Kyle spent the remainder of the day demoing his spell. First he showed it to select members of the memory chip team, then he showed it to all of them, then he showed it to anyone who wanted to watch. There were a lot of takers. Each time he ran the spell he left other copies running to demonstrate its complete lack of a scale factor.
No one was really convinced there was no scale factor. If he’d explained how he was pulling that off, his coworkers probably would have believed him. Like the stirrup, a simple loop of leather which had revolutionized transport and warfare during the middle ages, the trick was actually pretty simple. That was the problem. Kyle hadn’t patented or registered his magic yet, and he was starting to think he shouldn’t spread it around so much.
Still the demonstrations were a complete success. By the end of the day all his coworkers were patting him on the back and congratulating him on the spell. Mary said she was going to clear using the spell on their project with legal and HR. She would have adopted it immediately, except she had no experience with licensing from an employee rather than an outside provider.
Oddly enough, Ketan was the only one to express any hesitence about the spell. He walked into a meeting room Kyle had used and asked, “So, have you done it?”
Kyle was packing the equipment he’d borrowed from the company, it was after 5 and he was tired, but happy. “Hey man. Have I done what?”
“Is this the spell to revolutionize the industry?”
Kyle felt himself grin broadly, “I hope it’s going to shake things up a little.”
Ketan nodded, but didn’t return his smile. “You know Thomas the Illusionist is an archmage, right?”
“Um, I guess I knew that.”
“And that Thomas Illusions controls nearly all visual effects magic.”
“What are you getting at?”
Kyle sighed, “You’re stepping on some pretty big toes.”
“Only if I’m lucky,” Kyle winked. “I plan to step on small local toes first, but if everything works well I might be able to tread on very large toes indeed.”
“Just be careful, OK?”
Kyle didn’t know what to make of that, but he nodded then put it out of his mind. It had been a great day. He wasn’t even annoyed by the extra long wait for a cab big enough to haul his equipment back home.
* * *
At work, Wednesday was sort of surreal. Another mage came in and packed up his Spinning Wheel after telling Kyle he had been assigned to run it. That seemed sort of abrupt, but Kyle didn’t think much about it. He’d been warned that assignments would be shifted around.
Next, he got an email from HR telling him to check his physical mail. That was very odd. Kyle had been in possession of a physical mailbox at the office since he’d started with the company, and in all the years he’d worked for Magic Materials LLC it had remained empty. His coworkers were all technically minded, and used Email or IM to communicate. Even his phone gathered dust unless HR wanted something. He checked the box periodically, about once a month, because it was a nice way to stretch his legs.
Still, the letter was real enough. After reading it, then looking at it for 15 minutes, Kyle was certain of that. It was printed on high cotton paper, with a nice solid watermark right at the center, it had two sharp creases in it. One was at the top half, the other was at the bottom. The three folds were almost the same size, but the bottom one was slightly longer. The paper even had a light lemon scent. He couldn’t guess why that had been put on it, but then again perhaps he shouldn’t cast stones given that he had held it up to his nose and sniffed. The ink was black and solid, the letters it formed spelled out an offer for sixty thousand dollars cash for all rights to his spell.
He turned the letter over and looked at that line a little longer. Sixty thousand. That was a lot of money. Nearly as much as he made in a year, the letter also said some stuff about how his talents might be needed in the “growing and and dynamic organization of Thomas the Illusionist”. Presumably that was a job offer, and one assumed that if a job came with a 60K signing bonus then it had to pay pretty wel.
Kyle folded the letter back up and tapped it on his desk. The crisp thick paper made a nice thumping sound, more like cardboard then ordinary printer paper. He wasn’t dumb, he realized everything about this situation was wrong. Most glaringly, an offer from Thomas Illusions should never have been in his Magic Materials mailbox. Of course, companies sniped talent from one another all the time, but it wasn’t so openly acknowledged. Anyway was 60 thousand enough? He was certain his spell could change the industry, maybe change the whole world. If it did so, it would make him considerably richer than that. He’d already privately entertained thoughts of becoming one of the archmages!
Second, this was way too fast. How was Thomas Illusions even aware of the spell? It gave him a little chill to think such a big organization watched so closely. Thomas must have been told of his spell by someone from Magic Materials.
Kyle decided he needed to talk to someone about the letter, the offer, and whatever else was going on. He checked for his boss first but didn’t find him. That was in no way unusual. Most managerial personnel spent so much time in meetings they forgot how to cast. After a little thought he went to Mary instead on the theory that she might be involved with the whole thing.
She was in, she read the letter with clear interest, and when she was done she scratched her head and scowled. “Well, it’s a good offer. They don’t come right out and say it, but it seems like there might be a job waiting for you as well.”
“Yeah, but it’s here, and HR knew about it.”
She nodded, “They might have routed it to you. So I went to legal, like I promised, about your spell yesterday. Licensing it from you would have been a real pain, but it would have been possible. Then it came up that it was basically a repurposed illusion spell and that changed everything.”
“Why should that matter?”
“Apparently we have some strange contract with Thomas Illusions. We got a discount for making them our sole supplier for any illusion spell. Any ‘light generation’ spell, actually. That seemed pretty broad to me, but I spent the afternoon in meetings and, basically, the company won’t touch your spell. There was even some sort of clause about Magic Materials notifying Thomas Illusions of people selling illusions, so that’s probably how they learned you have the spell in the first place.”
“Is that even legal?”
Mary slid the letter back to him across her desk. “I suppose. It’s not illegal to tell someone that someone else has developed a spell, and it’s not illegal to agree to provide information.” She leaned back in her chair, “But it looks like you’re going to do OK.”
“Yeah, I suppose.”