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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 31: Slade 102
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"Shella?" Slade said. "We need to do something that might be a bit dangerous."
"You know, you can call me Bob, or Slade, or dear, or honey, or something like that. I do like m'lord, but it's--well, nevermind. You've been to three worlds; magic worked pretty well in all three. Magic doesn't work well in all worlds; in some places only a few simple things work, and doing them too much can be risky."
He looked at her, trying to decide whether she understood any of this. "Anyway, I think we have to test our magic, try a few things we know we've done before and find out what works. It's better if we have some idea of what we can do before we have to do it, than to find ourselves in a serious spot and guess wrong."
"Yes, m'lord--Bob. The Lady Lauren told me some of this. I've already tried a few little things, so I have some ideas."
"You did?" Slade realized that he shouldn't be surprised; he was, nonetheless. "Well, that's good. I don't do much magic, of course, and I'm not very good at what I do, but if you know what's happening, that's good."
"It is a world with--what did she call it?--a low bias for magic. However, there have been a few things I could do. I think you could probably send messages, the way you did back home, but you couldn't really count on them getting there. Also, I've had good luck with light and darkness, so you can probably do your darkness spell as well. What else do you know?"
"Um--not much, really. I have a prayer for guidance, one for wisdom, and one for strength in combat--"
"Not something you often need, m'lord," she said; he smiled.
"Perhaps not, but I have used it. I've also commanded the wind, thanks to our friend the Caliph. I read up on a bunch of other tricks, but never used any of them that I remember. I remember one to make any metal look like gold for a while, and another that would let me walk around without being noticed by anyone--that might be really useful about now, come to think of it."
"Yes, I hope you'll teach it to me."
"We'll have to see if it works, first; I've never used it, and this might not be the best time to start. You taught me that scrying spell with the mirror, and the one illusion we used to rescue Phasius."
"Illusions are a bit more difficult," she said, "and none of mine seem to be working here. Also, I was disappointed to discover that my earth-moving spell doesn't seem to work. I haven't had the chance to try my arrow block; maybe later you can throw something at me, and see if I can block it." Slade remembered how Shella had brushed arrows off course with a wave of her hand; he wondered whether she could do bullets. "And I wouldn't count on the wind. I tried doing something with that, and it didn't work, but I've never tried to control the wind inside before."
"Yeah, that is a point. Anyway, that's about it for me. I hope we don't have to rely on these, but it's good to know we've got them."
That afternoon he tried sending a message to Joe's room; it took him two tries, but it worked. He also managed to call a bit of darkness, although it dissipated quickly. Most of the other things were not working for him at all, at least so far as he could tell. He was still interested in the one he hadn't tried though, and after a while he decided to try it. He also decided to go over it with Shella; she was much better at these things than he was, and working together they could probably both learn it, doubling their chances of having it work when they needed it.
He dug through his pack for the book, and with some effort found the page where the magic was described. He read it aloud; it involved a movement of the left hand and a sequence of words in some magical language. It looked like it took about half a minute to do, and lasted for a rather short time once it was effected.
Shella took the book from him and read it over quickly. "I remember this one," she said--Slade had once owned two copies of this primer, and left one with her long ago. "I never tried it, because wandering around the castle I never really had anyone around who might be hostile--except my big brother, when he visited; sometimes he would get in a fuss and look for people to blame, but we just stayed out of his way until he got over it."
"So, how do we do it, and how do we know whether it works?"
She skimmed through it again. "Well, how we do it seems pretty clear," she said; "but as to knowing whether it works, we'd probably have to take some risks and wander out there, to see if anyone reacts."
Slade considered it. They certainly would react if they saw him, or her, walking around out there. If they didn't react, that would tell them that the magic was working.
Besides, he was feeling a bit cooped up, and realized that it must be much worse for her--he'd been out of the room several times, and she hadn't been farther than Joe's room across the hall since they'd moved in here.
"Let's do it," he said.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #226: Versers Adapt. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: