Warder Cycle: Throwback’s Realm
__—— Warder Cycle: Book #1  An unusually small man named Martin Farrell is a very successful agricultural professional, using strange methods that set him apart from other people.  His parents were Irish post-war immigrants to New Zealand, both of burly Celtic build, but Martin has Asian facial features (eyes, skin colour), but with light curly hair.  X-rays reveal extended ribs with an unusual, wide, fluted breastbone, and DNA testing later proves that he is not descended from normal modern humans at all.  He must be descended from a closely-related branch of hominids, now either wholly or partially extinct, that must have once lived in or near Ireland, where his parents were born.  He has often been labeled a throwback, and is extremely defensive about this, perhaps because he understands that it is probably true.  But a throwback to what?  To whom?
Martin, like a small number of others, can see auras around growing things, and has developed a way to draw energy from the overall bio-mass of the earth via large trees to invert their auras.  Manipulation of inverted aura-fields changes the health of associated trees, and he has developed this skill into a lucrative forestry and farming business.  His most famous work has been in Canada, where he has warded large blocks of forest wilderness to successfully battle acid rain.  That results in an invitation from the West German government to investigate the Black Forest, which suffers similar degradation in its northern reaches.
When he visits the Black Forest, he finds an enclosure formed of warded trees – he had previously assumed that he was the only one able to do that – and meets an unusual man who is plainly of similar genetic descent to himself, and who describes himself as a Gatekeeper.  This sets in train a series of events that leads to the discovery of a hidden race of people living in a time-shifted dimension overlaying much of Western Europe – a parallel universe.  His genetic similarity to them, plus his apparently magical abilities with manipulation of plant energies, leads these people to see Martin as their ‘Venia’ – revered ancestor.  His German friend is revealed to be a half-caste.
After difficulties coming to terms with his heritage and his social responsibilities, Martin commits himself to helping the citizens of the Hidden Realm, and eventually goes to live there permanently.  These people are believed to be the source of all the European myths about Elves, and there can now be no doubt that Martin is sprung from their stock.  Martin and his colleagues help them to overcome serious problems and, as a very determined ‘Outsider’, he becomes a catalyst for sweeping social change.  He is eventually appointed the Ala Daq Da – the Realm Wizard.

Available for Kindle from Amazon, US$2.60 – 530 ‘Amazon pages’.  Interested?  Read the first Chapter of Throwback’s Realm here...

1:  Throwback

...Dease Lake, British Columbia – May 1980
Frank eased his cab toward the plain building at the rear of the small Dease Lake hospital complex and stopped just outside the only door, wondering what sort of pickup this might be.  Nobody was in sight, so he tapped the horn, very lightly – ‘pip!’ – and waited.  This was the morgue, after all, and dead people didn’t call taxis.
After a while the door cracked open and a face looked out.  Ah, that’s Doctor Fergusson.  A bit of a hippie, but a good doc.  Seeing the cab, the doctor ushered out a small figure swathed in a hospital blanket.  Jesus!  Some kid’s been assumed dead, and taken to the bloody morgue!  Uh, oh – this might be a difficult fare.  But, God!  Imagine the trauma of waking up in there!  Poor little mite.
The rear door of the cab squeaked open, and the child climbed in, wrapping his blanket tighter around him.  Doctor Fergusson stuck his head into the cab.
“Borealis Motel, on Lakeside, driver... oh, Frank – hi.  Mr Farrell, here, is perfectly all right now, but he’s cold, and needs to go home and sleep.  He lost most of his clothes when he was brought in here, so getting him there without any fuss would be appreciated.  I’m sure you'll understand that this hasn’t been a pleasant experience for him.”
Frank immediately reached for the heater controls to adjust the cabin temperature and warm up the poor little bastard and, in the mirror, he saw his passenger pull a hand out from under the blanket and wave a wallet in the air.  He got a shock when he spoke, though.  His voice...
