Ice looked around the camp. Excellent, Animal's out with Bob and Lada. "Maybe I should do some gold mining while everyone finishes up deciding where their houses should go. Are we talking hard rock mining or alluvial?"
"We've got a pond at the base of a waterfall that has accumulated a lot of gold. I hope you can swim."
Even this late in the summer the water in the pond was pleasantly cool, the flow both in and out of the pool moderately high.
Must be at least partly snow melt. Ice eyed the high mountains, still with streaks of snow on their northern slopes. Might not last the whole summer, though.
He sat down on the edge of the pond and took a magical look at the densities. So much gold dust he had to focus in on small areas to see the larger density spots. None in the first few centimeters of gravel, the kids had cleaned out everything easily found. He focused on the nearest one, and slipped into the water. Dived for the bottom. Scooped gravel, moved a couple of cobbles, grabbed the dense lump and shot back to the surface. Took a deep breath. Swam to the side and handed over his lump.
Gior looked at at the heavy little nugget. "How did you do that? You meditated, but how did you see it?"
"I looked at densities." Ice heaved himself up the steep bank and sat again. "Like this."
Which turned into a magic lesson for twenty-four.
Then building a sluice box to separate out the gold dust from the muck and sand.
Once he'd been wet enough to feel chilled, he flopped on the grass slope above the enthusiastic teenagers. And was joined by the anxious Animal.
"I'll teach you how to swim some day when there's not so many teenagers romping wildly around."
Furkan and Mikel, who hadn't dressed for swimming, squished up to sit in the sun.
"Where do they get the energy?" Mikel stared down the hill.
"They'll wear out eventually. Probably as soon as it starts feeling like work instead of fun."
Furkan looked from Mikel to Ice.
"So tell me, what did your version of Mikel do that has both you and Gior giving my Mikel dirty looks?"
Ice snickered. "My Mikel married a sixteen year old girl. A daughter of Oliver, who apparently had a strong resemblance to her deceased half sister."
"Jasmine." Mikel looked away. "She died centuries ago."
"Yeah. Tanya was a fiery young thing, who envisioned learning to fight and joining you in adventures."
"Oh. Dear." Fukan rolled his eyes. "Jasmine was so sweet, and gentle."
"It probably would have worked out alright if my Mikel just hadn't called her Jasmine on their wedding night."
Even Mikel winced.
"It culminated--after less than two years of acrimony--with Mikel slapping her and their baby into double bags and shoving them into a concrete wall, so he could get to an important meeting and resume the argument at his leisure. On the way to the meeting, he failed to look both ways crossing a street and was struck by a tiny electric car driven by a little old lady. Hit his head just wrong and died instantly."
Warrior and Prophet stared at him. Looked at each other. Started laughing.
Animal scowled. "Scary."
"Well . . ." Ice wondered about how to explain it. "It's just silly to survive huge battles for a couple of centuries, then get killed like that."
Mikel snorted. "Exactly. Now what happened to this Tanya?"
"Two years ago I bought this disastrous wreck of an old house to try and fix up, and found the bags. So Tanya and Ollie have entered the modern world, after a thousand an ten years. Tanya has been busy, catching up on academics. She wants to go to the Directorate School that trained both me and Gior."
"Ah, well, my other self was obviously stupid. I'm glad his widow is doing well."
"Umm . . . just curious about parallels between worlds . . . Have you bought property on the Seine south of the new capital, to build a home in the country?"
Mikel raised his brows. "No. Although I'd love to try to build something like Oliver's house in Makkah."
"And no precogs about North American Sycamore trees?"
Mikel stilled. "Oh . . . and you have sycamore in your name. Explain, please?"
"I'm a member of the Sycamore Tribe on the Tall Trees Colony. When I was contemplating the absolute insanity of buying the wreck . . . The grove of sycamore trees in the front tipped me over the edge. I suspect your precogs were pre-split, and may have involved rescuing Tanya."
Mikel cringed, shook his head. "Jasmine."
"Oh, dear. Well . . ." Ice cleared his throat. "In the unlikely event that she'll even be born in your different One World . . . consider treating her as if she were you and Jasmine's daughter. And train her to fight. You'll both be much happier."
Furkan put hands to temples. "This shit gives me a headache. There is no reason for duplication, right?"
"Umm . . . Worlds that split . . . sometimes come back together. Very slowly, getting more and more alike with time. I doubt it will happen with us, mostly because of the time differential."
"Headache. No doubt about it."
Mikel grunted. "Definitely. Yeah, I haven't had those sorts of precogs for . . . I suppose it could be a century."
Furkan sighed. "I'm afraid to ask when or how I died."
Ice searched his memory. "I don't remember. Just that 'the reign of the Prophets' was over by Three-twenty. We thought that meant the Prophets had all died, but now we know that at least Emre was there. Best guess is he didn't want to rule and figured it would work best if he just disappeared. He might not have been the only one. I don't know."
"Huh. So we've got that beat by fifty years."
"How many of the Prophets are alive on your World?" Gior thumped down beside Furkan.
"Eight, now that you've gotten Nicholas back to us." Furkan sighed. "Oliver, Victor, Benjamin, Rin, Carl, and Zynep. I'm the only one who doesn't look pretty damned old."
"The Wine might help, but Emre? My Emre? He didn't get really old until he was sleep-deprived. You know how when you're injured, you do the healing sleep? They kept waking him up, trying to get him to eat, drink. He got totally addled until Ra'd came, and forced them let him sleep for days at a time. For a year."
Furkan and Mikel stared at each other. Then back at Gior.
"We'll be right back."
"Holy . . ." Ice snorted. "If you save seven Prophets and marry the eighth, you could rule their world."
"Ha. Ha. As if!" She got up and galloped off after the men. "Hey, Furkan! You guys want a fast room?"