Sunday, July 03, 2005

Mall of Mâvarin, Part Sixteen (scroll down - glitch!)

Art by SherlockThe synopses of previous installments have gotten out of hand again, so follow the links if you need to read them, either to refresh your memory or because you're new to the story. 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. Maybe if I'm very lucky, I'll figure out how to fix the template soon so this post will be at the top of the page where it belongs. It was working until a week ago, really!

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.

Part Fifteen: Back in Josh Wander's castle, Fabian points out that Cathma is speaking English again, as does 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: Lure of the Tengrem

“I’d better go out and meet him,” Carl said.

“Me, too,” said Cathy. Me, too,” said Cathy. Cathma watched them as they started for the door. Much as she wanted to go too, this was her counterpart’s friend, not the Rani she knew.

“Be careful!” Rani called after them. “He’s confused, and potentially dangerous.”

“He won’t hurt me,” Carl said.

“That’s what I always say,” Carli said. “But I’m always careful anyway.”

Carl nodded and walked out, followed by his sister. At the last second, Cathma decided that she couldn’t leave it to them, and followed them out.

Just beyond the edge of what had been the mall, a tengrem clattered to a stop. He tossed his head and looked around, sniffing the air. In a moment his eyes settled on the three twins—no, wait: four twins. Carli had followed Cathma out.

“Hwwrr?” the tengrem asked.

Carl said something in English. Randy tossed his head, and said something that might have been an intelligible word.

Art by Sherlock“He wants to know why there are four of you and two of him,” Rani said. Cathma hadn’t seen him come out of the castle, but it was no surprise. Of course he would want to be here.

“Doesn’t he know?”

“Randy understands, but the tengrem doesn’t. Right now he’s more the tengrem than Randy. Excuse me, Cathma. I need to concentrate.”

Carl said something in a soothing voice. Cathy did the same. Rani held up his hands, gesturing for them to wait. They nodded and fell silent.

All four twins stood and watched as Rani walked up to the tengrem slowly. The tengrem tossed his head once, but then stood still. Rani touched the horn. The tengrem let him. After a moment the tengrem shuddered. Then he reached out and touched the necklace. The tengrem disappeared, replaced by someone who looked exactly like Rani. The only difference was that Randy was wearing Rani’s brown slacks and quartz necklace, while Rani was wearing a t-shirt with colorful people (the Beatles, Cathma remembered vaguely) depicted on it.

“That’s better,” Rani said. “Do you understand my words now, Randy?”

Randy shook his head, and said something in English.

Rani sighed. “We should have asked Lee to come outside with us.”

Randy shook his head again. He reached out, and put his hands on Rani’s head. For a moment, Cathma thought Rani was going to pull away, but after a brief turn of the head Randy was still. “Now? You want to do it now?”

Randy just looked at him. Cathma guessed that words were being exchanged inside the minds of Randy and his counterpart, or at least emotions.

“All right, but come inside first. It will help.”

Randy looked confused, but Rani pointed toward the castle. Randy nodded, and let Rani go.

In a moment they were all inside JW’s castle again. Randy looked amazed as he looked around. “How many of these people are from Dewitt?” he asked.

“If you mean in mind and spirit, most of them,” Rani said.

“Hey, I understood your words this time.”

“Yes, I know. Joshua Wander’s castle does that. That’s part of why I wanted you in here.”

“What’s the other reason?”

“What do you remember about my life?” Rani asked.

Randy’s eyes widened. “Oh my…I do remember. Maybe not everything, but a lot of it. Did you really…I think I’m going to be sick.”

“Never mind what happened on Sanlodal,” Rani said sharply. “Do you still want to try this right away?”

Randy nodded. “More than ever,” he said. “I did kind of like the running, but you’re right. We should do this if we can, before I change my mind.”

“What are you two talking about?” Cathma asked.

“Randy and I are going to attempt to change places now,” Rani announced. “If it works, we’ll know how to proceed with everyone else.”

“But what was that about changing your mind?” Carl asked. “Changing your mind about being a tengrem?”

“I was terrified at first,” Randy said. “Even back at school, I was scared as bits of tengrem instinct started to affect me. But once I was a tengrem, I…I liked it. A lot.”

Rani looked startled. “You did? Really?” Cathma thought she heard a desperate eagerness in Rani’s words.

“Really. But I don’t like it enough to give up my whole world, and spend the rest of my life as you. Sorry. I’d rather write about it than live it.”

Rani nodded. “I was afraid you were going to say that. If we’re going to do this, let’s sit down.”

“Just what I was about to suggest,” Randy said. He led Rani to a loveseat that Cathma didn’t remember seeing until that moment. She glanced over at Joshua Wander, and caught him looking pleased with himself.

“The rest of you should get on with some other part of the problem, like exactly where the leak is between worlds,” Rani said as he sat down.

“Right,” Randy said as he did he same. “There’s not much point in transferring all our spirits if we just slide back into each other again.”

Then Rani and Randy closed their eyes, and reached out to each other.

Welcome to Mâvarin

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