“There’s a driveway goes ’round the back, driver.  I’ll show you when we get there.  But I don’t have much cash with me – you’ll have to wait while I duck in and get some.”
Surprised, Frank twisted around awkwardly in his seat to get a better look at his passenger.  God!  He’s not a kid at all!  Farrell?  Ah!  He’d be that foreign chap doin’ all the strange forestry test work... it was in the local rag recently.  Yes, that’s it.  Farrell was the name.  Something about the acid rain, for the government.  He’s just a short-ass.  A Japanese or Korean one, but with curly ginger hair?  That doesn’t fit.  And isn’t that an Irish accent?  What the hell?  He smiled, in what he hoped was a reassuring manner.  “You just relax, Mr Farrell.  I’ll get you there without any fuss.  Don’t worry about the fare.  I can come back for that later, if you like.”
The doctor stretched to offer a five-dollar bill.  “No, I think we can run to that, Frank, to compensate in some way for this misunderstanding.  Mr Farrell has a most unusual physiology, and that’s all very well, but our staff had never seen anything like it, and didn’t know how to handle episodes like this.  I’d like to see it come to a safe conclusion.”
Frank tucked the note into his shirt pocket as the doctor turned to directly address the passenger.  "You’re getting to be too much of a regular visitor here, Martin.  We’ve spoken about the dangers before, but this is too much.  Call me when you’ve recovered.  We need to get you wearing a medical medallion with some details of your condition.  This sort of thing will just happen again, otherwise, here or elsewhere, and you might not be so lucky next time.”
The passenger nodded mutely, and the doctor stood back.  Frank looked around carefully and pulled away from the morgue.  Some sort of medical problem, then – none of my business.  I’ll definitely talk to the little guy, though.  Put him at ease.  Besides, I gotta ask whether he really had a luggage tag tied to his toe when he woke up.
*  *  *  *  *

Martin Farrell woke up very groggily to persistent hammering on his door.  People here just didn’t understand – that was why he’d got carted off to hospital, yet they were still trying to keep him awake.  He would definitely get that medallion that the doctor suggested.  The problem was his need for cold-sleep – hibernation, really – it varied greatly because he spent so much time in different parts of the world, and that threw out his body clock.  And when he experimented intensely, like he’d been doing these past few weeks, the toll on his body was severe, and that meant he needed more cold-sleep to allow his system to recover.  He tottered to the door and opened it to the new General Manager of the Canadian arm of his business, Earth-Magic...
“Oh, Owen – I thought it was the landlord again.  What are you doing here, so far from Vancouver?”
“I came as soon as I heard the news from the hospital, Martin – they had me down as your next-of-kin.  Jesus!  You look terrible!  They told me you’d been brought in, but pronounced dead on arrival, then woke up again hours later in the morgue.  Is it that hibernation thing?”
“Yeah, I was trying to catch up on energy drain...  Oh, shit.  Look, I’m too tired to go through all this again, Owen.  Do me a favor, now you’re here.  Play Nanny for me while I get some decent sleep?  Three or four days should do it.  Don’t let anyone cart me away again?”
“Just move in and let you sleep?  Sure, Martin.  And I’ll speak to the hospital about this hibernation problem.  That’s the second time you’ve been presumed dead, so we need to get some system going.  They might decide to do an autopsy next time!”
“The third time, actually.  It happened once in New Zealand, too.”
“Well, then...”
Owen asked where the keys were kept and what delivery arrangements were in place.  And that was the only discussion the two men had before Martin staggered back to bed and Owen went to see the landlord – the man who had called the ambulance the previous day.  It hadn’t been his fault, Owen decided, but he was probably feeling pretty bad about it.
*  *  *  *  *

Recruited directly from college in Vancouver for his legal abilities, Owen Hughes had been running the Canadian arm of Earth-Magic for just over a year.  Martin had founded the parent company in New Zealand, where Helen Dunstan was the manager.  Helen, who had hired Owen, had been Martin’s business partner during the early years before he moved to Canada.  So when Martin woke three days later, quite happy to talk to Owen, it was a dramatic eye-opener.
