4-Spell the Fourth

Corlan's week went rather fast. Somehow, he dodged enough of his homework to make an appearance at Reece's orchestral concert (where the musician played second violin) on Thursday. In fact, three-fifths of the MAG 203 showed up—all six of them—and he found himself sitting between Anarade and Davey. The show was an interesting and oddly relaxing mélange of twentieth century composers, where Claude Debussy and Charles Ives were crammed on the same program.

Sometime early Friday, the long-awaited copies of Practical Modern Divinations finally arrived and General Magical Studies was something almost resembling a standard. Between Leitnerlaan's lecture and the rather dry book, Corlan picked up the gist of the section as being what he had assumed for quite a while: predicting the future could work, but was very much like weather forecasting. Short term, it worked fairly well, but after thirty-six hours or so, it was merely wild guessing. Of course, it could still be wrong in the short term, with major psychic decision nodes taking the place of unpredictable fast-moving weather fronts.

By one o'clock, Corlan was burned out, even to the point of not wanting to leave campus for James' shop and an iced coffee-emulating substance. Instead, his autonomic pathfinding skills lead him back to the Wilson dormitories, with a slight detour to the main building to pick up his mail. One of the student employees waved at him. "Aren't you Corlan Hayes?" Corlan struggled to keep his head up. "Letter for you. Really weird letter for you. It's been freaking people out all day." The young man held up a wide document envelope with red-blue international airmail striping. Corlan picked it up. Except for the address being in a pleasant calligraphic hand and having an unusually high number of stamps, the letter was disappointingly ordinary. Corlan put his finger towards the crease. A bright red magic seal filtered into view at the center of the envelope, and a small but sharp static shock zapped his pointer finger. "See? What the heck was that? And frankly, how the heck did that get through the post office? Know anything about it?"

Corlan shrugged. "Nope. I do have an idea, though." He fumbled through his pockets until he removed a small (and rather cheap) grey metal ring with a flat face, embossed with a design that incorporated a longbow, a fey cross, and a rampart lion. He pressed it against the envelope. The arcane seal flickered quietly and disappeared, followed by the signet ring and the letter disappearing into Corlan's jacket. The mage waved at the mail desk. "Thanks." "Um…right."

• • •

One building and four unpleasant flights of stairs later, Corlan stared at the door to room 322, the designation for the second room of the second floor of the third building of Wilson. As he unlatched the lock, he noticed that despite his tiredness, he seemed…jittery. He closed the door behind him, sat down and took the letter out of the envelope. It was three pages long, typed, printed on expensive paper that bore a watermark with a coat of arms that below it read, "Serciache Akademie von Magie / Sercian Academy of Magic."

Dear Corlan,

Thanks for taking the time to write to me. After working as an educator for a rather specialized school for the past several centuries, it's still nice to hear from students of the Art in other nations. Confirming that arcana is indeed still practiced in the United States does wonders for dispelling those silly notions one gets from time to time. Now, you must be thinking, didn't Allie Meynolt write an email to this Klessen fellow? Why am I getting a letter of all things? Well, she yes did, but she did so in your name, Master Hayes. While I'm sure that your end was secure, I believe I trust my spells and the post system a bit more, and here is your response, promptly written and no doubt arriving two days after it was postmarked.

As for your concern, I will say this…the discipline known as weaver magic is a crude, messy business. As you have unfortunately witnessed, weaver magic is a field that manipulates reality rather directly, by the expenditure of through unbelievably large amounts of mana. And not only the physical states of objects, but also causality itself, retroactively if desired. And once one dabbles in tweaking causality, things tend to get very confusing.

So, why hasn't history been rewritten at the most basic level an infinite number of times? Like I said, the main problem is that weaver magic, unless being used for minor adjustments, requires sheer amounts of mana that even an archwizard such as myself would have great difficulties in using. And in my experience, most powerful weaver magic tends to be a double-edged sword. Reality has a habit of being self-policing, and most methods derived to "cheat" the mana costs of weaver spells do have a tendency to be destructive to one's immortal soul.

Still, I think it's quite obvious that someone, regardless of method, is being quite malicious in their manipulation of causality. And understand that, while you noticed and remembered the effects of the spell, it does not make you immune to such things. Hence, I've enclosed the instructions one of the spells I've invented, known as "The Weaver's Anchor". It does two things. First, if cast on oneself, it grants permanent immunity to another mage's weaver magic, and allows one to better perceive the weaver magic of others. The best analogy I can give is that of a character in a book stepping outside the pages to become an author themselves—they can no longer be erased by another author. The second function is that it can be cast on another person to provide a slightly more limited protection that lasts until the original caster dies or dispels it. Now, please take care, since if you were to cast the spell on a friend, they could not be killed directly by weaver magic, but it would not stop another weaver from changing reality to ensure that a truck struck the friend. And in such a case, one would be unable to use weaver magic to bring the person back to life.

