Luca Dirac reached a spot near the center of a circle of old stone arches and stopped by a low bench. The circle was unfinished or damaged by age, some columns missing or perhaps never raised at all. A few feet behind him, silent, waited his wife. Kenley had said little on the way here although she never did say much now. Her hopeful plan had failed. The dragons didn’t retrieve Jay Lombardo, or any Lombardo, so here they were ready to try something that, yet again, only MIGHT work. He used it in the world they’d left and it was considered a fantasy there, so he thought there was a good chance it would work here.
Luca called out a name, drew a symbol on the air, and the air moved. Yellow light followed his hand, rising, falling. He had both misgivings and doubt. If he was able to succeed in calling from the place, what would he get? Helpful, hostile, simply detached?
The same light blinked by the nearest of the old columns, and a man appeared. He was elderly, wore a pair of black casual pants and a sports coat, a crew neck sweater, and boots, the style of clothing worn by a man of more than moderate means back in the Crossing. He smiled at them, and said, “Hello Luca, Kenley, it’s good to see both of you.”
Don Lombardo, Gabe’s father. He had done it.
“No more pleased than I am,” Luca responded. “Thank you for responding, I know you didn’t have to.”
There was a long quiet moment as Don turned his attention completely to Kenley. “Pirene?”
She touched her face, her eyes, in what might be a sorrowful gesture in someone else but it was simply an acknowledgement. Pirene’s attempt to force her through pain and fear to give them what they wanted had not given them what they wanted at all. Her eyesight was far more than adequate. Her personality had changed somewhat, but he could live with what they created. The love hadn’t changed. “Yes,” she said.
He nodded. He’d been a renowned surgeon but of course he’d encountered anything like Kenley.
“Don,” Luca said to him, “Kenley and I were working on that physics problem I discussed with you years ago, something I thought would create enough energy to fold back space and open dimensions. It works, but it’s not stable, I’m missing an element. I need…well I need a Lombardo, a living one.”
The old man shook his head although he looked sympathetic. “You can’t get home, can you. Why come to me for help?”
“Gabe. Kenley let him through. He’s here. I can use him if I can find him.”
“Gabe. Ah, I see. You mean if he’ll agree to let you use him even if you find him.” His relationship with his son had not been good but he knew him. “He wasn’t fond of the countryside. You’re wasting your time here.”
Luca shook his head. “No, that’s not what we’re doing. Gabe said would meet us at Twelfth Street, well meet Kenley since I wasn’t there. He was literally halfway through the gate when he said it so it was more than a casual ‘later’. What does that mean? Was that a real place? Is there something comparable here?”
Don shook his head. “It’s something he shared with Camilla when they were teens. I think it did start as a reference to a real place. If he gave it to you, he did it deliberately, so yes, there must be something comparable. The only one who would know that kind of detail would be Camilla herself.”
Luca thought about it. There was no way he could communicate with Camilla that directly, if at all, and even if he could he knew she probably wouldn’t explain a phrase she’d grown up using with Gabe. “Thanks, I can try to come up with something,” he said because he had to say something and wanted to sound grateful.
Lights began to sparkle. Luca was losing his hold on the man and had no idea if he could get him back or when or what it would take, and he suddenly had an idea. “Fiona can do what I just did. If she attempts to reach you the way I’ve done, can you reach back to her? Can I come with you? I could try to give her something to use, maybe she can talk to Camilla.”
He shrugged. “We could try.” He looked at Kenley again. “Kenley, you have more power now than Luca has. If we try this, you should be the one to come with me.”
“If a Lombardo is with her, if Jay is with her,” she said in a very still, steady voice,” I can communicate with him. Fiona may have him by now.”
The old man smiled. “There wouldn’t be much time, but I can see no harm in trying, not to me at any rate.”
A set of stone stairs abruptly appeared behind him, jammed between the columns and rising up into nowhere. He looked at it, didn’t seem surprised, and turned back to them with another smile. “Meet me here again tomorrow, same time works for me, and let’s see what we can accomplish.”
He looked at Kenley. She looked at him, not smiling but once again she was hopeful. Her attitude was better than his.
They saw him walk halfway up the stairs before they vanished. Luca hesitantly reached out for her hand, knowing she may refuse to touch him, a response he had come to learn was protective of him, not a rejection. This time she took his hand and laced her fingers through his.
He took another look around. He could see the dead here, some distant, some possibly dangerous. He tightened his grip on her hand. They’d return tomorrow. After that, who the hell knew.