Martin’s Irish parents had migrated to New Zealand immediately after World War Two.  The post-war anti-Japanese sentiments of the fifties had ensured a very bumpy passage through childhood for Martin, with his Japanese-like facial features, his shock of curly, sandy-colored hair, his Irish accent, and his diminutive stature.  His appearance had confused many over the years and, even as an adult, he seemed very self-conscious about it.
Like most small people, his personality over the years had been shaped by his need to prevent other people from bullying or physically dominating him.  He fiercely told Owen that a person might take advantage of his size once, but they would certainly never get a second chance.  Some lucky people cruised through life on the back of some beneficial physical asset – beauty, strength, sporting prowess, intelligence – but such advantages would never apply to him!
He was now extremely stubborn, defensive about his appearance and had become a solitary figure given to secretive actions.  He had learned the hard way that trying to pursue business or personal activities in the company of normal-sized people, especially strangers, was an invitation for social disaster and often a few extra bruises.  Even as a successful businessman, he routinely negotiated most deals through Helen Dunstan, who had been his Business Manager for nearly thirty years, or lately through Owen in Canada.  Personal face-to-face meetings, especially with new clients, often created uncertainty and soured chances of business success.
Always an obvious ‘Green Thumb’, showing a natural empathy with plants, agriculture had been an obvious career choice for Martin despite his size.  He had achieved undoubted business success over the past three decades.  This prosperity was based on an unusual set of abilities that he called ‘warding’.  Shortly after puberty had triggered the usual gamut of bodily and mental changes, nearly forty years previously, Martin had found he could see auras around living organisms.  He knew he wasn’t unique in that respect – in fact, he now employed several aura-readers, Owen knew.  It was what sprung directly from that development that had made him truly different.
As he conducted his youthful experiments, he had soon found that only the largest of plants – trees – had sufficient natural reserves of energy to be clearly detected.  With smaller plants, that energy flow was hard to sense.  Over time, he had concluded that trees, being unable to ‘think’, and dynamically apportion energy to where it was most needed to repair damage or to fuel growth, simply allocated it everywhere continuously at the same rate.  Every tree always had a small surplus of energy, which was used for slow growth, unless any adverse circumstance prevented that, and it instead slipped into slow decline.
His ability to see auras had led to experiments with sensing that energy flow, and Owen pressed him to explain – he knew what warding meant for the company, but struggled to imagine how anyone could ever discover the effect.  To his surprise, Martin was actually embarrassed!
“Well, I’m not proud of that, Owen.  I was just a kid, going through puberty, and there was a large walnut tree at the back of our yard, and it had a broken branch after a storm.  I put my fingers on the break, where the sappy wood was exposed, and felt a tingle.  I didn’t understand what it was, of course, but found myself often going back there, or to other trees, where I would use my pocketknife to cut a groove into the trunk.  I became addicted to the sensations, and was quite happy to just stand by a tree and soak up energy, watching my muscles twitch and tic, and watching energy arc across small gaps.  I didn’t understand it – I just liked it, and, er...  well, it was a bit of a sexual buzz, y'understand.
“Of course, these days we do understand it a bit more, and it’s a danger that we watch while training warders – warn them against the danger of holding energy for long periods of time.  A bit like glue-sniffing, I suppose.  Anyway, it was more than a year before I got past that.  The trees were just pumping energy into the wounds for healing purposes and I was enjoying soaking it up, that’s all.  Muscle fiber is similar to wood fiber, so relaxed muscles absorb energy quite well and tense muscles expel it.  Flexing different muscles while in contact with the tree is the main way in which I can manipulate this energy.
He grimaced.  “My first tree-ward was a complete accident, very painful, and it took me some time to realize that I’d done anything, or to explore the possibilities of the inverted aura.”
“You mean creating a fresh ward on a tree, changing its energy-state?”
