Ch5: Going Undercover pt11

Charles had given Kyle the spell Kyle planned to use, and he’d said it would be easy to work with. Kyle was beginning to realize ‘easy’ was relative. The spell in question was one of those with an effect that happened wherever the magic fueling it was. As such, Kyle needed to lay the magic out like a ring of gunpowder, and light off the spell. All of the magic would be consumed instantly and a magic charge free zone would last like a ring of heat would have lasted if he’d actually been using combustibles. Oh, and he had to do it with a magical matrix controlled using little flecks of light. Simple!

Sighing, he cracked open a leather bound grimoire that read distressingly like a basic electronics textbook where all the technical terminology had been replaced with chunks of esoteric Greek, and anything about electricity had been replaced with magical metaphysics that wasn’t quite accurate. He began to read, “To achieve rudimentary command of the thaumaturgical influence, the magi should first utilize technicos lux to form a luminous aether…”

Beside him, Merv flopped to the ground and stretched out getting comfortable. He really was a smart cat.

* * *

Five hours later Kyle cast blackness at the base of Merv’s tail for the five millionth time. The objective number might have been lower, but it felt like 5 million. He’d even gone ahead and bound a specific darkness effect to a trigger of “Tenebrescere Cattus” or “darken cat”. Charles, he thought, would approve of the Latin. Well, at least he would if it was right; Kyle wasn’t completely certain it was all from the same period and grammatically correct. He’d let his language lessons slip a little while playing secret agent.

At first, Merv had been a little uncomfortable with a cloud of swirling blackness engulfing his tail, but some kitty treats and a few repetitions had gotten him past that.

So, in the kitty shading department, Kyle had made a lot of progress. Less trivially, he’d also managed to make a magical circuit that flashed the pattern of light which triggered Charles’s magical negation effect. But that was where he was stalled.

The trigger for the spell was basically an electrical circuit jumper. Kyle had a line of energy in his magical matrix that wouldn’t quite transmit power under ordinary light conditions. When he wanted the spell on he tossed a flare of light into it and a connection was made. He’d tried to update that to a spoken command, the grimoire he was using had a whole section on how to do that, but it had proven too complex. The section in the grimoire, not the actual connecting procedure.

The grimoire was a fine example of dark ages learning and it was really hard to use. Unlike a modern electronics textbook it didn’t contain any standardised language for its concepts. So instead of just saying “resistor” it had to describe a circuit that would produce a mild dimming effect which could be overcome through intense application of lux, but not inadvertent light leak, or always on low level signaling. It then gave that circuit a proper name, in greek of course, and referred to it everywhere else by that name. As a consequence the book couldn’t be used like a modern reference text but rather you had to read it cover to cover and make certain you memorized all the names.

It had taken Kyle an hour to figure the resistor thing out out. He wasn’t far enough in his reading to even know for certain if the voice control circuit was entirely non-spell magic, or if it would require a spell to somehow convert his voice to light. Of course, he couldn’t look anything up on the internet.

After he’d gotten frustrated with that bit of the work, he’d focused on shaping the magic denial spell. He’d hit mundane problems there. Because all of the magical computer’s input was in light he’d set the magical denial spell up to produce a light effect with lux before doing the magical denial. From there it wasn’t that hard to direct the light to a hollow sphere with a simple magical circuit, charge the sphere with magic, and then fuel magical denial on that sphere of energy thus shaping it. The problem was the light had to be really bright, or ambient sources would interfere with his control circuit. He was sure there was a way to refine the control circuit, but again the language of the grimoire was just too confusing. As such he had a spell that first blinded anyone who hadn’t shut their eyes then protected its user from magic. Not all bad, perhaps, but it scared the crap out of the cat.

Well he could deal with that by pushing more power into Tenebrescere Cattus.

Even once it was all working, the magical protection spell wouldn’t be perfect. First, it would pull Kyle’s magic out of him just as readily as it would disarm an attacker, so he had to be inside it when it went off. It would also limit how quickly he could draw in new magic. He could get some through the spell, but he couldn’t pull it fast enough that a “concentration” built up in the spell affected area. He wasn’t sure just what that meant yet.

Finally, the magical denial field wasn’t regular. For obvious reasons, it had to be flattened anywhere it encountered something translucent. The floor was translucent, so the spell always ended up crossing through his shoes. For most offensive spells that wouldn’t be a huge weakness in his defences, but he could easily imagine magical effects sufficiently aggressive that they’d just melt him from the feet up.

That particular image was horrifying enough that Kyle’s next task was going to be adjusting the frequency of his control light to something in the radio spectrum.

All in all, he was kind of relieved when Jessie walked in and offered up a distraction, “We’ve got a bite.”

Ch5: Going Undercover pt10
Ch5: Going Undercover pt12

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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4 comments on “Ch5: Going Undercover pt11
  1. DeNarr says:

    This chapter seems a bit overly descriptive, to the point where I had to reread to find where it went from techno babble to talking about actually doing stuff.

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      Yeah, I see what you mean. I think the problem is I was rewriting on this one as late as last night. Once I’ve had a chance to forget this section I’ll need to revisit it.

  2. Thaumaturgical_Support says:

    So with the line, “Not all bad, perhaps, but it scared the crap out of the cat.” I’m pretty sure I can pack my bags and go home. I’m going to finish writing the story, of course. I may even write a third “book,” but that line is what I came here to do.

    I wanted to write a story with traditional high-fantasy magic in a modern setting. With a wizard building a magical computer to cast self defense meta-magic and scaring his familiar in the process I have played my final card.

    Did it work? Was it worth it? Nemo judex idoneus in propria causa est. However, this is where I put the X on the map when I started out.

    Um that sounded kind of final, just to reiterate, I’m not done with the story or anything.

    Also – pro tip: When writing a story don’t come up with a good reason to name lots and lots of things in a language or languages you don’t know! Tenebrescere Cattus is, as the text notes, “darken cat”. The problem is “cattus” is male nominative for “wild cat,” from Late Egyptian čaute, from Afro-Asiatic kadís. It is the earliest Latin (and perhaps Greek, I forget if I looked for Greek specifically and the text says Latin…) form of the word, and it means wild cat because Greeks or Romans didn’t have domestic cats at the time.

    The problem is you also have “felinus” of unknown origin but much later vintage meaning domestic cat. Or at least *including* the meaning domestic cat; I don’t know if it can reference non-domestic cats in classical use. The scientific name for house cats is “Felis catus” so that would seem to hint that felinus does imply “domestic” and the periodically seen Felis domesticus is just plain redundant. I dunno…

    So why didn’t I/Kyle go with “Tenebrescere Felinus?” Well, “Tenebrescere” is *certainly* classic Latin. Charles, at least, would insist on that in the naming of spells. I didn’t want to risk paring modern Latin with classic Latin, so Cattus it was.

    In cannon, my ignorance has been fully projected onto Kyle and I blame him for any errors. If someone can confirm that he should have used Felinus I will have him corrected and humiliated by a language snob later in the story. (Although, if he’s clever he’ll point out that the spell should also work on wild cats.)

  3. Evan says:

    In the final few paragraphs, I think translucent isn’t the word you want. Its possible that this floor is translucent, but most are opaque.

    Funny thought … it sounds like Tenebrescere Cattus doesn’t specify a particular cat, so I’m imagining a future battle in some ally which includes several scared ally cats running around as their tails suddenly vanish into blackness 🙂

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