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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 126: Slade 130
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With the mid-afternoon sun beating down on them, Slade suddenly stopped, shielded his eyes, and looked around.
“We’re doing this wrong,” he said.
“Wrong, my lord? How can we be walking wrong?”
“Well, there are I suppose a lot of ways. I could ask why we’re walking at all, but that’s a different question. The question is, why are we walking in the heat of the day? We should be doing what we can to provide a shaded shelter for ourselves, and wait for the heat to pass so we can travel in the cool of night. I mean, it’s not like we need to see anything--there’s been nothing to see for miles, and we’re making our direction based on that scriff sense that someone is out there, so we could find our way in total darkness but for hazards in the road. To that, there haven’t been any, and we can probably see them by starlight anyway. Unfortunately I don’t have a tent, but we can probably unroll the bedroll and use this rifle as a tent pole.”
“We could, my lord,” Shella said. “Perhaps I should try something else first?”
“When Bethany and Lauren were traveling in the forest, they used this spell to create a sort of invisible shelter--they called it a ‘comfort bubble’. It’s one of the things Bethany taught me to do when we were all sharing our magic with each other. I don’t know if it will work here, because I haven’t tried any magic here yet, but I have to try something sometime, and this seems like something we need.”
Bob looked around.
“Absolutely. Where should we set this?”
“If we do it on top of that rise, we should be able to see some distance; if we do it down there where it’s lower, we would be less likely to be seen.”
“Good thinking on both counts.” He pondered a moment. “Let’s go for the lower spot today, just to be safe. We’re going to want to be sleeping, not watching.”
Shella walked over to the lower ground. Slade paused a moment and followed. He heard her pronounce a string of what he would call magic mumbo-jumbo, and saw her wave her hands in the air, and then as he came closer he seemed to pass through a barrier--he saw nothing and felt nothing that he would have called a wall, but the moment he had passed it the air was probably fifteen degrees cooler and the light was considerably less harsh on his eyes.
“Whoa, that worked,” he said.
“Thank you, my lord,” Shella said.
Slade looked at the interior space, not at all different from that from outside but that it was cooler and darker, and said, “Now we need some food and drink.” The magic space perhaps sparked a memory. “You didn’t happen to learn Uncle Omigger’s little dance that created the buffet, did you?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I learned a spell that creates meals from Bethany. I don’t know where she learned it.”
“Well, I have a bad habit of forgetting to pack food and water before I get unexpectedly thrown to another universe, so let’s see what you can do here.”
“I don’t have much practice with this, my lord. I don’t want to botch and do something terrible.”
“That’s O.K., I’ll risk it.”
Shella began a ritual that took several minutes while Slade spread his blanket on the ground. As she finished, breakfast appeared on the blanket, similar to what they had eaten in the Caliph’s palace but on a much much smaller scale.
“This will do quite nicely,” Slade said. “Please, help yourself.”
“After you, my lord. A lady always sees that her lord has been fed before she attends to her own needs.”
“I think I noticed that when I visited your father. But in my world, the rule is, ‘Ladies first’.”
Shella stared at him for a moment with a puzzled expression. “Are you sure?” she asked.
“Well, I think the rule was falling out of favor, but my father always said it, and it always made sense to me.”
Her expression remained for a moment, and then she shrugged. “I can live with that rule,” she said, and sat on the ground and began helping herself.
Slade scanned the wasteland once more, then joined her.
“It seems we have our own portable oasis,” 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 #265: Versers in Motion. 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: