Alone again, as usual.
I’m Trevor Cunningham-Richards and I'm ten years old. I live in Huxley, California, a small city of just over one hundred thousand people near San Francisco.
There are plenty of other children in the neighborhood and I have ten brothers and sisters. So how you may well ask, did I manage to achieve such a stellar and unwelcome achievement? Unfortunately for me, I was born right in the middle.
When I say I was born right in the middle, I mean right in the middle. My three older sisters and two older brothers were all born in quick succession and are the best of friends. Then I appeared a couple of years later and there was no room for me in their group. I always tended to be a tagalong and after a while they wouldn't even let me do that.
Two years later, more siblings began arriving. It started with The Twins, Drew and Ricky, who are the natural leaders of their gang of the younger children. I simply didn't fit in. I was too young for my older siblings, too old for my younger ones.
Not that there is anything to dislike about my brothers and sisters. I happen to like and love all of them. We have all been taught by example to respect and care for and help people by our parents, who are both Lawyers. Yes, really, Lawyers with a capital L, the kind that really believe that true justice means seeking justice without regard for what status their clients may or may not have in society.
I just don't fit in. I always feel unwanted when I try to fit in with either group. I'm the only one who has a room of his own. That unfortunate event happened, when I was five. My father had gotten very sick and had almost died. Knowing how he tended to overwork, they built an extension on our house with offices and a library for my mother and father.
That meant the little room that my mother had been using as a law office was freed up for other things. My parents decided to make it a little bedroom for one of us. We always drew straws to determine things like that.
I won and I also lost. I was socially very shy and timid and I simply was unable to protest.
That night I sat on the side of my bed and looked around my tiny new room and I felt so much alone. Not afraid, but now that I was physically separated from them by walls, I realized that I had been building walls around me all of my short lifetime. With a despair that a five year old should never have, I knew that the walls were only going to get thicker as I got older. Thicker and more numerous.
I’m a diabetic, the only one in my family that has inherited it, at least so far. One morning I did something really stupid. I injected myself twice. With way too much insulin, my blood sugar level went through the floor and I collapsed while running laps on the track and ended up in the emergency ward, though only overnight.
I even tried out for soccer once, but was pretty much ignored by both the coach and my fellow team members. I never got more than the five minutes of play team policy dictated and even then my team mates ignored me, or even took the ball away from me. I could complain, but with my timidity I could never do that, or I could quit. I chose to quit.
If I hadn’t screwed up quite so royally in public, then probably I could at least have played games with the other kids, such as baseball and soccer or basketball after school. As you would imagine they were pretty leery about allowing me to play with them so I’ve been pretty well wrapped in cotton wool ever since. I probably could have forced them to let me play, but I simply didn’t have the type of personality that would allow me to do that.
I took up hiking because it was a solitary occupation for a solitary person, though it’s not really as isolated as it might seem. We live at the edge of the city and there’s a wilderness area nearby. It’s not a state park or nothing like that; it’s just a forested area that has never been built on. But there are plenty of hiking trails through it and I quite often saw other hikers I knew, though nodding acquaintances is all they ever were. I could walk for twenty miles and never see a sign of civilization, yet at the same time I was never more than two or three miles away from home.
Though I was close to home I always carried a backpack with a few emergency items. An insulated kit containing my insulin and some syringes, though I had never been out long enough that I had to use them and also glucose tablets and my blood glucose monitor. I’ve used that a few times. My parents also insisted that I always carry a cell phone.
With the exercise I was getting, I was more likely to need additional energy rather than an insulin shot, so I carried a couple of bottles of fruit juice and some sandwiches just in case, that’s in addition to what I carried for lunches. Also I always carry a thermal blanket and a complete change of clothes. I needed the clothes a couple times when we got an unexpected downpour.
It was Saturday, January 8, 2005, the last weekend of the Christmas holidays. We would be going back to school on Monday. I was out hiking as usual and as I passed Old Faithful, I gave him a pat. Maybe I should have ignored him this time, but I always liked to give him my regards. The experts said that he was almost five hundred years old and he was the only really big tree in the wilderness area, most of them were less than a hundred years old.
When the area had been logged over in the late 1800’s they had left him because the only place they could have gotten him to fall was over the creek. While they could have gotten him out, they decided to leave him.
I was crossing the footbridge over the Mississippi. (Of course it’s not the Mississippi, it’s really a creek, Huxley’s Creek, but all of the hikers call it the Mississippi.) I was halfway across when the earthquake hit. Of course I had felt lots of earth tremors in the past and this wasn’t a particularly bad one. However it was the last one that Old Faithful would ever go through.
The noise he made almost seemed like a scream of pain as he began to fall. I spun around on the bridge and looked up at the enormous tree, which was coming right for me. I had to think quickly and it seemed at the time that going forward or back simply wasn’t an option. As I found out much later, I was correct. I was right in the middle of the bridge and though it’s not very big, I still would have to go fifty feet in either direction to reach one end or the other.
Ignoring the tree, since I had no control of what he was going to do, I turned and scrambled up the railing. The creek was fairly deep at this point but it was fast moving and there was a thirty foot drop. It was a dangerous place, but I figured it was my only chance. Closing my eyes tightly, I jumped towards the water below me. I even heard a crack as Old Faithful hit the bridge behind me and then there was nothing.
I no longer seemed to be falling, but I also hadn’t hit the water, which certainly puzzled me. However I didn’t have the nerve to open my eyes. That’s when I met Guide. He spoke in my mind though he seemed to be speaking out loud.
He just said, *Hello young travel...* and that’s as far as he got. My eyes flicked open at that point and I looked around wildly and then down. You know how in the cartoons a character will run off a cliff and he doesn’t begin to fall until he realizes where he is. Well that’s what happened to me. I was about twenty feet above the ground and just hanging in mid-air.
I even gave a yelp, a loud, “Yikes!” of surprise as I began to fall. Luckily that’s when I became acquainted with moss bushes and I made a fairly soft landing. Even though I ended up with scrapes and bruises, there wasn’t anything serious.
My heart was pounding furiously as I looked up at the sky, a sky that looked very wrong. While the sky was blue, it was tinged with a very visible red.
I heard in my mind again, *My apologies young traveler. I didn’t intend to make you fall.* and I don’t know how, but I could felt the humor bubbling in his mind.
I said sarcastically, “That would go over better if I couldn’t feel you laughing.”
He admitted with very evident humor, *I know. However while I am no longer quite human, at one point in the past I was and I had a very low sense of humor. I assure you if you had been injured I would have been very contrite.* he told me.
I could tell he was sincere and I must admit it was probably very funny for anyone looking on. I looked around and remarked on the obvious, “Well Toto, it looks like we’re not in California anymore.”
“I am called Guide, Trevor and no you’re not in California anymore, nor are you in Oz. This world is called Telvar and your Earth is very close, yet at the same time it is very far away.” he told me.
“Can you get me back home?” I asked him pushing myself to my feet and getting out of the moss bushes.
He told me with very evident regret, *No. While I am magic, I can’t use magic. I am called Guide because that is my purpose. To guide visitors like you who come to our world inadvertently. As I said, I didn’t expect for you to fall. Since you were levitating I assumed you were from one of the worlds where magic is common. Visitors from your world are quite frequent; we get more of them than from any other world. That is why I’m familiar with Toto and Oz. It is very unusual for humans from your world, even if they have magical abilities, to have control of any of them at the beginning.*
I knelt down and opened my backpack. Undoing my insulin kit I checked to see if it was all right and both bottles were fine, but I found that one of the four syringes was cracked. Hopefully it wouldn’t matter.
