451: Distant Observations

on July 14, 2010 in Book 16

In Which Silence Is Observed

I was a little surprised to see Dee come into the dining hall for breakfast, but even more surprised to see her without an escort… the last time I had seen her, she’d been accompanied by a novice from Ceilos who had been given the impossible job of keeping someone who outranked her in every way from going about her daily business.

“I have reached a compromise with my guardians,” she said, by way of greeting. “If such a word applies when they haven’t agreed to my terms and I haven’t agreed to theirs. But they cannot prevent me from doing as I will and I cannot prevent them from doing as they must. It would be wise to assume that any words that can reach my ears might also reach others.”

She very pointedly avoided looking at anyone as she said this, her gaze fixed in the middle of our table. I resisted the urge to look at Amaranth. I really don’t know if she did the same with me.

“I don’t think I saw you around Harlowe last night, Dee,” Amaranth said conversationally.

“I did not think it considerate to subject the novices to dormitory life,” Dee said.

I had a feeling that the accommodations in Harlowe were actually pretty roomy compared to what the Ceilos novices were used to. Space tended to be at a premium in underground settlements, and low-ranking… or high-ranking, according to their reckoning… members of a religious order didn’t usually get a lot of premiums.

Dee’s real purpose for staying away more likely stemmed from the same source as her oblique warning: she wanted to respect the privacy of her neighbors. Being her nearest neighbor on one side… and knowing the eagerness of the Ceilos delegation to pin things on anyone but Dee… I appreciated it.

Though I did wish that Dee by herself was able to maintain her Harlowe residence… having a telepath with elven hearing nearby would make it harder for Trina and company to snoop.

“So where are you staying?” Amaranth asked her.

“There is some ‘apartment-style’ housing on the southwest end of campus that is customarily reserved for seniors,” Dee said. “Some of the foreign delegations were already staying in empty suites. When my shadows learned that the women’s quarters in Harlowe are not appreciably more tranquil than the men’s, they requested lodgings there… I said appreciably.”

The last part… and the look of irritation on her face… made little sense until I turned to see where she was looking and realized she was talking to Steff, who had just entered the cafeteria. Not only could elven ears locate a voice from across the room, but elven voices were very good at locating ears over similar distances.

“Are you sure you didn’t bend the truth a little?” Steff said as she came within normal conversational range of us.

“I’m quite sure I have a better idea what levels of tranquility a novice of my goddess would appreciate,” Dee said.

“If you say so,” Steff said.

She seemed to be in a very good mood, and as far as I could see she had every right to be. She looked incredible… almost as radiant as Amaranth. She even looked slightly flushed and out of breath, which was not a normal look on her at all. She must have got quite a workout before breakfast, I realized. She’d had a few days to get used to the changes and recover from the stress of it. It was only natural that she and Viktor would be taking advantage of her renewed energy levels.

“Oh, what’s that blush for, Mack?” she asked, as I realized I was thinking about Steff and Viktor together.

“My mind’s just wandering a little,” I said.

“I don’t know if you can call it ‘wandering’ when it paces back and forth in the same place,” Steff said.

“This is really kind of new ground,” I said.

“Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself, Steff,” Amaranth said. “Just don’t overdo it.”

“Hey, the only thing that’s really changed is I’ve got more padding than before,” Steff said, sticking out her chest. “Thanks again, Dee.”

“Do not mention it,” Dee said.

“No, really… thank you,” Steff said. “I don’t know… I mean, sincerity’s not actually my strong point, and neither is gratitude, and we’ve never… I’ve sometimes… I just… oh,” she said as she realized a little belatedly that Dee had been speaking literally. “Um… oh, you might want to inhale that bacon a little slower,” she said, turning towards me. “Your guy was on his slow, plodding way over when I was stepping inside the union.”

“Thanks for the tip,” I said. I hadn’t realized I’d been eating all that quickly. If anything, I was just eating more than the others because I hadn’t had anything to say.

Well, Two wasn’t talking, either, but she was just a slow eater.

Ian did catch up not more than a couple minutes later. He slipped in next to me and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. It was nice, comfortable… there was a little moment of hesitation right after he did it, like he wasn’t sure how I was going to react, but none beforehand. I took his hand in mine and tried to give him a little smile, but I ended up looking at the table while I did it.

He wasn’t the only one who had little moments of self-consciousness.

It seemed like he got the idea anyway.

“Um, hey… did you guys watch the news this morning?” he asked.

