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Jenny Everywhere Visits The Land

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The air shattered with a heart-stopping concussion. The grim broke into bits, became intense black flakes floating downward like a fall of snow. Memla raised her rukh to launch fire at the sky—

and without any warning, fuss, or special effects, they were not under the deadly fall anymore, but back in the mountains of the Glimmermere. A little way from where they found themselves, a perfectly ordinary-looking woman with short black hair and aviator goggles (pushed up on top of her head) was waving at them all.

“Hello there!” she shouted. “I’m sorry to have given you no warning. I just got here myself and I don’t know the big picture yet, but that looked like a really unpleasant way to die, I thought I’d better rescue you first and sort things out after. The name’s Jenny. Jenny Everywhere. Who are you folks?”

Brinn began to make introductions, but Memla interrupted: “I have no idea how you did that but the na-Mhoram will have noticed, and he may find us again by this—” the rukh vanished from her hands as she said it.

“I’ve put that where he will not find it, and you may have it back as soon as it’s safe,” Jenny said. “Is the na-Mhoram the evil sorcerer who was just trying to kill all of you with acid snow? I guess I don’t know they’re evil, but, people who use weapons like that are hardly ever the good side.”

Memla bit her lip. Avery spoke up. “Most everyone believes he is working against Lord Foul’s sunbane, and Memla here was a member of his Clave till just a few days ago.”

“Most everyone is deceived,” Covenant added.

“I take it this is why he was trying to kill you?” Jenny looked thoughtful. “In my experience, that sort of person does not look for his enemies under his own nose, which is why I brought us here. If he does find us, I can move us again.”

“How did you do that?” Memla demanded. “You must be from beyond, as Covenant and Avery are, or you would know of the na-Mhoram and the sunbane. I read no magic in you, and yet you have moved us scores of leagues in an instant, which is beyond any art I know.”

Jenny shook her head. “It is not magic as you would think of it, but I have the power of travel. I can go wherever I want, I can survive any conditions I find there, and I can always make myself understood. I can’t be kept out, and I can’t be kept in either. And I can transport others. That is all, and that is enough.”

“This power may have brought you through the Arch of Time,” Covenant interrupted, “but you won’t be able to get back out without breaking it.”

“Arch of Time? You think I would destroy the local continuum if I tried to leave? One moment…” She brought her goggles down over her eyes and stared through them at Covenant for nearly a full minute, then pushed them back up. “Aha. You were brought here by the local demiurge, so you’re subject to the local rules, which say nobody gets out until the end of the world—therefore, the only way out is to destroy the world. But my power comes from the metacontext. I don’t have to play by the local rules, and neither does anyone I bring here. In fact, they’d bring their home rules with them.” She pointed up at the angry red ring around the sun. “Explain what’s going on here to me, and I bet you I know people who can fix it. Permanently.”


The na-Mhoram did not appreciate having wasted a grim of unprecedented ferocity on a patch of savannah, his target having mysteriously vanished just before the grim fell. He didn’t like having absolutely nothing to go on when it came to finding Covenant and his merry band again, either. And the fact that some previously unknown species of magic had obviously been used was the icing on the cake. None of the Readers liked the thought of an adversary out there somewhere whose powers they could not even guess at. They were all before the Banefire this night, scrying for the adventurers, or at least for some sort of clue.

The rest of the Clave were doing their best to stay out of the way, and Eric na-Mhoram-wist had decided that his best bet was the night watch on the battlements above the inner gate. Unfortunately, that put him on the battlements. It was cold. It was dark. A fog had sprung up from somewhere; it didn’t come all the way up the wall, but he could see nothing in the city below, even right at the gate. And some uncertain time ago, out there in the murk beyond the wall, music had begun to play. He had no idea what sort of instrument might make such a sound, he could not recognize tune or harmony to it, but what it did convey was emotion, and the emotion it conveyed was despair. You are nothing, it said. You have done nothing worthy in your entire life. You will die without glory, and it will be as if you never lived.

If he had not suspected (correctly) that there was nowhere in Revelstone it could not be heard, Eric would never have stood in the face of that awful music. But he did stand, and his endurance was rewarded at last by the lightening of the sky. At the moment the sun peeked over the horizon, the horrible music drew one final wail and ceased: replaced with an even more terrifying silence. Something is about to happen, Eric thought. And we’re all going to die.

Something did happen then: a man burst through the upper surface of the fog that still hid the abandoned city from Eric. Well, probably a man. Men didn’t usually have dirt-red skin and fiery orange eyes. Men didn’t usually have enormous, bony, black and brown bat-wings with which to hover opposite the battlements. Men weren’t usually quite so huge, muscular, or dressed head to toe in black leather and metallic spikes, either, but that seemed a minor detail.