I asked, “Can anyone get me home and if there is, are they close?”
Guide said, *Yes. There is a Temple of the Mother-Goddess approximately six hours walk from here going by your walking experiences as a hiker. While it isn’t exactly a problem at least not at the moment; there is something you should know. The time in our world differs from yours. It moves much slower. It has a ratio of 1 to 10. For every hour you spend on this world ten hours will elapse on your world.*
I realized with dismay that I would be gone at least sixty hours. Whether I wanted attention or not, I was sure going to get it. By that time everybody was going to be looking for me including the FBI.
Guide interrupted my thoughts by saying, *You should also be aware that none of the battery powered devices that you have, will work. The laws of nature differ slightly on Telvar. While electricity does exist on this world, it is only present in small amounts. Enough to allow life to be present and that’s about it. Amounts of electricity more powerful than that cannot exist naturally. It is possible for Mages to create large amounts of electricity for brief periods and some Mage bolts that they use in combat are electrical in nature. They can exist for perhaps two-one hundreds of a second at most.*
Taking a quick look at my watch I saw the LCD display was blank. That information might only become important if I got delayed for some reason.
I got to my feet putting the backpack back on and started to walk towards the Temple. Guide had put the direction into my mind. He gave me a warning as I started walking. *One very important thing. On your world there is a natural law, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. To get involved in any way with the inhabitants of this world will make your return more difficult. In other words that will be an action and the reaction would bind you loosely to this world. The more actions you take, the more reactions that will occur and the more tightly you will be bound.*
*You will never be bound so tightly that there isn’t a Mage or Mages somewhere who can’t open a portal to get you home. However your insulin supply is limited and to bind yourself to this world may make it impossible for you get to a powerful enough Mage who can either reproduce the insulin or to get you home.*
That didn’t make me very happy, but for the moment it didn’t make me that unhappy either. Hopefully I’d only be here for a few hours. I would have to take things as they came. I said aloud, “I’ve got a new bottle of insulin and I take a total of 18 units a day of that so I’ve got enough for about fifty-five days at the normal rate.”
I grimaced, just thinking about the possibility of being stuck on this world for any length of time. If that happened I wouldn’t be taking the insulin at a normal rate so I really didn’t know how long it would last. “I only take 8 units a day of the fast acting type. There are almost 750 units of that. If I can keep it cool and if the syringes will last that long, I should be fine even if it takes a while to get home.”
I knew I was just fooling myself. If I really was here for a long time, then I was in trouble. In order to travel I would need to do a lot more exercising. Which meant I would have to eat more, which meant that I would have to adjust my insulin intake and with no way to test it would be a guesstimate. If I had to use magical abilities, from the fantasy’s I had read I knew the energy had to come from somewhere. Probably from the same place, which meant I would have to adjust things even more. It was a dismal prospect all around, especially since I only had three disposable and very fragile needles to use.
Guide told me, *You shouldn’t have any problems keeping it cool. To be able to levitate requires a Master Class Mage, so that is your tentative minimum rating. Even Apprentices have the ability to change the state of many materials. Changing liquids to ice or to steam is generally one of the first things they learn. You should be able to freeze the gel pack without any trouble.*
As I was walking along, I would pick up stone and then see if I could lift them. The first dozen or so were a total loss; they just dropped to the ground when I threw them. With the thirteenth stone there was a difference, even when it left my hand I could still feel it. I just stopped it in mid air about ten feet in front of me and looked at it in wonder. After a few seconds I reminded myself that I didn’t want to spend any more time on this walk than I had to, I was going to be away long enough as it was, so I let the stone drop and resumed my walk.
Now that I had control of the rocks I began to throw them at things. I had just thrown a rock about the size of my head at a tree and I was somewhat shaken from the damage I had done, when I started to get a low blood sugar reaction. My hands and feet began to get cold and I began shaking a little. Taking out my lunch I sat down to eat. I had the sandwiches and one of the bottles of fruit juice.
As I began walking again, fifteen minutes later I was aware that I would need to be very careful about how I used magic. It seemed so easy, yet it took a lot of energy.
About two hours after that sobering episode Guide told me that I was approaching a small village. As I began to climb a low hill I heard screaming coming from ahead of me. I ran up the slope to the top of the hill. Looking down I could see horsemen wielding swords and whips herding the villagers ahead of them. There were bodies on the ground and every few seconds one of the villagers would bolt away from the others.
It was with outrage and anger that I realized that the horsemen were toying with them, letting them run so they could have the sport of chasing them. I looked around wildly and I calmed down as I realized that there were a lot of rocks that I could use.
Guide warned me again, *Remember Trevor if you help, the Priestess at the Temple of the Mother-Goddess may not be able to send you home. Someone who can may be several hundred miles and days travel from here.*
I hesitated for a second, longing to be home, but when I saw one of the villagers go down as he was struck with the flat of a sword wielded by one of the riders, I was so angry that I simply didn’t care. One of the rocks took off like a bullet as I grabbed it with my mind and threw it at one of the horsemen. He screamed with the sudden pain as the rock knocked him off his horse. Half a dozen rocks later the horsemen were running. If they had known that I was cold from head to foot and shaking like a leaf, they would have come after me. As they didn't, they left, taking all their men with them.
With trembling hands I pulled off my backpack and after half a dozen tries I managed to get the zipper undone, and, getting the second bottle of fruit juice out, I managed somehow to get the top off and drain the bottle. A few minutes later I was still in reaction and I knew that someone was picking me up and carrying me.
When I was set down on the ground I managed to croak, “Food. I need food.” I was too far gone at that point to even think of the fact that they probably wouldn’t understand me. Fortunately that was Guide’s main function, to translate between visitors and natives.
A few minutes later someone began feeding me, it was just bread, but I gulped it down and when I had enough I lay back. I didn’t actually pass out or go to sleep at that point, but it was about a half hour before the food I had eaten began to kick in and I began to recover.
I had a ferocious headache once I had recovered to the point where I could sit up and then get up. I would rather have stayed where I was, but even the thought of doing so made me uneasy and my uneasiness drove me to my feet. Those who were dead had been moved to their dwellings where their family would prepare them for cremation. Most of the people had minor injuries but there were two who were in much worse shape, one wouldn’t survive and the village Wisewoman had known that immediately and he only had his family around him.
The second was a boy two or three years older than I was and a dozen people surrounded him, all with looks of anxiety on their face. The Wisewoman looked up at one of them and said sadly, “I’m sorry, Master Denay. While I stopped the bleeding, he’s lost too much blood.”
One of the young men sagged with grief. I thought about what I had and I realized that I might be able to give him a transfusion. The boy on the ground and three of the others who were all in their mid to late teens, including the one called Denay, were much better dressed than the others. They also looked alike so I figured they were probably brothers, which as it turned out was correct.
I said, “I may be able to help. Has anyone seen my backpack?”
A boy who looked several years older than I, said, “Here ‘tis, young Master.”
