The Magician - Book Two
An X-Files Fantasy by
Jennifer Lyon (email@example.com) and
Suzanne Bickerstaffe (Ecksphile@AOL.com)
The chaplain brushed the dirt from his hands before he
walked over to the assembled mourners. The weather, perhaps
to match their mood, had turned gray and a heavy cold drizzle
that defied the canopy of umbrellas seemed to soak right into
their bones. Shannon stood between Scully and Mulder, who
cupped her elbow to help support the shaky teen. The chaplain
murmured a few words of solace to Shannon, who tearfully
nodded. He patted her on the shoulder and kissed her on the
head. Then, as was his habit, he solemnly shook hands with
each mourner in turn, grasping each hand warmly in both his
own. It was perhaps fortunate that this all-embracing
handshake left little opportunity to closely inspect those hands,
especially that of the short, stocky, heavily veiled person with
the odd looking-shoes.
Shannon continued to stare into her mother's grave.
Two men waited by a backhoe fifty feet away, respectfully but
with growing impatience as the weather worsened. Scully put
her arm around her shoulder and urged her back from the side
of the grave. "Come on, Shannon, honey. There's nothing
more you can do here. Let's get you back to the Professor's
house and tuck you in."
"I thought she hated me...I thought I was only a
burden to her." Shannon turned tear-streaked cheeks to
Scully. "I told her a hundred times that I hated her. And now
she's gone and she'll never know that I really loved her
and...and that I was so proud of her." The tears were coming
faster now - tears that she had refused to shed in the three days
since the events at the complex. Her voice was increasingly
hysterical as she sobbed. Both Mulder and Scully had been
expecting this, the finality of her mother's death sinking in, and
were in a way glad that the child was beginning to grieve
openly. But the sobs wracking the girl's body were agonizing
to see, and everyone had tears in their eyes, for both Shannon's
pain of loss and their own. Jourdain and Aldara were no
exception. While they had not known Karen well, they
admired gallantry and courage in whoever they found it.
Having a daughter themselves, they knew that they would
unhesitatingly make the same decision Karen had to save the
life of their own child.
Mulder caught Scully's mind. //Why don't you take
the others and go back to the Professor's house? I'll stay here
and try to put my psychology credentials to use. We'll follow
Wordlessly, she nodded. Putting up a light shield, she
briefly thought how much she hated seeing Mulder in this role,
taking on another's pain as his own. She had seen it so many
times in the course of their work at the Bureau, when the
couple had to break the worst possible news to the waiting
family of a victim. But Mulder, the victim of so much pain
himself, saw it as part of his job and Scully had to admit his
sensitivity and empathy had started many mourners on their
way to closure and healing. With a gesture, she gathered the
others and they began walking slowly back to the long black
line of cars.
He let the girl stare into the grave for several minutes.
Then in a voice so soft it was almost drowned out by the
raindrops on his umbrella, he said, "Shannon, you are not
responsible for your mother's death."
She whipped around to face him. "Oh no?" she
asked harshly. "She chose to die to save my life. What would
you call it?"
"She made a decision that any parent would make,
Shannon, and she made it willingly. It was a bargain, as far as
she was concerned."
The anger left her face suddenly as the tears started
again. "I wasted all my time with her, Mulder. I wasted it and
I'll never get it back, I'll never have another chance."
He put his arm around her shoulders and began to
lead her unresistingly away from the gravesite. Bleakly, he
considered her words. "I know. That's the hardest part. And I
do know what I'm talking about. Let me tell you about my
family, Shannon." He told her of the wasted years with his
own parents. He told her about the loss of his sister - not all
the details, but how it had devastated him, filled him with guilt
for the times he had ignored her, or played tricks on her, or
insisted on having his own way. "What you're feeling is normal
- terribly painful, but normal," he said tenderly. "You won't get
that time back, but you will come to terms with it, I promise
you. There will come a time when you won't feel the pain
you're feeling now - it just takes work. And Shannon - your
mother was a very intelligent lady. She knew that you loved
her." Back at the long black limo supplied by the funeral
home, he opened the door for the girl and then slid in beside
her. Exhausted, still torn apart by grief, she burrowed into
Mulder's shoulder. His arms surrounding her, she sobbed
herself to sleep. Grimly, Mulder held her close and tried once
again to put back into place all those pain-evoking memories of
his own. Physician, heal thyself, he thought wryly.
When they reached the Professor's house, the driver
opened the door to let them out. Scully came down the
flagstone walkway to meet them, and put her arm around the
groggy child's waist. //How was it?\\
//About what you'd expect - she's feeling pretty
guilty.\\ She could sense his shield and knew the experience
had been harder for him than he wanted her to know. Her look
of concern was for both the child and the man. He felt a wave
of serenity and comfort and love from her, and returned his
own love and gratitude.
Scully took Shannon upstairs, bathed her face, helped
her into pajamas and put her to bed. Opening the bedroom
door to leave the girl to sleep, she found Andalor pacing in the
hallway. He looked up at the sound and came over to Scully.
"How is she?" he whispered.
Scully smiled reassuringly. "She's still pretty upset,
but she's sleeping now. She'll be all right, Andalor, it's just
going to take time."
He nodded. "I know - I remember. Do you think I
might ...go in and sit with her for a while - just in case she
wakes up? Shannon and I talked a lot when we were on the
run. She knows me better than she knows anyone here." He
shrugged. "Maybe I can help somehow."
"I think that would be wonderful, Andalor. Call us if
you need anything." Scully patted the boy's arm. He smiled
briefly and went into Shannon's room, leaving the door slightly
She went down the curving staircase to find everyone
gathered in the living room drinking coffee or tea to get the
chill out of their bones - a chill not entirely due to the weather
at the cemetery. Mulder handed her a cup as she sank
gratefully beside him into the deep cushions of the sofa.
Reinald was speaking.
"I haven't yet had a real chance to talk to Andalor
about returning to the Realm. He seems very close to this girl,
and I haven't wanted to push him into thinking about his
Kingship when his thoughts are so obviously with this poor
child right now."
"Probably very wise, Reinald, " Mulder said. "He's
been through a lot too and will need a little time to recover. I
think the violence of this world shocked him."
"There is no hurry. You are all welcome to stay as
long as you wish," the Professor said quietly.
"How are you doing, Gunther?" Scully asked gently.
He had been, in his own way, as devastated by the events at the
complex as Shannon had. He shared her almost unbearable
guilt and regret at Karen's death.
He tried hard to smile at her, but couldn't. "No better
than the child, I suppose. I have come to some decisions,
however." He drew in a deep breath and exhaled shakily. "I
know I can no longer continue the Vortex experiments. There
will always be someone in this world who will try to corrupt
the use of the Vortex, I know that now. I was probably naive
not to have considered it before. That naivete, or perhaps
negligence, on my part killed Karen."
"No, Professor," Mulder said firmly. "It was the
corruption of others that killed Karen, not your experiments."
"A distinction without a difference for me right now,
Mulder," he replied sadly. "I know I will come to see it like
that, but not now, not yet. In any event, I will not replace the
equipment lost in the explosion and I will not resume the
Vortex experiments. My life's work is over. I will destroy any
notes and documents related to it. Maybe I can save some
lives in the future that way - too late for Karen of course, but
..." The grief stricken man trailed off.
Reinald cleared his throat quietly. "Will you stay
The Professor looked puzzled for a few seconds. "I -
I don't know. I don't suppose I've given it much thought.
"Well, it occurs to me that losing both your colleague
and your life's work is doubly tragic," the Mage said. "You
know, there is a place that you could continue your work
without fear of people trying to steal it to use to their own
The Professor thought for a few minutes. "The
Realm? You mean, go back? I never really thought about it - I
always thought that once I returned here, I would stay." He
shook his head. "No, my enthusiasm for my work is dead, I
wouldn't resume it now even if I found a safe place."
"Gunther, if I may interject, I think you're making a
mistake," said Mulder. "I know you're upset right now, and
feeling guilty, and you probably think that somehow you
deserve to lose what's most precious to you, your work. But
that's no more acceptable or true for you than it would be for
Shannon." He looked earnestly into the old man's eyes. "You
are not to blame for Karen's death, and you have nothing to
atone for. It makes no sense to cut yourself off from the one
thing that may bring you some comfort."
"And there is another, more practical consideration,"
added Reinald. "I assume that you will assist us to return
Neumann nodded and murmured "Of course."
Reinald returned the nod. "Since the equipment used
to create it will be gone, the Vortex will not exist. We are not
sure what the effect of that will be."
"What do you mean?" asked Jourdain, becoming
alarmed. He had a dim outlook on magic and vortex travel at
the best of times.
The Mage frowned. "It is possible that Scully and
Mulder's being able to travel from the Realm back to this world
was only because the Vortex, in a larger sense, existed in this
world. We got here because, between the Professor and
myself, we could create a controlled vortex powerful enough
to span the time and space between our worlds, independent of
the larger vortex experiments in this world.
"Yes, but I don't quite see- ," Neumann began.
"Gunther, if you stay here after we return to the
Realm, we can not be sure that we will ever be able to see each
other again," Reinald explained patiently. "I will be there and
you will be here, with neither of us individually having the
power to create a means to travel back and forth. All of us in
the Realm may once again be sealed off, and none of you who
inhabit this world may ever be able to visit us again. "
Scully made an involuntary exclamation and Mulder's
hand closed over hers. Never to see the Realm again! Never
to meet her namesake, never again to learn from Corvay, joke
with Lita, spar with Aldara, never to see Andalor crowned
King. She knew how much she had missed the Realm, even
when the possibility of returning existed. How much harder
would it be to have to say goodbye, knowing that it was
forever? She caught Mulder's thoughts, very much like her
own. But she also saw that regardless of how they felt, the
decision would have to be the Professor's.
He was silent for a long time. "You are correct in at
least one way, my old friend," he said to Reinald. "Without
my work, my life has no purpose. And other than to get you
home, I will not resume my work in this world. But this is a
big decision, a decision that will effect the rest of my life, and
apparently many other lives as well. I can't make that decision
right now, I simply haven't the heart for it. So what I will do is
this." He had the rapt attention of the entire room. "I will
return to the Realm with you - for now. There's certainly
nothing holding me to this world," he said with some
bitterness. "Once I get there, I will try to put my thoughts in
some kind of order so I can make a final decision about where
and how I will spend the rest of my life. Is that fair?"
Reinald nodded, a hint of a twinkle in his eye. "Most
of all, it is fair to you, Gunther. Now - for the biggest question
- is it even going to be possible for us to get back? Both
Mulder and I feel the pressure that this world exerts against the
use of magic, which is something I hadn't counted on when we
were planning this little visit. I'm not sure that I can generate
enough power with my magic to help to create the vortex we
need to get us back. Tarnor is less subject the effect this world
has on magic use, but he has no experience in forming or
controlling a vortex."
"With access to some of the materials here, I can
improve on my rather rudimentary machinery in the Realm,"
Neumann said. "That may help to offset some of the problem,
but I can't guarantee it will be enough. Our vortex creation in
the Realm was based more on magic than technology. The
machinery just helped to magnify the Mage's powers."
This time the involuntary sound was made by Aldara.
"I am sorry, Mage, Professor. I know you are doing your best.
But our work here is almost completed and I find I miss
Daanna more with every passing moment. Even the thought
that I may never return to her...."
A cheerful voice piped up. "Don't forget that my use
of magic in this world does not seem to have the same effect
on me that Mage Mulder and Mage Reinald experience when
they use magic," Tarnor said. "My magic was just as strong as
in the Realm. It is true that the spells I've used here have
worked somewhat more slowly than I am used to, but
otherwise they worked just as I had intended, and I felt only
slightly unsteady afterwards for a few seconds. With sufficient
guidance, I may be able to help solve our little difficulty." He
beamed at Aldara, who smiled back gratefully. "Don't worry,
Aldara, we'll get you home to Daanna."
"How soon can you have the calculations complete,
Professor?" asked Mulder.
"It will take a day or two for the calculations, another
day for putting together all the equipment and solutions that I
need and actually building the apparatus," he replied. "But I
can't even start on the calculations until I know how many
people are going to go back to the Realm."
They all looked at each other. It was true. Obviously
Jourdain and Aldara, Tarnor and Reinald were going back, and
now the Professor. But what of the remainder of them, and
most importantly, Andalor?
