Floo Network

Bad Moon Rising

Started by M. B. Montgomery, March 25, 2021, 10:43:07 pm

Harold Prendergast

Harold was glad of Montgomery's company - both in terms of dealing with the robes situation and in general. While he had initially thought the other professor... eccentric to say the least, he found himself rather enjoying the company, and especially the unconventional points of view that were on offer.

"Cucumber sandwiches, you say? I wonder if they have any gala pie, that would rather hit the spot." Harold's stomach growled. He'd forgotten that distance apparition tended to make him hungry, especially as they'd been queueing for a little in the village.

"But yes, space travel - I had heard such claims from my colleagues in the Ministry, but the President of the Americas was making such bold claims only a few years ago that it seemed prudent not to rule out such things." The part Harold didn't say was that the muggles' grasp of science was mildly concerning him.

He had been brought up amongst people who weren't outright bloodist or anything like that but with an implied superiority complex nonetheless - what muggles needed tools and machines and things to do, wizards could do with a deft wave of a wand, or even just their hand in the right circumstances. In Darwinian 'survival of the fittest' wizards ought to come out ahead for the obvious reasons.

However, he had noted with some surprise just how far the muggles had come just in the course of his own life - from figuring out heavier-than-air flight shortly before he was born, through to engaging in their squabbles over land with airborne and aquatic vessels... leaving the entire world behind was, to his mind, rather simply a matter of time. This quickly, however, was a shade unexpected.

He was not afraid of what the muggles might discover, as such - his entire field of study was one of those that had the greatest overlap with muggle science, of course - but he wondered how long it would be before some of the more obvious elements of arithmancy started occurring to muggle science, most importantly the presence and nature of arcanium. He quietly marvelled that none of muggle studies into the nature of relativity had uncovered the manipulations that might be observed with time turners. Though perhaps all the time they kept up with their technology and especially their studies into the movements of free electrons, it would mask the presence of arcanium for just a little bit longer.

Harold then turned his attention back to the food stalls... both pork and gala pies were on offer as well as pasties that resembled those from Cornwall.

Harold smiled. "If we are going to have a pint, I - well, we - rather should like to sample a slice of pie or two beforehand?"

M. B. Montgomery

"I'm sure they do," Msaed agreed. What self-respecting fĂȘte didn't have some gala pie on offer? He wasn't fond of it himself, but it's presence in England seemed almost ubiquitous together with other pork-based products he'd rather not touch. He'd tried it at some point, much to the horror of his mother. It was fascinating how cultural conflicts played out across the dining table even within his own family. Even he couldn't make sense of which customs he ended up following and which he disregarded. A drink he could looking forward to, a pork pie crossed a line.

He smiled. These little idiosyncrasies in a life lived across two cultures amused him these days. As a young man he'd been determined to come across as English as possible, now that he was older he felt more comfortable admitting to his Arab roots and that they had an effect on his life, preferences and personality. He supposed no longer being saddled with the insecurities of being a teenager or young adult had helped with that. It was harder to bridge the cultural divide while feeling uncomfortable in your own skin.

"I'll stick with the sandwiches though if it's all the same to you."

Somehow, Harold's comment on space travel seemed disappointing. Msaed would have thought the other man would have more of an opinion on the subject.

"I realise this'll make me sound like a bloodist, but I honestly thought wizardkind would get there first. Having magic on our side how could we have not figured out something. I mean, between Apparition and portkeys we do have pretty decent modes of transportation. I suppose they would need some modification, but I'm sure you understand what I mean."

As they reached the counter Msaed put in his order for cucumber sandwiches and Pimms, waiting for Harold to make his choice. He already retrieved his galleons from his purse, figuring that he could easily beat Harold to paying for both of them. After all, Harold was doing him a favour by accompanying him on this visit to Godric's.

Harold Prendergast

Harold put in his order for two slices of gala pie, a steak pie for later in the week, cucumber sandwiches, and he couldn't resist trying one of the tuna sandwiches, out of a sense of morbid curiosity more than anything.

Truth be told he was rather a little distracted in his ordering, thinking over what Sid had said on the nature of wizarding kind getting to the moon first.

Upon realising the stall-holder was asking him if he was done, his attention returned to the present and he noted that he was. "Could you let me know how much for the two of us please?" Turning to Sid, he said, "After helping me get the robe situation sorted, this is the least I could possibly do."

He only noticed after having said this that Sid already had his own coin-purse out. Realising the awkwardness, he tried to change tact.

