Aug 21, 2019 3:14 AM
James wakes up alone in a room
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O... kay... He will try that, why not. Seems straightforward enough.

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It’s pretty straightforward! It’s more like when dealing with cold light than with dealing with proper fire, where the inferno is fed and emboldened by his magic. The flavor of salt strengthens in response to the power dangled in front of its proverbial nose, then reaches out, and carefully, carefully follows.

The salt circle remains firmly on the ground, but little by little, the flavor of salt permeates the air it’s led through. It’s clearly delicate, like a curtain of thin paper, but with fluidity, almost churning like water. It would be easy to tear, or lead astray.

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He has a couple of false starts but eventually succeeds, and beams proudly at himself.

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“Very good. But if I’m not mistaken, you do not yet have a sphere.” He points down at the ground, with a trace of amusement.

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"...oops." He proceeds to cover that.

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“Good. Now, without any additional materials, you have full protection from every direction. Finesse, strength, and speed will come with practice. But, it is a passable first ward.”

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Yay! He did a non-fire magic!

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“Magic will tend to settle into geometrically stable configurations, which helps with clumsiness and mistakes. Some recovery of holes is possible, if the hole is small enough.” He punctures a bit of the ward above them with a flare of magic. The ward wobbles fitfully, then rights itself, hole closing. “But a large enough hole, or large enough disturbance in the salt circle that holds it, and the entire thing can come crashing down.” He smudges the salt with a foot, and the ward wobbles again, trying to compensate for the new shape, and then failing. As promised, the whole thing comes crashing down, in a shower of salt flavored magic.

“This can be useful if one is setting a trap with a ward, if the ward is dangerous. Sometimes it is wise to introduce weaknesses to systems so as to know if they have been punctured. A ward that rights itself gives no tell that its let anything in, whereas a ward that has collapsed has made it pretty obvious.”

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He nods along, not grimacing when he feels the salt but wanting to.

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"Now, let's move on to something more aligned with your specialty. We needn't clean the salt up for this one, it won't interfere with the second ward I'll have you make, but please make your second circle slightly smaller than the first, so as not to actually mix the materials." He leans down and picks up one of the jars and offers it to Zheras.

It turns out to contain sand, smoother and more regular in composition than the sort of sand one might typically find on a beach. It's a dull tan, and it's not all that interesting to his magical tastes, either. Not precisely unpalatable, but it doesn't taste like it could be fuel. It most resembles bread, or perhaps unsalted crackers, but the sort of hard tack crackers that sit in one's stomach like a brick if consumed.

As he makes his second circle, Phaleritan resumes lecturing. "'Ward' is an old and open term for protection, and as such, isn't a hard category. How a sorcerer goes about creating the protection is an exercise left to the sorcerer. The more direct ways are obvious; do something to prevent the thing you don't want from getting in, do something that hurts bad things that succeed at getting in. But these are hardly the only methods of protecting something. Do you have a guess for what sort of ward I have in mind for your second?"

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Zheras takes a bit to think about it. "You could hurt something that gets close enough?" he suggests.

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"You certainly could," he agrees, amused. "And while I'd argue that this technically fits the definition of warding, some sorcerers might argue with you depending on how proactive your protection was, or some other minutiae of characteristic or definition. Some of us have the unfortunate habit of getting caught up in trivial details instead of dealing in matters that have any actual importance.

"Regardless, while simply hurting something that gets close enough is very effective, it won't work as well against more intelligent foes than the wander-maddened dead. That gives them the ability to think of a way around your ward, to find something to leverage against you. In my experience, the best way to win is to have won before anyone even realizes there's a contest at all. You are thinking of fire in terms of heat and burning, but if I'm not mistaken, you also deal in light."

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"- oh. An illusion?"

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"Correct! How better to protect something, than to keep it secret from all who might interfere with it? So, you have a circle of sand. Why do you think sand in particular, and how do you think you could use this to make an illusion?"

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"Something to do with glass?" he guesses.

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"Good guess. Light travels through many things, but one of them is glass. Imperfections in the glass can twist and change the light, and thus change what someone sees. There are trick mirrors in circuses that do that sort of thing - stretch someone out to look tall or thin or fat, everyone gathers 'round and guffaws at the spectacle. So! Since you can create light, why not also take the opportunity to twist it to your benefit?"

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He nods along with the explanation. That makes sense to him.

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"Understanding the basic premise of the theory at play, do you have any ideas for implementation?"

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"I could... melt it? The sand. Make a circle of glass?"

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"You could indeed. What are your reasons for thinking that would help, and what are some potential costs and downsides for such a move?"

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"Well, I can't do cold so much, so I suppose the melted sand would take a while to become glass. And might set the room on fire? I have more control than that, though. It would help by being more the-kind-of-thing that bends light, as opposed to its... raw matter."

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"This is true. Loose grains of sand hardly bend light at all. Also, from a practical standpoint, it would also be much more difficult to move or change the glass once cooled. You couldn't easily recollect the glass to rearrange it somewhere else, and whatever mistakes you'd make in the formation of the glass would be difficult to fix. On the other hand, it would be more stable and difficult to move, which are usually considered pluses in warding."

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Zheras nods. "And I can just melt glass again if I need to move it..."

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"Yes, but heating is not the same thing as moving, merely making it so that it can be changed more easily. And melted sand has a habit of fusing to things, though admittedly it'd have trouble with this particular floor. In another situation it wouldn't work quite as well. My real point is that it's best to understand the downsides to an action before it's taken, because often it's very hard to undo something once it's been changed."

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He nods. "...but I can just carry melted sand in my hands."

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