Practical Exercise

I’m sure I blushed.  “Thank you, Elder Master,” I managed to say.  There followed an unpleasant minute of silence from my fellow students.  “Did anyone else hear the lecture on spell diagrams?” I asked.  There was further silence.  “Serene Master, you were there. Are all lectures that energetic in their discussions?” 

“Surely not all of them,” he answered.  “Admittedly, at my Magisterial exam, that being during the first ice age, I had a vigorous dispute with my Lead Mentor.  At one point, we argued as to whether or not I was allowed to draw a construction line on a figure.  He did not like me, and wanted me to fail my examination, so he said I couldn’t.  He did not get his wish.”  Several of my fellow students looked surprised.  “However, the lecture you heard had many subtexts.  Some involve our understanding of the one true art.  Others are personal disputes.  We have a half-dozen Masters of Spell Diagrams, each with his own ideas about classifying them, the way you classify plants.  In fact, I’ll let you work out why, those arguments lead back to Ettore and his perhaps-paradox.”

“Perhaps-paradox?” I asked.

“Perhaps there is a paradox.  Perhaps one of the chapters in his book gets something wrong,” he said, talking more to my fellow students than to me. “Ettore ends by proving that there are exactly as many spells in one sort of magic as there are whole numbers, exactly as many spells of another sort of magic as there are fractions, and finally proves that every spell in each sort of magic has a matching spell in the other sort of magic, so the two types of magic have equal numbers of spells.  One of these statements must be wrong, but no one can figure out where there is an error.” 

Other students were shifting uncomfortably in their chairs.  They weren’t used to hearing General Magic being discussed. 

“I see most of you have finished eating and hear the call of the beach.  Adara and I might discuss this privately,” Courtenay said.” 

My fellow students fled the scene.

About George Phillies

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