*Yes, it’s late. Deal. Also I haven’t had time to go back and fix all the “concordance points” so if you go back you’ll find the story occasionally contradicting itself. You’re most surely going to have to deal. It’s been crazy out here. I want to get to it in the next month, and G-d willing I will, but who knows? On the good side, we had a valuation on the damage from the hail storm a month and some back, and we’re going to have to replace our roof. Whether it can be done with the money they allocated, given it’s a Victorian and there are inevitably surprises up there, who knows. At any rate, at least so far nothing is leaking, and it’s impossible to find good roofers just now given demand, so it will have to wait. If it sells before that, we’ll make arrangements with the new owners. But it’s one more complication and one more task. Because we needed that. So, between finishing overdue stuff, I must do this — and Michael’s story — but be patient with me about this AND the subscribers’ space and loot. It will come. I haven’t forgotten a single one of you — it will come, and I’m sorry for the time. My life seems to have become a plaything of chaos this year. Which mind you it’s better than illness (last year.) And when I got back through RM I have a strong feeling it’s going to be thirdpersonized… I feel uncomfortable with the multiple firsts. We’ll see. Chapter over at MGC in an hour or so. I need more tea. Or not. Something just came up. So I’ll run something a blast from the past at MGC, with apologies. Sigh.*
This novel will get posted here a chapter every Friday or Saturday, or occasionally Sunday. If you contribute $6 you shall be subscribed for the earc and first clean version in electronic format. I think it will probably take another three months to finish. Less, if I can have a weekend to run through and get ahead of the game. It hasn’t happened yet.
NOTICE: For those unsure about copyright law and because there was a particularly weird case, just because I’m making the pre-first draft of my novel available to blog readers, it doesn’t mean that this isn’t copyrighted to me. Rogue Magic as all the contents of this blog is © Sarah A. Hoyt 2013. Do not copy, alter, distribute or resell without permission. Exceptions made for ATTRIBUTED quotes as critique or linking to this blog. Credit for the cover image is © Ateliersommerland | Dreamstime.com
Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, Royal Witchfinder, Prince Consort
I’d had the bright idea that I might be able to turn back the clock. All right. Not precisely that, but I had the idea of going back to the time before Gabriel had fracture and warn him not to do so, and maybe try to find some way around the unbearable – it must be unbearable, right – pressure that made him do it.
Of course time magics are most forbidden for good cause. For one, none of us fully understands what time magic does, or why, or what happens to the future that was, but now isn’t, when the past is changed. The shifts in magic when that happens are bad enough to give magical cartographers the cold sweats and to keep magical theoreticians happy for years figuring out the equations involved. But though I’m sure Marlon would be quite happy to lecture all of us on the occasions we know it happened, no one really knows what happened.
At least one of the theories insists that when this happens it can give rise to worlds without magic, such as the Madhouse. It might be nonsense, though, because here’s the thing: we think it has happened before, or at least that’s how theoretical magicians and magical cartographers explain certain shifts in magic which they can’t account for. But we’re not sure either way. How could we be? After all, if a future doesn’t exist it doesn’t exist, much less an abbreviated future that stops short. There are some traces in the magic, but no one can be sure what they show.
In the same way, we know there are multiple worlds and that they branch off at what could be called decision points for the past. But do they really? Or were they always like that? There are multiple explanations for them. In one of the worlds they’re convinced it was caused by the loss of the eyes of a goddess in deepest Africa. I didn’t visit that world often. It was crazy in more ways than one, and it severely represses shifters. So the only reason to go in is to save shifters. Though last time I had to go in they were involved in a war that took up the whole world. I wonder how places can get in that much of a mess.
And I refuse to believe that it’s a branch off of my own world.
Yes, I heard the stories that our own world tells of the branching off, said to have occurred when Merlin was imprisoned over in France.
I don’t believe it anymore than the eye of the goddess story. They might be true, of course. All of them. Since the worlds diverge at some point in history, and not all along the line, perhaps some happened at one time and some at the other. Who can tell?
On the other hand it’s possible the worlds were simply made multiple from the beginning and that history just obeys laws we don’t understand. On top of which, it’s entirely possible that time travel, for which parameters and spells do exist, if tried in real life would destroy all the worlds. And while I was fully aware that if I did that, and it destroyed all the worlds, my wife would be very upset and find a way to yell at me, the truth was with the king of fairyland – who was fairyland itself – disintegrating at a fast pace, and with us knowing for certain sure that fairyland was the engine of the worlds, if I didn’t do anything, we would all disappear or die, or perhaps never have existed, anyway.
