02 – Who am I?
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Where am I?

Wasn’t I just waiting for the train? This is neither a train nor a station. Was that just a dream and I woke up just now in my dark room? It’s warm and dark, so that checks out.

Is it time to get up? Wait where is my alarm. Did I leave it on the desk? Again? And my phone, too? Wait where is my nightstand?

Well I’m hungry, time to get up! However late it actually is.

‘Bonk’

That was unexpected. A wall where there was none before, curios. Where is the light switch? I can’t see shit. The layout of this house is engraved in my brain so that I can walk through it without having to open my eyes.

WHERE AM I?

Can’t there be some light?

A floating light turned on in the middle of the room.

Well this is A bedroom, just not MY bedroom. Or is it? It is familiar, I’ve slept here before, there is my wardrobe – wasn’t my wardrobe in another room? And my desk is gone. No that is next door in my office. I have an office?

I have … two memories? That’s not how this works.

At this point I’m not even sure who I am anymore. What! Who am I? I am a professor at Oxon university in Magic Theo, no, no, no I’m enrolled as an undergraduate physics student. And in the top ten of our year! Not that that means much considering we are not even 40 people.

Waitwaitwait! Magic? Well you could count quantum physics as magic. That’s not the point here! Last time I woke up there was no magic. I should not remember teaching theoretical magic at a university. That’s not how any of this works.

Let’s begin from the start again, with my name. I am – WHO AM I?

There are some letters addressed with my name in the office, right? Lemme look at them.

Just as messy as it should be. Tidying up is for people with no memory! Okay? Now where did I put my mail? Not here. Not here, and not here. Count me dumbfounded, my memory failed me. Yes, that seems to be the theme here. Come on! How does one even forget their name?

A telephone on the table rings.

“Hello?”

“Gabriella, sorry to wake you in the middle of the night, but you NEED to see this. NOW!”

An agitated woman called out to me. So, I’m Gabriella, huh? Nice name think I’ll keep it.

“No, don’t be sorry. I just woke up and wanted to grab a bite.”

“Did you forget dinner? Again! You will destroy yourself like that. Then get something behind your teeth and come to the lab, like an hour ago!”

“I’ll need some time to settle my thoughts right now. My mind sort of underwent a procedure of blending whilst I slept.”

“Do that on the way. The SFA just ticked out like crazy. See you in ten minutes.”

“Wait! Where is the lab?”

“What? You don’t know? – Whatever. Head left out of the door, down the road to the modern building on the right and there on the 1st floor to room 337. Goodbye.”

“Bye…”

Whoever that was seems to know me, talking to them could help. How do you talk through a slate? Wasn’t that a phone just now? That must be this magic thing I heard so much about. Well not heard, taught, apparently . Anyway, let’s hope there are some leftovers I can warm up left in the refrigerator.

After opening every single drawer in the Kitchen at least twice Gabriella became a bit gloomy, she did not find any leftovers. The bread she found would be fine with some butter and cheese out of the refrigerator hidden in plain sight (It looked exactly like any of the wooden drawers here).

Due to the urgency of the woman from earlier Gabriella decided to eat on the go. All the buildings around her looked like … old, like a historic core of a city. Some of the buildings even had the style of a gothic church. This made finding the “modern” building easy. It was not really modern, but more of an ugly block of concrete. Brutalism is not a pretty, at least according to Gabriella and a lot of people she knew.

Finding room 337 was more difficult, there were no convenient arrows pointing to which number-ranges were where.

“What took you so long? I thought I made it pretty clear that this is urgent!”

“Finding this grey building was easy, but this room is rather well hidden.”

“Huh? Whatever. Look at these recordings the SFA is spitting out since an hour ago! What do you make out of this?”

Gabriella looked at the meter-long strip of paper pushed in her hands, but instead of commenting on them she asked with a perplexed look: “But answer me a Question first: Who am I?” She received an equally confused “What?” in response.

“You are Gabriella Schmidt, renown far and wide for her breakthrough in the nature of the soul.”

“Okay.”

“What do you mean?”

“Ha Ha. That can’t be real.” With a frighted laugh Gabriella thought loudly “This is not my world, where I lived until I woke up just now. And yet I remember living here for my entire life.”

“What is that supposed to mean? This is not ‘your world’?”

