Practical Exercise

Explore General Magic Building

The next morning I set out to explore the General Magic building. Proscenium Hall was solid black granite, stone blocks being fused together wherever they came in contact.  At first its walls looked odd.  Then I realized: The walls were extremely old, old enough that sharp edges had softened and rainfall had eroded fine trails between the harder grains in the stone. Kwober’s Guide had claimed it was the oldest academic building still in use; I could well believe it.  I prowled the Hall, finally deciding I had to draw a map of the floor plan.  The corridor layout was bizarre.  Rooms were all named, sometimes with different names on different doors to the same room.   A dismaying number of bulletin boards lurked in odd spots.  Most of them referred to courses I was not taking.  Others were hours at which Faculty would be back on Fourday.

I finally found the central office.  Staff were on a six-day schedule, so the office was open on Oneday. The Administrative Scribe, Elena Bonafortuna, was  a charming, elderly woman, happy to see someone.   She had all sorts of useful advice. “No,” she explained, “there are no published maps of the building.  The Faculty regularly discuss making them, but first they have to agree on what names are given to most of the rooms.  That argument started when I was a young woman.”

“I see,” I said.  “There seem to be a lot of students who eat at Miller’s Refectory, but they didn’t seem to be all that interested in General Magic.”

“That crew?” she laughed.  “They’re mostly all half-tuition types, pay half tuition to take two courses at time, so they need a decade to finish.  Or more.  They have too many other interests.” I didn’t have to ask what the interests were.

“Aren’t there any serious students?  Is there a way to find them?”  I started to wonder what I had gotten into.

“Oh, absolutely. But I have no idea who they are or how to locate them.” She shook her head. “Don’t ask Faculty.  It’s seriously not allowed for anyone to tell you how good another student is.  Except nice comments about exams.”

About George Phillies

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