Practical Exercise

“Oh.”  I didn’t quite roll my eyes.  Her description sounded to cover matters.

“And you all are studying?” I asked.

“I’m in Law,” Theo said.  He was short, chunkily built, with black hair and a matching mustache and goatee.  “I considered joining Barrister House, but they’re mostly interested in litigation, and I am that rara avis, someone interested in Constitutional Law.  That turns out to be a long program, eight years instead of six, to I have five years to go.”

“The rest of us are in Construction,” Francine explained. She was a tall, round-faced brunette.  Her speech had the slight softness characteristic of people from the distant South, which would also explain her pronounced suntan.  Her bright violet shirt and trousers were both cut extremely loose, except at the waist. I could see low-level spellwork protecting them from food.  “We’re not all the same year, but Construction so focuses on niches that we’d mostly take different courses anyhow.  My interest is big windows, like the huge diamond windows in faculty offices.  Gail and Tad are in buildings.  If you want a large Hall to be stable, you tend to need specialty parts, like steel girders.  Their spellwork focuses on supplying them.”

“I do typefonts,” Marjorie said, “typefonts and paper and inks.”  Marjorie was almost as short as I am, with the amber-brown hair and clipped speech I’d been taught to associate with the distant east, even beyond the borders of the Commonality.

“We should talk,” I managed.  “House Triskittenion spends a lot of effort on specialty papers.  We have a pale-oak forest nearby, so we developed better colored papers and longer-lived white paper.  And I’m tasked with preparing typefont masters for clients.”

“Those kittens on your clothing…that’s your House seal?” Marjorie asked.  I nodded.  “There was a Myrna Triskittenion who wrote a whole book on coloring paper.  It has that seal on the cover. I have a copy.”

“She was my great, great, I think three more greats grandmother,” I answered. “That’s an ice age back.  Those are all very solid recipes – until someone doesn’t know one of our assumptions, and something bad happens.” 

“Could you show me a few? There are a couple of fascinating recipes I can’t get to work,” Marjorie said.

“Be happy to,” I answered. “Especially if you know good books on ink colors.” For some reason great-grandmother Tweed  thought colored inks were an abomination, not a topic for study, so our house Library said very little about them.

“I can list the best,” Marjorie answered.  “After.  But I could do it now, and put everyone else to sleep,…”

“So you two can split the  rest of the wine?” Tad asked.  He was clearly not serious. I shook my head.

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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1 Response to Practical Exercise

  1. Fred Mora says:

    Typo:
    ” That turns out to be a long program, eight years instead of six, to I have five years to go.”
    to I have – > so I have

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