Sunday, May 29, 2005

Mall of Mâvarin, Part Eleven

Okay, I've been worrying about this all week, and putting it off all night. I am now two entries beyond where I got hopelessly stuck the first time I tried to write this thing, and I have very little idea what I'm about to write. But I'll think of something, I hope!

Actually, I've handwritten many pages of stuff for this story that you guys haven't seen yet. You won't be seeing it any time soon, either. It's my flashback to what's been happening in Mâvarin while all this stuff was going on in Dewitt. Problem is, since it takes place about a few months after Mages of Mâvarin, it's a total spoiler for that book / trilogy / whatever. A few of you are currently reading this in manuscript, and I don't want to mess it up for you! Everyone else, well, you'd probably be confused by it. So let's stick with our Central New York cast for now, shall we? --Karen

Synopses to Parts One through Six can be found at the top of Part Seven.

Art by Sherlock

Part Seven: Cathy and her friends meet Joshua Wander, an interdimensional traveler who followed his mysteriously shrunken castle from Mâvarin to Shoppingtown. He claims to have no knowledge of the others' predicament, although a policeman who remembers being the Captain of Cathma's Palace Guard is dubious about this. Josh's castle has arrived looking a quarter its normal size, and his magical abilities are severely reduced. As the stranded mage looks through a spell book for answers, Fabian asks if he can look at the spell that brought Josh to Dewitt. Although the spell is written in an unknown language that resists translation, Josh reluctantly hands over the book--and Fabian discovers that he can read it anyway.

Part Eight: Fabian announces that the spell is written in Lopartin, the ancient, magical language used on Mâton. Although the spell's footnotes mention the dangers of two much traffic between worlds, it offers no help for the current problem. Based on a vision, Fabian correctly identifies Josh Wander as a former student of nearly Syracuse University. Josh is astonished (and not especially pleased) to learn that he's "home." Fabian speculates about whether this fact contributed to the leakage between realities, and everyone wonders what to do next. Randy advises everyone to simply "wait."

Part Nine: Randy predicts that something is about to happen that determines what they will do next. He's right. The mall starts to bend and fold itself, and yet there's no apparent damage. Everyone starts running toward Joshua Wander's castle. Josh points out that, having been miniaturized, it's too small to hold much of anyone. Fabian dashes inside it anyway. He reappears in the doorway a moment later, looking a quarter his normal size. He urges everyone to run into the castle.

Part Ten: Fabian convinces everyone to go into the castle, because it's far safer than the mall at the moment. From the inside, sizes seem normal, but everything goes dark as the mall around the castle disappears. Beneath their feet, the castle starts to move.

Part Eleven: Relocation

Cathy grabbed the nearest wall as the floor beneath her began to tilt and pivot. “We’d better sit down!” she called out, and immediately followed her own advice. The angle and movement of Josh’s castle was not so great that she was likely to slide too much once she was sitting on the floor. She just hadn’t wanted to trust her ability to keep her feet as it moved unpredictably in the dark.

Around Cathy, the others could be heard (and in some cases, felt) as they also slid to the floor. There was much grunting and whispering. Somewhere behind her, a child was crying to her mommy.

Cathy herself was tense but excited. Wherever they were going, it was quite a ride.

“‘When hinges creak in doorless chambers…’” Randy intoned. Someone in the back laughed.

“Where’s the Ghost Host when you need him?” said Wil, or whatever his name really was.

“I’m your host, and I’m not a ghost,” said Joshua Wander. “Usually.”

“What is happening? Where are we going?” someone else asked. It sounded like one of the Tilen brothers.

“Another world, almost certainly,” Fabian said. “Probably some version of Mâvarin.”

“Maybe, but maybe not,” Josh said. “In my experience, it’s not always easy to get Toujours Chez Moi back to a place it’s been before. We could end up someplace else entirely.”

“Great,” Jamie said, somewhere off to Cathy’s left. “If we land in Oz, I’m going to be very annoyed.”

“It’s theoretically possible,” said Joshua Wander. “I’ve been to a few worlds that had literary equivalents.”

“Really?” Sheila asked. “I would be quite interested to hear about that sometime, when our situation is less perilous.”

“I told you. We’re safe, at least for the moment,” Fabian insisted. “I’m not sure how safe we’ll be once we arrive, but this castle—“

“This castle is used to traveling between worlds unscathed,” Josh said. “Yes, I should have realized it would protect you folks from that bit of collapsing reality back there. It’s just that I don’t usually travel in my castle. Normally I go first, and Toujours Chez Moi follows after.”

“So you keep saying,” Carl said. “How do you do it?”

“Oh, sometimes I initiate it with magic, but mostly it’s something that happens to me,” Josh said. “It’s left over from a very foolish and dangerous series of experiments I participated in when I was young. It’s an interesting life, but not a comfortable one. I can’t really recommend it.”

Cathy noticed that the castle now seemed to be rocking very slightly as it seemed to slowly rotate, as if on a giant turntable. She hoped that wasn’t literally the case. The faces of other people were slowly becoming visible around her. Either her eyes were getting used to the gloom, or the dim light outside the heavy glass windows was getting brighter. As Cathy watched, the light slowly grew from twilight gloom to midday sunshine.

With one last heavy thump, the castle came to a stop.

“Well, that was interesting,” Fabian said cheerfully. “Let’s go see where we are, shall we?”

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