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14 May 2019 @ 08:09 am
_Lost and Found_ part 9  

“Oh, shit!” Oscar bolted down the middle of the street. I must be insane! Just because the bronze buildings will fall all in one piece, undamaged, doesn’t mean they won’t squish me flat!

He slowed, trying to feel below as he approached the tallest building . . . The bedrock it was anchored to had fractured all around, and was compacting the softer sedimentary rocks below, slowly, now.

They’re porous. They may be rocks, but there’s water there, and the water needs to leave that side . . .

­He opened his eyes and watch the building slowly straighten . . . start to go the other way . . .

Now all the water out! Let the weight of the building crush the pore spaces . . .

A few more nudges and it was stable. He looked around and headed for the next one . . .

At some point Bran grabbed him and forced him to eat and drink before joining the compass and then the most obviously leaning buildings got leveled quickly.

But they slept in the camp outside, waking to thumps and cracks all night.

It was a week before it settled down. They straightened where they could, and got Gre and Hudson to open up a bubbled hardware store for tools and made paths over the rim, as the town sank down a bit.

The harbor was still well above the water level.

And everyone agreed that they needed working farms and such before they started letting more people out. They started surveying, claiming land and breaking ground for gardens and using an amazing array of motorized vehicles to pull improvised plows for the larger fields.

And the Mages didn’t claim any land.

Oscar sighed and sat back, watching the workers from a hilltop. “You know what?”

Selano and Bran looked at him. “This is the first time I remember seeing Gre working like he belongs in a group of people. Like he’s part of a group.”

Selano sighed. “Yes. He was raised badly, and finds the Mage lifestyle just doesn’t suit him. Even these gangsters of Estaven’s . . . they generally pair up into dedicated couples. I . . . think when we leave, he may stay here.”

Roboner and Dalphi were just down slope, in the nursery the women had built, nursing their babies. They both glanced up, and nodded.

Roboner shrugged. “It’s not like we don’t like you guys, and we’re really glad to be out of the Solti’s harem, but . . .”

“But this is closer to your dream life?” Oscar nodded. “Yeah . . . well, maybe it’s time for one last try.”

He got up and walked over to the dirt road they’d built, and into the bronzed city. To the closest crossroad.

“Harry, God of Travelers! We’re very lost and very in need of . . .” A deep subtle flood of magic all around. Oscar turned and grinned at the spear wielding bronze armored old man looking around in astonishment. “. . . a ride out of here.”

“Oscar?” The God grabbed his shoulders. “Oscar! Where the Hell have you been?” A glance around. “Where the hell are we?”

“I haven’t a clue. This is the city of Scandia, that Barry virtue bubbled piecemeal, and then as a whole over a thousand years ago. We sort of dropped into it a couple of months ago . . . and moved it out of the glacier down to here before we opened the outer bubble.”

Harry turned in a slow circle. “Scandia. Good Lord, yes.” He looked up. “Noon here, and it was pre-dawn . . . That will give me a starting point to find you. I can feel the summoning coming to an end . . .”

Oscar looked back. Bran was trotting up, Selano following.

“Grab.” Oscar held his hands out each direction.

Harry grinned and grabbed one, Bran the other, reaching back for Selano . . . and they thudded down into the dark . . . a room, as the light brightened. Harry’s office, under the stairs of the Tavern, and much larger than could possibly have fit into the space.

“Welcome home.” Harry, now a stooped old man, a short arc of gray hair around his bald pate, dark skin wrinkled into a grin. “Let’s scare up something to eat and drink, and you can tell me what you’ve been doing for thirty-eight years, and I can bring you up to date on what’s been happening everywhere else, until it’s a decent hour to show up on the king’s doorstep.”

The Future, Part One

Spring 1413

Karista, Kingdom of the West

Thirty-eight years had passed.

Everything was the same. Except for what had changed.

Oscar tried to tell himself that the details would be easy to pick up.

King Rebo had died at the age of one hundred and nine.

King Leano was still the solid man he remembered. Crown Prince Rolo was still with his second wife. Their son had been four years old the last time Oscar had been in Karista. He’d died, assassinated. All the other royal children he remembered were grown.

Spear Prince Fossi was fifty-three years old. He'd been Oscar's foster brother, Younger foster brother. Now he was a well-respected colonel in the army, doing most of the field work for General Rufi, who hadn't changed a bit, thank the Old Gods.

There were a bunch of new officers whom he barely remembered.

But Lefty Lebonift—now a colonel—was high in the intel division, and spent most of his time spying on Auralia, which had split into eight nations before consolidating into four, and regularly stole time to explore cross-dimensional worlds with Question.

Rufi grinned, as he filled them in on what they'd missed. "Colonel Janic is the head of the King's Own. He's organized a few magic users in the army into what we call Magic Central. Guess where you're going to land?"

