Wizard! Chapter 156
William saw Amelia several times during the next week. Their discussions ranged from the history of Eclea, which William was currently learning, to magical theory. However, William professed some ignorance in magical theory, since he was currently only eighteen… and of course there were some things that he didn’t want to share. However, he still enjoyed the conversations. Not as much as conversations with Lorelei, but he didn’t have to particularly worry about what he was saying with Lorelei, though he thought that maybe he should.
However, after several conversations with Amelia, William felt something was off. The conversations were interesting, and while Amelia seemed to genuinely think the same, William felt there was something more than just what he saw. For one thing, she didn’t feel like she was a long time regular at this particular cafe. She seemed like she was hiding something. That could have been William getting paranoid, but he felt like he had gotten better at reading people as time went on, though that didn’t mean he was particularly great at it… just better.
One day when William showed up, along with some other regulars at the cafe, he found Amelia idly playing with some disks. They weren’t coins, since they were bigger than any of the coins found in any country William had seen. They would lay on the table, and she would flip one of them, causing the other one to flip. William saw that as he walked up and asked, “What are these… magnets?” The last word he didn’t have the right word for in Eclean, but Amelia was originally from Ostana. He had actually seen her with them a few times before, but only briefly.
She shook her head. “No, not magnets. They’re just a silly little magic toy.” She moved as if to put them away.
“Can I look at them?”
“Sure, I guess.” She pushed them across the table to William.
William took them and started experimenting. When he flipped one, the other flipped. They did act something like magnets, except when he separated them they still flipped over with the other one. Also unlike magnets, they didn’t flip over after the other one was finished flipping over, because the forces of the poles had changed. Instead, they seemed to try to reach the same state as the other. If one was laying flat, the other one lay flat. If he put one on its edge, the other one moved to its edge. However, when he lifted one at a 45 degree angle, the other one still lay flat, until about sixty degrees where it would stand on its edge. Likewise, when one was on its edge and he moved the other, it didn’t move until it was around thirty degrees. He could also stop one from moving by placing his hand on it, because the force they seemed to be able to exert was only just enough to make them stand up or fall over. It wasn’t transferring force from one to another, because if that was so he could turn the one in his other hand harder to provide more force. William wasn’t sure how long he played with them, but it was more than a few minutes. “These are fascinating. How far apart do they work?”
Amelia shrugged. “Any distance really.”
“Any distance?” William raised an eyebrow. “Is that an exaggeration or the truth?”
“The truth. Any distance.”
“So, if I had one of these in Canta, and one here, they would still work?”
“Sure. Not that you’d be able to tell.”
“Wow, that’s awesome. Do you make cubes or something like these for messages?”
Amelia tilted her head. “Messages?”
“Yeah. Unless this only works with disks? Either way it’s pretty good. You can talk with other cities instantly, that’s pretty convenient.”
“I suppose, if you just want to indicate that there’s a message. However, there’s not that much that can be conveyed with just two sides of a disk.” Amelia stroked her chin in thought.
“Are you kidding? With two states, you can indicate literally anything, if you’re willing to put the effort into it. Besides, you might have three states, counting the edge. Or if you had a cube or some other shape you’d have a lot more options.”
“You can say anything? How does that work?” She looked at William, unsure if he was serious or just making something up.
“Well, let’s start with one of the simplest and also least efficient method. Let’s call this side A and this side B. I start with the disk on its side… which means nothing except that it’s in between. Then, I put side A up. Then side B. Since I put side A up once, and then ended with B, I can indicate the first letter of the alphabet. Then I could go from nothing, to A, to nothing, to A, to nothing, to B. That’s the second letter. It’s not particularly fast… but much faster than a letter or a bird.”
Amelia just looked at William for a few moments. “Did you come up with that on your own?”
William shrugged. “It’s actually a pretty bad example, but it’s the basics of coded messages. Studying this kind of stuff is like solving fun puzzles.” William also knew about Morse code… but if he was asked to replicate it, he wouldn’t be able to. Not that it mattered, since no language here used the English alphabet. “Actually, you can do a lot better than that… especially if you have two or more pairs of these, or different shapes.”
Amelia leaned forward and grabbed the disks. “Sorry, I have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow, maybe.”
William found her exit to be rather abrupt, and barely even had a chance to say goodbye. One possibility was that she realized what the time was and was suddenly in a hurry. She could have also been upset at him for some reason. However, William didn’t think it was either of those things. Maybe nobody had really thought of using the disks for communication. That would be important enough to go tell somebody. However, he could only speculate, because she didn’t tell him anything.
His stomach growled. William realized he still hadn’t eaten lunch, since he’d immediately started playing with the disks, and thinking about how they could be used. William finally ordered some food, but while he was eating it he couldn’t help but think about what other things might exist that weren’t living up to their full potential. He didn’t particularly consider himself an inventor, but he could certainly describe some things, even if he couldn’t build them. Still, with magic as a factor, things might be different. When he’d been Archmage in Ostana, he hadn’t found anything that could be done with the magical items they had… but maybe he had been thinking about things wrongly, or he simply didn’t see the right things. William spent the rest of the day thinking about better ways to encode the Eclean language, though his search for books on the subject was fruitless.