The Prince's arrival cut into their speculations.
"Shannon is still asleep." He descended the last few stairs,
crossed to Reinald's armchair and sat cross-legged on the floor.
"I owe you all an apology. Especially you, Reinald. You've
never been anything but good to me. With all the studying and
the approaching coronation, I felt the world closing in on me,
just like when I was turned to stone. But I acted like a willful
child, using the vortex experiments to run away and causing all
of you to risk your lives in coming after me. Words only mean
so much, and they are not sufficient to express how ashamed of
myself I am. I can only hope that somehow I will be such a
good King that all this, in time, can be forgotten."
There were approving nods from all over the room.
Andalor shook his head wonderingly. "I have seen so
much in this world - things of great beauty, things of great
power. There is so much of everything here. But it is all so
out of control and disorderly. The forces of evil are here - I
never expected that. I don't know whether it is because the
evil here is so strong, or because I was unprepared for it, but
my time here has forced me to do things I'm not proud of. I
don't like the way this world makes me feel, about others and
about myself. I know now that this is not my world. I'm glad I
came here, but I'll be gladder to go."
The Mage beamed. "In the last three days, I have
observed you finally acting like a man, Andalor. If this is what
was necessary to make that happen, then I'm glad you came
here. I am very proud of you."
Neumann permitted himself a brief smile. "So you
will return with us, Andalor. Good."
"I'm glad you're going back, too, Professor, very glad.
I believe we were in the middle of a chess game when I ran off
- and I was winning, I seem to remember." The boy grinned
teasingly up at the scientist, then sobered. "Seriously,
Professor, the place wouldn't be the same without you."
Overcome, the older man swallowed hard, and merely nodded.
"Um, while you're at those equations, Professor -
Scully and I have been talking. Even before we began to get
the signals that indicated Reinald was trying to contact us, we
had both been missing the Realm a lot - thinking about all of
you, wishing we could see you again," Mulder admitted.
"Now it seems that it is possible that we may not have another
opportunity, if the destruction of the Vortex equipment has the
effect you think it may have. I called down to the Bureau in
Washington this morning, before the funeral. Scully and I have
at least another full week off coming to us. So, I guess what
I'm saying is, if it's possible for us to go back with you for a
visit, we'd love to come along. Am I correct in assuming that
there would be no difficulty getting us back here from the
"As far as I know, that is correct," said the Professor.
"From the Realm to here, I do not think that there will be a
problem. From here to the Realm, especially without Reinald
or Tarnor or myself on this side to channel and magnify the
forces, well... it could be tricky."
"Is that your well-known talent for understatement
coming through, Gunther?" Scully smiled. "As Mulder said,
we have vacation time coming to us, we should take a
vacation, and I can't think of a better place to take it than in the
Realm." Aldara let out a whoop of joy and leapt across the
room to hug her friend.
"You aren't going to leave me here alone, are you?"
Shannon looked down from the banister of the staircase, as
The room was deathly silent for some time, no one
knowing what to say to the girl. "Uh, Shannon - we can't just
take you with us, it's not that simple," said Scully finally.
"First of all, you've just been through a terrible shock, and you
need time to heal. The best place to do that is in surroundings
you're familiar with, among your own relatives. I'm sure your
mother made some sort of provision in her will about whom
she wanted to care for you in case anything happened to her."
"Actually, I don't think she did." The Professor
frowned. "I seem to remember Karen's saying that the whole
idea of making a will gave her the shakes, and she kept putting
it off. It was very unusual behavior for someone like Karen,
but she did have those two quirks - a morbid fear of anything
to do with death and an unrelenting hatred for government, any
government." A frisson raising gooseflesh went around the
room, as everyone considered the irony of his statement.
Shaken, Neumann stammered, "I - I d-don't think she ever g-
got around to it" and his eyes filled with tears.
The room was again silent for several moments. "But
surely you have family," Aldara urged. "In the Realm, families
tend to be large, and the oldest brother has charge over the
children of all his siblings. If anything happens to their natural
father, the children become his responsibility. Even if nothing
happens, he is their confidante and advisor for life. We even
have a special title for this person - Taabsut. Is it not like this in
As Scully shook her head, Shannon smiled sadly. "It
wouldn't matter. My mother was an only child, and my
grandparents are dead. I never knew my father, and anyway,
my mother said he was dead, too. She told me once that the
Professor was the only person she would trust me with, but she
didn't want to ask him because he was old - sorry, Professor
He smiled at her. "Your mother was right, I AM old,
Shannon. But you have no one else, it seems. Very well, I
shall stay here and I will take care of you." Disappointed
looks, quickly hidden, appeared on several faces, but not so
quickly that Shannon didn't notice them.
"I won't let you do that, Professor. I'd drive you
crazy. And no offense, but you said yourself that you're old.
What would happen to me if you, well, ...." She gracefully let
the sentence remain unfinished. "Anyway, staying here is not
what you want to do, I can see that. And I wouldn't want to
feel responsible for holding you here." She finally came down
the flight of stairs and sat next to Andalor. "And as to familiar
surroundings to heal in, forget it. Everything around here
reminds me of the past few days, and I hate it."
"But Shannon, if I don't take care of you, the state
will put you in some sort of foster home or something,"
protested the Professor.
Mulder cleared his throat. "Actually, they could do
that anyway, since Karen didn't leave any legal written
instructions regarding Shannon's care. With no will and with
no family relationship involved, the state may very well decide
to put Shannon into foster care, regardless of the Professor's
willingness to have her stay with him."
"Not for long, they wouldn't," the girl vowed darkly.
"No, I can see that," Mulder smiled and the girl
returned it, her face lightening for the first time since they had
//Mulder, what are you thinking?\\ Even through the
bond, the 'skeptical Scully' tone was clear.
//Well, don't you think the Realm is a lot more
wholesome place to grow up than on the streets of Boston?
Because we all know that's where she would end up. Gunther
wouldn't be able to handle her - with his guilt about Karen's
death he'd spoil her rotten and she'd walk all over him. If she
were put into foster care, she wouldn't be with her foster
parents more than a day before she split. I'm telling you,
Scully, if we leave her here it will be like a death sentence -
//But the Realm is a whole different world, Mulder!
And a different language and a different culture, and elves and
trolls and garg- Oh!\\ She broke off as she watched Shannon
walk over to Tarnor, perhaps taking in his strangeness for the
first time. The girl stared, then seemed to recover her
"Cool! Are there any more at home like you?" she
asked in wonder.
Tarnor flashed her a terrifying gargoyle grin. "I have
four brothers and five sisters who are still at home," he
declared proudly, taking her question literally.
Scully looked on as Shannon, uncertain at first, finally
returned the gargoyle's smile and, succumbing to the creature's
natural charisma, sat at his feet.
//I guess that takes care of that little problem.\\
Mulder's tone was undeniably smug.
Scully knew when she was beaten. She could also
understand the logic of Mulder's thinking. //Alright, but it has
to be an informed decision on her part. She needs to
understand how different things are there - all the customs and
etiquette. It's not going to be that easy for her there, either.\\
//I know. Thanks, Scully.\\
Aloud he said, "Shannon, you need to know what the
Realm is like before you come to any decision." Seeing
triumph in her face, he said firmly, "No! Now listen to me,
Shannon! Nothing has been decided yet. But remember
something. Andalor ran away from his world. It is not the
perfect world you may be thinking it is. There is a different
language, and there is a very complex and rigid structure of
customs and etiquette which simply must be followed, or you'll
be an outcast. There will be an incredible amount for you to
have to learn in a short time, just to be able to get by. And this
has to be a group decision. Scully and I will be there for a
relatively short time only. If you are to stay there, you will
have to have a sponsor and begin training for some sort of
vocation. And if it doesn't work out, we will bring you back
here with us when we return, and figure out a new plan."
"If I may," Aldara interjected softly. "I see in
Shannon so much of myself at her age - rebellion, anger - but
also a passion to know and to experience." She smiled over at
the girl, then turned her attention again to Mulder and Scully.
"And I have seen her in action, Mage Mulder. I have an
excellent - if brief - record of training women from your world
to be warriors, and Shannon looks like she has promise. If she
finds nothing else to her liking, I can make a fine warrior of
"Speaking from experience, Shannon, you will never
work harder in your life," Scully said, looking with affection to
her teacher. "But you will never be prouder of yourself,
"So it's true - I can come with you! Oh, thank you!
Andy! I'm going to your world!
The two teenagers hugged, but then Andalor took her
by the shoulders and held her at arm's length. "I want you to
come to my world, Shannon, but mark well Mage Mulder's
words. I came to your world thinking it would be wonderful
and exciting and free of responsibility. And I was wrong. Just
because a place is different doesn't necessarily make it better. I
found out that I belong in my world. You may find that you
belong in yours."
"I know," she said, her face shining. "But there's a
difference, Andy. I never really had a place in this world.
Maybe the Realm won't be perfect, but I'd like to try it, to see
if I can make a place for myself in it. I'm not expecting it to be
easy, and I do thank all of you, especially Mulder and Aldara.
But it's more of a chance than I feel I have here, surrounded by
all the memories. This world killed my mother, and I've - I've
taken a lot of risks myself, I see that now. I want - I NEED - a
second chance, a chance to start over, before this world kills
The room was still for a few minutes, everyone lost in
his or her own thoughts of homecoming, renewed friendships,
or new beginnings. Finally, Professor Neumann broke the
silence. "Then if no one has any objections, I'll make the
calculations to include all of us." There was a collective sigh
of relief from the grief and terror of the past several days, and a
sense of purpose filled everyone in the room. They were all
going to the Realm.
End Chpt13 Part A
Chapter Thirteen Part B
The next few days were filled with activity, with each
person having chores to accomplish. Mulder and the Professor
were the busiest.
After a three day information blackout, the
newspapers finally mentioned the explosion at the complex,
attributing the disaster to a tragic lab accident with some
unstable chemicals. Karen's name had led the list of the dead
which also included several 'lab assistants' who had probably
never performed an experiment in their abruptly-ended lives.
As Mulder and Scully had assumed, there was no mention of
Gordon. While they were disgusted by the usual government
disinformation, at least there was no explanation of their own
actions necessary, nothing to be cleared up. Indeed, Mulder,
Scully, Shannon and the rest might not have even been there,
to read the press release. Mulder had tried to get more
information from his sources scattered throughout the country
and even chanced a call to the Lone Gunmen, but the lid was
on tight. No one could tell him anything about Gordon, or the
black ops group that may have sponsored his project, or even
the fate of the project, now that the complex was in ashes.
Skinner had been his usual enigmatic self when Scully called,
limiting himself to a terse observation that Mulder always
seemed to be where there was trouble. Everyone was
frustrated that the truth would not emerge, but channeled their
emotions into the many tasks that needed to be accomplished
before they could leave.
Mulder had volunteered to help with the legal affairs
of the group, which were formidable. His first task was to
clear up Karen's estate, which had to be done very delicately.
He didn't want to call attention to Shannon, fearful that the
state would become involved in her case. But at the same time
he wanted to be sure Karen's assets would be available to her,
should she ever need them. He had a friend in Boston, a
former FBI agent who had decided to leave the Bureau to open
his own law practice. The two men spent hours making
arrangements to cover every possible eventuality. He also filed
papers with the lawyer for Professor Neumann, stating his
intentions about the disposition of his property. The old
gentleman had decided that if he were not back in this world in
a year's time, he probably would not be coming back.
Therefore, it was his intention to donate his property at that
time as a shelter for runaway children, should he fail to return.
The arrangements Mulder and the lawyer made would ensure
that the Professor's wishes would come true.
Next, after a quick stop to retrieve Andalor and
Shannon's things from an annoyed motel manager, Mulder and
Andalor paid a visit to the police. The same desk sergeant was
on duty at the precinct house.
"Sergeant McCormack, good to see you again," said
Mulder, shaking hands with the officer. "This is the young man
I spoke to you about. You said you needed to see him, and I
thought I would bring him by before returning him to his
"What's your name, son?" The officer looked down
from his tall desk with a kindly expression, to be regarded by
mesmerizing purple eyes.
Andalor had been briefed by Mulder about his cover
story. Whenever a question became tricky, he was to resort to
the use of the Witness Protection Program as a reason to avoid
answering. "Uh, I'm sorry sir, I cannot tell you. But I wanted
to apologize about hurting that other boy. I would not have
done it if I had not felt myself and my companion threatened."
