Wolves at the Door (part 35)

When Alfvin returned, Gil took a moment to ask him about sunstones, but he seemed unfamiliar with the concept. When Gil explained, he still looked blank.

“Sunstones? No, I do not believe I have traded in such things. It does seem likely that they are magical in origin, though. Stone has a natural affinity for magic. It can be enchanted in a way that other materials cannot.”

“Really? I thought all sorts of things could be magical.”

“Yes and no. Yes, in that any materials can be enchanted. No, in that it is not always useful to do so.”

Seeing that he had lost his audience, Alfvin changed tack.

“Perhaps an analogy is in order. Think of it as like painting a picture. You can paint on any surface, but some are more suitable than others.”

“Okay, that makes sense. So stone is like a nice flat, clean wall. Easy to paint on. And other things are like… well, other things.”

“Not exactly. There is more to the analogy. You can paint a picture on a wall, but no matter how skilled the painter, all walls look the same in the dark. Likewise, no matter how intricate the enchantment, it is useless without a source of magic. Here, small enchantments may draw their magic from the environment around us. But items with larger effects need to carry a source of magic with them. The same goes for items to be used in the magic-poor environment of Midgard. Since magic has a tendency to seep into stone, most magical items will be made of stone, either entirely or in part.”

Gil frowned.

“Really? That seems… impractical.”

“Often it is. But that is the way it works, and so people find ways to make it work. While a basic healing stone may be no more than a pebble imbued with healing magic, enchanted weapons are more complex. They cannot be made entirely of stone, but gems may be inlaid in a sword’s pommel, for example. Magical potions are even more difficult to make: the liquid may be enchanted, but to be effective, it must be combined with a magically-charged stone that has been ground up into powder.”

“Why go to all that trouble? Can’t you put the same magical effect into any old rock?”

“Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Or so I am told by those who understand the process better than I do. It is a highly specialised field, but this much everyone knows: Magic can be stored in stones. How much magic depends on the type of stone, and its size. And magic is always in demand. Look around. Every person you see here trades in magic, one way or another.”

He tossed Gil a small stone, about half the size of his palm.

“And from now on, that includes you.”

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