Sal looked at Lucille, their eyes meeting, and then at Meriwether. “You were telling the truth?”
“Yes, Sal, I was.” Meriwether sounded amused, which helped the rising anxiety Lucille was beginning to feel. “The majority of people who live within the Web have lived other lives, although very few of us know about it. I think the time is coming, though, when more of you will be ready to learn about who you were before, because before it was something I wouldn’t have suggested that anyone did. Now things are changing.” He rubbed his antler. “I was once fae, born on Kalinia and I travelled to Athare before the Web even existed. Although I never thought it would happen I became a part of the group who created the Web, I was a friend of Emrys, Tegan, and Riordan, and I worked on three of the worlds that you can travel to, as well as two you can’t.”
Lucille studied Meriwether. “You worked on two of the sibling worlds, didn’t you?” She wasn’t certain how she knew, but she knew it was Pendragon and Sterling. “And some of the missing worlds.”
“Missing worlds?” Sal asked, before Meriwether had a chance to answer Lucille’s question.
“The missing worlds as those that were created but we never used, for whatever reason, that we believe Emrys took with him when he left.” Meriwether smiled. “We have lost worlds, the worlds we can’t travel to as they don’t want to be a part of the Web; the sibling worlds, named because they only connect to one of the other worlds and I’m certain there are more of them than we know about; and the missing worlds. Some of the missing worlds became a part of the Web as they connected to Kniroch, but from what I know it had to be the worlds choice once we were finished creating the Web.” He glanced over at Lucille. “I did help with Pendragon and Sterling. Certain cities there are my work, because what we did was build as much as we could while the worlds were still tiny…” He sighed. “Maybe this isn’t something we should be talking about now. This is one of those conversations that could easily take longer than we think it will.”
“I have the day off.” Sal turned to look at Durai. “You going to stay too?”
“I probably shouldn’t, but…” Durai smiled. “I really wish I’d have come here before. This is fascinating.”
“That’s part of the problem.” Meriwether smiled back at Durai. “It’s too easy for us to find ourselves losing hours to these sorts of conversations, without answering all the questions that have been asked, and then we’ll have another one the next day that doesn’t answer any of the questions we asked the previous day but does answer the new ones we came up with during the night. Of course during that conversation we come up with more questions that need answers. We really should start writing them down.”
“So they can be answered in Lucille’s book,” Bertram said, sounding happier than he had done since the day of the attack. “Maybe that would be a good place to start actually, with questions that people would ask about each of the worlds if they hadn’t been there before.”
Nodding, Lucille pulled out the paper and pen she tried to keep with her at all times, for just such a situation. “That’s exactly what I have started doing, although some days I don’t get as many questions written down as I’d like, because they come up when I’m busy doing other things. A lot of them we have covered during these conversations, but there are so many worlds and…” She shrugged. “I think there are a couple of people I’ll be talking to when I get to Athare, as this isn’t something I can do alone, even though I’d love to be able to.”
“That does sound like a good idea.” Meriwether rubbed his antler again. “I think I might start writing myself, about the true history of the Web and what it was like to create the worlds, because we believed when we started the job that we would be able to complete it, which meant helping the races we’d placed, but then the rest of the fae started making things difficult for us. Of course the fae now wouldn’t be able to have the same effect as they did then, as they’re a very different race now. It’s likely now that no one would be able to do the sort of thing we did when we first travelled to Athare, which is disappointing but not unexpected. When they told us what they were doing we had a feeling that the time would come when they’d find themselves without any magic.
“As I’ve said before to Lucille, Bertram and Peric, there were members of my race who found themselves without any magic when they got here, due to the effects of being on Kalinia. They, fortunately, weren’t banished, as they would have been on Kalinia, but I’m not certain how exactly they’d have been treated within the settlements. When I chose not to join my family I was told I’d never be permitted into one of them, because I’d made my decision, and my family never came out to visit me. As far as they were concerned I didn’t exist any more, but I can’t say I mind much. If they’d have supported me more things might have been different.
“Unfortunately that was something we all had to deal with. Once the fae realised what we were planning, because it was what needed to be done, they got scared. Emrys and Riordan kept telling us that we were doing the right thing and I always believed Emrys. If it hadn’t been for him I might well have walked away, but he explained everything in a way that made sense, so I chose to stay with them, knowing that we were doing the right thing. If we had done what they’d wanted us to do we wouldn’t still be here now.”
“You don’t know that for certain – you did manage to live on Kalinia for three thousand years.” Lucille bit her lip. “Athare could have lasted that long.”
“It wouldn’t have done. Athare told Emrys that she had enough in her core to last the fae about a millennia and if they’d created the five worlds they thought were needed it would have been much less, due to the amount of magic we would have needed to create them in the first place. We used as little magic as we could during the creation of the worlds, knowing that a little could go a long way, starting them off in crystal jars, creating the continents, transferring them to crystal cannisters to let them grow some more, creating the towns and cities we were going to place the races into, transferring them to a bigger canister to let them grow more, so we could begin to place the smaller things, the plants and the trees. Those, however, took more magic than the worlds themselves did, due to the way we had to make them. Even creating one world would have used enough magic for a century of normal usage, so if we had created five worlds that would have been five hundred years of magic gone.
“We did regain a little with every world we placed races on, but that little wasn’t enough, as it would take decades for the cores of those worlds to fill with magic and that meant that whatever was in them would be used quickly. Then they’d need to start draining Athare. By placing the worlds the way we did we made certain they’d be able to support each other and that the cores would be able to fill much faster that they would have done otherwise. Instead of it taking decades it would only take years, which was much better for the Web, and we placed other races on Athare too, which was something else the fae wasn’t at all happy with. They wanted Athare to themselves, but we knew we needed those races.
“Of course creating the races took yet more magic, although much less than the worlds did. For every hundred souls that we created only a year of magic was used and those souls all helped to replace the magic that was used by the fae. Our race may not have been happy with the choice we made, but it was the best one we could have made, and I stand by it even now. Maybe I shouldn’t, maybe I’m wrong to believe we did the right thing then, but it was the only thing we could do if we wanted Athare to survive our arrival. Athare wanted to survive us too, so she gave us the help we needed to be able to make the Web the best it could be.”
Mirrored from K. A. Webb Writing.