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Not What It Seems: The Maester's Story

Title: Not What It Seems, 27
Author: chilibreath
X-posted to: Tumblr / FF.net / AO3
Rating: T
Summary: Where the Maester shares more information.

Dipper opened his eyes and found himself looking at the curved blue ceiling of an unfamiliar room.

He blinked and carefully sat up, taking stock of his surroundings while trying to figure out what was off about all this. This was not his and Mabel’s room; it was a large, circular room with dark wood paneling and round glass windows. He looked down and noticed that he covered with a dark blue blanket, lying in the middle of a bed that was larger than the one in his room back home. Looking around further, he noticed that there were five other beds spaced around the room. Beside him was a familiar, relieved face.

“Dipper!” Mabel squealed, pouncing on her twin to envelope him in a hug. “You’re awake! You’re okay!” At Dipper’s squawk, she pulled away from him and gave him a critical look. “You are okay, right?”

“Uh…I feel okay,” her brother replied, looking at his sister in confusion. He looked around the room and scratched his head. “How did we—where are we, Mabel?”

“We’re in Rothezar, bro!” Mabel said brightly.

Dipper looked at her in shock. “Rothezar? Maegella’s dimension?! How did we get here?”

Mabel looked at him in concern. “You don’t remember?” When Dipper shook his head, she asked, “Okay, so what’s the last thing you do remember?”

Dipper frowned in concentration. “We were watching TV while they were talking in Dad’s office,” he said slowly. “And I think I fell asleep and…”

And then he remembered: dreaming of meeting his clone Tyrone on the roof of the Mystery Shack, Tyrone leading him back up to the attic room and locking him inside, Tyrone looking back at him as his eyes glowed and his voice became deep and haunting and strange…

“Tyrone!” Dipper gasped just as the door to the room opened. He and Mabel looked up to find four familiar people walk inside: Wendy, Soos, and their Grunkles. Upon seeing Dipper, the new arrivals rushed towards his bed. For a few minutes, Dipper was hugged, noogied and—in Soos’ case—cried on.

“Seriously, how are you feeling now, Dipper?” Ford asked after ruffling his nephew’s hair.

Dipper shrugged. “I feel okay; better than I did after waking up in my room a few days ago. And can anyone tell me how we got here? Are Mom and Dad here?”

Stan and Ford looked at each other nervously.

Stan rubbed the back of his head and replied, “It’s just the six of us, kiddo. Your parents are back in Piedmont, probably wondering what the heck happened to us.”

“We’ll deal with that when we get back to our dimension,” said Ford calmly. To Dipper he said, “I’m sure you have a lot of questions for us.”

Wendy, Soos, Stan and Ford got some chairs from around the room and started sharing the events from their last night in Piedmont to the present. Dipper then shared the last thing he remembered until he woke up in this room. He knew that two of his copier clones wrote something in the third Journal, but still decided to explain how his mysterious doppelganger came about with the number “2” on his hat.

“Huh, so that wasn’t just some rinky-dink copier machine in the Shack,” Stan murmured after Dipper explained how Tyrone came to be.

“And the Tyrone who tricked me was really some ancient wizard who got sucked into the Sigil,” said Dipper. He looked at his Grunkles and grinned. “And you two stopped an alien invasion! That is so cool!”

Ford smiled while Stan snorted. “Yeah, those aliens were lightweights. Couldn’t even handle my hearing aid.”
“So, now that the invasion is over, what happened to the Guardian-thing?” Dipper asked. “Is it still running around the place?”

Ford looked uncomfortable when he replied, “We’re not sure yet, Dipper. Last we heard, they’re still looking for it.”

“I don’t know why it’s so hard to find a gigantic moving statue,” Stan muttered. “It’s huge! Unless it walked back into the ocean or something…” Stan stopped when he saw Ford’s face. “Uh, they’ll find it soon, I’ll bet.”

Ford looked at his hands and flexed them. Before coming up to see Dipper, he and Stan submerged in the Springs for a time to heal their injuries; Sofi and Gelvin would not let the Pines brothers leave to visit their great-nephew otherwise. He found it discomfiting to think about what happened to Darreon…

He felt a small hand on the back of his hand; Mabel had stood up from Dipper’s side and approached him.
“How’s Maegella doing?” she asked, looking up at him.

