Re Verse All; Chapter 149, Hastings 230

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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 149:  Hastings 230
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Beam 115

After breakfast the next morning Tommy was needed up front to get them back to the ramp, so Mister Beam sent his man Bron to the rear to provide rear guard with Lauren.  Lauren wasn’t sure a rear guard was entirely necessary, but she did have to admit that the people they were meeting were getting more aggressive.  Bron had what Lauren made to be a shotgun now that it was close enough for her to see it, but he otherwise did not seem to be from that kind of world.

“So,” she asked, “how did you meet Mister Beam?”

“Well, he sort of took over my favorite inn.”

“Took it over?”

“Call it a disagreement with the previous owner.  J.D. insisted that the owner was going to give him room and board in exchange for cooking, and the owner insisted otherwise and tried to have him thrown out.  The result was several dead strongmen and a dead previous owner, and as it was a crowded night and the owner had been the cook, Beam took over cooking and running the place.  I got on well with him from the moment he entered the building, and we did a lot of things together, including that he apprenticed in blacksmithing under me, and we found a trio of lost princesses who had passed through a magic door so they could marry a trio of efriit princes.  We went after a dragon eventually, and there are quite a few stories to tell there including a magic ring that didn’t work quite as intended and the courtship of Sophia, but I don’t think he remembers most of that because of the ring.”

“The ring?”

“Well, my uncle was a wizard and taught me a few things, so I dabbled in magic here and there.  J.D. had a very high opinion of my ability, and asked me to make a ring that would control the dragon.  I warned him that I had no idea how to do that and it was likely to go terribly wrong, but he insisted, and he’s a hard man to refuse.  So I made the ring, and it worked--sort of.  As soon as he put it on his hand, he had control of the dragon, but he was no longer himself.  I’m not sure who he was, but he did a lot of scary things.  I wondered whether part of the dragon had control of him.  Then abruptly when Sophia removed the dragon ring to put her wedding ring on his finger, he snapped out of it, remembered nothing back to the moment he had put the ring on, and lost control of the dragon--which apparently was not happy about having been controlled all that time, and killed us all.”

Lauren raised an eyebrow.  “So where is this ring now?”

“Not sure.  I think he has it in his pack somewhere, just in case he ever desperately needs to control a dragon.  I don’t know that it would work--I made it using scales from the dragon he wanted to control, and so I don’t know whether it’s specific to that dragon, or that kind of dragon, or whether it would control any dragon near him.  I don’t even know if it would control more than one dragon, or let him switch dragons or something.  All I know is that I managed to make a ring that controlled the dragon whose scales were used in the magic, but it has a really bad flaw.”

“Still, that’s impressive.  I’ve made a few oil free lamps, so I know how hard it is to make a magic device.  You must be a more powerful wizard than you let on.”

He seemed a bit sheepish for a moment.  “No, I don’t know more than a few bits of magic.  Mostly J.D. asks me to come up with something and I do.  I’m not sure why he doesn’t ask Sophia; she’s a much better magician than I am.  But then, I think he got in the habit of asking me before she was with us, and she had barely joined us when we landed in a world in which magic didn’t work well at all, and she had to figure out what things she could still do.”

“So, what do you know?”

“Mostly I do this trick with my hammer, to make it hit harder.  I use it in my smithing work, but it works in a fight, too, if I need it.”

“Bob Slade does something like that, I think, a prayer to his gods to strengthen his blows.”

“Well, this isn’t a prayer, but it does strengthen blows.  I also learned how to use two glass balls so that I could look into one and see out the other.  That came in handy when we were trying to figure out what was happening with the princesses.”

“Did Mister Beam--J.D.--ask you to learn that?”

“No, my uncle taught me that in exchange for me making him a couple of glass balls so he could do it.  J.D. asked me to solve a problem for him.  Bob has incredible mental powers--well, I guess you know that--but in worlds like this where they don’t work he can barely walk and can’t really speak.  He still hears everything everyone is thinking, and he’ll shout something like ‘duck’ if there’s danger, but when we were in my world he couldn’t do much more than that.  Beam had me create a spell that would read his thoughts--I suppose anyone’s thoughts, but I’ve only ever used it on Bob, so he could let us know what he had heard when it was important.  I keep a pocketful of pennies for it.  So, what can you do?”

Lauren shifted, looking up the line ahead of them.  “Probably scores of things, but most of them were learned so I could fight vampires.”

“Vampires?  You said that before, but I didn’t think they were real.”

“Well, I don’t think they’re real in a lot of worlds, but I kept going back to this one world where they most certainly were, and were trying to take over the world and enslave humanity.  So I have quite a few spells that torture spirits and disable them, several different kinds of light spells, a few fire spells.  I can’t always remember them all.  In fact, in my last world I started to write down a list, a sort of spell book, so I could remind myself of what I knew.  I was teaching several young magicians at the time, and it was important that I keep things straight.”

“Teaching magic?”  Bron suddenly seemed very interested.  “I don’t suppose you could teach me some?”

“I don’t see any reason why not.  Of course, I would need to know that you weren’t going to use it against me.  We don’t really have the best track record for working together, you know.”

“Yes, I can see that,” Bron said.  “We wound up on opposite sides of a war, and since I’m J.D.’s man and he often has some rather grand ideas about himself, I can’t promise it wouldn’t happen again.”

Lauren nodded.  “Well, you’re honest about it.  Tell you what:  assuming we find a place to camp tonight, I’ll give you my basic class in understanding magic.  I should do it for Tommy, too.  Magic is weird in this world, though, so I don’t know whether I can teach you anything and have it work right.  But I’ll give it some thought.”

“Sounds good.  Sophia does a light spell; that might be useful.”

“Indeed, I’ve been surprised at the uses I’ve managed to find for it.  So, tell me more about the worlds you’ve visited.”

They continued talking about their past adventures until they reached level five, which was as anticipated crowded.  Mister Beam had everyone sit along one wall, and ordered pizza and bottled water, which was passed along the lines for everyone to have.  They then rested for a time before continuing up the ramp toward level four.  Tommy no longer was needed at the front, so she and Bron switched places for this leg of the journey.

Next chapter:  Chapter 150:  Takano 57
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #409:  Characters Cooperate.  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:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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