“I mean I have two memories. The one of me, Gabriella Schmidt, and one of me from somewhere else, another reality.”

“Other reality? Didn’t you hold a sound speech two days ago, making a solid point against the existence of other realms? Are you sure that was not a dream?”

After a few seconds of blinking Gabriella responded: “Yes.”

“This must be related to what I saw tonight. If say hypothetically something big happened to your soul, then of course the SFA would go crazy.”

The SFA – Soul Field Accumulator, a machine made to detect and analyse souls. The first and as of yet the only one of its kind. Based on Gabriella’s very own works and meant to prove them. Thousands of eyes and ears were keenly looking out for news about whatever this device measured. After all the soul was and is the most enigmatic topic that any mage can (or can’t) imagine. All that was know at the start of the decade was that every living being had one and that it could unleash massively powerful magic. Well not really known, a lot of high-magicians didn’t believe in the existence of a soul. They said that feats attributed to the soul were just some form of wild magic in which users sacrificed their own bodies. Which would explain why there were, no known instances of anyone managing to focus it on something more constructive than “cause a lot of havoc in that general direction”. Most of those that pulled of “soul magic” died on the spot, which was probably good for them as the survivors were off worse. The only record of someone saying something afterwards described it as “having your entire body cut into pieces five times a second”. Due to this danger and fruitlessness of the effort only a handful of people dedicated themselves to the soul. Even beating necromancy out by a few orders of magnitudes in unpopularity.

“This means I gained – another soul?”

“Or fused with another. How am I supposed to know? Nothing like this has ever been thought about. Truly something out of context.”

“I think I need the context of sitting down.”

“But what do you think of the data?” Gabriella locked at the piece of paper still in her hands. It displayed a graph plotting something called “soul field gain” over a few hours. It seemed to be only background noise. Aside from one giant peak about 40 minutes old surrounded by some flicker.

According to Gabriella’s theory every soul created a field around it. The further away the weaker it became. Meaning that if a powerful being approached you could detect an increase of the soul field. Due to technical difficulties the SFA could only measure the change of the soul field, the soul field gain.

“To be sure that you are not only imagining things, what do you remember that you haven’t before?”

“I remember being a young student, 20 years of age, and a world without any magic”

“How are you supposed to live without magic?”

“It just – works? No dragons and the like existed, and the wildlife was generally less … ferocious.”

After locking at Elizabeth Drake’s face, whose name she finally remembered, Gabriella added: “And people didn’t have these long ears, their ears were round and pressed against their heads.”

“Never heard anything like that. And how did they go around in their everyday life, how did they cook their food, how did they lighten up their rooms at night?”

“They mastered the forces in a different way. They directed the force of fire from burning into a consistent motion using mechanical machines. And used other machines to turn this motion into lightning, electricity they called it. The energy of lightning is quite versatile as you know. Those people were even more creative in it’s application than anyone on this world.”

“Did the otherworldlers always knew how to utilize lightning to its full potential? That would be quite remarkable.”

“No. That only happened one, two? hundred years ago. Before that they made do with things like burning wood for heat and cooking, and generally had miserably lives by our standards.”

“Now I’m curious, but we got other things to worry about first.”

“Yes. Did any other devices report anything? Something not soul related?”

“Haven’t checked that. I did not dare to leave the SFA alone after it measured something so … large.”

“Then I will ring some assistants out of bed for that.”

“Do that.”

Grabbing the message slate off the table Gabriella caused quite a bit of grievance. Ahh, the sweet scent of authority.

“You gaining new memories through some sort of soul magic would be revolutionary. The soul hosting the mind would explain why only mindless zombies could be resurrected, until now.”

“Don’t give me any ideas.”

They were disrupted by a young man with a sore face knocking on the door. John did not exactly hide his anger about having been forced out of bed, but could not refuse his superior. “What for did you drag me out of my sweet sleep Mis Schmidt?”

“Please go around to the other labs and give us a record of their detectors. Anything out of the ordinary. Start with the lightning mages and report back to us after that.”

“That’s it? Running a marathon in the night, solely for some numbers. I’ll take Friday off for this!”

“Whatever just hurry!”

John’s irritation was eased a bit because he was able to get a day off. Having a full day more to prepare for his visiting mother wasn’t bad at all.

After not finding anything unusual and reporting that, John jumped straight back into bed. This little nightly adventure caused him to oversleep.

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