The house Charles had rented for Jessie and Kyle was huge. It had six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room, living room, family room, game room, and a couple of other amenities. Kyle thought Charles didn’t even understand just how overblown it was as a place to crash for a few days. He had described it as, “Adequate,” when he’d given them the keys.
At any rate, it was big enough for Kyle to have a whole room to himself when practicing magic. Jessie called the room Kyle’s laboratory, only she pronounced it lab-OR-atory, which didn’t make any sense at all. Kyle was doing magic and, for its era, Frankenstein had been hard science fiction. Scientists of the time had just begun to work with electricity and, as such, they’d realized it could make a frog’s leg twitch. Shelly had made the jump to assuming electricity was the very stuff of life and a whole heap of it might be able to bring a construction of dead body parts to life. Utterly wrong, of course, but also in no way a fantasy proposition.
Kyle had not told Jessie any of that. Even if there was a universe where the rules of physics allowed one to summon spirits from Tartarus to make cats smarter, there wasn’t one where that information would make Jessie tease Kyle less. Besides, she looked kind of cute when she tried to roll the r in laboratory.
Still, having the room was useful. It was empty, which kept him from bumping into anything if one of the spells he was doing required gestures, and he’d put up blackout curtains. That was useful for keeping people from looking in, or if he needed to see faint lights clearly. Kyle’s current work often had him trying to spot faint lights.
“Merv,” Kyle called. “Merv!”
Kyle’s familiar, the tomcat now named “Merv” because Kyle sucked at picking names, came bounding down the hall and into the converted bedrooms. Kyle reached down and gave him a scratch. The cat had proven stunningly trainable, as proven by the fact that it came when called. Kyle had assumed that was all the work of the spells, but Charles said the cat’s gender probably had something to do with it. Toms were often friendlier than female cats.
Once he’d received his scratch Merv sat primly with his tail coiled about his feet and awaited instruction, or more likely, treats. He was still a cat after all. Kyle flipped off the lights in the room, shut the door, let his eyes adjust to the darkness, and then inhaled a big breath of magical power. Then he inhaled a second time because the first hadn’t done the trick. That done, he reached out to a little above the cat’s head and willed more energy into a tangle of magical power hanging there.
The pattern of magic wasn’t a spell. It had a Greek name, but Kyle thought of it as a breadboard with Merv acting as a power source to hold it stable. Physically, it was a set of lines of power that could be connected if there was sufficiently powerful light in the area to improve magical conduction. With Technikose Lux providing an effectively limitless array of light or dark spells connections could be switched on and off at will. Patterns of light could also act as input buffers. The whole thing was a computer, or at least a computer waiting to happen, thus Kyle’s name for it.
There was currently only one program in it. When light, specifically about 10 lux, hit the base of Merv’s tail power was diverted from the connection to the breadboard back into the spells on the cat. That meant the breadboard was only active in a dark room, or when Kyle had cast a darkness spell over the cat’s tail.
Kyle’s current goal was wiring in a second program. He’d decided it would execute the trigger of a blanket protection spell in case he got involved in another magical dual. The moment when Kyle had made that decision had been an odd one for him as it required him to accept that he might get in a magical dual, and it might be a sudden life and death event, and that wasn’t something he could change. It felt like he was shopping for a car and had realized bulletproof glass was a compelling feature.
Another similarity between a blanket magical protection spell and bullet proof glass was neither one actually existed. Glass can be made bullet resistant. Unfortunately, the sheet of transparent stuff that will shrug off a 22 caliber hollow point from a handgun without chipping will become a collection of dangerous projectiles in its own right if hit with a sufficiently energetic round. Likewise, the spell that will protect its caster from being hit with an effect that negates electrical charge, and incidentally functioning brains, won’t do anything about a spell that accelerates little tiny bits of metal to a few thousand feet per second.
The solution adopted by police, militaries, and the same class of individual that purchased cars with bullet proof glass was to cast an effect that made it difficult to gather magical charge and thus to cast new spells. They then dealt with purely physical threats, even those conjured via magic from outside the magical denial zone, via purely physical means. As a magic user, Kyle had to modify that approach slightly.
His spell did the same thing, but it did it in a hollow sphere surrounding him. As such, Kyle could cast spells but no one could directly kill him with a spell. Of course, he couldn’t directly kill people either, but he liked to think of himself as the sort of person who didn’t see “being unable to directly kill people” as a major drawback.