Eric might have fled at this point, but the flying man was so outlandish that he wasn’t sure he was really seeing him. The man, for his part, gave no sign of having seen the guards of Revelstone at all. Still hovering, he took an object Eric did not recognize from its sling on his back, and reslung it comfortably in front of him. In that position it looked almost like a guitar, only those didn’t usually come in black jagged shapes with black highlights and brilliant shiny wires instead of strings. And yet the man seemed about to strike a chord on the thing…

It was a guitar. It did not play the music of the night before; its notes held no despair at all. Instead they carried the rage of a man betrayed, the fire of a burning mountain, the deafening thunder of an avalanche. And this music was answered: first by a roar of many voices in the valley below, then by a descending howl from the sky above and behind.

Eric looked upward to see another thing he did not recognize. It was roughly the shape of a cucumber, seen end-on; but it was metallic, it was enormous, and it was on fire.

And it was falling out of the sky.

Directly at him.


Thomas Covenant still thought the army that Jenny had summoned from beyond looked ridiculous, but he had to admit they were effective. The zeppelin crash had broken the inner wall, and the little guys carrying enormous … speakers? … on their backs had widened the gap; the motorcyclists had raced through and blown away most of the guards in the entrance hall before they had a chance to react. Meanwhile, riflewomen riding in hot-air balloons had picked off all the remaining guards on the battlements. By the time any of the na-Mhoram-in had realized Revelstone was under attack, Jenny’s army controlled everything but the central Keep. To their credit, the Clave had managed to rally something of a defense at that point, but the army’s commanders’ bizarre musical magic (with a little help from the ten-foot-tall fire-breathing jaguars) had proved more than a match for everything blood could do. Even the na-Mhoram himself, in the end, was not immune to decapitation.

(Covenant thought he might have seen a shadowy face rise from Gibbon’s body and flee east toward Mount Thunder, but no one else had seen it, and when he mentioned it to Jenny, she pointed out that Lord Foul would undoubtedly find out what had just happened one way or another, and there wasn’t anything to be done about it.)

That same musical magic had also put out the Banefire. They’d tried starving it of fuel; they’d tried collapsing the roof on it; they’d tried allowing rain to pour through the hole for three days; all without apparent effect. But Ophelia had walked in there with nothing but her magic guitar and her equally magic voice and drowned the fire with grief, or anyway that was what it had sounded like from minimum safe distance. Unfortunately, this had not also ended the sunbane. Jenny had been discussing that problem with Memla, the commanders, and a “consultant” from what Jenny called “another sheaf,” for hours now. The fact that this “consultant” was a domestic cat (who could talk) did not seem to bother anyone in the slightest. After not very long, Covenant had given up trying to contribute to, or even understand, the conversation, and had gone for a walk.

“Why the long face, buddy?”

Covenant looked left: he’d been walking alongside a low wall, and another talking cat (this one had tiger stripes) was keeping pace with him on top of it.

“Are you another of Jenny’s ‘consultants’?”

“Yeah, me and Rhiow have worked together for years, but they don’t need me right now. Call me Urruah, don’t worry if you mangle it. …Question stands.”

Covenant checked his hands for injuries, twice. “This is the second time I’ve been here, did you know?”

“Avery mentioned it.”

“The first time, I was never sure it was real.”

Urruah made a brief rumbling noise. Covenant wondered if that was how cats laughed.

“This time around, there’s Avery, there’s you, there’s all these other people Jenny keeps bringing in—that seems to be an argument that it’s real, but…”

Urruah made the rumbling noise again. “Would your subconscious mind have invented Eddie Riggs?”

“Okay, you’ve got a point there.”

“That’s not what’s really bothering you, though, is it?”

“No, I brought it up to make the next bit make more sense.” Covenant checked his hands again. “Last time, I saved the Land from Foul, and when I got here this time, it needed to be done again.”

“Mrm.”

“But now Ms. Everywhere has taken the job completely over, I feel like I’ve been shut out of my own story, and I don’t even know if I ought to trust her to do it! I wouldn’t put it past Foul to set this all up to make it seem like I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.”

Urruah sat down on his haunches and rubbed his head with one paw. “Have you considered the possibility that it was never your story?”

“How do you mean?”

“We agree that this is real, yeah? Then you may have had to save the Land last time, and maybe the local demiurge threw you in again because hey, it worked last time, but none of that makes this your story, because this isn’t a story.”

Covenant looked at his shoes.

“Don’t beat yourself up for thinking it was,” Urruah said eventually. “I’ve never met an ehhif who didn’t have at least a little ego.”

“…What’s an eh-iff?”

