Love Is A Doing Word

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Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Eldorion on Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:59 am

LOVE IS A DOING WORD

Eldorion Nolondil

You shut your mouth
How can you say
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does
– The Smiths

Table of Contents

Foreword
Chapter 1
Chapter 2


Last edited by Eldorion on Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:26 am; edited 6 times in total
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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Eldorion on Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:00 am

Foreword

So ... yeah. After more than four years of futility spent thinking of ideas, making outlines, writing detailed histories, and in some cases attempting to write actual scenes that I uniformly disliked, I have finally found something that I think might go somewhere. I've said that a number of times before, but there are a couple differences this time. First, I've cleared a way a lot of mental clutter relating to other hobbies and "obligations". Second, I'm actually sorta happy with the little I've written so far. I initially made this thread just to post snippets of scenes but based on my progress thus far I'm gonna go ahead and just post installments of the actual story for as long as I'm able to.

I would like to make note of a couple things up front. First, that this is a modern AU of Forumshire. There are no hobbits or elves. It has a more or less modern tech level. There are a few fantasy elements (magic, mainly) but it's not a huge part of the setting. This story doesn't contain many of the more fanciful and whimsical aspects of the shared Forumshire 'verse. I really like those elements but for better or worse my attempts over the past half-decade at writing stories where they fit in haven't gone well.

I'm not entirely sure how to best classify this story but if I had to pick one label I'd probably call it a relationship drama. (I would not use the word romance for reasons that will hopefully become clear.) It's not an action/adventure story though I do have a general sense of what I want to happen with the plot. However, I'm mainly writing this because of the character arcs and (to a lesser extent) thematic ideas I want to explore. There will be a lot of talking but I like dialogue and I figure hey, why not play to my strengths?

Something to note about the main characters: the primary POV character is based on Baingil, with whom I cleared this idea before posting since she ceased to be active on here before forum fanfics became common. The sorta co-main character, based primarily on me, is a girl named Eldy. There are some narrative reasons why I think two female leads work better for the story but I also just want to get more practice writing female characters. Hopefully that goes well but, as with all aspects of my writing, I welcome criticism and feedback.

As a disclaimer: the title Love Is A Doing Word is taken from the second line of the Massive Attack song "Teardrop".


Last edited by Eldorion on Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:26 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Eru on Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:48 am

This thread has been blessed by Eru.

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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Manwe Sulimo on Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:51 am

Eru wrote:This thread has been blessed by Eru.

Praise be!
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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by halfwise on Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:50 pm

Well it should be with this much modernism popping up in a Forumshire story! Shocked

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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Forest Shepherd on Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:47 pm

University of Michel Delving = University of Maryland? Razz


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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Eldorion on Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:48 pm

Forest Shepherd wrote:University of Michel Delving = University of Maryland? Razz

Very Happy

{{{Also the University of Minnesota Duluth in a nice coincidence. Razz }}}
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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by azriel on Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:56 pm

Good beginning, looking forward to reading more Smile

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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Amarië on Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:16 pm

She's the birthday girl, Eldo! You HAVE to do it now!

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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Eldorion on Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:19 am

Thanks, az and Am! Very Happy

So this next bit hasn't been edited very closely; I gave it a once-over after finishing but I'm pretty tired right now. It is much longer than the first snippet I posted and it touches on a number of different subjects, including stronger hints about the actual plot that I have in mind. For the purposes of this story, "lore" refers to any sort of ancient esoteric wisdom, which includes magic, which is real in this world. That's pretty much the only fantasy element, though. I'm still working out the specifics but there's sort of an overview in the following scene(s).
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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Eldorion on Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:24 am

Chapter 1

Baingil awoke to the sound of the PA system.

“We are now making our final approach into Bree International Airport. Please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts at this time.”

Baingil blinked and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes before putting on her glasses and looking around. Most of the other passengers she could see looked about as tired as she felt. Turning to look to her right, she saw her traveling companion still seemingly asleep, slumped over the seat divider and leaning against her shoulder.

“Eldy, wake up,” she said softly, gently pushing the other girl back into a sitting position. “We’re almost there.”

Eldy opened her eyes and gazed into hers with the sometimes too intense look that Baingil had become familiar with. “I was awake, I was just comfortable like that.”

“You didn’t look very comfortable with the armrest under you like that.”

“It meant that I got to lean against you, so it was worth it.”

Baingil felt her cheeks grow slightly warm and looked away. “Well, I’m glad it was worth it for you. Just don’t complain to me if you’re sore now.”

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Eldy grin. “Don’t worry, I won’t.”

Baingil made a show of leaning forward to slide her bag out from under the seat in front of her and rummaging around inside it. A few moments later she straightened up, passport in hand. “You should make sure you have yours ready too.”

