“There are three great schools of magic you will need to master, Chosen One,” Opaem intoned, his spidery fingers tented in front of the glittering gold threads of his mage robes.

“And…how long do I have to master them?” Brianna said, putting a hand on her hip.

“Seven days,” Opaem said, confidently. Before his charge could utter more than a surprised yelp, he went on: “The first school is that of the natural world at its most base, which we represent with a stone. The second school is that of the living or formerly living, which we represent with vellum. The final, and perhaps most difficult school is that of the manufactured, which we represent with these tempered steel shears.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” said Brianna. “A rock, a piece of paper, and a pair of scissors?”

“They are merely symbols,” said Opaem, though his long pointed ears clearly quivered with annoyance. “Now, the great cycle that is the magic of the Beyond is thus: the natural defeats the manufactured, the manufactured defeats the living, and the living defeats the natural.”

“That is literally just rock-paper-scissors!” Brianna cried.

“I suppose you could use that mnemonic to describe it,” Opaem said. “A great boulder may smash a finely-wrought blade, but that same blade will cleave parchment in Twain, and-“

Brianna tossed up her hands, nearly losing her Fifth Avenue bangle in the process. “Yeah! I know! Rock crushes scissors, scissors cut paper, paper covers rock! This is the dumbest magic system I’ve ever heard!”

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