The staging room is two flights up from where something like three hundred people are crammed wall to wall into the downstairs space of the Liberty Bounds pub on Trinity Square at the City’s edge, drinking strange liquids with names like Old Speckled Hen and Waggle Dance and Theakston’s Old Peculier out of pint glasses, while pausing occasionally to roar in annoyance or cheer in wild approval at something happening on the big-screen TVs. The third-floor upstairs room, however, contains nothing but a scatter of hardwood tables and chairs, and its mostly bare walls are ornamented with nothing more interesting than a selection of framed eighteenth-century cartoon prints and various posters advertising guest beers, upcoming karaoke nights, curry days and eighties revival-band dates, and other locations in the UK’s big Wetherspoon pub chain.
In the middle of the room, some of the the tables and chairs have been pushed out of the way to make an empty area about twenty feet wide. In that space stand three people unusually dressed for the early twenty-first century: two men in their very early forties, and a tall young man of sixteen or so. In the middle of the room with them, a rectangular slice of air about three feet wide and seven feet high has been talked into solidity and coaxed into the perfect reflectivity of a mirror.
The youngest of the group in the middle of the room is standing in front of the wizardly mirror and muttering under his breath, more or less constantly, as he fiddles with his clothes. At last he says loudly enough to be heard, “You think they had a higher than usual percentage of wizards in the late eighteen hundreds?”
A pause. “Haven’t seen any numbers on that recently,” says Carl under his breath as he buttons up his dark close-fitting vest over a full-sleeved white shirt with high collar and strangely-knotted dark tie. “Can’t think why the stats would be above the planetary half-millennial median, though. Why?”
“Because it has to have taken wizardry to deal with all… these… fastenings!”( Read more... )