“Maths and Magic – What can possibly go wrong?”
I wrote this story for the following prompts.
Sadje’s What Do You See – Image credit; Houcine Ncib @ Unsplash
Ragtag Daily Prompt — Gusto
Word of the Day Challenge — Vernacular
Your Daily Word — Precise
Fandango’s One Word Challenge — enhance
‘The Pythagorean Polyhedron exists – I must find it.’
Caldera entered the cathedral cloisters, a majestic square of mediaeval arches ordained with ornate tracery. The cloisters surround an equally geometric lawn bearing the white labyrinth.
She was easy to recognise by her volcanically red hair in plaits, vivid freckles, and blazing eyes to match. Those features were enhanced by the white lace Sunday school dress she was forced to wear.
Gazing upon some of the one thousand sculptural, plasters bosses adorning the beautifully carved ceilings, she took in the magnificently detailed visions of stories from the biblical vernacular.
‘I must find it to —” the most annoying sound broke her thoughts and she scowled.
Tittering laughter and jibes cut the silence as they bore down upon her. Every Sunday it was the same thing. The girls always relentlessly teased Caldera.
“Hey, freckle face! What do you need such a big protractor? Trying to get a better angle to paint those ugly freckles on with?” jeered one of three girls setting the others giggling.
“Haha! Nice one, Mel!”
Caldera sighed and kept walking.
“Hey, gingey-whingey! What’s with the big ruler? Trying to measure the length of your enormous nose?” jabbed a second girl.
“Aww, big nose hated that, Sara!”
Caldera glowered and spun with such gusto her clogs thundered against the stone floor, “It’s a set square you, ninny. I guess you’ll fail mathematics, Sara…” ‘If only I could show you what these can do,” she thought with a glance at the oversized mathematical tools she carried. At a glimpse, they were ordinary yellow plastic, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They were from a time before plastic. Made of yellow Jasper they held an almost forgotten secret.
“Why will I fail?”
“Mathematics requires the brain. Seems you were born without one,” with a wicked grin, Caldera stepped away.
Sara hurled a tirade of verbal abuse after her.
Caldera ignored the lot. Success today would mean she never had to come here again.
Through a large, arched door of wrought-iron studded oak, she entered the cathedral proper and the south aisle. The whole structure was hewn from white Caen limestone and seem to glow even in the dull candlelight.
Heading right she walked between stunning statues, tombs, and marble scrolls of scripture on her right. Magnificent-looking pews between awe-inspiring columns stretched across the space to her left. Reaching the chancel, she entered the tomb of St John-Hypatia. The first clue towards the cathedral secrets.
Caldera grinned as she gazed upon the gold statuary ordaining the marble tomb. A resting place for a saint who couldn’t possibly exist. “There is no St John-Hypatia. However, Hypatia was a wonderful Egyptian mathematician,” she thought.
“Back again, Caldera?”
She turned to see an ageing vicar bearing a white cassock with a shiny red lapel and lining. “Hello, Vicar Langley. Yes, I always feel drawn here on a Sunday.”
“Maybe St John beckons to bestow blessings upon you as I do dear child,” the vicar drew a cross before her, kissed his fingers and pressed them to her forehead.
She bowed in silent prayer for a moment, “Amen, and thank you, Vicar.”
“You’re welcome. I bid you a good day,” hitching his glasses back up his nose, he shuffled off toward the vestry.
Caldera took a deep breath. Focusing upon the tomb again, she scanned all the symbology. Crosses, an Ark of the Covenant, a Holy Grail, a simple square, a right-angled triangle surrounded by three angels, a magical orb, flowers, doves.
‘Where are you?’ Even as the thought faded away, she smiled. “Of course, Pythagoras.” Running her fingers over the triangle she realised there was more to it than that. The symbol was just that an etched triangle.
“Okay, Pythagoras. There are no symbols at the top or bottom of the hypotenuse. But there is a small angel where the square for each of the right-angled edges would be.” Caldera pressed those, smiling as they clicked into place. “The sum of those two angels is equal to that of the large angel alongside the hypotenuse.”
Caldera clicked the last angel into place. “The Pythagorean theorem as angels,” she remarked as a grinding sound emanated from the stonework.
Before her, the tomb slid aside revealing a stone staircase descending into the darkness.
“At last!” Caldera dashed onto the staircase with her plaits flapping about her. Taking an ancient wooden torch from a cobweb choked sconce, she held her hand above it. Her eyes flashed to the colour of liquid amber and the sconce burst into flames. “Now, I can see.”
The steps dropped twenty feet into the earth. A narrow passage awaited at the bottom. Moaning noises echoed as Caldera rushed along in the flickering firelight. Where she’d expected funerary niches, the walls were smooth. With every step now the yellow Jasper set square and the protractor began to hum with increasing vibration.
“Feels like I’m heading south under the cloister. This is perfect!” she realised.
Twenty yards further, Caldera stepped into a large and perfectly round room with a domed ceiling. Holding the torch aloft she gestured at the room with a flash of her eyes. A circle of sconces erupted into life around the room.
“Hello, Pythagoras,” she said as she gazed upon the midnight blue walls and ceiling filled with stars. Each golden point held a precise position within a golden geometric shape. Simple squares and circles, to complex icosahedron and octahedrons. Every shape in the known universe was represented upon the wall. In the dead centre of the ceiling dome was a five-sided polyhedron. Within it Pythagoras’s Theorem, written in pure gold.