Selano sighed, and Rufi reached over to grip his shoulder. "Dad missed you. But he always said you were too tough to get killed, and he just hoped you were having fun, wherever you landed. You know you'll always have a home here."

"Yes . . . but I've missed so much!"

Rufi's eyes twinkled. "You have no idea. Take your time, and adjust to the new world. It's a lot like the world you left. Starting with that island father gave you. Your people have kept it in working order. Go there, get settled. I'll see you two officers in three days. Selano, stay or go, your choice, of course.

“I’ll talk to people about the best way to get a corridor to this displaced city of yours, so your girlfriends can get home if they wish, and all those people can come and go at will, and reenter the world at their own pace.”

A Few Weeks Later

“Forty-five corridors. Fortunately we already had the one to the ruins of New Tokyo, so I didn’t have to sail across the ocean.”

Oscar eyed the man dubiously. “So you are Never’s grandson, son of the Auld Wulf, and . . . you are the God of Spies?”

Captain Wolfson, in the King’s Own uniform grinned. “I suspect you’re going to have a hard time adjusting, just because so much is familiar. Anyway, once I found the place, I dragged a single corridor back through all the rest and planted it at the end of Commerce street.”

Oscar rubbed his face. “And that is the hardest thing yet. Instant transport thousands of miles. Not to mention that you just built this one like Scandia was just another city.”

“It is. Just . . . a bit further away. Rufi and Leano want to take a tour, and make sure the city council there understands that they are welcome to join the kingdom, or if they prefer to remain independent, they can still trade at will.” A quick flash of a grin. “Half your girlfriends were packing up to come home, the other half are staying.”

matapampamuphoff on May 14th, 2019 01:11 pm (UTC)
I may add more, or drop those two last scenes. Or figure out a smoother way to wrap it up. Or something.
(Anonymous) on May 14th, 2019 05:18 pm (UTC)
Bait and Switch
This started out being the witches story. Excellent characters too, they managed to take out the God of Vice for a thousand years. Also interesting view of Comet Fall society a thousand years ago. Then Bran and Oscar showed up and took over to the point that the witches disappeared totally by the end.
It also requires a familiarity with the Wine of the Gods series to understand a number of the actions that the characters take such as summoning gods. For that matter I don't know if there is any explanation of what the gods are.
I enjoyed it, but if it was the first book of yours that I had read, I would not have liked it nearly as much.
(Anonymous) on May 14th, 2019 07:01 pm (UTC)
My random thoughts, for what they're worth...

First off, I like this story, and I think it better than the earlier form. But I don't think it quite works well in the form it is in now. Maybe it needs to be expanded to a novella, or be polished a bit and turned into a short story that is part of a collection that sets the scene a bit more.

The plot is thin. The trials facing the protagonists after first encountering Xen are trivial until the unbubbling, which is resolved fairly quickly. Then suddenly it is all over. In an earlier version, there was a bit more development for

I largely agree with the remarks in the "Bait and Switch" comment. I think the story of the witches of the past, and that of Bran and Oscar, need to be more intermingled after they meet. The witches and their contemporaries more or less get relegated to the background. Or else separate them out more, into two separate shorts within a collection, or as more-distinct parts within a larger work.

Please don't take this as meaning I dislike what you've written. I do like the story. I just don't think it stands on its own in present form.

It does offer a number of future plot threads that could be advanced. The re-introduction of the city-state of Scandia could be a fount of new stories set on Comet Fall. How do the other nations on the planet react? Does the availability of more native Comet Fall technology adjust cross-dimensional trading patterns? Working out relations between Scandia and the Kingdom of the West. Recruiting for the King's Own?

And how does this impact the balance of power in a cross-dimensional fashion? If Scandia joins, allies to, or merely trades with the Kingdom of the West, firearms tech could suddenly be prevalent. What does that do to Earth and Oner considerations of relative strength or weakness? Could it prod a preemptive strike by discontented elements in those polities?

If Scandia remains independent, and Disco opens a gate for Scandia to elsewhere, what could they encounter?

ekuah on May 14th, 2019 08:42 pm (UTC)
My little critique
Interesting beginning, but it somehow looses momentum midway.
It's also illogical that Xen haven't told anybody that he found Oscar and Bran (and a whole antique city).
This discovery alone should have broke loose a wide scale search for the lost ones.

The whole intro makes it clear that he is aware that they are missing, so why hasn't he reported that?

Maybe instead you should let them be first discovered by the 'God of Thieves' (was it Kevi?)
He is a lot less connected to Disco, the Kingdom or the whole god community of comet fall.
And (if I'm not mistaken) he is dimensional too.
(Anonymous) on May 14th, 2019 10:51 pm (UTC)
I agree with what's been said above. I like the story, but it is thin and doesn't feel satisfyingly finished. The witches need closure. They are still stuck in a half frozen city without connection to the modern witches. They need recognition for helping to rescue the city while all the other witches are safely bubbles and access to training, their own happy ending. They are all up in the air.

