Sunday, July 17, 2005

Mall of Mâvarin, Part Eighteen

As predicted, I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince after nearly 24 hours of almost-continuous reading. As a consequence of this, I'm terribly short on sleep, and need to go to bed soon. I'm also rather annoyed at Rowling for killing off a favorite character of mine, although I suspected about halfway through the book that he would be the one to die.

Furthermore, her latest novel contains a spell that follows the same rules as one in my first Mâvarin novel, and a plot point about unspoken magic that mirrors a plot point in my second Mâvarin novel--darn it! I am not going to change what I wrote just to avoid her accidental echoes. If anything, the plot point in Mages, which is already more developed than Rowling's version, needs to be developed even further in mine for the sake of Darma's character arc. Still, it bugs me. People will think I ripped off Rowling, when it fact I first wrote about the darkness spell about thirty years ago, and the unspoken spell thing at least three or four years ago. The latter has a totally different emphasis in my iteration than in hers, and it's thematically important, so it stays.

On with the recap, and then maybe I'll manage to actually write a little piece of this darn serial before I go to bed!

Part Fourteen: Cathma and her friends meet Lee Ramirez, the American who inherited Li Ramet's magical talent for understanding and being understood in any language. With Lee's help, the Americans and Mâvarinû compare notes. It turns out that they all know their situation: their spirits and consciousness have now been transferred into each others' bodies. Lee confirms that his counterpart, Li Ramet, is involved, and should arrive soon with the remaining affected people.

Art by SherlockPart Fifteen: Back in Josh Wander's castle, Fabian points out that Cathma is speaking English again, as is everyone else. She remembers more of her life as Cathy, but still feels more like Queen Cathma than Cathy Salazar. Fabian and Fayubi compare notes, and conclude that they both have Fayubi's talents. What is needed, though, is Rani's talent as a mind mage. Rani says that he needs Randy too, to have any hope of helping all the people affected by the transfer of minds and spirits. Fortunately, Randy is just arriving at the half-destroyed mall--in tengrem form.

Part Sixteen: Randy arrives, confused and half-feral. Rani calms him down, and gets him to come inside the castle. Once there, he is able to understand and be understood in words. Although he admits to enjoying the tengrem condition while he was fully immersed it it, he doesn't want to take Rani's place forever, and experience the kinds of horrors Rani has lived through. After exhorting the others to find the source of the leak between worlds, Rani and Randy sit down together to try to exchange minds and spirits, thus putting themseves back in their original bodies.

Part Seventeen: While Rani and Randy commune in mindtouch, Lee Ramirez reveals that he knows where Li Ramet's portal is, and that it's the source of all the trouble. Before he gets far in his account, Li Ramet arrives with the last of the affected people, and suggests that they all "get started."

Part Eighteen: The Connection

Art by Sherlock“Get started doing what, Li?” Cathma asked. “Do you know how to fix all this?”

“Not exactly,” Li said. “I have a fair idea what went wrong with my original spell, though, and there are a number of things I can try in order to reverse the process. I just needed to get all the affected people here first.”

“What exactly are you planning to try?” Carli asked. “Is it dangerous?”

“No more than what’s already happened, I think,” Li said.

“Why did you do it?” Cathy asked. “The other Lee started to tell us what happened. I want to know the rest of it. Did you even know our world existed?”

Li looked a little annoyed, and then amused. “Your world?”

“The other world, then. The world of the Americans.”

Li shook his head. “Not in any specific way,” he said. “I was trying for a world with no magic, on the theory that it was one less variable to worry about. Also, it might be handy to go able to go someplace where I couldn’t do magic, you know, in case I lost control again.”

“Would you really cut yourself off from magic forever, with no way back?” Jami asked. “That sounds pretty drastic.”

“Well, not at first, no. I needed to keep the portal open, so I could get back, and to let a little magic in after all. Then I got to wondering whether it’s the place or the person that has the magic, or both. If I lived in Dewitt, would I lose my magic? Would I become someone else, or would I just be Li Ramet without magic?”

“Interesting,” Fabian said. “What’s the answer?”

Li shrugged. “I still don’t know, but I got sidetracked thinking about the problem. I thought I could stabilize who somebody was by connecting him or her with the world of origin. But that meant forcing the portal to stay open even further. I was just starting to experiment with this when your friend there showed up with his castle. That forced my portal even wider, and the mind experiment I had started went completely out of control.”

Cathma remembered a similarly disastrous result to one of Rani’s magical experiments. “I’ll bet it did,” she said.

“Wait a minute,” said Cathy. “If this portal of yours is so big, how come we haven’t seen it yet? I assume you’re not talking about the one Lee Ramirez let us through a little while ago.”

“No, that’s a little thing compared to this.”

“Then why haven’t we found it?” Fabian asked.

“Found it? You’ve been in it for hours. Some version of you has, anyway.”

“You don’t mean…” Fayubi started to say.

Li nodded. “It’s this mall. My portal is Shoppingtown Mall.”

“What, all of it?” Jamie asked.

“All of it,” Li said.

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