Sunday, August 28, 2005

Mall of Mâvarin, Part Twenty-Four

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. The installments themselves can be read in order using the sidebar.

Part Nineteen: Li Ramet, Lee Ramirez and Joshua Wander go off to try to reverse the effects of Li's modified portal spell, which, along with the appearance of Josh's magic castle, apparently caused all the trouble. Meanwhile, Rani and Randy announce they have successfully returned their own minds and spirits to the right bodies. Rani sets out to try to help Carl and Carli do the same. Despite being only a bookish high school student in a strange and magical land, Randy Foster thinks he has acquired sufficient magic and knowledge to sort out Cathma and Cathy as well. They sit down together to let him try.

Part Twenty: In mindtouch with Randy, the girl who thinks of herself as Cathma is told that she is really Cathy after all. According to Randy, Li's spell is more an accidental "mindpush" (magical brainwashing) than an actual transfer mind and spirit. Randy takes Cathy on a whirlwind tour through the memories of her own life, until she feels like herself again rather than the Queen of Mâvarin. At the same time, Randy helps the real Queen Cathma to reclaim her own identity. The process leaves Randy exhausted—and there are still dozens of people from Dewitt and Mâvarin who need similar help.

Part Twenty-One: Since Rani and Randy are too tired to do mind magic with anyone else for the moment, Cathy suggests going back to "Plan A"--seeing that Li, Lee and Josh successfully reverse Li's spell, getting everyone home both mentally and physically. Although leaving the castle once again floods Cathy's mind with Cathma's memories, this time it does not overwhelm her sense of who she is. Shoppingtown Mall now looks intact again, albeit in Mâvarin instead of Dewitt. Li and Lee are proud of this accomplisment, Josh less so. Cathy points out that the point is to get the mall and the people back where they belong, not to reassemble the building in the wrong world.

Part Twenty-Two: Li and Lee propose to leave Shoppingtown in Mâvarin, at least temporarily, until the people are restored. When Cathy and Cathma press them on how that part of the problem is coming along, they say that the people who actually traveled with the mall (as opposed to safely in the castle) are "feeling much better now." They have mindpushed these people from a state of emotional shock to one of relative normalcy. The mall employees have even started selling their goods and services to customers--including curious Mâvarinû, who have started coming in from outside.

Part Twenty-Three: Li and his counterpart have convinced the mall personnel to accept Mâvarin coins, on the theory that they will be valuable in the other world for their gold and silver content and as collectible rarities. They've even worked outan exchange rate with the J.C. Penney manager: Ruthie Foster, Randy's mom. Randy rushes off to see her. Joshua Wander and Fayubi (who still doesn't know he's really Fabian Stockwell) both express an interest in going shopping at the mall, on the theory that they may never have another opportunity to buy 21st century goods from a high-tech society. Before they go off to do that, however, Rani announces that all these stranded people, aside from the two sets or twins, aren't who they think they are.

Part Twenty-Four: We Are Who You Say We Are

Art by Sherlock.The others just looked at him.

“But we’ve been through all this,” the man who thought he was Fabian said eventually. “We’re all in each other’s bodies, and even have a bit of each others’ memories because of that. But we do know who we are.”

Rani shook his head. “No. You don’t. Randy and I figured it out during our mindtouch earlier, and proved it to our own satisfaction. There is no body swap, no significant transfer of spirit. You are Fayubi the Seer, not Fabian Stockwell. Everyone is in his or her own body.”

Lee Ramirez shook his head. “No, that can’t be right. I’m definitely Li Ramet, not Lee Ramirez. I’ve been doing magic all day, as if I’ve been doing it for months instead of hours.”

“Lee Ramirez has magic here, but that doesn’t make him Li Ramet,” Rani said. “This weird spell has accidentally mindpushed you into thinking you’re Li, and given you some memories to make it plausible. But it’s not true.”

“But look, Randy Foster galloped in here on four legs a little while ago,” Jamie Barrett protested. “How could he do that, if there’s no body swap? Randy doesn’t have tengrem blood.”

Rani grimaced. “Randy didn’t do that. I did. I only thought I was Randy.”

Art by Sherlock Jamie turned to Cathma. “Do you agree with this, Your Majesty? Have you really been in Mâvarin all along, in your own body? Have I really never been to Mâvarin before today?”

Cathma nodded. “I know it doesn’t sound possible, but Rani’s right,” she said. “I’m completely myself again. I remember my own life in detail, including everything that happened to me today. Randy couldn’t accomplish all that in a few minutes of mindtouch, if I wasn’t really Cathma all along.”

“And the same with me,” Carli said. “Even Rani couldn’t give me a lifetime of memories in five minutes, if they weren’t already there.”

“That’s right,” said Carl.

“It was kind of cool, thinking for a while that I was Queen of Mâvarin,” Cathy said. “But I’m really not.”

“Are you sorry to find out you’re wrong?” Fayubi asked.

Cathy shook her head. “Not really. Being Cathy Salazar has its advantages.”

Art by Sherlock “So what are we going to do about all this?” Li asked. “It’s one thing to tell me I’m Li Ramet, quite another to make me feel like myself again.”

“That’s true,” Rani said. “That’s why you’re going to return to the origin point of your modified portal spell, and find a way to fix your spell definitions. If you wait for Randy and me to help everyone here individually, it could take a week. And other people could be affected in the meantime.”

“Then at least come and help us figure it out,” Lee said.

“That won’t help,” Rani said. “I don’t know the portal magic part at all, and I don’t really understand how Li worked this mindpush into it. The best I can do is help the two of you to be yourselves again. You’re on your own after that.”

Li tugged at Lee’s sleeve. “He’s right. We can do this.” He looked at Rani. “If you turn Lee back into Lee, will he still be able to do portal magic?”

“If you show him how, yes. He’ll remember a little of it, and he’ll still have talent while he’s here.”

“But I barely remember how to do it myself,” Li said.

“The memories are still there,” Rani told him. “I just have to release them.”

“Then let’s get on with it,” Lee said.

Art by Sherlock Rani nodded. “Fine. Let’s use those chairs over by the escalator.”

“What will the rest of us do in the meantime?” Fabian asked.

Rani shrugged. “Go shopping, I guess. Just remember that you’re shopping for your other selves.”

Fabian turned to Fayubi. “What do you think? Do you think that together we can pick out a new outfit for Fayubi the Seer?”

Fayubi nodded. “I think so. How do you feel about Tommy Hilfiger?”

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