“H-how did you know?” Alex asked the woman, surprised at how quickly she had deduced that he did not come from her world.
The woman walked over to the desk and placed the items she was holding on it. She then made her way to the bed and sat next to Alex.
“A very long time ago, during the time of my ancestors, Rexezzi, an ancient reptilian creature of immense magical power, developed a spell capable of pulling atoms from other dimensions and bring them to Kogronia,” she explained.
It was jarring to Alex hearing words like “atoms” and “dimensions” in the same sentence as the words “magical” and “spell”. He hadn’t expected such a juxtaposition of terminology.
The woman continued, “The spell was unstable. Rexezzi could not control it. It requested the aid of the most powerful and knowledgeable mages alive at the time, but they could not come up with a solution. To this day scientists and mages are working to find one.”
“If that’s the case, are there more people from my world here in this one?” Alex asked.
“There have been other creatures, but because the spell takes atoms from many different dimensions, it is difficult to know if any of the others came from yours.”
“Does the spell just take living things?”
“No, the spell takes indiscriminately. Technologies, art, clothing, bits of soil and rock…” The woman fell silent and looked at Alex with sad eyes, “Weapons.”
“How often does the spell…” Alex tried to find the right word, “activate?”
“I do not know.” The woman said honestly.
“How many people have come here from other worlds?”
“It is unknown.”
Alex had so many questions about the world. One, in particular, managed to climb out of the almost endless sea of them.
“If these…” he pointed to the enchanted pants.
“Lahipok’es,” the woman reminded him.
“If these lahipok’es can interpret meaning from one mind to another, how am I able to hear words?”
“Your brain automatically assigns words and phrases to the signals it receives through the lahipok’es.” the woman explained.
Alex thought she sounded as if she were explaining how a piece of technology worked. The way she explained it made sense.
“Can I understand anybody now?”
“No, the enchantment bound to the lahipok’es only enables you to receive signals from the other in the set.”
“That means you’re wearing the other one. But why did you have it on to begin with?”
The woman didn’t answer Alex. She only made a somber expression. It was a reason she didn’t seem comfortable sharing with a stranger. Alex could see that it was a painful question for the woman to answer, so he didn’t press her. Alex decided the best thing to do was to ask a different question, but even with so many swirling around in his head, he couldn’t figure out what to ask.
The man had asked her a reasonable question. The answer to that question, however, was very personal. It was emotionally difficult for her to give a reply to the inquiry the man had posed. She struggled to give him the response.
“You don’t have to answer,” Alex said. “It seems to be a sore subject.”
A single tear streamed down the woman’s cheek. “Thank you,” she said.
Alex spent the next few hours asking questions about the land of Kogronia. He asked how magic worked and the woman explained the best she could.
There was “magic source” which was a naturally occurring substance that came in liquid and solid form. It was a finite resource, like fossil fuels, and it functioned very similarly. It had to be refined. The more refined the magic source, the clearer and more powerful it was. The most refined form of magic source gave off a faint blue glow.
You could burn it to produce a type of magically-charged gas which allowed “casters” to manipulate what effect the “cast” would have. “Casters” were people born with the natural ability to use magic.
“Casts” fell under three categories:
“Spells”, which allowed casters to manipulate different forms of energy, (thermal, electric, kinetic, magnetic, et cetera…), or generate those energies. It was the most common type of casting and was used for both combat and utility.
The second was “Enchantments”, which were “bound” to inanimate objects and could tell them to do specific things. Enchantments could reduce the weight of something, change its color, tell it to move somewhere, and many other things. It allowed for the most creativity to casters.
The last of the three categories of casting was “Curses”. It was a dangerous and very illegal type of cast. Curses were like enchantments but were used exclusively on animals and people. Anybody found to have used a curse, whether malicious or benevolent, would be put to death.
Some of the questions Alex had asked escaped the woman’s knowledge. Questions like “How much magic source is there?”, “Where did magic source come from?”, “How much of the general population are casters?”.
By the time Alex had finished asking all of his questions, it was already evening. He and the woman were both hungry. The woman left the room to get supper started, but before she left the room, Alex asked her one last question.
“What’s your name?”
The woman smiled at him, “My name is Lika’so, what is yours?”