“Yeah – well, that’s the basis of warding, of course.”
Owen knew that warding caused a violent change to the aura-field surrounding a tree.  Over the years, warding had been extended to include energy effects radiating from a single tree, or forming a linked chain of individually warded trees into a continuous perimeter, or manipulating the enclosed space inside such a perimeter, or using the ward energy to affect associated objects.  It was all warding, but it had distinctive facets, each demanding slightly different skills.  Martin had painstakingly and painfully acquired those skills over thirty years.  He was still learning, and his experiments sometimes put him in hospital.
Manipulating the inverted aura of a warded tree could force the tree to allocate energy in a dynamic fashion rather than at the usual, slow, constant rate.  He could do the tree’s reasoning for it.  For Martin, working in the agricultural industry, this skill translated directly into dollars.  He managed the health of trees by manipulating their auras.
Warded trees had a distinctive, red-shifted aura that Owen had never seen, but people capable of seeing auras could immediately see the color shift.  Luckily, such people, although rare, were not impossible to find.  Once Martin had established a warded enclosure, these people could help manage crop growth – more than a score of them were employed as ‘warders’ by Earth-Magic in Canada and New Zealand.
There were useful, profitable effects to be achieved even with a single warded tree, most commonly in market gardening to help the growth of crops adjacent to warded trees, or to prevent insect infestation.  But multiple warded trees formed the basis of most of Earth-Magic’s work.
In New Zealand, where his basic skills had been learned, he had bought or leased crop farms with fields surrounded by established windbreak trees.  These allowed warded perimeters to be formed, enclosing a cash crop.  The chief advantage was shared energy reserves.  The group health of all the perimeter trees improved dramatically, and crops planted within the warded enclosure also tapped into that energy reserve, resulting in spectacular crop growth and health.  ‘Energy Warded Produce’ had made Martin very wealthy, and given him the time to experiment further.
Martin was still the only one who could actually create original tree wards, so he remained the limiting factor in Earth-Magic’s growth.  Or lack of growth, as was now the case.  They had just over sixty regular clients in Canada and could not realistically expand the business without putting Martin’s health at risk.  He also had to fly to New Zealand every year to attend to any new warding work required there.
His company had been deliberately named Earth-Magic as a marketing move, because the benefits to farmers certainly seemed magical – especially in the bitter climate of British Columbia.  Mostly offset warding was needed here.
Owen’s main job, during the year he’d been managing the Canadian operation, had been fine-tuning the tithe contracts with all the local farmers using the energy warding system to squeeze an extra growing season out of the year.  Not only did they get an extra three months crop growth per year, but it was all premium-quality, chemical-free ‘energy-warded’ produce, guaranteed to fetch top prices at market.
The reaction of the AgChem industry to Earth-Magic contracting out their unusual services had been swift and ruthless.  Fortunately they had overstepped the mark in a couple of cases, and Owen had managed to get some very damning press coverage, exposing their tactics in converting farmers back to chemical crop treatment methods.  In both cases, greedy farmers had taken the AgChem money and agreed to stop using energy warding, then refused to allow Earth-Magic onto their land to ‘un-ward’ the perimeter trees.  They had hoped to have the best of both worlds, and in both cases admitted that the AgChem company Myclauso had advised them to take that action.
It didn’t work.  When Martin un-warded the trees remotely using a tree alongside the road outside the farms, removing the essential energy-pool effect that made warding so effective, they were left with no option but to return to expensive chemical farming methods and a shortened growing season.  There had been a lot of sensational press in the Agricultural magazines, and the AgChem companies had backed off since then.  Earth-Magic and its non-chemical techniques was, after all, small bananas.  Not worth the bad press to pursue further.