Eldy had turned to stare out the window and replied without moving her head. “It’s still in the pocket of my hoodie.”

Baingil hesitated for a moment before reaching out and giving Eldy’s left hand a gentle squeeze. “Hey, everything is gonna be okay.”

Eldy turned to look at her and gave a small smile. “Yeah, you’re right. You know how I get though.”

Baingil nodded, and Eldy resumed staring out the window.

Slightly more than 15 minutes later, the jumbo jet landed on the tarmac. As soon as the plane reached the gate and the fasten seatbelt sign turned off, Eldy was up and reaching over her to feel for the handle of the overhead compartment.

“Why the hurry?” asked Baingil. “No one will be able to get out just yet anyway.”

“I know,” replied Eldy. But she squeezed past Baingil to claim a spot in the aisle where she stood with her now-retrieved suitcase.

Baingil sighed and remained seated until the rows in front of them were clear, then rose to take down her own suitcase and follow after Eldy, who was already halfway down the aisle and glancing back at her.

Bree International wasn’t the biggest airport Baingil had ever been in, but it was bustling as they made their way down the international terminal. Baingil thought that there seemed to be more police and security guards present than the number of travelers merited, but she kept that thought to herself as they got in the customs line.

“What is your name and the purpose of your visit to the Autonomous Principality of Bree?” asked the bored-looking customs officer.

“My name is Eldy K. Dunami and I’m beginning a temporary academic appointment at the University of Michel Delving,” said Eldy. “This is my friend and colleague, Baingil Randir. I have a letter from the Dean of the College of Lore.” She handed her passport and a folded letter to the officer.

“Hmm,” the officer replied, and gestured for Baingil’s passport as well. “I don’t see anything about Ms. Randir in here.”

“That’s because we didn’t think she’d be able to get out a competing academic obligation until the last minute. I assure you that she’s a crucial contributor to my research, though. I can show you some of her co-author credits in the Plaza Review of Lore if you give me a second.” Eldy made to open her suitcase.

“No, that’s fine,” the customs agent said quickly, handing back their papers. “More Lorists. Ahem. Welcome to Bree.”

Eldy gave a quick grin in response, and the pair walked through towards the airport lobby.

Baingil waited until they were out of earshot before whispering fiercely in Eldy’s ear. “Why did you say that? You know I don’t have any publications.”

Eldy gave a sly grin. “Even if I had actually handed them a journal, do you think anyone making a customs salary is going to look through a list of 20 names at the start of an article that closely?”

“You didn’t have to lie about me being some sort of important Lorist when you invited me here on a whim.”

Eldy looked somewhat hurt. “I completely meant what I said about you being crucial to what I want to do here. And you’re my best friend; it’s not a whim to want to spend time with my best friend.”

Baingil sighed. “I don’t know where you get your bursts of confidence from sometimes.”

Eldy was quiet for a moment. “I don’t know either. Usually they’re gone as quickly as they come.” She shrugged.

Baingil shook her head but couldn’t help smiling. “Let’s go on, then. We have a lot of work to do.”

* * *

The University of Michel Delving did not particularly look like the site of impending events of significance, Baingil thought as she looked out the shuttle window. The buildings were a mix of old-fashioned brick and stone structures, built during the university’s early years to resemble the traditional style of older and more prestigious universities on the other side of the Reuelean Sea, and newer ones in more modern styles built once the university had become more confident in its own identity.

The campus shuttle which had picked Baingil and Eldy up from the airport finally came to a stop in front of the postgraduate housing, which was on a gentle hillside from which, looking east, one could survey the rest of the tree-lined campus. After retrieving their luggage from the rear of the shuttle, the pair made their way into the administrative office on the first floor of the nearest building in the complex of apartments and residence halls.

There were few students arriving on campus for the first time in late May, before the start of the summer session, and as such accommodations had been made for the two visitors to stay in a suite in one of the postgrad houses for the duration of their project. The office lobby was in fact empty at the hour of the afternoon that they arrived, but Eldy rang the bell on the desk and a woman appeared after a few moments.

“How can I help you?” she asked, casting an eye towards the small pile of luggage they had deposited against the wall. “If you’re here for one of the retreats, your lodgings will be in one of the undergraduate halls.”

“No, sorry, we’re here on special accommodation,” said Eldy. “I have the letter here from Dr. Letobeard of the College of Lore who made the arrangements.” She opened her purse and slid an envelope across the desk.

The woman behind the desk looked inquisitively at Eldy for a moment and then opened the envelope and began to read. A second later she looked up again with recognition in her eyes.

“Ms. Dunami. Could it be that it’s Eldy?” She broke into a smile.