I said, “Thank you.” Kneeling down on the ground I opened it and got out my insulin kit. I removed two of the syringes and put the kit back in the pack. After pulling off the plastic I took the syringes apart taking off the cap covering the needle of one of them. I looked at the woman, “I’m a Mage, or at least that’s what Guide tells me and I can move things. I couldn’t get blood in or out, but these needles are hollow, once inside a vein I think I can move blood from one person to the other through the tubes.”
She looked at me through wise gray eyes, brushing a stray lock of graying hair away from her forehead. “You’re not sure?”
“I’ve only been on your world for a few hours. I know I can lift and throw rocks with my mind because I’ve been doing it. The only way to know if I can control blood is to try it. I don’t know what you know about blood, but there are several different types. While I probably don’t know much more about blood than you do, I do know somehow that the blood of the boy and those three.” Waving my hand at the three teens “is compatible and none of the other people that I can see is.”
“Well we don’t have time right now to exchange information. That will wait for later.” She looked up at the three young men she asked, “Will you do it, Master Denay?”
He said with a serious expression on his face, “Of course, Malie. While Seyrin can be a pest at times, if there’s anything my brothers or I can do, we are willing to do it.”
She looked back at me, “Is there anything else you need?”
I nodded, “We use alcohol to swab the area where the needle is inserted. It helps prevent infection. While I have some with me, if you can supply the alcohol it might be better to use clean cloths dipped in it.”
She reached down for her bag and pulled out a bottle of alcohol and a clean cloth. Obviously they used it for an antiseptic here like we do on Earth. I let her find a vein for both Seyrin and the first of the donors, Denay, for me and then carefully inserted the needles into a vein of each of them.
I had had enough blood tests and I’d been curious enough, that I knew how to insert a needle into a vein. The boy’s blood wanted to flow into the syringe, but I held it and then after the needle was placed into Denay’s arm the young man’s blood flowed. It exited from the open end of the tube and seemed to pool in the air for a minute before it began to creep slowly toward the other tube. Once the connection was made the blood thinned to a narrow stream and with me pushing, it began to enter Seyrin’s bloodstream.
A half hour later, Malie was pleased at the color in Seyrin’s face and stopped the transfusions. She had one of the men carry Seyrin into her house. I carefully collected the two syringes and neither seemed damaged though one had been used three times and they simply weren’t intended to be used more than once. They certainly weren’t going to be sterile, so I hoped if they had any illnesses I couldn’t get them. I had enough troubles as it was.
Guide who had been quiet popped up for a moment to reassure me, *While the humans of this world look like the humans of your world, their DNA is different enough from yours that you can’t catch or give illnesses. If you could then visitors would not be welcome, instead of a Guide you would have met an executioner.*
That was certainly logical and it was a relief as well. I wondered about something and asked, “Does anyone come through a portal deliberately?”
Guide told me, *Most portals are fixed. The people know they exist but avoid them. There are some however who want to use one. They do so either out of curiosity or because they are running for some reason. For those who simply wish to satisfy their curiosity it does them little good however. If they don’t have magic and that’s generally the case with those from your world, then the portal steals most of the memories of the last day or two on your world. When they return to your world, having gone through a portal once, they aren’t affected as drastically as the first time; however their memory of our world is blurred. While they may remember a few things basically they forget what happens. Unlike you most of them don’t have the ability or the compassion to help and aren’t here for very long.*
I was a little uncomfortable with his comment. “I didn’t do it because I was brave or nothing like that, I was just so angry I couldn’t control myself. If I hadn’t been so angry, I prob’ly wouldn’t have done it.”
It was almost as if I could feel him shake his head, which was impossible of course since he didn't have a head, *Oh I doubt that Trevor. Being able to see into your mind, I have no doubt that even if you hadn’t been angry you would have decided to do exactly the same thing.* he told me and then he gave an almost human sigh. *Unfortunately while I can’t be certain, as I said, you have probably bound yourself to this world. The Priestess at the Temple of the Mother-Goddess is the equivalent of a Journeyman and it will be unlikely that she will have the power needed to return you to your world.*
“Well I won’t argue with you.” And I echoed his sigh, “I don’t argue so good. I’m too shy and not very forceful. If I could see you I’d probably be the same with you. As it is it almost feels like I'm talking to myself. I’ll just see whether Seyrin will be all right and tell them I’m going.” I told him and after picking up my backpack I headed for the hut he had been taken into.
Denay was just coming out as I reached it and he looked down at me. “I want to thank you...?” which was partly a question.
“Trevor. My names Trevor Cunningham-Richards.” I told him. I smiled a little ruefully, “I got ten brothers and sisters. While Seyrin isn’t one of them, I couldn’t just let him die, not when I had a way I might be able to help him. I woulda felt like I was letting one of my brothers’ die. I just wanted to know how he is before I left.”
The woman came to the door. “My name is Malie, young Master and I am the village Wisewoman. While I have a little magic I couldn’t have helped Seyrin, however I can tell now that he’ll be fine. It would have required a Healer to do that. How is it, if you’re not a Healer, that you have such priceless equipment?”
“In some areas of my world people would probably regard them as priceless items as well. In the country where I live they aren’t very expensive to make and they aren’t supposed to be used more than once. That’s mainly because of the needle. As thin as it is, it’s fragile.”
I was surprised that I could talk to these two so easily; normally my shyness would have made it hard to do with strangers, as I’ve mentioned I found it hard enough to do with my own family. Now how to explain diabetes to people who maybe didn’t even know it existed. After all it had only been about eighty years since insulin had been developed making my illness something that could be controlled, though not cured, not yet. Guide certainly had a lot of knowledge about my world, but I didn’t know what the ordinary people knew.
I was silent for a minute thinking it over, finally I said, “When you eat food, it goes into the stomach where digestion is started. As it goes through you, some of it is discarded and becomes waste and some of it kept. What is kept is broken down to very, very small pieces that goes into the blood and is absorbed by the tissues of the body as the blood passes through it providing energy for the muscles and bones and for growth of tissue. In a normal person there is a substance that the body makes which regulates how much of the substance is absorbed to make energy.”
“With people like me the body stops making that substance or only makes part of what should be made. Some people can get very sick and die. About eighty years ago on my world, two Healers by the name of Banting and Best found a way to make the substance, that could then be injected into those with the illness. It can’t simply be swallowed, because that destroys the substance. Ever since then the illness can be controlled to some extent, though we still don’t have the ability to cure it. We have to be very careful, or we have tons of problems.”
I felt a general sadness not particularly for me I had accepted what I was, but for all those others with diabetes, “I have some of the insulin, which is what the substance is called, in my backpack. It was intended only for emergencies and I have a limited supply. Hopefully a Priestess at the Temple of the Mother-Goddess can send me home. I’ve been gone for about five hours on your world, however for every hour I spend on this world ten hours go by on my world.” I sighed, “By now everyone is searching for me. Family, local law enforcement people and country wide law enforcement people.”
Denay asked, with interest, “You are that important on your world, Trevor?”
I grinned at that thought, “Hardly. Prob'bly only a few dozen of those people who will be searching for me, will even have seen me or even heard of me. No, they will be looking for me because I’m a lost child. In some places it’s possible for a child to disappear without anybody even knowing about it, let alone searching. But most children in the more developed countries who disappear are searched for, whether their parents are rich or poor. There can be hundreds by now and in a day or so there will be thousands of people involved in the search.”
I sighed again, the grin leaving my face, “After a time they will stop searching, whether the child is from the poorest family or the richest, though they’ll never stop looking. Whenever anything that might point to the lost child is found, they begin searching actively in that area for a time.”