But they wouldn’t have forgotten.  The reason for Martin being in tiny Dease Lake was to prepare for a government contract to use offset warding on a large block of forest centered on the Spatsizi Wilderness Reserve, and that wasn’t small bananas at all.  The AgChem companies would be furious when they found out that energy warding techniques would be trialed to combat Acid Rain and, if successful, would replace the present ineffective, but very expensive aerial spraying of chemicals that was a major AgChem income stream.  Owen expected them to fight this competition fiercely, and they had already shown that they weren’t afraid to fight dirty.  Losing a few farmers to energy warding was one thing – losing large government contracts to chemically treat vast forest reserves would be quite another.
Offset warding took advantage of the other major skill Martin had developed – he and some of his warders could manipulate reflected images within a warded enclosure, where the ambient energy infusion made all ‘suspended’ reflections unstable.  During the early years, Martin had observed the surface of puddles inside a warded enclosure, where the badly distorted reflections could be seen to react to his manipulation of ward energy.  He had designed a cradle, based on a motorcycle brake system, to allow a mirror surface to ‘float’ on hydraulic fluid.  To counter the radial distortion of flat, horizontal puddle images, scryers used a small semi-spherical mirror with mechanical ‘ping’ attachments around its rim.  The mirrors in their cradles were attached to perimeter trees on farm fields, and the mirror image was manipulated to ‘fly’ it to a more congenial climate, where it was locked into place and the mirror covered.  The column of atmosphere above the enclosure was offset to the location shown in the mirror, and would remain so until the mirror image was disturbed.
Only the air temperature to a height of about 250 feet above the mirror was affected, so frozen ground around warded fields eventually made growth slow anyway.  However, an extra three months growth spanning the start and end of winter was a valuable asset, especially in chilly British Columbia, where farmers wanted to offset their field atmospheres to a warmer climate during Spring and Fall.  Earth-Magic provided a unique service, and profited well from doing that.
Owen had argued with Martin over the plan to persuade the government to try offset warding on the acid rain problem – the little man’s already-brutal workload would just get worse.  Big forestry projects might impact negatively on their mainstream agricultural work, but Martin wanted to pursue the concept.  In the late afternoon, Martin finally tired of questions and asked Owen about staffing preparations.
“Yes, four warders say they’re interested in helping with the Spatsizi forestry project, Martin.  They know it’s going to be a lot harder work than farm warding, and out in the weather a lot more.  Will they have to come up here for training?  None of them know what to expect.”
Martin seemed unsure, then shrugged and announced,  “Well... they might not be needed at all.  Perhaps... look, Owen, since you’re here, tomorrow we’ll go to the forest along the western side of the lake here.  I want to show you a new technique that I’ve developed.  It’s the reason why I needed that extra sleep.  It took a lot out of me, I can tell you!  But the technique works – that’s the main thing.  It could be used for agricultural or forestry work, and would have a pretty far-reaching effect on the business.  Can you hire us a car for tomorrow?  I use a dirt-bike while I’m up here, but I can’t carry a passenger on that.”
“A new technique?  Well, this sounds exciting!  Why don’t you take a shower while I call a car hire firm?  You’re still looking a bit peaky.”
“I’m feeling a lot better than before I crashed!  But a shower sounds good.  Okay.”
Owen made his call and had arranged to hire a car by the time Martin emerged from the shower with a towel around his waist, and Owen couldn’t help but compare their physiques.
“Good God, Martin, I’d kill to get skin color like yours!  That dusky, olive skin looks healthy even when you're feeling worn out.”
Martin laughed, "Dark and mysterious, eh?”
Owen was glad he hadn’t offended his boss.  "Something like that – I’m built like a typical Welshman.  Short and squat, like a bloody steam-roller, for playing rugby I suppose, which I don’t.  And my skin!  It only has two colors.  Either as white as a corpse or as red as a friggin’ boiled lobster if I expose it to sunlight for more than a few minutes.”
