Epic Skills are on Display

Most of the tests were fairly dull. The Steel Dragon drew in an odd mixture of people. Most were just looking to get a workout and a useful skill at the same time. But maybe a third took the training very seriously. For them, every punch was intense and some of them seemed to be visualizing a target.

One of those, Jill, a slight and fragile looking woman, was testing for her green belt. Shan led her through the usual run of kicks and punches then he put on a glove and braced himself. “Let’s see your best force shot.”

A force shot used ‘chi’ to make an ordinary punch into a more devastating blow. Master Shan always stressed that it was among the most dangerous of techniques. The woman raised her eyebrows and hesitated when Shan told her to level it into his glove. Shan correctly identified her worry. “Do not worry, you have no magical experience, right?” She shook her head slightly, “In that case you’re new at this and won’t hurt me. Show me your best force punch.”

As he spoke his eyes darted over to Kyle. A couple of years previously Shan had said almost the same thing to Kyle when he was testing for a green belt. Only Kyle had been able to summon the same amount of energy as a tenth level Dan’s best effort due to his magical training. When Kyle had followed instructions and delivered his best shot Master Shan had been knocked across the room and into the wall. Jun Shan had taken the hit with impressive skill; he’d also started asking about magical experience.

Jill’s effort was fine for her belt, but not nearly as impressive. She lowered her eyes and pursed her lips in a look of concentration, tightened her stance, made a solid closed fist, and then struck forward with the determination she’d brought to all of her training. There was a sharp crack, a flash of light, and Jun’s arms shivered as they absorbed the punch.

“Good.” Jun nodded slightly.

Jill returned the bow and then walked back to her place. Testing continued.

Kyle was called forward several students later, he walked up and Master Shan immediately started barking out commands. Kyle followed them, finding the stances and names for various combinations came to him automatically even when something unusual and seldom practiced was being requested. He was nervous, but that just lent his strikes power and made his movements flow in a way he couldn’t typically manage. The only move he even stumbled on was a very high kick where his foot slipped against the slick boards. Jun’s face was, as always, unreadable but his normally stern expression seemed relaxed and when Kyle nailed a particularly complex combination without even slowing to think about it he actually smiled.

At length, Shan moved behind a heavy punching bag that had been hung up for the testing and braced it like a boxing trainer. “Force side kick,” he instructed.

Kyle drank in the biggest gulp of power he could manage and let fly. His foot raced toward the bag. Energy flowed into it from every part of his body. It was like lightning coursing down every vein, across every nerve. His foot contacted the bag.  He let go of his power.

Magical energy changes space, invalidates the ordinary rules of the universe, and twists the underlying quantum structure such that other rules apply and a completely different set of possible and impossible holds sway. If this is done consistently, with foreknowledge of the effect, to achieve something otherwise impossible in our universe, then it’s a spell. With a force strike it doesn’t go that far. Instead, the release of energy is uncontrolled.  Down at the smallest possible unit of space, somewhere around the Planck length, reality itself foams. Impossible becomes possible, possible impossible. Photons and electrons that exist comfortably in the normal world until that instant dissolve into energy as their existence comes into sharp conflict with the new rules. Quantum particle pairs are exposed to rules that throw off their perfect balance such that one half ceases to exist, and the other part becomes more energetic. Exotic matter and energy flows out of the new reality and into target.

“BANG!” A light like a flash bulb strobed across the room and a crack loud enough to rattle the windows sounded. Energy of every sort fountained off of the impact point: heat, magnetism, light from every part of the electromagnetic spectrum, a whole zoo of subatomic particles, and some strange kinetics. The 350lb punching bag jolted backwards so hard that Jun was forced to stagger two steps back. It was like kicking a blasting cap; a real opponent would have been sent flying.

Master Jun must have been impressed because he gave a little nod to the rest of the class. “Chi is strong in this one.”

We continue the story of a Dodgy Dojo
A New Character Appears!

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.

Posted in The Beginners Guide to Magical Site Licensing Tagged with: ,
13 comments on “Epic Skills are on Display
  1. Thaumaturgical_Support says:

    So this is not my favorite scene. Basically the entire belt testing sequence establishes that Kyle knows a couple of things. I think that’s important, but I’m not really happy with this delivery mechanism. I’m not sure it holds up under it’s own weight – especially in the serial format where it takes a week and a half to get through. We’ll see though maybe I can do a bit more with it later on in the story, and anyway I never claimed to be good at this “writing” thing.