McCormack looked down at the handsome lad with
the oddly sophisticated bearing. Almost - regal, he thought. "I
understand that Agent Mulder is taking you out of town, so we
won't have to worry about any recurrences here. But son, you
were lucky. Frankie and his gang are slime and richly deserve
to be carved up. But if he had died, you could have been in
very big trouble. Scum like that isn't worth it. Wherever you
end up, be careful where you're walking around, okay? I hope
you've learned something from this whole experience."
"Yes sir, I have. I - thank you, sir." The lips closed
firmly but the sparkling eyes told the cop that there was
something the boy had wanted to say, and that he had thought
better of it.
McCormack smiled broadly. "Yes, I can see you
have. Okay son, you can go now. Good luck to you. And to
you, Agent Mulder."
The two said goodbye to the desk sergeant and left
the station house to walk back to the parking garage. "Okay,
so what did you learn?" asked Mulder, grinning.
"I learned that Frankie wouldn't have lasted two
seconds with a soul eater," said Andalor, with consummate
- - - - -
The Professor and Reinald were bent over the papers
strewn all over the desk in Neumann's study when Shannon
came in. "Aldara wants to know if we're going tonight," she
The two men straightened up stiffly, the Professor
with a little groan. "It looks like it, Shannon. We're very
close. And once the calculations are complete, we should
probably leave as soon as possible," said Reinald.
"This is so incredible. How can this happen?" she
wondered aloud, looking over all the figures on all the sheets
"Are you really interested?" asked the Professor.
"Yeah, actually, I am. I mean, I'm just really glad to
be going and everything, but how come no one has ever
discovered how to do this before?"
So Professor Neumann launched into a basic
explanation of the symbiotic relationship between magic and
science, how each could strengthen the other until the whole
was greater than the sum of its parts.
"You see, it is only because this world has no regard
for magic that we have not unlocked the mysteries to many
wonders. It was very hard for me to come to this realization. I
had been approaching the Vortex experiments from a purely
scientific viewpoint in this world. But I learned about the
value of magic in the Realm, and how to use it to extend the
boundaries of scientific possibilities. Magic can refine and
improve science. And I'm not talking magic like David
Copperfield - those are merely parlor tricks. In its way, magic
is a science all its own. I consider my friend Reinald here a
most talented scientist."
"But what about time? Scully was telling me that
when she and Mulder were in the Realm, that it seemed to
them that they were there a year or so, but when they got back,
they had only been gone for a day and a half."
Reinald smiled. "First, Shannon my dear, if you
would live in the Realm, you must get used to using titles,
especially titles for the most esteemed of our residents and
visitors. It is a very important part of our beliefs. Scully is
Warrior Scully or Healer Scully or both, and she should be
addressed as such. And Agent Mulder is a magician of
incredible power when he is in the Realm, and must be
addressed as Mage Mulder."
"Mulder? A MAGICIAN? You've got to be
kidding!" the girl said incredulously.
Reinald shook his head. "No, in some ways he may
be more powerful than I. His training has been incomplete, but
make no mistake, he has enormous power."
"Unbelievable. And you are Mage Reinald?"
He nodded, his eyes twinkling.
"What about Andy?"
"Ah, yes, I'm glad you brought that up. 'Andy', as you
call him, is Prince Andalor, and should be addressed as such."
She looked at the Mage, a look of frank disbelief on
her face. "You're kidding," she said flatly. Seeing him
solemnly shake his head, she said, "Oh God, you're not kidding
are you? Andy - I mean, Prince Andalor would always talk
about being a Prince and telling people not to touch him
without permission and all that, but I figured it was a load of
shi-, I mean, I thought he was cra-, I mean, I just didn't
believe him," she finally finished, weakly.
"No, my dear, it's quite true. Andalor will be crowned
King fairly soon after we return to the Realm."
"Cool! I know a King!" the teenager breathed, and
was silent for a few minutes, deep in thought. "So what's MY
The two older men burst out laughing. "Ah, that
remains to be seen, Shannon," Reinald said, not unkindly. "We
will have to read your aura, find out what you have a gift for,
see how hard you work and how accomplished you become.
Then perhaps we will have an idea of your permanent title."
"Why can't you read my aura now?"
"Because for one thing, I don't read auras particularly
well. There is a wonderfully talented elf who works at the
castle named Lita who will read and help to interpret your aura
to determine your training in our world. For another thing,
your world reduces the power and magnitude of auras,
bleaches them out in a way, so that even Lita would have a
difficult time reading them here. Unless a Mage is performing
magic, when even in this world a blue aura may be discernible."
"An elf. Incredible," she murmured. In a louder
voice she asked, "Will I be able to see auras in the Realm?"
"Possibly. You may possess that talent, or you may
not. In the Realm, elves are the best at reading auras - they can
see an aura for almost everyone. We won't know if you can
read auras until we get there."
Nodding, Shannon accepted that explanation. "Okay,
well, what about time, like I asked before?"
The Professor and Reinald looked at each other.
Obviously they were going to get no work done for a while.
While they hated losing the time from their work, they also did
not want to dampen the enthusiasm of the child who had so
recently lost her mother. "I will take a short break, Gunther,
while you answer Shannon's question. I must say that when
you begin to explain all about time, it makes my head hurt."
Gently smiling, Reinald excused himself and left the room.
"All right, Shannon, think of time as like a river, only
instead of water flowing, it's a gel-like substance that drifts and
eddies and whirls...."
- - - - -
Reinald trailed out to the kitchen, where Aldara and
Scully and Jourdain were finishing up packing. "Might there
be tea?" the Mage inquired, hopefully.
"We could use a break, too. I'll make some fresh,"
said Jourdain, taking some of the Realm tea from a sack in his
belt. He used the stove as if he were sure it was going to
explode in his face at any moment, but at least he used it.
Scully and Aldara looked on with some amusement, which they
were careful to hide when he turned to face them once again.
"Most of the packing is done," said Scully, collapsing
gratefully onto a chair. Their last trip to the Realm had been
precipitous, with no opportunity either to bring certain
potentially helpful objects with them, nor leave others behind,
like Mulder's keys. This time, Scully had taken the opportunity
to go on a little shopping trip. She had packed gifts for Lita
and her children, some medical books and instruments for
Corvay, a beautiful cloak (unexpectedly found in a costume
shop) for Prince Mavor, and several pounds of coffee for
herself and Mulder to use while they were in the Realm. The
most extravagant gift was for Daanna - a gorgeous rose silk
dress and lacy white pinafore, with a doll in precisely matching
clothes. Aldara had protested vigorously about the value of
the gift, but Scully had been firm and the purchase made.
She had also bought all of the instruments and
materials the Professor had requested in a lengthy list he had
given her, and two five pound sacks of sunflower seeds - one
for Mulder's consumption, and one for attempting to plant a
crop of sunflowers in the Realm. "You need to tell Gunther to
plan on another forty or fifty pounds of supplies and things."
Aldara accounted for nearly fifteen pounds of the excess
baggage, mostly in earth fashions and Cadbury chocolate bars,
a newly discovered passion. Absently rubbing her sore feet,
Scully's mind drifted off to thoughts of...
...the previous day's highly emotional trip to Karen's
house, so that Shannon could pick up anything that she felt she
would need or want in the Realm. The girl had found a few
items of clothing and a couple of books in her own room and
placed them in a box. Then she went into her mother's room
and chose several lovely pieces of jewelry, keeping her
emotions in check. Until she opened the bottom drawer of the
There was every photograph ever taken of Shannon.
Messy first birthday smiles, gap-toothed kindergarten grins, a
more reserved fourth grade portrait, photographs with an
increasingly sullen subject as time went on. There was even an
old picture of a golden haired young woman, obviously
pregnant, looking adoringly up at the tall, dark-haired man
standing next to her. The drawer was full - baby shoes,
photographs, school papers and report cards, macaroni
Christmas wreaths, clay objects of indeterminate use and form,
paper chains and drawings. A drawer full of loving memories.
Shannon sank to the floor, clutching some
photographs to her chest as tears ran down her cheeks. "Oh,
Mom, I'm so sorry," she whispered.
Peeking into the room, Scully saw the child sobbing
and went down on her knees beside her. She held her for a long
time until the sobs quieted. Then she picked up the old
photograph from where it had fallen.
"Is this your father?" Scully asked.
Shannon gulped and sniffed a couple times. "I - I
don't know. Maybe."
She smiled. "He HAS to be, Shannon. You look
exactly like him. It looks as if your mother loved him - and
you - a lot."
"Do you think I can bring some of these with me?"
the girl asked hesitantly.
"I don't see why not," Scully said gently. "And that
picture of the two of you on her desk in the study is wonderful
- why don't you take that one too?" She went with Shannon to
the study and picked up the picture. "You both look happy
The girl looked at the photo over Scully's shoulder
and smiled at the memory that came back to her. "Yeah. We
had gone up to Vermont for a long weekend last fall. Mom
just ditched work and took me out of school and we drove up.
We stayed in a little bed and breakfast and hiked and went to
apple orchards and helped press our own cider. It was a really
Scully turned to face the teen and smoothed her hair
back from her face. "This is what you need to remember,
Shannon - a mother and daughter being happy together."
The girl nodded, her eyes filling with tears.
"Got everything? asked Scully.
"Yeah - I do now."
...Scully came out of her reverie as Jourdain passed
her a mug of the invigorating Realm tea. The effects here were
not as pronounced as they had been in the Realm, but the hot
liquid still served to give her a little jolt of badly needed
energy. "Jourdain, have you figured out the groups yet?" she
asked. The Professor had already computed that the nine of
them should go in three groups of three, but the breakdown of
the groupings had been left to Jourdain.
"Yes, I think so. Obviously, the Professor and
Reinald and Tarnor must go in the last group. I am not happy
about that fact, from the point of view of their safety. Once
the rest of us are gone, there will be no one to protect them,"
Jourdain explained. "If our activities are noted, reported and
investigated, they could be in danger, both from forces that
would seek to do Tarnor harm because he is of another
species, and those who would seek to capture the Professor for
his work. We still do not know if the Vortex project is dead or
merely moribund, waiting for someone like the Professor to be
forced into doing the bidding of men like those who abducted
Scully nodded. She and Mulder had talked about the
same possibility the previous night, resulting in little sleep for
both of them. That was one of the reasons for their impatience
for the group to return to the Realm.
"I have come up with a plan," continued Jourdain.
"The Professor has said that it will take a bit of time between
groups, so that both Reinald and Tarnor may refresh their
powers and to allow him time to recalibrate the equipment for
the new total weight of the vortex travellers."
"How long?" asked Aldara, frowning. The longer the
procedure took, the greater the risk of their being discovered.
"Possibly as little as ten minutes," replied her husband.
"But consider the difference this will make because of the time
differences between the two worlds. In terms of Realm time,
there could be an interval of a day or so between the arrival of
each group. The Professor thinks he's come up with some sort
of a theory that might eliminate that, but I can't make heads nor
tails of it, and I don't think we should count on it. That being
the case, I propose this." Jourdain traced his plan with a finger
on Scully's dining table.
"In the first group will be Andalor, Aldara and myself.
Andalor, for obvious reasons - the sooner we can get him back
to the safety of the Realm, the better. Aldara because I wanted
her there to protect the Prince. And me because Aldara refuses
to go without me," he finished, somewhat embarrassed.
"Don't worry about it, Jourdain," Scully grinned. "I
would have resisted any sort of suggestion of 'women and
children first' anyway, and I don't want to be separated from
Mulder any more than Aldara wants to be separated from you."
"Well - there's quite a bit more to it than that,"
Reinald cut in, deadly serious. "You and Mulder are
lifebonded, as you know. But you had asked me a couple of
days ago if physical distance between you and Mulder could
present a problem. I had not thought of it before you asked,
but in reality, it could be much, much more than an
"How so?" asked Scully. She knew she felt out of
sorts when she and Mulder were separated, but so far the
distance had not been particularly great - her quick trip to
Wisconsin a few days previous, and once before when he had
had to go to Dallas and leave her in Washington. But then they
had both come down with the flu a few hours after he left for
"Wait a minute - are you telling me it can actually be
DANGEROUS for us to be separated by distance? That the
effect of distance on the lifebond could actually make us sick?
