Ch2: Apprentice Illusionist pt1

Kyle sat hunched over an uncomfortable desk, in his uncomfortable robe, and sweated away at the test he’d been given. Had Kyle been asked about it a few months previously he would have said he knew magic. After all, he had a magical engineering degree as well as several years of experience as a professional spell-caster.

He had re-discovered, or at least half re-discovered, one of the most important techniques in magic aided only by the knowledge of one unusual binding. He had used that to launch a successful magical business, and when that business had brought him to the attention of a malevolent Archmage he had managed to withstand the attacks that had been sent after him. None of those things were minor feats.

However, the test was making him feel like a rank amateur. For Kyle, learning magic from Archmage Charles was like a modern linguist learning Latin from a Benedictine monk. Certainly the modern scholar would be able to read the language. But how would their penmanship fare? Could they memorize, and then flawlessly recite, long texts? Would they have sufficient capacity at illuminating capital letters? They certainly wouldn’t know how to make their ink or quill pens.

The monks might well be far from easily pleased; Charles certainly was.

Taking the test, Kyle felt rather like he was involved in trimming a quill pen. When Charles had first taken Kyle on as an apprentice he had quizzed Kyle on his knowledge of bindings. Kyle had explained what he knew. The light-sensitive binding, of course, some bindings for power storage, flow regulation or measurement, and the slip-knot; a binding useful for setting a spell up on a time delay. Those were the bindings students learned while studying the physical properties of magic and they were generally considered sufficient for an industrial mage who wouldn’t be dealing directly with magical infrastructure or circuitry. After all, an autocaster could duplicate the results of any binding and then go considerably further.

Charles had been disgusted. He’d really looked like he was suffering the physical effects of a bad taste when Kyle had repeated that bit of conventional wisdom. So he’d set Kyle to learning what he considered a sufficient subset of all of the possible magical bindings. On its own, that might have been interesting. Kyle had learned much more efficient ways of doing several things, and he’d even learned some things were possible that he’d never previously considered doing without equipment.

What made it all painful was Charles wasn’t happy with him just naming, explaining, identifying, or even performing the bindings. He had required that Kyle draw them using a very specific calligraphic system for rendering the 3d shapes on a 2d surface that had first been developed when Latin was still used to haggle over the price of fish. It had a number of unpleasant quirks, but the worst of it was anything in the binding that would be close to the caster was drawn with a thicker line than anything which would be further away. A very specific brush was used to achieve this effect, it was a pain to use, and Charles graded tests for penmanship.

Tongue between his teeth Kyle sketched out the last of the bindings required for his test. Finished, he sat back and eyed his work. It was, he thought, pretty good. The neat shapes of the bindings looked like some sort of art when done well. The odd thought crossed Kyle’s mind that they’d make cool abstract tattoos; perhaps he could sell them for that if the whole wizardry thing didn’t work out.

It was working out, though. The Archmagi controlled the world’s access to certain forms of magic. Illusion was one of those. The mage who used to be in charge of that had been named Thomas. However, he’d gotten corrupt and he’d been killed. Kyle shuddered slightly remembering that. A powerful and ancient magical force had killed the man and it had done an impressively thorough job of it. The police had needed to identify the body using DNA.

At any rate, after the death of the previous mage controlling illusion Kyle had been given a role in disseminating illusion spells to the public. To set this up a holding company controlled by the Archmagi, though an eye blistering series of intermediaries, had “purchased” Kyle’s small illusion firm, rolled it in different corporate packaging, and then returned it to Kyle in such a way that he no longer looked like the owner. That bit of corporate Three Card Monty had also injected capital and several important patents into the business. It now had a staff and was growing rapidly. The profit from the business was almost entirely Kyle’s, and he was now probably fairly rich. That fact had surprisingly little bearing on his life as he was also an apprentice to one of the Archmagi, so instead of spending his days like he was living in a rap video he spent them taking tests and doing calligraphy. That and practicing calligraphy and studying for tests.

He sighed and passed a roller of blotting paper across the test so as to dry the paper without smearing it. Another thing that was necessary because he was apparently living in the 18th century.

That finished Kyle glanced over at the clock and rose from where he set in a rather bland interior room, left the room, and threaded his way out into Charles’s impressive Caribbean mansion.  Despite having lived there for several months, Kyle hadn’t quite gotten used to the rich surroundings. Most of the floors were tiled with some sort of natural stone Travertine, Kyle thought, that probably cost 10 or 20 dollars a square foot. Given that the house was probably somewhere near 50 thousand square feet that meant the cost of flooring alone would have purchased a very nice home almost anywhere else. That wasn’t the only sign of extravagance. The general style was Spanish, which tended toward the unadorned. But many of the ceilings were exotic hardwood, nearly every room seemed to have a wide balcony, and the decor included more than a few recognizably famous works of art.

Still, intent on getting his test to Charles in under an hour, Kyle didn’t spend much time admiring. Instead he exited the house, walked past a beautifully landscaped pool, across a brief courtyard, and over to the actual beach. It was another sign of the house’s luxury that it had a pool just a few hundred yards from the beach. Charles claimed that was practical because sometimes the weather might not be good for swimming in the ocean, but the pool was heated and could even be covered if need be. Kyle would have found that a bit more believable if he’d ever seen Charles swim.

What he had seen Charles do is what he was doing when Kyle found him; napping on the beach. “Master,” Kyle inquired just loudly enough to wake the Archmage.

Ch1: Rumble in Pando pt7
Ch2: Apprentice Illusionist pt2

For some reason I cannot adequately explain, even to myself, I'm trying to write and to write better. So if you like my story let me know. All feedback is appreciated.

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16 comments on “Ch2: Apprentice Illusionist pt1
  1. AvidFan says:

    He launched a successful magical business… and then it brought him to the attention of Thomas…

    … Didn’t he technically get Thomas’ attention when her tried selling his spell at his workplace?
    And wasn’t his business doing rather poorly?
    Although, this is from his perspective, and everyone knows that your own perspective is (usually) warped in your favour… I guess I can let it slide… He did manage to defeat- to summon someone else to brutally murder Thomas the Insane Illusionist.

    • AvidFan says:

      Please ignore my typos. I blame autocorrect.

    • Jonathan says:

      Actually the business was doing starting to take off when Thomas actually went after him. But yeah technically he was in the crosshairs before he started the business.

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      So, yeah, you’re right on all counts.

      I wrote that the way I did because the line doesn’t really belong to the serial. It’s a bit of re-capping I’d need if this were books. It gives the general impression of what happened but sacrifices a lot of detail and some accuracy in exchange for speed. I was basically trying to say, “The character you are now meeting for the first time would have been a successful business wizard but for aggressive outside influence. However, that’s all done now. You should really read the first book.”

      Now why am I saying that in a web serial? Hummm… Reflex I guess.

      I’ve read enough series that it somehow felt very natural, as I was writing, to throw that little bit of recapping in even though it’s technically out of place. I would have deleted it when I was setting up this update, but I *would* like to bookify these some day and it’ll be useful then.

  2. Jonathan says:

    the quickest doc would probably be “when that knowledge” instead of business.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Quickest fix*

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      Oh blast! I’ll have to clean those up tomorrow. Thanks for pointing them out! 🙂

      • Kazorh says:

        Out of curiosity, was our old conversation on DNA triggers back in Definitely an Alley ( the inspiration for the way Jessy is dealing with her enchantment?

        • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

          There, I think I got all those errors. It’s funny; I remember being so annoyed with Philip José Farmer when I was reading Riverworld and Dayworld. He kept forgetting details of his own book! How could you do that?

          Sorry Mr. Farmer, it’s easier than I realized!

          Yes, that conversation did influence me. 🙂 There were also a few other things that make giving Jessie *more* magic to kill the existing spell attractive. It’s much easier to put something into DNA than it is to take it out. (Because you don’t need to hit every strand when inserting.) Using up her magical power struck me as a slightly interesting way to address the original spell because it was indirect. And, of course, if she’s just cured then she doesn’t have a lot of motivation to continue involving herself in magical misadventures. I can’t lose half my dynamic duo and a sequel needs to up the ante a little.

          It’s good to see you back, btw. 🙂

          • Kazorh says:

            Heh. It’s good to be back. I’d decided to let the updates accumulate a little and read them all at once. Then I kinda, uh… forgot to check back.

            It actually happens to me fairly often. I have many more serials in my bookmarks than I actually follow regularly.

            On the bright side, I got to read most of the book at once, straight to the end.

          • Warren Peace says:

            Interesting you bring up Farmer, I started reading this story immediately after trying and failing to get into Riverworld!

            • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

              Not a bad series, though it shows its age, but thinking back I’m afraid I remember it more for its weaknesses than its strengths.

  4. Warren Peace says:

    I don’t usually comment on typos, but some of these are actually interfering with reading the story.

    *But how would their penmanship fair (shoukd be fare)
    *He had used that to launch a successful magical business(add comma here) and when…
    *3 Card Monty (write out small numbers: three card monty)
    *this should read: …some sort of natural stone. Travertine, Kyle thought, which probably cost ten or twenty dollars a square foot…
    *the sentence beginning with “Another sign of the house’s luxury that,” and the next one need to be rewritten completely, I think

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      Thanks for the catches. I’ve got to apologize. The typos will be getting a bit worse from here on. A zillion people read and commented on the first book, but as you move in to the more recent posts you’re going to see less heavily edited work. Worse yet, I had to increase my posting pace and while I don’t think the writing has suffered the proof reading may have…

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