“Er, yeah,” Eldy managed, running her hand through her hair self-consciously. “I didn’t expect to see you here, Ms. Lothierial,” she said with a weak smile.

“Oh, you look so grown up that I didn’t recognize you at first!” Ms. Lothierial walked around the desk and pulled Eldy into a hug. “You were so small last time. How old were you then?”

“I was almost thirteen when I transferred out,” Eldy said quietly.

“It seems so long ago!” Ms. Lothierial said in an affectionate but considerably louder voice. She turned to look down the hallway behind the desk. “Zackira! Come out here, there’s someone I want you to meet.”

Eldy began to look distinctly uncomfortable and took half a step backwards after extricating herself from Ms. Lothierial’s grasp.

A young woman emerged from the hallway and looked at the scene in the lobby inquisitively. “Eldy, meet Zackira,” said Ms. Lothierial. “Zackira, this is Eldy, our little prodigy. She was the youngest ever student we had when I worked in undergraduate housing,” she said proudly. “She must have been, what was it, eleven when you started here?” she asked Eldy.

“Yes,” Eldy mumbled, staring at the floor to avoid Zackira’s curious gaze. Baingil noticed that Eldy’s body had become tense, though she didn’t think anyone else had.

“As humble as ever,” Ms. Lothierial said with a motherly affectation. “Well, let’s see, your assignment should be in the computer if this letter is right. She walked back around the desk and sat down. Zackira lingered near the hallway for a moment longer, glancing back and forth between Ms. Lothierial and Eldy. Baingil stepped forward and stood close enough to Eldy that their shoulders brushed against each other and she thought Eldy seemed to relax slightly.

Ms. Lothierial made a great show of handing them their keys and paperwork. Eldy signed everything extremely quickly and Baingil followed her lead. Soon they were back out the door, luggage in tow.

“I’m sorry you had to see that,” Eldy said as soon as the door shut behind them.

“No, I’m sorry that she…” Baingil trailed off and looked at Eldy’s unhappy face.

“That she sees me as a talented pet to show off to people?” asked Eldy. “A lot of people here were like that. It just comes with going to university so early,” she added, seeing Baingil’s frown.

“It doesn’t seem right,” said Baingil. “If they’re going to let in someone that young, they should do their best to treat them with respect.”

“I mean, I don’t disagree,” said Eldy. “But it doesn’t really bear dwelling on.” She shrugged.

Baingil decided not to push the matter further. They soon came to their building and after a brief wait for the elevator they found themselves on the third floor. They had been given a two bedroom suite, with a kitchenette and a living room in the middle and two bedrooms on either side, along with a shared bathroom.

Baingil opened the bedroom door to the left and made to drag her luggage in, but paused at the sight of three large cardboard boxes stacked in the middle of the room. “Eldy!” she called. “I think this one might be yours.”

Eldy came over and peered into the room. Her face brightened considerably at the site of the boxes. “I didn’t think my books would arrive here before us!” She grinned at Baingil. “Thanks for letting me know.”

“Of course,” said Baingil, returning the smile.

Baingil took her suitcases and bags to the bedroom on the right and began to place her belongings in the closet and chest of drawers that furnished the room alongside a twin bed, a desk, and a bookcase. Once she had finished, she walked over to Eldy’s room. Eldy was sitting on the floor in front of her bookcase with three empty boxes behind her, shifting and rearranging books. Her bags sat on the floor next to the bed, unopened.

Baingil knocked on the doorframe to get Eldy’s attention. “You’re gonna want to get unpacked before we have to leave for dinner so you have something to wear,” she said. “I don’t mean to badger you but I know you don’t like being late.”

“No, it’s fine,” said Eldy, turning around. “Thanks for reminding me. I’ll put my stuff away now if you want to use the shower first.” Baingil nodded.

Some time later, Baingil sat in the chair in front of her desk, hair brush in hand. It took considerable effort to keep waist-length hair looking presentable, especially since she didn’t usually braid it, but she liked the look enough to consider it worth the time.

She heard the shower stop and the bathroom door open as she began to brush. After one hundred strokes later she changed into the green dress that she had brought for occasions that called for something nicer than jeans. As she was putting on her shoes she heard Eldy yell through two closed doors.

“Fuck this motherfucking piece of shit!”

Baingil opened her door and looked towards Eldy’s room on the other side of the suite. “Is everything okay over there?” she called.

“Yes!” Eldy yelled back tersely.

Baingil hesitated and then walked across the suite and gently knocked on the door to Eldy’s room. “Can I come in?”

Baingil heard a sigh followed by footsteps before Eldy opened the door. She was wearing an unhappy expression and a somewhat askew blue dress.

“Can you zip me up?” Eldy asked glumly, gesturing at her shoulders and back.

