Research Sabbatical

Mages’ notes were nearly impenetrable to anyone else. Short-hand, idiosyncratic symbols, and personal abbreviations made such notes basically useless if you weren’t familiar with them. So it came as little surprise that Aisha had had trouble finding any written material.

Luckily for her, Julia still had Jason’s purple crystal, which made it possible to decipher the notes Aisha had brought her. It took months to get through them, and she reread them multiple times. Not having Jason’s gift for mana was a hindrance, but Jason’s notes had given her a start. Too bad those were still in the future where she couldn’t get at them. Still, she was able to make out some of the basic principles and was making progress, albeit slowly. Luckily, she had nothing else to do.

Except for her occasional visits with Esther, she didn’t got anywhere; indeed, she rarely even went outside. Aisha brought her everything she needed, and she spent all her time researching. She wanted to work on the problem of temporal magic, but she had no resources to draw upon. Instead, she worked on the crystals, trying to work out the nature of the crystals that she hadn’t yet understood.

The focus on research wasn’t about boredom; rather, it was to keep her from temptation. Too much free time allowed her mind to wander to events that she wanted to prevent. Rebecca would be fleeing from her “family” in the near future. Bailey would be thrown out of their apprenticeship. It wasn’t only Jason’s death; there was other pain and suffering she could do something about. But Jason had made the dangers clear. As much as she might want to help, there was no way to know what the effects might be if she tried.

Her musings were interrupted by the phone ringing.

“Hello, Aisha.” The other woman was the only person who had the number.

“Hey. I know you hate leaving the house, but could you come here?”

“What? Why?” She trusted Aisha, but this request seemed very out of character.

“I need you to see something. It’s important. I have the crystal you gave me, so I assume you can find me with it.”

“Aisha, I really don’t . . .”

“It’s important. Please.” Her voice was urgent, but she didn’t sound panicked.

“Fine. Do I need to bring anything?”

“No. Just you.”

Julia hung up and focused on the crystal she had given Aisha. Once she had locked on to it, she opened a portal next to it. The street she found herself on was very familiar. She was in front of The Nameless Bar.

“So you do know this place.” Aisha had obviously noticed the surprise on her face.

“What’s going on, Aisha.”

“You’re going to have to tell me. You see, I just followed you here. At this very moment, you are sitting at the bar. I dialed your number, you answered, but you were sitting at the bar speaking with the bartender at the same time. How is that possible?”

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