Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Chapter 20: Magic 101

The whole week I found it hard to concentrate. It was partly excitement, but I think a lot of it was also anxiety. I was looking forward to Thursday, and I was also scared to death. But I think mostly I was just curios. I was wondering the same thing most of you are probably wondering: how do I do it? It seemed to me that transforming my body into an entirely new form was something that would have to come naturally. Why would I have to learn how? And more importantly, how would I go about it?
So by the time Thursday afternoon rolled around, I was more than ready to get started. Teresa's car was outside the school. I looked around to make sure no one was watching, then got in.
"Where's Quentin?" I asked her. I'd had kinda hoped he'd be there too; it sort of made me feel more comfortable.
"He's not a Draconic," she said, "So he wouldn't be a terribly large amount of help. Meanwhile, he has his own recruit to train,"
"Really?" I asked.
"Yeah, Vampire hunting has always been taught by apprenticeship," she answered, "And if every hunter trained as many as Quentin, they'd increase by a factor of ten every generation,"
I didn't have a lot else to say about that, so I didn't say anything for a while.
"So," I asked, a few minutes later," Where are we going?"
"My apartment," she said, then added, "Well, not technically mine, but the one I've been using since I was first assigned to you're case. The Alliance thought owning a property equidistant from your house and your school would come in handy some day,"
"How long have they had it?" I asked.
"Since Lisa and Wallace bought the house," she answered, "Although most of that time it's been abandoned. One of our agents owns and operates the whole building, though,"
"A Draconic?" I asked.
"No," she answered, "Just a human agent. Believe it or not, they still make up the bulk of the MLF. They'll be time for you to learn about that later, though. Today, we have other things to focus on,"
Finally, we were getting around to what I wanted to talk about.
"Like what, exactly?" I asked.
"In a few minutes," she answered. We turned into that parking lot of a rather run-down looking apartment building.
"This is it," said Teresa, parking the car.
We walked in the building and climbed up the stairs. There was nothing unusual about the place really - just your typical inner-city apartment building. Even had the same smell. As we walked through the hallway, however, a large Hispanic man in a blue jumpsuit hailed us.
"Hey Teresa," he cried, "This him?"
"Yes, Pat," she answered, "This is him,"
'Pat' immediately bent down, grabbed me in a large bear hug, and whirled me around. He was quite sweaty, and smelled like a much more intense version of the musty spell that pervaded the building.
"Master Brimmer!" he exclaimed as he put me down, "I have not seen you since you were this big," he bent down and put one arm about a foot and a half off the ground. "I can not tell you how wonderful it makes me feel to know a Brimmer will be back on the council soon,"
"Now you know that's not a done deal," said Teresa, "Thadius likely won't even step down as leader of the NA,"
"Then he will have to be shown his place," he answered. He turned to me, "Is Skyler Woods Brimmer really going to take a back seat to a Blue with no family name?"
I didn't know what to say. Luckily, Teresa stepped in.
"He'll never take the throne if he doesn't get trained," she said, frustratedly.
"Oh, my apologies," said Pat, "Wouldn't want to keep you from that," He stepped aside and we walked into Teresa's room.
"You're gonna find a lot of those," she answered. "Now that word has gotten out the Brimmers are back on the scene, everyone thinks you'll be wanting to take back the council. Especially regular humans - Fintan's never been especially popular with them,"
"Do you want me to retake the council?" I asked her.
"It's unnecessary," she answered, "As soon as we rescue Lisa, she'll be returned to leadership of the council,"
"You know she's alive?" I asked hopefully.
"I have faith," she said. "Now, enough politics. Let's get started on things you'll actually need to know. Get comfortable, this may take a while,"
I sat down on a couch and she began.
"Anything specific you'd like to know?" She asked, "You're a smart boy, I'm sure by now you've figured out at least five or six reasons why this is impossible, try them on me,"
That was not what I'd been expecting to be asked. But just the same, I figured, I'd try one out.
"Ok," I answered after a while, "All the dragon in my family comes from my Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great grandfather or something, right?"
"One too many greats," she answered, "But go on,"
"So I'm what, 1/512 dragon? If that. How do I have any power at all?"
"Good one," said Teresa, "Actually that leads pretty well into our first lesson. You know your draconic ancestor started your whole bloodline while in human form, right?"
"Yeah..."
"Well, he didn't have any human DNA. What he had was a magical ability inherent in dragons known as polymorphing. Now we know about as much about polymorphing as we do about most kinds of magic, which is almost nothing. It was likely very hard to study magic even in the days when it was abundant - now that it's virtually vanished from the earth, we know even less about it. And now that magic related research is illegal in the U.S. and most of Europe, I think it's safe to say that's where we'll stay for a while.
What we do know is this - Polymorphing, like all magic, changes the fundamental nature of the universe at a molecular level. In this case, it alters the user from the building blocks of it's cells - including it's DNA. That's why a human doesn't need the dragon genes that would let him or her sprout wings or breathe fire - all we need is the one gene that lets us Polymorph, and somehow, it seems, that one is always passed on,"
"How does that even work?" I asked, "How do you contain magic in a gene?"
"Oh, that's easy," answered Teresa, "Why do you think elves were so much better at sorcery than humans? Why do you think the only decent spellcasters left are of Asian descent? It's all in the blood. What we don't understand is how the trait is invariably passed on to all offspring even though only one parent has it. But that's not really important,"
"So if we have an inherint ability to Polymorph, why just dragons? Couldn't we turn into birds, or dogs, or -"
'You don't get it," said Teresa. "The only thing we can polymorph into is humans. We're polymorphing right now. You've been using this ability without realizing it your entire life. All you have to do is figure out how to turn it off,"
By this point I was thoroughly confused.
"Wait a minute," I said, "If the DNA was polymorphed into human DNA, why was any dragon DNA passed on at all?"
"Because," said Teresa, "The transformation wasn't complete. Look at it this way: If turning into a human gave a dragon a complete human genome, that dragon would lack the gene that allowed it to change back, effectively trapping it in that form. So, obviously, the dragon retains the polymorph gene - and only the polymorph gene while in human form. Only while in human form, instead of letting dragons turn into humans-"
"it let's humans turn into dragons," I said, finally realizing it.
"Exactly," answered Teresa. "So now all you have to do is figure out how to activate that polymorph ability. What we like to do is force it to activate - it'll do it instinctivly when exposed to a certain kind of danger. So that, if you're willing, is what we're going to do. Follow me."
She got up and walked towards the bathroom. I followed her, still somewhat confused and rather unsure as to how this was gonna turn out.