I know I never feel particularly well when Mulder has to be
away from me, but I figured that was just mental."
Reinald shook his head. "I don't think so. And of
course, travel between worlds is not done on a regular basis, so
there is little data on the subject, as Gunther would say. But it
is well known in the Realm that lifebondmates try very hard not
to let the distance between them become too great. Your
world is larger than ours, and your means of transportation
allow for greater distances to be travelled and more quickly
than in the Realm. I suspect it may be an explanation for why
you feel unwell when you are apart. And that being the case, it
is particularly important for you not to have a whole world
separating you. I have a feeling that it could be dangerous -
perhaps life-threatening - if you and Mulder tried to go through
the vortex separately. I would rather not put that theory to the
"Yeah, I agree. This may put some new wrinkles into
our jobs - wait until I try to tell Skinner that he can't assign us
to fly off to two different places. And of course now separate
vacations are out of the picture," she finished dryly. "Okay -
so Mulder and I go in the second group with Shannon?"
"That's correct," Jourdain replied. "One good thing -
our arriving a day earlier in the Realm means that by the time
you arrive, Aldara will probably have used the time to arrange
a huge welcome party and festival in your honor." He ducked
and chuckled as Aldara good-naturedly flung a piece of fruit at
his head. He deftly caught it and began munching.
- - - - -
It was nearly three o'clock in the morning when they
reached their destination and unloaded the trunks of Karen's
and Scully's cars. They quickly unpacked the Professor's
equipment and solutions first, and carried them to the nearby
field, sheltered from the parking lot by a thicket of trees. Then
Neumann, Mulder and Reinald set to work assembling the
wires and vats and pouring out just the right amount of
solution for the first vortex creation. Scully and the others
sorted the other belongings and supplies and carrying them,
followed the Professor's group.
It had been the Professor who finally came up with
the idea of their departure site. They needed something quiet,
not frequented by anyone at some hour of the day, yet near
enough to civilization that cars parked for several days would
not invite attention. Finally, when the MIT and Harvard
campuses and Walden Pond had been discussed and eliminated,
Neumann had hit upon the idea of the streetcar yards at
Riverside. Its location was convenient, there was a huge
parking area where a couple of vehicles could easily be ignored
for a week or more, it closed by 2 a.m. and was surrounded by
woods and empty fields.
On the way to the site, the Professor had briefed
Mulder and Reinald about his latest theory. He was firmly of
the belief, especially after interviewing Andalor closely about
his trip from the Realm, that intention played a role in creation
of a vortex which would "spit them out" in the right time.
Time was a huge problem to calculate, swirling as it did and
making it theoretically possible to arrive before one had even
left. The Professor had had limited success explaining it to
Shannon, who couldn't quite get beyond the concept that there
was no one equivalency for time in the Realm as compared to
her world - that one Realm year might be one world day, or
two, or fifty or two hundred, depending on how the gel of time
was moving. It was his opinion that Andalor had arrived so
close to the time he wanted to arrive, merely because he had
willed it. He had taken pains with his calculations, ensuring
that they would arrive in the Realm and no place else. But for
the right time of arrival, he was depending on both his
calculations and the collective will of the group. Obviously,
there was still an element of risk involved for all of them.
"All right, Jourdain, Andalor and Aldara - move over
to that empty place over there - about ten yards to the left of
the big rock," the Professor instructed. "Do you have
everything? Okay, now remember to do as I have instructed -
think of your arrival time - the middle of the night, two days
after we set off. Got it? All right - gentlemen." He placed
some wires in some vats of fluid and gave a quick nod to
Tarnor, Reinald and Mulder gathered to his right. It had been
decided to let Mulder attempt to bring his powers to bear, to
try to conserve as much of Reinald's power as possible, since
the Mage had to effect three vortex creations. The three
Mages raised their arms, closed their eyes and began to chant.
A hazy bright blue aura surrounded them. Within seconds, the
air about Jourdain and his group began to swirl at their feet,
engulfing them in fallen leaves. Several seconds later, even the
leaves were gone.
"Godspeed" murmured Scully, then gestured to an
awed Shannon to pick up her backpack and take their place
near where their friends had stood. Pale and shaky, Mulder
walked slowly over to join them. Now Scully added her
strength to his; before, she had been concerned that she would
throw off the calculations somehow. He smiled wanly, grateful
for her gift but not yet feeling up to showing her exactly how
grateful he was. The Professor made some adjustments to his
equipment. Finally, he nodded to Tarnor, who assisted Reinald
up from the ground where he had been resting. "See you in the
Realm," said the Professor, as once again a whirlwind
developed to engulf the would-be travellers. Less than a
minute later, they were also gone.
This time the group gathered near the vats and pots
and wires. Neumann wanted nothing left behind that might
indicate that the vortex experiments could still be a reality.
The likelihood that anyone would make that connection from a
bunch of buckets of nasty-smelling fluid was extremely remote,
but the Professor was determined that his equipment should
make the trip through the vortex as well to leave no possible
evidence. Reinald was unsteady on his feet and extremely pale,
and had to be supported by Tarnor, who was looking none too
"Whenever you're ready, my friends," said the
Professor softly. He looked around the field one more time,
for what might be his last glimpse of his home world. He was
surprised by the lack of emotion that he felt.
Reinald drew himself up with his last vestige of
strength. He and Tarnor raised their arms and began to chant,
the little gargoyle trembling with the effort of supporting
Reinald's fast-waning powers. Their auras began to glow.
"Hey, what the hell is goin' on over there? Hey, John,
come with me, there's somethin' weird happening in the field,
some kinda light or somethin'. Maybe it's a UFO!"
The leaves began to swirl around the travellers,
cloaking them from the unwanted witnesses. The auras grew
brighter, both Mages shuddering with the strain.
By the time John and his companion broke through
the thicket, the field was empty.
End of Chapter Thirteen
The Magician - Book Two
An X-Files Fantasy by
Jennifer Lyon (firstname.lastname@example.org) and
Suzanne Bickerstaffe (Ecksphile@AOL.com)
Chapter Fourteen Part A
At the first sight, the runner quietly withdrew from his
vantage point and began streaking through the night to the
castle as fast as his legs could carry him. He ran up the
drawbridge to the portcullis where the guards, recognizing
him, stood aside and exchanged significant looks as he passed.
He ran through the stone hallways and out into the courtyard,
to the small cottage located in the furthest corner. He pounded
urgently on the door. A rumpled Jourdain, brow furrowed
with concern, answered the door within seconds, speaking
testimony to the fact that he had not been sleeping, despite the
time of night.
Eyes shining with excitement met his. "They're here!"
A huge smile creased the old warrior's face. "Aldara!
- - - - -
Scully looked up, momentarily disoriented. It was
night - dark, starlit. Moonlit. By TWO moons! They had
done it - they had arrived!
She turned to face her companions. Shannon was
standing to her left, dazed and pale. "I don't feel so good."
Scully looked at her with concern. "Dizzy?
Headache?" The girl nodded. "Okay, Shannon, that won't last
too long. It seems to be a normal side effect of travel through
a vortex. Just try to take it easy, don't fight the strangeness,
and we'll get you into bed as soon as we can. Grab your pack.
I think I know where we are - the castle should be about a
quarter of a mile in that direction. Wait - you may have to help
me with Mulder."
She turned her attention to her partner and bondmate,
giving him what strength she could. He had slumped to the
ground and was holding his head.
//MULDER, ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?\\
//YES. NO. I DON'T KNOW - WHY ARE YOU
SCREAMING AT ME?\\
Scully made a mental adjustment. //I guess I didn't
realize how much energy we have to use in our world to do
this. I had forgotten how much easier it is here to
communicate. Sorry. How are you feeling, really?\\
//Not great. Besides the usual 'travel sickness', I feel
totally wiped out. I can only imagine how much worse Reinald
must feel, after creating three vortexes. I can feel you, your
strength, in me and it's helping. Thanks - I think I'd be
//Do you think you can get to the castle?\\
//Yeah.\\ The tone was uncertain.
She helped him to his feet and held his arm until some
of the color, which had drained from his face as he stood,
returned. Shakily, he nodded and she let go experimentally.
Mulder took some deep breaths, then said, "Better. Let's go."
Scully refused to let him carry any of the baggage and
instead divided it between herself and Shannon, who was
looking with wonder upon the sky. "Warrior Scully - look!
Two moons!" The russet haired woman smiled at the girl.
"That's just the beginning. There are a lot of wonders
in store for you. Got everything? Okay, let's go."
The trio set out slowly across the dew-sprinkled field,
Shannon's eyes darting everywhere, frustrated by the darkness.
She took in deep breaths of the cool air which was vaguely
scented with something unfamiliar but pleasant. They were
approaching a dense woodland area.
"Unless I miss my guess, the castle should be just the
other side of this...did you say something?" Scully asked.
Slowly, Mulder shook his head. "No, I thought I
heard something too."
Shannon started. "Look over there!"
The agents looked in the direction of her pointing
finger to see dark shapes making their way towards them.
Mulder's head snapped over toward Scully in alarm. //Soul
eaters?\\ The memories of their first Realm arrival had been at
the front of their minds ever since they had entered the woods.
Scully closed her eyes briefly, then smiled and shook
her head. //No. Friends.\\ "We're over here!" she called in
New Realm. Instantly the shadowy shapes altered their
direction slightly and increased their speed.
"Scully? Is that really you?"
Aldara emerged suddenly out of the gloom to envelop
her friend in a huge hug. "You finally got here! We were
beginning to think that we had lost you. The Professor has
been frantic. Oh, goddess, I'm so happy! Dorbo, Flechi, help
with the baggage, please. Jourdain, help Mulder - he looks
terrible. Come on, everybody's waiting for you back at the
The group now with considerably more speed made
its way to the castle. A glance back told Scully that Mulder
was being half carried by the big warrior, and Shannon, wide-
eyed, had just surrendered her backpack without comment to a
troll. Their feet made hollow sounds on the wooden
drawbridge they reached at last, and they found themselves
saluted by the guards on duty at the portcullis. Scully
acknowledged them with a nod before entering the courtyard
and leading the way across it to the main entrance of the castle.
Her feet seemed to fly over the paving stones as she led the
group up the narrow winding staircase to the floor above and
down the hallway to Reinald's quarters. She knocked, barely
restraining herself from merely throwing open the door and
bursting into the room. It was answered by a young troll, who
opened the door widely to allow the group entrance.
"Yes, thank you, Pitir. Welcome! I am so glad to see
you have arrived safely, we were becoming concerned." The
Mage reclined on a sofa which had been brought near the fire.
The Professor occupied one of the armchairs. "More tea,
please, Pitir. Mage Mulder, this is my newest apprentice.
Pitir, meet one of the most powerful natural mages you're ever
likely to find. Although I must say, he's not looking at all well
right now. Run over to Corvay's and get Kyla - don't wake the
Healer -and ask her to bring over the same restorative that I
have been using. As usual for one of the Healer's concoctions,
it tastes awful but it seems to do the trick."
The Professor and Scully steered Mulder into the
empty armchair, and Shannon sat crosslegged on the hearthrug.
"What was he say- ," began Shannon, who stopped
instantly at a tiny frown from Scully. The woman leaned down
and murmured a few words to her, then Shannon got up and
assisted Jourdain and Aldara to make and distribute tea. Then
she sat again on the rug with her own steaming cup, sniffing it
curiously before taking a sip.
"Reinald, could you cast a language spell for
Shannon, just for tonight?" Scully requested. "Tarnor said
something about a special spell he had worked out, but he's not
here, and Shannon is feeling pretty left out."
Reinald said, "Of course," closed his eyes and
muttered a few words.
"Will he speak English now?" the girl asked.
Scully laughed. "I don't think Mulder and I were ever
able to figure that one out, whether we understood New
Realm, or everyone here spoke in English. But you will have
to begin learning New Realm, just as you will have to begin
learning the customs. And one of the first is that no business is
discussed until tea is served."
Reinald nodded approvingly. "I suspect that you will
think many of our customs silly, Shannon, but I assure you that
there is a good reason for most of them. Nothing is discussed
before tea is served, unless it is an emergency. This gives us
time to contemplate our words, to prioritize our conversations,
and to savor our relationships." He then turned to Mulder,
who was looking a little better for the tea, which he had once
likened to Jolt cola. "We left after you but arrived before you.
