Alderon's Tower     
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Chapter 12 -- We Meet Again, For The First Time
Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.

We charged up the stairs to the next floor. I didn't know exactly where the scream came from, but another scream helped us navigate. As we ran down the corridor, Mark panted "Mara?" I just nodded.

I heard strange scratching noises behind one door; I guessed that this must be the place. With a word I opened the locked door, and saw that the apartment was a mirror image of Mark's. At the door to the bathroom, another little black horror was clawing at the door. Sawdust was flying all around it, and I could see that it would quickly break through.

Daylight was still streaming from my fingertips, but I decided to release a Silence spell before I attacked. A word and a gesture, and then I focused the Light on the demon.

It screamed into the Silence, then slumped into a puddle, and began to smoke. Mark ran to open the window; he had evidently closed the door behind him.

In a few moments, it was just a black stain on the carpet.

Mark and I stood there, panting. After a few moments, the bathroom door opened and Mara stepped out. She put one bare foot into the black stain and recoiled, a look mingling disgust and fear on her face. Then she stepped over it, turned to us and said something into the Silence.

Picture us, if you will. Mara was wearing a t-shirt and white panties. I was wearing just my jockey shorts, and Mark was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. Light still streamed from my fingers, illuminating the room strangely, and all was draped in Silence.

I revoked the Silence, and heard a loud knocking at the door. Quickly, I whispered: "Mara, tell them you had a nightmare. Mark, come on!" Mark and I went into the bathroom; then I remembered the stain, and the sawdust. As I have said before, I'm no expert at illusion, but I can hide an ugly spot in the carpet. I dismissed the Light and silently formed two words for the Illusion. Just then I heard Mara open the door.

A man's voice: "Mara, are you alright?"

"Yeah," she said, feigning sleepiness, "I'm fine. Just a real bad dream."

"Well, if you're sure..."

"I am," she said with more force. "Thanks for looking in on me."

"No problem. If you need any help you know who to call."

She closed the door, and turned on the light. I dismissed the Illusion (as it was taking some of my concentration) and Mark and I stepped out of the bathroom.

"Who are you," she said to me, "and how did you do that? What was that thing?"

"Solomoriah is my name, and I'm a wizard. That thing was some sort of evil spirit in corporeal form, sent by someone calling himself Dreamwalker."

"A wizard," she said in disbelief. Then I saw her looking at my right hand. "My mother told me of wizards, and that I should steer clear of them, but I thought it was just superstition."

"You saw the light, and the illusion which covered the stain. I don't really want to waste power proving myself; I saved you from that creature, didn't I?"

"Yes," she said. "I am grateful."

Mark was looking at the stain. "Look here," he said, pointing. I bent down and looked. A small black opal lay in the center of the stain. "I'll go check the one downstairs," he said, "if I didn't lock myself out." He left. I was grateful, for now I could speak to Mara in private.

She said, "Why did this Dreamwalker want to harm me?"

"It's a bit embarrassing, really. Once, longer ago than you would easily believe, I knew a woman named Mara, whom you resemble greatly. When I saw you on the stairs, I remembered her, and later I dreamed of you, or her; in my dream I couldn't tell."

"Were these dreams... erotic?" she asked hesitantly.

"No, but we did kiss. In the dream a voice asked who you were. I never answered, but somehow Dreamwalker found you." I paused a moment, then said "I'm sorry you were dragged into this. You don't even know me."

She looked at me with an indecipherable look, and I was tempted to use Mind Reading, but I didn't. It wouldn't have been right; in fact, I felt it might be time to come clean with Mark.

"Perhaps," she began, then her face fell. "No. It would never work."

"Why not?" I asked, though I was sure I knew.

"I came here at twelve with my parents, as refugees from the unrest in the Sudan. Before that, when I was just ten, I was... circumcised. Do you know what that means for me?"

"I do."

"It wasn't long after we moved here that I learned what had really been done to me... what I had truly lost. I can't be with a man, not now."

I looked at her, thinking of all my discarded plans. She knew everything I aimed to keep secret now.

I held out my right hand. "Look, Mara, and think of the first time you saw me, or of yesterday when we met in the hall."

She thought for a moment. "You had just one hand yesterday! How?"

I removed my ring, took her by the hand, and put it on her. There was just enough power in it to make her tingle, and considering the location the fact that she jumped a bit should not be surprising.

"This ring healed you?"

"Yes." I put it back on. "Unfortunately there is not enough energy here to heal you. Remember the business suit I was wearing yesterday? I had to go to the twenty-fourth floor of 50 Fremont Center where a Ley line passes through it to get enough power to be healed." I could see she was still confused, and trying to decide what to ask me next. I said, "I'll go get some clothes on, and you do likewise, and I'll meet you back here in a few minutes. I'm going to take you up on the roof and show you something that will make this clearer for you."

