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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 8: Hastings 174
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 7: Beam 43
On the whole it was a comfortable and powerful sort of world. It was, Lauren thought, much better than her last--but since her last was spent in some kind of asylum followed by a jail cell awaiting execution for treasonous heresy, and the biases were so low she could do very little about it, it was difficult to remember a less comfortable world than that. Here she had been assigned a room in the same hall as her friends, smaller than all but Derek’s (apparently because as a single woman she was regarded less important than the men), and the bed was luxuriant, and the food in the dining hall was as good as one could expect of middle eastern medieval nobility. Perhaps more significantly, all the psionics and magic she had dared try worked fairly easily; it was a magical realm in both the outer and the inner powers. Her martial arts came easily as well, and although she was a better weaponless fighter than any of the others, working together they gave her a good workout.
As to weapons, she and Derek sparred with her kau sin kes and his chain and knife, and sometimes Bob would come down and spar with his sword and dagger against her. They wore armor for those sessions, because they were both deadly and could easily injure each other severely on a mistake. She had not tried the guns, but was confident that they worked in this world. Joe had mentioned having used his M-16, so her fifty-caliber pistols would work at least as well; she had a lot of bullets, but couldn’t replace them here and wasn’t going to exhaust them. Derek’s laser blaster was identical to hers, from the same world, and he had used it, but both of their power pack chargers required an external electrical supply, unlike Joe’s, which had solar panels for use when there were no electrical outlets to tap.
She did learn where the Caliph’s bowmen practiced, and took her bows and target arrows there a couple times a week. Practice mattered, and one never knew when a skill would be needed.
It seemed, though, that the most important part of their stay at present involved telling their stories to the Caliph. This was awkward for her, because unlike Bob she did not really like making herself sound the hero. To her advantage, Joe and Bob and Derek had already told stories in which she was involved, so as she gave her version the Caliph or one of his entourage would say something like, “And this is when you leapt from the cliff to attack the dragon?” and she could perhaps modestly reply, “Well, it seemed the best thing to do at the time.” Many of her stories were about fighting vampires, and the audience had only recently heard of vampires from Bob’s accounts of their battles in the future, so they were curious about the details of these strange inhuman creatures.
It was also a time for catching up. She hadn’t seen Derek or Bob since she died first, fighting Tubrok in the future, and they had to tell her what happened after that, and about the worlds they had visited since. It had been longer since she had seen Joe, fighting those minidragons aboard that spaceship, and he had been to a couple worlds since then, although a lot of his time was spent with Bob. There was also the new guy, Zeke, but at this point his experience included a home world just enough different from her own to be unpredictable, and a few months here. Still, since the Caliph liked to hear the stories she had the opportunity to listen to the telling, and to ask questions he wouldn’t know to ask.
Her own new stories weren’t, she thought, quite as interesting, although when she got to the part about using her psionic abilities to thwart their efforts to execute her, she realized it sounded a bit like that story about the five Chinese brothers. So maybe it was worth telling. It also gave her opportunity to explain the gospel, but the Caliph and his advisors took it as an intriguing foreign religion and she wasn’t going to push it and spoil her welcome at this point.
Mostly, then, all was quiet and stable. She knew from what the others said that it had not always been so, and probably would not always be so, but at least it was so for the moment.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #319: Quiet Worlds. 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: