“Good morning,” Kyle said as Lynn finished getting his bearings.
“Oh, hey man. Um, good morning to you to. It’s morning?”
“About seven o’clock.”
Lynn looked a little confused for a moment, “Oh. That was sort of a long one then. I think, I went in like a little after five. I guess that’s thirteen hours. Um, it’s Wednesday, right?”
There was a moment of silence broken only by a reporter on TV discussing a recent street art exhibition with more enthusiasm then it could conceivably have merited. Lynn seemed comfortable with the silence. He flipped open the pizza box that had earlier concealed the tv remote, found a slice that had long ago passed “stale” and hit “fossilized and nasty”, and began to munch on it.
Kyle essayed another conversational attempt, “That seems like a nice levitation spell you were using.”
“Oh, thanks man. I invented it myself. I used to get totally wicked cramps when I’d sit for an hour or two. That’d totally knock me out of the magic stream, but now it’s all cool.”
“How does it work? Buoyancy? Gravitational effect? Mass?”
Lynn shrugged, “I dunno. I’m not good with any of that. It’s a classic spell, and I found it a long way out so probably nothin’ easy to describe with science. It doesn’t scale so great either, but that’s cool. I don’t want to sell it.”
Kyle nodded. The base magical cost of a spell was typically determined by how much work it was actually doing. If Lynn weighed 175 lbs and the spell was essentially accelerating him upward at one g… Well, there was certainly energy there but not an unmanageable amount. The scale factor of a spell had more to do with how the work was being accomplished. Lynn’s spell apparently applied some sort of physics on reality that couldn’t even be easily imagined, so if a second person tried to work it at the same time it might well become impossible for both. Such was the nature of magic.
“Still, that’s pretty cool. I’ve never invented a spell. At least not using the classic approach.” That wasn’t precisely true. Kyle had used Lux to “invent” several light spells, but it wasn’t at all the same.
“Oh bro, you’re missing the best part of magic!”
“Yeah? What’s it like?”
Lynn seemed to think for a bit. “You’re Mag E, right? What do they teach you guys about making new spells.”
Kyle thought back. “Um, in my program Mag E 202 was ‘Spell Creation and Binding.’ Not a very fun class. We got the basic process from an engineering standpoint: find some bit of physics you’d like to change, express the change via the correct equations, focus magic, and concentrate on the equations. Once you do that you… I can’t express it very well. You know how you’ve got that normal awareness of the magical field when you’re focusing magic? Well, focused on the equations it becomes an awareness of something that feels almost like the real world but not quite. That’s the seed of the spell. You push the magic into it, do the trigger at the same time, and you have the new spell.”
“Cool. That’s a lot like the classic approach. They always say doing it the modern way is like having a road map. I guess the equations are your road map.”
“Sure that part was cool. It was also like the last 15 minutes of the class during our final exam. Most of the class was finding some equation that wasn’t bound to a spell already. It basically turned into a practical exercise on running patent searches.”
Lynn looked really offended at that. “Dude!”
Kyle had to laugh. “It wasn’t that bad. You don’t need to look like you smell a gym locker.”
“Whatever bro. Better you than me. I was never that into maps anyway. I’m not regretting going Magical Fine Arts.”
“Alright, how do you guys do it?”
“Same thing, basically. Only you don’t focus on equations,” Lynn said pronouncing ‘equations’ a bit like ‘dog poop.’ “Instead, you focus on what you want. Which is sort of the same thing, after all. Just less specific. Then you get pulled in the direction of it, but for you that was quick right?”
“Classic style it’s a distant peak somewhere out on the horizon. Only mostly, it’s many peaks. Then you drift through the magic stream for hours until you get to wherever you’re being pulled. It’s not normally exactly what you want, so you try to feel out what it is. That’s more of an art than a science. Art college, right?” Lynn laughed, but Kyle didn’t follow the joke. “You could just do the spell, of course. Sometimes people do. That’s not safe, but it’s quick. Anyway, you keep going to different spots in the magic until you find the one you need. Mag E wise, I guess each spot in the magic is a different vacuum energy and you’re navigating based on the relationship between magic and information. Knowing that doesn’t help any more than calculus helps your jump shot. You’ve got to get the feel of it down.”