"I never thought the wizards would even contemplate going to the moon. Rather, the centaurs and diviners tend to study it from afar, and wizardingkind as a whole seems, well, perfectly content to stay close to the ground, other than on brooms. Muggles don't have flying brooms so they would have to invent whole other ways to do things."

He paid, collected their things and gestured in the direction of the nearest tavern to continue their drink over a pint. "Shall we?"

"I was graduating from Hogwarts during that infernal 'second world war' of muggles, and I'm ashamed to admit that muggles are frighteningly effective at finding new ways to inflict suffering upon one another, but it seems that rather cooler heads prevail - the rocket ship that took the muggles to the moon is quite directly descended from the dratted things that were launched in anger at this island. Some good came of it, I suppose. I won't deny that we have vastly better means of transportation, but I also suppose that the distance to the moon is some twenty times further than it would ever be possible to Apparate while on earth. I can manage a few hundred miles, but a few hundred thousand is rather beyond me, I'm afraid."

It was definitely time for a drink.

M. B. Montgomery

"Hmm," Sid mused, "you do have a point here, but I don't think I agree. You're thinking about what one wizard can achieve on their own, rather than the potential of tackling this challenge as a group. I suppose apparition could be a starting point and boosting range is probably not all that infeasible. But I think there are better approaches one could take to the problem. Maybe modifying a portkey or working with a vanishing cabinet. Getting an object to travel the distance doesn't seem that infeasible - but... what about the conditions encountered once there."

Sid tried to remember what had been reported about the muggle expedition. He wasn't sure if he had read no breathable air, but it did make some sense.  Everyone knew that the air got thinner on high mountains. Maybe, if one went far enough up there would be no air at all. Bubblehead charm? Would that hold? There were certainly some possibilities there. And what about the cold? Also complicated.

While he was lost in thought, Harold completed their order. Sid only belatedly realised he had missed his opportunity to pay for their food. Unbelievable. How could he have been beaten to the punch by a man with the natural reflexes of a snail? Oh well, he would have to make up for it by paying for their beverages.  He'd definitely wouldn't let Harold pay for a second time.

"Drinks are on me," he stated in a tone that tolerated no contradiction. "What am I getting you?"

"Also, wouldn't you think that arranging casters in a heptadecagon with a central focal point would help? I mean 17 is such a potent number in arithmancy and using it as the base for such a spell would surely be beneficial, no?"

Harold Prendergast

Drinks? "I should quite fancy a pint of the local pale ale, please." Other parts of the country he might dare a bitter, but the water supply in the West Country was pretty good and would give a clear base for a rich, hoppy pale ale. He'd heard good things about the brewery at St Austell, but that was a little far from here - besides, the water here was probably a little nicer.

The Seven Swans was politely decorated - old fashioned, wooden beams still exposed, that sort of thing - but in keeping with habits more recent than those of the era in which it was built, there were booths around the outer part of the interior space, and stools and loose tables nearer the bar.

It was still quite early in the day - one might call it early evening at the latest - and the regular patrons of the Swans hadn't yet arrived, and Harold thought it best that they find a booth off to a side where they could stow their things as well as having some privacy. While their conversation was completely innocuous, certain elements might not care to hear.

Harold considered the comments Sid had as he sat at the rather hard seat of their booth, with a table with one leg fractionally shorter than the others. The seventeen caster theory had much to recommend it, after all, but...

His train of thought was interrupted as the barmaid brought over their drinks. Harold raised his pint to Sid, clinked glasses and took a sip. It was everything he had hoped for. Hoppy, not unduly fragrant, and no overbearing after-taste of yeast. "Thank you, this was just what I needed."

He took a slow draught, mulling over the problem.

"Yes, you rather have a point about the casters working together and seventeen would be quite adept at it - but you'd need to find seventeen casters of quite the right frequency. One of the reasons the Ministry favours portkeys over Apparating groups of people - other than side-alongs - is because the more people you involve, the more their resonant harmonics, well, resonate. Two or three people isn't usually a problem, though splinching does get rather more common the more you have."

Another sip. "I don't believe there's ever been a successful multi-casting of more than eight, even just to arrive at the same place together, without, well, considering using the group to extend everyone else's range."

Harold slumped for a moment, letting the weight of the world fall onto his shoulders and slough off by itself. "As for the atmosphere, the muggles believe there's not only no air but that it is frightfully cold. Bubble-head charm might work for the lack of air, but I'm not sure what we'd want to use for the lack of warmth."

Harold took another draught of his beer. "This is a rather lovely pint." He'd had half of it and felt a little tipsy already.