“Of course,” Baingil replied. She gently turned Eldy around and then zipped the dress up. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, really, aside from the fact that I evidently can’t fucking dress myself,” Eldy snapped. She reached up and rubbed her eyes.

Baingil frowned. “Do you want to wear something else? I know dresses aren’t really your thing.”

“I can’t very well go in my regular clothes, can I?” asked Eldy.

Baingil had to admit to herself that Eldy had a point. Left to her own devices Eldy, who was already small, favored long-sleeved t-shirts and sweatshirts that were at least two sizes too large and seemed to swallow up her entire body.

Eldy stopped rubbing her eyes and Baingil thought she heard a slight sniffle. “Can I have a hug?”

Baingil moved around to face Eldy and pulled her tight against her. Eldy wrapped her arms around her in return and clung tight for close to a minute.

“I’m sorry,” Eldy said eventually. She pulled back slightly and tucked her chin-length brown hair behind her ears. “I’m alright,” she said with an attempt at a brave smile. “But thank you, really.”

“You’re welcome,” said Baingil. “Hey, how about this? If it’s too much and you want to leave early, give me a nudge and I’ll make an excuse about needing to leave. Then we can come back here, or you can show me around the campus if you like. Whatever would be helpful.”

Eldy nodded. “That’s a good idea. Thanks for offering.” Baingil gave an encouraging smile which Eldy was mostly able to return.

After donning coats and descending the stairs they stepped outside into the unseasonably cool May evening. Eldy wrapped her arms around herself and shivered, though Baingil thought it was probably not from cold.

Taking hold of one of Eldy’s hands Baingil led the way down the path from the postgrad apartments and across the street into the campus proper. Eldy began to walk a little more upright and after giving Baingil’s hand a squeeze, pulled away and began pointing out various buildings and landmarks.

“The student union is the big one over there with the plate glass windows. The food is kinda shit and it’s not open very late though. If you look down towards the other end of the mall you can see the administration building. I guess that one isn’t very exciting either but right next to it is the building where I had my first class here way back when.”

“You’re not old enough to speak so nostalgically,” Baingil said teasingly. “I’m not, and you’re a year younger than me.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel old, Mrs. Randir.”

Baingil mock-scowled. “You’ll feel bad for making fun when you reach the old and creaky age of 19.”

Eldy laughed and glanced at Baingil with bright eyes. “It’s not so bad being back here, at least right now.” She spread her arms out and craned her head to stare at the stars and then began to spin in the middle of the walkway. Baingil watched and couldn’t help chuckling.

“What?” Eldy asked once she had slowed down and stopped spinning

“It’s just good to see you act your age and have fun every now and then.”

Eldy shrugged self-consciously. “Lore is fun too.”

“You would say that, yes.”

The two of them continued their way across campus towards the downtown, such as it was, of Michel Delving, walking slightly faster now.

“What was the name of the restaurant again?” asked Baingil.

“Beren’s,” said Eldy. “Dr. Letobeard said something about a private room but I don’t know exactly how many people will be there.”

Baingil tried to remember all the names Eldy had previously told her. “Dr. Letobeard … that’s Elthir, right? The brother of our Dr. Letobeard at Plaza.”

“Yep,” said Eldy. “Though he used to be at Plaza U too, before he was offered a more senior position here. He left a couple years before you started, though.”

Baingil nodded. “Who else is going to be there?”

“Ally and Ringo, they’re both former classmates of mine. At least one of them is bringing a guest, apparently. And Dr. Halfwise should be there too. He was one of my professors here.” She caught the look in Baingil’s eye. “No, he’s cool. Treated me like a real person and all.”

“Well, I’m glad there were some people like that here,” Baingil replied.

Eventually the pair reached Beren’s Restaurant, which was located in an old-fashioned red brick building on the high street. Standing on the outdoor patio was a tall woman with shoulder-length red hair, smoking a cigarette.

“Hi Ally!” Eldy called out.

Ally exhaled a long breath of smoke and looked down towards the sidewalk. “E.K.! Look how tall you’ve grown!” Ally walked down the steps to the sidewalk and affectionately patted Eldy’s head.

“Ha ha,” Eldy replied sardonically. “Baingil, this is my friend Ally. We were in the same year here. Ally, this is my best friend Baingil. She’s from Plaza University too.”

Ally reached out to shake Baingil’s hand. “So you’re one of the ones who stole E.K. away from UMD,” she said with a grin.

“I don’t know anything about that,” Baingil said. “I only met Eldy two years ago when I started at Plaza U.”

Ally cocked an eyebrow. “Eldy?” She turned back towards the other girl. “When did you go back to using that name?”

