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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 36: Hastings 178
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 35: Brown 184
Lauren had spent something just over a month teaching Joe and Zeke, one skill a day in psionics, and for Zeke one skill a day in magic. It surprised her to realize that she had run out of skills to teach them.
She also realized that that wasn’t exactly true. She hadn’t taught them to use her various psionic and magic devices, because she couldn’t give those to them and she’d never actually seen the like in any other universe so they probably wouldn’t wind up having anything like them any time soon. She also realized that there were many magics that she had used maybe once, or learned from Merlin and never used, which she hadn’t exactly forgotten but which didn’t quickly come to mind--she was certain she could use them again if the situation arose, but it would be one of those, oh, yeah, I forgot, I can do this moments. There were also a wealth of spells she knew whose function was to torture evil spirits, and although she’d taught Zeke a couple of these there wasn’t really any way to practice them here. So she knew more magic than she had taught him--but over a month she had probably taught him more than he was going to remember easily. She should have suggested he write them down; she should have written them all down herself. Where did she put that paper?
She found the paper. She had to teach herself to use a quill, which fortunately was something they did have here. They were surprised that she could write, and the more so since she had so much trouble initially with the quill, but she simply explained that she had learned to write in a land that had much more advanced pens which stored the ink inside and released it very slowly over months. One of the advisors said he would like to try to create such a pen, and wondered what sort of magic was used to form it. Lauren said they were made much like knives, carefully molded and formed from materials found in those lands, and filled with the ink which was released through a very small controlled hole behind the point. She did not know more than that, and the advisor thanked her and went off apparently to do spell research.
She kind of hoped he succeeded, because the quill was definitely a challenge to use, and blotting was equally challenging. She had a difficult time reading her own work.
She also worried about those other versers, and whether there was any way she could learn more. She occasionally tried clairvoyance in the distant castle, but never saw anything that looked like it would be worth shifting to clairaudience. She did identify five people who appeared to be out of place--mostly wearing the wrong kind of clothes, although one was clearly an alien and another, a little girl, seemed more like an albino and was always carrying guns that were clearly not from this world. Derek had said half a dozen; was she missing one, or had he miscounted? There were two machines that sometimes followed one or another of her five, loaded with gear, but if he counted those it would make seven. No, either she had failed to identify someone, or Derek had miscounted by one. That was not surprising, given that he was shot and falling and trying to get an emergency message to her. Still, it was unlike him to be inaccurate that way.
Something was going to happen. Those versers were planning something. She just didn’t know what.
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 #333: Uncertain 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: