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Part Two

Duty Calls

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The elf nodded, and sighed. "I don't blame you. I feel about the same myself, I guess."

"So, what's this 'Sharing Magik' you were talking about?" Surier asked after a moment.

Storm ran his hands through his hair. "It's not quite a spell, not quite ... I don't know. It's more like a gathering of Energy? At least, that's the way Morgan described it." He was silent for a while, collecting his thoughts. "The way Morgan explained it, you use ... um... Physical energy to amplify mental energy."

If Surier hadn't known better, he'd have sworn that the elf was embarrassed. "How do you do that? And why?"

Storm answered the last question first. "Sometimes, when a person has had a great shock, they seem to fold into themselves, go into hiding in their own minds, as it were?" Surier nodded. "Well, according to Morgan, if a person uses 'Sharing Magik', they can enter the 'Shadowlands', or the mind of the other person, in order to bring them back to consciousness."

Surier nodded again. "I can understand that. I've never tried it before, but..."

Storm shook his head. "You don't quite understand, Truth Seeker. There are usually 2 people involved in the creation of 'Sharing Magik'. Other than the patient, of course. At least one of those people must be very familiar with the workings of the patient's mind, how they think, how they react, who and what they are."

Surier looked confused. "Why two people?"

That made Storm smile. "When was the last time you understood a woman, or when one understood you?"

Surier grinned in spite of himself, and glanced in the direction in which Loviath had disappeared. "That makes sense. They have to be the same sex as the patient, then?"

Storm nodded. "One does, certainly. But Sharing Magik is a bit more than that." He paused. "The basic premise of Sharing Magik is that the searchers love the victim." He paused again, and looked squarely at Surier. "And each other."

Surier nodded, and then something about Storm's tone of voice registered. He stared, aghast, at the elf. "You mean? You and Loviath have to...?"

Storm nodded, not looking at all pleased at the prospect.

"Not a chance!" Surier snarled. "Not while..." He stopped. Storm said nothing. "But Morgan..."

"Exactly. How would you feel if it was Loviath and not Morgan laying there?"

Surier shuddered. A sword-sharp pain centered around his heart. It was worse than finding out about Ornthalus. He gasped. His imagination was bad enough, but to know for sure! He shuddered.

Storm watched the emotions play across Surier's face. 'They love each other,' he thought, 'and yet they pretend they don't. Humans are stranger than women.'

"Is there no other way to do this?" Surier asked. "Can't you do something else? Can't you-?" He fell silent as he saw the expression on Storm's face. It was thoughtful.

"If," the elf began slowly, "If Morgan is as deep as I fear she is, it might be wiser to have an extra body there. "

Surier didn't stop to think. "Okay, Loviath has said that she knows nothing about spells. Tell me, what needs to be done? How is the melding of the minds done?"

Loviath sat beside Morgan in the small alcove of the cave. Morgan lay on a pallet, too still to be sleeping. Morgan, so lost in her own thoughts that she refused to acknowledge the world. Loviath could hear the low voices of Surier and Storm, but they were no more than murmurs. She blushed again and hid her face in her hands. Sharing Magik. Of all the Earth Mother's spells, this was the most potent. And the most dangerous. Loviath shuddered. It meant not only sharing her heart with another, but her mind and soul, as well. And her body. That part terrified her more than anything else. Oh, she knew the mechanics of having sex. Working around a stable most of her life hadn't been the most 'protected' of occupations, she thought.

She couldn't do it, Earth Mother help her. She couldn't! Not even if Ornthalus had agreed to this desperate attempt to locate 'that which was truly Morgan' before the cleric faded away entirely. But Ornthalus, her Elven love, wasn't here. There was only Surier.

Surier. The cleric. For all his bluster, he was a quiet man. Shy. Not a coward, no. But he was... Surier. He was sometimes more concerned with doing his duty, however distasteful, than doing what he wanted to do. Except for that one time in the orchards of the Temple, Surier was ever controlled, ever calm, ever watchful. At least, that's how Loviath remembered him. Knew him to be. He had never, by word or gesture, condemned her decision to leave Kape Valla. He hadn't said a word when he met Ornthalus that first time. Not a word or gesture about betrayal or love, or anything. Loviath snorted. He'd offered his support. As if she were no more than a grieving widow of his parish, she thought.

Loviath had never mentioned the man to the elf, nor the elf to the man. She was a coward, she knew. She also knew that the knowledge had hurt Surier, even more than her refusal of him and her abrupt departure had, almost seven years before.

She and Surier had known each other for most of her life. She'd even gone to school with him for a while. And in all that time, only once had Surier kissed her, and told her of his love for her. Only once, in the orchard. It had been a kiss that had shaken her to her very soul. How could a simple meeting of lips hold that much emotion, that much certainty that the love was returned? Even the memory of it made her sizzle with... What?

Surier, in one brief moment out of time, had handed her his soul - and she had fled in terror at the responsibility. Loviath knew she could kill him without trying. She didn't deserve so much from him. Surier deserved better than she.

Loviath stared at Morgan. But Morgan deserved better, too, she thought. Loviath let her breath out with a small moan. Morgan deserved a chance, and if that meant that Loviath had to surrender her body to a man she didn't love, well, 'it's a small price to pay for Morgan's friendship,' she thought.

Her decision made, Loviath rose to her feet, intending to tell Storm that she was ready to begin. As she approached the cave's entrance, she heard Surier say, "I'll tell her, then. She may not like it, but I think she'll feel more comfortable doing it that way."

Storm's amused voice answered him. "And so will you?" Surier didn't answer him in words that Loviath could hear. Now what were those two plotting?

Loviath didn't hear Surier's approach. Suddenly, he was just there in front of her.

"You heard?" He asked gently.

"Only enough to know that you have changed things around."

Surier stood very still as he explained. "Storm told me about the Sharing Magik. We discussed it, and came to the conclusion that, while you understood her 'female' mind, and Storm understood her Heart," He took a deep breath. "Neither one of you could understand a part of her that was important, too. Her Faith." He waited for Loviath's response.

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