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Transcript of a lecture on the nature of magic, given by Lewis Barner, Scholar

of the King’s Court

<Scribe’s note: Learned magician Lewis Barner is addressing a lecture


theatre at the Royal Barracks, Theria. The theatre is full to capacity. Barner
has recently returned to Theria, having spent an extended amount of time on
the front lines of the war. He has both hands in his pockets>

BARNER: Learned gentlemen, friends and brothers, theories have often been
put forward regarding the way in which the phenomenon we refer to as
‘magic’ works; through research and experimentation, I believe that I have
discovered the medium through which we are able to affect the world around
us as we do and, indeed, to improve on it.

AUDIENCE: Poppycock! Rubbish! Etc. (scribe unable to pick out any one
particular dissenter)

BARNER: Gentlemen, please. <clears throat> As I was saying; when we


prepare to cast a spell or enchantment, we require some form of life-force
sacrifice. This has been on record for centuries, though we have not known
how we, above others, manage the feat. The larger the spell, the greater the
sacrifice required. The rules of our order prevents us from indulging in human
sacrifice, and have done for decades, a fact for which we are all thankful.

<BARNER pulls a knife from his pocket, in his left hand>

BARNER: When blood is drawn, gentlemen, there is an escape of life-force;


our bodies are finely tuned to be receptive to this force, drawing it in like a
sponge. We are then able to use the energy in the form of a spell. For most
small cantrips we are adept at drawing a small amount of blood from our own
fingers, leading to an academic question; if we need to draw the energy from
our own body, can we access it without drawing blood? I am sure that our
fingers would thank us.

AUDIENCE: <a ripple of laughter spreads around the chamber. One or two
members rise and leave>

BARNER: This then leads to a further problem; even assuming we were able
to take life-force energy from a creature, or indeed a person, without drawing
blood, we would have to have that creature on-the-spot, because the energy
needs to be used instantly. In fact, by far the best option would be to be able
to store the energy we draw, so that we can use it in our own time. However,
by current standards, only the very best among us are able to store energy,
and only after many years of rehearsal. It is not without danger; I am sure we
all continue to miss our brother William Barning, who was taken from us
suddenly; the burns he sustained internally are a constant reminder of the
peril.

UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBER: Get on with it!


BARNER: Yes, well; As I have already stated, magically sensitive bodies draw
the release of life energy in like a sponge. The energy pools in the part of the
body known as the appendix, an organ which, until now, we have not known
the use for; from there, we focus the energy as we need it. However, I
propose a more advanced possibility; I theorise that the withdrawal of blood
from a body may not be necessary at all! In experimentation I have been able
to draw energy from my body without bleeding, although the effects were
unstable.

<BARNER withdraws his right hand from his pocket. The hand is withered and
blackened, as if burned. Many people begin to leave, with much discussion>

BARNER: Although preliminary experiments have been partially unsuccessful,


I believe that this is the future of magic, gentlemen! Bloodless energy
withdrawal! Granted, the side effects are considerable, but this is only the
first experimental stage.

<It is difficult to hear BARNER over the noise of people leaving>

BARNER: With that in mind… calling for funds… could be revolutionary… and
I believe that it will change the way we operate, both at home and abroad.
Gentlemen, thank you.

<BARNER attempts to leave the theatre, which is now almost empty;


remaining are OLRIC MCCUTCHEON, who appears to be asleep, and
MALKETH. As BARNER passes MALKETH, the latter accompanies the former,
in deep discussion>

<End of transcription>