19 September 2010

Vithul’s Explanation of Numbers

The soup bubbles over, its readiness clearly shown in its willingness to escape the confines of the pot. Tessal turns to Vithul, the elf, and asks how much his portion should be.

Vithul’s reply comes as such: “You know, numbers as you know them are purely a human invention. Their perfection, as the humans profess, is what drives this creation. However, when they find a series of calculations with an imperfect answer, they simply dismiss that one for being ‘irrational’ or ‘imaginary,’ never once questioning the perfection of numbers. You see, humans think that the power of numbers lies in their relationship to each other. But, the elves came up with the truth behind numbers. Quick. What is two greater two?”

The half-elf gives a half smile. “Four.”

“And that’s what a human might say, although I haven’t known many to be as bright. But the elven system lies in what a number is in relation to itself, which is the only way anything can be analysed. Now what is your answer?”

Confused, the bard shrugs his shoulders.

The elf realises he will have to spell it out for his friend. “Any number in relationship to itself is equal to the same thing. And, of course, this is all based on your perception of the world. If I tell you that the number two in relation to itself is twelve, then the answer becomes four and twenty. Any cognisant being knows that a number stripped down to its very roots is one, even humans, although they don’t admit it often. This is why, when elves trade, they get to know their buyers and sellers, in order to examine and retain their perceptions of the world. Humans will go their entire lives knowing the answers, but trying to forget them to make way for ‘perfection.’ I think that, if whatever deity stuck us here in the first place wanted ‘perfect’ numbers, it would have given them to us. It’s all very simple.”

“I’m sure it is,” replies Tessal, passing his comrade a bowl of soup. “Then, here’s one for you.”

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