Perhaps the witches could call on the god of thieves and everyone could be stolen? He was trying to steal Baal for awile.

Do they need to understand what they did to Virtue and the consequences?

Also, you have a perfectly good villain in Descompos, but he does nothing dastardly.

I'd love to see Answer or Rustle show up and meet the old time pyramid. Rustle could go all Dark Lady.

Could you add a bit more about Oscar and Bran's life with their girlfriends and how that is perfectly normal Mage behaviour?

Also, what date does it end? Is it still a catch up thing or can it occur in the main story present? There's been a lot of build up for Rael getting to meet her father and a few half sisters.

Love to see a part two which might involve Embassy and some crack about Xen saying that Bran is practically his father in law and would he like to meet his grandkids. Rael and a massive family reunion. Oscar's Oner son can discover what it means to be a Sea King. Perhaps the sea hag's daughters could make a second home in Embassy.

What was the story that showed everyday Mage life before they got bubbled?
(Anonymous) on May 15th, 2019 01:35 am (UTC)
Or use one of Xen's Oner children finding them. Imagine the mix up that would cause Bran and Oscar when the child gives his/her Oner name and them thinking they got taken over by the Empire One because they would never believe the true story: "Let me get this straight your father is the son of the God of War and is the God of Spies and he seduced your mother using the joy juice while spying on the Empire and now runs an Embassy planet where everyone meets. Oh and Never is not only your great grandmother but is also the ambassador to the Empire? Nope not buying it."
ekuah on May 15th, 2019 07:40 am (UTC)
Good idea.
But don't forget all the other major characters.
The Dark Lady
All the other world.
The Arbolian Gods

Great opportunity for a introduction of the series.

Edited at 2019-05-15 07:41 am (UTC)
ekuah on May 15th, 2019 07:38 am (UTC)
Well you could easily the change the discovery scene into a mocking argument between Bran, Oscar and Descompos:

"God of War?" Oscar did not sound confident.
"So he doesn't answer mere soldiers?" (Descompos)
"Only in battle. Bran and I are more . . . well, spies, and there is no God of Spies!. So why don't YOU call out 'God of thieves, Help, help, help! A fellow crook needs your aid!'".
"You were calling?" (Kevi)
(Anonymous) on May 15th, 2019 11:27 am (UTC)
Xen and Kevin could both show up, say what are you doing here? Assume the other one has control and vanish, leaving Hail and Fair to call on someone....

Queen of witches? Just Deserts who got them into this mess? Virtue? Mistress of the Multiverse? God of Rats? The Dark Stranger?
ekuah on May 15th, 2019 02:10 pm (UTC)
Not sure if the God of Rats already exists.
(Anonymous) on May 15th, 2019 02:16 pm (UTC)
God of Thieves
Well, if Scandia needs to be stolen, the God of Thieves could certainly show up to steal it.

(Anonymous) on May 15th, 2019 03:56 pm (UTC)
Rael for sure
Its a one layer cake needs more dark chocolate layers and pudding layers and whipped cream on the frosting!
1. Rael should have a conversation with Xen..."Guess who I ran into hunnie..." tell me that does't spur a search!
2. I was re-reading Comet Fall 76% in there is mention of a ride with Vice that the mage duo take and some adventure mentioned but not fleshed out maybe there is a tie in or flashback?
3. Other than Book 2 this is the only visit to Med-Africa that we have seen. Did they really slide down a glacier all the way to the Med? Are there fish in the water? Did the crocs make it? Do the Mages remember Harry's stories of sailing the chain of lakes are these them??
4. Scandia was a Tech City had cars, tractors, and factories. Mages were out of work magically so to speak...Scandia is all bubbled but these differences should be obvious even under bubbles (Cars on the Street, Lack of bubbled horses)

Drink more Rose!
Warm regards,
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on May 16th, 2019 12:59 am (UTC)
I agree with most of the above. The detail in the first version was good where the current version just has minor fun.

Bring in Falco and Grace?
(Anonymous) on May 17th, 2019 07:27 pm (UTC)
Continuity question: isn't Xen out of the Western Army more or less permanently at this point due to Disco work? I know he resigned during Directorate School and was reinstated, but it seems like he's serving too many masters these days and Rufi and Leano should have recognized that and declined to let him re-up even if he wanted to. We haven't seen him in Western uniform for quite a while now. Seems to me he should be in Disco Grays only by now.

matapampamuphoff on May 18th, 2019 12:51 am (UTC)
When he's on Comet Fall, doing things for the Kingdom, he swaps uniforms.

Remaining in the King's Army give the appearance that he can be reined in at need and is not incredibly powerful and completely unconstrained in what he might do. Xen prefers people to think they can threaten to go over his head, and frankly he values Rufi's and Leano's advice, and if they ordered him to back down, he would trust them, and do so.

I may need to show that, perhaps in Marooned.