipped. "Oh calm down Raze. No fun in you. Shove it in here."

"Right. You were warned." Raze backtracked towards the fountain.

"Hey! What's your problem? I'm helping! Torment's teeth man. I can't do right for doing wrong! You're a bloody nutter. If you put Dick in here with me I can have a fiddle about for magical properties. Yes? You getting this? Better in here than down your pants."

"Er ... what?" Theo asked in confusion. "You want me to put Dick down your pants?"

"Ha-ha! This is priceless!" Spider whooped.

"Oh grow up." Raze tutted. "In Spider's harness, Theo. An ordinary detect magic wouldn't be effective in determining specifics. Like I said, I've no idea of Spider's properties and traits and I doubt I ever will."

"You got that right." Spider sniffed. "So?"

"How long will it take?" Theo reluctantly handed his staff to Raze. "I'll need it back for the field trip tomorrow."

"You'll get it back in time." Raze put Dick in next to Spider. Theo wandered off to find the rest of the group.

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