Mava woke to find the sun had climbed to its zenith and was providing her with its customary warmth, but not the usual influx of magic.
“Was wondering if you were going to sleep the whole day away,” Nyka said.
The pale woman sat beneath an obviously conjured umbrella on plain picnic blanket. Before Mava could form a coherent question, Nyka passed her a bottle of well chilled beer. Mava took the beverage without comment and surveyed her surroundings.
She was laying in a small crater within a forest that looked reasonably familiar. Around her there were half a dozen or more similar craters, all of them littered with glittering dust particles.
“What happened? Where is everyone?” she asked after downing a long pull from the bottle.
“Up and about,” Nyka said. “I think we caught the worst of the blast, or we’re just getting old. They all woke up hours before we did.”
“They’re all ok?” Mava asked.
“Better than ok, can’t you feel it?” Nyka tapped her chest.
Mava inhaled and felt no pain. That in itself was amazing. The old aches that had built up over time were gone. She looked at her hands and saw they still bore the signs of age but the discomforts she’d long since ceased to be fully aware of had vanished.
“Why do I feel this good?” she asked. “We should be aching wrecks, shouldn’t we?”
“By all rights we should be dead, but it looks like we did it.”
“Did what? We didn’t finish the rewriting that Gwen gave us. We were too slow.” Mava twisted her neck from one side to the other, searching for hidden injuries.
“Too slow to get the Unmaking Pledges to destroy themselves? Yes. Too slow to save ourselves. No.” Nyka said.
Mava rolled her shoulders and stretched out her arms. She didn’t think she’d felt so loose and free since before modern humans learned to write.
“You saw something didn’t you?” Mava asked. “I can see that gleam in your eye. You know something I don’t and you’re enjoying it far too much.”
Nyka’s lips split into a wide, gleeful smile.
“Oh I know a lot of things you don’t,” she said. “But this is particularly juicy. Did you catch what the Pledges had been reduced to before they finally escaped?”
“No, I looked away to see where the others were,” Mava said.
“And you tried to shield them, because you’re you,” Nyka said. “And because I’m me, I focused on saving myself, which at the time meant trying to force the wording on the Pledge into the shape Gwen gave us.”
“Did you manage it?” Mava asked.
“Nope. Not even close,” Nyka said. “We did manage to direct their magic back against the Pledges for a brief moment though. Enough to erase part of them, but not enough to create a black hole there. Which in hindsight is a good thing.”
“Which parts did we erase?” Mava asked.
“You know what it said originally right?”
“I know what it said when we reached them a few hours ago. ‘Let she who is my equal and all be given death absolute by our magics’. What did it say at the end?”
“The last I saw before it all went kaboom, the only words that remained were ‘let all be given our magics’.” Nyka said.
Mava let that sink in for a minute.
“All?” she asked.
“All.” Nyka nodded.
“So that means?”
“The spell was targeting everyone on Earth when it went off,” Nyka said.
“What…what have we done?” Mava asked.
“Remember how you used to be one of the Elites, and I was especially gifted by the Throne of the Night?” Nyka asked. “Let’s just say we’re not that special anymore.”
Mava held up her hand and summoned a faerie light. A small glowing dragon of crystal sunlight, the size of her palm swirled into being.
“Oh we can still do magic too,” Nyka said. “More than ever before. We’re not empty. We’re full to the brim and then some.”
“And everyone else is too?” Mava guessed.
“That’s what it looks like,” Nyka said. “Sondra was one of the first people up. She and Kelian went into town after they woke. Said everyone is glowing like a bonfire.”
“That’s impossible. What kind of chaos is there? Are they rioting?” Mava asked
“That’s the second best part!” Nyka’s smile broadened even further. “They don’t realize it yet!”
“How can they not notice that they’re glowing?” Mava asked.
“Most of them don’t know how to look into Counter-Time,” Nyka said. “They don’t know what they’re capable of now.”
“They’re going to figure it out,” Mava said.
“Yes, they will, probably sooner than later too,” Nyka said. “That’s not the very best part though.”
“Of course there’s more. When is life every simple?”
“Statistically it has to happen someday that only one new problem appears at a time,” Mava said.
“We’re only nigh immortal,” Nyka said. “So there’s no chance we’re going to live long enough to see that.”
“So what it is? What has you grinning like a cat?”
“When I went in to pick up the beer and donuts, I got to see some of the newly enmagicked people myself. Guess what sort of light they carried?” Nyka asked.
“I don’t know, moonlight, just to be different right?” Mava said.
“That’s clever, and insightful. Some had sunlight, like you, some had starlight like me, and some had both. And some had a type I’d never seen before, so maybe it is moonlight.”