11 comments:

Erin said...

Yay! I just IMed you an elaboraged comment that I'm not even going to try to reproduce here, but the bottom line of which was: I think it works very well in this universe you've created. Good job!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! I love the genetics explanations, it just sounds so credible. It also allows for a few more mysteries . . . like when the human descendent turns back to dragon, they would have the dragon DNA, correct? Complete with the polymorphing gene? Why couldn't they also change to other animal forms?

I can't seem to be able to sign on, so: violinvoice

Anonymous said...

Awesome! I love the genetics explanations, they just sound so credible.They also allow for a few more mysteries . . . like when the human descendent turns back to dragon, they would have the dragon DNA, correct? Complete with the polymorphing gene? Why couldn't they also change to other animal forms?

I don't seem to be able to sign on, so: violinvoice

Nathaniel Cornstalk said...

13,692 words, 29 pages

Pirate_King said...

Assumably, the Dragons could not change into other forms before changing back into a dragon, couldn't go from dragon to human to, say, rabbit. Thus, the polymorph gene in a human born to a dragon in human form would only allow the human to "change back" into a dragon. atleast, thats the way it worked in my head. I should probably wait for nate to explain. Also,DPOD! congrats on the word count, Nathan

wings said...

wow, that's a lot of words. *whistles* All the polymorphing stuff is cool. It makes sense in that world. It took me a minute, but once I got it, it made perfect sense. BTW, how did you come up with the word 'polymorphing'? I'm curious to know...

Nathaniel Cornstalk said...

Like much of this stuff, (most of which you haven't seen yet) I stole it from dungeons and dragons.

Pirate_King said...

but was I right about humans not being able to change to anything aside from dragons?

Nathaniel Cornstalk said...

yes, Marten, you were. Because this isn't a story about shapeshifters (although I actually do have such a story in the works)

wings said...

There's a new cartoon TV show coming on here about this kid who can turn into a dragon... I saw the add and did a double take.

Nathaniel Cornstalk said...

Good thing I have documented evidence that I thought of the idea first.