[Pt. II] Ch. 40: “If I ever see that thing with all the eyes again, even in a dream, it will be too soon.”
31 0 1
Reading Options
Font Size
A- 15px A+
Table of Contents
Loading... please wait.

Monday, Sept 14th, before school
Our apartment

I didn’t feel ready to go back to sleep and ended up reading the magic textbook – Kelder’s as Yali had called it, after the author.  I didn’t get far into it before getting drowsy, but the introduction talked about the distinctions between traditional magic and modern.  The former came out of a number of  different traditions, each with their own view of power sources and limits of magic. They could do a vast number of different things, but there was no way except dangerous trial and error to expand what it could do.

Modern magic was an attempt to synthesize all those traditions into common principles.  As far as power sources went, it had succeeded.  Magical energy was mostly fungible and even to some extent quantifiable.  The main exception, sorcery – relied on calling on extraplanar beings, “whether malevolent or benign,” and their effects were direct, not a flow of power through the caster.

In terms of what it could do, though, modern magic was much more limited: it required understanding the effects desired.  For effects that could not be extended from traditional spells, the amount of power used was directly proportional to the effect, where with traditional magic there was no such limitation.

Kelder’s gave the example of levitation: modern magic could lift an object by applying a force, just as a machine would, and required the constant application of energy to hold an object in place against the downward pull of gravity.  Traditional magic could neutralize or even reverse gravity, with a tiny fraction of the energy used, or even set something floating permanently.  The author finished that section suggesting that the principles of gravity would someday be understood enough to deconstruct those traditional spells.

It went on to give the basic light spell which Joel and I had learned as an example of deconstructed traditional magic: in this case, it magic didn’t create light directly but rather summoned it from elsewhere.  The author went on to say that there were half a dozen methods to create or summon light, and I was getting drowsy enough to stop there before he could go through them.

I woke to my alarm and went downstairs. Dormer and Joel were having a tense conversation which stopped when I started coming down the stairs.  It was about the visit Joel had last night –“Don’t sweat it, Mark already knows,” said Joel.

“Still, the royal family’s relationship with their goddess is a private matter.  I’ve told you what I know.  If you’ve got other questions, we will need to find a time for you to talk to your great-uncle.”

Joel shrugged, then asked me, “Did anything else weird come to you after you went back to sleep?”

I shook my head.

“Lucky you,” he said.  “I got treated to what felt like a multi-hour movie version of Obdresti history.”

“So, like the Priest-Kings invading and stuff?”

“That was a big part of it, yeah.  Wait, how do you remember that?”

“If I read something interesting, I rarely forget it.  A lot of what I remember is useless, like the demi-human level limits, or the tech tree in Civ.” OK, that wasn’t fully useless, since it was the copy protection, but still… “And I mean, that story was cool.  Demons, giant sea monster.  It’s the founding myth of the country, kind of like Romulus and Remus being raised by the she-wolf.”

“Not a myth, from what Tennia showed me.  If I ever see that thing with all the eyes again, even in a dream, it will be too soon.”

“Hey, look on the bright side,” I said, “You won’t have to study those sections.”

“Wasn’t world history a first-year class?” Joel asked.

“You didn’t read your student handbook?”

“I skimmed it, why?”

“The core subjects get comprehensive exams, including all the past material.”

Joel groaned and went back to eating his breakfast. After eating, he said, “You look tired, you should catch a ride with us instead of biking.”

I felt tired, and I took them up on it.

Upper school room 2-C
End of the school day

At homeroom in the morning, the girls from the festival committee talked to the class.  The festival was coming up the weekend after next, and while it was unclear how the new security arrangements would affect it, each of the classrooms had to run some kind of fundraising event.

There were three girls who’d volunteered for the festival committee; one of them, Zaya, who I’d been remembering as the “the tall one.” She us know that we should all stay after the last class to discuss the festival.

At the end of the day, most of the class stuck around.  Zaya seemed to be their spokesperson, and ended up asking us, “How many of you are also taking part in club activities for the festival?”

I put my hand up.  I looked like about ten people did as well, so a little more than a third of the class. 

“How many of you have to do a lot of setup work for your club?”

I thought for a minute and put my hand down.  Joel looked over at me and did the same.  After that, there were only three hands up.  One of them was Elise, who was on student council.

“OK,” said Zaya, “if you’re not going to help on the day of, and not going to help set up, you can get going if you want.”

Elise left; the other two, both guys, stayed.

“So does anyone have suggestions for an activity?”

Nobody raised any hands.

Zaya looked over at the other two.  One of them said, “If everyone is going to be shy about it, how about we all write ideas down, and then we’ll put them up to vote anonymously.”

They handed out small pieces of paper, and it seemed like most people wrote something down before they collected it.  In my case, I had no idea what one normally did as a classroom for one of these, but the usual fundraiser for clubs at my old school was a bake sale, so I wrote that down.

When they’d collected all the suggestions, they started putting them on the board.  They combined a lot of them which were variations on a similar them – for example, several variations “café,” “snack bar,” and after I explained it, the bake sale.  Similarly, there were several versions of a raffle or silent auction, which sounded interesting but would require us to hunt around for businesses or parents who would donate things to raffle off.

Zaya rejected two of the ideas – the “backrub station” which was just “Eww, no!” and then she also rejected “Fortune teller” after asking if anyone in the class could use divination magic.  Nobody could.

The last couple of unique ones were “Temporary hair color salon” which got some more consideration – there were two girls in the class who knew magic to do that and thought they could teach it to others in time for the festival, and “Movie theater.”

There was some indistinct agreement when that one was read out, but Zaya was skeptical. “Whoever suggested this one, how do you think we’d do that?”

It turned out to have been Joel. “We could borrow a TV and VCR from the school and rent some videotapes to play in the classroom,” he said.

“Would people want to pay to sit down to watch a whole movie at the festival?” asked Zaya.

“I don’t know,” said Joel.

One of the guys up in the front of the room said, “We could make the movies free and just sell snacks that went with the movie theme. Then people could stop in for a break and go back out without feeling like they were wasting money.”

There was a lot of agreement around the room. Zaya said, “OK, so that comes back to the snack bar idea again. Let’s vote on whether people are OK with that part first.”

The class voted by raised hands, and enough over half were OK with some kind of snack bar.

“So do we want to do more of a café style or go with the movies idea?”

There was some discussion, and once it became clear that the café would be a lot more work, there was nearly unanimous agreement on the movies plus snack bar, where we’d only need one or two people at a time to sell snacks and occasionally change a videotape.

There was a lot of discussion of organizing it afterwards, and of what kind of movies to put on since people wouldn’t be sitting through a whole movie.  It didn’t sound like we would have a lot of the decisions made today, but they asked for volunteers for groups to handle different pieces – I volunteered for the group which would buy or make the snacks to sell.  When not enough people volunteered, they started assigning people; Joel was on the group who’d pick out and rent movies because the whole movie thing had been his idea.

I didn’t have my bike today, and Joel had soccer practice, so I caught the streetcar home.  When I got there, there were large boxes piled two deep in the laundry room, with a letter taped to them addressed to me.