I understand that you are quite skilled in arcana, so you should be able to cast the Weaver's Anchor. Miss Meynolt tells me your skills are some of the best in your federal state and that you happen to be a greater warlock with fairy blood in you. My recommendation is this: Cast the Anchor on you and work together with Miss Meynolt to stop this Weaver. Be cautious and suspicious, and assume that whatever mage is behind this, he or she must be extremely powerful, if not overtly dangerous or malicious in nature. However, having heard your curriculum vitae of arcane skills, I believe you are capable of this task, and I need not say that if you do not invest yourself, who else would?

As for Miss Allie, I do not know her directly. I am good friends with her mother, Yara Meynolt, and the senior Meynolt has told much of her daughter. She described her daughter as "high-spirited and devoted"; with a considerable amount left open for interpretation.

Good luck and God Bless,

Bertram von Klessen

Assistant Dean and Founder, Sercian Academy of Magic

Enclosure (1)

The document in Corlan's hands woke him up (slightly). The most famous mage in modern history, the founder of the world's foremost school of magic, the inventor of dozen of common spells, and the system used for the categorization of spells itself was addressing him as if he was an old friend. It was oddly humbling. Corlan flipped to the last page. A short info box was followed by nearly a dozen small illustrations.

The Weaver's Anchor

Bertram Level 8

Mana: 106,000 luhtas (SI, estimated)

Casting time: 11 minutes

A level eight spell was no laughing matter. Some mages' natural capacity for magic capped somewhere in the six to seven range, and a ten on the Bertram scale was nearly an archmage spell. 120 luhtas was the spell "Light", considered the weakest spell in common use. Since it generated an average of 120 candelas, a derived SI unit was created and defined as "the amount of focused magical energy needed to produce one candela of heatless light". This meant that one luhta was a very, very token amount of magic. Even 120 luhtas is a small amount. Eight hundred and thirty-three times that number is not. The young mage fixed himself a cup of instant coffee, rubbed his palms together, pushed up his embroidered sleeves, and got to work.

• • •

The spell was actually very subtle. It produced a faint but subtle aura during casting (in Corlan's natural aura color; light green) and except for a short but powerful tingling sensation, Corlan didn't feel especially different about having unwoven himself from the "normal" weave of reality. Thanks to the caffeine, Corlan managed to stay conscious, and fifteen minutes later, he called the library, and asked to be put through to Allie. He explained the letter, the spell, and after removing the cell phone from his ear to counteract the excited volume increase on the other end, he agreed to meet her at the library at three-thirty.

Core saddled up his trusty (wizard's) staff and was out the door. The odd twitchy feeling had returned, though. When he was three-fourths of the way to the library, he walked past a nicely landscaped grassy knoll that lead up to a large oak tree and a circular fountain that was nestled between the walking paths. Just merely glancing at the miniature park felt very…magnetic as the twitching quickly extended to his elbow joints and eyes. His plan in response was simple: he was going to walk to the fountain and splash cold water on his face to (hopefully) wake himself up. Corlan never got that far. Instead, a few steps off the concrete path and onto the well-manicured grass and his body prompted refused to go along with his mind and instead, faceplanted itself onto the grass. It was warm, oddly soothing, and within moments, Corlan was reduced to a warm and snuggly state of half-consciousness, lying on the grass.

• • •

Corlan awoke by shivering, an autonomic response to the water that had just been splashed in his face. He had been moved next to the fountain and propped against it. "Aggh…" He gripped the bridge of his nose and looked up. Allie, clad in cargo pants, a blue buttoned shirt, and fleecy grey jacket, wiped the water off her right hand and replaced her fingerless glove. "Welcome back, space cadet." Corlan braced himself up and sat on the circular bench edge of the fountain. "What are you doing here?" Allie blinked. "That's a silly question. I'm not that grail knight from Indiana Jones. I'm fully capable of leaving the library of my own volition." Corlan blinked. "That's not quite what I meant." "Oh…why was I here? Well, let's see…you called me saying you'd be over with the letter from Doctor Klessen, and after an hour, you still hadn't completed a ten-minute walk across campus. And since you didn't answer your phone, I came looking for you, and lo and behold, I find you kissing the grass on almost my doorstep." Corlan reached into a pocket for his cell phone, which displayed three missed calls. "It's four thirty already?" "Four thirty-three. So, do you have narcolepsy, epilepsy, or some other embarrassing medical condition I should know about?"