So I reached into my mind and ran through the spell sequence. It was all mental work. It’s curious how the more complex spells are, while the simplest might require physical action and the words as well, and the medium ones require spoken words. It’s as though the more powerful the spell the more it moves inward.
For a moment nothing happened then I felt the biting cold of betweener which happens when you move between worlds. Since I was trying to go backwards in time, in fairyland, this made perfect sense.
But the minute I landed, I knew it had all gone wrong. Possibly disastrously wrong. You see, I’d started the spell in my office, with my back turned to the desk, facing the door to the office. Through it, I could see, at the angle I was, part of the plaza where they were cleaning up the remains of the statue, blown to pieces by Jonathan Blythe’s pocket bomb. Which, by the way, should I say the words in public, would make no one think of a real bomb. I wouldn’t say that in public, but I thought when all this was over, I’d like to mention it to Nell, my wife, who was raised in a more straightforward world and who would gurgle with laughter at the idea of someone setting an explosive device in Jonathan’s pocket, given that Jonathan himself was in many ways an explosive device.
Of course, she would gurgle with laughter, if we’d all come through it unscathed. Something that seemed less than likely, as I faced a door that no longer displayed the plaza, but a glowing pink mist of sorts, the kind of magical mist you get when some spell has gone seriously wrong.
I didn’t say the word I thought – a wise precaution, in case I was in fairyland, where words are spells – and turned around, to face… me.
Then the person behind the desk did something, and I realized it wasn’t me, but my half-brother, the elf-king, Gabriel.
“Penny,” I said, wondering if my spell had worked after all, but wondering if we were in my office. The nickname, derived from Gabriel’s last name – Penn – and used for years mainly with the intent of nettling Gabriel out of his sometimes disastrously serious moods, came unbidden to my lips. It had its effect too, as he narrowed his eyes and sighed before he could help himself.
So I’d established this was the real Gabriel, which was good enough, considering that in fairyland seeming and semblance was rather a specialty and who knew what he might have thought to do. Also, I’d not forgotten he’d looked just like me, as I came in. “Penny,” I repeated. “Would you tell me what you’re playing at, and why you’re in my office?”
He opened his mouth, snapped it closed with an audible sound, sighed again and said, in a tone of exasperation, “oh, Duke!” which was what he called me, when he wanted to cajole me.
He stood up. As he stood the remnants of whatever spell was supposed to make him look like me vanished, as did the remnants of whatever spell it was that made the place look like my office.
I found myself in something that more closely resembled my brother Michael’s workshop, with magical machines twirling and turning al around. Only, as I blinked I realized these weren’t machines exactly, but the models of various worlds. The one nearest me was Avalon, in miniature, and as I looked I could see tiny ships on the sea, and carpetships flying the atmosphere, and I thought, if I leaned farther I would see all the buildings too. Then I thought these were not models, and felt a strong shiver.
The wall behind Gabriel had turned into curved glass, looking out onto… fairyland, I’d guess, from a height, showing all the crazy and changing variety of landscapes, the sudden shifts of reality. In a plane, front and center two armies were meeting, one of them centaurs.
And Gabriel’s outfit had changed into something odd, and shimmering, that seemed to be made of silk and glow. Worst for my retiring brother who, in his human form rather preferred traditional suits in unassuming black, he was wearing full royal robes from a few centuries back, at least for Earth. He had on a sort of long tunic ending below the knee, and hose beneath that. He also trailed what looked like a mile of cape, all of it deep blue with pinpoints of stars. And he had a cepter.
“Your majesty,” I said, and used my most acid and ironic tone, because I’d like to know what Gabriel thought he was playing at to try to impress me in that way.
He looked down at himself with an effect of surprise, and waved his hand. At which gesture he reverted to his black suits, and sighed. “Sorry. I wasn’t thinking and in this damned place the clothes are mostly controlled by thought.”
“So you were being your majesty and so—”
Another sigh. He was setting a record. “Something like that. Seraphim, what in heaven’s name are you doing here? I was counting on your staying well away from me. It was in fact my only measure of safety.”