“How often do we watch the news?” I asked. Sure, when something big happened and we heard about it we’d go run and find a TV, but it wasn’t like we had one in our room.

“Oh, right,” Ian said, rolling his eyes. “The news is boring and only icky grown-ups watch it.”

“Where did that come from?” I asked.

“Where did yours?”

“Maybe it came out a little sharper than I’d meant it to, but there’s no reason to act like I’m behaving like some kind of a child,” I said.

“Come on, Mackenzie,” he said. “You do kind of have a… an immature outlook sometimes.”

“Right, the comics you read are so much more sophisticated than the comics I read.”

“I’m not critiquing your reading habits,” he said. “Or at least the fictional ones. Given the kind of serious shit you’ve been swept up in, it wouldn’t kill you to pay a little attention to the world.”

“I think my outlook’s been plenty mature lately,” I said. “I’ve been dealing with things pretty well I think.”

“Then why did you look at me like I was from an outer plane when I asked if you caught the news?”

“Because you should know that I don’t watch it,” I said.

“Yeah, well, anyway… Leda’s family is coming to Prax,” he said. “Flying in… they can’t gate in or out of the Shift, and I guess they don’t trust gates at all because of that? That was the impression I got, anyway. I kind of wasn’t paying attention until I realized…”

“So you weren’t watching the news, either,” I said.

Baby,” Amaranth warned.

“Okay, yeah, I wasn’t,” Ian said. “Khersis, Mackenzie, when I asked if you’d seen it, it was a question not an accusation.”

“Well, when I asked how often I watched it, it was a question, too,” I said.

“Mack, baby,” Amaranth said. “You are being childish, even if Ian is responding in kind.” She looked at him. “This is something you both do. It’s all very well and good for you to encourage Mack to grow out of it, but not if you’re doing it at the same time.”

“I don’t think I was as… okay, point,” he said. “Sorry, Mackenzie.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“This could mean even more pressure upon the authorities to resolve the matter quickly,” Dee said. “Which would only be a good thing for any of us if accompanied by pressure to resolve it correctly.”

“Except for me,” Two said. “My friend Hazel says we’re beneath suspicion.”

“Well, yes,” Dee said. “But official pressure has already pressed upon you nonetheless.”

“This is the funny thing,” Ian said. “They were talking about some rumored big break in the case. The news people were all speculating about whether or not this was connected, or there was anything to it.”

“When did they announce this?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” Ian said. “I’m not sure there was an announcement… they were just reporting that the rumors that the royal family had flown out of the Shift early this morning had been confirmed.”

Early this morning…

It could all be a coincidence, but if their departure did relate to the supposed “big break” and said break had occurred overnight, then it was remotely possible that Lee’s plan was already in action. If not, then it was possible that the tip would be moot, anyway.

Though as Dee had noted, a quick resolution wasn’t the same thing as a correct one… it was entirely possible for the big break to have little or nothing to do with the truth. What would happen if the information from Lee’s high-powered client came to the authorities’ attention at the same time that they were wrapping some scapegoat up with a bow for the Shifter royals? Even the possibility that someone else would take the blame made me glad that I’d done something with what I knew.

It was just possible that Lee’s little sleight-of-hand would improve the chances of justice being done. If Mr. Embries was so important as to have a law firm at his beck and call, and was eager to claim the reward money, then he could at least create some discomfort for the Imperium if they tried to pass something else off as the official story.

There were a lot of ifs and a lot more uncertainty, but I had to trust that Lee knew what he was doing. He wouldn’t have suggested this course of action otherwise… even though he stood to make a lot of money for a more important client.

That wasn’t exactly fair. Lee had taken me on as a client with no guarantee of payment… he’d always tried to do what was best for me regardless of the outcome for him. He’d been upfront about the fringe benefits he’d reap for going to Embries with the information. He’d also made a good case for it being the best way of keeping me from being dragged back into the investigation. It was a good plan.

“So?” Ian said, and I realized that while I’d been thinking no one else had been talking, either. “What do you think is going on?”

“As I told the others,” Dee said, “it’s best not to assume anything you say in front of me will go no farther.”

“Ah,” Ian said. “So no talking about anything important. I got it.”

“We can speculate, though,” Steff said. “Who do you think they’re going to pin everything on? At least we can be sure it’s not any of us.”

“How?” I asked.

“Because we’re all walking around free as birds,” Steff said. “Birds who walk.”

“Freely,” Two added, with a nod.