"Not really…wait, are my eyes bloodshot?" Allie leaned forward. "Hmm…that's spooky. The whites of your peepers are bloodshot…and…green." "Then that would be my fairy self trying to screw around with me. It's normally not this bad, though." Allie went back to standing. "So, you gonna' be okay?" "Yeah. Not enough trees and too much concrete on campus, I guess. Soaking up the green here should do me for a few days, but I should probably head home and spend my weekend with my family and maybe do some hiking. That should satisfy my instincts for a couple of months." "So, a long drive?" "Fifteen minutes. I grew up across town." "That's close. My only family's a good five thousand miles and one major ocean away off in Estphalia."

• • •

Corlan followed Allie back to Morell. And sure enough, he had collapsed one corner and fifty yards away from the massive building. The librarian and mage walked up the steps to the side entrance (the librarian actually hopped) and entered the massive atrium perpendicular to the circulations desk. Corlan reached into the left inside pocket of his jacket and removed the red and blue-striped envelope. "Here, did you want to read this?" "Of course, but I think I've come down with a slight case of paranoia." Allie mimed adjusting the G-Man sunglasses that she wasn't wearing. "So, Agent Hayes, I recommend going through the intel in a more secure location." Corlan involuntarily yawned in response. "And you look like you could use some caffeine. Would you mind if we had tea and crumpets?" "Umm…okay." "Woo! Right this way."

Allie turned in a quick complete spin on the floor before running up the nearest staircase two at a time, with little visible effort. Corlan shrugged and followed at a more restrained pace. Allie was well ahead of him and standing, arms folded at a much more modern looking elevator on the third/catwalk floor, which featured a staircase wrapped around the elevator column. The elevator was already on the floor, and after he stepped in, the silver-haired lass followed. Allie depressed one of the stainless steel buttons, one clearly labeled seven, which made about as much sense to Corlan as seeing an "11" on a phone keypad. But sure enough, the elevator whirred four floors up, the digital display giving a red "7".

It opened to what was best described as a narrow, open corridor. The walkway was seven feet wide and just under the building's ceiling. A railing at waist-level lined both sides, but gave a clear view of the atrium. "You don't get acrophobia, I hope?" "No, but isn't it a bit late to be asking that?" Allie smiled and shrugged, and began sauntering to the end of the corridor. The end opposite of the elevator stopped at a slightly curved wall that appeared to be the middle of the main chamber. And inset in the wall was a friendly, four-paneled blue-painted wooden door with a doorbell and a welcome mat with Elven script that transliterated to "creoso" (which not surprisingly, literally meant "welcome").

"What the heck is this?" Allie blinked. "My house. I thought I told you I lived here." "I thought you were being figurative!" Allie fiddled with her house keys. "No, I was speaking quite plainly, I thought." She pressed down on the door latch. "So, won't you please come in?" "Right."

Allie shut the door and put her right pinky to the corner of her mouth. "Welcome…to my not-at-all secret aboveground lair!" Corlan chuckled at her attempt at an Ian Flemming villain. "And this would be the living room…possibly also a dining room if you turn your head and squint funny. Look familiar?" The room was surprisingly large, very circular, with bookshelves (which Corlan could swear were slightly circular themselves) lining the walls, one large stone fireplace, a couch next to a small wooden coffee table, and one small, tall dark stained table stood near the corner with four matching chairs. A matching trio of sloped ramps led to other rooms branching out from the living room. More interesting was the domed, heavy-glass ceiling, and the frosted glass that took up the majority of the floor. "Wait…you live in the central skylight of the building?" "Yep. Pretty snifty, eh? This place has been renovated a few times, naturally—they had to add in those little things like electricity and indoor plumbing, but the floor plan's pretty much the same as it was. Going from left to right up there, you have the kitchen with a laundry room squeezed in a closet, the bathroom, master bedroom, and a guest room slash study slash office slash video game room. Very utilitarian, you see. I also added a curtain system for the ceiling, and well, I can go out on the roof whenever the heck I please. Any questions?" Corlan shook his head and glanced down at the faint shadows in the glass block floor. "Righto. Then I'll put the kett'le on to boil." Meynolt gave her best Anglish accent, hopped over her own couch, and proceeded into the kitchen.

