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"At least half of them are imbeciles."

Darius smiled and tapped his pipe. "I'm not denying that, Eowyn. We shall have to put some sort of test; those who pass will be accredited, allowed to teach, to add to the canon, to practice in the palace, and the best of those will be appointed your advisors, your teachers in this matter."

She shook her head. "It's a good idea, Darius, and I thank you for it - but the problem remains, how do we determine the test? How do we judge in a matter in which we know so very little? If we do not have an accurate test, we will risk insulting and excluding some of the better applicants, as well as including and placing our trust in the - the imbeciles."

"This is true. It is something that must be approached with care and delicacy. Who do you trust of the monks and the scholars already established? It would make a start, to involve them in determining a test of understanding and ability."

The queen nodded, in thoughtful silence for a moment. "That is the first step, I think. We shall approach those already trusted and proven, and seek their counsel." She prodded the fireplace with a poker that had been left before continuing, "Not all of them do claim to understand the process of magic, but most are capable of analyzing the discipline, and all should be able to advise on finding scholars who will be able to help."

He smiled and stood. "Then it is decided; tomorrow, we shall consult those scholars and monks who you believe can be taken into your confidence, and whose opinions on the matters of competence can be trusted."

"I will pen a list tonight," Eowyn replied, standing as well. "On the morrow, Darius. Thank you."

The vizier bowed and left the room, with only the scent of pipe smoke left behind. His queen wrinkled her nose, and leaned on the window, shivering slightly at the breeze that slipped in. But the cold was refreshing, and would keep her awake for a while longer; the task required concentration.

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May 2013

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