I asked, “Do you have any fruit juice and some food? I ate my lunch earlier and though I have something called glucose tablets, which help, I want to save them just in case."
Malie nodded and said, “While normally fruit juice would be considered a luxury, for some reason wine is considered a necessity.” she said dryly with a smile, before continuing, “However the Temple of the Mother Goddess has orchards with several types of fruit. They sell both the fruit and fruit juices, so it’s easy to get in this area and cheaper than wine.” I unzipped the backpack and seeing that both empty bottles, which had contained juice, were in the pack I took them out and handed them to her.
“Just turn the top to get it off and turn it back to tighten it again after you put the top back.” And she nodded and taking them vanished back into the house.
I looked at Denay and said, “You don’t seem worried about those bandits coming back?” My comment half a question and half a statement.
He shook his head, “They wouldn’t dare. My brothers and I sent our harns back home. While it would normally take an hour to get to the castle and an hour back, there is no saying where father might be. There’s always a possibility that he might be much closer. And they aren’t bandits. They’re hill folk and they’re renegades. They attacked the village for sport. When you drove them off, they headed for the hills.”
There was an angry look on his face, “Father probably won’t even try to go after them when he gets here. There are too many places to hide in the hills and their people wouldn’t help. Not that we would expect them to. To harm kin is one of our strongest taboos. Unless they attack their own people, which would get them Outcast and no longer considered kin, then the hill people can’t do anything to harm them.”
I grimaced at that but I didn’t say anything. I considered it stupid, but it was their society. Denay smiled at me with amusement in his eyes, the anger gone, he said, “In some ways I don’t consider it a wise policy either, young Trevor. Yet on the other hand because of the way we regard kin only minor incidents ever occur between the hill folk and us, because many of us have some of their blood. Vitell and Unent and I are the sons of father’s first wife and she was from the hills.” His face went hard again, “If they had harmed any of us, then they would have been Outcast. Seyrin is the son of father’s second wife and she isn’t from the hills; therefore in their eyes harming him wasn’t taboo.”
He waved his hand around, “This is a new village, less than five years old and the people came from the south. While they have contact with the hill folk, they haven’t had time to establish bonds of blood between them. They knew the risks before they came, but that didn’t deter them from coming.”
Malie reappeared as he was finishing his comments. She answered firmly, “Nor will it do so now. While we will be wary for a while, when Mani the headman’s daughter marries Fallar, who is the headman of the Hawk tribe, there will be ties of blood between us and the renegades won’t dare attack us again.”
“Yes.” Denay said, “In another month you will be considered kin by the hill folk. Still I wish we had an experienced Mage. I don’t like leaving renegades out there.” nodding at the hills. “Nor does father. They’re dangerous and soon I think they’ll be a danger to their own people as well.”
I said, “I better get moving now.” and he nodded and ruffled my hair.
Denay said, “I give a thank you from me and from my family. We’re in your debt. I hope you can get back to your world from the abbey but if not we’ll send you south so you can find a stronger Mage.”
I nodded my thanks to him.
I had been walking for about two hours, when I came upon a ginger colored cat on the trail, the tip of her tail and her paws were white. She was just sitting there and when I appeared she got up and stretched and began padding towards me.
After what I had been through today, I wasn’t even surprised when she began talking to me. *I’m Shandra. Guide told me about you. I’m a minor Healer and like you not from this world. As a Healer, I have Mage-sight and Guide feels that I will be able to determine whether the Priestess Marcexxa can send you home or not.*
Her mind-voice was a little somber and I made the assumption that her Priestess couldn’t, which she quickly affirmed, *She can’t, but then again, she couldn’t have done so even before you helped the villagers. Guide is a magical construct and he would be the first to admit that he doesn’t understand magic. He’s never met a Master Class Mage before and isn’t aware that it always takes at least the same caliber of Mage to send you back to your world. Marcexxa is only a Journeyman and she can’t send you back, so there’s no purpose continuing on to the Abbey.*
Suddenly I heard a mental scream of anguish and I went to my knees, my eyes closed, the distressing blast rocketing through my mind.
Abruptly it stopped and no one had to tell me that the mind no longer existed. The owner of that mind was dead and I began crying with that knowledge.
When I opened my eyes I saw the Shandra was stretched full length on the ground and she kept shaking her head. I burst out with, “What was that!!!”
She shook her head a couple more time and then she answered and her wits sounded a bit scattered, “That was the death of a Mage. Your kind doesn’t have the decency to die quietly on Telvar.*
Despite the sorrow that the scream had evoked I chuckled, she sounded just the way my grandfather would have done and like him she was using grumpiness to hide her own sorrow.
I wasn’t close to my grandfather, in this case my mother’s dad, I wasn’t close to any of my family as I’ve mentioned, but I was comfortable around him.
She continued her explanation, “It wasn’t by magic either, that has a different sound. Someone used a non-magical weapon or possibly only their hands.”
My mind made a leap, I said, “The renegades at the village.”
Guide spoke for the first time since I had left the village and his mind-voice was somewhat subdued, obviously, he had felt the same thing Shandra and I had. *Possibly. When you drove them away, they left in anger. If they were like many of the breed, they would have swaggered into their village as if nothing had happened. From the bruises you gave them, their people would have known that something happened. They were in no mood to be berated by any of their people.*
Shandra said, “Even a Mage, or a Shaman, can be killed when taken by surprise. Perhaps he’s been scolding them since they were children. But they’re no longer children and he made a mistake this time and it got him killed.*
The three of us knew without a shadow of a doubt that that’s what had happened. I was a sensible kid and I didn’t blame myself, but I was outraged, that in a way I had been a party to it by driving them away from the village.
I asked, showing my obvious anger, “Would anybody aside from us have heard it!!”
Shandra said, *Malie would have and Marcexxa at the abbey and other hill shamen. Others would have felt uncomfortable without knowing why.*
I asked Guide, “Can you warn the village.” and I felt a mental shake of the head.
He said to me, *No. A magical construct free to wander could become dangerous, so I can only appear where there is a visitor such as you and Shandra.*
I felt something in my mind and for a moment, I wasn't sure exactly what it was. It wasn't a memory and after a few minutes of thought, I realized that it was coming from outside me. I was very still for a moment and then with resignation, I knew that I would have to go back to the village.
I said to Shandra and Guide, "I need to go back. What the renegades did should get them outlawed, but I know somehow that the hill tribe doesn't know that it was murder. The renegades will be able to make it look like an accident."
I said in frustration and anger, "I wish I had been there with a camera. If I had pictures of what they did they wouldn't get away with it!!"
Shandra asked me with curiosity, in her mind voice, "What in the name of the Goddess is a camera?"
I explained to her, "It's like a painting, only it's a real image of what's right in front of you; either a single image or series of images."
Shandra commented to me, "A Mage can do that as well. Everything that happens infuses a little bit of itself into its surroundings. A Mage can collect items from the scene and using a spell can re-create the past. Of course, the farther back in time, the event is, the less likely that any trace residue will be left."
Guide said with a bit of humor in his mind voice, "The problem might be getting to the hill tribe without getting yourself killed first."
I said to them, "Denay's father should be there by now and he and his men probably stayed to give aid." I took off my backpack and opening it, I got out one of the bottles of fruit juice. I was going to have to push the pace and I would need the energy that the fruit juice could give me.