Corlan removed his backpack and plopped it down next to the grey leather couch. He went to sit down, and thankfully remembered that it worked better without a six-foot stick strapped to his back; he popped the straps on his staff and leaned it against the couch. The mage then straightened his jacket and sat down. There was no television in the room, but a TV guide nonetheless waited on the coffee table, as well as couple of scholarly journals and a large graphic novel about a Kernin photojournalist and his dog from the 1950's. The entire eclectic set was oddly appropriate. There were no paintings on the walls, since said walls were busy holding floor-to-ceiling bookshelves…ten in all, that sometimes extended above where the ceiling glass started. There was, however, a single oil portrait hanging above the dust-colored fireplace. A stern, regal, yet bemused middle-aged woman's upper half filled the frame, while a solid maroon background with an obscured coat of arms stood behind her. The woman had formal robes, silver hair just past the bottom of her ears, and dark grey eyes that were anchored behind an antique style of eyeglasses. A whistling sound emanated from the vicinity of the kitchen, closely followed by the "poink" of toast popping.

The whistling whirred down to a stop as various types of clinking assembled themselves. Corlan turned to see Allie, holding a decorated, painted metal tray containing two oversized cups of black tea on saucers, along with a small cream pitcher, a sugar dish, and a plate with two Anglish muffins. "Gawking at the picture of my mom, huh?" "That's who I guessed it was." Allie slid the magazine over and placed the tea tray on the coffee table, before hopping over and planting herself on the opposite end of the couch. "Is she royalty of some sort?" Allie turned her head and started laughing…before abruptly stopping in mid-laugh. "Nope. You'd think she was, though. City manager for a few centuries, and then she was a retainer for the Estphalian crown. As common blood as mine."

Corlan removed the letter from his jacket. Allie eyed it. "One sec. First, some good Estphalian-Anglish tea…Earl Grey." "And you're adding cream and sugar?" Allie tilted her head. "Cream? Heck no! Milk and sugar. Cream is meant to counteract how wickedly bitter coffee is…kills tea entirely. Care for a crumpet?" Allie handed the plate of round, toasted objects, which were almost-but-not-quite Anglish muffins, and buttered on the top. "Thanks." Corlan munched on one and accepted a cup of tea, while Allie grabbed the letter. "Yoink!"

While Allie read the letter, Corlan leered apprehensively at the teacup. The teacup did nothing except steam gently. He took a swallow, shuddered, thought about it, and went back to drinking it. Allie laughed. "Heh he…'high-spirited'…that sounds like mom. Well, Mister Corlan, it appears you impressed Mister Klessen. Interesting letter, too, though he is the most down-to-eurden archwizard I know of." She slid the papers apart. "And our little anchor spell, too. Goody!" She got up and walked over to the middle of the glass floor, where she sat and crossed her legs. "Give me a few, 'kay?" Corlan nodded and crunched on his crumpet.

• • •

"Whoo. That was a doozy." Allie got up, popped her neck, and blinked, and still appeared rather spunky after the casting of a rather powerful spell. "Rather unimpressive, though…" Allie raised her eyebrows and went into a sly grin. "…you know what this means, right?" Corlan took a large sip of tea, finishing off his third cup. "Umm…no." "This means that I'm officially a member of the Librarians of Time and Space!!" Corlan blinked. "Did you just make a Discworld reference?" Allie continued grinning. "Probably. And as you should know, there are three rules that I am hereby bound to enforce. The first is silence, the second is that books can't be returned later than the last date shown, and finally, I'm not to interfere with the nature of causality. And I'm pretty sure I'll be ignoring the first one altogether." She giggled and plopped back down on her couch like a great silver, grey, and blue stone...with a touch of brown if you counted her ever-present fingerless gloves. "So, you're going to the great outdoors to be eaten by a bear this weekend?"

"Well…I'm hoping the being eaten part doesn't happen. Most animals either ignore me entirely or actually like me. Wild animals, too." "And I'm sure that's totally unrelated to your heritage. Yeah, as for me…it's not that I don't like animals, but…most animals don't like me. House pets think I'm weird, and anything more wild than that flees in terror." Allie chuckled. "So, I imagine that after a rousing hike, you'll be cavorting with the dryads in their ancient, pagan rituals?"

