by Mette Ivie Harrison
A perfect circle.
All will work. Made of gold or silver or brass or tin. Doesn't matter. A precious
stone set in the middle, or not. It's the circle that matters. The magic of pi.
The number goes on infinitely, and so the power never stops. The universe is
made of numbers, though most do not see it. Sun, moon, stars, earth, all held in
their place by numbers. The turn of the seasons. The fall of rain. Thunderstorms,
earthquakes, droughts and famines. The ratio of predator to prey.
But that is too complex for most. They are content to know that a circle is all that
they need. They try to make a circle of their own, in the dirt with a stick, or on a
pottery wheel with clay. And when it does not work, when the magic goes wrong,
they come to me.
As if I can change the value of pi just by commanding it to be so.
I, Costanzo Angelo Bello, son of Costanzo Angelo Bello, think well of myself, but
I at least know my own limitations.
You will see for yourself if it is true.
One morning, I was in my home, beginning my day with my chanting. No
religious nonsense, simply the digits of pi. I had in my mind 16,000 digits of pi
memorized. It took me most of two hours to get through them all, but it cleared the
mind and it made me look good when the customers came to call.
No, I did not live in a circular home. That would have been ridiculous. All that
power shooting out all the time.
But there were circles aplenty.
I had one circle displayed over the front doorway, just for show. It actually had
one deviation on the left side, though it was very slight. This circle calls magic to
itself, but the power flows right out as soon as it comes. Which is just as well,
since I would not wish to be blamed for magic another grabbed from it and used
for their own sake. It merely marks my house as one of a mathematician.
Another circle was drawn faintly around my sitting chair. It helped me
concentrate, to see the future that would come from this action or that one, and had
generally kept me safe -- and alone.
The circle that no ever one saw is the one that came to me from my father. It is
rather ornate, and it embarrasses me, which is why I keep it hidden away. I left my
father's house when I was fourteen years old, and took this circle with me, my only
inheritance. It is a gawdy piece, but with less power than it seems.
It is made in white gold, with one large sapphire at each of four points, and
diamonds studded throughout. It looks at first glance like a necklace made by a
superior goldsmith, but then you must notice that there is no clasp, and it is too
small to fit over any head but a child's. Or perhaps if it were meant to be a crown,
it could set atop a ruler's temples. Too flashy for any real ruler, though, I think. A
prince who must wear his power on his head like that has none of the real kind and
it would be all the better if it were taken from him.
The circle rests in the chest in my workroom. At the very bottom of it. I have
never used it, though I will admit that I have sometimes taken it out, only to let my
hands feel the smoothness of the gold and feel the magic that emanates from it.
Tempting, yes. But it is my father's circle, not mine. His pi.