Through the eyehole of her grey mask, I could see Haley’s eyebrow go up, “So, we’re going to just walk through into someplace, trusting people we don’t know?”
She had a point. I said, “I guess?”
Amy shrugged, “They’re the Council and they just decided they don’t hate me. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.”
Haley glanced back toward the stairway that led to the basement and tunnel back to HQ, “I’m being paranoid, but I’m going to make sure everyone knows we’re going.”
She looked at me, “Do you trust anyone other than you to use the Starplate?”
I thought about it, “Chris, but if you’re thinking he can pull us out, it’s a little more complicated than you’d think. You’d have to pull us into another alternate world and then back here. There’s a lot that can go wrong.”
“But it’s still a chance,” she said, her words tumbling out of her mouth.
The tone hinted that it wasn’t worth arguing. Also, she might be right. I said, “Yeah. Tell Chris. I’ll tell Hal to be ready in case we need backup and an exit.”
We’d thrown the jet into alternate dimensions before. I told Hal what to expect and hoped that our GPS worked wherever it was we were going. Meanwhile, Haley talked with Chris and Amy waited for us, her arms crossed over her chest. She didn’t tap her foot, but she didn’t seem far from it.
“Okay,” Haley said, looking up from the communicator on her wrist, “I’m ready.”
I said, “Me too.”
“Excellent,” Amy uncrossed her arms and stepped into the circle’s grey flame, “We’re off to see the wizards…”
Haley and I followed her through, hoping the wizards would turn out to be as wonderful.
The grey flames rose and consumed us without heat. Surrounded by writhing grey and wondering if that was what we all now were, I felt a vibration, but not in my body. For lack of a better way to put it, I felt it in my soul—though it wasn’t actually my soul. It reminded me of what I sensed while practicing exercises Kee had taught me. She’d told me it would take a long time before I could do much with the energies I sometimes sensed.
So far, she was right. I had no idea how to manipulate these, and I didn’t even try. It wasn’t a good time for experimentation.
The flames around us dispersed and if we’d been flames ourselves at any point, there was no sign of it.
With that over, it was time to figure out where we were. That turned out to be easier than it might have been on multiple levels. For one, GPS worked and it told me that we were somewhere near Smithers, British Columbia. That meant nothing to me, but the map showed me that we were in the mountains, more than one hundred miles inland from the coast.
That was confirmed by that view from the living room. Reminding of the mountains in Colorado, I could see grey peaks covered with snow in the distance. Evergreens seemed to cover the mountains and even grew across the highway in front of the house we stood inside.
The room wasn’t amazing. It could have been in Grand Lake. Wood laminate covered the floor, reminding me of wooden boards, but not fooling anyone. Around the room were overstuffed couches and a couple of recliners, all of them facing the television. A wooden desk with a laptop and two screens sat in the corner next to two tall bookshelves.
It felt less like the house of an immortal associated with a council of wizards and more like we’d broken into a random house in rural Canada. Of course, that ignored a number of vital details.
The first detail worth mentioning was that we stood in the middle of the room between one of the couches and the television. Not only were we in the middle of the room, but we were in the middle of a circle made of golden light. I couldn’t tell whether the circle had been drawn on the floor and then infused with magic or created out of magic.
Either way, I didn’t plan to step on or over it until given permission.
The other important detail was the woman on the couch. Not knowing anything about her, I’d have pegged her as mid-sixties with a square face and graying blonde hair. She wore jeans and a pink sweatshirt saying, “I’m that grandma #sorrynotsorry.”
That might have flipped my impression back toward getting the wrong house, but the unsheathed sword lying across her lap told me everything I needed to know.
She nodded at us, “Welcome to my house. I’m sorry if I seem unfriendly, but I’ve learned to be careful. It took me long enough. Please don’t try to break out of the circle. I’m not a trained wizard, but over the last few thousand years, I’ve picked up a few things. I’ll let you out when I feel I can trust you. Until then, don’t forget that I still know how to use this.”
She held up the sword with no sign of weakness and then placed it on her lap again.
“Mentioning the name Magnus doesn’t make me trust you, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to know more. Tell me what you know about Magnus and why you want to talk to me and I’ll see what I can do about the circle.”