“Well, you may be short, but not as short as me!  I’ve been a short-ass all my life, and always baby-faced as well, so I was bullied a lot during my school years.  I guess that’s why I chose farming for a career – it’s nice and solitary.  But while I’m uncovered, you may as well see the other reason why I’m different to other people.  I have an extra set of ribs, Owen – here – and an extended breast-bone – here – with a row of little knobs on it, see?  Doctors in New Zealand took lots of X-rays of me, because it seems to be unique.  I’m a short freak, I suppose.”
“You’re short, yes, but not solid like me.  You’re quite lightly built, so I guess you would have been easy meat for the bullies.  And I see what you mean about your bone structure – you look a bit top-heavy to me.  Like you’re holding your breath permanently.  Does that have anything to do with your warding abilities?”
Martin spread his hands.  “The scientists think so.  There was a theory from them in New Zealand that my sternum resonates while I’m in contact with tree energies.  That may be right, I think.  It does tingle.  I just never noticed it until after they suggested that.”
Owen nodded, finally understanding that Martin was physically different – that helped to explain why he had been able to discover unusual new skills that other people could learn only after intensive, difficult training.  His boss was an oddball, so he asked whether Martin’s family had similar abilities.
“No.  When I was a kid, Owen, the doctors said I was probably a throwback, since I’m nothing like either of my parents.  I can accept that, but a throwback to what?  To whom?  Both my parents lived in Ireland before emigrating to New Zealand, and both reckoned that all their ancestors came from Ireland, too.  I certainly don’t look Irish!”
“No, you don’t, you’re a bit of a mystery, all right, but all these warding skills you've developed – you’d need to be a bit unusual to do that!  There are a few Mediterranean countries where short, olive-skinned people live, and that’s not too far from Ireland, but that doesn’t explain your facial features.  I thought you were Japanese when I first met you, but your accent threw me.”
“Well, you wouldn’t be the first one.  I’d like to get to the bottom of this some day.  But maybe you’d better hold off getting those volunteer warders up here for training.  Wait until you’ve seen the new skill tomorrow, and then we can make plans.  It’s a biggie, Owen!”
*  *  *  *  *

The following morning Owen drove Martin in the hired car to the first of several officially-approved forest enclosures he had formed just off the road alongside the lake.  These small enclosures were test sites for the upcoming trial at Spatsizi, and the little man explained to Owen that he had formed a friendship with a local Forest Ranger to keep an eye on his activities.
“Working in the forest isn’t safe – there are lots of wild animals that wouldn’t hesitate to make a meal of me, and that terrifies me, because I grew up in New Zealand where there are lots of amazing birds, but few mammals.  No ground predators at all.  Here, you’ve got bears and wolves and lions and snakes and it’s bloody dangerous out here!  I’m very small, and my work requires long periods of intense concentration.  Not a good idea in the forest, so the Ranger keeps an eye on me.”
Martin grabbed his carved wooden walking staff – it had become a kind of trademark – and led the way off into the forest a small distance.
“Right, this enclosure has seven trees around a small clearing, and I think it’s typical of the ones I’ll be making in Spatsizi.  Now, imagine that this enclosure is merely a point in the perimeter of a much larger enclosure.  I’ll form the huge enclosure at Spatsizi by making lots of these little ones along the perimeter, then joining them all together.”
“Like a join-the-dots picture puzzle for kids?”
“Yes!  Exactly like that.  These little enclosures would be ‘Power Stations’ to provide the ward energy to link to each other and form the much bigger forest enclosure.  From my tests, they can’t be more than than five or six miles, ah, about eight to ten kilometers away from each other.  So far, so good...
“However...” he grinned and held up his wooden staff, “Voila!  I’ve been carrying these sticks around with me for years, and I love carving them, so I have several.  My latest discovery involves using a scrying mirror mounted on my stick, so it moves with me instead of being attached to a tree.  A mobile mirror never occurred to me before, until I woke up in hospital last time to find the doctor bending over me with a mirror on a headband.  The idea arrived with a fanfare!  Ta-da!”
“Huh?  How does that do anything?"  This guy is weird, but inventive!