Caldera lowered her gaze to the floor. The centre was a mirror image of the labyrinth on the lawn above. This was the true labyrinth. Feeling like a kid again, she skipped her way through the maze to the centre. The set square and protractor began to sing as their vibration reached maximum frequency.
Holding them with their longest straight edges together, she held them above and before her. With a piercing shriek that created a green aura about her, she flung them into the air.
Neither object ever touched the floor. Instead, they began to spin about each other within the statically charged air. Golden strands of the most complex algebra flowed from them. The strands entwined like those of DNA, creating mesmerising walls of equations.
Caldera gasped as her plaits rose from her head as she began to levitate.
The geometric shapes upon the walls pulsed as the set square settled with its long side pointing straight into the air. The protractor laid itself perpendicular to the floor balancing upon the point of the set square. They had created a mathematical table of sorts.
It was then the equations flowed together like liquid gold. First, they formed a simple Pentagon. Spinning and growing before Caldera it became a perfect pentagonal polyhedron of shimmering gold.
Without warning the magic vanished and Caldera crashed to the ground. Rising with a groan she approached the Polyhedron of Pythagoras. She could feel the heat of energy radiating from within.
Reaching out a finger to touch it she flinched at a booming noise.
“Wait, Caldera!” It was Vicar Langley looking bemused and wary.
“Why? My family spent years looking for this.”
“Yes, I’m well aware.”
“How?” Caldera glared at him, her eyes flashing that liquid amber colour as she fought to control her magic.
“I was born Ionus in Samos, Greece in 565BC. Pythagoras was my friend and he was far more than a mathematician. He was a Geomancer – not a mage of Earth but one of geometry. He used the Polyhedron to give me eternal life so I could protect it as I have done these last 2587 years.”
“Well, now it’s mine,” Caldera reached for the polyhedron.
“Nobody can claim ownership of such a powerful object.”
“Wrong, my family own the polyhedron by extension of owning the set square and protractor.”
“Your family stole the geometry tools. Which means you are about to steal the polyhedron too,” the vicar said with his hands folded before him.
“What, and you’re going to stop me?”
“No. However, I am going to ask you if you understand the power of the polyhedron?”
“It grants the power of eternal life while allowing the user to manipulate the universe as is the ways of mathematics,” Caldera said having heard the legend of the polyhedron regularly since she was born.
“Then you know, this infernal object has the power not only to destroy Earth but every dimension, galaxy, and realm within the known universe. Pythagoras sought to destroy the abomination he created, but it destroyed him instead.”
“Is that supposed to scare me into leaving without this,” Caldera lifted the polyhedron from the protractor. It and the square collapsed to the ground now their job was done. “It’s so Powarghhhhh!” She felt as if plugged into a nuclear reactor. A million pins and needles of energy rushed into her body.
Caldera’s vision blackened. A golden light took over revealing the galaxy spread below her. Above her, spinning in a calming way we’re a dozen Earths. Each representing a different dimension. One of those Earths was torn in half.
“Do you see?” said Ionus.
“See what? this is incredible!”
“The destroyed Earth. It was a place filled with love and peace aside from one bad continent. Pythagoras decided to use polyhedron to remove that dark place. He made a mistake in his calculations and destroyed the whole planet instead. Now nothing lives there. It is just a barren empty rock. I…”
“So, what?” Caldera snapped.
“So, I don’t know what you intend to do with the polyhedron. However, if the great mind of Pythagoras failed to get the calculations right and destroyed a planet in the process, how do you intend to succeed without destroying the galaxy.”
“I … erm —” Caldera wanted to argue. Yet she knew he was right. Even through her greed to own the power, she knew she could never wield it without risking everything and everyone in the galaxy.
“Caldera, I know what the need to own the power does to a person. It’s okay to let it go. To go and live the beautiful life you’ve been given instead of throwing it all away for something that will end up destroying you.”
Caldera focused on the labyrinth room and watch as it materialised around her. Sighing, she passed the polyhedron to Ionus. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be.” Ionus held the golden object in his left hand. A bolt of lightning shot from his right fingers. It struck the polyhedron and then it was gone as if it had never been.
Caldera knelt and picked up the set square and protractor. “Here, you should have these as well. Without them, that thing can never be found again.”
“Bless you, Caldera.” Ionus accepted the mathematical tools. “Be gone and be happy, my child.”
Caldera nodded to him. She left a secret room and walked from the cathedral. By the time she made it to the river, she was smiling. She was the first person in the family to solve the secret of the mathematical tools and discover Pythagoras’s Polyhedron. Knowing the truth, she was glad not to wield it and could live happily now her quest had run its course.
Don’t forget Holly Ward investigates, Stolen Treasures is out on Amazon now!
A recent bank robbery. A saddened man. A coded message. Can they all be connected?
Young Sleuth Holly Ward is determined to help the man. It’s not long before she too comes under assault from a group of dangerous individuals. In the face of intimidation, abduction and even murder can Holly solve the clues and catch the criminals before she becomes the next Stolen Treasure?
Thanks for reading my friends.
Have a great day!