After taking the fruit juice, I slung the backpack back over my shoulders and with determination. I headed back for the village pushing the pace, not bothering to ask Shandra if she intended to come with me, but somehow I knew she would and I was right.
We made the return trip in about an hour and a half and coming over a rise, we could see that Denay’s father had indeed arrived with a company of a dozen men. Denay pointed up at us and he and his father came to meet us.
Lord Dormount was an imposing man in his mid-forties, not particularly tall, but he was massively built. His black hair was tinged with gray and he had a stern look on his face, which was all planes and angles.
He put one massive hand on my shoulder and squeezed gently and he said to me in a gravelly voice, "I want to thank you, little one, for saving the life of my son. If I can do anything to help you, all you have to do is ask. I assume, since you returned that you need a way to get to civilization, where you can find a powerful Mage to get you home?"
I shook my head and told him, "Maybe eventually Sir, but that isn't why I returned. Malie would have felt the Shaman's death and that should have gotten the renegades outlawed. Unfortunately, it did not. I don't know how I know, but I do know that the renegades were able to make it look like an accident and that's what their people believe."
I shook my head reluctant to do it, but, "I need to go to their village. My family believes in the rule of law and both my parents and my grandfather's are lawyers. The hill people need to know what they did."
There was surprise on his face. Yet I could see approval in his dark gray eyes and I felt a little easier about my decision. He was a man of action. A few minutes later we were riding north into the hill country. I was riding behind Denay on a harn.
Harns look like a combination of horse and a big cat. Their legs are much shorter and sturdier, they have paws rather than hooves and their claws are retractable, so that they can climb much steeper slopes than a horse can.
Never having ridden a horse I had nothing that I could compare it with, but a harn moves so smoothly and effortlessly that it was an easy ride. But still, since I was wearing shorts, by the time we reached our destination a couple of hours later my bare thighs were red with soreness.
I slipped down from behind Denay and looked around with interest. The dwellings were a combination of tent and a hut with a solid wooden roof and supports but canvas sides. All of the people were looking at us. The adults with frank interest and the children more shyly.
Instinctively, I turned towards the largest of the structures knowing that that would be where the headman lived. Lord Dormount came over to me, taking off his riding gloves. He stuffed them into his belt and put his arm around my shoulders and we walked towards the head man who was standing with his arms folded on his chest.
He didn't look particularly welcoming as we stopped in front of him. Baron Dormount stopped about five feet from him and gave a half bow. I did so as well, though much more clumsily.
The headman was much older than Lord Dormount, probably in his mid-sixties and he was also somewhat taller, a good five or six inches. He was very slender, but he had a look of rawbone strength.
He had a look of hostility on his face and in his hard blue eyes. He asked in a harsh tone of voice, "Why are you here Dormount? I told you that until the young adults break our laws, you may not have them."
I looked up at Lord Dormount and could see no anger in his face at the rude greeting. He simply nodded his head and then said, "Malie and the boy here felt your Shaman die. More, the boy Trevor tells me that your Shaman was murdered, rather than died accidentally."
The Shaman turned his hostility towards me now and with the sound of disbelief in his voice and asked, "How can a child know what we do not know?"
I started to say and my first words squeaked out but then my voice settled down, "I don't know how I know, but I do know. Shandra taught me a spell which will allow me to recreate your Shaman's death."
I don't know what he would've done but at that point one of the renegades spoke up an angry tone of voice, "They have no right to come here Targa!! Send them on their way!!!"
The headman, Targa, I guess, turned to look at him and the hostility had left his face instead there was a question in his eyes. He said in a more measured tone of voice, "You have never cared before Burnda, why would you care now? Could it be that there is something to what the boy says?"
Burnda shouted, "Of course not!!" At that point, one of his friends elbowed him in the ribs and prudently he shut up. But it was too late, the headman was suspicious now.
Targa turned back to me with a stern look on his face and asked, "What do you need, little Mage?"
Burnda was glaring at me now and I was frightened. At the same time as I have mentioned, my parents and grandparents had instilled in all of my brothers and sisters and me, the rule of law. They had told us that sometimes to enforce the rule of law it was necessary to put yourself in danger and I didn't hesitate.
I said to him, "I need small stones from where the Shaman died. That will allow me to bring out images of the past,"
He nodded and turning his eyes on his own people, "Sando, you and Arkan go to the place where the deed happened and collect some small pebbles and bring them back here."
Both men nodded and moved towards the murder site. The headman pointed to a group of additional men and said to them, "Make sure our young friends don't stray before Sando and Arkan get back," and I saw the men move to surround Burnda and the other young men.
Burnda and a couple of the other young men were already looking around with the beginning of panic on their faces and the faces of the men surrounding them were hard.
I took off my backpack and got out the remaining bottle of fruit juice and drank it. As draining as magic was to me, I would need the extra energy the juice could provide. All told it was probably about forty-five minutes before the designated tribesmen returned.
One of them had obviously picked up a basket on the way out of the village, since that's what they brought the stones to us in. The one called Sando asked me, "What do you want us to do with the pebbles?"
I looked around to see where the best place would be. I decided to move a little away from the headman's hut and the tribesmen moved with me. When I stopped and marked a place on the ground, Sando did as I instructed and dumped the pebbles on the ground.
In this slightly different location, people could gather all the way around the stones and everyone was in a good position to see. When they had done so, I squatted down and took a quick look just to find the largest one. Once I had that, I put it on top of the pile and then stood up again and moved a few feet away.
a deep breath and summoned my magic. When I felt I was ready, I brought
my hands together and raised them into the air with the palms down.
The spell was a simple one and I said it in a clear treble voice.
"The stones will fly,
the past to spy."
When I finished saying the words, I brought my hands down and right at the bottom I flipped my hands over so that that they were face up. Suddenly where my hands had traveled hanging in midair was an inverted vee of blue fire.
Flipping my hands so that the palms were down again, the large stone I had chosen rose into the air and slotted itself into the apex of the inverted vee. Slowly, the stone began to spin and as it did so, the other stones also rose into the air to surround it. They began to circle the inner stone until they were moving so fast that they looked like a solid globe and began to glow.
As it began to glow and got brighter and brighter and like a projector on Earth a scene began to run. It was just a scene at first simply showing where the Shaman had died. I gave it a command, "Run backwards," and it began to do so.
I told it to go, "Faster! Faster!" Unlike a videotape the whole scene moved backwards the whole scene speeding up enormously. Suddenly, there were people visible. I let it run until they disappeared again and then told it to, "Stop! Run forward!"
As it did so after a couple of minutes the renegades showed up. They were obviously trying to forget their smarting defeat. They all had bottles in their hands and they were all well on the way to getting drunk. After about two or three minutes, a man who was undoubtedly the Shaman came into sight.
One of the renegades pointed him out and most of them left hurriedly. Three of them were either feeling too belligerent or were much dumber; because they decided to stay. One of them was Burnda.
It was hard to tell exactly how old the Shaman was, he could have been anywhere from his mid-forties to his mid-sixties. He had dark eyes, neatly trimmed white beard and hair and he was very slender. He was probably about six feet tall which was about three or four inches taller than the other tribesmen I had seen except for the headman.
While we couldn't hear what was being said, the Shaman was clearly lecturing them. One of them, who was clearly the youngest, was looking ashamed of himself, but we could see that the other two were getting angrier and angrier.