Urruah gave a brief but enormous yawn. “That’s our word for humans.”

“Oh.”

“As for the other: Jenny has the power to let Foul out of his prison. It’d destroy the Land, but if she was the sort of person who would help him, why would she care?”

“She hasn’t proved she has that power,” Covenant said. “She can bring people in through the Arch of Time, but I haven’t seen her let anyone out.”

“Okay, suppose she doesn’t. Suppose, as you say, this is all one of Foul’s deceptions. The goal would be to trick you into using the wild magic to break the Arch, right?”

“Right.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier for Jenny to bring someone else from beyond who could also use the wild magic? Someone who could be tricked more easily, or someone who would do it willingly?”

Covenant checked his hands yet again. “I agree with your logic,” he said after a while, “and it’s a relief that no one is asking me to use power I can’t control anymore, but this still leaves me feeling, um, superfluous.”

Urruah stood back up and stretched. “I have to save my world at least once a month,” he said, “no exaggeration, it is my job. And here I am, in my copious free time, helping save someone else’s world. I know from having to help, so listen: You don’t have to help every single time. We’ve got this one. Relax and enjoy the show.”

Covenant had to chuckle.

“Speaking of—Rhiow tells me they figured out what to do,” Urruah said, “which means they need me again. Come, watch, I guarantee it’ll be worth seeing.”


It began, as most things involving Ironheade begin, with a rock concert. The army all pitched in to load an impossible amount of gear out of the back of their bus and set up a stage on the eastern shore of the Glimmermere. They left a broad space in front of it, with bleachers and “merch booths” beyond. Ophelia had Covenant, his friends, and the survivors of Revelstone sit in the front of the bleachers, “till your turn comes,” whatever that meant.

Avery had never been much of a metal fan, but Ironheade sure did put on a show. As the sun set, they laid down tunes she knew from the radio and others she didn’t, warming up the crowd. Wait, what crowd? she thought, and then she glanced behind her and saw that the main bleachers were completely full. Whaaat? Where’d all of them come from?

When she looked back at the stage, the lineup had changed. Eddie and Ophelia were still up front, but Memla had replaced Lita at the keyboard stack, and Vain, of all people (people?), was on the drums. And Jenny was standing off to one side, at another microphone, waiting while the musicians played one more.

Come gather ’round people, whereever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown…

If you’d asked her, Avery would’ve said there was no way you could do Bob Dylan metal, but in this time and place it was right. It wasn’t quite the prophetic ballad she knew it as, though, more of a statement of intent. The times WILL change, Ironheade was declaring, ’cos we’re gonna make them.

As the last few chords faded away, Jenny spoke up. “Good evening, Revelstone! I am Jenny who goes everywhere, and here on stage with me are our musicians and power supply; Ironheade, the second loudest band in the omniverse!”

The applause was plenty loud, but Avery thought the audience might be a little confused. That makes two of us.

“You’re probably wondering what’s going on,” Jenny continued, “where you are, how you got here, why you’re here. This is a dream, sort of, but things are going to be different when you wake up, and we want you to know what happened and why. You see, we’re here to lift the sunbane and free you from the Despiser for all time.”

The applause this time sounded a little skeptical.

“Of course you shouldn’t take my word for it, I’m just the emcee; let me introduce you to the folks doing the heavy lifting.” Spotlights above the stage illuminated the space left empty in front, where stood three domestic cats and a tall thin man. “The cats of Grand Central, and our special consultant for dimensional engineering, Edison Bell.”

No applause, just an awkward pause.

“… But we’re going to need help from you, all of you.” The spotlight shifted to light up a stand mike right in front of the center aisle. “Tell us your stories. Tell us the way the world has been, so that we can set it right.”

On cue, Ironheade kicked in again, a low steady beat with a bass line woven in and around, and the cats and Edison began to walk a circle around the open space. For some moments no one else moved, but then from one side of the bleachers rose a giant of a woman, ten feet tall if she was an inch, strode to the microphone and began to tell the tale of the lost army of her people, the long years since they were called across the sea to fight and die, and now herself sent to search for the truth of their legend and bring back their bones. When she was done, there was a respectful silence, and then another stranger came forward with another tale, and another, and another.

It really is a whole world, Avery thought. As vast and rich and strange as Earth—so much more than even Covenant has seen. And yet all of it touched by the malice of the Despiser. Story after story a tragedy, a stalemate, at best a victory for the moment. And throughout, the beat went on, and the cats and Edison kept walking, in and out and around. Pale light followed their path, tracing lines over the space before the stage, a pattern—a rose, Avery suddenly saw.

