Working Magic

by Fox Dragonrite

"Why did I even bother?" Wessex growled in frustration. Looking over what was left of his spell, he sighed dejectedly. It was a probe. The boyish wizard had meant to find out more about the curse that held Metamor in its icy grasp. Unfortunately, it only returned the same information that every other probe that directly confronted the curse had. It promptly short curcuited as soon as it touched the power backing Nasoj's enchantments.

"Wessex ard'Kapler?"

"Yes?" the mage called as he looked for who was disturbing him. His visitor was a tall, thin figure covered from head to toe in a blue, flowing robe. His hands, feet, and face were covered in dark grey gloves, boots, and vale. The only features that were not covered up were two glowing spots where his eyes should be.

"John Thesmere. Pleased to meet you."

"Ah, yes. You're the undead mage that was recently freed from an ancient trap underneith Metamor. What can I do for you?"

"I understand you specialized in the bad guys' magic. I've been reviewing what you've discovered on the curse, and I think I may be onto something here."

Wessex immediately perked up at this revelation. "Please, come in and sit down!"

"Thank you." commented the liche as he sat down next to boy mage. "Okay. I'll start from the top. When Nasoj cast the original curse at the battle of the three gates, his intent was to turn the people of Metamor into animals, babies, and sex slaves. Thanks to timely intervention on your part, we are now the half-animal, pre-pubescent, and trans-gendered people of today. Nasoj's attack was very brute force in nature, so you were able to redirect some of that energy into partially undoing it's effects."

"That's correct. Everything that we've been able to do about the spell has been through circumventing it."

"Well, from what you know about the spell, it consists of two parts. One is the transformation section. The other side powers it. However, it doesn't generate it's own power. If we can ciphon away the curse's power source, it should be quite easy to work with."

"That's true. But we'd give everyone within fifty miles mana poisoning. That's a lot of power to drain."

"Correct. So let's start small."

With one fluid motion, John set something down on the table.

"A grain of sand?" inquired Wessex.

"Yeah. It's too small to hold a lot of power, but the curse should still have imprinted it."

"That's brilliant!"

"Furthermore, I'm already dead. I can burn off its mana without having to worry about any side effects."

"We should still clear everyone within thirty feet, just to be on the safe side..."

Two mages are busy inscribing symbols on the floor. One turns around and taps the other on the back. Lifting his cup of chalk, the other looks inside it. He lifts his own container and pours some of his powder into the others. A sizable portion promptly spills to the floor. The wizards look at their vessels, then to the floor, then to themselves. One bends down and draws lines to the rest of the diagram. They nod to themselves and continue their construction.

Two mages sat hunched over a pile of literature. One placed his book next the the other's and pointed to a passage of text. The other promptly extended his index finger. Reaching into the heap of tomes, he withdrew one of the vessels of knowledge and pointed out a paragraph in it.

Two mages walked down the hall holding odd looking goggles to their eyes. As a keeper walks by both focus their gaze on her, bending over as they do so. She looks back with a face of shy concern and promptly gets out of range as fast as possible. Murmoring among themselves, they continued down the passageway. Next they level their attention against an intersection. Quickly straightening their posture, both wizard remove their eye equipment and excitedly talk amongst themselves.

A mob of angry people knock on a door. The enterance is promptly opened. The mass of flesh files into the room. The opening is closed. Dust pours from the cracks of the door as commotion erupts from behind it. The door is hurled to the far wall as it is knocked off it's hinges. Two mages run out with their arms extended, eyes wide, and mouths screaming.

"Alright." intoned Duke Thomas. "You two have been public enemy number one for the last couple of days. I'm assuming you have something to show for it."

"Indeed we do!"

"As you know, we've been studying the curse as of late."

"The problem before hand was that we were never able get a real look at Nasoj's enchantments."

"They were too brute force. Any attempt to overpower it was useless."

"We had been attempting to circumvent it, like was done at the battle of the three gates."

"However, thanks to some fresh ideas, we've been able to get a good look at the curse without it's blunt power getting in the way."

