Saturday, June 04, 2005

Mall of Mâvarin, Part Twelve

If you read my LiveJournal (and really, hardly anyone does!--you know that I've finally got a handle on this story. At least, I think so. We'll see what happens once I get past the bit I wrote for this week!--Karen

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

Part Seven: Cathy and her friends meet Joshua Wander, an interdimensional traveler who followed his mysteriously shrunken castle from Mâvarin to Shoppingtown. Art by SherlockHe 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: Cathy, Josh and friends chat as the castle makes its way between realities, making literary references and feeling more like themselves than they have all day. The castle lands safely. Fabian suggests that they all go see where they've ended up.

Art by Sherlock
Part Twelve: Transposition

Light poured into the great hall as Joshua Wander opened the castle door. Cathy stood up cautiously. “What’s out there? Can you see anything?”

Josh shook his head. “I can’t begin to tell you, and I don’t know where we are. You’d better come see for yourselves.”

Fabian was the first out the door behind Josh, followed by Sheila and Randy, and then Uncle Jamie and Carl. Cathy walked out right behind Carl. She passed the threshold and staggered as chaotic waves of memory swept over her, senseless but insistent. Disoriented, she stood still for a moment, looking around, getting her bearings. Where was she, exactly, and why? Did it have something to do with the odd thoughts and feelings she’d had all day, since dreaming of another world?

And was this, in fact, another world? It was like no place she’d ever seen before; at least, not while awake. Glass walls enclosed incomprehensible rooms, filled with people who sat and stared. Like Market Square on Comerdu, it was full of exotic goods in interesting colors, and open to the sky above. But nobody was buying or selling. It was not even clear whether anything was actually available for sale. In fact, it all seemed beyond comprehension, at least for the moment. Some things looked as though they ought to make sense to her, somehow, but her brain refused to process the information.

Whatever the problem was, she wasn’t the only one affected. Carli stood next to her, his mismatched eyebrows furrowed, slowly shaking his head. Rani was fingering his necklace, and looking rather shocked. There was something strange about the necklace. In fact, everyone looked a little strange, in clothing never before seen in Mâvarin. What was going on?

Fayubi stood a few feet away, his usual look of worry on his face. “Is everyone all right?”

Cathma shook her head. “I’m not sure. Where are we? How did we get here?”

Fayubi smiled gently. “I have no idea, but I’m sure we’ll find out.”

“The last thing I remember clearly is waking up in the Palace this morning,” Carli said. “What is all this? It looks like something out of my dreams.”

“Or nightmares,” Jami added.

Throughout this exchange, a middle-aged man in a funny hat was staring at them and frowning. “Excuse me,” he said, “but are you folks aware that you’re speaking a different language now?”

“A different language?” Carli asked. “Are you sure? Still sounds like Mâvarinû to me.”

“I guess that means we’re in Mâvarin now,” said the man. “I already picked up that language, last time I was here. But back in Dewitt a few minutes ago, you people were all speaking English.”

Rani cocked his head at the man, wearing that look of frowning concentration he sometimes got on his dark face. “Are you saying that before we were here, we were physically in another world, speaking another language?”

“Exactly,” said the man.

“So it wasn’t a dream,” Carli said. “At least, that part wasn’t.”

Cathma struggled to remember the day’s events. It was difficult, because the memories were vague and conflicting. She recalled waking up in the Palace, and the way her life as Queen of Mâvarin had seemed increasing unfamiliar, even unreal, as the day wore on. Buried under that, barely accessible, was the opposite memory. She’d awakened in a house…where? Dewitt, as the man had said? She had ridden in a vehicle that moved astoundingly fast without a horse to pull it, and attended a school with hundreds of people her age—and really, how likely was that? And despite her strange surroundings in this version of her day, she had felt more and more like Cathma as the day progressed. It was these memories that led to the scene before her, not the almost-normal day in the Palace. If she concentrated, she could almost remember the blue castle behind her, and a market that looked like the one before her, except that it had a ceiling, and the people in it had not looked nearly as dazed as the ones she saw now.

“And you, and you, and you were there,” Fayubi murmured.

Fayubi was right. The buried memories of Dewitt, wherever that was, had all the same people and buildings—well, sort of—as the current situation. That meant that…well, she wasn’t quite ready to confront what that probably meant.

Cathma looked at the man with the silly hat. “Please forgive me if I’ve asked you this before,” she said, “but who are you, exactly? What’s your interest in all this?”

The man with the hat groaned. “Here we go again,” he said.

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