lifes_sake: (tranquil)
[personal profile] lifes_sake
Cam's in the library, waiting for Renée. "Waiting" here means "browsing until a quarter hour after ostensible meeting time". Renée is supposed to meet him here - on the way home for both of them, him from high school and her from elementary where she teaches kindergarten - but she is rarely punctual. Her co-workers or stray parents or the principal keep her after and Cam does notebooking, does homework, looks at the contents of shelves. It's a fine arrangement.

Today the contents of shelves don't seem so pleased with the setup, and one attacks him when he stumbles into a stack. Specifically, it tumbles onto his head. That's gonna hurt for a while. He picks it up to tuck it away again.

It says, So You Want To Be A Wizard.

Heh. Mis-shelved. This is a nonfiction row. Or maybe it's about stage magic or something? Cam's not going to find any use in that either, he can just about eat dinner without impaling himself on a fork and certainly shouldn't be handling delicate props, but it could be diverting while he waits for Renée and he wasn't finding anything else. He flips it open.

It's more interesting still than that; it's presenting itself like an actual guide to wizardry. This'll kill a whole afternoon with pleasant escapism. Cam checks it out, then turns around and spots Renée coming down the sidewalk. He bags the book and goes out to meet her.

At home, he takes it out of his backpack. The plastic film on it - it did have some, right? Just like every other library book? - is gone. Maybe it didn't have any. He didn't write it down; he's not sure. It doesn't look like a library book now. But it still says So You Want To Be A Wizard and he still wants to pretend to be a wizard for a bit, kill some time, put off U.S. History homework. He flips it open. He reads.

Date: 2013-03-23 10:51 pm (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
The small noises of his environment fade slowly with each word of the Oath, until end drops into a complete absence of sound that persists for one more silent heartbeat.

Then it all comes back at once, like somebody took their finger off the mute button.

Date: 2013-03-23 11:03 pm (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
The next page is a listing of wizards in his geographical area. It's pretty short; apparently there aren't that many wizards in Phoenix.

Close to the beginning of the list, there is an entry for Campbell Mark Swan (novice, pre-rating), with an address and phone number.

Date: 2013-03-23 11:20 pm (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
Apart from Campbell, there is one 'Senior' wizard listed in the area and two more with no rank marked, but power ratings given on an unexplained scale. The Senior wizard comes with an address but no phone number, and their name is apparently Salix.

After the directory, the manual dives straight into the Speech: vocabulary, alphabet (all 418 common symbols), pronunciation (with a note that dialects vary widely between species and this version is human-specific), and grammar. This section only covers the basics, and very few words in the vocabulary list are explicitly defined; for anything that expresses a concept already found in English, even for some things that are only pretty close, the meaning is unobtrusively and naturally obvious.

Date: 2013-03-23 11:27 pm (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
The Speech is magically understandable, but it's not magically writable; the symbols take an ordinary amount of practice and memorization. On the other hand, if he writes out a word correctly and looks back at it later, it's just as transparent to his mind as the version in the book.

Date: 2013-03-23 11:40 pm (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
After the initial vocabulary lessons, there are further sections dealing with the language - subheadings like 'Descriptive Naming' and 'Measurements'. Before it dives into these, the manual notes that specific technical vocabulary not covered in this introduction will be provided with the spells that require it, and 'this reference will adjust to usage'.

Date: 2013-03-24 12:11 am (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
Descriptive Naming, according to the manual, is a tricky subject. To really get at the essence of something, you can't just use names like 'this chair' or 'John Smith' such as you would use in ordinary conversation. This is especially true of people. You have to be able to describe a person uniquely, in terms of their own qualities and nature, in order to include them in a spell.

There is a worksheet provided for the naming of humans, in case he wants to try it on himself.

Date: 2013-03-24 12:22 am (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
The questions range from the obvious (date of birth, height and weight) to the bizarre (favourite colour, favourite weather conditions). The list is extensive, but the formulas are set out plainly; writing out a serviceable descriptive name for himself is tedious but not particularly difficult.

A cautionary note, set off from the rest of the page in a thinly outlined rectangle, warns that writing and pronouncing his name correctly is of the utmost importance. There is significant leeway for ambiguous or missing answers in the formulas themselves - it's possible to create a sufficiently accurate name on incomplete information - but a typo, mispronunciation, or wrong answer can lead to unforeseen and usually unwanted changes when the incorrect name is used in spellwork.

Date: 2013-03-24 12:36 am (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
As it happens, there is a section on Practical Spelling a little later on. But before that comes Preliminary Exercises.

The first of these reads:
To change something, you must first describe it. To describe something, you must first see it. Hold still in one place for as long as it takes to see something.

Date: 2013-03-24 12:43 am (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
Nothing particularly interesting happens, for a few minutes.

Date: 2013-03-24 12:53 am (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
There is a chorus of "Cam!" "Hi, Cam!" "Hi!"

The voices aren't really voices; they aren't made of sound, that's just his brain's interpretation of information he is getting from somewhere other than his ears. There is a papery sort of texture to them, and they glide like the stroke of a pen.

Date: 2013-03-24 01:05 am (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
The not-voice of the manual is a little older, more androgynous - less Cam.

"Spells for enchanting books," it says. "Practical Spelling, subheading five. Page three hundred and twelve."

And it starts reading out the appropriate page.

Date: 2013-03-24 01:12 am (UTC)
pythbox: A book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pythbox
There are several spells for enchanting books; the first one listed is for his exact purpose, combining multiple volumes into a single book with a manageable physical size that nevertheless contains all the preexisting information. There is a note that it's a variant on one of the spells used to enchant wizards' manuals themselves.

The required technical vocabulary is provided. There are no obscure special materials, like there are for some of the more difficult spells in later chapters. All Cam needs is a pile of books, enough paper to wrap them in, a writing utensil, and his voice.

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lifes_sake: (Default)
Campbell Mark Swan ҂ "Cam"

August 2013

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