"I canít translate it."
"Of course thou canst!"
Nigel whirled at the feminine reply. "Youíre Daphne?" The face and voice were that of the magicianís assistant, but the beaded crimson costume was gone. In its place, the girl now wore a soft blue medieval gown with white embroidery at the rounded neckline and the cuffs. Her short puff of curly blond hair was now single brown braid that trailed down her back.
"Daphne is one of my names, in one of my lives," she agreed. She gestured toward a large fallen tree. Its moss-covered trunk was of suitable height to afford them seating. "Though in this one, my name was Guinevere*."
When, exactly, had he left the Alpine Theater and come into this sweet-smelling meadow? For that matter, when did the sun rise? And something elseÖ
There was something else, something subtle. He snapped his fingers, setting aside the immediate recognition that the bandage and the injury were missing. "Your accent!" he exclaimed. "Your American accent is gone!"
"Thou art quite observant." A wry smile played over her unpainted lips. "I hail from Camelot in this world, as thou well knowest."
Nigel brushed a hand over his chinos, only to find that he, too, was clad in 13th century attire. A long navy blue robe flowed around him, the wool billowing in a healthy breeze. "Oh, this is really, really weird," he breathed. "Really weird. I take it Iím not in Kansas any more, and I donít suppose your name was ever Dorothy in one of your lives? No, didnít think so." He took a couple of steps back, squeezed his eyes shut, clicked his heels together, and muttered, "Thereís no place like home, thereís no place like home."
It didnít work. He opened one eye, peering at the bemused expression on his companionís face. "Iím still here," he sighed. Resigned, he hopped onto the log. He frowned. Wasnít Daphne Ė or Guinevere, or whatever her name was Ė taller? Taller than him, anyway? "All right, Iím here. What do I have to do?"
"Nothing so bad, Merlin. Merely slay the dragon that has laid waste to Camelot and captured thine monarch."
Nigel choked. "What???"
Giggling, the young woman rescinded the statement. "Not so terrifying now, is it, to translate the moon sign! Hold up the key and read it with your magicianís eyes." She tucked the disk into his palm and held it up to the sunlight. There was a shift in the light and it took a moment for everything to register. The light dimmed with ever-increasing speed, until only the palest ring of illumination marked the eclipse of the sun.
At the instant that the eclipse became total, the fragmented moon message resolved itself, becoming whole and perfectly clear.
*Also spelled Gwenhwyfar or Guenevere
Go to Part Fifteen.