Unspoken Words of Magic Chapter 7

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After comparing with his sister, Douglas realized the weaknesses of his method of doing magic. It was harder to construct a spell- that was obvious- as well as to memorize the spell. It also took more magical control and power to maintain the spell, though some of Douglas’ problems in that area were just lack of practice. The advantages… it didn’t require being able to speak, and it could be faster to cast a spell that was already memorized. The wizard wouldn’t be limited by the rate at which he could speak. For general use, it was much worse… but for Douglas, it was the perfect method. After all, it was the only way he could do magic- so it was infinitely more effective than the normal way of doing magic.


In the past few days, Lucy had moved from studying tomes written by wizards of ancient times to reading the scrawling notes of a much more modern wizard. The only benefit to the modern notes was that the handwriting was clear- if not always what it really meant. For example, how was she to interpret “Weave the runes into a representation of the image, forming a complete spell as a wordimage”? She could ask Douglas, but he was the one who wrote the notes to begin with and that was already his explanation for how it was done- without actually explaining how it was done. One thing that immediately made sense was that runes were just as magical when spoken or not spoken- they appeared when casting magic, but it made some sense that speaking wasn’t necessarily required. However, that came with a large shift in the method of casting the spell.

Lucy looked over some of the previous iterations of Douglas’ light spell which didn’t work, and she could see why- but she couldn’t exactly see why the latest one did work- for Douglas at least. She was having a hard time getting it to work. For one thing, some of the runes were wrong- stretched or squashed- and some seemed to be missing. Douglas insisted that this was the final iteration of the spell but it didn’t seem finished.

There were a couple possibilities. First, Douglas could be keeping the correct method to himself to have something only he could do. That might make sense for a normal kid, but Douglas wasn’t really like that. At least, he liked Lucy and their father so he wouldn’t lie to them about that. If he was keeping it to himself, he would just say so. 

The second possibility that seemed the more likely of the two was that Douglas thought the explanation was complete and that the full explanation required something he couldn’t put into words or he thought was so obvious it didn’t need mentioning. If he couldn’t put it into words… Lucy would have expected much more frustrated writing from Douglas. He hated not being able to say things. It was one of the few things that actually upset him. It was hard to see for most people, but Lucy realized that before he learned to write Douglas was constantly distracting himself to avoid thinking about not being able to speak. After he learned to read and write, he had been much more relaxed- even when he didn’t always say anything to Lucy or Xavier for days at a time.

Finally, Lucy went to Douglas for an explanation. He would certainly be willing to help, she just needed to figure out the right question to ask him. He had his own desk in the library- far too big for him, but he would grow into it. Even currently he had papers and books scattered all over it as he read- though their seemingly haphazard placements probably had a purpose. “Douglas.” Douglas looked up from his papers- he had great concentration, but he also responded well to his name. Lucy held up the paper with the light spell on it. “I have some questions about this.” Douglas nodded, gesturing for Lucy to continue. “Some of these runes are skewed…” She pointed towards some of the examples near the edge of the circle they formed, “And some of the runes in the normal light spell are missing. Is it supposed to be that way?”

Douglas looked at the paper for a moment, then his hands moved uncertainly, wavering between ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Finally, he waved for Lucy to hand him the paper. He dangled it in front of him from his left hand, facing her. His right hand was held behind the paper. Lucy watched as suddenly light glowed through the paper and Douglas pulled it away. Then she saw it. Douglas’ magic had always looked special. Normally when she or her father did a spell, as each word was spoken it would appear at the release location of the magic- the palms, fingertips, eyes, nose, mouth… whichever of the various possibilities for releasing a spell was being used. The runes would then linger around the location as the spell formed having no real effect on anything, intangible and without any effect on the world. Upon completion of the spell, the runes would swiftly disappear.

For Douglas’ magic, the runes were part of the spell. They still appeared to do nothing, but the important point was they were part of the floating ball of light, as the only spell that Douglas currently knew. Lucy could see them… and then realized exactly why the drawing of the spell looked wrong. The light spell was a full sphere- drawn onto the paper as a circle. The distorted runes around the edges were that way because they were not being seen head on, and the missing runes were merely on the back. If Lucy had been writing the notes, she would have made that explicit, but she could see why Douglas wouldn’t bother. After all, everyone knew the light spell was a sphere. It must have seemed obvious, and the placement of the few runes in the spell followed a simple pattern. 

With that problem solved, Lucy was left with two more. Figuring out how to memorize a three dimensional configuration of runes was one, and perhaps the simpler of the two. After all, now that she knew what she was doing… it was beginning to seem rather easy. The second task was explaining to Douglas why it would be better to have more information and why specifically indicating the runes behind the spell would be important. For one thing, most spells had more runes and even Douglas would have trouble keeping track of all of them if they weren’t written down properly.

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One Reply to “Unspoken Words of Magic Chapter 7”

  1. Sounds like Douglas needs to work on Mercator Projection, and other methods of representing the surface of a sphere on flat paper.

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