"Okay," she said. She had just realized how little we were both wearing, and she was trying not to stare; I'd been doing that since the friendly visitor at the door left.

So I left. I went back downstairs, hoping no one saw me; I didn't want to waste an Invisibility spell just to protect my dignity. I did surprise a little old lady looking out her door, but she flushed and ducked back inside.

Mark had left the door ajar, so I could get back in. He showed me the black opal he had found, and I realized I'd left the other one upstairs. No telling what trouble it might cause; I resolved to pick it up when I went back to her apartment.

"Get dressed, Mark. We're going up on the roof."


"This time I'm going to let you see what I see."

We dressed quickly and met Mara at her door. "I need that black stone," I said, and she handed it to me. She was dressed in jeans and a sweater; but I was still remembering her from earlier...

I had prepared two spells of Opening, so I had one left to open the rooftop entrance. I wasn't sure I'd be able to draw enough to cast it otherwise. I noticed Mara watching intently as I said the word and turned the knob, but Mark was already beginning to take my magic for granted.

We looked out over the city. It was overcast, but the visibility was good. I laid my hands on their shoulders and released the special spell of Mystic Vision I had prepared, altered to affect all those I touched when I activated it. Mark and Mara both went "Oooh..." at the same time.

"Those are the Ley lines, then?" she asked.

"Yes. See how one intersects 50 Fremont Center?"

She nodded. Mark was walking around the edges of the roof, seemingly unconcerned about the altitude. "What's that?" he asked, pointing.

Some distance to the south, a thin golden line traced down from a Ley line segment into an area of townhouses. As we watched, I could see energy flowing down the thin line in pulses. I had to get a closer look, so I released the only Flight spell I had prepared.

I flew as fast as I could, the wind tearing at my face, toward the area which was the target of the thin stream of energy. Just before I reached the target zone, the line faded. There were many townhouses there, apparently just alike, but none showed any visible trace of mystic energy.

I searched briefly but found no further evidence, so I turned about and returned to our building. It was harder to find in the dark than I thought, but I reached it before my spell of Flight was exhausted.

Mark and Mara were still on the roof. Mara shivered, and I found myself in agreement with her. As we made our way to the steps Mark asked, "Did you find it?"

"No. I wasn't quick enough. It has given me food for thought, though..."

We took the elevator down. When it stopped at Mara's floor she took my hand and led me off. Mark smiled and said, "See you in the morning, Solo," as the doors closed.

Mara busied herself preparing an herbal tea. I found it to my liking, much more so than the iced tea which Mark preferred. We sat down on her couch, sipped at our tea and looked at each other uneasily.

Finally I decided to go first. "Mark told me of your situation. I want you to understand, I would want to heal you even if I weren't attracted to you. I don't know if you can believe that."

"I can. You seem like a good person."

"You don't know me very well, Mara. I should tell you that the first Mara I knew died despite my attempt to save her."

"Tell me about it."

So I did. I told her of my apprenticeship to Gruven Ket, and how the first Mara died. I skipped much of the middle part of the story, but I did tell her how I was turned to stone and awoke in the museum.

"You wanted to save her. You just underestimated your enemy. If I were she I would forgive you."

"How can it be that you look so much like her?" I wondered.

"I don't know, but Solomoriah... you seem familiar to me also. Perhaps that is why I find it so easy to believe you. I can't believe that I am about to be healed!" She paused in reflection. "I never forgave my mother. She died of illness when I was just fifteen, and on her deathbed she told me she knew I resented her. She begged my forgiveness, and I just said 'Mother, I'm sorry, I can't forgive you. I hope you find forgiveness in the next world.'" She broke down in tears. I moved next to her, pulled her to me, and she cried bitterly.

After a time she composed herself, pushing away gently. "Why did you want to keep from me that you are a wizard, if you planned to pursue my affections?"

"I thought of many plans to heal you without you realizing I did it. All of my plans depended on you not knowing I can work magic, for you would surely suspect that I was the one who healed you."

"But why keep that a secret?"

"I didn't want you to fall for me out of gratitude."

She mused on this. "You didn't want an unfair advantage, then? Most men would love to have such an edge."

"It's a weak man's way, Mara, and I've been a weak man enough times in my life."

She kissed me then, and it was better than the dream. Then she kissed me again, and it was better still...

We fell asleep in each other's arms. All we had done was kiss, and hold each other, and make a little small talk; but it was more than enough.

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