Summoning the Registrar

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?”

You're Going to Have to Sign a Waiver
The Secrets of the Archmagi

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: ,
10 comments on “Summoning the Registrar
  1. Thaumaturgical_Support says:

    So, I felt the last update was a little skimpy. With this one I’m pretty sure I was just being a jerk when I cut it. 😉 Sometimes when I’m setting these up I read along and think, “Oh, there’s a good spot to stop. People are sure to come back if I leave off there.” Books, as it turns out, have lots of little natural cliff-hangery places in them.

    Maybe the harder it is to put down, the more places there are like that in the book. You could probably break a Jim Butcher book into any size updates you want and every single one would work for dramatic tension. I dunno, I’ll have to pay attention to that when “Peace Talks” comes out.

  2. The current name for that is “micro tension” and a lot of books these days are built that way, to have constant little tensions and cliffhangers in order to build up tension throughout the whole work, keep you reading page to page. Personally, in anything other than a spy thriller, its just exhausting, and I hate when I see what could easily be 300 one page serial updates. (That said, it happening here and there in chunks, like right now in your story, is fine. But if you can break EVERY update that small and have the tension, well… its the current way to do things, but I dun like it, no sir. )

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      Hmmm, interesting. I don’t know if what I’ve done would qualify or not. If you were reading it as a unit it you’d see “the Reg doesn’t look like a man”, “Reg says hi”, “tightly encapsulated description”. Mostly, I see what’s happening here as an artifact of a rapidly evolving situation that the characters don’t really understand. It’s like a fight scene. Then again, the advice to create those micro tensions may be essentially telling writers to always keep things changing like that. In which case, I can see why you’d say it works for a spy thriller but otherwise no.

      Someone, I want to say Orson Scott Card but I’m not really sure, advised that suspense isn’t created by “knowing practically nothing” but rather by “knowing practically everything.” For example, character A and character B have to work together to resolve the conflict, the reader knows this but doesn’t know if either character will realize it in time. As a reader, that’s what keeps me from getting to bed on time. I don’t know if I’ve followed that advice in writing this story. To a certain extent, I suppose the sub-plot with Jessie qualifies but, to really drive it home, I’d have to let the reader know how it should be resolved via Kyle’s viewpoint.

      Viewpoint tends to be the problem with that approach. I’ve flat stated that a twist is coming next Tuesday*, but I don’t have a viewpoint that could elaborate on that in-story. Instead, I’ve mostly used foreshadowing based suspense. I’ve hinted for a long time that the Reg isn’t some balding clerk who can, at worst, stamp denied on a form Kyle will fill out. Still, the reader doesn’t have much ability to speculate about what the Reg is.

      You know, until next time. Come back next time…. heh

      *Seriously, come back on Tuesday! 😉

      • irrevenant says:

        IMO, serials differ from novels in this regard. Look at Worm. Almost every single chapter ends on a cliffhanger. A novel with 3 dozen cliffhangers would drive a reader insane. But it works great for a format where the reader is being drip-fed chapters.

        I actually read Worm after it was finished but I found the comment sections served a similar purpose. Reading and responding to all that broke up the story so it wasn’t just bang, bang, bang, Bang, bang, bang…

        • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

          “A novel with 3 dozen cliffhangers would drive a reader insane.”

          AKA: R. L. Stine. 😉

          Writing a cliffhanger into the plot is something I wouldn’t do much. That would be like the season ender thing all the TV shows are doing these days. Mostly, it’s pretty annoying. Sometimes it’s annoying and then the plot has to deal with something inconvenient next season. The thing serials have going for them over novels is you turn the page when I say you can (bwahahahahahahahaha!), so a little thing like the description of a patent clerk can build some suspense without mucking up the plot.

  3. AvidFan says:

    I hate cliffhangers.
    Hate them.
    HATE. THEM.

    Especially when I’m tired, about to go to sleep but think “I’ll just finish this serial page.”
    Then things start happening, I wake up as I get more interested, then BAM. Cliffhanger and the end of the page. I’m left fully awake while trying to sleep with only 5-7 hours left until I need to get up.
    YOU DAMN AUTHORS AND YOUR DAMN CLIFFHANGERS WILL BE THE DEATH OF ME.

    Why can’t you just keep us interested with good plot? Why!? q_q

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      It is the official stance of the author that this Serial is best consumed at work while you were assigned to do something else. If enjoyed in this manner The Beginner’s Guide will not interfere with your sleep. 😉

    • irrevenant says:

      Fortunately this serial has a good plot too, so it’s the best of both worlds! \o/

  4. Jay says:

    I find it interesting, and feel that I must mention, there is a noticable formatting error. To get to your newer chapters, I must click “older posts” in the blog archive

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      Yeah, I had noticed that but I don’t have the access level required to fix it. I hadn’t said anything to the admins because it didn’t seem to be troubling anyone. Still, if there are any admins reading….

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