Chapter 7: WAKENING
Joe woke naked. Dry cool hands held his head as his sight cleared. A dry baritone voice asked him, “Do you understand me?”
He understood the strange language like he understood the French patios that his grandparents spoke. To him, it was only different words with a different order and strange emphasis on the phrases beginnings and ends. In some ways it was like listening to someone with an accent. As he figured this out, he gave a nod, “yes”.
“Join me at dinner, and I will tell you what all this is about. There is a robe on the chair.”
Joe rose, dressed and walked with him. Dinner he could smell, was the familiar smell of grilled and blackened fish. The area was all trees and a few pastures. There were no fences, buildings or roads for as far as he could see, but he could hear the ocean and from the tenor of the sound, there was a small waterfall, which probably meant there was a lake behind it and a river feeding that from somewhere as well. He was nowhere near the location from where he fell.
Dinner was served at a large oak table covered by a semi-permanent looking shed that was covered in what looked like thatching. The old man offered Joe a large bowl in the corner for washing and a change of clothing that looked and felt so rough that it had to be handmade. As he changed, Joe looked down at his severed safety strap lying amongst a pile of fried clothing. The strap was two feet shorter than he last saw it and the end was not frayed like it would have been had it been cut on a sharp edge. The strap was cauterized and melted. Lightning! He had come close to the flash of lightning. No wonder he felt so tired, almost exhausted and hungry enough to eat a horse. He should feel worse, or dead. Why did he not?
The older man walked in and assessed him with a scan from top to bottom. “Well, my boy, I told you I would explain to you what is going on. I brought you here to manage my construction team.”
“What construction team? What do you mean; you called me? The last thing I remember was falling from my tower and by the way, where am I? There are plants and things that I have never seen before.”
“Indeed! I should hope not! I specifically searched for the best man for the job and I don’t believe that my world has many brick layers about to die, much less the best one for the job. As for how you got here; I created and then used the spell that brought you, the most available and talented man for the job.”
“But I wasn’t available. I was falling. I should hurt worse than I do.”
“That is what I mean. You were about to land and land hard and fried like a fish. You would have perished or wished that you would. These are the reasons you were available. Taking you at this time will not upset your home world’s time line. These problems are self-adjusting.”
“Then, why am I not half baked?”
“I healed you. Granted, I didn’t heal you all the way. If I did, you would be too exhausted to move.”
“O.K., I’m tired, but I thought that was just the run from the top of the tower.”
The dark robed man shook his head. “No. You switched places magically with my former workman that was betraying me.”
“You mean he is where I would have been?”
“Yup! Three quarters cooked by the lightning that you only got one quarter cooked by and totally crushed by the fall. He will be totally unidentifiable.”
Joe reached out and grabbed his safety line that was left on a chair. Lifting it with a question in his eyes, he turned his head back and looked the man in his eyes.
The man smiled. “Nothing will be identifiable. Not even his clothing.”
Joe asked, “Can you send me back?”
“Yes, if you want, but not for a while. Magic is not always simple. If you decide to return, it will have to be under conditions under which you will live, which I cannot create right away. Had I not been able to heal you, you would have died as well. While you wait, would you work for me?”
Joe looked at both ends of the fried safety. Insurance would rule it an accident. His bills to the company would all be paid and his wife would get the boat, the payments and the second mortgage as well. ‘Hmmmm’. He didn’t have any place to be for a while.
In his hands, Joe held the map that Melnor had given him. It contained the whole region with its waterways, hills, dales and other notable landmarks, and a dot for every spot that a magician’s tower could be constructed. Except for the paper and ink quality it was much the same as the other map he had held early this morning. The map from home had more detail and he kept it safe where he slept. Besides, it was different from the things that these workers would understand.
Gathered around him were the workers he would have to deal with. With only two exceptions, the eight men were farmers and they had all been sailors. It had been only a few days, but he knew each of them and their abilities. He had looked at the tower, and knew that there were going to be major changes.
“Gentlemen, you don’t have to understand Magic to build this tower, just common sense. After all it is not Science or Magic, just construction. I do advise a bit of caution however, when you are at the top of the towers, the fall is not hard but the landing…”
“…hurts!” Called out an older man.
“Yeah,” he smiled to himself. These guys were definitely smarter than the minimum wage workers that had been helping him before he ‘fell’.