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Chapter 13 -- Wednesday
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 have to."

"I dunno, bud, I like Mara's accent. Makes her sound exotic." He grinned broadly.

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 familiar."

"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 wrong."

"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 food?"

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 Francisco.

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" notebook.

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 missing.

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 goes.

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 night."

"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 him."

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