Morgan had arranged for Teila to send his horse and most of their belongings off to the school by messenger. Teila herself was hiding deep in the basements of the keep, sensitized as she was to Morgan's power, she would likely be struck unconscious even at that insulated distance when he made his attempt. He decided against trying to bring any of their suff along in the apport. He had to risk the messenger and the gossip. As it was the teleport was going to be a chore and a half if he could even figure out how to do it.

When he had gotten back to the room he'd made an abortive attempt to carry Seth home. He'd discovered that stone walking was a more personal matter than he'd suspected. The discipline that had come to him so easily couldn't, or at least wouldn't given what he knew, carry more than himself and his intimate possessions.

He'd used a portal exactly once, a necessary part of his education, and had never seen any in-depth discussion of direct teleportation in any of the writings at the school. Common myth had mages teleporting too and fro at whim, but remote travel without some kind of portal, if it had ever been done, wasn't something any mage had ever shared with posterity.

What he was going to attempt, an impromptu ritual casting of a direct teleport, was based solely on insights he'd taken from comparing his memory of the one portal he'd used to stone-walking. The ritual he'd concocted was going to be messy. The core of a spell has to dissipate all the energy components it does not use. A good, well closed spell incorporates all the elements necessary to do that. An instant spell requires the caster to simply drown those forces with personal energy. Morgan was going to do something in-between, he didn't have time to invent a fully closed the spell and he didn't have the resources to swallow the backlash. He was going to cast an open spell, just push the waste energy away and let the chips fall where they may.

It was going to be the kind of magic common folk think of. The kind used by desperate sorcerers near the end of a duel. Thunder, lightning, earthquake, whatever. The actual casting would only last a second, not nearly enough time to cause any real damage. More important, not long enough for anybody to put together, extend, and lock any kind of probe to trace him.

The preparations had taken all afternoon.

He'd found a fetish-monger just off the central market, an old woman with the genuine gift and a superbly light touch. Since this wasn't going to be a lasting enchantment using components that someone else had touched wasn't an issue, they were expected to explode, besides he didn't have a choice. The old woman couldn't cast her own way out of a damp fog but her creations were well made and as thoroughly clear as any mongered components he'd ever touched. He'd paid seventeen gold for a brace of herb-scented tallow candles, a shallow wooden bowl, and a large block of chalk. A good price and merchandise almost clear enough to use direct. She had a few other items that she'd made, or collected, that he'd have loved to buy, but he didn't happen to have the seven years salary that the cheapest cost.

Back in the room he'd moved the bed into the middle of the room so he could get around it. After tuning the components to himself, he summoned clear water into the bowl, added a few drops of his own blood, and began his casting. Using every scrap of the components he'd brought from home in addition to the purchased stuff, he inscribed a pentariad on the floor. Three internal and one external zobaelest in the pattern would respectively focus on him, Seth, the fiew things he'd had to keep with them, and the spell books he'd left on the patio. The candles, several small piles of herbs and grasses, splashes of water here and there, and some river stones, each tied to him with a drop of his blood to improve the sympathetic bond, were placed throughout the chalk and charcoal drawing.

* * *

Morgan took up each element in the pentariad in his mind, setting each of the 63 points, twelve arcs and 27 lines to their purpose. He set each focus and locked it with a geasairia, personal compulsions set on himself that would take hold when the ritual was complete. He dedicated various physical pathways of his mind and body in order to channel the energies of the spell; sealing them away from himself until they recovered. To hold himself he would not eat for a night and a day. To hold their belongings he would not carry any weight for three days. For the books he would not comprehend the written word for a week. For Seth he would exercise no power nor vrec nor prev for four days.

He hadn't expected to spend so much to hold Seth, but when he'd tried to reach into his injured mind he'd found the living kernel of Seth's essence to be inordinately hard to surround and contain. It'd taken his entire emotional bond to the man and the strong geasairia to make anything even remotely like a firm connection. At the last it had felt like something outside his control had relented in order for the bond to form.

