“Defense, got it? Set up those lines right!” Jason shouted. While the club members with talent for offensive spells went to stop Fallor and his dramatic castle, Jason had volunteered to stay behind and shore up the magic defenses of major buildings on campus. Tom had sent over a few research assistants from a project for developing shield spells before he’d left; one of which was currently standing near a botched array of salt, metal disks, and a discarded Coke can.
“Dammit… that’s always my luck…” the young man grumbled, kneeling down and fiddling with his part of the spell. “My can’s broken…” Jason tapped him on the shoulder, making him stand up suddenly.
“You’re Zach, right? We don’t have time for this. Get on it.” Jason hurried down the line, holding the mental map of the circle in his mind. Five stations around the circle were manned by some of the better mages from advanced classes; Zach was holding down the Red circle. On one side, a younger-looking girl in glasses and with short hair focused on a potted plant surrounded by the same salt and disk pattern the “unlucky” man was at. On the other side, a tan-skinned guy with longer hair had a pile of horror movies in a similar ring of salt. Jason jogged along the circle, passing another student standing over a stack of water bottles.
If he was right, Jason thought as he stepped into the last station, each of the five stations in this ring would link up to the five barriers set up around the bulk of the campus. Another of the veteran Dungeons and Dragons club members was standing by to meld the five individual barriers into a solid wall, enough to hopefully stop or slow down anything that came their way. Jason pulled out a cellphone, and dialed a number. A yawn came from the other side of the line.
“Chebon, we’re all set up here. You sure you can do this?”
There was a pause. “…Uh, no. Kinda.”
Jason took a breath. “Do it.” He focused his attention down at the pattern drawn under his feet, pushing enough will through the circle to wake up the other four students. Starting with blue, the five colors of magic would send their barriers up and Jason’s, the white, would be the backbone of the melded shield. With a second’s delay, a dome of blue light sloshed over the campus, twinkling slightly and swirling. Under the blue dome crept black claws, mists, and monstrous shapes, filling and congealing into a solid dome. Only a few vaguely sliver-ish shapes were still visible in the new surface. Hurrying after that rushed wiry lines of fire racing along the black surface, crisscrossing across and melting into a third barrier. Glowing, a green line traced along the red sky, sketching vines and leaves that were colored in and merged into the fourth wall as Jason watched. He poured energy into the circle beneath his feet, and began the final part of the barrier.
Chebon didn’t want to be responsible for this. When the club members had started taking on teaching and leadership roles in this new world, he’d stayed back and happily slept through most of the organization. As he watched the sky, the green light was slowly overwritten with concentric white rings building a sturdy and supporting base layer for the four shields above it. Chebon grimaced and opened a videogame handheld, which was tied to a laptop and a slaved camera pointed at the sky. Quickly, he gathered up a mixture of will and electricity to throw up at the shield, sensing it seep through the five colors, taking little samples of energy and feeding it back to his laptop. Chebon had to trace a line between each pair of colors, feeling the way those two colors worked together. He kept the details of each Ravnica guild in his mind at once, finishing the connections between the mana lights on his laptop screen. He tied the lights together and closed his eyes. Overhead, the barrier wobbled slightly as sparks danced across the surface.
Jason looked up, and watched as the barrier dome melted together into a single, solid hemisphere. With the initial push the other four students had given, he and Chebon could maintain the wall between the fighting and those who remained on campus for as long as they needed to.
“Next version should include Circle of Protection: Artifacts…” he mused, sitting back against the wall of the Wood building. Zach slumped near the defense mage, looking up pessimistically at the dome overhead.
“We’re doomed, aren’t we?” he muttered, eyes closed.
“No.” Jason cracked his knuckles. “Now cool it on the doom, or I’ll make you test the Story Circle version of this spell with bowling balls.” The other younger mages circled around slowly, sitting nearby. The four of them flinched as a shockwave hit the shield, Jason wincing. A stream of energy flew from the rooftop overhead and met the shockwave, bolstering the surface with a pulse of blue-white. “Damn right!” Chebon shouted, smiling, and went back to his video game.