We thought you might have been lost in the transition
somehow. Did you notice anything unusual this trip?"
Mulder chuckled lightly. "What, more unusual than
the whole concept of travelling between worlds? No, only that
I was extremely tired out from assisting with the creation of the
first vortex. However did you manage three?"
"I almost didn't." Reinald grunted. "If you hadn't
helped with the first, I would have been too drained to
continue. And if it hadn't been for Tarnor, I would have lost
consciousness after sending your group through. As it was, his
participation was absolutely critical to getting our group back
to the Realm. Daanna did it once again - her dream
prophesized that Tarnor's presence was going to be necessary,
and she was right."
"Where is your little girl?" Scully asked, looking
"She is staying with Lita's family for the night. We've
been up since we arrived back, trying to figure out what
happened to you," Aldara explained.
Mulder looked confused. "But I thought that these
time differentials were normal. I was under the impression that
everyone was going to arrive at different times, so I don't
understand why you were concerned."
"Because of the Intent Theory, my dear boy," replied
the Professor. "Remember how I told everyone to think of the
same target time? Well apparently, that allowed the first group
and the last to arrive almost simultaneously back here in the
Realm, in spite of the fact that they had left your world about
fifteen minutes apart. Damn good thing, too, because we had
to carry Reinald back to the castle."
"Why do you think we arrived late?" asked Scully,
pouring more tea into everyone's cup.
"I'm not sure, and we may never know." Neumann
frowned. "I have several theories, of course. One is that yours
was the only group without a Realm native, although why that
should influence the proceedings, I'm not certain. Also, your
group did not originate here, and could not be certain of the
exact place and time that we were targeting. The place was
hopefully determined by my calculations, but we could not be
sure that you would indeed arrive in that particular field."
"When you described it to me, I was pretty sure of the
place," Scully said.
Neumann nodded. "That may have helped, but you
couldn't have known the time."
"It might have been my fault," Mulder began
//Mulder, not everything has to be your fault, you
know,\\ Scully communicated, only partly kidding.
He flashed her a brief smile. "No, this time I think it
may be a fair assessment. I know we were supposed to be
thinking pleasant thoughts and targeting certain times and so
on just before we were sent through the vortex. But to tell you
the truth, I was feeling so terrible from the strain of helping to
send the first group through that I didn't think about anything,
other than how lousy I felt."
"And I was really excited and nervous, and I'm not
sure what I was thinking about," said Shannon in a small voice.
"Then that might explain it, " said the Professor.
"Scully's intentions were not enough to overcome the gel-flow
of time. Assuming my theory is correct of course, and there
are no unknown factors at work here." The door opened,
postponing further conversation as Pitir came in with Kyla.
The tall statuesque human went unhesitatingly to
Mulder and began to examine him. Scully hovered nearby,
partly to make certain that Mulder was all right, but she also
wanted to start brushing up her healing skills as soon as
"As you can see, Kyla has almost finished her studies
with Healer Corvay. Unlike most humans, she is extremely
adept at reading auras, as well - that's how she knew you,
Mage Mulder," said Pitir. It was also apparent that the little
troll was thoroughly besotted with the apprentice healer.
Mulder felt her mind in his - cool, professional,
methodical, and reassuring. And not at all hard on the eyes, he
thought. His reward was a startled glance from Kyla and a
message from an amused Scully that said //I heard that,
Mulder.\\ The two women's eyes met, sharing a moment of
understanding, then Kyla continued her work. When she was
done, she withdrew from his mind and spoke to Scully.
"Your bondmate will be fine. He needs to take the
restorative now and in the morning and to get a good night's
sleep. I will see him tomorrow if he needs it, but I do not think
that he will." She went to the fire to prepare the restorative,
making one for Reinald as well. The two Mages choked down
the medicine with similar grimaces under the amused looks of
everyone else in the room.
"Thank you, Kyla. Perhaps on your way back, you
could show Shannon to her room," suggested Reinald. "Her
servant should be there to explain where things are."
Scully looked questioningly to Shannon. This had to
be an unnerving experience for the girl who had already
endured so much trauma in the last months. But she seemed to
be taking everything in stride, and was certainly determined to
make a good impression.
"That's okay, Warrior Scully, I'm really tired," she
said, standing. "Will I get to see Prince Andalor tomorrow?"
"I don't see why not, my dear. Although tomorrow
will be a very busy day for you as you start your life in the
Realm," Reinald replied. "Ask Prilla for anything you may
need. Sleep well."
The girl accompanied Kyla to the door. "I really have
my own servant? Cool!"
The group clustered around the fire chuckled. To
Mulder and Scully the Mage said, "I took the liberty of putting
her reasonably near your room, just for now."
Scully smiled, seeing her friends caught in the
flickering glow of the fire. She felt like she was home, after a
long, hard trip. "I'd love to stay up, but I am really exhausted
myself, and I'd like to put Mulder to bed. We'll see you all in
the morning. Reinald, where have you put Mulder and
"Was there ever any question? You have your old
room back, of course. Lita prepared it when she heard you
She felt a wave of friendship and gratitude wash over
her. "Thank you, Reinald," she said simply, and leaned over to
kiss the Mage lightly on the head. "Come on, sleepyhead," she
said to Mulder, hauling him to his feet. "Let's go."
They leaned on each other much as they had the the
first time they had taken this walk from Reinald's quarters to
their room. Slowly walking down the stone hall, illuminated by
torches which allowed only a hint of the magnificence of the
tapestries decorating the walls, they were able to find their way
without trouble. Finally Scully stopped by a huge door,
pressed the latch and pushed it open.
"Oh, Mulder!" she breathed. He roused himself to
look around him.
It was the same - everything was exactly the same. A
fire blazed in the hearth, the low table nearby laden with teapot
and cups and a small loaf of black bread. Against the wall was
the substantial armoire, probably already stocked with Realm
clothing in their sizes by a doting Lita. The reflection of the
few torches that were lit flickered in the tall windows that
perforated the wall across from where they were standing.
And between them and that wall - the huge, high bed, swathed
with opaque bedcurtains.
He pulled her to him and knotted his hands together
behind her back. "We owe Lita and Reinald big-time for this.
I had hoped we would be in here, but I really didn't want to say
anything since we're already presuming on their hospitality. In
a way I feel like I've never been away. I need to use the
facilities, such as they are - will you make tea?"
She strolled down to the hearth and sat in one of the
armchairs. Sniffing the steam from the teapot appreciatively,
she poured out some of the soporific nighttime tea and cut a
few slices of the hearty bread. Sitting back with her cup, she
snuggled into the soft cushions and cast her eyes around the
room. There was the refectory table where they had had their
first breakfast in the Realm and had met the amazing Lita. In
the corner was the huge copper tub, where Mulder had first
grudgingly submitted himself to 'assisted bathing' and then later
grew to look forward to the luxury and decadence of it. There,
on the floor, where she had found Mulder semiconscious,
writhing in agony and barely breathing after he had been
poisoned. Scully shuddered at that memory, then scanned the
room for more pleasant associations. There - the most pleasant
association of them all. The bed where they had spent so many
nights, at first on their own lonely side, and later, after their
validation, when it had become the scene of so much passion.
She stood as Mulder approached, smelling of the scented wash
water which accentuated his own fragrance. She put her arms
around his neck and kissed him. "Oh, Mulder, I'm so glad
"Me too, love." He broke the embrace regretfully and
sank into the other chair. "I wish I were less wiped out, or I
would do justice to the occasion - rise to it, as it were."
She chuckled and handed him his teacup. "Don't
worry about it - I'm half dead myself. But, God, it's good to be
back. I'll wash up now and we can go to bed when you've
finished your tea." She stopped by the tall armoire. Sure
enough, Lita had filled it with clothing for every occasion. She
chose a pale green silky nightshirt on her way into the small
Mulder drained his cup, then wearily set it down on
the table. Dragging himself to his feet, he separated the logs
on the fire with a poker. He walked slowly back up the room,
extinguishing torches as he went. Following his Realm habit,
he stripped and carefully folded his clothes, placing them on a
nearby chair. He plucked some shorts made out of a soft
material from the armoire and put them on as Scully emerged.
He joined her near the bed and boosted her onto its surface,
some four feet above the floor. He stood there for just a
moment, gazing at her face, his mind full - of memories and his
love for her. Then he circled to the other side and boosted
himself up, rolling over in the gargantuan bed until he came to
rest in her arms. They were asleep in seconds.
- - - - -
The sun streamed through the tall windows as it had
on that first morning so long ago. But unlike that first
morning, Mulder and Scully had just enjoyed the pleasure of
once again confirming their lifebond, and lay spent, relaxed and
happy in each other's arms. He stroked her hair absently,
getting as much comfort from the action as she did, and she
snuggled into his chest.
A soft tap sounded at the door. Once more they
kissed, smiled and drew apart to pull their night clothes back
on. A few seconds later, the door opened noiselessly and a
tiny figure bearing an impossibly large tray entered the room
and began to make its way down to the refectory table.
"Lita!" Scully exclaimed joyfully, and she parted the
curtains and jumped to the floor. The elf slid the tray onto the
table and joined her in the middle of the room. Quickly she
bobbed, then hugged Scully around the waist.
"Oh, Warrior Scully, how I've missed you! I had half
convinced myself that I would never see you again. Gods, but
it has been boring since you left. Ah! Mage Mulder!" She
flew at him, made her show of obeisance, then hugged him as
well. Then she caught his hand and pulled him down the length
of the room to the dining table. "Now sit and eat. Thank the
gods, we have much more to offer you than the poor fare we
had on your last visit."
"Wait, Lita!" said Scully, laughing. "I have some
presents for you and your children."
"Later. First you eat. What kind of a job would I be
doing caring for you if I didn't see you get a good breakfast
first? I declare." She continued to grumble goodnaturedly as
she began her tasks - heating the caudron for bathwater,
straightening the covers of the huge bed, sweeping nonexistent
dust from the floor.
Mulder hungrily helped himself to the huge variety of
breads, fruits and cheeses, noting as he did so that Lita had
been correct - the spread set before them was considerably
more than they had been accustomed to on their previous visit.
There was even dried fish and dried meat. Scully ate lightly,
preferring fruit and the yogurt-like substance she had come to
crave while away from the Realm.
"There, now that's better, isn't it?" said Lita, trimming
the last of the torches as they sipped their tea. "Now I can
bring you up to date on what's been going on. I'm only telling
you because you two know that I don't gossip, but I do
manage to find out a thing or two in the course of my work...."
With that, she launched into a history of the events, trivial as
well as momentous, which had transpired since their departure.
Even Mulder's photographic memory would have been hard-
pressed to do a better job.
Almost an hour later, the tea had gone cold, the water
in the cauldron bubbled and Lita had finally come to the end of
her exhaustive recitation, leaving Mulder and Scully amused,
bemused and scandalized. Quickly taking advantage of the
little elf's momentary silence, Scully dug out the gifts she had
brought for Lita and her family. The servant exclaimed over
the edible delicacies and the lengths of fine patterned cloth and
lace. For perhaps the first time in her life she was speechless
and tears glittered in her eyes.
"I thought you would have forgotten all about me,"
she said, gulping.
"How could we forget all those times we spent in hot
water - both in the bath and out of it," Mulder joked.
Lita's laughter tinkled out merrily. "Aye, there's that.
Well. I'll let you get yourselves ready for your day. Thank you
Mage, Healer. If you need anything, just ask."
End Chpt14 Part A
Chapter Fourteen Part B
After checking on a still-slumbering Shannon, Mulder
and Scully made their way to Reinald's quarters and knocked
on the door. Pitir opened it to admit them into the company of
the Mage and Prince Mavor.
The elf prince had opted to stay at Fairwoods Keep
until the coronation. Now he was giving Reinald, finally rested
sufficiently after his ordeal in Mulder's world, an update
regarding what had gone on in the Regent's absence.
"Mage Mulder, Warrior Healer Scully, how delightful
to see you again," he said in his low musical voice. He smiled
gently and shook his head a little, as he always did in their
company. The lifebond so clearly imprinted on their auras
never failed to mystify and awe him. When they had all settled
with tea, Mavor's report continued.
"The noble houses have been misbehaving a bit more
than even I had anticipated. At first I thought it was merely the
usual tricks they get up to, and a few new ones to make their
feelings known about the Realm being left in the charge of a
non-human. But I believe it's more than that." The ascetic-
looking elf frowned. "There's something - a feeling, a
sensation of some kind - of something going on. Most of the
elves and other beings with high amounts of psi ability have
sensed it. A restlessness, a tension in the air, rather like when a
storm is building. And of an almost tangible darkness - just a
little right now, but very gradually increasing. Those of us
who are experiencing it do not care for the sensation one bit, I
can assure you. We have had seven season-cycles of peace and
rebuilding and increasing prosperity, but there are definitely
clouds on the horizon, Reinald. You should be aware of
Reinald grunted. "I'm sorry to hear you say this, with
Andalor's coronation approaching. I would naturally wish for
everyone in the Realm to be content and optimistic about the
future. Can you be more specific about the trouble?"
"The unrest caused by the noble houses while you
were gone is only a symptom, although there has been
increasing talk of a royal pardon for Drellor once Andalor
ascends the throne. As you might expect, Dordinal is at the
center of that, although the houses of Ranfaus and Maalfees
would probably support such a campaign. It's hard to explain -
the unrest was nastier than usual, more mean-spirited. But as
to what is the driving force - " and the Prince shrugged. He
was silent, trying to put feelings into words. "No, I'm sorry.
It's just sensations right now - vague, nebulous. But let us talk
of happier things. When is the coronation planned?"
The date of the coronation had to be chosen with
great care. Andalor was to reach his majority within this moon
cycle. The coronation day must by tradition be the most
auspicious day of the following moon cycle. It was a problem
that Reinald and the other mages of the Realm had been
working on for some time now, as the omens for the
coronation moon cycle were troubling. There was no day on
which the astral bodies were in precisely the correct position to
guarantee a trouble-free reign. The last coronation day Reinald
had planned, that of Andalor's father, had been similarly
difficult, and King Barnus and his wife had been murdered.
The Mage had no wish for history to repeat itself, and was
putting in long hours to prevent it from happening.
"We believe it will be the first quarter of the next
moon cycle," said Reinald. "Ironically, your warning of
potential problems is not news. We mages have been finding
the same thing in our search for an auspicious coronation day.
Although I wish with all my heart it were not so, I fear young
Andalor may be tested during his reign."
The elf's expression was sympathetic. "Well, there is
one omen which is unmistakeably favorable - Mulder and
Scully are once more amongst us" He stood to leave and the
others stood as well. "Warrior Healer Scully, come visit me
when you are able. I would like to speak to you regarding
further developing you psi abilities."
Scully nodded as she cringed inwardly, then joined the
others in wishing him farewell. Her psi ability was still a
sensitive issue with her. She had reconciled herself only with
the greatest difficulty to her ability to psychically enter the
mind and body of a paitent in order to heal. She even,
occasionally and unconsciously, used her psi abilities. She had
not however admitted to herself the high levels of ESP she
appeared to possess, instead more comfortable attributing her
prescience to 'woman's intuition' or educated guesswork. The
talent was easier to ignore when she was not in the Realm.
Here, she was bombarded with sensations and what seemed
like mental gibberish constantly, often with little or no idea of
Mulder's voice cut into her musings. "We'd like to
meet with you and Lita later today, Reinald. Shannon's future
needs to be decided. I don't know for certain that she'll want
to stay here, but I suspect she will, and she'll need something
constructive to do with her time while she's here in any event."
"We also need to determine her legal status," replied
the Mage. "As Aldara mentioned a few days ago, as with
everything else, there is a complex guardianship system here.
Orphans simply don't exist normally. After the war with the
Dark Realm we had our first experience in living memory with
trying to care for children who had lost all of their close family.
It took years to finally track down the distant relatives of these
children and place them in their care. All children here have
family, mostly because our families tend to be large. Children
derive their legal status and class from that family. What of
Scully thought for a moment, then said, "Her
coloring and general build is much like Mulder's. Is there any
way we could pass her off as his niece? In other words, could
Mulder serve as her Taabsut?"
Mulder appeared startled for a moment at the idea of
suddenly becoming an uncle, then he, too, looked to Reinald
for an answer.
The Mage stroked his long face. "It's possible.
Certainly Shannon would enjoy an exalted status and possibly
even some protection as Mulder's halla - our word for ward."
He narrowed his eyes as he thought. "Yes, it could work. If
the aura is right."
"Does the aura matter?" asked Scully.
"Well, there is a certain 'family resemblance' to auras.
It's much too vague for me to discern, but an adept like Lita
would be able to tell - she can practically read a person's family
tree in his aura."
"In that case, it will have to wait for the aura reading,"
said Mulder. "And if it doesn't work, we'll move on to Plan
//I don't know, I haven't made it up yet.\\
Scully stood. "I'm going to go see Aldara. Want to
"No, love, thanks, but I'd like to stay here with
Reinald, start brushing up on my magic. The last trip all my
magic had to be directed into the effort to destroy the creatures
of the Dark Realm. I'd really like to learn some new things, fun
things, spells not for destruction." They embraced minds, then
Scully left for Aldara's cottage.
The warrior saw her coming when she was still half-
way across the courtyard, and came out to meet her.
"Is Daanna here?" asked Scully.
Aldara looked troubled. "Yes, she is. She's acting
"Maybe she's just punishing you for being away," her
"Maybe," Aldara said doubtfully.
Scully entered the homey, familiar atmosphere of
Aldara's cottage and was drawn instantly to the tiny child who
was playing on the hearthrug.
"Daanna, this is Warrior Healer Scully, and she's
brought you a present. Can you say hello?"
Scully found herself the focus of the child's gaze.
Daanna's expression was grave, and her startling dark blue eyes
were eons older than her four years. She nodded slightly as if
coming to some kind of decision, then finally said "Hello,
Warrior Healer Scully." She took the box from Scully and the
women watched her open it. She smoothed her hand on the
soft silky material of the dress, a little smile playing about her
lips. Then she unwrapped the doll, tentatively touching its
dark hair and then her own. "Thank you" she said, wide-eyed,
and went back to playing on the rug, her new doll tucked in the
safety of the crook of her arm.
Aldara and Scully withdrew a little to the table and
sat. "Is she always that quiet?"
Aldara shook her head. "She's quieter than most
children, she always has been, but since we got home, it's as if
she's distracted or something. Lita said she was like this while
she was taking care of her, but thought it was because we were
"I know this is an odd question, but does she have psi
abilities?" Scully asked. "I know you said she has
precognitive dreams, but is there anything else? I had the
oddest sensation when she was looking at me, almost as if she
could see into my mind or something."
Her friend shrugged. "I don't know. Her powers
puzzle the Mage and her aura sends poor Prince Mavor
running to his books. I expect Lita is just used to it, or she
would be as confounded as they are. We simply don't know.
In some ways she's a normal little girl, but in others...." She
looked over to her daughter, then back to Scully. "Dana - it's a
terrible thing to say. But sometimes she scares me."
- - - - -
Scully followed the noise of the clashing of swords.
A very nice elderly gargoyle had told her that the Prince and a
lady stranger had passed this way to practice near the forge.
She thought about her talk with Aldara. Although Scully had
comforted her as best she could, attributing the child's odd
affect to one of those childhood phases that kids are always
going through, Aldara was obviously shaken. The sword
master had always been uncomfortable with magic in any form.
It was ironic in the extreme that it appeared her daughter was
gifted with the very talent that had frightened and angered her
all her life. The fact that Daanna's gifts were unique and
unfathomable made the situation all that much more difficult.
She stopped and viewed the scene from behind the
shelter of a haystack. There was Andalor, laughing and
looking incredibly handsome, holding his sword aloft and
putting very little effort into fending off Shannon's unschooled
blade. Finally Shannon screetched in frustration and threw her
sword to the ground, sending Andalor into gales of laughter.
"Don't let Aldara see you mistreat a weapon like that
or you'll be mucking out stables for a week as punishment,"
Scully said, approaching the couple.
Shannon bent to pick up the sword. "You sound like
you know what you're talking about. Did she make you do
Scully smiled at the recollection. "Yes, she certainly
did. About two weeks after I started training with her, I got
frustrated and pitched a fit. I threw down my sword and
screamed my head off at her. I called her every filthy name I
could think of in New Realm, which I had begun learning by
then. She just very calmly stood there and took it, then said
that as long as I talked and acted like a stable boy, I could
work with them for a week. There were no more tantrums
"She sounds tough."
"You have no idea how tough she is," said Andalor.
"But she is absolutely unbeatable when she has a sword in her
hands, and there is not a better or fiercer warrior anywhere."
"Did you really fight beside her against the Dark
Creatures, Warrior Scully?" asked Shannon, wiping her blade
as she saw Andalor doing.
"Yes, but that story will have to wait for a while. We
are due at Reinald's to see what you're destined to do in the
Realm. Andalor, can you put away Shannon's sword?"
He nodded. "See you tomorrow, Shannon"
She turned and waved farewell, then strode by
Scully's side. "Why does Lita get to decide what I'm going to
Scully patiently explained the relation between aura
and vocation. "You see, this is a very structured society,
Shannon. It's not a democracy and it's not a culture like the
one you're used to. Here, everyone has a specific place in
society, everyone has a job to do. It's almost like time-
travelling back to medieval times, where if your father was a
blacksmith, you had a better than average chance of being a
blacksmith, too. Here, your class is determined by your family,
not by each individual's efforts to get ahead. And your job is
often determined by your aura, which shows where your inborn
talents lie. Lita doesn't get to decide what you're going to do.
She merely interprets your aura."
"I think that's what makes me nervous. What if Lita
says I don't have any talents?"
Scully smiled and put a comforting arm around the
teenager's shoulders. They stopped before Reinald's door and
knocked. Pitir opened the door to show Mulder standing in
mid-air and juggling balls of blue flame. He waved his hands,
instantly making the flames disappear and slowly settled to the
"Cool!" Shannon breathed. "You really ARE a
Mulder chuckled. "There were times this afternoon
when, despite my aura, Reinald might have disagreed with
you." He pointed wryly to a pile of broken crockery and glass
bottles. "I don't know my own strength," he explained to
Scully. "I guess my magic developed muscles in our world.
Shannon, go have a seat. Lita should be here soon. And don't
look so nervous - everything is going to be fine."
//Oh? And have you thought of Plan B yet?\\
//No, I'm heavily relying on Plan A to work.\\ He
flashed her a boyish grin and as usual, her heart melted.
Reinald entered his workroom from his bedchamber at
the same time as Pitir opened the door to admit Lita and
Tarnor. He stood still and frowned, waved his hands and one
of the tapestries on the wall became two toned - black on the
left side and white on the right. Then the entire company sat
while tea was served. Lita was the first to speak.
"Can this be...no, the age cannot be right," she said
with a puzzled look. "Mage Mulder, I am an ignorant servant,
knowing nothing of the flow of time in your world, but...can
this child be yours and Scully's daughter? Child, go and stand
against the black side of that tapestry." She peered intently at
Shannon, then nodded. "Alright, now stand against the white
side." She repeated her close inspection. "You may sit, child."
She took a few moments to organize her thoughts,
only too aware of the import of her findings.
"Aye, I am ready. I thought she could be Mage
Mulder's and Warrior Scully's daughter, because at first glance,
her aura is very like what I would expect to see from their
offspring. Shannon, you have a bright green aura, as green as
Aldara's eyes. Your calling is definitely to be a warrior - even
Aldara's aura isn't this strong. You have enormous potential."
"Why did you question if I could be her father?" asked
Mulder. "I have no warrior in my aura, apart from what I have
gotten from Scully since our validation."
"That is true," Lita replied. "But Shannon also has a
slight tinge of mage blue at the edges of her aura. Unless I am
mistaken - and I rarely am in this - it is derived from her
father's side of the family. She does not have enough to
become a mage, but there is definitely some talent there to be
Reinald looked at Lita gravely. "We must take you
into our confidence, Lita. Shannon is an orphan with no living
family at all. Mulder has agreed to act as her Taabsut, if her
aura will pass muster. Is there any way that an adept, seeing
her aura, could deny an uncle-niece relationship between
Shannon and Mulder?"