When the next tale came to an end, it was Covenant who stood, to tell the story of his first sojourn in the Land, in all its complexity—his small victories, his great errors, his uncertainties—and how, in the end, he had believed the Despiser truly beaten, only to return and find it all undone.

“Not all,” said Memla, from the stage. “Behold.” From the waters of the Glimmermere rose an arm, bearing a sword. Brinn was standing at the shore; he took the blade, turned, and raised it high. A cheer went up from the audience.

“One more story, then,” Memla continued, as she jumped off the stage and began to follow the cats in their march. “Mine. Hear how so much hope came undone; hear how we have endured…” Most of that story, Avery already knew, and instead of really listening, she watched the rose as the cats and Edison (and Memla, and now Brinn, stepping in behind as the troop came to the edge closest the lake) elaborated upon it. It seemed to have taken on depth, and more than depth; it was as if the world was drawn on the surface of the rose, rather than the rose drawn on the earth… now Brinn reached the center of the pattern, stopped, and laid the sword across the innermost petals.

The beat fell silent, the stage went dark. Brinn, Memla, and Edison stood inside the rose, facing outward, illumined only by its pink glow and the faint light of the stars. The cats, in that eerie light, seemed to have grown to the size of leopards; they continued their steady march, in and out and around.

This is a causal radiectomy and timestream graft,” said all three cats in unison. Surely it was not English they were speaking? Yet Avery thought she understood.

“Here is the world,” Memla responded.

Target for excision is the greatest common divisor of prior narrative.

“Here is the knife,” Brinn responded.

Prosthetic substructure to be supplied by graft stock.

“Here is the foundation,” Edison responded.

Execute.

Memla, Brinn, and Edison each took two long steps outward to the edge of the pattern, as behind them the rose unfolded into the third dimension, rising into the night, expanding into a cloud of petals. The sword of the lake was carried upward with it, and then fell into the cloud, spinning, severing each petal from something shadowy in the center. The shadow plummeted straight through the ground and vanished; the sword landed point-first, stuck, and grew. No longer a sword, but a tree of light, branches and twigs extending to meet every single petal—

And the light burst outward from the tree, washing out all, and nothing was the same anymore.


He awoke alone on a featureless black plain, below an equally featureless black sky. In fact, he wasn’t sure there was a plain, or a sky.

“There is nothing left in this continuum besides yourself,” said a voice from nowhere. “I am projecting my voice from outside.”

Now he saw nine figures, standing in a semicircle facing him. In the center were Covenant and Avery, and between them an unfamiliar woman with aviator goggles on top of her head. To their left stood an enormous black-haired man with an axe in one hand and something else strapped to his back; a much smaller woman, also black-haired, wearing an ankh pendant; and a tall thin man with brown hair and round spectacles. To their right were three cats the size of tigers, one all black, one spotted white and black, and one striped.

“These images, too, are projections,” continued the woman with the aviator goggles. “You probably don’t believe me, so why don’t you go ahead and attack us now so we can get that out of the way.”

He fired a blast of energy at her that would have levelled a city. It seemed to pass right through her and continue … only to strike himself, from behind. Naturally it did him no real damage, but it startled him enough to make him stumble and drop his hands. The woman with the aviator goggles didn’t even flinch.

“You’re the only thing that exists,” she said, “so anything you do, you do it to yourself.”

“How have you done this thing?” he demanded. “Where is my land?”

It was the black cat who responded, speaking just as clearly as any human. “We cut the world from around you,” it said, “and pasted it into his continuum.” It pointed with one forepaw at the man with the spectacles. “That’s a many-galaxies dimension with a real kitchen sink of physical principles, it can handle one more planet. The inhabitants of The Land will have some things to sort out with each other and their new neighbors, but they should be fine.”

“It was never your Land,” Covenant added. “And now it’s not your toy anymore, either.”

“We want to impress on you just how completely alone you are here,” said the woman wearing an ankh. “Once we leave, you will never have another visitor again. There will be no one to torment or manipulate. Nothing you can take your frustration out on. No hope of escape. Forever.”

“But as this fate is a bit extreme, even for a monster like yourself,” said the woman with the aviator goggles, “we will leave you one option. Edison?”

The man with the spectacles held up a plain white marble, then set it carefully on the lack-of-a-surface at his feet.

“This marble is now a second thing in this pocket dimension,” he said. “If you touch it or damage it—if you do anything to it but look at it—you will die.”

“You can have an eternity of isolation,” said the striped cat, “or you can have death, and whatever might lie beyond.”

“The decision is yours,” said the woman with the aviator goggles. “Goodbye.”

Lord Foul the Despiser beheld the white marble that was the only thing left to behold, and for the first time in his very long life, he knew himself to be defeated.