Kyle had to grin at that. Maybe knowing how focusing on something could guide a mage to a spell would help if anyone actually understood it. Maybe someone could even make a spell to completely fix the problem. Unfortunately, no one really did. Toward the end of his college career Kyle had considered getting a post graduate degree. To that end, he’d audited a 500 level class called “Quantum Determination and Spell Seeking”. It had been on the subject of how focusing on an equation or even just a vague desire could guide a mage to the correct magical effect.
There he learned that “Quantum Determination” means the future wave function of a quantum partial is uniquely determined by its evolution operator. That applied to any wave function, not just the wave functions of merlitons. In the strange case of magic an information processing matrix, in many cases the human brain, is part of the evolution operator. Thus states in the information processing matrix could guide magic to a desired end point. The problem, of course, was why and how did magic care about information processing matrices. Then the professor had started to write differential equations on the board, Kyle’s eyes had started to bleed, and he’d gone corporate.
Contemplating that, a stark fear gripped the young mage. Would Charles want him to revisit that study? He pushed away a shudder of black dread and refocused on Lynn.
“So what are you looking for? Not just levitation, right?”
Lynn grinned. Clearly Kyle had found a subject he was interested in. “Im-or-tality man,” he said pulling each syllable out. “The eternal quest, and not just for a select few like the Elves or Archmagi. I’m going to find a way to do it that doesn’t take a constant stream of magic. Just, ‘boom!’ cast once and you’re done. Everyone can play.”
“That’s ambitious,” Kyle said though it wasn’t quite what he meant.
“I know what you’re thinking, ‘You’re one of those.’ It may even be true, but let me ask you; when do most Immortality Seekers start?”
Kyle shrugged. He didn’t know much about the small community of magi who spent their free time hunting for a spell to extend their lives. According to his professors, friends, and coworkers they were fools. Most never found what they were looking for. It was the few that did that kept all the others going. Still Kyle wasn’t sure they had a prize worth winning.
“I would guess they’re pretty old,” Kyle answered after a moment’s thought.
Lynn smiled. “Most people would guess that, but not really. It’s more of a middle age thing. By the time people are old they’ve come to terms with aging. Maybe for some people fighting aging with magic is part of that process.”
“Very philosophical. So you’re saying that this is just your way of making peace with time?”
“Hah! No, I’m saying I’m really young. I’ve got decades on most of those geezers. Way more time to get it right.”
Kyle had to chuckle at that a little. “Well, OK, but you’re kind of missing out on a lot of other stuff, aren’t you? Use the time you have and all that?”
“I kinda like being in the magic, man. Plus, I want a spell that works for everyone. If I spend my time trying to cure cancer, but don’t, does that mean I’ve wasted my life?”
“I guess not, so have you got anything?”
Lynn shrugged, “A lot of strange ways to kill rats, and maybe some stuff I’ll go back to if I decided to use a spell that requires constant energy.”
“Isn’t a spell like that just a little depressing?” That was the other down side of life extension magic. You could live forever, but while you did it you got to watch your friends, family and loved ones die knowing you could help, but probably only if you wanted to give up your own extra years.
“Right, who wants to live forever? But don’t forget that was, ‘When love must die!’” Lynn broke into song at the end. His Queen rendition was ear shatteringly bad. “I dunno. Maybe I won’t use any of it. I probably don’t have anything to use yet. I mean, making a mayfly live for a few weeks isn’t really proof. It’s not like the seekers who end up killing themselves don’t think to test their stuff. Some even buy monkeys you know. If I do use it, it’s not like living alone forever. You know there are quite a few families out there that quietly pass down a spell, and an ancestor, through the generations. It’s a good way to make a family successful in a sort of a blue blood way, and if you’re the ancestor, you’ve got meaningful work as long as you want to live.”
Kyle cocked his head at Lynn. “I’m not sure I see you doing that.”
Lynn shrugged. “It’s a thing. I mean, not now, but give me 80 years and maybe I’ll want to grief my grandchildren about their ‘comportment.’”
“You have grandchildren?”
“Not now!” Lynn looked shocked. “Again, eighty years. Who knows.”
Kyle nodded. “Well, I guess if you find a way to make us all live forever let me know.”
“Right on man,” said then he took another piece of the nasty pizza.
Kyle had to cringe, the pizza didn’t even really look a lot like pizza anymore, “You know, there’s cereal in the cupboards.”
“Nah, it’s cool. I like ‘za.”
“I think there’s some that’s been refrigerated.”
“I kinda like it like this.”
Kyle nodded again and decided he just wouldn’t watch Lynn eat.