“She’s…well, there’s still no change since she was brought to the Springs,” Ford replied quietly. He felt a larger hand on his shoulder and turned to see Stan looking at him in concern.

XXXXX

They had to wait for Sofi to assess Dipper’s condition before he was allowed to leave his room. When the lamps were uncovered to reveal the glowing rocks at dusk, the group were led to the large dining hall of the Blue Guild, which was quite crowded. While they each picked up a plate and started spooning food on it at the buffet-style spread in the middle of the room, Sofi shared that she has never seen the Guild this full before.

“Many of the injured have been healed and returned home, but there are others who still need to visit the Springs again or who live farther away,” Sofi explained as she led the group to a table that was partially full. “And then there are the healers who need to rest before they can return to their hamlets.”

“You certainly have your hands full,” Ford murmured as he set his plate down on a vacant large round table before taking his seat. He found the two seats on his right being hastily occupied by Dipper and Mabel; the two of them were highly amused for some reason.

“What’s so funny?” he asked them curiously.

In response, the younger twins started snickering louder as Stan sat next to Ford. Before Ford could say anything, Stan stiffened and turned red when a short, brown-haired woman passed by their table and winked at him. As she walked away, they heard a girlish giggle.

Sofi’s green eyes widened as Mabel covered a squeal with her hands.

“I—I have never seen Maester Lilis act like that before,” Sofi whispered.

Dipper leaned forward to address Stan. “She seems nice, Grunkle Stan,” he said in a high, polite voice. He was fighting hard to hold in his laughter.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, kid,” Stan grumbled, elbowing Ford’s side after hearing him snort while cutting his pie. “Eat your magic food or something. Do they have ice cream here or what?”

XXXXX

After eating dinner and ribbing Stan good-naturedly for attracting the attentions of a Maester, Sofi led the group to the Healing Springs. The paved path was alight with lamp posts containing the glowing rocks; Dipper asked Sofi if he could take one home as a souvenir.

The cavernous Springs was cool and well-lit by the glowing rocks embedded on its walls. Dipper looked around in awe as they took the steps leading to the second level. “I wish I had a camera with me!” he said in a low voice. “This place is amazing!”

“Even if you did, you wouldn’t be able to use it here,” Ford murmured as they approached Maegella’s pool. There were two people near it, sitting cross-legged near the mouth of the glowing spring. Maester Gelvin and Sandri turned around at the sound of approaching footsteps.

“Greetings, Maester Gelvin,” said Sofi. “Maester Galen has a room prepared for you here in the Guild…”

Gelvin waved off Sofi’s invitation. “I thank you and Maester Galen for your generosity, Sofi,” said the elderly man, smiling. “But I will stay here and keep an eye on Maegella.” He looked around at the rest of the party. “Ah, good eve, everyone. I trust that you have all been fed and watered?”

“We’re good, Gelvin,” replied Ford, looking away from Maegella to address Gelvin. “Have you eaten yet? How long have you been sitting out here?”

“I am fine, Stanford,” Gelvin insisted. Turning to Sandri, he said, “I think it’s time for you to go and have your supper, Sandri. These fine people will keep me company here.”

Sandri nodded and stood up. When he passed Ford, the Mage leaned close to him and whispered, “I worry about him. Please try to convince him to retire to his room. We will take shifts to keep watch on Mentor Maegella.”

Ford nodded and patted Sandri’s shoulder before moving to sit beside Gelvin. On Gelvin’s request, Dipper sat on Gelvin’s other side and Mabel sat next to Dipper. Stan and Soos sat next to Ford, and Wendy sat next to Mabel.

“I know that Sandri wants you to convince me to leave and rest in the guest room,” Gelvin murmured. “But do not worry about me; I spent thirteen years of my life sleeping. It stands to reason that I can endure at least one day without sleep.”

Gelvin then turned to Dipper and placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “I do want to apologize for putting you and your family through this grief,” he said solemnly as Dipper looked up at him. “I did not see this far when I placed the Sigil on you as a baby. When I assessed your health back then, my thought was to help you and—selfishly—I thought that placing the Sigil on you would solve at least two problems at once.”

Dipper smiled and patted the wrinkled hand on his shoulder. “It’s okay, Gelvin,” he said in a reassuring tone. “I mean, you saved my life when I was a baby. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be growing up with my sister or learn more about my family or meet all these great friends and people.”

