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Chapter 7 -- Deja Vu With A Twist
Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.

It was upside down. That was the first thing I thought as I walked around the Waystone for the first time. The lower third of the seven-foot-tall Waystone should have been the pigeonholes, but they were on the upper third instead.

This was the first piece of evidence I had seen of the age I came from, other than those things I brought with me. I was so fascinated, I forgot that Mara and Mark were with me until I heard them talking.

On the way I had explained the purpose of the Waystone to them. Now Mark asked, "What was the name of the town this thing was in?"

"I don't know. The inscription is almost completely worn away. Let me look closer..." I spoke a word, quietly, activating the analytical form of Mystic Vision, and the inscribed symbols seemed almost to ignite.

"Quo Doran," I said. "The name means 'Fertile Valley.' I met a man from there once... He was a sailor aboard the ship I crossed the Atlantic on, had been everywhere, but Quo Doran was all he talked about."

I was standing there amazed that the enchantment, though depleted, seemed intact, when Mark called to me. "Solo, I think you should see this." I followed the sound of his voice around a corner, and felt my knees weaken when I saw what he was looking at.

It was Silla. I stood there dumbfounded for a moment, staring at the stone form of the woman I had protected from Tjarik, the Mage of Flame. She was standing, slightly on her toes, looking downward in surprise. Her arms were held across her abdomen in a warding gesture. "She must have seen the Basilisk," I mumbled, then noticed a museum employee looking at me strangely.

"How long?" asked Mara quietly, when the employee had moved on. I must have looked puzzled. "How long until she... thaws."

"Ah," I said, "I don't know. Let me focus a moment." I concentrated, bringing the Mystic Vision to the fore again. I saw that the magic field surrounding her was quite faint. "Not long. Minutes, days, a few weeks perhaps, but surely not longer."

"Any minute now, eh?" said Mark.

"I'm afraid so," I answered.

"Then you better come around here and see this." I walked to the side of the roped-off display and saw what he was pointing at... a metal bar almost two inches around, supporting Silla in the upper middle of her bare back.

"Is that..." I began.

"Embedded, yes," said Mark. "It looks like they drilled a hole in the middle of her spine. When she wakes up, that'll be stuck in her back. Probably she'll be paralyzed from there down."

"I can handle that," I said, twisting the ring on my finger.

"Yeah, but what if you aren't here when she wakes up?" he said. "You just said you don't know when it will happen. You can't stake out this display, can you?"

"No," I answered. "We'll have to take her home with us."

"I, uh, don't think that's allowed," he said.

"I know."

I stood there a moment in silence. Silla's body was far less damaged than mine had been, having only the hole in her back and a few missing fingers... I could easily imagine her drawing a breath at any moment.

That might happen, I told myself, and with that breath she would scream. I suppressed a shiver.

"You know," said Mark quietly, "if you really plan to do what you just said, we should try not to look so suspicious." I nodded, and slowly walked on to the next display. I had been a fool, again, and I was glad that it was my friend who caught me at it.

We spent the next hour or so pretending to be interested in the other items on display. I found the Pleistocene exhibit sad. The primitive men and women depicted there were certainly typical of primitive tribesmen of my day; but civilized people, my people, were absent, forgotten.

At last we made our way to Mark's car and went in search of food. "Where do you guys want to eat?" he asked.

"I don't know," I said, still somewhat distracted.

"I don't care," said Mara.

"Now come on, somebody make a decision," he said. Just then I saw my favorite fast-food restaurant a little way down the street, and I reached over Mark's shoulder and pointed it out. I thought for a moment Mara was going to complain (for it's not exactly her favorite) but she held her peace.

The drive-through was overflowing, but there were seats available inside, so we went in. As we ate, naturally we discussed the museum.

"How are you going to do it, Solo?" asked Mark in a quiet-but-excited voice. "How are you going to heist a statue from the museum?"

"You mean, rescue Silla, don't you?" I asked. He nodded, his mouth full, looking a bit irritated. "I saw some cameras, but they don't cover the entire building. I can become invisible, but since the cameras do cover Silla pretty well I assume the guards will be there right away if anything happens to her."

"Oh, like if she suddenly starts floating away," said Mark, grinning. He's my best friend, but he can be a real pain at times.

"In the movies," Mara said, "the thief takes an instant photo of the room, then fixes it somehow in front of the camera."

"Hmm." I thought a moment. "I could use an Illusion to cover the removal of the statue; but that requires me to concentrate. I could only get a little extra time that way."

Silence ensued for a while, as we were all lost in thought. Besides, we had our mouths full. Presently Mark said, "You told me you wanted me on lookout at Harkin's place. How am I supposed to signal you if I see trouble?"

"You have a car alarm, right?" I asked.

"Technically, it's just a panic button, but yeah, I do," he answered. "You really want me to make all that noise?"

"I've noticed that people just ignore car alarms, or curse them," I said. "So you set yours off if you see trouble, just for a few honks of the horn, and we'll take that as a signal to hide."

"Gotcha," he said. "Sweet."

"Are you ready?" asked Mara.

"As ready as I'm going to get," I answered. "Let's go."

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