Chapter 13
Past and Memories

Vigau, Arielle, Bonaventure

Giger woke up to find himself in the chair in his study. His clothes were in disarray and he could feel a headache coming on. He could not remember how he got back home. He could not remember anything after the third glass of cognac.
Prissy was curled up on his lap and woke up the moment he started to move.
"Morning, Giger," she said lazily, "or whenever it is."
"How did I get back here?" he asked her.
"Yugo came and got you. His dad owns the tavern you were at."
"Yugo's dad owns half the town, Prissy," Giger replied. "Is she up?"
"Is who up?"
"You know who."
"I dunno," she said indifferently. "Ask Happy."
"I guess I will."
Prissy hopped off his lap as he stood up. His head was starting to hurt more now. He fumbled around the desk to find his glasses and put them on. He then straightened out his robes somewhat before heading upstairs.
Ramstein was on his perch in the living room. He gave Giger a critical look and said, "That was a shameful display, Master Falkner. You could well have found yourself in jail were it not for Master Duchamp."
"Save the lecture for later, Old Bird," Giger said wearily. "Or at least until after I have some coffee."
Coffee would have to wait, though. He needed to see if Gally had already woken up from the sleeping spell he cast on her. He went up to his room and knocked on the door.
"Happy?"
"Yes, Giger?" Happy replied, his voice muffled by the door.
"Is she awake?"
"Yes, she's awake."
"I'm coming in."
Giger opened the door and walked in. Gally was lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling. Apparently Happy had taken the liberty of undressing her down to her slip. Unlike some women who would pull up the sheet in a display of modesty while underdressed, Gally made no such move. This was a girl who had been standing naked on a street corner for over three hundred years, after all.
"How are you feeling?" Giger asked.
"What do you care?" Gally asked in turn, still looking up at the ceiling.
Apologizing did not come easily to any wizard, least of all Giger Taus, but this was a time that called for it more strongly than his reservations.
"Look," he said, "I'm sorry about how I acted yesterday. I was out of line."
Gally did not say anything at first, but after a moment, she started to sit up, drawing her legs in and curling up in a ball.
"I'm sorry too..." she said, not meeting his eyes.
"It had to be a real shock to your system," Giger said. "I should've given you some time to deal with it."
Gally was silent. Though he risked making things worse, he had to ask.
"Who was he?"
Tears began to glisten in Gally's eyes, but she wiped them away before they could fall.
"My boyfriend, Shuichi Nakahara," she replied in a voice scarcely above a whisper. "He was a musician, worked part-time at the coffee shop I'd go to on the way to work. That's how we met..."
"You remember then. How much?"
Gally shrugged.
"Everything. Most everything, anyway."
"Let's start with your real name."
"Narumi. Narumi Takahashi. My grandparents were among the first settlers. Planets like this, they'd drop a core unit to terraform and have robots start constructing the cities years before the first human would even set foot on the place. All part of the Emperor's glorious plan to spread civilization across the galaxy."
Giger understood little of what she said, but the implications were staggering.
"You mean there are other worlds?" he asked.
"Hundreds," Gally replied, "and that's just the Empire. Toss in the Alliance, the Federation and all the Unaligned Worlds and that's hundreds more. There was... there was a war going on, but none of the fighting ever got around here. Maybe... maybe that's what caused this whole Cataclysm thing."
A war between the great civilizations of antiquity where entire worlds were regarded as little more than Altamirans would think of single cities certainly seemed like a probable cause for a devastating event like the Cataclysm.
Giger had to know more.
"Who were you before the Cataclysm?"
"I worked in an office," Gally said, "a clerk, I guess you'd say. I processed financials for my company when I wasn't busy making coffee or dodging sexual harassment from my manager, some second cousin twice removed from a baron or something..."
Giger slumped against the nearest wall, scarcely believing the absurdity of it all. He did not know what he expected Gally to be, but he could not help being a little crestfallen at what an ordinary and unremarkable woman he had brought back from three hundred years in the past.
"A clerk..."
Gally picked up on his massive disappointment and said, "I'm sorry, Giger. I'm not a scientist or a technician or an Arcanist. I don't know anything that can help you do whatever it is you're trying to do."
Giger shook his head and gave a broken sort of chuckle.
"I might as well come clean about that," he said. "I suppose I owe you as much. You've probably guessed it by now, but Giger Taus isn't my real name. My real name is Barz Falkner. That's why Old Bird calls me 'Master Falkner' all the time. I was an apprentice of Mordekai Grummond's in the Phoenix Mages' Guild, but I wasn't the only one.
"Usually a master is only supposed to have one apprentice at the time, but Master Grummond was the heir to Belmond Weiss. If anyone could handle two apprentices, it was him."
"Her name was Kamellia Reis," he said wistfully. "I loved her from the moment I saw her. She loved me too, but only as a little brother." He sighed. "She didn't love me the way I wanted her to love me. No, she loved Master Grummond, but he couldn't accept her feelings, so she tried to prove herself worthy of his love. It didn't end well.
"The Vigau Incident. That was her. Something went wrong with the spell and it turned Kamellia into an Abomination. A lot of people died, but I wanted to save her. Master Grummond stopped me and then he stopped her, somehow. However he did it, it caused his essence to merge with hers. He was reborn as her child. Fate has a sick sense of humor.
"For whatever reason, Kamellia and Master Grummond's essence split off after they merged. There are now three Kamellias and two Master Grummonds. The problem is that there's only enough lifeforce for one person. I didn't know about this until one of the Master Grummonds contacted me. That's why I tested my theory about the statues actually being cursed Ancients and brought you back. It was just a test. I didn't know what I'd be getting. Now I find out that you don't really know anything that can help me or if any of the Lost Technology is even worth anything."
Giger sighed again. It felt strange. He had never confided in anyone in all his years of hiding. The only other people who knew were Mordekai and Kamellia and even though they knew, it was not because he admitted to them half of the things he just admitted to Gally. His burden was paradoxically lighter and heavier at the same time.
Looking away, he said grimly, "I may not be able to do anything but watch the woman I love die before her time. That's if the Witch-hunters don't catch me first."
"I'm sorry, Giger," Gally said. "You've been carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders all this time."
Giger shrugged.
"Doesn't give me the right to be an ass, I guess."
Gally managed a weak grin and replied, "No. No, it doesn't."
"I told you she was broken," Prissy said. Giger was not sure when she had gotten into the room. "Now what are we supposed to do?"
Giger shook his head.
"I don't know, Prissy. It's back to square one." He looked to Gally and said, "I suppose you can at least identify what you recognize from my collection. That can help narrow things down. If the Lost Technology itself is unusable, maybe we study it and use it as the model to make something ourselves."
"You mean back-engineer it?" Gally asked.
"Is that what you call it?"
"I'm not very good with tech stuff, though."
"We'll muddle our way through," Giger replied. "What choice do we have?"