“Birds who walk freely around campus,” Ian said. “If Dee’s under surveillance, all of us could be. If Gregory wanted to grab any of you guys… any of us… he could do it.”

“If it’s a frame-up, I’ve got a feeling it’ll happen in spite of Inspector Gregory, not because of him,” I said. “But I think Steff’s got a point. Yeah, they could take us in at any time, but why wouldn’t that time be now? Or before they invited the royal family of Mariinsky Lake.”

“Ian, did it sound like they were coming at imperial invitation?” Amaranth asked. “I mean, if they’re on their way because something did break that’s one thing, but if they’re coming on their own because they don’t like the pace of the investigation, that could be a little different. Anyway, if there’d been an arrest I doubt the authorities would be sitting on it.”

“You think this government has to tell us when they arrest someone?” Steff asked. “Honey, there’s naive and then there’s naive… did you fall off the back of the grain cart yesterday?”

“But they’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by going public if they’ve arrested a suspect,” Amaranth said. “The longer they go with no progress, the worse they look.”

“But maybe they figure a dramatic reveal is worth a little delay. We should check and see if anyone’s gone missing,” Steff said. “Anybody seen Shiel and… Green Shiel?”

“Oru,” I said. “There are enough empty rooms right now… oh, that reminds me. Dee’s friends aren’t the only people who are getting nosey. Steff, do you by chance have any extra noise-canceling cloth I can borrow?”

“I don’t have any extra-extra, but I think we can maybe get by without draping the outside wall,” she said. “Or we can try to stretch them some more… why?”

“Trina has apparently decided to minor in divination,” I said. “She’s getting her friends to try to listen in on me through Twyla’s wall.”

“Trina? With the eye?” Steff said.

“She has three,” Two said. “But one of them is bigger than the other two, so I could see how you would overlook them.”

“Isn’t she telepathic?” Steff asked.

“In a small sort of way,” Dee said. “It would take constant effort for her to keep herself open to thoughts from another room on an ongoing basis, and that is the last thing she would want to do if that room contained a mind of infernal origin.”

“That makes sense,” Steff said. “The word around Coombes’ Tomb is that she’s only a little bit more psychic than wet toilet paper. She just plays it up to be ‘interesting’.”

“Coombes… what?” Ian said.

“The necro building… Coombes Hall, really, but when the Emeritus Dean of Necromancy’s name makes a decent rhyme… well, if we were creative people we’d be in the Bardic Arts,” Steff said. “Anyway, I hear a lot of things echoing around the vaults.”

“Anyway… I don’t really like the thought of Trina knowing my business even if… things weren’t… you know,” I said.

“Well, anything to help a friend,” Steff said. “Or thwart a near-stranger.”

Ian and Steff both spent a little more time speculating about what the authorities knew or thought they knew or had planned despite not knowing anything, but I couldn’t have talked about what I knew even if we didn’t know Dee was being observed from afar. I cleaned off my plate in silence, and then went up and got another serving just so I wouldn’t be sitting there awkwardly. Anything else I might have talked about was kind of overshadowed by the things we couldn’t talk about.

It was kind of a relief when Steff and Ian finished. It wasn’t that I didn’t like spending time with my lovers and best friends, but I was looking forward to my first class of the day… I usually looked forward to Professor Goldman’s thaumatology lectures, but today was supposed to be a question-and-answer session in preparation for the comprehensive quiz on Friday. That quiz wasn’t worth any more points than normal, but it would reflect the sorts of things that would be on our midterm. Goldman had made it clear that the reviews were optional, but I wasn’t going to miss this chance.


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92 Responses to “451: Distant Observations”

  1. Kevin says:

    Well a very obvious one question is: Is it possible for someone to be permanently invisible.

    Current score: 1
  2. Josh says:

    What would happen if a sock enchanted to do something sock-y was given to someone of a race that wore socks as battle helmets.

    Current score: 1
    • Snortgiggle the lesser says:

      They might suffer from terminal foot-in-mouth. Or their next big thought would be a shoe-in. More ridiculous answers afoot ahead!

      Current score: 0
  3. LetsSee says:

    Professor Goldman, is gravity a result of the divine will of the Gods, the natural attraction of objects, or the interaction of magical elements (heat and earth) to create an attractive force? If it is none of these, then what is it?

    Inspiration for the question: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/science/13gravity.html?src=mv

    Feel free to rephrase gravity as the attractive force that keeps our feet on the ground, or whatever is required.

    Current score: 1
    • Zergonapal says:

      I think the acknowledgment of Gravity is precluded by the acknowledgment that the planet is a sphere. Is that a recognized fact, I don’t recall if that was ever mentioned.

      Current score: 0
      • Riva says:

        That was addressed way back at the Mechan circle. The Sphere is the first heavenly shape, as Mack observes; she’s surprised the Mechans hadn’t convinced themselves the world is flat.

        Current score: 1
      • Knowledge of the sphericity of the world is not a prerequisite for noticing gravity. All one needs do is watch Mack go through her day and count the number of times she falls down as opposed to the number of times she falls up to notice a pattern.

        Current score: 1
        • amber indikaze says:

          Except that would be “science”, a discredited philosophy held only by reality-denying kooks.

          Current score: 2
    • ropeburned says:

      Somebody’s got a tumblr

      Current score: 0
    • red says:

      Heh, count me as a physicist that doesn’t understand this guy’s theory… entropy is such a totally different process that is an energy loss, while when gravity works on an object energy is conserved (but generally transformed between potential and kinetic).
      Of course, what the magical equivalents are is what the next story will hopefully inform us :)

      Current score: 0
  4. Zergonapal says:

    I quite enjoyed this chapter especially “Mother” Amaranth gently scolding Mack and Ian.

    Current score: 0
  5. Seeker who isn't bothered to think of a real tag says:

    How exactly does infernal and divine energy affect thaumatological manipulation of energy?

    Current score: 0
  6. Warclam says:

    I’ve been wondering for a while whether word-magic (leximancy?) exists in this world, but how to phrase it as a question… perhaps:

    Professor Goldman, is it possible for a spell or similar effect to be cast by the act of writing it down? Are supposed Words of Power real?

    Current score: 1
    • Andrea says:

      Haha! That’s what Alexandra Erin casts on us: “lexi”mancy. Word-magic.

      Current score: 1
  7. AlterAlias says:

    Professor Goldman, I’ve read that back in the era of attempted ‘scientific magic’ that many wizards used physical components for their spells, was this purely a matter of primitive foci, or has there ever been evidence to support the use of spell components to mitigate the magical power required to cast?

    Current score: 0
  8. Sleet says:

    If someone polymorphs or changes their shape, their clothing and belongings, things they’ve got on them.. where does all that go?

    Current score: 1
    • hail says:

      …and if it changes with them, how does their “self-ness” incorporate the objects they wear or hold?

      Current score: 0
  9. Watcher says:

    In the third paragraph it says, “I resisted the urge to look at Amaranth or Ian” and then Ian arrives at breakfast later.

    Current score: 0
  10. llerk says:

    Just an editing comment. In paragraph three, second sentence, Mack resists looking at Amaranth and Ian. This is well before Ian arrives at the scene.

    Current score: 0
  11. docmom says:

    Continuity error–you mention Mack not looking at Amaranth or Ian at the table several paragraphs before Ian arrives.

    Love these thaumatology questions so far!

    Current score: 0
  12. Cernael says:

    First you write
    “I resisted the urge to look at Amaranth or Ian. I really don’t know if they did the same.”,
    then
    “Ian did catch up not more than a couple minutes later.”
    I think Ian’s /not/ supposed to be present in the first quote.

    Current score: 0
    • The Other Leighton says:

      Probably meant “Two” in the first quote.

      Ian… Two… both names with three letters so obviously easy to get them confused….

      Current score: 0
  13. Erika says:

    “Fucking magics; how do they work?”

    Current score: 1
    • Sleet says:

      Fucking magic all up in this bitch.

      Current score: 1
    • Jechtael says:

      It’s a miracle. Unless you’re talking about arcane and not divine magic, in which case I refer you to the Dean of Multi-Racial Students, Dr. Elefino.

      Current score: 0
  14. Tinq says:

    Professor Goldman, what happens when a spell that creates an unstoppable force encounters a spell that creates an immovable object, assuming both spells have either infinite durations or end at the exact same moment?

    Current score: 0
    • firedragongt says:

      Heck, I can answer that, the unstoppable force would just change directions

      Current score: 0
      • Rey d`Tutto says:

        One of the two is redefined…

        Rather than an absolute, state it as “an Object which has not yet encountered a force sufficient to move it” and “a Force that had not yet encountered an object capable of resisting it” for accuracy.

        How does “Accuracy” magic work?

        Also, Since they have Lawyers, and (i think) Insurance, Taxes, etc., Mathematic Theory in Mu likely includes Statistical Analysis, which many folk here think is magic (i.e. incomprehensible, counter intuitive, but working…)

        How do(does) mathematics affect spellcasting and enchanting?

        Current score: 1
  15. Matt says:

    Good chapter indeed. One editorial/flow note – the beginning of the chapter has Mack trying not to look at Ian and Amaranth, but Ian doesn’t arrive until later. Third paragraph:

    She very pointedly avoided looking at anyone as she said this, her gaze fixed in the middle of our table. I resisted the urge to look at Amaranth or Ian. I really don’t know if they did the same.

    Current score: 0
  16. Steven says:

    If Amy can emit a powerful divine radiance, can infernal do the same? If so, what would happen if they both released at the same time in close proximity?

    Current score: 0
    • Toast says:

      This reminds me of that episode of Pete And Pete where Pete rigs up a humidifier right next to a dehumidifier.

      Current score: 1
      • Kevin says:

        I wonder what would actually happen if you put a humidifier and dehumidifier right next to each other…

        Current score: 0
  17. Richard says:

    Professor Is it Possible to use the quantified energies of the mind to counter the quantified energies gathered from the Ether? (ie Psionics able to counter Magic)

    Is it possible to bolster the powers of one energy source such as Arcane magic , Divine or psionics with one of the other sources ?

    Current score: 1
    • Keep in mind children that “psionics” is a silly scientific term applied to the subtle arts. Do not confuse the very real but little understood subtle arts with some scientific hokey-pokery.

      Current score: 0
  18. Antongarou says:

    Professor Goldman, does magic actually create matter and energy or does it just transmute and/or channel them from outside sources?

    Current score: 1
  19. Stormcaller3801 says:

    Are the negative effects of a miscast spell predictable based upon the energy required for the spell itself, or is that one of those situations where they’re predictable right up until the point that you try to exploit those predictions?

    Current score: 1
  20. Miss Lynx says:

    Typo: “When my shadows learned that the women’s quarters in Harlowe are not appreciably tranquil than the men’s…” I think you need a “more” between “appreciably” and “tranquil”.

    I will probably think of lots of cool questions for Professor Goldman just as soon as it’s too late to do anything with them. At the moment, however, I’m coming up blank.

    Current score: 0
  21. Glenn says:

    Professor Goldman, could you describe the differences, if any, between Draconic magic (magic performed by Dragons) and the magic performed by Humans or Elves? Is Draconic Magic Arcane? Does the fact that Dragons have a different elemental nature than Humans significantly alter their magic? Is the magic performed by Greater Dragons significantly more powerful or versatile than the magic performed by the most powerful Human or Elven Archmages?

    Current score: 1
  22. Amy says:

    Professor Goldman, if two beings cast the same spell at the same object at the same time, what would happen?

    Current score: 0
  23. Ducky says:

    Professor, do the Principles of Scarcity apply to wishes?

    Current score: 0
  24. Zathras IX says:

    Sometimes it’s a small
    Blessing to be considered
    Beneath suspicion

    Current score: 0
  25. Daein says:

    Professor, are there any truly forbidden magic?

    Besides the source, is there any other fundamental differences between arcane, divine, and infernal magic?

    Who discovered arcane magic in the first place?

    Current score: 0
  26. Emeritus Dean of Necromancy says:

    Woot thats me, Coombes the Emeritus Dean of Necromancy :D

    Current score: 2
  27. MindWright says:

    Professor Goldman, is exclusionary comparison a refinement of the principle of comparison, or is it really a separate principle entirely? Can you clarify the difference for me?

    Current score: 0
  28. Fan says:

    Professor, what do nymphs do with objects when they put them away and how does this magic work? is it a spell or an innate magic

    Current score: 1
    • Andrea says:

      Professor, what would happen if a nymph put a living person “away” and them pulled them back out, say, an hour later? A year later? What would the person experience?

      What happens to the things nymphs put away if they lose their immortality and die?

      Current score: 1
      • l0stZ says:

        Nymphs can’t put living things “away”.
        I would guess Mother Khaele controls the “away” and decides what to do with it.
        I doubt she’ll drop the items the nymph has collected around her dead body like it was some sort of prize…

        Current score: 0
  29. toast says:

    Professor, are the different schools of magic set in their certain uses, e.g. divine for healing, infernal for damage and arcane as a neutral or can say infernals heal each other with magic and divine cause damage.

    If they can be mixed, then do any have particular advantages in certain areas?

    (kind of a rehash of Daein’s Q, but wanna know if demons can heal themselves aswell as a human)

    Current score: 0
  30. Toast says:

    Agaaahd, I had a history professor named Coombes and it would not in the least surprise me to learn he was a necromancer. He was a hundred and five when I took his class, which could be construed as a “first clue.”

    Professor Goldman, are you free Saturday?

    Current score: 0
    • Arancaytar says:

      Was the second clue that he was wearing black and smelling of corpses?

      Current score: 0
      • Toast says:

        Well, he did smell like death, but mostly he wore tweed.

        Current score: 0
        • Kevin says:

          Tweed, definitely a necromancer… or a Watcher (is there an attractive young girl hanging around him while fighting vampires and other baddies)

          Current score: 1
  31. Ferwe says:

    Professor, I’m afraid I don’t understand how we can make improvements in a discipline which is unpredictable at its heart. Can you explain?

    Current score: 0
  32. xaddom says:

    If a god casts a spell is that spell arcane or divine?

    Current score: 0
  33. Jennifer says:

    I love the fact that what Two means by “Beneath notice” and what Dee means by “Beneath notice” are complete opposites.

    Professor Goldman, to what extent is it possible to extract the essential nature of an object and “purify” it- for example, can one sufficiently skilled make a sword more swordy then any other sword? Or if this is beyond human making, is there in existence – divine or otherwise – something which is the epitome of a chair, as soon as the concept of a “chair” comes to be?

    Current score: 1
  34. Jack Wood says:

    This is a question for AE, not Goldman:
    Do you ever regret being so awesome? You have, as I count it, six comments all zeroed in on the ‘extraneous Ian’ error at once, and approximately a billion questions about magic.

    Second: would you ever consider putting together any kind of map? Even of the crudest sort? I’m absolutely lost as to the relative positions of most of the locations that pop up now and again.
    I’ve been vaguely imagining the continent that Mack and Co are on as North America, with the Unnammed Emperor’s seat of power on a Briton analog, and The Shift being around Russia.

    And here’s a question for Goldman, if you’ve still got space:
    “So, uhm, if I understand it right, the magic of the fae, and uhm, some of what alchemists or smiths do, like fermenting beer or turning iron into steel, is a sort of subtle magic. Is there like, a general, uh, unifying factor to these kinds of things, and/or with subtle arts?”
    (Or if that isn’t very readable, the same question, about subtle magic, in any ‘voice’ that seems appropriate.)

    Current score: 0
  35. Seeker of Justice says:

    Professor, regarding the Magic of Metephor? I was wondering how the result gets defined. If I was trying to give a friend the speed of a deer, which “deer” would he be as fast as? I mean, is it the Universe’s idea of “deer,” or mine, or his? And could that encompass a buck, doe or fawn as the caster.. or subject…. likes? As a joke, could I give someone the “sight of a hawk”… but use a blind hawk as a reference?

    Current score: 0
  36. Dani says:

    Professor, how does an artifact’s function become part of “the way things are”? For example, before carts were invented, it probably wasn’t true that a box with wheels and a steering mechanism was a good target for travel enchantments, but today it is.

    Current score: 0
    • DC says:

      Once you have a box with wheels and a steering mechanism, you have in fact invented the cart. So I think that question answers itself. :-)

      Current score: 1
  37. Gabor says:

    since arcane magic is done by drawing magic from some where, like a plane of pure water, what replaces the water that was removed. is there more created to fill the new void, or is there now less water spread out into more space? if there is more created where does it come from? if there isn’t does that mean we can run out?

    sorry if my question doesn’t make as much since as it does in my head, maybe have some not so bright person ask it :P

    Current score: 1
  38. Daniel Holm says:

    What limits are there, if any, to inherent qualities in an object? A simple helmet is presumably as good as a bucket when it comes to holding liquid, yet one is designed for it, and the other is not. Would any enchantment aligned with such a purpose differ in potency on either object? Would an enchantment intended to increase protection to the head work as well with either? If there are differences, is this because of an inherent limitation regarding qualities or simply due to the intended purpose of the object? If the intended purpose of an object has an influence regarding its inherent quality, can actual use have a similar influence? For example, if a helmet is used as a bucket for some time, would its inherent qualities shift?

    Current score: 1
    • Kevin says:

      The word bucket can be used to mean helmet… think about it.

      Current score: 0
      • Zergonapal says:

        An enchantment enhancing the properties of a bucket to contain a liquid could be used on a helmet to prevent your brain from leaking out of your ears.

        Current score: 1
  39. Richard says:

    To quote a book from the Everis Cale series ” psionics please….mind mage just sounds silly ” Magadon the guide/ psion

    Current score: 0
    • Anyone who introduces themselves as a “Psion” has forfeited the right to comment on what sounds silly. Or else they’ve advertised their credentials as an expert on the subject. I’m not sure which.

      Current score: 2
  40. DPO says:

    Professor, are there other extra-dimensional energies besides infernal and divine, or are those two special somehow?

    Current score: 1
  41. Ogg says:

    Is the ‘staffness’ of a staff, and the corollary thwackingness, length, and blockingness (To name a few qualities of staffs), a product of our perception of the staff as being a staff, or is it a product of the physical (Or magical or any objective) being of the staff? Basically, in a world without sentient creatures would a staff be a staff, or is it the creatures that impose the concept of staffness on the assemblage of physical and magical structure that is the staff?

    Current score: 1
  42. cnic says:

    Professor, you had mentioned the archmage Girault’s use of different languages for the subtle differences in meaning. Would this vary the effect of spells and enchantments that affect, for example, “evil”? If so, how might it vary in some of the major languages?

    Current score: 1
  43. Dirge says:

    How does the mass effect principal apply in regards to generic enchantments?

    Current score: 1
  44. zeel says:

    can properties of one object be moved to another? for example perhaps i have a sheet of glass, one property is that i can see through it. however a brick wall dose not have this property. could i make clear bricks by somehow moving the property? or make armor that protects your head, while not actually covering it, by moving (or copying) the property of head protection from a helmet, to the armor. and if it is possible can properties of living things, be moved to non living things. such as a demons ability to burn without burning up, could this be moved to that demons clothing? allowing them to light up without burning it off?

    Current score: 1
  45. Sakka Fan says:

    So, I’m a martial weapons major, and I’m wondering if it’s possible and how effective it would be to tie my own basic elemental spells into the various forms of martial art’s. Would it be possible to combine the grace of fighting with the focus and energy required to unleash the various elements.
    (In RL Terms: How likely is it that in the MU universe, that we’re going to see someone who essentially Bends the elements… Ala Avater?)

    Current score: 2
  46. Seeker in Morphine says:

    Where does the energy come from that maintains permanent enchantments? Are they like spells with a ridiculous amount of energy already prepared for future activation? Or perhaps they have components of passive collection over time so they can be activated seemingly at will? Does permanancy magic relate the enchantment to magic itself (or another origin) at a certain level of persistance and simply become a timeless and limitless entity? I’m sure that at least one student would still like to know if there’s a quick and easy trick behind the efficiency of magic this class is teaching. Maybe there really is a big permanancy spell that only becomes useful with an advanced understanding of thaumaturgy, who knows?

    Current score: 1
  47. Sleet says:

    Professor, now, I’m an elemental major, and I’ve been puzzling this over, but say I’m in combat with a higher-level rogue and a couple of his fighter buddies that are around him, and I throw a fireball at him directly. Now, the rogue has evasiveness, and he makes his reflex save, and his buddies don’t, how exactly does the rogue dodge the fireball which exploded on him and hurt his friends and not him, without him actually moving away anywhere? Because unless I’m understanding this wrong, the rogue isn’t actually using magic to avoid the fire damage, it’s solely his reflexes. Is it that my perception of the rogue’s nimbleness causes my fireball to think of the rogue as being more “dodgey” than the fighters, and therefore enable the rogue to trick my fireball into not hurting said rogue by.. looking evasive? Professor, I think I’m getting a headache..

    Current score: 0
    • how exactly does the rogue dodge the fireball which exploded on him and hurt his friends and not him, without him actually moving away anywhere?

      Goldman wouldn’t be able to answer this, but I will. :P

      The obvious answer is he doesn’t. You’ve tagged an assumption on there that prevents the question from having an answer. Clearly the Reflex save represents the Rogue dodging the fireball (flattening against the floor or wall, leaping over it, etc.) You might think, “But the Rogue is still right there.” Except even if you’re using tiles and miniatures, position and movement are still somewhat abstract. In the course of a nominally six second round, each average character might move the equivalent of 20-30 feet, right? And there could be half a dozen or more characters represented on the battlefield. If there are half a dozen and they all move their full move, then we must conclude one of two things: either each one is moving 30 feet in the space of a single second (while the others politely wait their turn) on top of attacking or whatever else they’re doing, or… and this is the more likely explanation… everything is sort of unfolding all at once, and thus the position of each person “on the board” at any given point in the turn sequence is an approximation at best of where everybody is “in real world terms”.

