Kyle and Jessie made their way over to the business entrance of the building where they were scanned for first metal and then magic. Jessie escaped both sensors cleanly but the broad crystal arch of the detector began to glow when Kyle stepped under it.
“Step back,” the guard, a hard eyed and tired looking woman, ordered him. Kyle obeyed, but not in a way that satisfied her. “Further, there, now stand with your feet in the outlines.”
He looked at the ground and found a couple of yellow shoe shaped marks. He moved his feet into them. They had clearly been drawn without the aid of any real person’s stance, because they were uncomfortably close together leaving his legs in a position that felt wobbly and uncertain. “Like this?”
Without any great hurry she selected a wand made from the same crystal as the detector and carried it to him. The thin piece of crystal was barely visible. It allowed light to pass through it without bending or diminishing thus objects behind it were almost as clear as those seen through empty air. Only at its corners could a slight outline be seen laying over the surface of the object like a tracery of shadow.
The guard’s hand brought it to some life. Faint flairs of power and oddly shaped sparks appeared and then quickly vanished. “Arms out,” the guard ordered.
He complied, and she swept the crystal closer. Immediately the sparks in it strengthened and began to dance with more vigor. Soon its entire length was lit with flickering. The guard, apparently unimpressed with the inherent beauty of the display sighed. “You wouldn’t happen to be a magic user of some sort, would you?”
“I’m a mage.’
“Great, that’s going to make this a pain. Some residual magic no doubt clings to you. However, if you’re not intentionally holding any it shouldn’t be enough to set off the detector. So I’m going to give you a moment. Let everything go.”
Kyle closed his eyes and let out a long calming, centering breath, instead of reaching out for magic he tried to find it in his own being. There was nothing like the vast river of power he typically tapped into to try to work his spells. However, there were sparks and flashes here and there. He forced them out then felt a small bit of cold emptiness at their passing. “I’m as clean as I can get.”
“Alright,” The guard swept the wand close again. It still brightened considerably at his presence but not to the point of a steady light, just a rapid flow of sparks along its length. She waved him through, “Purpose of your visit?”
“I’m here to register a spell.” The guard continued to look at him blankly, “With the Registrar.”
Her expression shifted from bored to curious, “Well that’s different. You may proceed. I think it’s up the elevator to the top. At least that’s where the clerks office is. I’ve never seen anyone who wanted to deal with the Registrar.”
* * *
The only public part of the top floor was the magical registry chamber. The hallway leading up to it was what the outside of the building suggested was coming. A broad expanse of highly polished tile between granite walls and uncomfortable looking benches at regular intervals. At the end of the hall was an old fashioned door. Black lettering on its frosted glass window read “Office of the Registrar.”
Kyle reached out for the door, put his hand on the handle, then stood there without opening it. He didn’t know how to feel. He’d always wanted to have his own patent, he was convinced he needed this protection, and he was half terrified of the Registrar. It was a being at once man and magic. A force as old as the rules that governed the interaction of mages in the world. An enigmatic power that could judge him unworthy.
Jessie, however, was unaware of all that wandered through Kyle’s mind. “How does this work, exactly, and what do I need to do? Witness something?”
“That would be the process if we were going through the US patent office. But we’re using the Registrar.”
Jessie blinked at him. “How can we get a patent in the US without going through the US patent office?”
“Technically it’s through the PCT, Patent Corporation Treaty, basically a way for something like a hundred and fifty countries to share all their intellectual property. The Registrar is a signatory even though it’s not a country. That’s because of its history. Mages used fight over spells all the time, sharing knowledge only with those they trusted most deeply. The non-scalar law caused that, of course, if your spells are your livelihood and someone else doing them at the same time as you might make them quit working you can get a bit touchy.”
Kyle shrugged and gave a half smile before continuing, “The magical compact changed all of that. It’s basically magical patent law. Only it came before anything else of its kind, in the late 1300’s, and it finally allowed cooperation between mages. Since they were educated people, at least by the standards of the day, that cooperation allowed for the preservation of tremendous amounts of knowledge. Modern historians trace the beginnings of the enlightenment to the magic compact. The Registrar, or more accurately The Registrar of the Compact registers spells for protection under that agreement. It’s not a US authority and the full bureaucracy of US magical patented law will need be appeased before the spell is truly patented, but once the Registrar has spoken it’s as good as done. Nobody questions the 700 plus year old executor of one of the world’s most important legal frameworks when it recognizes a spell as valid. It helps that it’s incorruptible.”
“None of that explains why you’re just standing here.”
He sighed. “Because, the Registrar is also the enforcer of the compact. It’s bound up with magic no one else understands anymore and it’s scary as hell.”
“Well this is your show. We can turn around if you want. Do you think we should go into the registration office?”
Kyle actually thought about it. He had nothing to fear. His spell was legitimate. “I guess we should.”
Kyle opened the door and stepped through. To his surprise the door didn’t lead into the registry chamber but rather into a small office. The office had two doors, the one they’d just come through and another at the far side. It also had a desk and the desk had a bored looking woman sitting behind it. “Business?”
“We’re here to register a spell.”
The woman nodded, leaned over and pulled a form from one of the drawers of her desk. “Fill this out, mail it to the address on page 1, and your registration should be complete in 60 to 90 days.”
“We’re here to register a spell with the Registrar.”
The woman sat up straight and looked considerably more interested, “Really? Um, give me a moment.” She slid the first form back into her desk then shifted through the other drawers looking for something. Apparently she didn’t find it because she said, “Wait here,” and walked out of the office.
Jessie gave Kyle a confused look.
Kyle shrugged again, “Dealing with the Registrar is not common.”
The lady returned, a different and much shorter form held in her hand. She sat back down at her desk before addressing them both. “I’ve got to run you through a short series of questions.”
“I thought the Registrar did all of that?”
“Well, sure, it does. It’s even the official record; this is for liability purposes. Now, which of you is the inventor of the spell?”
“I am,” Kyle answered.
“In that case it’s you I need to talk to. Your witness is free to watch. What is the name of your spell?”
Kyle was caught off guard, he hadn’t thought about actually naming the spell. Worse yet, he wasn’t that great with names. Oh well, he thought, the copyright name of the spell doesn’t have to be the same as the trade name. “Light Generation Matrix.”
“It creates highly efficient magical light effects.”
“This spell was developed in accord with state and federal laws, no one else may claim rights to it or to any component, and its use does not violate state or federal laws?”
“And you, of your own free will wish to deal with the registrar and will summon it yourself without coercion and accepting all risks of said summoning?”
“In that case you and your witness may proceed.” The lady punched something beside her desk and there was a click from the door as it opened. Kyle nodded and stepped through. Jessie followed somewhat more apprehensively. She jumped when the door shut and locked behind them.