They came to Antharia from all corners of the kingdom: Gurth and Mithicus, the Frigid River Valley, Borphee, even the Gray Mountains. They packed the restaurants, and for the first time in 150 years the Rusty Knife in West Anthar ran out of sea-serpent fillet. They completely filled the Zilton Hotel, and in three days spent an estimated Zm20,000 on marble trinkets, Bella Quease souvenirs, Flathead Stadium tickets, and spenseweed shakes. Yet despite the success of the tourist trade, the pageantry, and the beautiful weather, the 115th Convention of Enchanters and Sorcerers (CES) was an unqualified disaster.
Why? “There’s too much showing-off, too much one-upmanship between the chapters, and no cooperation,” said Barbel of Gurth, a Guildmaster and elder member of the Circle of Enchanters. “We’re here to share and exchange our advancements in thaumaturgy, and to try to solve our common problems, not to compete against each other in some sort of free-for-all. Frankly, I’m disgusted.” And so are we.
Conventioneers at CES seemed totally unwilling to discuss, much less resolve the problems facing the Guild of Enchanters in and around Thriff, the crippling shortage of Enchanters in the Gray Mountains, the grumblings of some junior Sorcerers about “leadership stagnation,” the spiraling costs of an Enchanter’s education, the pros and cons of regulating magic potion distribution ... all these issues and more could have benefited from an open dialog among the chapters. Instead, the assembled Enchanters, whose reputation for sobriety and consideration is generally welldeserved, indulged shamelessly on Phlog and Tonics, and made an overall nuisance of themselves.
“This is great!” said one apprentice from the Gurth City chapter, after he had happily cast the ZOOKA spell (“turn eggs into overripe cabbage”) just as the Thriff chapter sat down to breakfast. Moments later, someone (probably from the Thriff chapter) cast the STEGAW spell (“turn eggs into ripe guano”) at the Gurth City chapter breakfast, whose members thereafter were unable to keep anything down.
Such pranks may seem harmless, but they do little to improve communication between the chapters. They can also get out of hand. During the opening ceremonies on the first evening of CES, for instance, an Enchanter from Aragain cast the FILFRE spell (“display gratuitous fireworks”) inside Convention Hall; literally dozens of other Enchanters subsequently cast FILFRE inside the hall, each trying to outdo the other. Not surprisingly, the old wooden hall caught fire. Just as someone would cast the GONDAR spell (“extinguish fire”), someone else would claim a “better” or “improved” GONDAR spell and restart the fire to display their talents. This went on for nearly an hour before order was called, and the hall suffered much damage.
The Guild of Enchanters has successfully regulated itself for hundreds of years. It helped bring stability to the land following the turbulence of the Great Underground Empire’s collapse, and today underwrites many fine philanthropic foundations. How ironic and disappointing, then, that it can’t turn its wisdom and wonder unto itself, and behave in a more professional and responsible manner, to address its serious problems and ensure a healthier future for us all.
|SOURCE(S): Sorcerer (Popular Enchanting), Zork Nemesis (Bivotar's journal), Zork Quest II|