“Millie agreed to go with me into the past, to see if we could piece together how the Republic got started. Wallace insisted on coming with us when Nanette showed up at the time gate. Wallace wanted to stay with Nanette. Tony talked about heading into the future, but he said he could not leave the professor to fend for himself. Of course, I don’t believe the Nanette who went with us was actually Nanette.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, all went well enough until we arrived in Sicily. But Nanette seemed changed from the start. She did not talk to us. Her warm and friendly personality changed into a sour personality. She got plain rude, and mean to Millie. But when we got to Sicily, she began to be able to do things—impossible things. I don’t know. Like magic or something. Like she had powers all of a sudden. It was just little things at first, but her personality got worse with everything she learned she could do. It was like the magic made her turn evil. Millie said she noticed some things earlier, when we were traveling through China, somewhere in there.”
“Sicily?” Katie interrupted.
“That was the time when Pyrrhus of Epirus got invited to drive the Carthaginians off the island. I guessed the year at 279 or so. Millie and I discussed making the long trek to Rome. This would be on the eve of the Punic wars. But Nanette forced us through the next time gate, and after a while, she followed us, or so it seems.”
“Because of the way she acted, and many things she said. She talked about still being there with Professor Fleming, and how she would never leave him. But there she was with us. She talked about being in two places at once, and how hard that was. And she talked about Janus, the two-faced god of the Romans, you know, one face comedy and one face tragedy.”
“One face good and one face evil,” Katie said.
“We met him, once, in the Alps,” Lockhart remembered
“So, maybe Janus split her into two Nanettes,” Boston blurted out.
“You mean, the god?” Evan had to ask.
“Don’t underestimate what the gods can do,” Lockhart said.
“We met the wicked witch, briefly,” Alexis said.
“Yeah,” Lincoln said. “She’s taken up with some cowboys. 1870s?” He looked at Boston.
“!870s,” Boston nodded. “I got shot.”
“Same age our horses came from,” Katie added. The others had not realized that.
“Benjamin,” Alexis did not spell it out.
“Just coming to it,” Lincoln said, and after a minute he reported from the database. “The Other Earth reaches half full in 525 BC, and is good until 225 BC. Then we go into dark moon until 75 AD. We are in a dark period right now, since 825 BC. Now let’s see…” Lincoln fell silent for a minute. “Interesting…” more silence. “I put in Sicily. Umma from Carthage. 323-267 BC. After her, Meng Shi in China. 267-228 BC. They both live in days when magic is possible.” They had to explain for Evan, and Sukki, since it had not come up before. Once again, they all looked to Lockhart to explain.
“The Other Earth fills the same relative space as our own earth, but in another dimension. As it has been explained to me, it is what they call a physics universe, not a parallel earth. As I understand it, the further you travel across the physical dimensions, the more the laws of physics that we know break down or cease altogether. You don’t have to go far before life itself becomes impossible. In the case of the Other Earth, it may be closer to the core than our own universe, because all of the laws of physics we understand function there too, but it has an additional force or energy like gravity or magnetism that we don’t have.”
“It is called creative and variable energy,” Alexis interrupted.
Lockhart nodded. “We common folks call it magic. Magic energy. And some people, not many, can somehow tap into it and do miraculous things.”
Alexis spoke up again. “Even in our day, we have not determined the genetic component, but it does tend to follow bloodlines. It sometimes skips a generation, like grandmother and granddaughter, but not the mother. It shows up about two-thirds in women and one-third in men. No one knows why.”
“So, Nanette is a witch. She can tap into this magic power…”
“…Creative and variable energy,” Alexis corrected.
“But what does this Other Earth have to do with her?” Evan wondered.
“Camp first,” Lockhart said, and pointed to the next group of trees, which looked like the edge of a forest. “I know it is early, but there are too many eyes in the sky.” He pointed back; the way he had to look to be able to explain things to the others. People looked. A larger ship moved slowly across the sky, and Lockhart finished his thought. “They are either surveying the area or looking for something.”
“Or someone,” Katie agreed, and she headed out to find an acceptable, defensible campsite.
Once the camp got set up, and the horses got their fair share of time, the people settled in around the fire, hoping the deer Katie bagged would be more edible than the goat Decker provided for lunch.
