My Exploding Cat

Just stories and drawings really, no actual fissile felines.

Chapter 41

CHAPTER FORTY-ONE

WAGH! I woke with a start. I’d fallen asleep!
Startled, I jumped to my feet. Sophie peeked out from behind a branch, smirking.
“Hey, sleepyhead,” she laughed. “I knew you shouldn’t have taken the whole watch. You were falling asleep just as I got up. Don’t worry, no one else is up yet. And plus, I put a shield around the camp.”
I rubbed my forehead. Why didn’t I think of that? Ugh! I could have set that up in five minutes and had a perfect night’s sleep!
“‘Course,” Sophie continued, “that could be bypassed if someone was strong enough. Then again, we’re…”
“Sophie!” I yelled. “You’re arguing with yourself again.”
Sophie blinked, then tossed her dark hair over her shoulder. She shook her head, then said to me, “I have to stop doing that. That is so schizo.” Then she picked up her wand and changed a leaf into a bucket to go pick up a few edible leaves here and there.
I knew Sophie would never act like this in front of the others. She always seemed more uptight around the others, and she was graceful and much more, I dunno, like a girl around me. But never in front of the others. Like she had to put on a show, be PowerGirl for them. I remember how I used to do that, before I got assigned to be a bodyguard on this death mission. Was it a death mission? Too early to judge.
“Speaking of schizo,” I said, remembering last night, “I’m starting to wonder about Daniel.”
“Oh, yeah?”
“Yeah.” I shut my mouth for a second and broke eye contact, wondering how she’d take this since Daniel was practically her unspoken boyfriend. I sank back down to sit and lean against the tree again. “I’m beginning to wonder what he’s up to. I mean, really.”
“Personally,” Sophie said, “I think he’s up to silently hitting on me and trying to work out the power thing.”
“No,” I said carefully. “I’m the one trying to work out the power thing. You, I understand – you fit enchantress perfectly. But Daniel… he’s powerful for some reason, and I can’t figure it out. Mages are typically up to current news and stuff, but Daniel seems like he’s lived on Neptune all his life. And though he seems to know himself pretty well, he doesn’t know anyone or anything else very much. Obviously he’s had books available, but there’s barely anything else there. No foundation, no social life.
“At least it looks that way. I’m starting to think that he’s just a good actor, hiding things from us. I don’t know his motives, but I think he might be up to something. It’s obvious he doesn’t tell us everything.”
“Does anyone?” Sophie asked, frowning. “I think you’re reading too much into this.”
“Maybe,” I said, dropping my forehead into my palm and threading my fingers in between my messy blonde bangs. “I just don’t know. And I can’t help but try to weave explanations.”
I lifted my head and slumped against the tree. “Let’s face it. I’m a spy. I was trained to solve puzzles, and I have all the magic stuff that comes with being a spy mage.”
Sophie stopped picking the herbs and set the bucket down. “Which means?”
“It means that it’s part of me, and it controls me more than I’d care to admit. But half the time, my instincts are right. I’ve always been like that. It’s part of why I’m as strong as I am. That’s why I’m worried. My instinct, plus the twinge of magic supporting it, plus how Daniel’s been acting…”
Sophie frowned at me, then silently strode across the carpet of pine needles. Yes, yes, my poetry is darling. If only I could spele.
Sophie sat down, then glanced both at the camp, the forest and the nearby little clearing, just to make sure no one was watching us.
“I checked everything five minutes ago,” I said. “We’re fine.”
Sophie put her finger to her lips hastily and mouthed, “I’m not satisfied with that.” Then she got that new-spell look on her face, stuck her wand in her pocket and made a sign with her hands. I kept thinking I saw things in the distance, but it always seemed like a false alarm after a few seconds. Maybe it was my paranoia, or maybe it was the spell. I don’t know. There were a lot of things I didn’t know lately.
When the spell was done, Sophie looked alarmed. She grabbed my hand and ran with it, zipping nimbly through the forest, running so high on adrenaline that I could hardly keep up. Her face slowly turned quizzical and then she grinned and leaped into the air several times, hardening the air as she ran up it like a bunch of stairs. She’d figured out how Daniel did it.
Gradually she slowed. “We lost ‘em. But they’ll find us soon.”
