Dance around the cup

Magic = science I don’t understand


Life consists of stories. Science is part of life. Don’t deny that. Enjoy it. 🙂


“Good morning!”

Thygaporas waved at the fat, little city guard who sat lounging on a stool next to the watchtower at the gate.

“Stop!”​ was the simple answer.

Thygaporas pulled in the reins to the mule in front of his cart.

“What’s that thing in the back?”​ the guard said.

“Ah!”​ Thygaporas answered. “​They all ask ​that​!”

“Who they?”

“Well, personages of your quality.”

The guard hopped out of his seat. He looked Thygaporas up and down – or up, as it were. Four larger men drew closer, too.

“Yer not from here.” the guard said. 

“That is indubitably true,”​ Thygaporas said, only briefly glancing at all of them, “​here, let me show you, if I may​.”

Thygaporas steered his cart into a nook beside the watchtower and bid the bunch of guards to follow him. Of course, this being a town – this being a trope – a few people had already noticed the tone in that dialogue. A small crowd assembled therefore, amongst them a rather young boy, from the look of him a medieval Harry Potter without the wand. He peered out from behind a pot the local tanner had put to the side already.

Thygaporas climbed over the seat to the back of his cart. A rough and worn tabletop had been hammered onto a hip-high box there. As crude as the tabletop looked, the box was filled with ornamental carvings, painted in strong colors. It looked heavy, heavy and, well…the crowd giggled at the sight of the, erm, excruciatingly Greek ornaments. Thygaporas opened one of the drawers and got out a cup. He swung around: 

“Behold The Cup of Scientia! I would challenge anyone and everyone to fill this cup with wine and drink it empty. Only those who have been kissed by The Knowledge know how to do it. Alas! Given the rather spontaneous nature of the occasion, I have no wine.”

He feigned thinking for the splittest of seconds – then his face brightened again.

“Yet, I do have a prize for him – or her – who can empty the cup into the bodily orifice intended for this very —”

“Gimme that cup!”​ the guard yelled.

“Don’t you want to know what you may win, my friend?”

“I ain’t no friend.”

Thygaporas shrugged. Another one like that, he thought. Fine by me.

“No.” he said. “Yet, you, too, will only be able to use this cup to drink wine, if you do, in fact, have wine.”

The guard disappeared into the watchtower. His companions tried their best to sneer before the little one returned with a large flask. Thygaporas nodded.  

“You may ascend onto the cart. How much wine does the gentleman wish to…?”

“Der whole cup, yer smiley worm!” ​the guard said, climbing up.

“Note the terms of the contract, Sir! He, himself, will have to fill this cup and empty it into the bodily orifice intended for this very purpose. No other will be able to help—”

“Yeah, yeah.​ ​Put that thing down there on that table and shut up! Let’s get to it!”

Thygaporas nodded again and placed the cup onto the table top. The guard started pouring the wine.

“Beware, no cheap tricks!”

“Cheap tricks. Ha! Watch yer mouth. ​Yer​ the conjuror.”

The little guard filled the beaker to the brim. As he reached out to take up the cup, he froze. The liquid simply disappeared.

“Ya b…! Don’tcha fool me with yer conjurin’ tricks!”

Thygaporas looked at him sideways.

“This is not my fault. It seems the Gods have ordained that you are not to drink wine today. Perhaps I may suggest that someone less presumptuous fill the cup. Or does the gentleman want to try again?”

“Yer call me gentleman one more time, and I’ma man yer gen’tles!”

“I am sure I have no idea what you are talking about, my dear Sir.”

Thygaporas seized the flask and poured some wine into the cup. It stayed there.

“Trickery!​” the guard yelled.

“No. May the gentleman try again.”

The guard took the flask, silently and focused. The cup lost its content again. The smile on Thygaporas’ face widened.

“Perhaps the gentleman may not be so greedy. Has the gentleman noticed—”

At this point, the guard attacked Thygaporas. Thygaporas jumped off the cart. Down below, he sidestepped the first punch – and watched his opponent freeze. The four large men, too, froze in mid-step.

“My friends!”​ Thygaporas exclaimed the guard’s nose inches from his belly. “​I am, in fact, a conjuror. Not a good one, though. I may wish to do so, I cannot make wine disappear into any other place than my stomach by the usual means. What I can do, however, is magic away the life and soul of this very gentleman by means of a less than magic appliance pointed at the gentleman’s abdomen.”

The guard twitched.

“Easy!”​ Thygaporas warned.

The guard slowly took a few steps back.

“I’ll get yer!”​ he snarled, turned and stomped away.

Thygaporas hopped onto the carrier seat of the cart. He led the mule away as quickly as he dared. The other guards, however, after a while of consideration decided to stomp, too, not away from, but in the very direction of Thygaporas. And they stomped with a vengeance.

Crowds like a good stomping. They may like it so much that they join in. And join in they did, but because one of the stompers joining in had once deceived the great-grand-cousin, second degree, of another stomper, the hitherto agreed upon direction of stomping became a matter of dispute. As is wont to happen in such cases, hell broke loose. Thygaporas would have been able to tell you that this particular figure of speech was not, in fact, a good one, if he had stopped to think about it.

The rest is history. Whether you have watched Game of Thrones or read about the Discworld, chances are you know about how things like this work.
There are two important things to note, however. One, Thygaporas did ​think “That was that town!” and “What a stupid cup. I haven’t made a coin with it yet!” and “A lot of wine, though!” as he looked back onto the turmoil right behind the gate. Two, he found a companion behind him on the cart. There was a kid, sitting there, turning the cup in his hands, and mumbling to himself.


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