Prologue - The Inquiry

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I shouldn't be writing this.  If anyone finds it, I'll be expelled.  I'll be exiled from Techence forever.  The collectors might even make me uh...disappear.  But I can't shake the feeling that the university is hiding something.

As with any proper scientific inquiry, I'll begin with a working hypothesis:  magic exists.

I know, I know.  It sounds absurd.  It goes against everything I've learned here.  My gristology professors have demonstrated Fjorking steel was so sharp not from their magic runes, but from a fortunate combination of high quality iron and a specific crucible design.  Likewise, great celestologers have written equations that predict the movements of the stars, thus proving that stars are distant celestial bodies rather than gods.

And yet, despite the experiments and equations, something still feels off.  On the surface the university mocks magic and calls it "flim flam" - an appropriate reaction to something they're sure doesn't exist.  But students who express an interest in magic often disappear under mysterious circumstances.  And then there are the little bits of history that don’t quite make sense when you remove magic from the narrative.  Most interesting of all, though, are the parallels that exist in magical references from ancient documents written at the same time thousands of miles apart.  The simplest explanation for those is that magic does indeed exist, and as my rhetoric teacher insists, the simplest explanation is often the correct one.

During the day, I'll still go to my classes.  I'll be a perfect student, learning the art of convincing the kings of Pentavia to use our weapons to wage pointless wars against each other.  But at night, I'll scour the libraries for references to magic.  I won't be able to prove my hypothesis with any single document.  I might not be able to prove it at all.  But I have to try.

If you'd seen the things I've seen here - if you'd seen how our botanists can combine plants, if you'd seen the weapons we have, if you'd seen a ship that can fly - you'd agree with me that anything is possible.  Maybe even magic.

- T.H. Sterling

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