“So,” the red-eyed man said as he stared at us, “Today… I introduce to you the incredibly beautiful fields of Arithmetic, Geometry, and Astronomy. Together, making up the language of War.”
Pointing to the sky, he continued as his muscles bulged, “Can anybody answer as to why I call it the language of war?”
Silence met his words as all of us avoided his burning gaze.
Quietly, the man stood in that pose before he said, “Arithmetic; the art of numbers and the language of commerce. Geometry; the art of shapes and their expression of the language of commerce. Astronomy, the art of celestial bodies and their light that guides us.”
Bringing his finger slowly down to point at us, the man spoke. “What makes this the language of war, you might ask.”
Then, with a soft voice, he said, “The numbers and the language of commerce dictate the most mundane, and yet essential part of war. Profits or Protons.”
Bringing the outstretched finger down and closing his hands into a fist, he continued, “The numbers and the language of commerce also dictate military might! The number of soldiers you can field and your ability to equip them!”
Walking forward, he looked at each of us as he abruptly asked, “Battle also deals in cold hard numbers and I heard you had a battle recently?”
As we nodded, the teacher softly exclaimed, “And in that battle, did you see the wonder of arithmetic and geometry?”
Confused, we looked at him as his eyes reignited with fire.
“Numbers led to the formations that you chose. Geometry dictated the shape and flow of the formations. Your tactics, your defeat, your battle… everything was dictated by geometry and arithmetic!”
Shocked, we looked at the teacher as he animatedly continued, “Everything in this world can be based on geometry. Formations, equipment, furniture, this classroom! Everything conforms to the laws of geometry! And behind it all, it is backed by more arithmetic!”
“But what is geometry, you might ask. Geometry can be simply said to be the shapes that make up our world, and the study of them! And as I said, their fields of application lie in every aspect of our lives!”
Suddenly, arithmetic and geometry began to appeal to us as our imagination was fired up by the words of the teacher.
Then a classmate raised his hands as he asked, “Sir... What did you mean by formations and the reason why we lost the battle?”
Nodding, the red-eyed teacher regained his calm as he said, “Describe the battle to me.”
Hesitantly, the student launched into an explanation of how we were a solid block, before our rear lines and side files had split off to become two wings that sought to envelop our enemies, and how our tactics had failed.
Looking at us piercingly, the teacher spoke. “When you were in a solid block… you were in a square shape. Which is geometry. When you began to change formation into an enveloping formation, you reduced your ranks and files to provide the numbers needed for the formation to take place. Which is an application of Arithmetic and Geometry again. When your formation failed, it was again because of Arithmetic and Geometry as their formation countered yours.”
Raising his voice, the teacher slowly enunciated, “War is only about arithmetic and geometry at its core. Everything else is important… but not necessary.”
Raising my hand, I quietly said, “I disagree Sir.”
Swivelling his head around toward me, the teacher said, “Oh? Tell me why you disagree.”
Collecting my thoughts, I said, “Equipment, morale, strength of the people involved… all that counts too, doesn’t it?”
Breaking into a refined smile, the teacher said, “Equipment can be broken down into numbers. How much it costs to outfit people, and I briefly mentioned that before. Strength of the people involved also boils down to numbers with morale and equipment being intrinsically tied to them.”
Raising his hands, the teacher said, “On the other hand, morale is something that is related to astronomy... for the same way that the stars guide us... the same way morale is guided by our leaders.”
Studying his hands, the teacher said quietly, “Remember, a language often does not have all the words required for communication. Sometimes, a language is forgotten and replaced by actions. The language of war is no different.”
Changing the topic and looking at us, the teacher asked, “My philosophy states that everything in the world can be boiled down to the three. But is that really the case?”
Shaking our heads, we mutely looked back at the teacher, who bared his teeth as he said, “Indeed. Sometimes it cannot be so. But you will find that the cases in which it cannot be so… those cases are few and far in between. For the most part, when those cases do occur… you will find that they hinge on one thing. The intangible.”
As we sat there confused, the Language of War teacher smiled widely as he said, “Let me explain.”
A few hours later, we stumbled out of the classroom… mentally drained and infinitely puzzled.
The concepts that the teacher talked about would randomly switch from basic things like counting of numbers… to complex issues like the supplying of a platoon with food… to the issues which befuddled us, such as the philosophy of the language of war.
We were only shaken out of our daze as we saw Apollo and his group walk stiff faced, with expressions worse than crying, out of the Herbology and Potioneering classroom.
But honestly, as we looked at them, we didn’t know whether to laugh at them… or to feel comforted that we had comrades in our misery.
For out of the three classes, only the Etiquette and oratory class was anything close to resembling an actual class.
One left you with a foul taste in your mouth, and the other left you with a blank space in your mind.
Sighing, we trudged our way out of the classrooms only to pause as we saw more stacks of crates in front of the mainhall with a large note that said, “Study materials for day offs. Slack at your own risk.”
Another sigh was let out, which turned into chuckles of schadenfreude as we thought of the rest of the maidens who would go through the same thing the next day.