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Chapter 11 -- I Am Not Alone
Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.

I was dreaming of Mara. Which one? I couldn't tell you; but she was beautiful, and we were kissing. In my dream we were in a park somewhere, a bit like the one where I first slaked my thirst in this era. We'd walk a bit, and kiss, and smile, and walk on...

A male voice spoke from the air as I looked at her. "Who is she?" I looked around, but couldn't find the speaker. I looked back at her; she looked bemused. "Who is she?" came again. Again I looked around, more concerned this time, and then I awoke.

It was just after noon. The dream left me uneasy, for the question of the disembodied voice was a valid one. Why was I so infatuated with this girl anyway? I told myself I would want to heal her even if I wasn't so attracted to her, and I believe now that I was being truthful to myself. Still, I had never even spoken to this Mara, and for that matter the "original" Mara hadn't lived long enough for us to develop a relationship, or even a friendship. In fact, I think she may have feared me almost as much as she feared my old master.

I shook my head. No time to waste on idle musing, I thought. There was one thing I had been overlooking, and it was time to tend to it.

One of the things Mark had named for me that first evening was the "computer." Now, I had no idea at the time what it was good for, but stuck in the back of one of its components was a stack of perfectly good paper. I grabbed that, then went looking for something to write with. I had seen Mark using a pen which seemed to contain its own ink; I managed to find several in a drawer in the kitchen, and made one of them work.

I sat down at the table with the paper and pen and began to write, not in English but in the language of my people. You see, among the things I lost in Tjarik's fortress were my spell books. I knew from my experience preparing necromantic spells that it was possible for me to forget them, so I needed a written record to prevent that.

A spell written down is not just the words you say to cast it; the written work must contain descriptions or even diagrams of the gestures, if any, and an explanation of how the spell is supposed to work. The words said by the caster serve to focus some part of the mind which actually controls the spell. This is why the trick I learned from Tigris works.

Mark came home near sunset; he had been working late on a "website," which he promised to explain later. We dined on franks and beans, and I discovered that I liked root beer.

"I paid up all my obligations and still had almost two grand left," he said. "Valerie wasn't happy about it, but I have arranged to have Emily for the weekend." He looked at me strangely for a moment.

"You are thinking that I need new accomodations, right?" I asked.

He looked intently at his food then. "Yeah. You made this all possible, and I hate to kick you out, but..."

"I understand. I'd feel the same way. Tomorrow I'll start looking for a place."

"Not having ID is going to be a problem, I'm afraid," he said.

"I fear you are right." I took a drink as I thought for a minute. "Well, nothing to do but try."

Later Mark talked about his work. That was when I was introduced to the World Wide Web.

"My mainboard died a few months back and I couldn't afford to get it fixed," he said. Confused, I activated my Mind Reading spell, but I didn't learn much more that way. I watched silently as he disassembled the white-painted box, removing arcane components and inserting the "mainboard" he had purchased that day. About an hour later the computer was running, and I stood there agape like a fool watching a magician as he logged on.

It was after midnight when I finally went to bed. Mark had shown me how to search the web for information, and I had spent all evening reading website after website. He warned me about the unreliability of the information due to the variations among the sources, and I found that to be very true... particularly on the websites I viewed regarding magic. The vast majority of "serious" magic-oriented websites were no more than primitive tribal magic; I found only a few where the systematic form I was trained in was discussed, and only one of them mentioned the Ley lines.

I added that last one to my Favorites. No, I won't tell you which one it was; if you are capable of handling the information you'll be able to find the site. I resolved to contact the site operator as soon as I had a private email address.

So I lay down to sleep, my mind buzzing with all the new information I had learned; I wondered how much would be false, or half-true... Finally I fell asleep.

Again I was dreaming of Mara. We were in the park again, and all progressed much as it had the first time; and the voice came again. "Who are you?" it asked this time. The voice was louder, more commanding, and I realized something strange was going on. "Who are you?" it asked again.

"Solomoriah. Who are you?" The dream-park faded away, and Mara with it, leaving me in an endless space of white floor and white sky.

"My name is my secret. You may call me Dreamwalker. You should call me Death!" He laughed... not the maniacal movie villain laughter you are probably thinking of, but rather a chilling laugh from someone who believes he has already won.

"I am Solomoriah. Once I was enslaved to a monster. I don't fear the likes of you." Brave words, with nothing to back them up. I couldn't wake up.

"Don't struggle so, wizard. You can't awaken, so you can't stop what is happening in the real world. Shortly you will be dead." He laughed again, briefly. "Did you think you could draw so much power from the Ley lines without being noticed? This is my territory, and I don't like trespassers."

As he gloated I was thinking furiously. I had always been told you couldn't cast spells in your dreams; that is, you might dream you are casting spells but you can't actually activate a real one. But was I really asleep? I felt fully clear-headed and cognizant, and I well knew that I could cast spells without speaking... I decided to try it.

In my dream I spoke a single word, activating the spell of Mind Reading. It worked! I was able to sense the link Dreamwalker had forged between us. He was shocked to feel the magic rising in me, and I didn't give him time to think; I charged down the link toward him, mentally screaming in rage. It was a ruse; he couldn't know his spell was superior to mine, not without time to think about it, and he was fooled by my bravado. He broke the link.

I sat bolt upright on the couch, and framed in the moonlight streaming through the window was a demonic figure. I had but a moment to consider its inky, apelike form, bat wings, and claws dripping smoking acid before it launched itself at me.

By reflex I blasted it with my most powerful Force Bolt, and it exploded all over the room like it was made of black jelly. I sat there breathing hard for a moment. Then, all the little blobs of black jelly grew spider-legs and ran together in the center of the room, and the demon reformed.

This time I didn't wait to be attacked. I fired my Lightning spell at it, and it stood there transfixed by the bolt, screaming in pain and frustration; but when my power ran out it was not dead, just diminished in size.

The little monster stood there and soaked up shadows, growing until it was the original size. I began to fear for my life as none of my spells seemed to do much to it. Just as it leaped at me again, I activated my Kinetic Shield, and it bounced back into the room. That would only work until the demon realized it could approach more slowly and wrestle with me...

Suddenly the room was illuminated, and the demon was screaming again. Mark had turned on the light, and that seemed to be hurting the demon. It cowered on the floor, the skin on its back bubbling slightly.

I stood up and activated a Light spell, focused on my right hand. When I closed my fingers like a flower closes for the night, the light became a focused beam as bright as daylight. I directed the beam at the demon, and it quickly melted into a puddle of bubbling black goo. Mercifully, the goo couldn't scream. I kept the beam on it until it began to smoke; then Mark opened the window to clear the smoke. Shortly nothing was left but a black stain on the carpet.

Mark began to say something, but he was interrupted by a scream from a higher floor... a woman's scream. I remembered the voice in the first dream... "Who is she? I ran out the door in just my underwear, with Mark following close behind...

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The Adventures of Solo Jones Last Updated 07/18/2005