“A while ago,” Eldy mumbled.

“You never said anything when you were back here over the summer. Well, never mind that, come in, both of you! We haven’t been here very long yet.”

Ally led the pair through the restaurant to a room in the rear of the building. Five people were seated around the table inside, two older men at the far end, then two men who appeared to be in their 20s and a young woman the same age. Several of them were speaking over each other.

“The young woman of the hour has arrived!” Ally announced over the noise.

Everyone at the table turned to look at the new arrivals and Eldy gave a small wave. One of the younger men cracked a grin. “Hey, E.K. Long time no see. What’s life been like in the Metropolis?”

“Oh, you know,” said Eldy, walking over to the table. She turned to look at Baingil, who was still standing near the doorway. “Everyone, this is Baingil.” She gestured at the man who had spoke. “Bain, this is Ringo, he’s another old classmate. And this is,” Eldy looked at the young woman and paused for a second. “I’m so sorry. Kate, right?”

“Kate Rigby, yes.” Kate waved at Baingil. “I’m Ally’s girlfriend. I take it you’re E.K.’s?”

Baingil hesitated for a second before Eldy cut in. “Oh no, we’re just friends. Really good friends. But nothing official or anything. We do research together.”

Kate and Ringo both looked somewhat amused, but the other young man leaned forward and caught Baingil’s eye. He smiled, and Baingil felt a momentary flutter of uncertainty and took a second to belatedly try to smile back.

“Well, come take a seat, Baingil,” said one of the older men, who had a close-cropped grey beard. “You too, E.K. We haven’t ordered yet.”

“Thanks, Dr. Letobeard,” Eldy said as she sat down at the near end of the table with Baingil next to her.

“Please, just Elthir,” the grey-bearded man said with a smile.

“I’ll try,” said Eldy. “It feels a little weird since I haven’t seen you much since I was still an undergrad.”

“How are things back at Plaza U?” Elthir asked. “I’m a bit out of the loop I’m afraid. How’s Professor Sharrasi doing? Brother Galin?”

“They’re good, I think,” said Eldy. “Professor Sharrasi’s retirement party was last week; she said to pass on her regards.”

“I had hoped to be able to make it back for that, but it’s just too long of a trip while we’re in the middle of preparations for the princess’s coronation and the selection of the new court magician.”

“Yeah, she understood,” said Eldy. “Galin and her both send their best wishes for success.”

Elthir nodded. “We could always do with a little extra luck.” He looked from Eldy to Baingil to the young man who had not yet spoken. “E.K., I don’t think you’ve met Eric before. And you wouldn’t have either, Baingil. He’s our in-house legal counsel for the time being.”

“I’m Eric Bluebottle,” the young man said with an easy smile. “Friends call me Blue.”

Elthir then gestured to the other older man, who had a considerably bushier beard. “And this is Halfy. Short for Halfred.”

“And I’ll thank you not to mention it,” Halfy said gruffly, but he quickly gave a warm smile. “It’s good to see you again, E.K., and it’s very nice to meet you, Baingil.” He glanced sidelong at Eldy. “Thali will be jealous, won’t she?”

Eldy cleared her throat. “Thali and I broke up recently, actually.”

Any response Halfy might have offered was cut off by the arrival of their waiter, carrying a tray laden with glasses of water, several small loves of bread, and a large salad bowl.

“Here, put the salad bowl in the middle where Ally can reach it,” said Elthir. He turned to Ally. “Are you still a vegetarian at this point?

“Most of the time,” said Ally. “It’s hard to be anything else with Kate around.”

“Having moral convictions won’t cost you any of your cool points,” admonished Kate.

“Not like Ally is at risk of running out of those,” Ringo chuckled. He turned to Baingil. “Ally was captain of the varsity rugby team on top of her academic and social obligations here. She could’ve played for the national team if she hadn’t decided to come back and focus on Lore.”

Baingil nodded politely but Ally waved her hand dismissively. “Don’t exaggerate, Ringo. It’s Carly who’s the social butterfly, not me.”

“Don’t overwhelm her with everything all at once,” said Halfy. “I don’t know how much E.K. told you about UMD, but words can’t do everyone at this table justice.”

“I got the brief overview,” said Baingil. “But when Eldy invited me along for this project it was by far the best summer learning opportunity I was offered.”

Halfy looked curiously at Baingil for a moment but it was Ally who spoke up before anyone else. “So tell us, Eldy,” she said with a mischievous smile. “Why exactly did you decide to stop using your initials all the time?”

Eldy looked somewhat embarrassed. “I’m not as worried about seeming grown-up as I used to be.”

The conversation paused as the waiter returned to take their orders, and then passed on to various bits of campus gossip and swapping stories of things that had transpired since the professors and their former students had last met together. Baingil and Blue both remained quiet for the most part.

