The easiest way to catch up on past installments of this serial is here on Messages from Mâvarin. Synopses to Parts One through Six can be found at the top of Part Seven. Synopses to Parts Eight through Thirteen can be found at the top of Part Fourteen. Synopses to Parts Fourteen through Eighteen are at the top of Part Nineteen. Synopses to Parts Nineteen through Twenty-Five can be found at the top of Part Twenty-Six. The installments themselves can be read in order on Blogspot using the sidebar.
Part Twenty-Six: Cathma and Cathy wonder why they haven't lost consciousness with everyone else.
Part Twenty-Seven: Cathy and Cathma belatedly collapse and faint, much as the others did. They find themselves in a place without physical bodies, surrounded by a thousand versions of themselves. The only person present who doesn't have their face is Joshua Wander.
Part Twenty-Eight: Cathma is pretty sure they're in something called the subjective plane. Joshua Wander is pretty sure he's meant to be their guide. The other versions of Cathy and Cathma disappear, leaving just the two of them to work out the answer to Josh's question: which one of them will be the one to return home?
Part Twenty-Nine: Give It Up
“What are you talking about?” Cathy said. “Why wouldn’t I be able to go home, assuming Li and Lee get the spell working properly?”
“And I’m already home,” Cathma added. “The Palace is only a twenty minute walk away.” Looking around in the dark nothingness, she faltered a little. “At least it was until a moment ago.”
“Oh, it still is, relative to your real body,” Joshua Wander assured her. “And I grant you, this will be easier if Cathy is the one who gives up her world.”
“I should think so,” Cathma said. “She’s not home already, and she doesn’t have a country to run.” She looked at Cathy apologetically. “Sorry, but you don’t.”
“Et tu, Cathma?” Cathy said, a little bitterly. “I don’t believe this. Why shouldn’t I go home? I’m nobody very important at home, but I do have family and friends, and plans and dreams and all that stuff. Why should I be asked to give that up? Why should anyone be asked to do it? Everyone should go home.”
“Maybe so,” said Josh, “but just before I appeared here, I was talking to Li and some other mage who arrived to help. This other guy told us that the problem is one of balance. Dewitt has already absorbed too much magic to be put right easily, and everyone who has been to Mâvarin has already absorbed magic into themselves. That’s how Lee and Fabian managed to do spells. The world you come from can’t take everyone back without further damage.”
“But why should I be left behind? Why not one of the people who have actually done magic? I’m as normal as Cathma, if not more so. How can my arrival back home hurt anything?”
“Alternatively, how would my giving up Mâvarin help the spell?” Cathma asked. “We already have lots of magic here, and when it comes to magic I’m as normal as it gets.”
“Mâvarin actually needs more magic overall to mend the breech,” Josh said. “The amount involved is small but critical. If Cathy doesn’t stay, then you need to go, to make room for someone with slightly more magic than yourself.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t believe you,” Cathma said. “That makes no sense at all. And even if it did, why would the spell depend on the two of us? Why not you, or Rani and Randy, or even Jami and Jamie?”
“I’m not sure, but I think the others are being offered similar choices,” Joshua Wander said. “When someone agrees to do this, the spell can proceed.”
“So maybe I can go home, and Cathma doesn’t have to give up anything.” Cathy said.
“Don’t count on it,” said Joshua Wander.
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