“Okay,” Lockhart began. “The Other Earth has two differences to our earth, besides the magic energy we told you about. One is, the Kairos never got born on the Other Earth. At some point, the gods went to war with one another. The landscape got shoved around pretty good and most of life got wiped out. As for the humans, there were no survivors. One of the gods who survived over there was Poseidon. Somehow, he got the other surviving gods on that earth to agree to try and merge the two earths. It did not work, for several reasons, as the Kairos explained it to me. For one, Poseidon and the gods in our earth were not keen on the idea of merging with another version of themselves from another universe. Second, the Other Earth existed as a mirror image of our own, with Europe pointing east instead of west, and so on. And third, as the two worlds came into what they called conjunction, all this magic energy began to leak into our universe and caused all sorts of problems.”
“You mean, the people in our world suddenly became witches and warlocks.”
“Wizards, not Warlocks,” Boston said, and turned up her nose.
“Not many. Never many, but some,” Alexis said.
Lockhart coughed. People quieted. “When the worlds got close, the Kairos Amphitrite figured out how to make a hole between the worlds and travel from one to the other. The gods on the Other Earth wanted people, and life restored there, so they could have someone to be gods over, I suppose. Amphitrite made the agreement. Plenty of ordinary people crossed over, but especially those who were gifted to use the magic energy that world offered. The gods of that earth set it in motion, relative to ours. Every six-hundred years, the worlds come into conjunction, and some people cross over.
“Not many come into our world,” Alexis said. “But some went there, especially in the ages when witches get burned at the stake.”
Lockhart continued. “The best way I have been told to picture it is to look at the moon. Between the half to half-moon, through the full moon, we get close enough to the other world, so like increased moonlight, we get magic energy leaking into our world. That is when travel becomes possible between worlds, though it takes considerable magic to do it. From half to half through the dark of the moon, the leakage really is not enough to activate any magic potential.”
“Right now, we are in a dark time,” Lincoln said. “We should go through the light time from 525 to 225 BC, which would make the full moon in 375. You said Nanette began to show signs of magic after entering the Chinese time zone. That had to be after 228, up to 323 BC, so well within the light time.”
“I see,” Evan said, whether he saw exactly or not.
“It sounds like Nanette had the potential,” Alexis said. “The world went light around 1875, but by 1905 she maybe did not have enough light to bring out her potential. Going back in time to where the light started in 225, and you landed about 279or 280 in Sicily, that sounds like light enough to bring out her magic.”
“If you were traveling with evil Nanette,” Lincoln said. “You are probably lucky to have escaped.”
“But that is not the only way magic can happen,” Alexis added, and waited for Evan to look at her before she explained. “Most of the spirits, such as greater, lesser, and even most of the little spirits have natural magic inside them. Also, half-breeds can do things, though lesser and lesser, even down to the seventh generation. The blood is not considered fully human again until the tenth generation, for example…”
“Mine is mostly fire magic,” Boston said.
“I guessed from the red hair,” Evan smiled, then looked at Alexis again. “Don’t tell me you are a witch.”
“Lincoln only calls me a witch on my bad days,” Alexis admitted. “Boston and I are not dependent on how close or far away the Other Earth might be. My magic is in the wind, and healing magic. I used to be an elf. Boston used to be human.”
“From Massachusetts. You know, Salem witches and all that.”
“But how can that be? What do you mean you used to be an elf?”
“Boston became an elf to marry my brother, Roland,” Alexis admitted. “I became human to marry Benjamin.”
“I didn’t know you could do that,” Evan said.
“It isn’t done, except in special cases.”
“The Kairos?” Evan asked. Everyone nodded. Then they quieted to give Evan some room to breathe. It was a lot to take in. They ate. Finally, Alexis became concerned about the look on Evan’s face.
“What are you thinking about?”
“Wondering if Millie made it to safety,” he said. “I pray for her every night.”
“I pray for Roland,” Boston said. “He disappeared. We are believing he got a free ride back to the future. But there was a wolf. Not a wolv, but a real werewolf, and he may have gotten torn up. We don’t know.”
“Same,” Evan said. “Except mine was a Wolv.”
“I can pray for Millie, too.”
“And Roland?” Evan was not sure of the name, but Boston nodded. After that, Evan seemed to relax around Boston, even if she was an elf.
Don’t miss tomorrows post for the end of the story.