While Lita thought, Shannon's own mind was in a
whirl. Her father, the mystery man she had never met, had
given her some mage talents! And she was to be a warrior!
She was full of misgivings. Maybe her aura said that she had
talent, but she was doubtful. Sure, she would fight fiercely for
her own life if she had to, and had several times in the near
past. But that was a far cry from someone who lived and
breathed tactics and strategy and weapons prowess, and who
was ready to risk his or her life for the Realm. She just got
here, she didn't even know if she was going to like the place.
In any case, Shannon had never believed in anything strongly
enough to be ready to die for it. Dimly she heard Lita's voice
in the background and pulled herself back to what was going
"...but I don't think that anyone could say for a fact
that there was NOT a family relationship, judging by their
auras and by the physical resemblance they have."
Mulder breathed a sigh of relief. While he was not
sure he was ready or qualified to be an uncle or a Taabsut, at
least he did not now have to come up with Plan B. "Well,
then, it looks like we're related, Shannon, although I think
you're getting the bad end of the deal," he joked. He looked at
her - pale, still, silent - and was shaken. "Shannon, I'm really
not all that bad, I was just kidding. I'd be proud to have you as
"You will enjoy great status as Mulder's halla,
Shannon," said Reinald. "Mulder and Scully saved our world,
and they are revered by our people. You will remain here at the
castle and be treated as a member of the nobility, the niece of
the Realm's savior."
"I don't want to be a warrior." It came out in a small,
tentative voice. Then louder, more determined. "I DON'T
want to be a warrior. I've had enough in the last couple of
weeks with fighting and running for my life to last a lifetime. I
don't want to die for the Realm. I don't want to die at all." She
looked at Mulder, tears filling her eyes. "I would love to have
you as my uncle, and I'm sorry to embarrass you like this, but I
just can't be a warrior, I just can't do it. I'm sorry." With that,
the girl ran from the room.
Mulder and Scully looked at each other aghast. "I'm
so sorry," Scully blurted out, eyes on the floor. "I never
thought that she'd have that reaction. I mean, I see that maybe
we should have expected it - she's been so traumatized recently
- but I didn't think...." She trailed off, embarrassed and torn
between staying with the group and running to comfort
Shannon. Mulder sat lost in misery, emitting waves of guilt.
//For GOD'S sake Mulder, it is NOT your fault!\\
She shot him an exasperated glance.
They finally pulled themselves together and looked at
their friends. To their astonishment, the others were all smiling
"Are you finished beating yourselves up now? Are
you ready to listen to us explain a few things?" asked Tarnor,
with a twinkle in his eye. "Actually, we must apologize. You
are so much a part of the Realm that we forget sometimes that
there are aspects of our culture that you have not seen before."
"You see, Shannon's reaction is not unusual here,"
continued Reinald. "Aura readings are usually not performed
until adolescence, with certain exceptions such as mage
children and royals. Adolescents are unpredictable creatures,
but one constant among them seems to be a hatred of being
told what they must do."
Lita took up the explanation. "I have done thousands
of aura readings. Maybe half of the children I have read have
reacted like Shannon. They all come around, in time, and so
will she. It's in the aura," she said simply. "It is inescapable."
Tarnor smiled. "Go to her now and assure her that no
one will force her into anything. She will come in her own
time to see that she has a calling." Seeing Scully start to rise,
he said softly, "No, Scully - it is her Taabsut who must go."
Mulder rose and left the room, accompanied by the
kind thoughts of his friends and the love of his bondmate. //It
might have been easier to devise Plan B, after all,\\ he thought,
receiving Scully's warm, sympathetic chuckle in return.
He tapped on Shannon's door, which was answered a
few seconds later by Prilla. "She's very upset, Mage," the
stocky troll said simply, and opened the door to admit him.
"Thank you, Prilla, you may leave us."
Shannon had thrown herself across her bed and was
sobbing. Mulder made no effort to approach her, merely sat at
her hearth and gazed into the fire until the sobbing stopped. He
heard the squeak of bedsprings which told him she had gotten
off the bed and was making her way down to him.
"Why? You have nothing to be sorry for."
"Yes, I do. I embarrassed you and Scully and myself.
I probably sounded like a spoiled little brat. You guys have
done everything for me - saved my life and helped with...with
the arrangements for Mom and brought me here with you and
everything. And then I go and throw a major fit like that."
"No one holds that against you, Shannon," Mulder
said softly. "Maybe we tried to rush things too much. But
getting your legal status squared away is of utmost importance
here, and your aura had to be read to make sure I could serve
as your Taabsut. We probably should have left the details of
your vocation until later."
They were silent for quite a long time. Mulder
sensed, whether through his mage abilities or his psychology
training, that there was something else she needed to say, and
he was willing to wait as long as necessary for it. He stared
into the fire, thinking of himself when he was Shannon's age,
the traumas that he had sustained by that time, the trauma of
merely being a teenager. It also came to him that this girl, with
her long dark hair and honey eyes, was not so different from
what his sister Samantha might have been like, if he had been
fortunate enough to know her at this age. Finally, she sniffed a
little, and he came out of his reverie.
The tears had started again, slow, barely noticed. "I'm
so afraid." She slid out of her chair to sit on the hearthrug with
her head on his knee. He smoothed her hair and didn't say
anything for a long time.
"I'm not going to tell you that there's nothing to be
afraid of, Shannon. I have much more respect for your
intelligence than that. You are in a new and in many ways,
very strange land. You have just gone through terrible things
that no one should have to go through. You don't know what's
ahead. Hell, I think you'd be a little crazy if you weren't
afraid." She giggled a bit at that. He smiled and resumed
stroking her hair.
"No one's going to force you into anything. You will
make your own decision about what you will do for your
lifework. You're just not ready yet. You have a lot of learning
to do about the Realm. Just take things one day at a time and
it will all work out, I promise you. If you have a problem, talk
to somebody. The Professor will probably stay here the rest of
his life. I'm sure he will always be a sympathetic ear for you,
Shannon - he loved your mother very much. And for a while,
Scully and I will both be here. You know I'll always be ready
to listen. And I can't tell you how incredible Scully is. She's
listened to me until anyone else in the world would have
throttled me just to shut me up, yet she keeps coming back for
"But you and Scully aren't going to stay."
Mulder chuckled. "Shannon, we will be here for at
least the equivalent of a week in our world's time. You could
be married with children of your own by the time we leave, in
She blushed and laughed out loud at that thought.
She looked up at him, finally meeting his eyes. "Do you really
He smoothed back her dark hair from her face. "Yes,
I do. And you could also be a great warrior, or artisan or
whatever else you chose to be. There's plenty of time. It will
all happen when it's supposed to happen. Okay?"
"Okay. Thanks, Mulder. Or should I call you
Tasbutt, tats... what's that word?"
"Taabsut. It means guardian. I don't know, it's
probably expected that you call me that, but just call me what
you're comfortable with."
He smiled. //Maybe Plan B wouldn't have worked out
so well, after all.\\
End Chpt 14 Part B
Chapter Fourteen Part C
The next three weeks passed swiftly.
Mulder continued to work with both Tarnor and
Reinald in further developing his magic. With his eidetic
memory, learning the spells was not a problem. The precise
vocal inflection of the Old Realm language of the spells and the
required hand positions were more of a challenge. He finished
each day exhausted from the concentration he had expended.
Scully had met with Corvay the day after her arrival.
Though somewhat dismayed by the changes that time had
made on the old elf, she found his mind as sharp and irreverent
as it had always been. He was curious about and somewhat
appalled by most of the instruments she had brought for him.
He did see the usefulness of the stethoscope, however, and
after Scully had taught him and Kyla what to do with it, he
started using it in his practice. He had Reinald cast him a
language spell so that he could read the texts she had brought,
usually shaking his head in horror at the 'wonders' of modern
medicine, but occasionally jotting down a note. Mornings, she
worked side by side with Kyla, brushing up on her healing
skills and making house calls for sick trolls, elves, gargoyles
In the afternoons, Scully joined Aldara on the practice
fields. The first week she thought she had made a terrible
mistake. How could the results of all that hard training that
she had gained in her first visit to the Realm have disappeared
already? Every day of the first seven Scully dragged herself
back to the room to soak in a hot tub and later to be treated to
one of Mulder's incredible massages. But she persevered and
now was almost back to the level of performance she had
On occasion, she was joined by Mulder or Shannon.
Almost no direction had been given the teenager, everyone
preferring to let her seek what interested her and try everything
until she felt comfortable in this world. The one exception had
been in language training. Tarnor had removed Reinald's
language spell and substituted one of his own making, which
gradually omitted the translation of key words. This would
provide the motivation for Shannon to learn New Realm as
quickly as possible. She had also been assigned to one of the
court scribes who was giving her language lessons each
morning. She was progressing far more quickly than anyone
had thought possible. In the afternoons Shannon sometimes
drilled lightly with Scully and Aldara. Other times she would
walk in the environs of the castle, learning the similarities and
the differences of this new world. On Market Day she had
spent the afternoon going from stall to stall, looking over the
merchandise, trying the delicacies, and talking to others of her
age but not necessarily her species. She even managed to
purchase some cloth for the Coronation Ball gown that Lita
had promised to make for her. Lita told her later that she had
bargained as skillfully as an elf, no mean feat.
No one saw much of Andalor these days. Shortly
after their arrival back at the Realm, he entered a special
cottage on the grounds of the Keep. By tradition, a Prince
entered the dwelling just before his coronation and spent his
days in study, solitude and contemplation of the weighty tasks
which he was about to undertake. Only Reinald was allowed to
visit him, and then only infrequently. Dorbo brought him food
and other necessities, and Corvay checked on him as often as
tradition allowed to ensure his health. He would not be seen
by any of his other subjects until the day of the coronation.
That day was fast approaching. The Demesne of
Fairwoods Keep swelled until it seemed that it could not hold
another person, and still they kept coming. The influx of
visitors made that of Reinald's trial seem petty by comparison.
Thousands arrived every day from every corner of this world,
not just the Realm. Mulder and Scully, even the Professor,
were stunned by the many examples of being that crowded
every inn and camped on every piece of bare ground within a
day's walk of the castle.
There were a few types of being that even the well-
travelled Jourdain had never before come across, though he
had heard stories of them. "Ah, yes - those are the Gifralian
Cat People. I had thought them to be myth, but surely they can
be no other. It is said that they are superb tacticians and have
never been bested in battle. And those beings over there -
Albino Pigmen. See the snout-like shape to their noses? They
are totally blind, and no one is sure how they get around, but
their sense of direction is flawless. Incredible - I never thought
I would see one, let alone the entire ruling clan."
The day of the coronation dawned cool and clear.
Every servant had been up all night, scrubbing, cleaning,
cooking and decorating for the festivities of the day. In the
Great Hall, the stands had been erected to hold all but the most
highly born visitor. Those lucky few would sit in the
concentric rings of chairs on the floor of the Hall with the
heads of the noble houses, the high priests and priestesses, and
the representatives of the elves, trolls and gargoyles. The
throng of artisans, traders, farmers and merchants would have
to be content to steal a glimpse of their new King outside when
he waved to them from the balustrade high above them at the
conclusion of the ceremony.
Finally, the Great Processional was sounded by
trumpet-like instruments, and the march into the Hall
commenced. Warriors with shining armor followed priestesses
with long flowing robes in exotic colors. Ambassadors from
every kingdom in the world were there in styles and colors that
made the onlookers dizzy. Nobles followed princes, and
princes followed kings. The long line slowly fed itself through
the huge oak and iron doors of the Great Hall until it seemed
that surely not another one could fit. But next, the mages who
would be instrumental in the ceremony to come filed in, the
deep blue of their robes like a quiet undulating sea. And
behind them, the guests that the King-to-be had personally
invited to witness his coronation.
It was in this group that Mulder and Scully found
themselves, surrounded by their friends. Shannon had been
particularly pleased. Since she had had little contact with
Andalor, she assumed that he had forgotten about her. Or, she
had thought darkly, perhaps he remembered a bit too much
about how she had teased him about his claims to royalty.
Now she stood in a plain white satin sheath dress girded with
gilt cords as befitted her station and age, her hair done up in a
fantastic elaborate design, trembling with excitement.