He'd been planing to use his power as the geasairia to span the distance to his home. The only remaining thing that fit in the spell construct was motion. Morgan bound a life and death element into the pentariad both for the needed power and for the protection it would offer. To link the spell through the stone to the distant garden at his home and fend off any threatening influences, he tied down his entire motor nerve system. He would be completely paralyzed, unable to breathe and without heartbeat for just under forty seconds when he arrived, if nothing went wrong. Without his power to compensate after the fact, the commitments was more than slightly dangerous.

He didn't have a choice.

With a touch of fire from his mind the candles were alight and the small piles of herbs were smoking vigorously. He held the stone wedge out over the shallow bowl of water and reached through it to find one of the stone benches in his yard at home. From inside that distant stone he looked out, pinning the pertinent parts of the pentariad into exact place. Returning his awareness back into his body, he took six hard deep breaths, hyperventilating himself nearly unconscious, trying to store up enough air for the next few minutes.

He dropped the stone into the water with a plop, triggering the spell.

In the split second of translation the candles burned down and out in a single eruption of flame, releasing the life energy stored within their animal fat composition in a singular surge. The chalk of the pentariad lifted from the floor and writhed with momentary life as it strained to change from a description of origin into the shape of destination. The herbsflashed to smoke and fragrance imparting an element of structure and memory to the flowing force from the candles. The river stones fell to dust, their solidity, elemental structure, and locatedness consumed. The water evaporated, bringing departure. The bowl's only contribution had been simply to hold the water, but it was consumed in the back-blast along with most of the bed, as the unbalanced energy of the spell sought out expression.

At each terminus of the spell lightning flashed and the earth shook a little. Both Queens Landing and Queens College, and who knows how many other places in the realm, would be having unexpected and quite severe storms with rain and unusually large hail. The door of the room in the keep was blown out, and most of the glass in most of the windows at his house were blown in. As each of the geasairia channels opened, the intense flows of energy started, and Morgan felt himself lose those dedicated capacities; that's when he realized that he probably should have shut his eyes.

* * *

In transit Morgan could feel the target stone draining energy from his spell. The benches were part of some construct that was still intact and very near the house. The construct was an interesting piece of information. The energy loss was cause for panic. Every iota of energy lost in transit would stretch the geasairia channels, making the spell take more time, and leaving him used up and paralyzed longer afterwards. Worse in many ways, he felt Seth's mind twisting and, kind of... crunching, under the stress of transport. It was, of course, far too late to do anything about anything.

* * *

When he fell backward his head struck the paving with considerable force. He was partly hoping that it would knock him out but no such luck. Eyes frozen open looking into the sky, Morgan wondered if he were dead. He wouldn't know until he breathed or died. At least, he thought, if he died he wouldn't have to wake up and find out that he'd killed Seth. Not that he knew for sure Seth had even made the transit. He'd lost the last of his asense about halfway through. All he could do was listen to his heart not beating and his lungs not breathing while the stone lay hard under his back and the rain began pelting his open eyes.

As a silent red haze began frosting over his vision and he began screaming in his head trying to wake his body to life, he thought he heard Mieka call out his and Seth's names. He blacked out, only to find himself sitting up spasmodically and sucking in an aching, huge breath of air. He was inside on a couch. Liane was next to him clutching her forehead where their heads struck when he'd unexpectedly sat up. Mieka was still struggling against the wind, and the ruined door, trying to haul Seth inside. Liane slapped Morgan's shoulder once, hard, in annoyance; all Morgan could think of was air and the crushing spasms in his heart.

* * *

Things didn't settle down inside or out for quite some time. With Seth inside and Morgan back from the dead, Liane and Mieka set about covering over as many shattered windows as they could. The two bedrooms were quickly protected by heavy blankets nailed over the broken windows. Where that wouldn't work they moved what they could away from the open side of the house. The blast had been centered at the north end of the patio, sparing the studio, and the valuables it contained, from more massive damage. Only the den, Shiea's room, Mieka's lab, and the bath room were wholly safe, being on the other side of the hallway and so without windows.

