22 ♦ Nalowei

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After my sister asks Lord Vay if they have a room with a geode wall nearby, he summons one of the Red Mages standing guard outside the Melody-Harmony Engine.

"This is Xander," Lord Vay introduces.

Xander, tallest of the four guards of the Melody-Harmony Engine, is a handsome and bulky fellow with a rounded gut, a boy's face, and shockingly brown eyes, vividly golden in the pink glow of the sanctum's many lights.

He guides me, Macadera, Lord Hahn, Lord Alistar, Ovelia, Elexus, Chante, and the shadows of Jet out of the sanctum, then into a narrow alley built of bright red brick and honey-suckled vines, up a thin metallic stairwell that zigzags to the second floor of the school.

The spiraling of our ascent makes me dizzy.

Ovelia, Lord Alistar, and Lord follow closely behind me, my sister, Elexus, and Jet, at least until the staircase;

Then the rush of wind, carrying down the harshly spaced stairs, entangle their emerald and gold robes around them, weighing them down with pockets of air they can't repel with sashes, belts, or cloaks.

They weren't prepared for any resistant weather—much less interdimensional travel—when they joined the celebratory unveiling of the Melody-Harmony Engine, so they're donned only in the loosest walking clothes, nothing particularly well-thought out, except the tiny packets of magically enabled technology that's clipped to their ears and collars, machines they can't live without.

Xander raps his knuckle seven times on a gold-plated doorknob. Then he twists the knob, slips into the musk of his studio, and whistles the birdsong he's attuned to the ruby-bejeweled chandeliers at the four corners of his the room.

For a moment, I lose myself in the glittering of the ruby chandeliers—their musically attuned glow.

Then I start towards the floor-to-ceiling wall of thickly faceted, almost-naturally crafted garnet, stopping just at the precipice of what Xander says, "That's my ridiculously overpriced Portal."

Since the geode walls are primarily used for teleportation of goods, most of the Wizardhood refers to them as Portals. It's only us dimensional mages who see them in a different light.

"It's perfect," I murmur, and Macadera chides, "Don't cut yourself on it."

Ovelia also stares in wonder at the Portal, her thoughts lost to everyone.

I see Lord Alistar trying to figure out where Ovelia's imagination, memories, or ideas are taking her; he looks at her studiously, curiously.

But Lord Hahn, and his equally strong affection for the magic of joy, slaps Alistar on his emerald-clothed back and says, "This is going to be quite lovely, isn't it?"

"Lovely?" Elexus repeats, affronted. "I thought the reason dimensional magic wasn't practiced anymore was because it made too many people's heads explode."

"More like implode," Macadera tells her unblinkingly, "since you don't get lost out there; you just collapse within yourself. It's too much sensory information for most people."

"Most people," I emphasize, winking.

Chante walks up to the wall, so she's standing between me and Macadera.

"So what I'll need," Chante says, glancing at all of them except Jet and Xander, "is hands-holding-hands, in a tight little circle around Nalowei; then Nalowei, you'll put your hands on Lord Alistar and Lord Hahn, since their magic is stro—"

"On Hahn and Ovelia," Alistar corrects.

Ovelia breaks her quiet relationship with the garnet geode wall to glance over her shoulder, offering a puzzled look to her foolish Lord of Verdants.

When Alistar doesn't explain himself, she mumbles, "Whatever," then turns back to the Portal.

After Hahn smiles and says, "I agree, Ovelia is a good choice," Chante's lips tighten a bit, but she replies, "That will work, too; oh, but I'll also need chalk."

"I h-have ch-chalk," Jet stammers.

Chante asks, "Elexus, do you have chalk?"

Elexus hesitates long enough for Jet to pull a sliver of chalk from the shadowy folds his violet robes and hand it to the elochild.

"Right, good," Chante says, then draws a circle around the magicians forming a circle around me. Jet invites himself into the middle, standing behind me, so he doesn't accidentally bump into Ovelia and Hahn as they reach out to touch my shoulders.

Xander studies the crude, two-dimensional diagram of a tesseract Chante works onto the floor. It's impressive how quickly the elochild sketches, erases, then resketches at a different angle.

Chante's familiar with interdimensional geometry, including a separate drawing of a garnet's lattice, re-arranged from its repetitive molecular structure to an equally repetitious shape, one that looks a little stranger each time she repurposes it at a different angle, closer and closer to the Portal.

By the time she's on her thirteen sketch,  she's left a cookie-crumb trail of two-dimensional drawings, depicting objects more complex than the three-dimensional life forms huddled in the center of her chalky circle.

It's when Chante hopscotches along those drawings, into the center of the circle, that Jet panics the elochild will bump into him. I try to maintain my cool, hoping Jet will do the same.

Then the circle glows, and Chante says, "Walk through the Gate, Nalowei; we'll move in with you quite naturally."


Nalowei's Bio

Nalowei, Macadera's twin sister, has traveled interdimensionally all her life, mostly to the fourth dimension. She wants to find her father, who she believes disappeared into the eleventh dimension; but she knows it'll take time for her to learn to travel that far.

First draft: July 18
Second draft: September 18
Word count: 926

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