Mulder stood quietly next to her, wearing his mage
robe proudly. On his other side, Scully wore gleaming armor,
a hood of green covering her russet hair and a cloak of brown
flowing from her shoulders, to show her unique dual status.
Indeed, Mulder and Scully were the focal points of attention.
There were thousands in the building who had never seen the
pair from the faraway land - the Mage and his bondmate who
had done so much to save the Realm, and perhaps their whole
world, from the Dark Creatures. Necks craned and beings
jostled for position to catch a glimpse of the pair.
A new fanfare sounded, and an expectant hush fell
over the crowd. A solitary figure dressed in the plainest of
garb walked determinedly down the center of the Great Hall.
Those seated stood as he passed. He stopped at the end of the
Hall in the middle of the rings of chairs where the Great
Throne of the Realm sat on a dais, and turned to the throng.
Speaking Old Realm in a clear, strong voice, the blond young
man chanted his line of succession, his credentials for
ascending the throne. The chanting went on for almost a
candlemark, but the voice never faltered, never stumbled.
Mulder chanced a quick look at Reinald, who seemed so proud
of the boy that he would burst.
Next, the priests and mages took up the chant, and a
kind of antiphon and response took place, with Andalor
following the lead of the others. Finally, the group ascended
the steps to the dais and all gathered around the young man.
They completely obscured him from view as some frenzied
activity took place in the center of the group. Then, they all
dropped back, leaving only one figure on the platform.
Andalor stood tall in finely embroidered white silk,
encrusted with gems of every description and shot through
with golden threads. A dark red cloak hung from his
shoulders. On a nearby stand lay the Scepter and the Crown of
the Realm. It seemed as if the onlookers held their collective
Slowly, Reinald approached the young man and stood
facing him on the dais. The two then took up the Old Realm
chant for a minute or two, as the exchange of power from the
Regent to the young man took place. There was a drumroll,
and Reinald picked up the Crown. Facing the congregation, he
said a few words, then placed the Crown on Andalor's head.
He led Andalor to the throne and the young man sat, his
expression calm, serious. Last, the Mage thrust the Scepter in
the young King's hand.
Instantly, the Hall erupted with cheering. A trace of a
smile touched the corners of the new King's mouth and he
looked almost startled at the reaction his crowning had
initiated. He glanced over to where his friends were also
standing and cheering, and rolled his eyes a little, which sent
Shannon off into a fit of the giggles. Finally after many
minutes, the crowd settled down and the new King stood.
"You have been many years without a King, some of
those years marked by the greatest hardship and devastation
our Realm has ever known. Yet you have waited patiently for
me to grow up, to learn how to be a good King. I will try with
every breath to prove to you that you have not misplaced your
trust, that your patience has been rewarded." Wild cheering
broke out again, and the King waited for it to stop.
"There are people I must thank. Without them
perhaps none of us would be here today. I know most
certainly that I would not," the King said with a rueful smile.
"I have a more suitable way to show my thanks to some of
them later at the Ball. For now, I will say only that this Realm
owes a debt it cannot possibly repay to Captain of the Guards
Jourdain, SwordMaster Aldara, Mage Mulder, WarriorHealer
Scully, Mage Tarnor, and most of all, my Regent and friend
Mage Reinald." Once more cheering broke out, noticeably
more restrained among the members of the noble houses.
When it had died down, the King once more began to
chant in Old Realm for several minutes. Then, to drums and
trumpets, he was led by the mages and priests up to the
balustrade where he waved to the huge crowd assembled
outside. The muffled cheers and cries of the thousands who
had patiently waited outside during the ceremony sounded like
a roar to those in the Great Hall. Finally, the King was led off
by the Masters of Protocol to another enclosed part of the
Hall. There he would perform certain ceremonial duties with
the heads of the noble houses, representatives of the other
species and visiting ambassadors. Everyone else began to file
out of the Great Hall in no particular order.
"What happens now?" asked Scully.
"For us, nothing," replied Reinald. "The King will be
busy from now until the time of the Ball with all sorts of things,
but we are free. I strongly suggest that you get something to
eat and then rest for the remainder of the day. The Ball will go
on all night, and you won't want to miss a minute of it."
"Sounds like a plan," said Mulder. "Milady?" and he
offered his arm to Scully who took it with a smile. They
walked slowly back to their room, relishing the festival-like
atmosphere that had taken over the castle. Opening the door,
they found that Lita, as usual, had anticipated their needs and a
light meal of bread, soup and fruit had been laid out on the
large refectory table. Mulder removed his robe, then helped
Scully out of the armor that was invaluable on the field of
combat but rather inconvenient elsewhere, and they ate. Lita
came in to clear away the lunch things and get a full report of
the morning's ceremony. Then the little elf bustled out, intent
upon the many things she had to do that day.
"Well, what would you like to do now?" Scully
smiled, knowing perfectly well.
Mulder returned her smile and took her hand to help
her out of her chair. He pulled her to him and covered her lips
with his own softly at first, then with increasing heat, his hands
curving over her buttocks.
//Was that a clue, Agent Mulder?\\
- - - - -
Scully viewed herself critically in the looking glass.
Usually the least fussy of women when it came to dressing, she
wanted to look special tonight. Lita had certainly outdone
herself with the dress. Scully smoothed the dark green silk that
had been liberally embroidered in fantastic patterns with golden
thread and turned once again to view it from every angle.
"Gorgeous." Mulder leaned against the wall with his
arms folded, his white silk shirt embroidered with dark mage
blue. He wore the flowing shirt belted over dark blue leggings
and high black boots and covered by a short dark blue silk
tunic. "And you can read my mind, so you know I'm telling
you the truth." His dark hazel eyes twinkled. "Come on, let's
go pick up Shannon."
Shannon was once again in white, which was
traditional for unwed girls of marrying age in the Realm. This
dress was made of yards and yards of white silk but was almost
austere in design, perfectly showcasing the girl's height, slender
figure and elaborately dressed raven hair. The waistline of the
dress was girded with dark green cords, a concession to her
"Ready?" asked Mulder and offered her his free arm.
She took it happily. Mulder could see she was a bit nervous.
He leaned down and whispered, "Relax - you're beautiful" and
received the teenager's grateful smile in return. He guided the
women on the longish walk from their quarters back to the
Great Hall, the only room large enough for the gathering. An
army of servants had transformed it from the flag bedecked
utilitarian hall of the morning to a glittering, candlelit paradise.
Tables bent under the weight of food, the court musicians
never stopped the flow of beautiful, slightly exotic music, and
the crowd! Women gorgeously dressed and covered with
jewels, their partners looking darkly handsome in the colors of
their houses or auras, the strange costumes and national dress
of some of the visitors, the sea of hues and patterns that made
the eyes reel.
Mulder assisted his companions with drinks and they
stood peering around for familiar faces. Shannon looked
anxious, Scully noted sympathetically. The teenage fear of
being unpopular was written all over the girl's face, only to
clear a few seconds later when Andalor approached the group.
Mulder bowed and the women dropped into deep
curtseys. Andalor dismissed all the pomp with a wave of his
hand. "Yeah, thanks, but that makes me a little uncomfortable,
you know? I mean, that's fine for people I don't know, but it
feels a little silly with you. I've been waiting for you to arrive.
Shannon, would you like to dance?"
Shyly, the girl nodded and took the King's proffered
hand. He led her onto the dance floor where room was
instantly made for the young couple. There were approving
glances from the adults and envious looks from the many
young ladies dressed in white scattered throughout the throng.
"Where have you been?" Aldara demanded. She too
was in dark green, a very simply cut gown that Scully could
have sworn was a knock-off of a gorgeous Oscar de la Renta
they had seen while shopping in Neiman Marcus. The two
women's eyes met and they began to giggle. Beside her,
Daanna was dressed in her long rose dress with the white lacy
pinafore, and held her doll. The child smiled up at them.
"Are you enjoying the party, Daanna?" Scully asked.
Wordlessly, the child nodded, shaking her black curls
"Would you show me where the best things to eat
are?" The little girl smiled and took Scully's hand, leading her
over to the tables, her parents and Mulder following.
Hours of eating and dancing, conversation and
laughter passed like in a dream. They were all a little startled
when the music stopped and they heard Andalor's voice calling
for Mulder, Scully and Reinald to join him on the dais. Looking
at each other with puzzled expressions, the couple and the old
Mage made their way to the far end of the Great Hall.
"I said this morning that I would find a more suitable
way of thanking some of the people to whom I and the Realm
owe so much. Mage Mulder, Warrior Healer Scully. Your
services to the Realm can never be repaid, but as a small token
of our gratitude for your courage and your friendship, it gives
me great personal pleasure to present you with these rings."
He smiled, whispering in a low voice for their ears only, "Sorry
- I brought them to your world but forgot to give them to you
there." He slid the gold ring with the mage blue glittering
stone onto Mulder's right ring finger, and the green and brown
catseye ring onto Scully's. "These stones are imparted with
magical powers for the wearers only. May our friends always
keep the Realm in their hearts as we hold them in ours." There
was an avalanche of applause as Scully broke at least ten rules
of protocol by hugging and kissing the young King and Mulder
embraced him warmly. When the applause died down a few
minutes later, King Andalor continued.
"Mage Reinald, you have steered the Realm through
its darkest days at great personal sacrifice. From the time of
my father's murder, you have cared for me, taught me and
guided the Realm with no thought to personal gain. During
that time, you were put on trial for your life by those who
would have used the Regency for their own designs." There
was an undercurrent of grumbling among the nobles of the
three houses, which the King silenced with a glare. "The Mage
would be proud at the amount of research into the Realm's
history I had to do to come up with a suitable gift for him."
"Long ago in the story of the Realm, the person who
demonstrated uncommon sacrifice in the interests of the Realm
and its King was given a special honor. So special was this
honor that sometimes a hundred season-cycles or more would
pass before a candidate was deemed worthy of it."
Reinald gasped. "Oh, Andalor, no. Not -"
Andalor silenced him with a smile. "Mage Reinald
has more than earned this honor - by his faithful guidance of
the Realm, his part in the defeat of the creatures of the Dark
Realm, his part in finding a way to rid me of the spell cast on
me when I was a child, and numerous other - more recent -
services. Mage Reinald, I invest you with the Order Royal of
the Realm. Please kneel before me." Trembling, the Mage
knelt before his beloved Andalor with bowed head. The young
King held aloft a chain of white gold from which hung a large
carved medallion of yellow gold. "It took quite a bit of
research, but this, the original Medallion of the Order Royal,
was finally found after years of searching, on the ancient Isle of
Greyfalk. It gives me the greatest pleasure to confer on Mage
Reinald the Order Royal of the Realm." King Andalor lowered
the medallion around the neck of his friend, his teacher. He
assisted Reinald to stand and enveloped him in a embrace.
"Thank you, Reinald," he whispered.
The Great Hall reverberated with thunderous
applause. Even the members of the noble houses decided that
it would be politically advantageous of them to join in. There
was more than one person on the dais and on the floor of the
Great Hall surrepticiously wiping tears from their eyes. When
the applause had died down and those on the dais were again
able to speak, the King turned to the gathering. "As you
celebrate this occasion, celebrate also the heroes of our Realm.
Cherish their place amongst us, as I do." He gave a small
signal, and the court musicians once again struck up the music
for a lively dance. The crowd began to melt away, to dance, to
eat, to chat among friends.
"Andalor, the rings are beautiful," said Scully.
"Thank you so much."
"Ah, but it is up to you two to discover how to use
them," laughed Andalor. "The stones are reputed to be very
powerful, but the secret to unlocking their powers has been
lost for centuries."
"Even if we never unlock their powers, it was a very
thoughtful gift, Andalor," replied Mulder.
The young King smiled. Reinald was still too touched
to trust himself to speak, gazing down at the medallion and
stroking the ancient carving. "Shannon - will you do me the
honor?" asked Andalor. Glowing, the girl took his arm and
allowed herself to be guided out onto the dance floor.
Jourdain and Aldara, Mulder and Scully soon joined them,
leaving Tarnor and Reinald sitting and enjoying the scene
Off in the far corner of the room, almost unnoticed, a
tiny child in a lacy pinafore and a long rose dress stood with
her back to the revellers, gazing out a small arrow slit into the
night sky. Her doll was hugged tight to her chest, her fists
Her mage blue eyes filled with tears of anger,
defiance. And fear.