During a lull in the conversation after everyone had finished eating Elthir turned his eyes towards the opposite end of the table. “So, Baingil, tells us a bit about yourself,” he said. “How did you get into Lore?”

“It didn’t happen until after I started university,” said Baingil. She paused and glanced around the table, feeling very aware that everyone was looking at her. “I took a couple of introductory classes my first year because I had a casual interest, but I was more focused on engineering. But Eldy was determined and she recruited me.”

“She’s a natural, and brilliant,” Eldy interjected. Baingil blushed slightly.

“What did Eldy recruit you for?” asked Ringo. “One of her theoretical discourses about the precise nature of magic?”

“Well, sort of,” said Baingil. “It was for her Master’s thesis. She was looking for a research partner with a background in materials science and while that’s not really what I was doing it wasn’t too hard to make the jump.” She reached for her glass and took a sip of water.

“What’s the overlap between theoretical magic and materials science?” asked Blue. “You’ll have to excuse me. Law is my forte and I’m still trying to brush up on all this esoteric Lore stuff.”

“Oh, er,” Baingil began. “Eldy can explain it a lot better than I can.”

“You’re a lot better at explaining things than you give yourself credit for,” said Eldy. “There’s not very many sophomores who are asked to be T.A.s”

Baingil looked at Eldy, who gave an encouraging smile. Baingil sighed and turned to face Blue. “Are you familiar with the typical distinction between ritual and practical magic?”

Blue furrowed his brow. “Refresh my memory. Ritual magic is related to ceremonial magic, is it not?”

“Yes, ceremonial magic is generally considered a refinement of ritual magic. Though Eldy thinks–”

She broke off suddenly as Eldy kicked her under the table. She glanced sharply at Eldy, then took a deep breath and continued. “Though we think that calling it a degenerative form would be more accurate. That’s one of the conclusions we reached from our research, anyway. The traditional distinction between ritual and practical magic in the pre-modern era was that ritual magic required substantial preparation time to perform, and often considerable physical space as well, for the drawing of hexagrams, for examples. Practical magic could be performed anywhere, and only required as much time as it took to say a particular incantation while holding a wand or other magical artifact.”

Baingil paused to take another sip of water and noticed that everyone was looking at her attentively and politely waiting for her to continue rather than speaking themselves.

“In modern times, you tend to hear about ceremonial magic and conventional, or formal, magic rather than ritual and practical, but the distinction that people draw between the two is similar. Of course, neither kind is employed very widely anymore, since technology can do so many things better and faster. Ceremonial magic has reached the point where most practitioners don’t actually do anything with it, they just go through the motions of whatever tradition they were taught without thinking about what it means. Think of coronation ceremonies. There’s always a court magician and in every country they say much the same thing, but you don’t actually see anything happen when they do, do you?”

“No, you don’t,” Blue agreed.

“In the past that might not necessarily have meant that nothing happened, but at this point it’s a safe bet that most ceremonial magicians are not actually doing what they think they’re doing; if they even still believe that it’s anything but a piece of theatre for the masses. Conventional magic has the opposite problem. Its practitioners are still capable of doing things, but in most cases they’re unaware of the actual mechanisms at play. For instance, there’s a widely held belief that the types of wood used for wand-making are inherently magical, and there are people who sell wand wood at ridiculous marked-up prices because it supposedly comes from one of the few remaining sacred groves.”

“I take it that’s not the case, though?” asked Blue.

“Well, that was why Eldy wanted someone with a science background, and the fact that I didn’t know as much about the prevailing conventional wisdom was actually a positive. We used equipment from one of the labs on campus to run a battery of tests on wood from different sources, on wands made by traditional craftsman, and on wands that we made ourselves through entirely mundane means, as well as a number of other magical artifacts and substances traditionally used in their creation as well. And we found absolutely no physical, chemical, or atomic difference in any of the magical items when compared with their ‘mundane’ counterparts.”

Blue was not the only one looking curious now. “Was that your expected finding?” asked Ally.

“We had to try our hardest to disprove our hypothesis, in order to make the research scientific, but our hypothesis was that there would be no difference, yes,” Baingil said with some satisfaction. “The exact reasoning behind creating that hypothesis is a subject that Eldy is genuinely better suited to talk about than I am, though, since she’d already done that part by the time I got involved.”

“It was an idea I’d been playing around with for a long time,” said Eldy. “You might remember me talking about some similar concepts, Elthir.”

“Ah, the great spell creation debate.” Elthir chuckled. “Yes, I remember you having very strongly-held views about that.”