Morgan was as useless as Seth. He thought he'd managed to avoid any kind of backlash, but he couldn't be sure. Stripped of his power and weak as a kitten because of the geasairia, and struck by migraine from the lack of oxygen and the subsequent spike in blood pressure, he could do little more than wish he were dead.

* * *

Morgan struggled to his feet and went to check on Seth. Oddly the trip seemed to have done him some good. His eyes were open and he looked like he might be in there for the first time since the trauma. He still wasn't moving or talking but there was some kind of intensity to the way his eyes were tracking Morgan's face. At least he hoped so. He talked to him a little, generally trying to let him know he was safe, worried over, and missed.

When what could be done had been done, Mieka and Liane came to Morgan for answers.

Morgan made one quick pass at everything that directly led up to his and Seth's respective conditions including what he knew of Seth's collaring and then started retelling everything that had happened on the trip starting with his first attempt at the collar. It took several hours to go over everything and get through their questions and suppositions. By the time he finished it was nearly midnight. Seth was asleep, not just unconscious, and Morgan was ready to join him. He got Mieka to move a chair near the couch so that he could be there when Seth woke up. He was barely settled when sleep overtook him.

* * *

Day two got off to an inauspicious start when most of the house was wakened by a prolonged squeal of utter surprise from Liane. As was her morning habit, she'd gotten into the tub and opened the sluice to enjoy a nice rush of hot water. What she got was an acrid dousing from a bone-chilling mountain spring in early winter. She was not happy. In short order a groggy Mieka got fires set and going in the main hearth and the kitchen stove while Morgan explained again about his blocked attributes.

Liane put on a robe and began planning a large breakfast while the stove heated up; it was still fairly warm out during the day so with Morgan's power out the food in the cold cupboard was going to go bad if they didn't eat it. The rest of the morning was full of similar realizations for Liane and Mieka. Morgan had bound and ensorceled more around the house than any of them had ever realized. He was also no help as labor either to replace the missing comforts nor to repair the damaged windows. Beyond that, Seth was infirm and impaired, unable to see to even his most basic needs; something else Morgan was physically too weak to assist with.

An impromptu family conference was called right there in the living room. Liane, more wily than Morgan had previously given her credit for, started by making the point that they had to make sure nobody knew that Morgan and Seth were back, let alone completely incapacitated. A plan, Liane's plan, was quickly laid out. Morgan would watch Shiea, keep the fires going, cook, and do what he could for Seth. He had no strength, but he had enough energy to keep up with the little girl and do the cooking. Liane and Mieka would get Morgan's bed out of his room and set it up in the living room near the hearth. Once they got Seth changed and set up in the bed they'd go out and get the supplies necessary to put weather resistant canvas hangings over the windows. In the longer run everything would be relatively in order by the end of the day, and Morgan would have his power back in three days.

The plan generally worked out, Liane and Mieka even managed to teach their sections without incident. Once Seth was awake they got him sitting up. Even though he still couldn't seem to move of his own volition he was watching everything that happened in the house with an almost frightening intensity. Once Shiea understood that Seth was sick, she decided that she was going to “better” him, and spent the rest of the day contentedly explaining her world to him with lots of gestures and visual aides, namely her toys. By the evening she was exhausted and Seth was picking at and studying all the toys. Morgan, on the other hand, had a completely miserable day.

He really only had two things to do; worry about Seth and mull over everything that had happened to him since those books came into his life. Things had been moving pretty fast, when they were moving at all, and for all the concern and consternation he'd not had a chance to really think. The kind of thinking that you can only do when you are either in complete control, or completely helpless. Late on that first day Morgan came to grips with his helplessness. The knowledge that it was temporary having little mitigating value when he was standing there faced with a note he couldn't read. The surrender to that helplessness was clarifying.