Corlan shook his head. "Aww…" "No, I mean…dryads really piss off Wiccans and Neopaganists. They're some of the most religious Christians I know of…unless of course, you go to the Northeast…then most fey are Jewish." The silence consisted of the air conditioning system cycling. "You're joshing me…aren't you?" Corlan's expression stayed neutral. "Seriously?" He nodded. Her lips curled, and she began laughing uncontrollably. "Heh he heh…dryads…pushing scripture…just imagine." The librarian promptly slid out of her couch, sighed, and righted herself, flipping her long hair back over her shoulders. "That's the craziest thing I've heard for several weeks." The young mage shrugged. "It's true though. You haven't experienced boring until you've heard a grove of dryads pick apart, dissect, and thoroughly discuss the book of Exodus. And then there's the almost painful lecture between the dryads of fruit tress over the theme of symbolic sacrifice in the New Testament." "I would imagine." She smirked. "And the next thing you'll tell me is that kelpies and unicorns steal your lunch money."

"Actually…" Allie raised her right eyebrow. "…unicorns have a tendency to mooch my lunch off of me." Meynolt put her hands to her waist and gave a moderately incredulous glance. "Really? You seem much too male for unicorns to associate with you." He shrugged. "Yeah, I know. I'm not a maiden, but I am a virgin. And once you skip those myths, they're excellent judges of human character. I swear they can smell a person's attitude." "Huh…I guess that makes sense, what with them being as timid and wild as they are." "Rare, yes. Backwoods, yes. Timid, no. You know how horses tend to flee when threatened?" Allie poured herself the last half-cup from the teapot. "Yeah?" "Unicorns don't. For instance, you go into a primeval, old-growth forest with the intentions of nabbing yourself a unicorn horn, and you're likely to impaled through the chest. Unicorns do not mess around, I'm telling you." The woman chuckled.

Allie polished off her last cup of tea and somewhere along the line checked her watch. "Hmm…dang. Listen, I hate to kick you out—okay, I actually don't, but—it's already five-forty. If you still have to load your things and drive across town, you might want to get back before that blood filters back into yer' caffeine system." Corlan stood up, and stood on the end of his staff, flipping the quartz end vertical and into his waiting grasp. "Nice move, slick." He held it out behind him and snapped the straps on the back of his jacket and picked up his backpack, along with the letter from Bertram von Klessen. "Well, thanks for the tea and the hospitality. Assuming that my regular schoolwork doesn't kill me, I'll see what I can poke my nose into as far as mysterious magical mischief makers go." "Nice alliteration…and you know with my busy schedule, I won't be able to help but most days. I'll walk you out."

• • •

Allie locked the deadbolt on her door and pocketed her keys. "And allow me to show you a bit of a shortcut." Allie peered over the balcony of her private corridor. "You do know the spell 'feather' right?" "Yes, but why…?" Allie vaulted over the railing and promptly jumped down six and a half stories. Corlan held back a sigh and thought, "Somehow, that doesn't surprise me."

Allie gave a quick one-handed gesture and abruptly switched from plummeting at an acceleration of thirty-two feet per second per second to gliding down at an ever-decreasing rate. She landed on one foot with grace than an accomplished skydiver with an oversized parachute…and with much less baggage and less risk of a broken leg. "Du'lin'fin'dl." Corlan worked through the hands motions by thinking out the syllables to a helpful but otherwise optional mnemonic device, and hopped over the ledge.

Corlan's descent stabilized at a comfortable glide, and then slowed again just before landing. With the butterflies in his stomach quickly evaporating, he walked towards the center skylight. Allie tossed a smirk in his general direction. "And who says you can't go skydiving indoors?" The woman's ears perked up and she turned toward the main entrance. "Hey, excuse me!" The same homely yet scruffy man at the security desk got up and was promptly shoved to the floor behind his L-shaped desk. Allie's eyes narrowed.

Standing at the top of the two steps (and ADA-approved ramp on the side) just past the security desk was a familiar looking man with a crew cut on his head, fire in his eyes, and the physique of a small bison. Adam Davis was flanked by two equally oversized humans cut from the same build (and moral fiber) as their ringleader. "Well, well, Corlan Hayes!!" He almost yelled in an attempt to make his baritone growl echo. Unfortunately, the library had been designed to do just the opposite. "How ya' doing, you little shit!? My nose is already healed and I'm here to get the rain check on your life. And I brought a few of my friends, too, thought they might want to join the party." "Couple." The lineman stared at Allie. "What?" Corlan turned his head. "Couple. You brought two people with you. 'Few' is used for three or more." "Yeah, that's great. Listen broad, this is none of your business. I'm here to rub that stupid, fruity lil' magician into the floorboards and nothin' more."