Ally had a thoughtful look on her face. “I think you were talking about that even in your first two years here, weren’t you, Eldy?”

“Probably,” said Eldy. “It was one of the first big questions that got me interested in theoretical magic in the first place. The long and the short of it is that the words of specific incantations don’t work because they are somehow derived from immutable physical laws of the universe. This is fairly self-evident if you think about it. Most countries in Reuelea have the same body of spells, but that’s because of our common linguistic heritage. Normal language diverged, but the language of magic stayed the same. Partially because it’s been centuries since any new spells were added to the corpus. But the time and place when many spells were first used has been recorded throughout the history of magic. The controversy is over whether those spells were discovered or invented.”

“What does that have to do with the atomic structure of wand wood?” asked Blue.

“The idea that the words of any particular incantation work because they’re encoded into the nature of the universe has no more basis than the idea that certain types of wood work better for wands because of their intrinsic properties,” said Eldy. “We have, pending replication of our results, demonstrated that the latter is not true. The alternative, then, is that certain types of wood work better for wands because someone, at some point, decreed that it should be so. Unlike the spell creation debate this is a very new subject of study, so if it turns out that we’re correct, then saying that the words of particular incantations work because someone decreed that they should becomes a much less controversial proposition.”

“Is there any way you can ever positively prove that, though?” asked Ally. “Even if you’ve disproved one alternative hypothesis.”

“That’s the tricky part,” said Eldy. “The only way we’ll know for sure is if we create a new spell ourselves.”

There was silence around the table as everyone stared at Eldy. Finally Ringo managed to ask, “you’re not saying what I think you’re saying, are you?”

Eldy gave a smug grin. “Well, giving it our best attempt is why we came here.” She glanced at Baingil and gave her hand a squeeze. “We think that here and now is our best opportunity.”

Halfy laughed and shook his head. “You’re nothing if not ambitious, Eldy. And I thought you were just here to assist with the coronation ceremonies.”

Eldy gave him a conspiratorial look. “The two aren’t wholly separate, but this isn’t the time or the place to talk about that.”

Halfy nodded. “I see what you mean. Well, the best of luck to you. Both of you. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”

“We will,” Eldy said with a smile.

Later, after saying their good nights, Baingil and Eldy left the restaurant and walked down the high street together. It was by now very dark and the chill had increased.

“You were really in your element back there,” said Baingil. “I’m glad that it wasn’t as stressful as the anticipation was.”

“Fortunately that’s often the case,” said Eldy. “But it helped a lot to have you there.”

Baingil smiled and looked down at the sidewalk for a moment as they continued to walk. “Thank you for the nice things you said about me.”

“Hmm?” Eldy looked at her quizzically. “Everything I said was completely true.”

“I know, or – I know you think so.” Baingil raised her eyes to look at Eldy. “Not everyone would have said as much, though.”

Eldy shrugged. “There’s no accounting for stupid.”

Baingil laughed in spite of herself. “It’s just nice to hear.”

“I can definitely understand that.” Eldy took Baingil’s hand and paused in the middle of the sidewalk. “I hope you know how happy I am that you’re here with me.”

“I hope you know the same thing.”

Eldy grinned and gave her a quick hug. “I know you said I could show you around campus, but I’m fucking exhausted right now. How about we just go straight back?”

“That sounds nice. I suppose we don’t actually have anything in the kitchen yet, or I’d suggest hot chocolate with marshmallows.”

“I guess we know what we have to do first thing tomorrow.” Eldy gave a huge yawn. “If you don’t want to carry me back though, we should get going.”

Baingil chuckled inwardly and they continued on their way.


Last edited by Eldorion on Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by azriel on Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:19 pm

I really got into that. 10 minutes in & you already feel part of it. Looking forward to reading this unroll. I like this opening, its a good one. The roots are set down now watch the tree grow.

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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Bluebottle on Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:48 pm

Hm, interesting. Smile Mmmmm, are you sure that is, strictly, legal? Razz

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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Eldorion on Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:25 am

Thank you, azriel. Smile I'm glad to hear that you found it easy to get into like that. I usually have a very vivid mental image of where everything is happening when I write, but I'm not always sure how well the sense of place comes across. Hopefully I didn't go overboard with introducing so many characters at once but as you say it was to have a foundation from which to begin building. Though I'm trying not to get too sucked into writing while I still have a few final school things to finish up for this semester. Razz

@Blue, thanks, I hope that the discussion of the magic system wasn't too dry (or incoherent). I'm afraid I'm not sure which part you're questioning the legality of. study
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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Bluebottle on Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:39 am

Ah, just the legality of doing such and such
Spoiler:
magic trick
at such and such time. Wink

Just hinting at a legal angle to the story, eh :brows:

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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Eldorion on Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:09 am