“Well, you know that manipulating the mirror reflection physically attached to a perimeter tree causes an atmospheric change – like we use for farming work.  I was trying to develop a variation on that last week.  The perimeter of an enclosure isn’t a razor-thin line – it’s a progressive thing more than a couple of paces thick.  By walking outward through that perimeter, carrying a mirror image moving at exactly my walking pace, the energy arcs between the enclosure and the mirror and I was exploring that.  I could feel that something strange was happening.  Once I got the image movement speed exactly right, which took a whole week of experiments, I suddenly just... went.  As soon as I left the enclosure, I ended up where the mirror showed, at a different location.  But I also got plenty of bruises and scrapes, and eventually landed in hospital last week, which is why that doctor wants me to be more careful.  I suppose the hibernation scare this week was the icing on the cake for them, although I was really just zonked out, recovering from the effort of experimenting with the mirror-move thing.”
“Good God!  What exactly caused you to end up in hospital?  Doctor Fergusson said he thought you made a habit of sticking your fingers into the forest equivalent of an electric wall socket!”
Martin chuckled, perhaps ironically.  “Yeah, he would.  He means I play around with high levels of energy, and experiment pretty blindly, and he’s right, of course.  He said to me, ‘Energy is energy, no matter what form it takes – be more careful!’  Well, I wasn’t careful enough, Owen.  I tried moving to the next Power Station test enclosure along the forest road here, but that just caused an energy feedback effect and knocked me out.  If Peter Boswell, the Ranger, hadn’t been here, I’d have been bear fodder by now.  He saw me wandering around staring at a mirror, then some fairly obvious energy displays, and I just fell over unconscious.  He probably thought I got electrocuted.”
“Well, if you get knocked out, Martin, it’s not very useful, is it!”
“No, no.  I got knocked out from feedback, Owen.  That only happens when trying to go between two energy-rich enclosures.  I move from inside an enclosure to outside, tapping the energy from the enclosure as I go.  But the target – the destination – has to be somewhere outside any other enclosure to avoid the feedback problem.  Now I know that!”
God! ...that would be...  “Well...  You can show me this thing?”
“Yes.  That’s what I want to do.  First, I’ll demonstrate a tiny jump, and you can watch from here.  Just to the road up there, about twenty yards, but far enough that you’ll be able to see the effect.  Mobility, Owen.  If I can get about quickly we can start to expand the business.”
Martin slotted a small cradle-mounted scrying mirror into holes drilled in the top of his walking staff, then stood just inside the enclosure perimeter and concentrated on his mirror.  He stared at the naturally-unstable mirror image, then flicked one of the ping studs.  Owen saw the small mirror image wobble, fade, and a different, but very similar image replaced it.  Following a combination of flicks and pings, this image moved until it showed the road where Owen had parked the car, then stopped.
“Stand back a little, Owen.  When I start walking, you’ll see quite a bit of arcing.  It doesn’t hurt me, I can assure you, but I’m not sure about other people nearby.  It took me a long time to get the height above ground level just right, and the movement speed, too, but here I go...”
He used his left arm to brace his right arm holding the staff, and ‘shivered’ the mirror.  The image in the mirror started moving, and Martin started walking out of the enclosure.  Immediately, a strange breathy fluting noise sounded, and vivid flashes and crackles covered him and arced to the nearest trees.  Holy shit!  Owen stepped back hastily – it looked lethal.  As Martin exited the enclosure the arcing followed him for a few paces as though he had just walked through a spider’s web made entirely of static electricity, then it abruptly faded.  So did Martin and the strange noise.
From the roadside, Martin shouted,  “I’m out here on the road!”
A minute later he sauntered into the enclosure again, grinning.  “How about that, eh?  Pretty cool?  Remember – I can only go from a warded enclosure.  That always has to be my starting-point, because it’s where all the energy comes from.  But I could go to within a few paces of another enclosure safely enough.  So I could move between half a dozen farms in one day fairly easily.  Just walk the last few paces.”
