The Registrar’s chamber was in the dome they had seen from the outside, and it was quite a change from the dull office they’d just passed through. It proved to be a large, perfectly round, room, sheathed in gold leaf, and brightly lit by the morning sun light falling through windows which had not been obvious from the street level. The effect of so much light was forge-like: blinding and just a little hot. They both stood blinking for a moment before they could take in any other details.
When his eyes cleared, Kyle looked around the room for a way to summon the Registrar. He had never been taught the exact procedure, but one of his professors has mentioned it was simple.
That proved true. He noticed there were four braziers in the room. They were probably at the chamber’s compass points, though Kyle couldn’t be sure; he’d gotten turned around walking through the building. In a stunning display of the Registrar’s power, they were all lit. The flames seemed to be gas fed, but it was still hard to imagine the effort that must have been required to get local bureaucrats to allow an open fire inside a public space. Bronze writing was set in the gold leaf of the wall at about waist height. It looked like Latin, but he couldn’t remember enough of his language classes to read it.
The whole setting hinted at classic magic. Kyle closed his eyes and drew in a tiny thread of magic to expand his awareness. The room was prepared with a spell of some sort. There was a binding in each of the braziers. It was a complex shape that he couldn’t immediately name, but he recognized it as one of the more efficient storage bindings. The storage binding was connected to the bronze words via a limiter binding that allowed magic to trickle into them slowly enough that their spell wasn’t triggered. The only conceivable purpose of such a set-up would be to magically point at the words. Thus, presumably, if he removed the limiter and let the stored magic discharge directly into the bronze he’d trigger some sort of spell for summoning the Registrar.
Or he’d blow the entire place up. No, Kyle thought, the mayor’s office would never stand for that. It’s got to be a summoning. Here goes nothing. He walked over to the nearest brazer and drew a line of magic directly from it to the tail end of an “I” set in the wall.
Kyle heard Jessie gasp behind him. Freed from the confines of the storage binding, the magical energy began to glow in the visible spectrum. It looked like complex nets of amber fire around the brazier and it discharged into the letters making them burn as well. The activation of the spell raced around the room triggering each brazer in turn and setting all the words alight. When the last letter was burning with magical energy the entire chamber rang with a difficult to describe sound. It was something like a bell, but deeper, felt in the chest as much as heard with the ears. The air in the room changed.
“I think that’s summoned the Registrar. Now all we have to do is wait.” Kyle had barely finished speaking when the note being sung by the magic grew louder and rose by an octave.
The floor of the chamber was stone tile. It looked to be marble with smaller, more colorful pieces set into it to make a large pattern. Kyle hadn’t paid much attention to that. The entire courthouse was made of similar materials with similar designs built into it. The courthouse had been built in an earlier, fancier, age.
However, as the note rose around him the entire pattern began to glow. Moreover, the glow wasn’t the amber of free magical current, it was bright green tinged blue of Cherenkov radiation, and it indicated an active magical effect. Kyle hoped the spell was lowering the speed of light in the area to create that glow rather than pumping out a huge number of high energy particles. The same logic that had caused him to trigger the spell made him think it was probably safe, but he still stepped off the pattern and continued backing up until his shoulders bumped into the wall. A glance to the side showed Jessie in a similar position.
The center of the room began to distort. It was subtle at first, just a wavering of the tiles and walls beyond it, but it rapidly increased until nothing but blurry color could be seen through an area of space shaped rather like a tornado. In that space a darkness grew until it was man-sized, and then continued to grow until it was half again as large as a man.
Then, abruptly, the distortion, light, and sound all cut out. There was a new figure in the center of the room, but it was so far from human that Kyle assumed it represented some new phase of the spell. It banished that impression by speaking.
“I am the Registrar of the Compact. To what purpose have you summoned me?”