Ah, I see, thanks. That will actually be a plot point ... maybe, if I don't change my mind while actually trying to hammer out the details of how it will work. Razz

This story is shaping up to contain bits and pieces of a lot of different ideas that I've played around with over the years, and the magic system as I'm currently envisioning it owes a fair bit to both Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (the didactic fanfic). In all honesty elaborate magic systems have never been my favorite part of fantasy but I wanted something that would make Lore more interesting and plot-relevant than, say, competing for research funding. Razz And the potential legal angle is related to some of the political elements that might pop up, which I tend to enjoy of course. Laughing
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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Eldorion on Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:31 am

The next piece that is closest to being in a presentable state flows pretty directly from the end of the previous installment so I'm just gonna call 'em chapters and consider this a somewhat by the seat of my pants first draft as opposed to just me dicking around. As such I edited the thread title and a few of my posts, but there's a table of contents in the OP now. The two pieces I posted before are now both included in the Chapter 1 post; I made a few minor edits to the first section to improve continuity.
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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by halfwise on Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:28 pm

Has this thread been massively edited or have I been at the Gaffer's beer barrel? Suspect

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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Eldorion on Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:30 pm

halfwise wrote:Has this thread been massively edited or have I been at the Gaffer's beer barrel? Suspect

--->

Eldorion wrote:As such I edited the thread title and a few of my posts, but there's a table of contents in the OP now. The two pieces I posted before are now both included in the Chapter 1 post; I made a few minor edits to the first section to improve continuity.

Most of the content that was in the original OP is now in the second post in the thread (the "Foreword"). The original contents of the second post have been merged with the rest of Chapter 1 since the two installments really don't make sense without each other.


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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by halfwise on Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:31 pm

To celebrate the change of title with another song:


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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Eldorion on Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:38 pm

My edit simuled with your most recent post but hopefully everything's clear enough. Razz

Not a big country fan but that does seem like an appropriate song choice. Smile
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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by halfwise on Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:23 am

Oh, nobody gravitates towards country music if not born into it. Instead they find themselves in a particular situation when the right song just happens to be playing, and they realize the incredible distillation of meaning found in the genre, and suddenly they come to appreciate country music. But not before.

And no, I'm not talking about Taylor Swift.

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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Eldorion on Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:33 am

I was exposed to a fair bit of Johnny Cash's older stuff growing up and I still like his music a lot, but beyond that my experience with country is mostly limited to a handful of other major figures who I felt were worth sampling when I was actively trying to broaden my musical horizons. I can certainly respect and admire Hank Williams' work even if I would only rarely seek it out myself. My step-mom is something of a country fan though and it was through her that I first heard "the perfect country and western song" which I unironically enjoy. Very Happy

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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by halfwise on Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:13 am

Yes, that's about right. Razz

Actually that reminds me a bit of Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant. How Arlo picked up so many Country inflections while growing up in Brooklyn is a mystery to me.

Actually I found out that he did a version of Alice every saturday after Thanksgiving in Carnegie Hall; and I checked and damn if the price wasn't eminently reasonable. So I went, and it turns out it was the 50th anniversary and he had his whole extended family there, clear down to grand kids. The grand kids stood up front and showed us the hand motions they invented to go with "This Land is Your Land", which is very cute on the stage of Carnegie Hall. The older girl (maybe 14) did a great rendition of Patsy Clines "Walking after Midnight" and of course we all had to whistle and cheer and Arlo admonished us with mock grumpiness "alright, don't encourage it".

He'd been doing Alice's Restaurant so much that he would find reasons to ramble off into other stories and not finish it. This time he rambled off into talking about how Bob Dylan would always come through the house when he was a kid, and he learned extra verses to his songs that never got played on the radio. But Bob Dylan of course kept writing his whole life, so in his concerts he stopped performing his old songs. And Arlo sympathized because if you kept writing new stuff there was no way you could put the old and the new stuff all into one concert no matter how fast you played it.

So one day he flew into Tuscon and a reporter came up and told him that Bob Dylan was playing the same night he was. And Arlo says "that's great!" and the reporter says "so why in the world would anyone go to your concert?" and Arlo replied "Because if they like Bob Dylan's old songs my concert is the only place they'll hear them." And they published it! Arlo didn't think they'd publish it, he was just being a smart-ass. So that night Arlo's concert hall was packed, and there he was in the dressing room before the show desperately trying to figure out as many of Dylan's songs as he could remember.

Um...can you tell I've been drinking cheap whiskey?

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Re: Love Is A Doing Word

Post by Eldorion on Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:06 am

That's great. Laughing I could listen to Arlo tell stories for a long time, especially if they're all as good as Alice's Restaurant or the Dylan one. Nod
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