Practical Exercise #3

Work is underway on this novel, which links to the Eclipse series. It is a novel about academic life, not a combat novel, though there is a certain amount of violence.

“Nice to meet you,” I answered cheerily.  “I’m Adara Triskittenion.”

“We are Harold Fourbridge.  You may walk behind me, like all my other girlfriends.”  He marched on by.  I probably should not have giggled.  I decline to believe that a young adult is old enough to have real girlfriends.  However, he was well taller than I am.  He might be one of those boys who tamper with their agelessness spells until girlfriends are possible.  He appeared to be growing toward adult height and build well before he should.  Given his control of his trunks, I was happy to have him downhill of me.


Student quarters were the promised line of solidly-built well-maintained town houses, each with walk-in basement.  Living space, bedroom and bath, and study occupied the three floors above. 

The unman in the front office was happy to make clear: The buildings might be called ‘temporary’, but some students stayed for a decade or more while finishing their academic work.  He was apologetic: Other students had already reserved the services of all the porters, so I would be expected to do my own housecleaning. 

“Just like home,” I said. “Mom expected me to scrub the kitchen floor. Every week. By hand.”  He smiled and nodded approvingly.  “And if you need a wooden floor cleaned, and don’t mind spellwork, though the good spell wants water and oil soap for that wood, ask me quietly.”  He could work out ‘I do favors for you, and you return them someday.’  His smile was very wide.

I’d registered early and paid extra for an end house in Knowlton House, so my third-floor study had views in three directions.  Now that I’d seen it, I could say that the price was clearly worth it.   The furniture included several chairs, a couch, a large desk, a dresser,  an inadequate bookcase, and a circular table, all of ironwood. The study had a food preserver.  Its spellwork clearly needed some retuning. One of my trunks held a carefully folded low bed.

I had several hours before the Entrance Hall opened.  It was time for useful work. I took the minutes needed to reinforce the house wards with my own. They could be broken, but not without me knowing. Then I cast a full set of housecleaning spells on all four floors. Several times. The past resident had clearly not been heavily into cleanliness. Yes, I remembered the ceilings and the spaces within the walls, including a minor death spell for insect pests. Finally I remembered the tiny gaps between the boards in the hardwood floors.  Mom had given me a spellbook, her mother’s as it happens, with spell diagrams for the best cleaning spells. I had most of them memorized, sort of, but having the diagrams for the delicate heavy-duty spells at my fingertips, just like home, helped.

Eventually I fell back on water and cleanser for the bathroom, water and glass soap for both sides of the windows, water and soap for the window screens,  and water and oil soap for the woodwork, with spells driving them to do their duty.  Mom had made sure I’d packed all those things, the soaps in a sealed tin box, and she’d been right again, and the spells to drive cleaning agents. Yes, I do know the spells to drive cleanser in doing its duty.  House Triskittenion does not allow unmen servants in the Keep proper, so I’d been doing those for years.  That was several changes of water for each…the place had been filthy, but finally it was more-or-less clean. More passes would be needed. I could imagine doing all that by hand.  I would have needed a week, worn my fingers to the bone, and needed a bath.  Several baths.

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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