Practical Exercise

“I’m used to my House Library,” I said.  “Three large rooms, two stories, bookshelves on deep balconies, rolling ladders for access to upper shelves. It’s supposed to be closing on 20,000 books.”  Our Lady Librarian, I remembered, says we have one of the larger house libraries in Outremer. “The books are largely ordered by topic, then subtopic, and finally author.  That’s sort of like what we have here at the top level, except for example, in Construction there would be a subhall for lumber, with different types of magic grouped together.  And when there’s a series volume, like The Egg in Cooking, all its volumes would be in the same place in order.”  No, I do not know why great-great-grandmother Tweed is fixated on cooking eggs, but she is. Triskittenion Hall therefore has a large collection of books on egg cookery.

I received a mixture of blank looks and hostile frowns.

“I think we’re trying to move away from the topic approach,” the fellow at the head of the table said.

“Ah,” I managed, trying to sound as though I understood and agreed. “You’ve been at this far longer and doubtless have a better idea how to manage the Great Library than I do.”  Actually, they sounded to have two, both of which sounded unfortunate for browsing on a topic.

“Our time has expired.  For the next meeting,” the fellow said, “the writing committee should report a first draft of an appeal to the Senate of the Commonality.  We’ll need to agree on the mode recommendation later.”  I still didn’t know his name, and was perhaps happy to remain ignorant.  He struck his gong once.  It had been an interesting introduction to a completely paralytic debate.  I was not tempted to return.

First Day of Classes

I finally reached the first day of classes.  Dorrance Academy is on an eight-day cycle.  For unclear reasons, days at Dorrance are at the long end of day-lengths found in the Timeless Realm. No, I do not know why a full day, sunrise to sunrise, is a very different length in some places than others.  On the other hand, Dorrance has four moons, not the more common one or two moons, so day or night you can perhaps watch a moon rise or set in the Pelnir sea. The day length is why the Academy was built here: A student can stay up late studying, and still get a full night’s sleep.   Classes are on Fourday, Sixday, and Eightday.  First Day of classes was Eightday.   Supposedly the three day gap is to let students go home and have their laundry done.  I can’t quite imagine anyone passing the Dorrance entrance exams and not knowing the simple housekeeping spells that clean your clothing, but the founders seem to have been more than a bit strange, or seriously ignorant of basic magic.

Grandpa Worrow had emphatically warned me: I had had extremely vigorous training in combat sorcery, and had taken to it enthusiastically, but that didn’t mean I was particularly competent outside of combat.  In fact, Gramps was regularly bothered by what I didn’t know.  Every time he’d catch me not knowing something, I’d read up on it, and then he’d never talk about it again, so I couldn’t show him that I’d learned something.

About George Phillies

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