Suddenly Burnda had taken as much as he could bear and struck out with a clubbing blow of his right arm. It caught the older man on the side of the head and he went to his knees. The youngest of them looked on with horror as Burnda kicked out with his foot and caught the Shaman in the stomach and the man went to the ground.
I heard gasps of anger from the members of the tribe surrounding me. The murmurs of that anger continued and got much louder as they saw what happened next. The two older renegades were looking on, with obvious satisfaction and then the realization of who and what the man was came to them. They talked urgently to each other for a few seconds, then they reached down and took a hold of him. Lifting him up they moved towards the cliff edge.
The younger renegade darted forward intent on trying to stop them. Burnda struck out with his arm again and caught the younger man on the side of the head, knocking him off his feet and leaving him stunned.
Unceremoniously and with obvious satisfaction they threw the older man off of the cliff. Ignoring the man they had just murdered they hauled the younger man to his feet and they undoubtedly threatened him as his face went sullen and then fearful.
I was saddened and angry at what I had seen, yet I had never even met the man. Those around me had known him all their lives and I wondered if their anger would get out of control. With a sigh of regret and a clap of my hands, I banished the spell and the stones hesitated in midair for a few seconds and then dropped to the ground.
There were angry cries and shouts of outrage, but fortunately they were still in control of themselves. When the headman raised his arms for silence, after a few minutes he got the silence he wanted.
He looked at me and said, "While some of what we have just seen could have been an illusion, the boy simply doesn't have enough knowledge of us to have created such a detailed false vision. I don't doubt that what we have seen is truth, does anyone want to nay say or challenge what we have seen?"
Looking around he saw no challenges and giving a nod, he ordered, "Bring Dalin, Tenet and Burnda forward!"
Dalin came forward quietly, but both Tenet and Burnda were struggling. The headman addressed Dalin first asking, "You were obviously not a part of the murder. You in fact tried to stop it. Why did you not come forward?"
Dalin hesitated for a moment and then he said with fear and shame in his voice, "They threatened my family if I said anything. I could do nothing to help Kaelin; I needed to protect my family."
The headman nodded and with a sigh said, "I will not judge you for that. None of us can be certain of what we would do if our families come under threat. However think long on this incident, you obviously didn't choose your companions very well. Try to choose more wisely in the future. You may go." The young man was allowed to disappear into the crowd.
Targa stared coldly at the other two renegades for a moment, then he turned and beckoned to a young woman in her mid twenties. As much alike as they looked, she was probably his daughter. He bent down and said something into her ear and she turned and went into the hut.
When she returned about thirty seconds later she was carrying what looked like two bronze circles. Targa took one and opened it and moved forward. When he put it around the struggling Burnda's neck, I realized it was a metal collar. Turning he took the second one from the woman and put it around Tenet's neck.
Targa moved backwards and turned to look at me and said gravely, "The news you brought to us is grave news, but still it was something we needed to know. We thank you for that and we owe you a debt of gratitude. If we might have your help in one more thing?"
Curious, I asked him what he wanted, "What's that sir?"
Targa nodded at the now collared young men saying, "They killed Kaelin and deprived his family of their sole bread winner. They now must replace him. For how long that will be, we don't know for now. Eventually if they prove they have changed, we will release them. The collars I placed around Burnda and Tenet's necks once sealed won't compel them to serve Kaelin's family, however it won't let them travel more than a few miles from the village and they will not be able to hurt anyone."
Targa turned to stare at them, saying, "Until they show they have changed, they will be servants either laboring for Kaelin's family or contracted out by them. However first the collars need to be sealed by someone with magic. Kaelin's apprentice was just made a full Shaman and is on his vision quest. He's been gone two weeks and it generally takes between two and four weeks. I would ask you to seal their collars for us?"
I had figured that they would probably kill the two young men and I actually approved of what they were doing. I said to him, "I only know the one spell. Shandra taught me how to use it."
Targa reassured me, telling me, "We know the words of the spell and the gestures needed; it's just that no one presently here has enough magic to use them." And I nodded in understanding.
After the headman told me the spell and the gestures, I approached the two young men with a bit of trepidation. The tribesmen, holding them, forced them to their knees, so that I would be able to reach the collars.
I put one hand on each of the collars and said the spell, "I compel thee to guard and bind these men to the village proper. Until they are released from you, they will be unable to harm any man, woman and child." I then clasped my hands together and I felt a click in my mind as the collars were sealed.
If looks could kill, I would've died on the spot as the two young men were looking at me with sheer rage on their faces. Sensibly I was frightened by them, but at the same time, I felt a singing sense of warmth throughout my whole body. I had done something that I feared and now two murderers were being punished.
The young men were taken away. They would be imprisoned for a few days until they accepted the fate their crime had brought them to and the gathering began to break up.
Targa said to me, "Is there anything we may do for you young Mage? We owe you a great debt of gratitude and we prefer to pay our debts immediately when we can."
I had to think about that for a few minutes. I had no idea what I might want and hopefully I wouldn't be on this world for much longer, so I wouldn't ask for anything tangible. Then my face brightened as I thought of something which wouldn't exactly be a gift to me but I thought it would be adequate thanks.
I began to speak, a bit hesitantly at first, but then with more confidence, "I know you have a pastoral lifestyle. You hunt and fish and you herd goats. Your life isn't particularly labor-intensive. That means that your young men tend to have too much free time on their hands. That can lead bored young men to mischief and to worse."
I sighed, "I know on my world, there are areas where young men find trouble getting jobs. They tend to come together and form groups of gangs. They get up to all types of bad things and the gangs tend to fight each other and cause trouble, not only for themselves but for their whole society."
I gestured to Denay, who was standing with his father, their men at arms around them. I said, "Denay was telling me on the way here that they're so far from what many people consider as civilization that it's hard to get men of arms. They're always looking for more."
They were a tough formidable bunch of men. All of them were three or four inches or more taller than the average man. While they were soldiers, at the same time they were general laborers. Part of their duties was to help those people on the Barony lands, especially around planting time and harvest time. They spent three days of every week in that manner.
Now that I was coming to the core of my suggestion I was a little hesitant again. I said, "I suggest that you try to come to an agreement with Lord Dormount for the services of those young men. Lord Dormount would have more soldiers and laborers and your young men would be doing something constructive."
I flushed then, as both Targa and Lord Dormount stared at me with astonishment. I hastened to say, "It's not my idea, my parents and both my grandfathers are lawyers. They do pro bono work, that means they do it for free and they will defend mainly young people who are in trouble with the law. Their concern doesn't just end after the trial is over."
I continued speaking and I felt a fierce pride in my parents and my grandparents, "They get them jobs and a way to complete their education. While it doesn't work with all of them, over the past thirty years, 60% have never gotten into any trouble again."
Targa turned his attention to Lord Dormount and said tentatively, "Perhaps such a thing can happen."
Lord Dormount nodded, "Perhaps it can and perhaps it should." And I was content. They were at least thinking about it.
We had been traveling for the last seven days and I could see the obvious changes in Trevor. When I first met him there was a noticeable sense of shyness and lack of self-confidence in him. Our admiration and respect for him was changing him. While he was still somewhat shy, he was becoming a self-confident little boy who was easy to talk to and who laughed easily.