M. B. Montgomery

Sid was content when he found himself settled down with a nice ale. Not the original plan, but he hadn't been drinking in so long that more adventurous beverages could wait for another time. Life in Marrakesh had been so different. Mint tea, water pipes and kif were common, but alcohol was quite frowned upon. Sid was a little worried he'd not be able to hold his liquor. It had been a while since he had last indulged. Just the one would be safe enough he reassured himself as he sat down again opposite Harold.

His friend meanwhile was still pondering how to put a wizard on the moon. "The magical resonance would certainly be an issue," he agreed. "There are ways around it though. I mean nothing would stop this from using some votive candles in the casting." He could think of how to use necromancy in this as well to extend the reach of the magic, but he wasn't sir Harold would have liked hearing about such a proposal. Still, blood magic was powerful and had better energy conversion that other types of magic. He'd learned that the hard way by trying to remove a malediction.

"Freezing temperatures as well? Hmm, that adds another layer of complication into the mix. Some charm would fix that no doubt, but I think that would make it complicated. Maybe it would be better to establish a link first to establish conditions. Say start with the principles of a vanishing cabinet at the core of the operation..."

Sid took another long swig from his glass. Putting a wizard onto the moon, that would be quite something. He wondered what sort of potion making materials one might find there. We're there magical beings or plants or animals already there? So many possibilities.

"I wonder how divination would work up there," he mused to himself. "All the usual methods of interpreting the stars would have to be re-examined."

Harold Prendergast

Harold paused, thinking about Sid's comments.

"Well, yes, the votive candles would work for helping manage resonance. I'm sure I've read somewhere about an experiment with candles in an attempt to do a cross-continent apparition, but if I remember correctly, there were a number of complications arising from thaumaturgical resonance that they hadn't taken into account." He took a sip of his beer. "I wonder if you'd need to choose the spell-casters based on resonance to each other as well as to the candles. Though I rather grant you that a Vanishing Cabinet would make the whole thing considerably less frustrating."

He looked down into his beer. It really was quite a superb pale ale. Perhaps it had been too long since he had partaken of ale. Sylvia had never entirely approved of alcohol and he'd mostly given it up in their time together, even if his drinking had never gone beyond 'conservatively moderate' and inevitably he would get more and more inclined to 'natter' as she put it before getting contented then sleepy.

"The muggles have these big 'space suits', they call them, which the moon mission had all of them wearing - it rather seems to be a very thick set of materials to keep the heat in and not radiating out into space. They also seemed to have a sort of inner suit with tubes around it as a sort of thermic regulator with water, which suggests the suits are so good at insulation they keep the traveller a shade too warm."

He took another long draught from his beer, careful not to just down the rest in one.

"My memories of divination are rather woolly but I rather thought the movement of the moon was not so significant as the movement of the stars, and surely if one is on the moon it is no different for observing the stars than if one is, say, in America rather than England? You just have to allow for the larger distance. Though," He said, putting his pint down slowly. "If the phases of the moon are a concern, one could presumably observe the phases of the world from the moon and draw up a set of reference charts that way?"

He pondered for a moment. "I wonder what the centaurs would make of it. I rather think we should possibly not tell them."

He pondered again. "Can you imagine how clear the skies - I suppose you could call them that - would be on the moon? No lights or anything nearby. I wonder how many stars you'd see then, probably too many to count."

M. B. Montgomery

"Ah, but moon phases affect arcane currents." Sid countered Harold's opinion on the subject of divination. "And arcane currents, affect everything. Magic, my friend, is a river, everything flows and remains in constant motion. The threads of what was, what is and what will be are in constant flow and constant change. In order to see, and I mean to truly see, you need to understand the pull of all forces affecting our magic. I'd imagine the whole arcane network feeling differently. Will there be the same amount of threads? Woven as densely?"

Sid's voice had shifted a register darker and his hands moved in tune to the aforementioned flow of magic as he tapped into feeling of it. He took another sip from his beer.

"I'd imagine, being so close to the centre of a force will warp the fabric, change the weft, don't you agree? I mean I'd be fascinated to try it. Just to see what it feels like there to receive a vision, that would be quite something. I've never really quite had the flair for it. Not like my mother. Not like my great-grandmother could. But... I'm not entirely without talent."

Whoops. There was an admission that would probably make Prendergast a bit uncomfortable. He didn't seem to do so well with things that defied a clear, scientific explanation. Seeing, divination, was kinda as obscure and strange as magic could get. Drinking some more, he thought the beer was going to his head already. Had they put something into it for the drink to feel so damn potent?