“Who?” I asked.
“Shh!” Sophie said. “We need to go somewhere where they can’t. Lemme think.”
Sophie sat down. “They can go anywhere in this dimension. We can’t hide. They have guards everywhere.”
“Who?”  I asked again.
“Our enemies. The fiery-eyed woman and her thugs. Plus the Gateguards, who are stupid but also a threat in numbers like this. I should be able to lure them off, but they’ll trace the magic back to me.”
“I’ll do it,” I said. “They know I was on watch, so they’ll consider the possibility of only me having been there.”
Sophie gasped. “I’m so stupid! We left camp, and nobody else is up! The camp is unprotected!”
I gaped. “We’d better get back there. Hold still.”
I touched my wand, and we were back at camp.
“How did you do that?” Sophie asked. “You’re not an enchantress.”
I shrugged, then said, “It’s just something that… spy mages can do…”
Sophie looked confused.
“Oh, I’m so stupid! That was the answer! And I sat around all night trying to figure it out!”
Sophie looked more confused.
“I’ll explain to you, but not here. Let’s shield the place and find a better spot to work this out.”
Together we put up the shield. I wasn’t worried, since Sophie was the second most powerful wielder and Daniel would be the only one who could disable her magic. While Sophie wrote a note to the others telling them not to freak out, I turned the Gateguards away, letting them think that the camp was in the opposite direction and trailing magic in a circle so they’d be chasing themselves and, with any luck, killing each other. Then I opened a portal to one of my favorite places, a tiny dimension I had built myself. It was just a little clearing, a meadow. It even had actual plants in it, and I’d stashed candy and junk food there so I could escape school at the agency and go pig out whenever I wanted.
Sophie and I went through, and I closed the portal.
We sat down, and I started spillin’. “I have a second secret I should tell you first, though. Don’t say any of this to Daniel,” I said, “but the books have a secret: each of them was once human. You know how they can smirk, look frustrated, et cetera? Even though they don’t actually have faces in book form? Well, it’s because they started out human but rescued our dimension by becoming a consistent source of magic in our dimension. They each were wielders, but then Earth was about to die, so they had to stop using magic and become the source of it – a permanent anchor on a certain amount of magic that keeps it wherever the book goes. You guys have fairies and stuff on Earth, but they can hop dimensions on their own, like us, and they don’t count in any magic-level measurements.”
“So Mage and Tress were human, but turned themselves into books so that they could save Earth and train other people to go in their place?”
“Yeah, basically,” I said. “I was about nine then, and I was the strongest wielder in that time. The youngest people tend to be a little stronger than older people,” I explained. “I was around when Mage and Tress had to do that… and I remember. But” — I glanced around, a wasted gesture since we were the only people in my mini dimension – “Mage and Tress are my…”
Apparently we weren’t the only people in my mini dimension, because Daniel came charging into the clearing.
“How the heck did you get in here?” I asked.
Daniel stopped in his tracks, looked confused, and said, “I was just looking for Sophie. I used the teleporting spell. Don’t take it personally.”
Realization dawned on Daniel’s face, but Sophie reassured him that we left the camp with a shield around it.
“We’re trying to solve a few mysteries,” I said, groping for loopholes. “Sophie and I know a few things. We’ll explain later. In the meantime, could you tend the fire so Hannah can cook breakfast?”
Daniel looked confused, then said, “Okay, I’ll leave if you want.” It was said in a tone, not an incriminating one but still kind of suspicious.
He left, and I searched the dimension for any trace of outsider magic. Only Daniel’s exit magic appeared. Good.
“I’m not exactly comfortable here, now that we know that anyone with teleporting powers can find us. But it’s the safest place I have.”
“You were saying?”
“Mage and Tress…” I looked around with about as much relaxation as one being continually hit in the head with a two-by-four.
“Are my parents,” I finished.

This entry was posted on Friday, June 18th, 2010 at 12:44 pm and is filed under Mirrorworld. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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