I was watching him poke himself with what he called his needles. Something happened and he started to use some of the swear words he had learned from the men at arms. Realizing what he was doing, he blushed charmingly and stopped abruptly.
I asked him, "What's the problem Trevor?"
He said ruefully, with an annoyed look on his small face, "The needle on my syringe just broke off. That means I only have one left until we reach the capital and I can be sent home."
I asked, with interest, "I've seen you freeze the thing you call your gel pack a couple of times a day for the last week. Why don't you just use a renewal spell on your needle?"
Trevor shook his head, saying, "Shandra taught me the freeze spell and the seeing spell and the headman the sealing spell. I don't know any other spells."
I told him, "I don't know much about magic, but from what I do know, with such a common spell as long as you have the ability and the proper intent the words don't matter that much."
Trevor looked at me intense interest on his small face and he asked me, "What does it do!!?"
I had to think about that, to remember what I had heard before answering, "It's used to repair broken things such as broken weapons and furniture. It seems to work best on metal, not quite as well on once living things such as wood and not at all on cloth or living things."
Trevor reopened the container containing his needles and put the broken one in the lid of the box. He sat there thinking for a few minutes and then he put his finger on the needle and said, "Needle that is now broken mend as good as new." And he ran his finger along the length of the needle from the base to its tip. As blue fire had followed his hands when he used the seeing spell a line of light followed the movement of his finger though it was red instead of blue.
With satisfaction, Trevor held up the now renewed needle for my inspection. I warned him, "While it's useful, from what I've heard there's a limit to the number of times that you can use the spell. I think it's half a dozen or dozen times at the most."
There was relief in his voice when he said, "At least now I have the equivalent of eighteen needles rather than just two."
The whole trip took thirty-one days, with two additional days before the journey started. That meant that three hundred thirty days had passed on Earth.
Shandra had decided to come with me back to Earth. She had been trapped on this world for two years because all passage back to her world had been blocked. The time rate on her world was much more extreme than mine, 1 to 100, so she had been away from her world for two hundred years. All those she had known there were long since dead.
While she wasn't a Mage herself, she had a lot of academic knowledge of magic. She told me a budding Mage like me on a world with no one to teach me, needed her.
Of course, Shandra and I weren't the first visitors that they had ever had. There wasn't a lot of fuss or bother with getting them to send us to Earth, though it took three additional days to arrange.
I looked at myself in the mirror,and I knew that whenever I wound up on Earth I wasn't going to blend in very well, wearing these clothes. I was wearing a yellow over shirt over a slightly deeper color under shirt. There was a darker pair of orangy knee length breeches brown leather shoes with silver buckles and yellow stockings.
They were comfortable and I had gotten used to wearing them, but I said over my shoulder to Denay, "I'm not going to be able to wear these."
Denay said with amusement in his voice, "You intend to go through naked do you?"
I shook my head vigorously blushing a bit and said, "I'll just wear the loincloth. The important bits will be covered and that's all I care about. I'll carry these in my backpack."
He grinned and ruffled my hair, but then he became more serious as he said, "I'll miss you, little Trevor. You have become as close as my brothers over the last month."
And I would miss him and I turned and threw myself into his arms and my tears were flowing freely. We stood there for what seemed like forever embracing each other, his hand stroking my back comfortingly until I was cried out. Finally he pushed me straight and his eyes were looking at me with affection.
Denay squeezed my shoulders again gently and then said, "You're a mess little one. Go wash your face," giving me a gentle shove towards the washstand. I poured a little water into the wash basin and washed my face and then dried it.
Turning to face him, I felt more composed. Looking down at Shandra, I asked for the last time, "Are you sure you want to go with me?"
She nodded her head, telling me, *I'm not really needed on this world. With your awakening magic you need me and it's something I need. To be needed.* I nodded back with agreement. I put my backpack on and then we headed for the spell room where we was to be sent to my home. I already knew that they couldn't guarantee where we would end up back on Earth. Remembering my arrival I asked Goran the more important of the two mages who would send me home, "We won’t end up in mid air, will I?”
Goran gave a sniff of disapproval, before he said pompously, "Indeed not! Whoever created the portal that brought you to our world was obviously careless or not very skilled. You will end up on a solid object with plenty of food and water and a respectable number of people around."
I wasn't very convinced and I felt Shandra and I were going to end up somewhere absolutely rotten. But at the same time, my heart was singing its desire to return to my own world.
Guide spoke in my mind for the first time in four weeks and it almost gave me a heart attack. I'd completely forgotten that he was there. He said, *It is time for me to say my goodbyes as well.* There was amusement in his mind-voice as I berated myself for forgetting him. He continued, *Do not be annoyed with yourself little one. The spell that created me was designed to do exactly that. It was intended that as you began to interact with the people of this world, I would fade into the background. I would after that first period of time, become simply a translating device.*
Guide said to me, *I have watched with delight at the way you have grown since you arrived. You have become much more self-confident and forceful. Your family and those who know you will hardly recognize your new personality. Do not go back to what you once were. You'll be happier the way you now are. I will not speak to you again, but I will be with you until you step into the passage. Goodbye little one. Long life and happiness.*
I felt a bit forlorn as he ceased talking to me. Guide had been my first acquaintance on this world and though I had forgotten that he was there, I remembered him with fondness.
Slipping off my backpack I stripped down to my loincloth and after putting my clothes into my bag, I embraced Denay one last time. I whispered to him, "I will miss you. Thank you for being such a good friend. Goodbye." We squeezed each other a little and then reluctantly, we broke this last embrace. Denay bent down to give Shandra one last pat as he said his goodbyes to her as well. She rubbed against his hand and purred vigorously for a minute.
Putting the backpack back on, Shandra and I walked into the innermost of the four circles. Looking anxiously at Goran I saw his lips start to move. I didn't know what he was saying, because he was muttering under his breath. Most experienced Mages did so, not wanting their rivals to hear their spells.
As he raised his hands into the air, a barrier of fire divided the innermost circle from the rest of the room and I was no longer able to see out. I heard a hum that started off softly and began to increase in volume. There was a sudden squeal that caused me to flinch. It then returned to a hum and there was darkness in front of me.
Stepping forward I felt a jolt and then I was home. And what a rotten mess that turned out to be. I had taken off everything except for my loincloth hoping that I wouldn't be any more conspicuous than I had to be.
Shandra said sarcastically, *Oh, boy. Interesting fire we just landed in.*
We probably couldn't have landed somewhere where we would be more conspicuous if we had tried. It was solid all right. We were on the solid deck of an aircraft carrier and there were twenty or thirty men looking at us with astonishment.
It was the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz class aircraft carrier, but I didn't know that at the time. I decided it was time to act like a politician; I was going to lie through my teeth.
I said to Shandra, *You got it easy. They don't expect a cat to say anything. I have to do all the talking. Something I just love doing.* with sarcasm of my own.
It took a couple of hours before we ended up in the presence of the strike force commander, Admiral Hayden Raglan. It probably would've been sooner, but I assumed that they were questioning the men who had seen me arrive.
According to my people who had been interviewing him, the last thing Trevor remembered was jumping off a bridge as the tree was falling toward him. The next thing he remembered was landing on the deck of the Ronald Reagan. My people were sure that he was lying and I had to agree with them.
The gist of the newspaper story about his disappearance, indicated that he was a shy and introverted child, who tended to lack self-confidence. The boy sitting in front of me, might have been shy and introverted, but he carried himself with a quiet self-confidence.