      Current score: 1
      • Sleet says:

        Curses, foiled again! By logic! But in an awesome way. Hm. I’m conflicted on how to feel about this outcome. Nah, I’m not, that’s awesome, thanks. I guess the relationship Tales of MU has with D&D won’t be pushed quite that far, good to know. Would have been funny though.
        Either way, thank you for not leaving me hanging. Love the story.

        ~Sleet

        Current score: 0
  48. Half-Dragon says:

    What was a chain before there were chains?

    Let me elaborate: A chain is acknowledged magically as a single item and can be enchanted as such. But as it’s a crafted item this can’t have always been the case. At some point someone made several individual links of metal, strung them together and called it a chain, but they were just individual links of metal. This has obviously changed. At some point, somehow, the chain was accepted as a single item by whatever it is that decides these things. How did that happen? Can it be made to happen again? Under what circumstances? If you added sawblades to the chain, would it be a new item or just a chain with sawblades attached, in terms of enchantment?

    This has been bugging me since I heard someone mention chained saws as two seperate items, a chain and a saw. I started wondering if, theoretically, they could be accepted as a single item.

    Current score: 1
  49. Wysteria says:

    Mackenzie’s breakfast group circles pretty strongly around her. Her sister, her boyfriend, her girlfriend, her owner. Steff and Amaranth might link up without Mackenzie there, but the others are brought together by her. It’s interesting.

    Current score: 1
  50. Glenn says:

    Professor Goldman, in the last few centuries, Wizards have become more knowledgeable and proficient in the things they can do. I know you can’t predict the future, but do you think this sort of magical progress is likely to continue? What sort of things do you think Wizards might be able to do twenty or thirty years from now that Wizards can’t do today?

    Current score: 0
  51. Claire says:

    If you replicated Girault’s experiment with more people conjuring fire in more languages, how constant would the (supposedly) language-dependent properties remain from person to person? Would someone who thought Merovian was a really “ugly” language conjure ugly fire if they used Merovian to do it? Also, how well do you have to be able to speak a language to do nominalistic magic in that language – if you handed Girault a dictionary for a language he didn’t speak, could he just look up “fire” and conjure it with the word he found there? What if it were a language that he couldn’t pronounce correctly or authentically (e.g. phonemes or combinations of phonemes that are hard for non-native speakers to produce)?

    (–Long-time lurker (for some definitions of “long”), first-time poster, and linguistics nerd)

    Current score: 1
    • Kevin says:

      Supplemental question on the matter of languages and magic, is it possible to use magic in a language that does not exist, in other words is Irefay (pig-draconian) an acceptable word for fire. Also, would the equivalent in another constructed language qualify as well (like whatever the MU equivalent to Klingon would be for the word qul)

      Current score: 1
  52. Okay, the request for thaumatology questions is freakin’ awesome. Wish I could think of one, but it’s been a long week and my brain is fried. But I totally look forward to the next chapter! (Uh, moreso than usual, that is).

    Current score: 0
    • Lysaea says:

      Same as above, I have too fried of a brain to make a good question. I look forward to the Q & A nevertheless!

      Current score: 0
  53. l0stZ says:

    Professor, will there be any difference between someone using fae magic using the draconian language and someone using draconian magic using the elven language?
    Can the language used offset the differences between magics?

    Current score: 1
  54. erratio says:

    How do inanimate objects ‘know’ what they’re supposed to be used for? Is it an innate property of the object or is it a cultural assumption kind of thing, that ‘everyone knows’ that this object is used for activity X and not Y, and that it has property Z

    Current score: 0
  55. Reynard says:

    Professer Goldman,
    Where does magic come from? Was it always around and accessible to everyone or did it show up after some event in history?

    Current score: 0
  56. OSW says:

    Professor Goldman
    Would a sincerely held belief have any effect on a thaumaturgical working?

    For example if someone sincerely believed that fires natural colour was blue, would they conjure blue fire when using it as part of their thaumaturgy or would it be the same as regular fire regardless of their belief and they would need to make a concious effort to change it?

    Current score: 1
  57. Razi says:

    So could someone who has never seen or experienced an element summon it? Like if someone lived in a very hot jungle would they be able to summon Ice? Assuming they knew what it looked like and knew it was cold? Or does it have to be something someone’s experience? What’s the necessary level of knowledge of an element required to summon it?

    Current score: 1

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