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The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-Three: Return to Rennou (Continued)
Previously: When Gina last saw B’frona he was a boy. But the one who stood before her now was a lanky–angry–teenager.
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“B’frona?” Gina’s eyes widened.
“Why do you look the same?”
“Why do you look different?”
“Still as stupid as ever. Have you never heard of aging?”
At that moment, a round-faced woman just beyond her teens appeared at the foot of the stairwell and said, “B’frona, that wuckle-hen you snared will char unless…” She spotted the two strangers. “Forgive a foolish maid. I did not realize—”
“Set two extra portions,” B’frona instructed.
“I will, little brother.” The girl hurried up the stairs.
B’frona followed her without saying another word.
Gina stood in silence until Zack stepped up behind her and said, “I think we’re supposed to…” Feeling a push, she whirled around to confront her brother, but before she could say anything, he pointed at the broadsword. She rolled her eyes and headed for the stairwell, grumbling, “OK, OK, you rusty little tyrant!”
As they made their way up the stairs, she said, “I completely forgot about the double moon, I mean about it being—what did Aunt Aloysia call it?”
“In similis,” Zack answered. “Our worlds are in similis during the double moon, but they’re out of similis when the double moon disappears, so—”
“So even though only two months passed in Middleton, in Ismara it’s been something like two years!”
“Two years and eight months,” B’frona said, as the Dores entered the second floor kitchen. His anger was still seething, but it had acquired an accompanying layer of curiosity. “How can you still be the same? And how can I be older than you?”
“You’re not,” Gina began. “I mean…how old are you?”
“He passed his fifteenth cycle two months ago,” Sh’renn said with sisterly pride. “The girls all say he is deliús!”
B’frona shot an annoyed look at his adopted sister, then resumed his assault on J’nah: “So, you have found some form of witchcraft that allows you to stay young and stupid while others—”
“Hey,” Zack jumped in, “how you doin’? I’m her brother Zack, and she’s from another world, so it’s not really her fault, because—”
“Zack!” Gina hissed.
Sh’renn dropped the heavy crockery platter. It split in half, causing the roasted game hen to hop onto the floor as if it were alive. She bent to retrieve it, but B’frona scooped it up and carried it to a hammered metal basin to wipe it clean.
Sh’renn stood staring at Zack and Gina. “You are…the Two Strangers?”
B’frona came back a moment later with the meat repositioned on a wooden platter. They crowded in around a small table that had been hastily set for four. The four-winged fowl was peculiar, but not unpleasant, and the forest herbs were satisfying.
“Sh’renn believes in the Anaruols,” said B’frona, breaking the silence. “She thinks the Time of an End and a New Beginning is real, and that the Two Strangers—”
“B’frona, it’s true,” Gina cut in. “I know it sounds insane, but look at me. Look at you. I’m not a witch, and…
We really are from another world.”
Thoughts: Few things are harder than regaining the trust of someone who believes you’ve betrayed them.
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