Wolves at the Door (part 15)

“Magic is, after all, the chief preoccupation of the local people. But this cannot come entirely as a shock to you; you have already experienced it yourself. The gateway that brought you here is a more powerful magic than any I have ever heard of.”

“I haven’t really had time to think about it. And I … don’t really remember the experience very well. But if you practice magic…”

“I must stop you there. I am not a practitioner of magic, I am a trader of magical objects. If you sell a knife, does that make you a blacksmith? Or a miner? Of course not, and no more does trading in magic make me a seidmadr. The distinction may not be obvious to you, but it is important.”

“Okay, I can see that.”

Alfvin sighed. “I really should not be so touchy. It is the remnant of a habit long past. But the practice of magic here bears little resemblance to seidr as it is known in the outside world. No elaborate and esoteric rituals are needed. Here it is a craft like any other, but more common than most because the raw materials are so plentiful.”

“So the crowds we walked through earlier… were they sorcerers?”

“Does the thought make you uncomfortable? It is possibly we may have passed some, but unlikely. The craft is more common here than most others, but it is a craft that requires a great deal of knowledge and skill. And the materials may be plentiful here when compared to things like stone and wood, but they are not cheap. The cost, and the leisure required to develop the necessary skills, effectively restricts the practice to the wealthy classes. And those tend to be found further in, towards the centre of the town. But many of those we saw would have been buying or selling the magical goods produced at the centre, much as I do but on a larger scale.”

“You said the materials of magic were plentiful but not cheap. How can that be? And what are they? I haven’t seen anything growing, or being mined. I haven’t seen anything magical here.”

“You are quite mistaken. It would be closer to the truth to say you have not seen anything else.”


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