His mood had begun devolving in an intellectual way, playing mind games with himself about “his sacrifice” and the self styled nobility of it. Morgan was too honest, or to smart, to fool himself that his motive to that sacrifice had been far above fear. Self protective layers, as they will from time to time, began peeling away from themselves until he was, at least a little, exposed to himself. Even that imagery served to protect him from too much truth to quickly. When he had Shiea put down for an afternoon nap and Liane and Mieka were away, Morgan felt the bubble of depression that had been building up all day rise out of his chest and burst.

He remembered his ignorance. The memory came from his other life. He'd been working in the mine that day, like he had almost every other day, but he and his friends had arranged to have some time to themselves after work. It was late afternoon and they were all half watching the sunset and talking about their plans for the future. Looking back, the reach of their aspirations had been so tiny, dreaming of running the shift, becoming a foreman, or even breaking out of the underground and becoming a master smith. Those had been the biggest people in their world. When the sun finally began to break up and dissipate for the night, one of the guys had gestured vaguely at the sky and said “You ever wonder how it works?” He'd scoffed at the guy, said “No” in a way that called the guy an idiot for thinking about something so pointless, and then shoved him just hard enough to tip him off the rock he'd been sitting on. A mostly playful scuffle ensued to both blow off some steam and to suppress that alien thought from their common lives.

Remembering that clean, almost virginal and predestined ignorance filled Morgan with awe. Looking up at the person he'd become since then he couldn't really recognize himself. He could go back to his home, find that guy and tell him exactly how the sun worked and any number of other things, and that other man wouldn't understand him at all. For the first time he wanted to hold that iron ingot because he finally understood what his father had been trying to tell him. The things he had learned in the last fifteen or so years were huge, and they had killed and buried the ignorant lug that he had originally been destined to become. Worse, and better, even given all he knew, he was huge.

The stone walking and the teleport were unprecedented. That he'd repeated the first and then literally thrown the second together based on it was... impossible was to big a word... but not by much. It was something way too big to have come from him. And still he could already think of ways that he could do it better. Closing the spell so that it didn't plunge a quarter of the continent into stormy darkness every time he used it would be a breeze. More, perhaps a different component here, sending more raw power there, and given a little time to think it through, he could probably make the spell nearly an instant, something to be cast with barely a word or gesture. He knew he could do that, and that was simply too big.

His talent was simply too broad. He'd never read anything about the kind of power he seemed to have. Granted, magi are not always truthful about what they can and can not do, but the difference between what he had done and what was supposed to be so easily doable was immense. Sitting there without it, he could see that he had never really plumbed the depths of his abilities. Ideas began to tumble around in his head about how far he might be able to go, and as he followed those thoughts along a new kind of thrilling fear began to make itself known to him.

He was afraid of himself. Looking at his power from the outside was sobering. It was just as well that he wouldn't have it back for a few days. If it'd been lying around ready to use when these realizations hit he might have tried to draw deeply on it without thinking. Mages more experienced than he had killed themselves, and in the process leveled buildings bigger than his house, by reaching for more power than they could grasp.

When he tried to push away those thoughts he found himself thinking about the long-dead mage who had carved that little niche out of the keep. The mage must have had a lot to do with his house. The idea that the house might, for ill or good, be hiding something took root in his brain. He began to pace out the different parts of the house first with his mind and then with his feet. There was something there all right, but he couldn't quite make himself see it.

As soon as he would manage to clear one of these lines of thought from his head the other would rise up and grab at his attention. The due consideration of his own, fearful magnitude and the mystery of the house grew to occupy nearly all of his higher processes. He became moody and distant, almost as hard to reach as Seth. He did his work and took excellent care of both Seth and Shiea, but he was also nearly a stranger to everyone.

For three more days he all but haunted the house.