I knew that type of self-confidence. It was the self-confidence based on achievement. Trevor had done something since his disappearance that he was proud of, he had achieved something unexpected and now looked at the world through a completely different set of eyes from his past life. I saw that type of self-confidence, all the time in young officers who had proved themselves to themselves and to the people around them.
Trevor obviously remembered what he had done, or he would have reverted to what he once was. He sat there rubbing the cat he had in his lap. He cocked his head a little to the side and with amusement in his eyes he said, "You don't believe me do you?"
For a moment, I wasn't sure what to do say, but looking into his large green eyes. I decided to tell the truth. I shook my head saying, "You're not the kid described in this newspaper article," flicking it with my finger. "Your demeanor has changed. You have a quiet self-confidence about you that the kid in the newspaper article certainly didn't have. You did something since you disappeared, something that has you filled with pride. If you didn't remember the last year, you would have reverted to the kid in the article."
Trevor simply smiled and nodded his head. I told him, "I have been talking to my superiors in Washington. It has been decided that we will make no statement about your presence here. If we are asked we will tell the truth, at least what we know to be the truth. Your parents have been told of your presence here and I've arranged for you to be flown to Pearl Harbor. The MP will escort you to the plane." And he nodded again.
Trevor stood up and his small face became serious and he said, "Just suppose that you're right, that I do remember what happened. Perhaps I might have decided that it would be best if no one aside from my family should know what happened and what I can now do."
He pointed to the broken laptop on my desk. He asked, "What happened to your computer?"
I looked at it ruefully and told him, "I dropped the darn thing. The tech said it was toast. I didn't lose anything vital; all that it will take is time. Mainly I regret losing the photos of my wife and children. The albums are still at home. I'm going to have to scan them all in again."
Trevor nodded thoughtfully and setting down the cat, he reached out with his hand and touched the top of it. I could see him saying something under his breath. Then he traced his finger on the top of the laptop and a red ribbon of fire followed his finger. He put his hand on the top and then snapped his fingers.
He said with a conspirators smile, "You can just imagine the problems that a real magic user would face in our world."
He gave a wave of his hand saying, "Bye Admiral."
As he went to the door the cat jumped up on the desk, patted me on the hand, then winked at me as she said with obvious humor, *Interesting experience don't you think. Bye, Admiral." And jumped to the floor and followed Trevor.
I sat there, simply staring at the door and then at the laptop for a few minutes after they left. Finally I reached out and moved the laptop in front of me. I hesitated for a few seconds, but then I got the nerve to open it. I was unsurprised that when I turned it on, it was as if nothing had ever happened to it.
I looked at the door that Trevor and the cat had exited. I was astonished and at the same time I was honored that he had decided to trust me with such an important secret. No one will ever know what he was from me that was a promise I made myself. And a cat who talked, well no one would believe that anyway.
I didn't know why I had decided to trust the Admiral. Something had told me to do so and I had obeyed. At the same time, I wanted to make sure my magic still worked. A couple of hours later I was at Pearl Harbor. The pilot had been told to treat my presence casually and he arranged for me to stay with his brother's family until my parents arrived several hours later.
I threw myself into their arms when I saw them and I'm not ashamed to say that I burst into tears of happiness. They were more subdued and more in control of their emotions and while their eyes got damp, they didn't actually cry.
After I was cried out and had gotten my face washed, we sat on the sofa with me in the middle, each of them holding one of my hands. My mom gave my dad one of those looks, which meant that he was to do the talking.
He started off a bit hesitant as he asked, "Where did you go? You just disappeared and we couldn't find a trace of you. We found the tree that fell, but there was no indication that you had been involved."
I gathered my thoughts together and then started telling them my story. "It all started with Old Faithful..." and I was off.
I wasn't a teller of tall tales and I had never lied to them. I knew it was hard to believe, but I could see that they did believe me, especially after I took a ballpoint pen that my father had and broke it and then used magic to repair it. They also agreed with my decision, to say that I couldn't remember what happened. They felt it was both prudent and wise.
I then introduced my parents to Shandra, telling them she was a Healer and she had a lot of knowledge about magic. That she had decided that as a new Mage I needed her and like she told me she needed to be needed.
We stayed at Pearl Harbor overnight and then flew home the next morning. My parents told me that the decision to tell the other members of the family was mine. Over the next few months I told all of them the truth.
It didn't take them long to realize that Shandra was intelligent and at thirty-five years old was almost as old as our parents.
They were all glad see me, that was obvious, yet they weren't quite sure what to make of me. I had changed in so many ways. I had been gone almost exactly a year. When I started school again after the holidays were over, I was still in the fifth grade, but those children weren't the same children I'd grown up with.
The children I now went to school with had been a year younger than me. Many people assumed that I was now eleven years old, since for them it had been a full year since I had disappeared. Of course for me it was only a month, so I was actually where I belonged.
It was probably just as well, with the new kids. I had nothing to live down and I fitted in really well and was able to make a lot of friends. I was now confident and able to force myself into their games, and, while there was a bit of resentment at first, it quickly disappeared.
I spent another night in my bedroom. It wasn't quite as lonely with Shandra sharing but I decided I'd speak up about it. When we were all gathered for supper, the next day, I used my fork on my glass and it rang out in the dining room. I had already cleared what I was going to say with Drew and Ricky, and, while they hadn't welcomed us with open arms, they hadn't made any objections either.
Everybody was staring at me. A month ago my time, a year ago their time, I would have shriveled up and died. But I had changed and I was no longer what I had once been and confidently I spoke up, "A few years ago when Mom decided to give up her little office, I drew the short straw and I won it."
I shook my head and continued, "I found it very lonely and I didn't want it. There was no way I could have said so then. I don't think it would bother me now, especially with Shandra around, but I think we should start over. I'm putting the room up for grabs. If I win it again, that's fine. If not, that's fine as well. Shandra and I will move in with Drew and Ricky. That's all I wanted to say."
Feeling deep satisfaction, I sat down and there was singing in my heart.
|An apprentice can change the state of water. Water to ice, ice to water, etc.||Arma – Mother Goddess|
|Burnda leader of the renegades from the Hill Village. Switch to||Cunningham, George Trevor's father.|
|Cunningham-Richards, Danielle Trevor's mother.||Cunningham-Richards, Drew – Andrew one of the twins|
|Cunningham-Richards, Ricky. Richard one of the twins||Dalin tried to stop the murder of the Shaman|
|Denay – Eldest son of Baron Dormount|
|Goran mage who sends Trevor home.||Harns – descended from horses.|
|Kaelin the Shaman of the hill tribe, who was murdered. Now||Malie - Wisewoman|
|Mani – Headman’s dau Sando hill village headman's daughter.||Marcexxa - Priestess of the Mother Goddess, Mage equivalent of a Journeyman.|
|Seyrin - youngest son of Baron Dormount||Shandra - intelligent cat. Stranded on Telvar|
|Targa headman of the Hill folk Village. Not a particularly friendly sort.||Tenet with Burnda, one of the two renegades who murdered the Shaman|
|Telvar – world||To levitate you have to be at least a Master Class Mage, so Trevor is at least at that level.|
|To produce substances. The smaller the sample the more powerful the Mage has to be.||Trevor 10 years 2 weeks our hero|
|Unent – Son of Baron Dormount||Vitell – Son of Baron Dormount|