Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.
The next morning Mara and I ate cereal for breakfast. I told her
about Mark's daughter coming on the weekend, and that I needed to look
for accommodations. She said, "No you don't. You'll move in here.
You could sleep with me now if you wanted, Solomoriah, but if you
aren't comfortable with that yet my couch is as good as his."
Part of me was uncomfortable, but I agreed anyway. Mara told me she
needed to go to work shortly, and she gave me her spare key. I kissed
her goodbye as she left, then I went quickly to Mark's apartment to
get my things before he left for work also.
To my surprise, Mark didn't have to work that morning; he said his first
appointment was in the afternoon. I decided it was time we talked.
"I'm moving in with Mara," I said.
"You work fast, Solo. Go easy with her, will you?"
"I will. It is as if I've been given a second chance somehow. I
don't plan to screw it up."
"You know, Solo, your accent is going away."
"Good. That was my plan. I am trying very hard to speak with the
same accent that you do. I don't want to stand out any more than I
"I dunno, bud, I like Mara's accent. Makes her sound exotic." He
I thought about it. "I never noticed she had an accent. She sounds
to me exactly as I somehow expected she would."
"Have you considered what an amazing set of coincidences have happened
to you? You were a statue thirteen thousand years, then woke up in
this time and found your way to this place where a woman who looks
almost exactly like the first Mara lives."
I had thought about it. I was thinking about it. I just wasn't
getting to any conclusions, and I told Mark so.
"The strangest thing is, Mara says she believes me because I seem
"That may not be the strangest thing, Solo. I find you familiar
somehow too. It's why I invited you into my apartment when no sane
man in this city would do such a thing. You seem like a long-lost
friend." He thought a moment, then said, "Last night I dreamed I was
Zam Nar. I saw the men coming through the smoke with spears, and
I saw them kill you as I lay there with a spear in my chest. I woke
up in a cold sweat. It was so real I thought for a moment I had died."
"Do you believe in reincarnation?"
"I didn't, but I'm beginning to." He paused. "Tell me about religion
in your time."
"We had many beliefs, but all were facets of one belief: We believed
in a Creator-God of boundless power. As he was so far above us that
we could not comprehend him, he created beings of great power to be
our gods. Thus we were both monotheists and pantheists; the gods were
worthy of our worship because they were made so by the Creator, who
was himself worthy of worship because he was all powerful."
"Do you believe that way?"
"I was not much of a believer, even when I thought myself doomed at
the hands of Gruven Ket. I am beginning to wonder if I have been
"You realize that most modern religions would find your beliefs
heretical, don't you?"
"How many of them would burn me for being a wizard?" He thought on
that a while, and did not answer.
"More practical matters beg my attention, Mark. Remember the thin
stream of energy last night? Obviously mages of this day know how to
'tap' the Ley lines, so they don't have to climb up into them."
"I wondered what good they did, more than twenty stories in the air."
"Exactly. Now I must learn how to 'tap' the Ley lines. I plan to
move my things up to Mara's apartment this morning, then spend the
afternoon trying to work out the details of a Tapping spell."
"You create your own spells, then?"
"Usually I use spells created by others. Designing a spell from
scratch is difficult and time consuming; a wrong word, a wrong
order of words, or a badly planned gesture can be dangerous, but most
likely will result in a wasting of energy." I thought a moment. "The
spell of Tapping must need very little power..."
I mused about this as I collected my property. I needed a single
large paper bag to contain what didn't fit in the briefcase (which
still smelled like Big Macs). Truly I didn't have much in this world.
In Mara's apartment I put what I had on the floor. I decided to go out to eat,
and when I invited Mark along he said, "It's time to introduce you to some
ethnic cooking. There's a Thai place just a block from here; do you like spicy
I allowed that I did, and we went there. Mark cautioned me that it was
considered bad manners not to eat all you were given, and the portions turned
out to be large. Even with Mnemonic Enhancement I can't recall what I ate, but
I do remember being very full.
While we ate we spoke only of ordinary things. We were in public, after all.
Mark told me about the sights I should see and the things I should do in San
I am a great traveller, but a poor tourist. I rarely took time out in my old
life to look at the scenery or see the great wonders, and I haven't changed.
After lunch Mark caught a bus to get to his meeting, and I walked back to the
apartment building. I stopped at a drugstore and purchased a package of good
black pens (there were so many I could hardly choose) and a thick "college"
As I left the drugstore I met a woman who seemed familiar. She frankly stared
at me, and when I saw it was my right arm she was looking at, I recognized her
as the librarian. I left quickly.
I spent the afternoon scribbling notes in the ancient language. Each phrasing,
each diagram for the conduit seemed wrong somehow. There was something I was
Mara came home early, I thought, but then I remembered the customs and the
timekeeping and realized that work ended when the clock said so, not the sun.
It was just as well, as I was "banging my head against the wall" as the saying
She kissed me, then asked "What are you working on?"
"Trying to puzzle out the nature of the spell for the 'tap' which I saw last
"Is it hard?"
"I can't make it work out. In my day, a spell to transport magical energy would
have been a ridiculous waste of time, so I never studied how such a thing would
be done. Now I'm finding that I can't understand how it should work."
"Come with me, Solomoriah. Let's take a walk. It'll clear your head." She
took me by the hand and led me out the door.
We walked to the park nearby, and around inside it. I silently released a spell
of Mystic Vision (the last one I had prepared) during a lull in our
conversation. Mara saw me looking at the sky and figured it out. "You're
looking at the Ley lines! You aren't even paying attention!" She tried to act
angry but she was evidently too happy otherwise. The conflicting emotions on
her face were a bit funny, and I laughed.
"Now you're laughing at me!" she said.
There was only one thing to do, and I did it. I kissed her. We stood there, in
the middle of the sidewalk, kissing passionately for quite a while. Someone
passing whistled, and Mara pulled away, annoyed... but not at me. I thanked the
gods for that.
She turned back to me. "When can I be healed, my love?"
"I had hoped to have the 'tap' spell figured out before you got home, and to use
it to power the ring. Now I don't know what to do."
"What about the Fremont building?"
"I don't know if I can sneak in there again; if the guard has been alerted about
me I'll have a hard time getting by him."
"Don't you have magic that can help?"
"I have one Invisibility spell prepared, for one person. I can use it, or you
can, but not both of us." I looked at the sky for a moment, pondering.
"Honestly, right now I am more worried about tonight. I don't have much
prepared magic left. If Dreamwalker attacks again, I may not be able to stop
"I don't understand; can't you just cast any spell whenever you want?"
So I explained it to her. We sat down on a park bench, as the explanation got
quite long; but in the end she seemed to understand.
"This just makes it more important to get into the Fremont building," she said.
"You are thinking, you heal while I prepare. I agree, that is, ah, 'killing two
birds with one arrow'..."
"Indeed. But we need a plan."
"I think I have one. Come on, we have to get back to the apartment!" We walked
quickly. I wondered what she had in mind.
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