Jack stepped through the slightly creaking door and was greeted by the cozy glow of the large chimney at the far side of the main hall.
Most of the space was occupied by four heavy wooden tables of rectangular shape, around them multiple seating accommondations of variable proportions were arranged.
To Jacks surprise only about two third of the seats were taken, which was absurd after the rush of people he had witnessed earlier on the townsquare.
Perhaps the first set of courses had been mostly reserved to the upper class citizens?
And indeed, most of the people present were clad in well-tailored garnments, although a few seemed to be common townsmen.
Jack was only able to recognize two men by name, Adam Kylogue, the woodworker, and Bernard at the far end, close to the gleaming embers. Everyone else was a stranger to him, then again he was not able to see every single face in the inn.
While Jack moved to the closest untaken seat, which happened to be right next to Adam who had beckoned him, some of the attendants turned around and looked at him with an arrogant glance.
He felt slightly out of place among the nobles. The other commoners apparently did not care.
Jack seated himself on a comfortable wooden chair with a well-worn armrest.
Adam whispered: „Look! Our blacksmith has arrived at last. Let´s hope Bernards fancy trick works with metal as well.“
„It would be a great pity if it was limited to wood. Tell me, has he said anything of importance so far?“, Jack mumbled back.
„No, we still seem to be waiting for someone important. Bernard has been awfully silent since he has fruitlessly tried to tell a joke to pass the time.“, Adam responded.
While he waited, Jack let his hand run over the rough surface of the table.
Years upon years of steady use had matured the wood, it was riddled with dents, nicks and stains and decades worth of smoke had seeped into the wood.
Such a furniture might invoke a sense of disgust in some people, but Jack loved objects of use that had a story to tell, or rather a plethora of stories in this case.
Just as Jack reached out to snatch an apple out of a close wooden fruit basket, the loud clank of a heavy mug hitting wood echoed through the room, and the hulking frame of Bernard started to rise, soon followed by his voice.
"Good evening gentlemen. One participant still seems to be missing, but I believe you all have waited long enough to learn the truth about this."
He then reached down and raised one of the wooden bars he had presented earlier during the gathering. A faint glow emerged from its center. Those few eyes that had not turned around so far were now certainly fixated on the object.
"To be honest, I have hardly any experience myself. This so-called course will rather be a collaborate group to research and then share experience and ideas. There is still much to discover.
But let me explain what you see here first.
It is a tool, an apparatus bare of a name so far. Some might even call it magic, and rightfully so, for its method of operation is still unknown. I have never seen or heard of anything similar in my life, and neither have you, I dare to say."
Bernard made a short pause to let the word seep into the minds of the audience.
"The relevant piece itself seems to have the shape of a cylinder of incredible thinness, perhaps it is even two-dimensional. However, a surface is needed for its creation. Like this piece of wood."
He knocked on the table with the bar. Next to Jack, Adam mumbled a few words to the blacksmith: "A hard and well-dried piece of wood. Cherry or oak, I´d say."
"However, I have successfully used multiple types of wood, stone and metal. Only a flat and smooth surface seems to be important.
Okay, now we get to the interesting part: The creation.
No gear or tool is needed to construct this wonderful apparatus, but rather concentration and patience and perhaps a special skill.
However, I can´t make a clear statement about its area of application. So far I have mostly made apparatuses of movement, but experiments speak in favor of multiple other possible applications. As I said, one of our goals shall be to discover as many of those as possible.
Without further ado, let us commence with the practical part. My teaching method is still in an early stage, but I have gained some experience on earlier occasions with the council members.
For a start, I´ll pass around wooden plates with applied apparatuses."
Bernard then reached under the table, pulled up a rattling, coarse jute bag and passed it to the person on his right who began to fumble on the knot with barely concealed exitement.
"By the way, I suggest we invent a name for this technique or at least its products as soon as possible, the lack of a proper term is starting to annoy me."
The keen man next to Bernard had finally managed to open the bag and extract one of its contents.
Eager hands quickly grabbed the bag, and the waiting greedily gazed at the fortunate first.
A strange silence filled the room as dozens of people inspected small wooden plates.
To Jacks surpise, the jute bag still contained two plates when it reached him at last.
Both of them were of a rather bright wood, which had identified as maple, and about as big as his palm. However, the circles had a different color: One was of a vibrant green, the other one of a cool, dim blue.
Jack picked the green one.
At first he closely inspected it from multiple angles. Indeed, it seemed to be a simple piece of wood apart from the glowing circle on its front.
At a close distance, he noticed that the circle was not homogenous, but rather consisted of an innumerable amount of barely distinguishable strings of green light, reaching straight from rim to rim in a chaotic fashion.
Moreover, a couple of random strings slightly increased in brightness and then diminished again.
It was quite a sight.
"Beautiful, isn´t it? One could stare at it for hours. I certainly did, at first."
Jack twitched and dropped the plate as he heard Bernards voice only a few feet away. He must have left his seat and wandered through the rows, Jack thought, surprised by his own reaction.
Bernard continued on his path, observing the people while they investigated the plates.
Once he arrived at his seat next to the chimney and used the adjacent mug again to draw the general attention.
"Now, I´m sure you all had enough time to take a good look. If not, you´ll have plenty of time later.
However, we must now advance to the most important, most difficult and possibly lengthiest step.
The skill of creation cannot be forced into mere words, you´ll have to experience it yourself.
For this purpose, I have created the plates. The circles on them are entirely incapable of any action, but they will be sufficient as a didactic instrument, and you may take them with you. To truly discover how they work, you will need concentration. If you have a calm moment at hand, take them and cover the circle with the palm of your hand and slowly gaze into the matter, ever deeper, until you can see, or rather feel, a thousand glowing dots. Therein lays the whole secret.
It may sound ridiculous to you right now, but you will understand. Take your time, for it is no easy task, it could take some of you weeks or even months, but do not despair, if your mind is steady and strong, you can achieve every goal you set for yourself.
Until you have completed the crucial step, this is everything I can tell you. The first meeting has hereby come to an end, but I´ll answer the questions that surely have arisen.
Should eagerness propell you through the door early, let me offer you a piece of advice:
Wherever the semblance of power emerges, keen hands will try to snatch their share. Be wary, for there are people in this world that would kill for the opportunity that was granted to you. Try to cover your studies and keep the rumors low, at least for a few weeks to come."
Some persons had already prepared for a quick rise and now rushed towards Bernard, knocking over a few cups and spilling a few drops of good wine. Within seconds, about half of the attendants shuffled around Bernard, one yelped and cursed when he was pushed a bit too close to the fire.
The remaining people either mused about the heavy words while nibbling on the provided fruits or prepared their departure. Jack was among them. If this step was as difficult as Bernard had claimed, he should direct his effort into it, questions could always be asked at a later point.
And thus a small group left the tavern, their stride invigorated by eager minds.