The continuation of the magical world at NECO preparing for the NBEO Part I Board Exams (see “Life at Specwarts” for the first episode)
On a quiet Monday evening I find myself entombed by the iron bars of the library windows. The wind teasingly twirls the snow outside and the night sky slowly enshrouds the earth. Suddenly, a “Sqwaaak” cuts through the peaceful scene, causing me to jump up from my “Spectacalis Optometris” book. A large owl swoops down to the windowsill. Its white feathers blend perfectly into the snow-capped ledge, leaving only two piercing grey orbs staring at me. As our eyes lock, the bird slightly cocks its head. Deeper I stare into the colorless void, as though drawn into a trance, when I more sense than hear a whispered “Bewaaare” float toward my ear. I spin around intending to confront the fellow wizard-in-training who must be playing a practical joke. Alas, the library is empty! Perplexed, I slowly turn back towards my new winged companion, but the magical owl has once again taken flight, leaving words of foreboding lingering in the frigid air.
This is not the first strange event alleged to have happened since we returned to Specwarts after the holidays. A new cold, eerie feeling seems to have invaded our once warm and familiar home. Now every time I pass the portrait gallery depicting the forefathers of our school, a hint of concern flickers in their eyes as they watch over me, sending a chill up my spine. For months now whispers have echoed among the walls that “That which will not be named” is steadily approaching, pushing aside everything in its path. For those of you, prospective wizards, who have not as yet encountered this demon of darkness, it also goes by the name of National Board of Examiners in Optometry Applied Basic Science Exam, aka the dreaded Part I exam. It is a grueling, 500-questions-long two-day battle of wits, from which only the bravest and most daring will emerge unscathed/victorious. “It can’t be true!” some say, “It’s just a myth.” But is it really?
Just as the snowy storms of winter bury Boston beneath an icy blanket from which there is no escape, another kind of storm begins to brew within the hallowed halls of Specwarts. Just then, the mighty Keeper of the Time announces 6 o’clock pm. I quickly gather my books as I join the wave of white cloaks that spill into the classroom and fill the seats of Lecture Hall 2. “Order, order” demands the booming voice of Headmaster Cliffus Scottus, “we have called a meeting of all third-year Optometris Studii on this night to address what we all believe will descend upon us within the next month. I fear the rumors are true. ”That which will not be named” is drawing nearer, bringing with it an army of vast strength and darkness”. Chaos erupts as wizards-in-training catapult from their seats. Soon, however, silence is restored in the great hall. “Now I know you all are frightened, as am I, but the fate of our class, our school and of all wizards and humans within these lands rests in our hands. We have spent many years preparing for this day, and we will train harder and fight braver to win this battle to decide all battles. Together we will summon the power to defeat this beast. United we will not fail, and we MUST not fail!” An uproar beings to rise, but instead of shouts of fear, it forms a rallying cry. The time has come when we must use all that has been taught us by the Wizards of Optometris to fulfill our destiny and defeat “That which will not be named” once and for all.
During the month of Februaris, every day we plot in the dungeons of the library. We labor countless hours mastering every cure, spell and potion, from “Cranialis Paralys”, one of the most crippling diseases which forever turn your vision double, to “Steroidis Repairis”, which can save you from the curse of eternal blindness. In the Clinicalis Optometralis training area, we tirelessly perfect our o’scopalo skills and healing potions on humans. Days blend into weeks as our minds grow stronger and the air gets thicker….until, finally, judgment day arrives: Wednesday, March 17th, 2015. As the Keeper of the Time strikes 8 o’clock am, he heralds one of the most important days in Optometris history. As one, the third-year Optometris Studii of Specwarts gather in the lobby, shoulder to shoulder, pencalis poised in the left hand, calculis fitted in the right, armed and ready for battle. Up ahead loom two gigantic portals, behind which lurks “That which will not be named”, and with it our fate, our destiny as Masters of Optometris. Releasing one last rallying cry, the Presidentis of our class flings open the gates, and we plunge into the unknown darkness…
The battle rages on until 5 pm, Thursday, March 18th, 2015. I drag my bruised and battered body toward the edge of the room as time slows and the world dims. Only my pounding heart reverberates in my ears. I watch what is left of our class fight for their lives, as they use every last bit of strength to survive the final minutes of this epic battle. I am surrounded by a wasteland of blunted pencales, played-out calcules and broken o’scopalos. Many of my peers have been bound by a paralyzing spell known as “Backus Spasmosis”. For two straight days we have fought the Dementors Opticus, slayed the eye-eating Slugaris Fungalis, and sprayed potions of “Orbicularis Paralysis”. The evil Dementors Opticus have encircled us, attempting to capture our weakened souls. Still our Presidentis fights on as she herself is locked in battle against “That which will not be named”. Just as she appears to be defeated, I desperately lift my o’scopalo and challenge the beast whose name has never dared to cross the lips of any Specwarts wizard, the unspeakable “Boaaardlis Controaliiis”! Suddenly a white light spills from beyond the gates and a magical, ethereal apparition appears, filling the darkness with light. The beast screams in agony as it slowly vanishes. “That’s it, time’s up, pencales down!” yells the Proctoris Examinus. I slowly avert my eyes from the battlefield to find the Presidentis standing by my side. Barely keeping exhaustion at bay, a smile of realization slowly spreads across her face as she mouths the words: WE DID IT!!