Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Entry #4

March 2nd, 2009 by Wordsman


“It’s a summoning circle!”

As usual, Abigail had so many questions that she did not know where to start, so she went with her traditional, “What?”

“Right here!” Theodore shouted, pointing to a design on the ground.  “It must be a summoning circle!”

Abigail looked down at her feet to humor her brother.  She saw an ornamental geometric design in the stone just outside the entrance to the temple.  She did not see a summoning circle, though to be fair she had no idea what one was supposed to look like.  “What’s a summoning circle?” she asked.

Theodore groaned.  He had trouble understanding how his own sister could fail to be familiar with such a basic concept.  “It’s a runic diagram,” he explained, “used to aid in the summoning of a spirit, demon, monster, or other powerful entity.”

“They don’t look like runes,” she said, glancing casually back down at the pattern.

“They don’t have to be runes,” he responded, exasperated.  “Geometric designs can be just as effective, depending on the situation.”

“Huh,” said Abigail.  She squatted down to look more closely at the carvings in the stone.  They did not appear especially magical to her.  “So how does it work?” she asked.  She knew that she shouldn’t encourage him, but she was bored, and she did not see how he could really cause any trouble.  Unlike most of the places they had visited, this particular temple complex was all but deserted.

“Well, the summoner—or summoners, as the case may be—stands at the edge of the circle and focuses all of his energy toward the center.”  He began to pace slowly around the circumference, pausing occasionally to study the pattern.

“And then you all join hands and sing a song, right?” she asked, but by that point Theo was too absorbed to hear her.  Abigail started to walk as well, not around the circle but away from it.  She looked up toward the top of the mountain and then out at the grayish-green shapes that formed the rest of the range.  The temple’s remote location was, she assumed, the main reason it had not become a tourist trap like everything else, but she savored the remoteness.  It was nice to be able to enjoy some peace and quiet for a change.

Of course, peace and quiet are two things that tend to disappear the moment you realize they’re there.

“. . . but we really won’t be able to find out anything for sure until we try it,” she heard her brother say.

Abigail turned away from the breathtaking mountain scenery to see that Theo was sprawled out on his back in the middle of the circle.  His hands and feet almost reached the edges.  “So you’re sure this thing is a . . . summoning circle?” she asked.  She did not bother trying to prevent him from trying whatever it was he intended to try.  What could happen?

“It has to be!” he declared, picking himself up and standing back outside the circle’s rim.  “We’re right outside the entrance to an ancient, abandoned temple!  How could it be anything else?”

“I think it’s more unpopular than actually abandoned.”  She did not know whether the temple was ancient or not, because she had forgotten to check.  Some of them were, some of them weren’t, and some of them said they were even though they had burned down and been completely rebuilt several times over the centuries.  “So what are we supposed to do?” she asked.  Sure, scenery and solitude were nice, but in actuality she was really, really bored.

“You stand there,” he instructed, indicating a spot on the circle opposite from him.  “Now we need to chant something.”

“Like what?”

“Hmm . . . what’s the name of this temple?”

“I forgot to check before we left,” Abigail admitted, a little bit embarrassed at her carelessness.  Checking in the temple itself was impossible, as both of them were still unable to read any signs.

“Then . . . do you know any Latin?” he suggested.

“I know fake Latin.”

“Hmm.”  Theodore stared down at the circle again.  “Actually, I think we may need another person for this,” he said after a few moments’ further study.  “The predominance of triangles in the design suggests to me that the circle was intended for use by three summoners.”

“I guess you’re out of luck, then, because I haven’t seen anyone else on this mountain besides us since . . . oh come on!” Abigail grumbled angrily as she saw a lone figure walking up the path toward them.

Theodore’s face brightened and he quickly dashed over to talk to the woman before his sister could stop him.  “Excuse me, ma’am,” he said politely.  “I was wondering if you could help us with an experiment.”

Abigail’s faint hope that the tourist would be unable to understand him disappeared when the woman answered, “What sort of experiment?” in a typical English accent.

“Well, you see, we’re trying to figure out if that summoning circle over there still works, or if its powers have faded over the centuries along with the temple.”

Abigail groaned and rolled her eyes.  The woman leaned to the side to look at the pattern, and then she turned back to Theodore.  “It works,” she declared matter-of-factly.

“How do you know?” Theodore asked curiously.

“You’ve summoned me, haven’t you?” the woman explained.  Then, without another word, she proceeded into the temple.

A silence settled over the forest clearing.  About a minute later it was broken by Theodore.  “Of course!  The three points of the triangle don’t represent three summoners, they represent two summoners and one summonee!  Why didn’t I think of that?”

As her brother squatted down to stare at the circle, Abigail walked back to where she had been observing the mountain range.  The mountains, at least, had stayed where they were supposed to be, rather than appearing and disappearing to follow the whims of a crazy person.

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