Saylie's mentor was an older man with whose skew-whiff hair and beard were grey lightening into white. His clothing was, essentially, a toga over a kilt with fraying edges on both pieces of cloth. He was, as he had told Saylie, a chaos Magister, and his name was Herotus Zallack. Right now, he was trying to find out what Saylie already knew.
"So, your mother tutored you at home, but no-one has ever discussed your magic's affiliations or alignment with you?" He looked like he was trying to be hopeful and encouraging. "How far along are you in your training?"
"I haven't been able to get past self-control," admitted Saylie. "To be honest, I haven't been able to do self-control at all, and I, I leak everywhere. Explosively sometimes."
"Then perhaps you should show me your self-control practice," suggested Magister Zallack. "If you've been having as much trouble as you say, I'm surprised your mother didn't take up the offer of tutor."
"I didn't know that I could have another tutor," confessed Saylie. "I've never seen any of the letters that were sent to my parents about me. Not even the one that sent me here. I think my mother wanted to prove that she could fix me herself - she did train my brothers and sisters successfully, after all."
Her mentor looked at her sternly. "Fixing you presupposes that you are broken. Now, let's see how you go about the matter of magical self-control."
Saylie sat herself down on the stool beside her, closed her eyes, and began constructing the mental set of drawers that her mother was so fond of. Naturally, it leaked.
She'd barely started trying to plug the leaks and hold the whole rickety mental construction together when her mentor said firmly, "That's enough. You can stop now, dear."
Saylie put the exercise down, so to speak, and opened her eyes. Magister Zallack was looking both sad and proud. Then he said, "I'm afraid that your mother really wasn't the right tutor for you. That technique doubtless works for her and your siblings, but for us chaos mages that isn't a self-control spell at all - it's suppression."
From theory lessons in secondary school Saylie repeated, "You can't suppress yourself."
"That's right." Her mentor nodded. "You were never going to succeed. I'm sorry that you wasted so many years trying to do the impossible and having the rest of your magical education hanging on achieving that impossible thing. On the other hand," he smiled, "I'm proud of you that you didn't snap with frustration and try to kill someone. Of course, suppression is a very useful skill, but let's do some work on actual self-control now, shall we?"
There was a visualisation again, but this one involved a bowl and keeping its contents level. Magister Zallack made her fill the bowl in her mind with water, then with fog, and finally with sand and each time he had her level the surface of the bowl's visualized contents. It was surprisingly calming. Her mentor was pleased with the results, too. "Now, that was how self-control is supposed to work," he told her. "Nothing spilling or slopping out where it's not supposed to. Your power in balance so its imbalances aren't upsetting you and making your use of it harder." He smiled and added, "That was very good for a first attempt. You've had lots of practice with visualisations, of course, so that helped, but you got all three of parts of that exercise right the first time. Even with experience it's not necessarily easy to pick up three new visualisations all at once."
Saylie said cautiously, "May I ask why there are three different images for this exercise?"
"Of course you can." The Magister smiled. "How else do you fill the gaps in your knowledge? We use three images both because not everyone can create all of them and because different forms of upset are better reflected in different imagined matter states. The visualisations help you clarify for yourself what you are trying to do, and that is important - otherwise you don't get the results you want. The more tools you have, et cetera."
“Does it matter if it’s not the same bowl every time?” That was something Saylie had noticed about her visualizations.
“That’s interesting. Either your mind is supplying different details, or your magic is telling you different things. Anything else you noticed about the exercise?” Magister Zallack looked alert, interested and had his hands clasped thoughtfully in front of his chin.
Saylie offered, “The mist was almost green?”
“Only the mist?” Saylie nodded in reply. “That is very interesting, interesting indeed,” and the Magister put his pressed together forefingers on his lower lip as he thought.
This is now followed by "Saylie: Lessons Vignette 2". This entry was originally posted at https://rix-scaedu.dreamwidth.org/129304.html. There have been comments there.