Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction based on the characters established and defined in the movie and book titled Gladiator It is strictly for entertainment purposes. Please do not copy, publish or alter this work in any way without the written permission of the author.
“My dear — how long has it been? How is life wherever you are? Do sit down. Tea with lemon or milk?”
Miriam Trelawney hadn’t changed a bit. Still the same thick glossy braid of silver hair resting obediently over her left shoulder. Still the same piercing gray eyes.
“In reverse order, Professor, milk, thank you, that’s what I’ve come to ask you about, and I’m going to lie and say ‘yesterday.'”
Handing her favorite student a filled cup, the emeritus professor and holder of the prestigious Roger and Darcy D’Angelis Chair of Illusory Arts, leaned over her book-cluttered desk. “It could only concern your sad lack of a sense of direction. Your senior honors thesis on Incantations is still required reading for first-year students.”
With an eye on the clock — the professor’s evening class in Spell Breaking was due to begin in 15 minutes, Sophy was brief. She’d returned to the place for a wedding. Everyone knew her — sort of. Allusions she’d made to her first visit were ignored, or responded to with puzzled looks. A male friend was merely friendly-
The Professor raised a Joan Crawford eyebrow at that as she mentally filled in her former student’s unstated sentiment. Reminded her of the time Sophy kept a snow leopard in her dorm room for three weeks. The dean of the men’s school shape-shifted the fellow back, and penalized him by removing him from the Hexing team for the rest of the semester. The Professor frowned — she now realized Sophy had not even been reprimanded.
“Your skills at Suasion charms; they must stand you well in your career.”
Puzzled by what was a non sequitur to her, the younger woman nodded and continued her story.
Oddest yet was her last visit to the Point — that’s the name of the place, she explained. “So odd, in fact, that I came here to see you from there.”
Sophy’s request for a meeting came but a half hour earlier when the Professor was completing her twice weekly lecture on transubstantiation. The note wrote itself at the bottom of the lecture hall’s chalkboard in letters too small to be read by the students seated in the vast auditorium.
“The place even smelled odd. Like a pizza parlor. No one was waiting outside the hotel for friends to arrive, or heading to the um- resort’s tavern. Then East, he’s one of the resort’s residents-”
“Your friend?” The Professor emphasized the second word archly.
Sophy twisted her mouth sardonically. “No. One of his brother’s, actually. At first, I thought he’d hit his head again — he’s prone to that, a risk inherent in his work with horses, I guess. Perhaps that’s why he acted so oddly. But then I realized, when his eyes began to glow, that wasn’t it at all.”
The Professor’s eyes glowed too. She loved receiving challenging problems to solve.
The younger woman rubbed her neck. “I would say he attempted to become amorous, except that he had fangs.”
Trelawney rubbed her hands in delight. “Sanguinophilia!”
“Pre- cisely!” Sophy clapped hers together.
A rhetorical query from the Professor. “You didn’t permit him to nurse? There’s only been one recorded instance of an enchanter succumbing to sanguinophilia, thank goodness. Our best minds despaired of finding a cure. Settled for shape-changing the poor unfortunate into a leech and keeping it in an aquarium all its own in the Dean’s office — you can see it on the way out, if you’d like.”
“Yuck. Excuse me, Professor, I mean, no thanks. No, I placed a freezing spell on him, and asked for an abstract of how this came to be.” She looked again at the clock. “I won’t go into detail, but parts of it sounded rather, um, enjoyable.”
The Professor responded to her student’s guilty expression with a smile and a finger pointing to the page of a book floating in the air. “Sanguinophiles are known for their expertise in the amatory art of osculation.” She clasped her hands together and pressed a finger to her forelip. “Let me guess; your ‘friend’ has also become a sanguinophile?”
“That’s what East told me. I didn’t see him,” Sophy countered, thinking she was glad she had not. Expertise in amatory arts? Terry was impossible to resist as a normal homo sapiens var. cinemae. If it had been him rather than East who’d met her arriving at the Point, she could’ve looked forward to a future in the Dean’s aquarium.
The Professor’s next remark was most surprising. “I shouldn’t worry, my dear.” Standing up and moving out from behind her desk, she spun the tip of her wand in the air. It glowed bright red, making a whirling dark sphere appear. Populating the sphere were twinkling lights, some moving detectibly, some not. Suddenly, the sphere cloned itself. And again, and again, until the room was full of them.
“Away but two,” commanded the Professor, and only two spheres remained. She turned to Sophy and gestured at the spheres. “Alternate universes. If I interfere with one-” here, she inserted her hand into a sphere and withdrew a tiny, sparkling point “-I create yet another, alternate universe.” Indeed, she had. Where there were two spheres, there were now three. “Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Priniciple- quantum mechanics, the closest that non-enchanters have yet come to understanding our laws and how we operate.”