He looked towards the pool and frowned. “I wish I could thank her, too. From what everyone else have said, she saved my life.”

Gelvin sighed. “Maester Galen said that it may take time. The Blue Maesters agreed that it might too risky to move Maegella from the pool. We are not sure of what will happen. Even I am not sure.”

“Ya did too much magic back there,” Stan said. “You overdid it. Nothing like a good night’s sleep won’t fix.”
“Possibly,” Gelvin agreed. “But I will stay here and keep watch.”

Ford looked back to the pool. Maegella looked like she was sleeping in a pool of light, her hair spread out and floating in the water.

He cleared his throat and said, “Back at the Last Chambers, you said that you saw this but failed.” Ford looked at Gelvin; the Maester was staring at the pool. “Was this the outcome you saw?”

Gelvin shook his head. He reached inside his robes and extracted a clear glass orb, similar to the one Maegella brought with her to Dimension 46’\. He scooted backwards until there was space in front of him to set the orb down.

“It is somewhat complicated, Stanford,” he said as he put his staff down and moved his hands over the orb. It began to glow and produce a semi-transparent image of a smiling young man with an oval-shaped face, black unruly hair, and gray eyes.

“Who’s that?” asked Mabel.

“His name was Calix,” answered Gelvin. “He was my dearest friend growing up at the foot of the mountains of Beleger.” He looked at Ford and continued, “He was Maegella’s grandfather.”

 “So that’s why his eyes look familiar,” Mabel whispered.

“Calix was a curious lad with an adventurous streak. We would explore the woods near our hamlet, looking for something to trade for sweets or a present for our parents. I was a bookish, scrawny little boy and was often made fun of for being so awkward. I still wonder why Calix sought out my company, but I was glad he did. In fact, on one of our ‘adventures’, I stopped him from setting off an old hunting trap in the woods.”

The hologram changed to show a scene; two young boys were walking in the woods. The small, skinny blond boy suddenly reached out and pulled the taller boy back, but not before the latter stepped on the taught rope he didn’t see. A split second later, the ground in front of them gave way. The two boys peeked over the edge and found that the bottom of the exposed pit was lined with spikes.

Stan cringed. “Yeesh, that was close!”

“Dude, was that the first time you started seeing the future?” asked Soos.

Gelvin nodded. “I just turned ten when that happened,” he explained. “Soon, I was brought before a group of Maesters, tested, and then was whisked away to be trained. Finding a Gray Mage is quite difficult; one new recruit appears every twenty-five years or so. My isolation at the Gray Guild would have been so lonely if I did not have Calix’s messages to look forward to. And the next thing I knew, over twenty years have passed and I learned that Calix…proposed marriage to a pretty lass from a neighboring hamlet. It was one of the three times I left the Gray Guild.”

Stan raised an eyebrow at the slight change in Gelvin’s tone.

“Really?” asked Mabel. “Don’t you go out much?”

Gelvin smiled at Mabel. “The Gray Guild is very strict on that, Mabel. We are supposed to live a life of seclusion in order to keep our visions pure. But I was persuasive. I was able to venture out for three specific occasions: Calix’s marriage, the birth of his child, and…”

Here, Gelvin paused. He picked up his staff and twisted it in his lap before continuing.

“And when I received word that he passed away. His daughter, Melora, sent me the news. That was the day I decided never to return to the seclusion of the Gray Guild. I went back to our hamlet and made a promise on his grave that I would watch over his family until my dying breath. This I did while I travelled all over, offering assistance when I could and keeping watch over his only child. Melora, bless her, invited me to witness her marriage to Mitros six years later and a year after that, to introduce me to her newborn daughter.”

Once again, the scene from the orb changed. It now showed a pretty woman with Calix’s hair and eyes sitting next to a lean man with dark red hair. In the woman’s arms was a swaddled baby with wispy red hair and rosy cheeks.

“And yet,” Gelvin whispered. “I did not foresee the tragedy that would befall on them. I failed Calix.”

The image of the family dissolved and the projection seem to expand, the better to show the scene of utter devastation near the sea. The beach was littered with debris; further inland, the ground showed the foundations of houses that used to stand there. Somewhere in the rubble, a small figure wandered. Her dark red hair was unruly, and she rubbed one of her eyes with a tiny fist.