"We've gained a lot of information on why it works the way it does."

"The spell was originally centered on the three gates."

"However, it slowly defused through the area it now covers."

"In fact, it's still expanding, though at a very slow rate."

"Given a few eons, everyone in the world will eventually be inflicted with it."

"But by then, it will be spread so thin that curing the condition will be simple."

"However, we digress."

"Each spell acts individually of the others."

"So Metamor is actually under three curses."

"The reason the curse seems random is because of the keep's variable geometry."

"It acts like a spoon stiring a glass of water with a bit of dye in it."

"Furthermore, this also explains why it takes longer for some people to get the curse than others."

"Whenever someone stands in an area that is controlled by one of the spells, he starts to absorb energy."

"The energy will build up until there is enough present to affect a change."

"Since each spell has it's own energy signature, it's depends on which curse you stay in the most to determine which curse you get."

"Now as for removing the curses..."

"We need to manipulate the spell directly to remove the curse."

"But to do that, we have to drain the energy that powers it first."

"And if we do that, you'll get severe mana poisoning."

"Perhaps we should explain that more."

"Think of it like falling."

"If you land on a pile of pillows, your landing will be stretched out over a second."

"Since you have a long time to slow down, your landing will be soft."

"But if you fall on the masonary, you will stop nearly instantly."

"With no time to slow down, the effects are usually fatal."

"The problem with this cure is pretty much the same thing."

"You can hold a lot of mana because it isn't doing anything."

"But if you make it do something, it disrupts your system."

"A human body can only take so much before you start having problems."

"So casting a spell is no big deal."

"In fact, emptying your entire mana supply isn't a big deal."

"But the curse is based on brute force."

"There is more mana in a grain of sand than most mages."

"While you are cursed or accumulating mana to get the curse, the mana isn't doing anything."

"But when we remove the energy, all of it rips out of you in a flash."

"And then you're condemned to being a cripple for the remaining months of your life, provided you survive at all."

"So we can't make good on this train of thought without changing the laws of magic, finding a miracle cure, or..."

"...or finding some way to lessen the burden placed on the body while we drain the mana."

"In effect, we need to find a pile of pillows for you to fall on."

"Now for that, we need more time to study."

"And that concludes what we've managed to find out these past few days."

The crowd excitedly murmored to themselves as they started to file out of the room.

"You make this look easy Copernicus." commented an astounded liche as the lizard managed to sink in every one of his balls in a row.

"Told you he was good." commented Matthias.

John looked around the billards table to see which approach would be best. Hefting his implement of cue ball tapping, he leveled it at the white stone. With a solid tap, it smashed into two balls. One flew into the corner pocket. The other one was solid black. It bounced off the side and headed for a pocket. John held his breathe. Matthias held his breathe. Spectators held their breathe. Copernicus smirked. The crowd cheered as the ball stopped just a few inches before falling in! Tapping the cue ball again, John missed sinking another of his balls.

"He's toast."

"Copernicus has a straight shot."

"No way he could miss the eight ball."

With an easy motion, the lizard launched the cue ball at the eight ball.

Copernicus gasped. Matthias gasped. The crowed gasped. John smirked.

"Trilians have a saying. If the enemy is too powerful to defeat, let him defeat himself."

The silence was absolute as the crowd looked on in amazement. No eight ball sat upon the table. Nor did any cue ball.

"A scratch once all your balls are in counts as a loss I believe. Good game."

The robed figure gave the losing lizard a pat on the back and walked away as the crowd cheered. He sat down at a table and ordered an ale.

A fox in a blue vest sat down next to him.

"So, are you through annoying the general populace now?"

"Yes. We've studied the curse as much as we can for now."

"It great that you were able to discover how much you did. We need someone like you."

"Thanks. I do my best."

"Why don't you come down tomorrow. I have a favor I'd like to ask of you."

The fox handed him a card with an axe and longbow on it and got up to leave. The undead mage slipped the it into his robe and retired to his own thoughts.