Relief washed over Sophy’s face as she recognized the point the Professor was making. “So I somehow ventured into an alternate universe….” She looked into the undefineable distance. “It must have been the wedding. There were people there I hadn’t seen before, because Tina and John wanted everyone present.”
The older woman eavesdropped on Sophy’s murmurs. “This Tina and John; do I know them? Or did they attend another institution of higher learning?”
“Oh, they aren’t enchanters,” her visitor replied. “Tina works for the Louisville Police Department, and John is another of East’s brothers. He was a sheriff in Mystery, Alaska…”
The Professor opened her eyes at the name of the town.
“…but now he lives at the Point with his brothers.”
“How many brothers are there?” The Professor was curious. She became more so as Sophy paused to count.
“Twenty-two now. Another one’s due in late December.” Having watched her mentor’s creative skills, Sophy felt the urge to do so as well. She pinched a diamond stud in her left earlobe. Twenty-two handsome homunculi stood atop a column of books on the Professor’s desk, all differently clothed, with varying hairstyles and attitudes. One seized upon a rubber band and started to rappel down the pile of books.
“That’s Terry,” Sophy gestured. Another two pulled out teeny guns and assumed a firing position.
“Oh, Bud, Zack. Good grief.” A fourth, angrily kicked an eraser into the trashcan.
“Hando,” Sophy named the miniature skinhead.
The Professor eyed them all with interest, but one, perhaps longer than the others. “The distinguished looking gentleman, with the glasses…?”
“Dr. Jeffrey Wigand.”
“Ah.” She was quiet for a moment, playing with her braid like a young girl. “This is a most unusual resort you are visiting. Of a magic not controlled by us. Perhaps not by anyone. I should like to see it. On my upcoming sabbatical, starting in June.”
Sophy looked apologetic. “You have to be invited. By the Keeper.”
“Oh.” The Professor made a mental note to keep in closer touch with Sophy. Sooner or later, the younger woman would give her more information about this Keeper, and she would contact her. Back to Sophy’s issue, however, for now.
“When you next return to the Point, do so with the thoughts that were in your head during your first visit. You will return to the appropriate universe.”
“Okay.” Sophy was trying to gather up the little fellows, who were now scattered all about the desk, and put them in a desk drawer she was using as a holding cell. Arthur was easy — he was reading one of the open texts. Maximus had unwound a paper clip. It was too light to serve as a sword, but it could be used as an epee. He kept jabbing it at Sophy’s hand until she snapped her fingers and made it disappear. Finding a marble, Jeff was kicking it to little Lachlan, who’d removed his jacket uniform and hat and placed them carefully by the tea cup.
Considering her professor’s feelings, Sophy gathered up Dr. Wigand last. He’d found a tiny metal ball from a key chain the Professor had been trying to fix when Sophy had arrived. Using a felt-tipped pen, he was trying to chip the ball into the teaspoon.
When all the brothers were retrieved and made to disappear, the Professor spoke again, using Sophy’s real name. “I’m so glad you came to ask for my advice, Siofra. In my day, the place my friends and I longed to visit was populated by this gentleman.”
The dashing face and form of a man in tights, breeches, and an elaborately slashed jerkin appeared. Professor Trelawney studied him, sighed, and made him disappear. “Ah, Kit. He had to go and have himself stabbed to death in a barroom brawl. Not long after we’d all swooned over his performance in Dr. Faustus. Such a tragedy.” She snapped out of her reverie. “Take care, my dear. Stay with the Terry in your chosen universe. As special as he is, I am sure he has someone with him in each of the others.”
The night air was fresh and cool as Sophy rolled up her carpet and tucked it under her arm. A shadowy figure approached in the dark. East.
“Hey, no sad looks here at the Point! Want some help with your valise?” The horseman offered her a hand and a friendly smile.
“Everything ok these past couple of weeks?” She looked about, glad to see the weekend crowd waiting to enter the bar.
“No worries, except that all our ladies haven’t arrived yet. Ah, look, there’s your boy, coming out of the Tavern.” East’s eyes shone mischievously — no eerie glow. “Planning something special for you tonight, I’ll wager.”
“Hey, Soldier,” she flirted with him as he loped up. “Whatcha drinkin’ tonight? I’ll buy you one.”
Terry laughed, scooping his arms around Sophy as he kissed her.
“Ummm, osculatory expertise,” she murmured when they surfaced for air.
“What’s that?” Terry chuckled. “You’re off the clock, lawyer. No more five dollar words until Monday. And if you’re buying, how about a slab of VB?”
Sophy giggled. “I said to drink, not to bathe in.”
She’d try one more test. She held up her index finger.
“I cut my finger on a memo before I left the office. Is it still bleeding?”
The hostage negotiator shook his head. “Luv, we’ll have to go into the Tavern to check that out. I can’t see in the dark unless you turn me back into a panther. Now, how about another kiss? I haven’t seen you for two weeks.”
She smiled. “This is a good universe for that. How about now?”