  2. coolvstar650 says:

    I like it! The pacing was good, I got the information I needed and the descriptions were well done. You could have left the paragraph “As the last person before Kyle…” out, but beyond that I thought the scene was great.

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      I agree, when I was proofing it last night I kind of thought “what’s this here for?”, but I left it in. I’ve taken it out now.

      Eventually, I need to see how Kyle’s emotions read throughout this section. When he’s getting off the bus, he’s worried about being late but he doesn’t think much about how he’ll do when he actually takes the test. The update just before this one mostly introduces the dojo and I don’t think Kyle’s emotions are mentioned at all. Then here he’s nervous. I think he would be, but I need to introduce that earlier and thread it through more consistently. It could give the scene a bit more tension.

      Anyway the feedback and thanks for reading!

  3. Locke says:

    This is a pretty interesting story. I like the fact that magic seems to have defined rules – especially since the story seems to be focused in large part on magic. I also like how magic is used to augment and advance technology instead of supplant it.

    There are a bunch of small mistakes, but really nothing that massively inhibits the flow of reading. Some of these are grammatical (Paragraph 3 – ‘Master Shan always stressed that it’s…’ should be ‘it was…’), while others are just confusing wording (Paragraph 1 – the last sentence should probably start with ‘For them, …’ or something similar). These kinds of mistakes aren’t easy to pick out, and if you’re a first time author it’s perfectly reasonable for you to make them. Also I feel I should point out that your ‘about’ section should have commas after ‘explain’ and ‘myself’ but not after ‘reason’.

    What probably needs the most improvement is your sentence structure. It looks like 90% of your sentences are made of a single independent clause. This can make paragraphs seem boring. It can also make them seem clunky. Often it results in very short sentences. These sentences sometimes don’t say a whole lot.

    See what I mean? The above paragraph was made entirely of singular independent clauses. That’s not to say that these don’t have their place – they do. However, you should sprinkle them in with other sentence structures to make your writing sound more natural. Really, the best way to figure out what you should write is by speaking aloud. Humans are more natural speakers than we are writers, so if something you write sounds odd when you say it, it probably is.

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      Thank you for the feedback. The comments on sentence structure are much appreciated. I have actually been trying to *simplify* my sentence structure. For a long time, I would find that everything I wrote seemed to be a tangle of conjunctions, dependent clauses, parenthetical comments, and lists. I felt it was probably making my writing hard to follow so I edited it out in a lot of places. It sounds like I’ve gone overboard.

      • Kim says:

        The advice to speak it aloud is fantastic. With practice, a truly complex sentence should flow from start to finish like a mountain rill plummeting into the valley below.

        See? The sentence jigged a bit, then settled into a flat out run someplace else.

        Clarity is good, and short sentences help with clarity — they hit with a lot more force than a longer sentence, in the main.

  4. Jostikas says:

    Is this a different Jill than the one introduced two chapters ago as as “[Shun’s] eldest black belt”?

    Enjoying the story so far. Do you have some science background or is this knowledge from hard sci-fi?

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      Definitely a different Jill. Putting two Jills in the story wasn’t really part of a plan on my part; I guess I just think “Jill” when I go for a white bread American name. I think I’ll change it in the final version compiled version of the story, but leave it alone for now.

      I don’t have a science degree, but my technobabble game has been aided by years of reading popular press science magazines. I also like Brandon Sanderson’s ideas about “hard fantasy”, so I always try to justify my fictional magic. The two kind of come together there and elsewhere in the story.

      • Irrevenant says:

        Yeah, best to maintain ‘conservation of names’ or even similar names: Citadel has a Kelly and a Kerry, and that took a little while to get the hang of.

        Alternately you can play with the ‘rule’ I remember one episode of Doctor Who that had ‘Dave’ and ‘other Dave’, which was pretty funny.

  5. Michael says:

    You know, if every force strike is spewing energy from across the entire EM spectrum, you have to wonder about cancer risk…

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      I thought I addressed that but maybe I deleted that when editing. The conversation of magic to light is similar to the concession of heat to light; the lower wavelengths tend to be output first. You get some of everything but less of the hard stuff due to the probability of generating it. Furthermore you hurt yourself if you do it too much.

    • Isa Lumitus says:

      I also wondered about the cancer risks associated with exotic particles spewing everywhere.

      Then I figured that they’ve had magic doing this for hundreds of years. Either humans in this story are resistant to whatever is released, or doctors have a handle on curing it.

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