Author: Ayaia of the Moon
Fandom: Diadem: Worlds of Magic
Theme: #8: Our own World
Disclaimer: I own Diadem! Really! Am I lying? Yes! But I wish I weren’t…
The weather on Dondar was a strange thing. After such a long while of the agreeable, albeit colorful neutral season that wasn’t too hot, nor too cold, something shifted. The Unicorns called it the time of the Great Frost. The explanation ran a little long, and Score gleaned the important bits from the boring bits: On Dondar, the seasons were longer. Winter only came every couple of years. But it lasted a lot longer.
Pixel was fascinated, of course. He’d never seen real snow, he said, since he’d spent nearly the entirety of his life in his house. He’d made a virtual snowman or two, but that was about it.
Helaine didn’t seem to mind: long winters in a castle? She’d done it before.
Jenna seemed slightly ill-at-ease, but her feelings were washed away in light of Pixel’s excitement.
Score, though, started to get a little worried. They weren’t prepared. Their woodpile needed some serious work, they didn’t have nearly enough blankets, not to mention warm clothing, and so he started to plot.
What they needed, he decided, were more people like Helaine. People who’d lived in castles and could help them out with their planning for the months (and possibly years) ahead.
Pixel thought it was a marvelous idea, as did Jenna, but Helaine had her doubts.
“Every strong magic-user we come across tries to kill us,” Helaine pointed out.
“What about Shanara?” Pixel argued.
Score glared. “I see Helaine’s line of reasoning.”
“Well, we can think of qualities we’d want the person to have,” Jenna wheedled.
“Great. We’re gonna run a personals ad across the whole Diadem,” Score complained. “Wanted: One strong magician, hopefully not bent on ruling the Diadem as we know it, and not bad to look at.”
Helaine punched Score’s shoulder.
“Well why not?” Pixel interrupted, cutting off Score’s obligatory complaint. “We’ve summoned Oracle loads of times. Why not try the summoning spell this way?”
“Remember Aranak?” Score muttered, glaring at Helaine and rubbing his shoulder. “I have three words for you: Name, form, and substance. Before we can summon someone we have to have that information.”
“Not necessarily,” Helaine put in. “We don’t really know what Oracle is but we can summon him anyway.”
“I think Helaine’s right,” Pixel said, nodding. “We can only have control over someone if we have all three.”
“What happened to ‘Every strong magic-user we come across tries to kill us’?” Score hissed at Helaine. She frowned at him.
“I think we should try it,” Jenna said hurriedly, cutting off Helaine’s explicative threat to something Score would surely need to reproduce.
“So…we need a strong magician,” Pixel began.
“Someone who is strong enough to survive on this planet,” Jenna added.
Helaine sighed. “They have to be smart.”
“And it would help if they’ve lived in a castle during the winter before,” Score put in.
“Why can’t we just ask Shanara?” Helaine argued.
“That’s no fun,” Score snapped. “Concentrate.”
“And Shanara isn’t strong enough to come to us,” Jenna whispered.
“We’re making all this fuss for nothing,” Helaine muttered, but she finally started to concentrate.
“Strong Magician, Very Smart, Lives in a Castle in the winter? That about covers it, right?” Pixel said at last. “We just have to say it backwards.”
Everyone nodded the affirmative. Pixel cleared his throat, joining hands with Helaine on his left, Jenna on his right. “Retniw eht ni eltsac a ni sevil trams yrev naicigam gnorts.”
Score held back a snort of laughter, and concentrated.
There was the familiar sound of a portal opening, and a girl about their age fell through it.
The four magicians of Dondar looked over the new magician in their midst. She, in turn, looked them over, clutching a stick in her right hand. “Who are you?” she said abruptly, brandishing the stick at them.
Score traded glances with Pixel, noting at the back of his mind that this newcomer spoke with an accent that sounded similar to Helaine’s or Jenna’s. Another magician from Ordin then? Then he took in her attire. A red hat and scarf paired with a homemade sweater and what were unmistakably jeans and sneakers.
“Pixel,” the so-named boy said, interrupting Score’s train of thought. “And this is Score, ah, Renald, and…”
“Widge,” Jenna interrupted, offering a false name of her own.
‘Witch’ Score realized. I get it.
“Why am I here?” the girl said, neglecting to introduce herself. “What do you want?” She continued to brandish the stick at them, and Score couldn’t help but wonder what she thought she was going to do – poke them to death?
“We summoned you here,” Pixel said. “By magic.”
The girl seemed to relax a little. “Where is ‘here?’” she asked.
“Dondar,” Jenna answered simply.
“I’m…I’m on another…another planet then?”
“What’s the name of your planet?” Score said suspiciously.
Helaine and Jenna turned to Score, and he shrugged. Earth was a big place. There were probably a bunch of magic-users there.
“Did you say you summoned me?”
“Yes,” Helaine answered decidedly. “And it’s not impossible, it’s magic –” she started to explain, but to everyone’s surprise, the girl cut her off.
“Of course it’s magic. I’m not daft. I was wondering how your summoning spell has such a far reach. Mine –” here, she lifted her stick and pointed it toward a stray snowboot, muttering something under her breath.