“Where does that leave us?” Mava asked.
“Well, we’ve saved the world, but it’s not quite the same world that it was before we set out to save it, so welcome to the new world. Again.” Nyka raised her bottle in a salute which Mava joined her in.
“I guess it’s not so different from waking up to find a thousand years has jumped by and people have suddenly rediscovered fire.”
“It’s different this time though,” Nyka said. “This time you didn’t wake up alone.”
“Or without a beer at hand,” Mava said. “I thank you for that!”
“Oh I didn’t mean me, though you’re right, this is kind of new and different,” Nyka said. “No, I meant we’ve got our people back now. Sondra and Kelian, and your crew. Plus half the population of Earth is just a throne call away from remembering who they used to be.”
“This is going to be a disaster,” Mava said.
“Yes, but it’s going to be our disaster,” Nyka said. “And this time we can make a horrible mess of it together!”
“I can’t help but notice the rest of them sort of abandoned us?” Mava said.
“Sondra and Kelian are out trying to get ahead of the whole ‘world waking up and discovering everyone can cast spells’ thing,” Nyka said.
“I’m guessing Renata wanted to get back to her family?”
“She left before I woke up. I think that was Sondra’s first stop, escorting Renata back to her home,” Nyka said.
“And Gwen and Ally?” Mava asked.
“They were still here when I got up. They left a little while ago saying something about finding a hot spring. Gwen didn’t think moving us was a good idea, so I offered to stay behind and take guard duty till you woke. You were sort of cocooned in crystal. I think we were after the blast and before we woke. Probably made re-entry a lot easier,” Nyka said.
“I was wondering about that,” Mava said. “Not that I’m not due for a dirt nap, but I would have expected to be put in a nice box first.”
“No dirt naps for us,” Nyka said. “We’re so flush with magic at the moment, I think we’d spontaneously resurrect on the spot if something killed us.”
“How long’s that going to last?” Mava asked.
“Probably not as long as we’d like,” Nyka said. “But for now I plan to enjoy the buzz and take things easy so I can prolong it for as long as possible.”
“You truly are a grand strategist,” Mava said with a smile.
“Apparently I’m a lot more than that now,” Nyka said. “And so are you.”
“Don’t tell me…” Mava began.
“Oh yes, those crowns Sondra gave us? We’re stuck with them it seems.”
“But the castles of Night and Day aren’t even on this world anymore!” Mava said.
“We can change that,” Nyka said. “But I think I have a better idea.”
“We head back to them and seal up the paths so no one can ever find either one again?”
“Not quite what I had in mind, but I have to confess that is an appealing option too.”
“Probably wouldn’t work,” Mava said. “Sondra would just order the paths open again.”
“Not if we kidnap her first. We could take turns trading her back in forth.”
“Kelian might object.”
“We’ll get them his and hers matching jail cells,” Nyka suggested.
“Where else do you keep your kidnapping victims?”
“When they’re also my queen? Pretty much anywhere she wants to be kept,” Mava said.
“I suspect that’s going to be ‘somewhere far away from the headaches she’s dropped in our laps’,” Nyka said.
“Which is probably for the best,” Mava said. “She may have three lifetimes of memories to draw on, but I feel more comfortable having a co-ruler whose actions I can predict.”
“Is that so? Then what do you think my idea is?” Nyka asked.
“Something clever,” Mava said.
“That’s cheating, but also correct,” Nyka said. “I think rather than bringing either the castle back, we build a new city. One where both night and day folk are welcome.”
“Where? There’s not a lot of room left on Earth that’s not claimed by one nation or another,” Mava said.
“We found it in Counter-Time. People are going to be traveling there as they awaken anyways. Let’s make sure they have somewhere to go where they’ll be welcome,” Nyka said.
“And where there won’t be a castle full of traps keyed to wipe them out because they’re carrying the wrong sort of light inside them,” Mava said.
“Exactly so,” Nyka said. “If Sondra wants us to rule as the Queens of both Night and Day then let’s make a city that encompasses both of them.”
“See, I was right, that is clever,” Mava said. “What about us though? How are we going to share rulership of a city?”
“I’ve had allies and enemies, pawns and proxies, associates and acquaintances,” Nyka said. “But I don’t know that I’ve ever really had any friends before now and I think I’d like to change that.”
“We’ll probably mostly keep fighting you know,” Mava said. “We’ve had a lot of experience at that and old habits die hard.”
“I’m counting on it,” Nyka said. “Fighting with you is what keeps my mind sharp.”
“Then let me propose a toast; to the friend I most enjoy fighting with!” Mava said.
“To fighting with my friend, may we never grow too old to raise our swords together!”
“I’ll happily drink to that!”
And so they did.