Allie gave a slow, icy smile that almost made her charge twitch. "Oh…but it is. Those are fighting words, you see…young Mister Davis, isn't it? I recognize your face from the paper." Allie tossed her hair forward so that locks of it fell forward, partially obscuring her eyes. The look on her face had changed to something outright predatory. Corlan had never seen an elven ritual vendetta (or if there was such a thing, the half-elf equivalent), but had a very good idea that they were something similar. "You should have been charged with assault, but thanks to this young man, I think you got off easy. Only a coward attacks a defenseless woman, and only a cowardly dog attacks a woman one-third his size. And you've just crossed into my domain…my territory, with a death threat. It's very much my business…and I eat bastards you like for lunch." Davis gave a "heh" and spat on the library carpet.

Allie turned towards Corlan. "Dear, can you keep them occupied for say…five and a half seconds?" The response was a series of three snaps. Corlan held his staff in both hands and advanced forward slowly, just out of the skylight. The footballer pulled a boot knife. Allie began speaking, in the same dire tone, in a harsh, self-growling, almost alien language that Hayes hadn't even heard before, while moving her gloved hands in equally strange motions. Corlan whispered to himself and walked calmly forward. Adam stepped forward.

The world around Corlan instantly faded to a dull version of itself, as if a watercolor had all of its colors lose their saturation. The figures in front of him likewise faded, though Corlan was still solid inside the partially invoked reality he now walked through. Adam's knife went cleanly through the mage…and kept going, as did its wielder. The two other men simply looked on in disbelief. The lineman turned around to see a partially transparent Corlan shifting his feet. The head of his staff swung through the air in circle and just before it met with the cheek of the first accomplice, Corlan phased back into the normal plane of reality. In a quick spin, he struck the first with the head, the second with the back end, and finally struck Adam Davis with a blow to the chest. As the man fell, Allie's spell finished, and a silver crystalline shine surrounded the three football players. Adam stayed lurched in the middle of his fall. The antagonists could move no more than their eyes.

Allie tilted her head back and stared at the lineman. It was not the glance of a cheerful guardian of the shelves, but instead the leer of a triumphant virago. "How do you like the inside of a full body stasis spell? It's a version I invented just for bastards like your wonderful self...now I could use that magical field to crush your pitiful little skull into a perfect sphere, but I have a better idea." Allie gave a slight flick of her wrist, and all three of the thugs quickly floated next to each other, the contents of their pockets appearing floating along beside their respective owners. "Three wallets, one boot knife, a switchblade, oh, and a pair of steel knuckledusters. How charming. The campus police are going to love you to death. Jeremy, can you hit the door and phone them up?" The ponytailed man at the security desk pressed a button at his console and the handicapped power-assisted doors opened. He then picked up the phone and hit a speed dial button, in a manner suggesting that this was not the first time this had happened. Allie pointed her hand towards the door and the captives and their loose change quickly flew out the door in an orderly manner.

The Head Librarian sighed and brushed back her hair, her demeanor returning to its more perky self. "Well, that solves that, doesn't it?" Corlan, leaning on his staff, quickly nodded and blinked quite a few times. "Oh, and nice going there. An expertly pulled partial shift to the Plane of Shadow if I do say so myself. Isn't that harder than just popping in and out the whole way?" "Thanks. Yeah, but I don't like hanging out there for long. The architecture starts going all M. C. Escher on you, and the more magic you're around, the freakier things get. Allie shrugged in agreement. "So, what exactly were you saying? It sounded like a drake choking a goat with laryngitis." Allie giggled. "Well, that's a good way to describe Draconic. I'm surprised you didn't recognize it by sound. No biggie, though. The grammar and pronunciations are beyond freaky."

The library's standoff-induced silence was quickly returning to its usual level of hubbub. "So, it's used for arcane magic?" "Well, most yes. Haven't you heard of the four languages of magic?" "Can't say as I have." Allie put her hand to her chin. "Hmm…the teachers these days…well; the four are Draconic, Elven, Hebrew, and Latin. The first two are mostly arcane, and the last two are usually holy magic. There are exceptions, of course. Some of the best golem artificing stuff is in Hebrew; no big surprise there." "Huh." "Well, you better be going, ain't ya'?" Corlan nodded, returned his staff under his backpack, and walked out the door. He turned once and winked at the still frozen footballers on the sidewalk, who were quite busy holding the same looks of confusion glued to their faces.