Mirrored from Sythyry.
“Historically there have been four ways to make a teleport gate safer,” said Feralan.
“Yes — really no there are more — yes and you list them all in your plans,” said Talujjan. “What you don’t explain is which one you plan to use.”
“The oldest method is space-healing,” said Feralan, ignoring Talujjan. “This is an emergency measure. If the universe around the gate is crumbling, the space-healer uncrumbles it. Usually then they stop using the gate.”
“And call for someone to repair it — someone like me!” crowed Talujjan. “I’ve made more money off those repairs than ever I did from making gates in the first place.”
“You devious devil!” proclaimed Glikkonen. “You ought to make the gates properly in the first place, and forgo your greedy repairs!”
“Hah! It is your gates I must fix and fix, not my own!” countered Talujjan, with the air of a fencer pricking the tip of his foe’s nose. Again, we took steps to separate the two. Some of these steps involved coffee-cake, and some of them involved the erection of walls and monuments.
“The second method, historically speaking, was the mounting,” said poor Feralan, when the bickering subsided. “That is, an enchantment or spell which anchors one end or both of the gate. It both separates the gate from the edge of the universe somewhat, and lessens the chasmatic tendencies of the gate.”
“It is properly called a bastion, not a mounting,” said Talujjan, and the semantic bickering was off again. We sprayed the wizards with seltzer water mixed with tincture of fallasleepia until they calmed down, and then we waylaid them with lamb chops and potato croquettes and parsley sauce.
“And it doesn’t actually work very well,” said Talujjan, when he was calm.
“It works just fine,” said Glikkonen. “What it doesn’t work for is long: a few centuries at most. The mounting — and I use that term with full knowledge of the subtleties thereof — the mounting accepts the tremors and quarms that would otherwise damage the husk of the universe. Can the mounting endure forever what the universe itself cannot? Of course not! Though a well-made mounting can endure for far longer than a weak spot in the husk.”
Talujjan said nothing, perhaps because we had filled his muzzle with Arfaen’s best and stickiest caramel for the occasion.
“The third method is the space-toughening. It reinforces the underlying structure of space along the length of the gate, so that the use of the gate causes fewer points of injury to the fundamental reality,” said Feralan.
“My invention!” crowed Talujjan.
“What about the contributions of Nirion Havstard and Baron Sir Lord Charubdobbis?” asked Professor Isotomable. “To say nothing of the fact that our own Glikkonen was the first one to actually produce a space-toughening enchantment?”
“Bah! The enchantment is trivial once the spell has been invented! The spell — My spell!” cried Talujjan.
“What, you have mastered the art of making an enchantment that holds a ritual spell?” said Glikkonen with a hissy sneer. “A greater invention by far than any number of space-toughenings!” (Yes, indeed, a greater invention: mostly we think that it is impossible.) “Yet, somehow, you have neglected to mention it all these centuries.”
“Fool! Tiny-head! Big snob! Ah, so blatant a liar!” warbled Talujjan. This time we installed heavy space-toughenings and ferocious bastions (not mountings — even I would hesitate to mount Talujjan, and Glikkonen is my grandparent and the wrong species) to shut them up.
“Finally, and in the last two or three centuries only, have been the mounting-healings … bastion-healings?” said Feralan uncertainly. “If a gate is made with mountings or bastions, then a subsidiary enchantment can repair those bastions as quickly as the use of the gate damages them.”
“Technically, that’s not a method of improving the gate, it’s a method of improving the mounting,” observed Prof. Isotomable.
“Practically, that’s out of the question in most cases,” said Talujjan. “Aside from research prototypes, I’ve only twice managed to persuade any city-state to pay for it. They’d rather pay less for a worse gate, and fix it when it needs it. Faugh!”
“And those are the main ways that gates are made safer,” said Feralan.
“Ridiculous!” said Talujjan. “The single most important way is keeping the gates far apart!”
“Incomplete!” said Prof. Isotomable. “What about the other eighty-three approaches?”
Feralan whimpered. I tried to rescued him: “We’re not using those. Besides, they are largely variations on the four we have listed.” This of course caused a third of an hour of argument. They even had a point: mounting-healing is a variation on one of the others. Finally we managed to shush everyone, largely by constructing a giant bumble-bee out of flax and flan, and thumping everyone with it until they stopped arguing and/or lapsed into unconsciousness.
“You still haven’t said which one you’re going to use,” grumbled Talujjan.
“Oh, very simple. We’re going to use them all,” said Feralan. All of the sleeping wizards and assistants woke up.