Colors: Tyrian Purple #5, “winged messenger”; Provence Lavender #16, “the well-trod path”
Word Count: 715
Summary: Miranda meets some of the Unfortunates.
Miranda was deep into her third shot glass of whiskey. Sitting in an English style manorial drawing room centrally located in an imitation Roman villa (well, not “imitation”; a perfect colonnade-to-portico replica created from memory of a ruined Pompeii villa except not ruined in this world), nothing made sense despite the hours of explanation provided by her saviors and the other three people.
"How much do I have to drink before any of this crap makes sense?” She gulped a big swallow of the reproduction vintage whiskey; everything in here was reproduction, because Eustace St. Cyr created them from his memories. The master of Tacheron, like all Unfortunates, had to populate this corner of The Realms with things imagined and remembered. Eustace was master-in-residence but not the sole inhabitant of the villa. He provided refuge to a little group who, like Miranda and himself, fell through a mirror into this crazy world. The carriage rescuers were Jacob Nile and Arianna Key. The silent resident who sat near the fireplace was Arianna’s older half-sister, Romena Key.
Eustace perched upon a high-backed Victorian chair. “You could imbibe all the gods’ ambrosia, yet one truth always persists.”
“The Realms exist, and we’re stuck here,” Jacob declared from the window seat.
“But if you people are true magicians, can’t you make some kind of exit?” Miranda leaned back into the chair she occupied; the marble and rock crystal interpretation of the Samothrace Nike sitting next to it caught her attention when first entering the room.
“Wow, a radical idea! How come we didn’t think of creating an exit already?”” Arianna snarked from her post on some chaise lounge. “You don’t suppose we haven’t gone through spell books and grimoires looking for anything that might create an exit mirror?”
“But if you came through mirrors by accident, couldn’t you try going through another mirror on purpose?” Miranda finished the whiskey.
“The Summoner blocks any magical efforts to leave.” Eustace replied. “He is the reason for every Unfortunate’s falling into The Realms.”
“Our local bad guy pulls random victims away from the other world and forces them into daily struggle around here.” Jacob added.
“Some of us have tried bringing an exit mirror into existence.” Arianna said. “Me and Romena nearly had the focus point set when the mirror−”
“It was my fault.” Romena finally spoke up. “I bargained my soul into the spell. You always have to give away something important when casting the ambitious spells. Some magicians give up body parts, but I don’t believe in blood rituals. The power spells demand more than blood or tears. The identity must be sacrificed.”
“I didn’t read the symbols correctly,” Arianna protested. “I used some idiot’s half-assed translation from the Internet.”
“I should have realized if nobody else has escaped from The Realms, I wasn’t going to leave,” Romena declared.
Miranda nearly dropped the now-empty shot glass onto the floor. She could only imagine the concept of casting spells, reading from old books, creating mirrors…and losing parts of a soul. What did it all mean?
Eustace stood up and moved to the center of the room, hands folded crosswise behind his back. ‘There will be no more blaming oneself about something which couldn’t be avoided. Because our eternal struggle to find some path back home must continue. Not just for ourselves, but every trapped Unfortunate.”
Miranda wondered if anyone could ever return home, especially Eustace. He disappeared from Reality in 1929; if he ever made it back to the other side of the mirror, wouldn’t he crumble into a pile of bones and ashes? Immortality and perpetual youth kept the Unfortunates in peak condition; as Jacob explained, “The Summoner likes to keep his playthings ready to fight.” Going back home meant losing that longevity and youth; that could mean someone would rapidly age, then disintegrate, or perhaps they would never make the return journey and might dissolve into unseen particles forever doomed to float between realities. Maybe fear of the unknown was the only reason failure was the default option.
She could find the exit. She would go into Eustace’s library, pull down every volume of magic technique and lore and read every single word until she found the right method for creating an exit mirror.