“Oh, that is so sad!” Mabel cried. Dipper wrapped an arm around his twin while Wendy discreetly wiped her eyes. Next to Ford, Stan blew his nose on the corner of his robe while Soos’ lower lip trembled. Ford could only watch while he felt his gut twist at the thought of Maegella being orphaned so young.

“That was how I first found Maegella when I arrived on the scene,” Gelvin murmured. “Their neighbor led me to her and begged me to take her. The woman already had five children and could not afford to take in another. So I knelt next to Maegella and took her hand and…”

The next scene was jarring. One moment, they were looking at a frightened little girl’s face. Then the face morphed to an older Maegella, her expression fierce as her eyes glowed white, her red hair billowing around her face, the Pendulum Sigil branded and gleaming on her forehead.

While everyone gaped at the change, Ford stared.

“Wait a minute,” he said, leaning forward to get a better look. “She looks like a teenager here.”

Gelvin nodded. “I told you earlier that viewing the future is complicated. Every time I visited Maegella, her age changes in my vision, but it is always the same: the Pendulum branded on her forehead and her eyes aglow. I realized that something was about to happen that would require the unearthing of the Sigils, and that Maegella would pay the price for it. For years I wandered, gathering any information I could. Thirteen years ago, I found that the recently elected Leader was holding Mages against their will, forcing them to use magic to find the Sigils. The forced effort drained the captive Mages and made them horribly weak. I recruited as many able Mages and non-Mages as I could to stop Duroc. Naturally, I did not know what he had done to warrant the search for the Sigils, but his methods for finding them were abhorrent.”

Gelvin scowled at the memory, but continued speaking in a moderate tone.

“When I learned that Maegella was heading to Rothezar, we managed to stop her before she reached the Hall. I tried to keep her away from the Resistance; I thought that keeping her away from Rothezar and anything to do with Duroc would protect her, but she insisted on joining. She wanted to help.” Gelvin shrugged as he gave a mirthless laugh. “I could not say no to her, unfortunately.”

Ford could not help smiling.

Wendy leaned forward. “Is that why you came to our dimension? To keep the Sigil away from Maegella?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied. “Before I left the Gray Guild, I discovered a Founder’s artefact, an astonishing device that allows you to travel to another dimension. It was rumored that the Founder of the Gray Guild used it to deliver her own sword Calesvol to another plane of existence, lending it to a troubled young king. I brought that device with me when we stormed Duroc’s Hall. But the night before the siege, while I spoke with Maegella, I had the vision again. This time, something else changed.”

And he stared at the projection, which changed again. Maegella looked just as she did in the present, her eyes and forehead glowing as she scowled at them. But this time, something else appeared; a gloved hand reached out to her and grasped her shoulder.

Dipper was heard counting under his breath. “That hand…it’s got six fingers!” he said loudly.

Stan looked at Ford. His twin was staring at the projection in shock. Beside Ford, Gelvin was looking at him with a small smile.

“That vision never changed for thirteen years. I am very glad that Maegella found you, Stanford.”

Ford was not sure how to answer that.

“I have returned, Maester Gelvin,” Sandri announced behind them. He and Sofi stepped forward, looking at the Maester in concern. “Would you like to retire to…?”

“I have told you, Sandri,” Gelvin interrupted firmly as he waved a hand over the orb, dissipating the projection and returning it to its clear state. “I will stay here and keep watch with you.” He pocketed the orb and looked beside him. “But the young ones will need their rest,” he commented when he spotted Dipper yawning.

“He’s right, kids,” said Ford, butting in before Dipper and Mabel could protest. “Time for bed. It’s getting late.”
“Okay,” Dipper grumbled. He turned to Gelvin and asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to go to bed or something?”

“I am sure,” Gelvin replied, smiling. He ruffled Dipper’s hair and was surprised by a hug from Mabel.

“Please don’t wear yourself out, Maester-guy,” she whispered in his ear. “Maegella won’t like it.”

“I promise,” Gelvin chuckled as Mabel let him go. He got a pat on the shoulder from Ford and Stan passing by and a “G’night, dawg!” from Soos.

As they walked down to the first level and headed for the mouth of the cavern, Mabel said softly, “He did all this out of love.”

Ford was the only one to see Stan nod in agreement. “Can’t blame him for that.”

XXXXX

Author’s Note: Calesvol should be familiar to literature/history buffs. I wanted to add that as a sort of funny historical moment between dimensions.