I realized last week that this serial is a total spoiler with respect to both books. Oh, well--too late to worry about that now!
The story so far:
Part One: Cathy and Carl Salazar are on their way to high school in Dewitt, NY when their uncle and guardian, Jamie Barrett, suddenly starts behaving strangely. After referring to the twins by odd names and promising to pick them up later in the carriage, Uncle Jamie looks confused--but denies that there's anything wrong.
Part Two: Cathy and Carl tell their friend Randy about their Uncle Jamie's words. Randy seems to know (or at least suspect) something about it, but delays telling them what it is. When Cathy mentions that Randy rolled the r in the word "trrust," Randy looks frightened and rushes off.
Part Three: Cathy notices that some of her teachers are also behaving strangely. Even she experiences odd thoughts and memories as the day wears on. At lunch, Randy tells Cathy and Carl that the impressions of another life that people are receiving are tied in with dreams he's had about a country called Mâvarin, in which Cathy and Carl are Queen Cathma and King Carli. Randy has begun writing down the dreams in story form. Randy's main worry is that in the dreams, he's a monster. Carl suddenly remembers what kind of monster Rani Fost is in Mâvarin: a tengrem.
Part Four: Carl starts to remember a life in Mâvarin, and Cathy soon realizes that the same is happening to her. Randy, who hasn't confided in anyone else but Mr. Stockwell, the psychology teacher, is deeply worried that he is turning into a tengrem. Cathy and Randy hope to discuss the situation further with Mr. Stockwell, but the teacher is absent. However, he has left a note for Randy that implies that Mr. Stockwell also remembers another life--as Fayubi the Seer, Mâvarin's royal mage. Carl insists that Randy should come along to Shoppingtown Mall with the twins after school.
Part Five: Cathy, Carl, Randy and Uncle Jami are increasingly overwhelemed by memories of Mâvarin as they approach Shoppingtown. Inside they meet Fabian Stockwell, who tells them that that the source of the influx of otherworld memories (and spirits of their other selves?) is somewhere in the mall. Randy may hold the key to restoring their identities--but Randy has gone feral, his tengrem instincts aroused by the sight of rabbits in a pet shop.
Part Six: Carl tries to talk to Randy while Fabian rushes off to find something that will help Randy think like a human. Ultimately, however, it is the arrival of Randy's creative writing teacher that distracts him from his hunting instincts. In this world she is Sheila Crouse, but in Mâvarin she is Rani's former mentor, Shela Cados. Fabian returns from J.C. Penney with a necklace that he claims will help Randy to think like a human. They all go upstairs, followed by other mall-goers, where they find a miniature castle. In front of it sits a man with a book, half-surrounded by police and mall security guards. Cathy approaches the man with the book, and asks whether he's responsible for "all this."
Part Seven: The Man With the Book
“That’s hard to say,” the man replied. “Why don’t you tell me what you mean by ‘all this.’”
“Don’t trust him, Your Majesty,” said the older policeman, who came striding over with Fabian and Sheila. “He’s a mage, and not at all forthcoming with information. I’d arrest him if I thought it would help.”
The man with the book looked surprised to hear the words “Your Majesty,” and annoyed with the description of himself. “On the contrary,” he said. “I’ll be happy to provide what answers I can, if you’ll just give me a little time to work out what they are.”
“See what I mean?” said the policeman. “He’s stalling.”
Cathy looked more closely at the policeman. It seemed odd to see him wearing a cotton uniform instead of one of silk. “Wil? Is that you?” she asked.
The man who looked like Commander Wil Masan grimaced. “That’s the question, isn’t it? Maybe this guy knows the answer, but I don’t.”
Cathy turned back to the man with the book. “Please tell us what you do know about this. Maybe we can work out the rest from there.”
The alleged mage sighed. “Look, ‘Your Majesty,’ I still don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know who you people are, or what you think I’ve done, but I’m having my own problems here. All I did was follow Toujours Chez Moi between worlds, only to discover that my castle was miniaturized, and most of my magic was gone.”
“What world were you in before this one?” Randy asked.
“I don’t know that it had a particular name, other than ‘the world’ or Earth,” the man said. “Most of them don’t. The country was called Mâvarin.”
Fabian waggled his eyebrows at the man. “You came here through a portal from Mâvarin?”
The man shook his head. “Not through a portal. I’m my own portal. Usually I’m drawn between worlds involuntarily, and my home follows after. This time Toujours Chez Moi disappeared on its own, and I tried to catch up with it. Clearly, though, something’s gone wrong somewhere. I don’t live in a pint-size castle.”
“But who are you?” Carl asked. “You still haven’t said.”
“Oh! Sorry, but you didn’t ask until just now. I’m called Joshua Wander. Josh for short. Pardon my impertinence, but who are you people? You don’t look like royalty, and this is hardly the setting for people called ‘Your Majesty.’”
“That’s true,” Cathy said. “If this were Mâvarin, we wouldn’t be dressed as high school students, which is all my brother and I are in this world. But all day we’ve been remembering another world, in which we’re the king and queen of Mâvarin.”
“Really!” said Joshua Wander. “That’s very interesting. I suppose that explains your acceptance of the concept of alternate realities.”
“Are you saying you had nothing to do with what’s happening to us?” Carl asked.
Josh shrugged. “I wouldn’t go that far, but I certainly didn’t do anything to you deliberately. I’ve traveled between worlds at least a hundred times over the past several decades, and nothing like this has ever happened before. Well, except for the first time, and that was a special case.”
“What happened then?” Randy asked.
Josh grimaced. “I was inhabited by the spirit of the woman I loved, who had just died,” he said. Fabian looked startled. “Not the same thing at all, really,” Josh continued sadly.
“So you have no idea how this happened,” said Carl.
“The only thing I can think of is that there’s something about these two particular worlds that makes them vulnerable to bleed-through from other realities. Either that, or there’s something in the spell I used that I don’t know about. As I said, I usually travel between worlds involuntarily.”
“May I see the spell you used?” Fabian asked.
Josh looked surprised. “Whatever for? That’s nothing you can learn from it. It’s in an unknown language that resists translation.”
“Nevertheless, I’d like to try,” Fabian said.
“Has your transformation progressed so far, Fabian, that you have the requisite knowledge?” Sheila Crouse asked.
“I believe so,” Fabian said. “I have been in this mall longer than the rest of you, soaking up my other self.”
Joshua Wander handed over the leather book. “All right, but be careful with it. A friend of mine wrote it out for me, many years ago. I still don’t understand it all, but losing it would be a major inconvenience.” He pointed out a particular page, marked with a Pavone’s Pizza napkin. “This is the spell, here. It’s sort of a multidimensional ‘find’ spell.”
Fabian looked at the page and nodded. “You’re right,” he said thoughtfully. “That’s exactly what it is.”
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