Lita takes Gentle Reader to the Clockpunk Wizard world today, with an excerpt from Ephraim’s Curious Device.
Young Wizard Kadmeion, and his half-elf assistant Sir Bright, have received a coded map. They must read the bespelled map, follow the decoded clues to a magical thingummy made by Wizard Ephraim, and return the device to Lord Hissalumieon.
They put the fragile parchment on the table. Bright did not recognize the diagram’s writing, but Kadmeion did. The wizard requested a reference book. Bright fetched the volume from Kadmeion’s library and opened it to the indicated page.
“Good and bad news,” Kadmeion said.
“It is written in an obscure magical language, but I can translate the map.”
“That’s encouraging. What is the bad news?”
“The map will take time to translate properly.”
“That’s no problem. What do you need?”
“A paper and writing quill for you to write the translation.”
“Why can’t you write it?”
“Ephraim bespelled the map so it couldn’t be copied,” Kadmeion said. “Then he used a bewitched alphabet so the reader would forget the words. So I’ll translate the letters, and you write them. Then we’ll read the message from your paper.”
“So you’re going to read a map that cannot be copied, and I’ll write your translation for the alphabet that cannot be remembered.”
“Do they teach wizards to be this sneaky at the University?”
“Absolutely. It’s an upperclassman course called ‘Studies in Phrenology and Obscure Languages.’”
“Phrenology is the art of measuring the skull’s dimensions?” Bright asked.
“I’m impressed you knew that.”
“What do head sizes have to do with writing unclearly?”
“Not much. That was the intent.”
“What was the classwork like?” Bright asked.
“We learned the seven traditional ways to make written words unclear.”
“Seven? That many? Which was the most effective?”
“Poor grammar skills.”
Bright blinked. “Profound. I’m surprised this wasn’t a graduate class.”
“Another of the techniques was to make contradictory spells.”
“A spell that must be sung aloud, but it seals the lips of the one casting it.”
“How would you weave that spell?”
“That’s why wizard assistants are so useful. I would think loudly so you could hear me, and have you cast the spell in my stead.”
(Ephraim’s Curious Device excerpt Copyright 2012 by Lita Burke. All rights reserved.)