Chapter 19: The Chain
Copyright© 2011 by Wandering Lanes
I opened my eyes, the last thing I could remember was writing out my report in the office and then I felt so tired that I fell asleep.
But this wasn't my library. In fact I didn't know where I was. "Hello?" I called out; I bit back on the 'is there anyone there?' part as it was too trite.
As if my voice was a signal, the walls began to brighten; showing a panelled room, in front of me was a raised desk. As I watched, dark shapes began to appear behind the desk.
I could now see a table and chair behind me and I knew that I was supposed to be seated there; I moved to it and pulled the chair back. "Not just yet defendant!" A voice sounded from the front.
"Defendant? A defendant for what?" I asked.
"You have been called here to account for your actions, how do you plead?" The same voice said.
"How can the defendant plea when he doesn't know what he's been accused of?" Aristotle entered the chamber which I could see now resembled a court room. "Indeed I'm at a loss as to how, after communication has been established, the Libraries need to debate this situation?" He continued as he placed a heavy tome onto the table in front of me.
"You appear here in that form? And ask us what we are doing?" The voice said accusingly.
"I'm in this form as it allows those of my world to see me and to interact with me." Aristotle said with a smile, "It was one of the first things that I learned from Chris here." He added giving me a slight bow.
The sound of a gavel striking a block interrupted Aristotle from saying anything else. "Since you are so enamoured of this being you can defend him." The voice said with authority.
Aristotle didn't speak but just bowed to the assembled group of ... clouds.
"This court is convened to ascertain the status of this Earthman, Chris Beaker. Can I hear from the prosecuting Counsel?"
A floating shape appeared at another table. "If it pleases the court, Earth is a technological planet, knowledge of magic having been removed several thousand years ago ... their time ... and the use of the library of their world forgotten."
"Objection. The knowledge of the library may have been forgotten but its function still continues - some just chose not to use it." Aristotle spoke up from beside me.
The gavel struck again. "Sustained, please continue counsel." The voice spoke.
"Thank you, Your Honour. What I was trying to show is that the world of Earth had decided to move away from the use of magic, depending mainly on man-power and invention to proceed. They have progressed to damaging their world as is the way of such planets." The prosecution carried on but Aristotle stood up again
"My lord I hope the prosecution isn't trying to say that my client is the main reason for the effects of technology on his planet? Most of the main damage was done before he was born and in fact he has inherited the problem." Aristotle said looking at the bench and not the prosecution.
"I agree that it is the way the presentation appears to be going, is that your case? Prosecuting counsel?"
The cloud that was the counsel sighed, "No, Your Honour. I was trying to explain the background to the events, the case does not hinge on the defendant's position in the planet's development ... up to a point."
Aristotle shook his head and sighed. "Well I hope you'll get to the point soon." He said pointedly and sat down.
"Some months ago, Earth time, this individual was contacted by the disembodied spirit of a person from the planet Zorba'n, under her influence he was able to connect to his library, something that wasn't normally done on his planet. Since that time he has travelled back to Zorba'n taking on the persona of 'The Stranger' in an attempt to use the legend of that world to his own advantage."
Again Aristotle came to his feet. "Again I must object to the counsel's wording. There have been several instances of the Earth people finding their libraries and using them, in accordance with... (the sound faded at this point before continuing) ... I kept their libraries going. So it isn't something strange for an Earth inhabitant to use their powers." He said before sitting down.
Again the gavel sounded. "Sustained, Counsel will limit himself to the actual events as they pertain to the defendant."
Then Aristotle stood again, "I must also respond to the use of the words 'taking the persona' when he acted as 'The Stranger', this was placed upon him by the inhabitants of Zorba'n."
The prosecution then spoke. "Your Honour, he used the words himself when he was on the planet Zorba'n, he took advantage of the role to present himself, I do not see the need to change my statement with that regards."
There was a murmur within the ranks of clouds and then the gavel struck again. "This time we agree with the prosecution, objection overruled."
"Thank you, your Honour. In this role, he started a revolution on that world, changing the way the lives of the inhabitants would follow. He then returned to his own world – with the help of the Zorba'n library as well as the Earth library and is attempting to do the same on his world.
"I put it to the court that this man is dangerous to the normal development of the species and should have his knowledge removed. And that is my case." The prosecution moved in such a way to suggest that he sat down – how a cloud can sit I have no idea but he managed.
Aristotle stood up. "If the court pleases, my client pleads not guilty to any of the charges ... if that is what they can be called ... brought before him.
"To save the court time we will admit to the use of the name 'The Stranger' while he was on the planet Zorba'n ... however that name was given to him by the people of that world in their attempt to pre-empt a prophecy that had been made.
"In their request to find help he did cause ideas to be implemented, ideas that would not normally be developed on that world, but they have opened the path for more adepts to develop without interference by the ruling class. Indeed it can be shown that the magical gene pool of that planet has been improved." Aristotle said with a smile.
"Objection. Counsel is making general observations that have no bearing on this trial." The Prosecution counsel said.
"On the contrary, I'm showing that my client is acting as a catalyst on that world, improving the knowledge of that world and of his." Aristotle said calmly.
There was a muttering from the top bench, "Agreed. Objection overruled, Defending counsel please continue."
Aristotle bowed, "Thank you, your Honour. On his return to his world he endeavoured to keep his word to the Libraries of both Zorba'n and Earth by establishing schools on the respective planets, thus reawakening those of Earth to their dormant powers.
