Two wizards and two soldiers appear in the desert, a few feet away from a tired slave caravan.
They nod at each other and disappear again.
"Yes in retrospect that would have been a better opener, I'm sorry, none of the four of us know things about local magic, that's going to be your niche, come hang out with us? What are you in the middle of here?"
"Escorting these people who got lost in a cave back to civilization."
"Are you necessary to the process, or do you want me to ask the guys who spooked you if they can help out with that, or what?"
"I'm not really essential but if your buddies want to shorten the hike for everybody else that sounds probably fine? I guess? I am new to this party and do not speak for it."
Hagan looks at Fazil, who isn't looking at him.
"- we could use a ride to Sothis," he says to the sand. "And we were going to give all of the slaves six hundred gold each in restitution, which I assume the crown'll cover as an apology for inconveniencing us."
"I have very little sense of the value of local currency because most of what I've been pricing is magic and my universe doesn't have any magic, but if you assume that your guess is better than mine! Can you guys give everybody here a ride to Sothis?" she asks the wizards.
"Is that okay?"
"Yeah, that's fine."
"Uh. Sorry about that?"
"Obviously not your fault," he says after a pause.
"I am so sorry. You don't look like any of the alternate universe versions of you so we couldn't recognize you through the scry. Though I don't know how much that would have helped."
"There are alternate universe versions of me, too? - are they cool?"
"I don't know much about the other ones but mine's, uh, a C-list action film lead if I assume you're the one with the similar name. You third in birth order?"
"Yes. What is an action film?"
"A movie is like a play but you... record it as though with a time-shifted scry you can reuse indefinitely, I guess? Action is the genre, he plays characters who get into a lot of fights."
He looks slightly disappointed. "Okay."
"Sorry. Aitim will be able to tell you more?"
"Us-type people and also pharaoh-type people are appearing. Aitim is the pharaoh-type person from my world. We didn't know each other before but I follow politics so I know some things about him and less about his family."
"I guess this doesn't sound likely to interfere with Belmarniss's plans."
"We have only speculative extrapolations about Belmarniss's plans."
"Yeah? Whaddaya got?"