Hagen looked at Douglas who was standing nearby. Testing new shields was rather difficult- it should only be done with trusted individuals, and even so it was best to have a version that extended beyond the wizard. That required another version of the spell, but it was worth it to not risk one’s own life and limbs. The target this time was a simple training dummy, with sticks and straw and burlap and all sorts of flammable accoutrements. Douglas was given time to set up his shields around it… and before proceeding Hagen studied it.
Caution was always appropriate, even in the current environment. Hagen had his own shields that would adequately defend him from anything at the level he sensed in front of him, but having more information was helpful. Would it reflect? No, it didn’t seem so. In fact, it wasn’t a reactive sort of thing at all. It barely even felt like a shield, instead feeling more like… well, the magic bag Douglas had found and the entrance to the Endless Library. Had he actually succeeded now? Or was this just a simple test?
Fire was the traditional thing to use in this situation, because it would be clear if any part of it reached the training dummy. It wasn’t always the most effective against people, but they could test more things after establishing a baseline. First, a straight firebolt to the chest. It wasn’t high power, but it would certainly do the job.
But he missed. The flames shot past the training dummy off to the left. Adjusting his aim slightly, he tried again… and the flames clearly turned as they reached the training dummy, turning almost directly perpendicular to their previous course.
Hagen walked around to the side and readied himself. He wasn’t quite sure where his spell would go, and was surprised to find that it went straight through. He saw the flames come out the other side… but no sign of flame touching the training dummy. Just scorched earth and stone behind it. He would have liked to experiment more, but he didn’t exactly fancy preparing dozens of the same simple firebolt spell. Instead, he picked up a twig. With a very simple spell, he lit the end on fire and poked the training dummy, which immediately lit on fire.
“Very interesting. I must say, this was quite expertly done.” Hagen offered his sincere praise. “That said, I must point out some weaknesses, if you did not already notice them.” Douglas received plenty of praise already- it would be a shame to ruin his practical effectiveness by ignoring flaws. “In its current form, this shield spell does not seem optimal if you have allies… or anything you care about around you.” Douglas nodded, and it was clear he had already considered that.
“On the training dummy the edges are weird too,” he signed. “Like the edge of a lens. It’s hard to tell where it will go sometimes. But… it’s very effective against big things.”
“It does seem like an efficient shield. It uses quite little energy to reorient the attacks because it’s not actually stopping them or even really redirecting them, correct?” Hagen almost got too interested to bring up his last point. “But before we get too far into it, it seems it doesn’t exactly stop everything.” He gestured to the burning dummy and the stick in his hand.
Douglas shrugged. “I’m not quite that flammable. And… it’s not good at deflecting solid things. So it doesn’t.”
“Yes, I see.” Hagen frowned at the dummy, thinking about what he had seen. “It would be quite taxing to reorient a continuous object. It would require continuous consumption of magical energy instead of merely what passes through. In that case, a solid spike propelled into it by magic would likewise be an issue.”
“Those are called arrows,” Douglas pointed out. “I’m still planning to combine it with a typical shield. But this would be more efficient for the things it affects.”
“I understand the energy usage, but the memorization…” Hagen sighed, “It must be quite a pain.”
Douglas thought for a moment. “It’s only adding half a dimension of complexity onto spells at best. It’s much easier than pulling a book from somewhere dimensionally locked with strange puzzle pieces.”
Hagen laughed, “Being easier than something else does not make it easy. I have trouble wrapping my head around that subject still.”
Douglas looked up at the sky and said naturally. “That’s because while your head might be wrapped around something, with enough dimensions it might also be wrapped around your head.”
“Imagine if you could perform magic normally…” Hagen knew Douglas wasn’t sore about his muteness, as long as it was brought up respectfully.
Douglas understood the implication, but he couldn’t help but answer literally. “I did.” He pointed to himself and drew a finger across his throat, “I’d probably be dead. Maybe Lucy and father too.” He clenched his right hand, remembering the Scoubarran soldiers. While his father had survived having his tongue cut out, Douglas didn’t have such hopes for himself. If he could have spoken, he might have been able to use magic that could injure the soldiers… in which case their treatment wouldn’t have been so ‘gentle’. Hearing Lucy’s story of her escape, knowing silent magic had saved her. Douglas was glad for that.
There were a handful of new faces. Either they had come crawling out of the woodwork after the war was over or somehow the mages really hadn’t known they were all being drafted. Of course new apprentices were because more wizards had actually started teaching… having learned more than whatever they had scrounged together on their own. In Bryria, Lucy was fairly certain that the Lynwoods had one of the strongest magical traditions… which was just her father being alive to teach them with a small tower full of books that covered a bit more than the basics of magic. Of course, officially she was the only one left now.
Morgain Altair had become an official mage. Isabel probably qualified but as a sorceress it was more difficult to set fair standards for her. She’d only had glasses to read after the war, so she was a couple decades behind in that area… and as for actually practicing magic, the cutoff was about a decade. Lucy had about two decades under her belt, and much more practical experience than she would wish on anyone.
She was pleased to see that for the most part, only mages were in attendance at the council that had been called. Now many were court mages representing their patrons, but this was wizard business. It was best for them to plan things without someone looking over their shoulders, even if they would have to get things approved by them eventually… and even though they probably came with instructions. Countess Irieby hadn’t given Lucy any particular requirements, but she had gone over the plan with her to point out some weak points.
Senior Mage Lundgren stood at the front of the mostly empty courtroom- even if all the magic users in Bryria had been able to attend the council, they would have only half filled the sizable room. “Attention, everyone. Quiet please.” The small discussions settled down, and everyone turned to him. “As the most senior mage, it is my duty to guide the proceedings. As this is merely the second meeting of the Bryrian Mage’s Council, not all of us are familiar with the rules we laid down in the previous session. I shall first enumerate some of the most important.”
He continued to do so, and while Lucy thought most of them were common sense, it never seemed quite common enough. The rules were mostly about politeness, who had the right to speak when, and the like. While Lucy might have wished to interrupt certain points, she also would prefer to not be interrupted herself… and she found the results people had agreed on acceptable enough. Well, mostly they had stolen the procedures from the same sort of courtroom they stood in now. The actual courts of law, specifically the ones for disputes between nobles.
“Now then, we are here today because of a proposal by Senior Mage Claude Tatham.” Mage Lundgren gestured to him. “If you would come to the podium to recite your proposal?”
Claude walked up to the front, carrying with him a bundle of organized papers. At least, they seemed organized… which was more than she could say for many wizards. Then again, she would bet that most of them had at least a few piles here and there in their studies- whether large or small. “Fellow mages,” he politely bowed his head out to those who sat in front of him. “I am sure you are all aware of our limited population. We do not even fill up this single room. Between all of us, we are full of knowledge and discovery… but not all individuals have access to the same knowledge.” Claude avoided singling anyone out- Lundgren was almost universally liked, and even Lucy Lynwood was quite popular. “That is why I propose the establishment of an institution for combined magical learning, with everyone contributing resources as appropriate.” There was the issue- as appropriate was extremely vague. Lucy had all sorts of proposals depending on what he actually brought up… and based on how long it had taken to set up a baseline of rules in the previous council, she would have some chances during the recesses between days to come up with counter arguments. In a way, it was like magic… but a lot more boring and frustrating while somehow being just as complicated.