During this time he became aware of a mage who was using the powers against those of his fellow man, thus breaking the cardinal rule – 'Magic should be used for the good of all, not one.' And this person had declared war on my client."
"Objection, the cardinal rule is that 'magic will not be used to kill!' something that your client has ignored while on the planet Zorba'n." The prosecution counsel spoke up and his comments caused the top bench to mutter in alarm.
"That is impossible, there is no way that magic can kill anyone, the safeguards created by... (again the sound faded) ... ensure that this is so. How can this happen." The top bench spoke up.
Aristotle looked at me and I knew that I would have to speak. So I got to my feet. "If it pleases the court I would like to answer that question." I said.
There was a moment of silence and then the cloud spoke, "Proceed Chris Beaker, but be aware that this may count against you."
I shook my head, "That doesn't really matter does it." I said and then looked at the top bench. "On Earth we have a saying, 'with power comes responsibility'. And with responsibility comes the need to use the power to help, but sometimes people have moved beyond that and punishment is required. On Zorba'n an opposing group of mages were working to bring down the normal running of the world. In so doing they would use any spell regardless of the effects.
I, in fusion with Sar'ha, was fighting a mage who was using all the power he had to kill us, releasing bolts of fire and steel against our unarmoured bodies. What was used were three passive spells. One to create an endless pit, the second was to cover the hole of the pit with illusion, the third spell used was to cover the illusion with another showing a deep pit.
When the mage discarded the pit illusion he stepped onto the second covering illusion and fell into the pit, all that was needed was a spell to close the pit to stop anyone else from falling in again. The effect of that was to cause the death of the mage within. Four simple spells which together caused the death of another. I won't say I was unhappy with the result as it showed that Sar'ha was a full mage in her own right."
There were a few moments of silence as the group of clouds digested my recital. "This is a shock to us, the magic was supposed to be harmless, but you have shown that it is simple to change this and enable death by magic."
"Anything can be changed to cause death. A spell that will change an area of air into ozone, a gas which is harmless in itself but deadly when surrounding a person's head, or altering a glass of water into poison. Who's to say what the glass will be used for? Knowing this doesn't make the magic unsafe, it is all in the way that people use it. This is why the schools have to be created, to ensure that the magic is used safely and to act against those who would misuse the craft." I said again.
The prosecution counsel rose to his feet. "And who gave you this right to act as judge jury and executioner?" he asked me.
I created a fireball and made it circle me, "This power did. This power and the knowledge of how it should be used correctly. If I find anyone using the power against the lore then I will act. The people of my world have no laws regarding magic, as the prosecution has stated, we rely heavily on technological use. I hope to change that now that I am introducing magic back into the world." I said.
The gavel sounded again. "How can two separate forms be mixed?" The top bench said
I created a large Nanite. "This is an example. This form can be injected into a human to help repair the body ... I hasten to say not in this size," I was surprised to hear laughter from the top bench, "the healing power is a focused spell to change damaged or abnormal cells to normal, the energy is taken from the user and nearby electrical sources, the Nanite will also check on the body itself and should too much energy be lost then they will shut down until the body recovers or an outside source is available." I looked around the room. "This is something that we have discovered and created in the school and is an example of the unification of the magical and technological states."
The clouds moved from their top bench to the enlarged Nanite and engulfed it. 'I can feel the magic within the construct' a voice said, 'but this is mainly electronic in origin.' Another said. 'This is impossible! Neither can exist together like this.' A third voice spoke.
The cloud moved up and seemed to hover over the Nanite while quickly talking over the item.
I turned to Aristotle, "But what's the problem? It's just a normal amalgamation of spells and technology." I said puzzled.
Aristotle smiled, "But it's never been applied before, magic has always been separated from technology, no other world has thought to apply the two at the same time." In my mind I could see mages fighting each other with spells and martial arts and then this was superimposed with people using mundane weapons against each other, but there was a distinct gap between the two forms.
I then realised what I was seeing, "It's like the invention of the airplane during the First World War, then they were only used to spot where the enemy was. It was only when the enemy did the same that pilots went up armed, but only in the vain hope of scoring a hit on the other plane.
It was later on that true fighters were introduced and then later still when bombs were used against troops on the ground .1 – The High command was against using airplanes to attack troops until it was shown to be effective." I told Aristotle and then pointed to the clouds, "They had never thought to combine alternative technologies and so were blinkered to their use."
Aristotle sat back in his chair his mouth open in shock, "Do you realise what you have done? These beings are used to just the application of magic, now you've opened the floodgates; they're going to encourage their worlds to experiment." He said worriedly
I frowned at his tone. "So what is wrong with that? You've sent out Yellow and Green books without serious problems." I said
"Those were books on spells that had been tested and proven to work; some of these will just publish without thinking ... they cannot think of the consequences, until they are used and the problems are revealed. It's due to my interaction with you and the others on Earth that has taught me this."
I had to think about this and then I muttered a spell that caused the gavel to strike three times. The clouds around the Nanite stopped and looked around to see what had caused this.
I stood up. "Gentles, please consider this. We have only implemented things when we are certain of their effects. This means trial and error. We on Earth have made mistakes and have chronicled where these mistakes have happened and what the effects were."
I pointed to the Nanite which shrank down to its normal size – too small to see. "What if this was to enter one of your bodies and tried to change it to human? Then what would happen to you?" I asked and was grateful to see them draw away from the space.
"But you said this was beneficial to your world? Why would it try to harm us?" One of the clouds said.