She appeared surprised when it shot toward her with the force of a cannon, along with the rug that the boot had been sitting on and three paving stones from the floor.
“I see,” she said breathlessly, depositing the boot on the floor. “I apologize for the damage to your floor.”
“It’s fine,” Score mumbled. “We can fix it –”
“Nonsense,” she shook her head, pointing the stick towards the spot where the stones had come loose. Another mutter of something, and the spot was perfect – better looking, in fact, than any other place in the room.
Score started to say something, but Pixel, it seemed, couldn’t contain himself any longer.
“This stick controls your magic?” he asked excitedly. “What makes it work? Does it just run by magic? Is there a catalyst of some sort that makes it easier to handle? Will any sitck do?”
“You do magic,” the girl said, tilting her head. “What do you use?”
“Our gemstones,” Pixel said eagerly, ignoring the pained looks Helaine was giving him. Pixel pulled his ruby from his pocket, and the girl nodded.
“It does seem magic. I’ll have to ask about gemstones working in lieu of wands; we find trees with magical properties powered with something from a magical beast; Unicorn tail hairs, Phoenix feathers, and the like.”
“There are magical creatures on Earth? Really?”
“Of course. They’re hidden, though. Imagine how everyone would react to seeing dragons and centaurs galloping about everywhere; but that wouldn’t be the problem here?”
“No, we’re the only humans living on this planet, so far as we know. We’ve met centaurs on Rawn, and we have Unicorns here, but phoenixes? I’d love to see a phoenix. What are they like?”
“As much as Pixel would love to discuss this stuff all day,” Score interrupted at last, glaring at Pixel, who looked slightly sheepish. “We need some help in winter preparations. Our spell summoned you because you’ve lived in a castle in the wintertime, correct?”
“Yes. I’d be there now, but we’re on holiday. It’s nearly Christmas, you know,” the girl said, as if discussing the weather. Score couldn’t get over how casually she spoke of magical things. It’s as if she’d been using magic all her life.
“What’s Christmas?” Jenna said then, in a curious tone.
“Glorious holiday,” Score grinned, turning to Helaine. “Kissing under the Mistletoe. You and me.”
Helaine rolled her eyes.
“It’s a winter holiday…Where are you from?” the girl asked, in a tone just as curious as Jenna’s had been.
“Another different planet. Fascinating.”
“Yeah, Fascinating. Our winter’s about to hit, it lasts a long time…what do you suggest? Our only help is Helaine, and she’s sorta chronologically challenged,” Score said, feeling as if he was talking to a ten-year-old with no attention span. Or Pixel, when he was really excited about something.
“No electricity? Hmm…I’d suppose a lot of firewood for warmth, as well as plenty of layers – heavy cloaks, thick socks. I don’t suppose you drink coffee?”
“How do you keep warm? In your castle?” Pixel asked. The girl seemed eager to direct her answers to him. As if they were kindred spirits.
“The castle I live in is sort of big, and we don’t have electricity either; most of the things are done by magic, but the fireplaces are simple enough to upkeep, if you have enough wood –”
“Well, a simple duplicating charm should do the trick. Where’s your woodpile?”
Score let Pixel show the girl to the woodpile, and the second they were out of sight, Helaine whirled on Score.
“Your world has more magic users? Why didn’t you tell us?”
“I didn’t know. It’s not like I knew her – she probably lives on the other side of my world.”
Helaine snorted. “I don’t like her here. She can help us, but then we have to send her back.”
“Okay, fine with me,” Score muttered. The girl was too much like Pixel, anyway. Too smart, and definitely too much trouble to keep around – it was hard enough having one Pixel.
After showing the group how she worked her charm, and after Pixel tried and failed to do the same thing with his own magic, and after Score suggested that they just have Shanara duplicate the rest with the spell she knew, and after Pixel had an in-depth discussion with the girl about what the Diadem really was, Score was ready to shoot someone. Probably Pixel.
But finally, they started bidding the strange girl farewell, and concentrating on forming the portal back to wherever it was that she’d come from, with Pixel promising her to work out how to send her letters or something to discuss their different kinds of magic.
As the portal winked into existence, Score thought on the mixed feelings that the group seemed to have about their visitor.
Score didn’t like her. She was too know-it-all. And like he’d said, they only needed one know-it-all on this world, and Pixel was it.
Helaine was wary of her. Score guessed it was that stick of hers that demolished a foot of floor in their living room.
Pixel seemed almost enamored of her, and Jenna didn’t seem to care for that; Score decided that she probably didn’t much like her either.
All in all, Score was glad that they were sending her home, though Pixel was taking his sweet time in saying goodbye to her.
“What was your name again?” the girl asked, grinning at Pixel and lagging back before stepping through the portal. “I simply must tell my friends that I’ve met you.”
“Pixel. Well, Shalar Domain. But Pixel.”
“Okay, Pixel but Pixel. I hope to see you again! It was lovely meeting you all!”
“Ditto,” Score muttered, straining to keep the portal open.
“What was your name?” Pixel asked then, as if the thought had just occurred to him.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Hermione. Hermione Granger.”