Owen was speechless, and his boss laughed.
“You look like a goldfish – Ooooh!  Look, I want to see if I can take a passenger with me.  I couldn’t show this to Peter Boswell, but it’s safe enough with you.”
The two experimented with the ‘mirror-move’, confirming that the alarming-looking static displays covering both of them didn’t actually hurt at all.  Owen could eventually walk with Martin if he spat on his palm before grabbing Martin’s arm, and matched his speed exactly.  The two decided that good firm skin-to-skin contact was essential.
Owen found it very disorienting, though, and it resulted in a wave of dizziness.  The noise was very obvious – like a woman breathily singing “Phweeeen?” in a rising inflection inside an echo chamber, but it didn’t cause any problems that either of them could see.  Martin was unconcerned about the noise, which Owen thought a bit reckless of him.
“Well, that tells me all I need to know at the moment, Owen.  How about you go back to the motel in the car and I’ll try going there directly using the scry-move.  I’ll give you a call on my cell phone when I get there... or if I end up somewhere else.  You may need to come and get me in the car if that happens.  But watch me go, so you can be fairly sure.  Then we should talk through the implications of all this.  I’d like to use this on the Spatsizi forestry project, but I know that you’ve already negotiated the terms there.”
Owen watched as Martin lined himself up and used his scrying mirror to fly his view down the forest road to the town and locate the motel building, then stood back as Martin prepared to leave.  "Phweeen?"  And he was gone in a crackle of energy.
*  *  *  *  *

The following day, after both Martin and Owen had had time to think through some of the possible implications of this discovery, Owen strongly advised his boss not to reveal the scry-move to anyone just yet.
“There are all sorts of legal implications, Martin!  If you can scry-move six miles down the road here, you can probably move greater distances, and instantly?  Think of the military implications!  And if you can move between countries, bypassing customs and passport controls, they’ll hang you from the nearest tree.  You could be the world's most undetectable smuggler.  Dangerous.  Let me work on some safeguard legal measures first, and don’t even think about using this ability on the Spatsizi job.  Don’t even let our own warders know about it yet.”
“Damn!  Trust you to think of the legal angles.  I’ve been thinking more along the lines of personal safety.  The present plan is to helicopter winch-drop me into the forest to make the little Power Station enclosures, and that’s dangerous.  I thought maybe using the scry-move would be much safer, but that’s not really the main danger.  I have to go into a virtual trance for quite long periods in forming the enclosure then linking it to the previous Power Station enclosure.  That puts me at severe risk in the forest.  I’ll need someone to watch my back while I’m working, so I’ll still need to use warders, won’t I.  Having someone with me means I can’t use the scry-move.  I’m stymied.”
Owen nodded, looking relieved.  “Well reasoned.  Not quite the same reasons I worry about, but true nonetheless.  In fact, by the terms of the deal we struck with the government, the Air Force has the right to send down one of its own at every winch-drop for mapping and recording purposes, and they’ll probably do that.  They’ll want to keep an eye on you and make sure that they’re getting the real deal.”
Martin Farrell stood up and paced around.  “Yeah, you’re probably right.  For this trial, we’ll have to stick to conventional methods but, if the trial is successful, I want you to negotiate a way for Earth-Magic to handle all access on future forest warding jobs, so that I can use the scry-move with some of our own warders.  We could make the whole project a whole lot quicker and cheaper that way, and the government will look at the bottom line and not argue too much, I hope.  They don’t need to know the precise details of how we get in and out of the Power Station sites.”
“Agreed.  I think you could start secretly using the scry-move on some of our domestic workload after the Spatsizi job is done and dusted – that’ll ease the heavy load on you quite a bit.  But let me work on some legal safeguards for you, Martin.”
“Okay – that sounds sensible.  Bugger!  I really hate having to wait for things, especially when it’s cost me so much to get them, but I’d better just regard this as a long-term mobility solution for now.”
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