keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Chapter 134: Slade 132
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 133: Brown 154
“So, what’s the plan?” Slade asked as night fell and Shella called dinner into existence for everyone.
Kondor looked a bit embarrassed. “I’m sorry, I don’t yet have a plan. Well, not really, anyway.”
“What’s ‘not really’?”
“The plan is to figure out which direction is civilization, and head that way. The problem is, I have not yet figured out which direction is civilization--or more to the point, I have not yet figured out how to figure it out.”
“Oh, is that all. Shella, we can do something about that, can’t we? Where’s my mirror?”
“It’s in your backpack, my lord. Would you like me to get it, or do you want me to do the scrying?”
“No, I should do it. After all, you’ve done just about everything else since we got here.”
The look on Kondor’s face was obvious skepticism, but it was Zeke who asked. “What are you going to do with the mirror?”
“I’m going to scry a bit.”
“I’m sorry? Scry?”
“Scrying is a kind of magic that let’s you see or hear what’s happening somewhere else. So if I was interested, I could sit in my shelter while Joe is in his tent reading, and read over his shoulder.”
“And this helps us how?” Zeke asked.
“Well, I’m not completely sure it will. My idea is that I’m going to--well, let me try it, and if it works I’ll explain as I go.” He worked the spell that let him see in the mirror, and he and his companions replaced the image. “O.K., I’ve got it working. Now my idea is that if I can move the view so it’s looking down on us, and keep my bearings in the image while I keep moving the viewpoint up,” and the image in the mirror receded as if the camera were pulling back from them, “I might be able to get far enough up that I can see something like a town, or at least something like a river or lake, and work out which direction it is.
“Captain, you never told me that there really was magic.”
“That’s because there isn’t,” Kondor answered.
Zeke shrugged. “It sure looks like magic to me.”
“There’s a completely natural explanation. I believe that the Slades are tapping some kind of inner psychic power, using their minds to alter reality.”
“And that’s not magic?”
“No, that’s a scientifically explainable phenomenon based on completely natural forces that we simply have not yet discovered.”
“Ignore him,” Slade said. “He doesn’t believe in magic. It’s magic. Let’s hope it works.”
“Why wouldn’t it?”
“Well, I’ve never actually used it beyond a few dozen yards, mostly to see whether there’s someone on the other side of a door, or follow where guards were going, or keep a lookout in two places at once. So I don’t know whether I can get it high enough to see anything--and anyway, I don’t know whether there’s anything to see. I also don’t know for sure that I’m going to be able to keep my bearings and know which way is which if I do see--drat, lost it.”
“The image. I could recast the spell, but I should probably just let Shella do it. She’s much better at these things than me--and she taught me this one.”
“Can I use your mirror, my lord? I could get mine, but it’s packed.”
“Certainly. As I recall, it’s actually your mirror; you just gave it to me to learn this spell and use it when we were rescuing Phasius, and I never gave it back.”
“Well, you might need it, so you should keep it--but maybe I can find something.”
She cast the spell much more quickly that Slade did, but then, she was much better at it. She tended to practice these things when she could. She was then silent for a few minutes, and then said, “Wait, what’s that?”
“I see men, riding the most misshapen horses I have ever seen. They are,” she hesitated, and pointed, “that direction, but they’re moving,” and she thought a moment and pointed again, “that way. I’m going to try to look ahead and see where they’re going. Yes. Yes. There is a city, on the bank of a river, and it is roughly--that way,” and she pointed a direction that could be the third side of a triangle. “I can’t be more precise with this method, but when we get closer I can look again.”
“So what do we do?” Zeke asked.
Kondor seemed to be thinking for a moment. “Well, I’ve learned that the Slades do have these unusual abilities, and I know that Lauren was able to see things that way, so I guess this is the best information we have--it is some information instead of no information--so we break camp, stow the water from our still, pack everything, and head that direction. Someone mark it in the sand so we know how to start, and when we’re ready I’ll take a look at the stars and see whether there’s a useful one for a guide.”
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 #269: Versers Arrive. 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: