Practical Exercise #4

Soon enough I would walk over to Ellwood Hall, then find a refectory for lunch. The rules said we were expected to eat in a refectory, unless we joined an eating club or moved into a residential house. Unless the food was totally bad, I certainly was not going to do my own cooking, even ignoring that I was not supposed to cook extensively in the townhouse.  That’s a total waste of time.

The hour for entrance interviews arrived.  Dorrance Academy was covered with paved walks.  Almost every student could gate from building to building, but there were too many people in too small an area for gating to be safe. Taking the trail toward the Campus Martius, I soon encountered another, slightly-confused-looking, first year student. 

 “I’m Dairen of Charlemont,” he announced.  He put his nose back into his map.

“Adara Triskittenion,” I replied.   “Are you heading to the Entrance Hall?” He nodded. “It’s down this path.” I pointed.  “Do you have a course of study in mind yet?” I asked.

“General Magic-Construction,” he answered. “I’m from Almasi, way south.”

“General Magic? That’s my planned course, too,” I answered.

“I already have my major research project in mind,” he announced.  “I’m going to measure the size of the Purple Sea.”  He went on at some length. The Purple Sea is a place you can go when you shallow-gate.  You gate to the sea, walk a modest ways, and gate back, considerably away from where you started. There’s this great debate about whether the Purple Sea is actually the surface of some enormously huge sphere, or whether it’s flat and goes on forever. He wanted to settle the question.   Listening to him, I realized he had no idea how to do it. He just knew what he wanted to do.

Halfway down the walk, three fellows emerged from behind a hedge. They were more than a bit noisy.  I’d say they were singing, except they made yowling tomcats sound melodic.   Their gait said that they were drunk.  Then I recognized the one in front.  It was Harold Fourbridge.

“Ooh, firsties,” he crooned as they approached. “No armor, no sword, so you each get a paddling.” Dad had warned me about that custom. Upperclassman to some extent harassed lower-class students, meaning in particular first-year-students like me. “You get to cooperate, or you get paddled twice,” the jackass continued.

About George Phillies

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