Mirrored from Sythyry.
“Everyone in the room knows this. Several of you were deeply involved in the history. But Sythyry insisted I say it anyways, in case you have forgotten about the time you saved the world, or nearly destroyed it.” Feralan was wearing a blind-mask, a pair of leather disks over his eyes, the same color as his Rassimel mask. He was using peculiar Locador spells to stay aware of the edges of the dias and to avoid knocking into the podium. This got him many odd looks from many Locador experts. Fortunately he could not see the odd looks, or he would never have finished a single sentence of his talk.
“I only broiled eleven cities!” said the Wild and Scaly Llezcaryg. I could have sworn zir count was higher; but maybe zie is only counting mistakes. Or, perhaps, actual broiling.
Feralan tried to continue. “Teleport gates are well-known to erode the universe around them. If two gates are too close together, or if a gate can be pointed at different places, it can make tiny cracks in the shell of reality. As the cracks grow and join together, it makes holes that are large enough for wickedness from outside to come in.”
hCevian danced over Feralan’s head. “Wickednesses like me from the non-place where I was spawned, if you are lucky! There are many worse things out there.” (The real point of this introductory material was to get the audience used to hCevian’s presence, so that they’d listen to the important parts rather than staring at him or analysing him.)
“Yes, yes, we all know about the Eater of Cities — we all fought the Eater of Cities,” said Talujjan. (You probably haven’t heard of Talujjan, unless you’re interested in the history of Locador, but his name is all over that topic. He is one of the relatively few Orren wizards older than a few centuries.) “Get to the point, will you?”
“Not all of us! Not even everyone in here who was alive in year 1531 got to the Eater in time to fight it,” said Glikkonen. “Feralan ky Disastro certainly did not. He’s not yet thirty years old.”
“Oh, great staring gods,” said Talujjan. “I mistook him for being Sythyry’s age at least. Pray continue, young Rassimel! And young demon, too.”
“Well, there haven’t been many teleport gates built since then, and no variable ones,” said Feralan.
“By ‘variable gate’ do you mean ‘a gate capable of being opened and closed’, or ‘a gate capable of excluding certain substances or beings, the list of exclusions being capable of being changed at need’, or ‘a gate capable of visiting several destinations’?” asked Prof. Isotomable. (One of only two mortals, a Rassimel in case it’s not utterly obvious, given primary invitations to the seminar; he is an authority on the theory of Locador magic, but he is not a wizard or even much of a mage.)
“Multiple destinations, and closing too, I suppose,” said Feralan. His hands were shaking. It’s surely intimidating enough talking to an audience like this, but doing it blind must be horrible.
“That’s not true!” said Talujjan. “I, myself, have built any number of gates since then — at least two a century!”
“And the rest of us have probably built as many, between all of us, put together,” said Glikkonen. “Which is — what, under two hundred gates, total. How many new city-states have been founded in that time, on the uppermost branches alone? Ten times as many, eighty-four times as many? I think that counts as Feralan’s ‘not many!’”
The two wizards went at it with daggers, flails, glaives, hand-axes, pikes, scimitars, and triremes, which might well be mistaken by the mere amateurs at magic for a discussion of the semantics and entomology of ‘a few’. (And I do mean entomology, not etymology. They were as crazy as scatter-bugs.) Feralan whimpered on the dias and waved his hands. hCevian danced a figure-8 with parallel sides over his head. Eventually the rest of us whomped on the combatants with enough frozen squids and gelatinized gristle girdles to make them shut up.