"Yes, definitely don't tell the centaurs. They don't like our divination much, I can't picture them being pleased with wizards on the moon. Mind you when are centaurs ever pleased with anything? They're pretty miserable as a species, aren't they? I don't think I've ever come across a say happy-go-lucky one of their kind. And they don't have a sense of humour either."

He was talking nonsense. A soft laugh escaped him and he looked at Harold. "Is it just me, or is this beer really rather strong?"

Harold Prendergast

"Well, yes, rather I take your point on the nature of the arcane currents. I personally find the thaumaturgical flow a shade..." Harold looked at his beer again. "A shade... antro... intro... entropy. Too much entropy. A bit too much like a cloudy ale for my liking."

Harold finished his pint and exhaled sharply, lips pulled back ever so slightly.

"Truth be told, Sid, I've never much believed in divinition." A tiny burp, easily disguised mid-sentence. "Sorry, divination. It's always seemed so rather vague to me and... well, I suppose I just fell in love with the idea that things can be explained. Measured. Explained, you know."

Harold blinked and frowned. He really hadn't drunk for a while - and somehow that beer seemed more potent than he had expected. But he was glad that he was here, with a friend, sharing the moment. Whatever Sylvia had thought about his intemperance, he had avoided drinking alone for a long time as it never went anywhere pleasant.

"But," he continued, "I've never... actually... well, met anyone who could See, which is perhaps why I rather thought the whole thing a pile of rot, if you pardon my saying."

He blinked again. "And no, I shan't tell the centaurs." He smiled, at the thought. "Is Firenze still living in the Forbidden Forest? I can just imagine his voice now." Harold tried to deepen his voice in what seemed like a reasonable attempt at Firenze's voice. "'The stars are so bright tonight.' Heh. Yes, they aren't the happiest, are they? I wonder if it's because the stars never tell them what they want to hear?"

Harold looked at his beer again.

"That beer is rather strong. Would you like another? Because I think I would like another."

M. B. Montgomery

"I thought you'd feel that way, but just because you can't explain it doesn't mean that it doesn't work. It's just that actual seers are very rare and people are very desperate to believe in something. That just leaves a lot of fraudsters with the option to do and say whatever they want. We really should educate the students about this and how to tell apart an actual vision from a bunch of nonsense."

Sid felt his cheeks glowing. Did he look red in the face? He took another sip from his glass as the ale was nicely cooling and alarmingly already almost gone. When had that happened.

"But, you know I've grown up with a seer mother. Not a fake. It's actually a very hard life if you can do it. You see a lot of pain and suffering and you can ruin people's lives. Anyway, what I was meaning to say is that there are distinct physical signs for when a seer received a genuine vision. I bet you could actually measure that if you ever found one who'd be interested in working on that."

"Actually, I can try some time if you'd like. Tap into the flow and see if that shows up on your detectors in some way."

Then the conversation took a turn for the surreal. Harold was impersonating a centaur he knew and Sid cracked up laughing. It did sound centaur alright.

"There can't be much they'd be seeing without telescopes. Might explain the glum results."

Suddenly, a rather strange thought came to mind. "Why are they called centaurs anyways? I always thought Taurus meant bull. Shouldn't it be a cenhippo or something? Just saying it's definitely a horse body and a not bull body."

Another beer?

"Oh, yes, why not. One more for the road."

Harold Prendergast

"Ah, well, you see, that's rather the thing!" That was punctuated with a little more vigour than Harold had intended, at least in his own head. "I've met a great many flim-flam artists claiming to be Seers that I didn't imagine I'd ever meet someone who actually could, to the point where in absence of evidence or scientific support, I'd rather assumed it was entirely flam-flimmery." Harold found himself pointing awkward to the ceiling with his own emphasis. "Flim-flammery, even."

He put his hand down, momentarily ashamed. "I should rather like to see a real Seer if you'll pardon the pun." Was it even a pun? Harold wasn't sure. That beer had rather gone straight to his head.

Then Sid made an observation about centaurs and telescopes and the lack thereof - and he was right. He'd never known Firenze or any of the others to have telescopes. "You know, Sid, you're right about that. They don't have any telescopes! How do they even see the stars without a telescope? If I was a centaur, well, I'd want a telescope to see the stars. Perhaps if I bought Firenze one for his birthday he might be less dour all the time. If I could remember when his birthday was, anyway."

Harold looked at his glass, lamenting the lack of beer. "Oh, no, I shouldn't think they'd be called cenhippos." Another awkward emphatic pointing. "Centequines! That's the thing, yes. Centequines." Harold laughed, perhaps more than he should.

"Right, I'll get them in, same again do you?"

Harold got up, straightened, and strode purposefully for the bar. It might even have been almost a straight line. Almost.