The Shadow Wheel

Chapter One

"Welcome," the Archimago said, "to the future."

The Cabal—including John Dee, the leader, G.K. Chesteron, and Eli Whitney—were flummoxed by their surroundings.

The house they had inhabited was behind them, though it was in a rather conspicuous place. A swingset was right behind it, and they were in a park.

A man was approaching the house that John Dee has set up for the Cabal to meet. But he wasn't swearving around it.

"Stop!" yelled Smollett.

But the man did not stop. He kept on going, and walked through the house.

"Did you say something?" he asked Smollett.

"Fine weather, huh?"

"Hasn't rained since Ferbuary," said the man, looking up at the sky. Then he trotted off.

"Muggles can't see it," the Archimago said.

"What's a Muggle?" Whitney asked.

Instead of answering him, Telemachus said, "It cannot be seen by most people here. I have given it a protective aura that makes it invisible to an eye that doesn't need to see it. Echrroi and other shadowy beings can see it, and of course the members of the Cabal. But not others."

'

"Is this after the battle with the Caretaerds?" Smollett asked, looking around.

"In this future, there never was a War of the Caretakers," said the Archimago.

"Then why did you bring us here?" Dee asked.

"Because we ought to take on an apprentice of a current Carketer in this time period."

"Taking apprentices of Caretakers in the future is against the Cabal's policy."

"I think we all know," said Telemachus, "that I run the Cabal now."

"I should have gone with the Imago. Her shadow is corrupted."

"And my shadow is nonexistent. So you have to heed me. Lloigor are always subject to the Shadowless, you know."

"I know that you are making claims on an organaiztion formed by me."

"I make no arguments against your leadership abilities, Mr. Dee. But this is my tide now. I bear the armor of Tai'Shan. I fooled the Caretakers with my portrayal as their trusted Messenger, Dr. Raven. I rescued you from certain destruction by brining you into the future.

"Which is not a place we should be at all," Dee said.

"Would you have preferred to be in the past? Perhaps when Samaranth chooses to become a dragon?"

"Not that far back, no."

"This is the place to be. We must win over the Caretaker's apprentice I spoke of, or victory will not be ensured."

"If you please to tell us, who is the Caretaker whose apprentice we are taking?" Chesterton asked.

"Glad soemone's got sense, unlike Dee here." Telemachus scowled atnominal leader of the Cabal. "The Caretaker I speak of is called J.K. Rowling."

"Should that name mean something to me?" Chesteron asked.

"Not really. But her name means everything to people in the here and now, and in the far future too. In the futures where people have to remain as living books in order to keep stories alive, J.K. Rowling's are some of the most cherished. But at this time, she has only published four and there are seven to come in total. The fifth one is set to be published in fact, and few know why it took her three years to write when the previous four came out annually."

"And you know why it took her so long?"

"She was training her apprentice, whom we are going to convince to join the Cabal."

"And the apprentice is?"

"She is no one at this point in time. It is only 2003, after all. In a few years, though, most futures show that she will betray J.K. Rowling by writing a book that will exhibit the loss of the Archipelago."

"Wait, if the Archipelago is gone in this future, how are these writers still writing about it?"

"A Caretaker by the name of James A. Owen made it possible. He met with Shakespeare in Tamerlane House and they designed some holographic imagery to recreate the Archipelago. They cannot travel back in time, though, but they can visit the place. It gives them the sensation of having the Archipelago without it actually being there."

"But if we defeat the Caretakers back in the past…"

"Shakespeare will still be around. "

"If his portrait is stolen from Tamerlane before we lay waste to it."

"And what makes you think I'll allow yout o do that?" Telemachus asked, raising his eyebrow.

Chesterton backed away from him.

"What is the name of the apprentice?" John Dee asked.

"She's called by the name of—"

"Wait. There are no women in the Cabal," Dee said.

"You would have let the Imago in, and she's female," Telemachus said. "And anyway, I'm the one who says who joins the Cabal and who doesn't."

Dee had thought he had kept his plans for Rose from this boy, but apparently he was wrong.

"I ask you again, who is this apprentice?"

"Her name is Stephenie Meyer."

One of the members of the Cabal started. Telemachus noticed and strode over to him. "Is the name familiar to your ear, Smollett?"

"I have never heard it before."

Telemachus gave hima questioning look but walked on.

"Hey, where are you going?" Dee shouted after him.

"I have other matters to attend to. In an house I will return, and we will go convince Stephenie Meyer to join our cause."

"How dare you dictate to me!"

"I will do more than that, Mr. Dee. You know what you have done to Defoe. I would not hesitate about doing that to you."

Dee looked as if he could have punched Telemachus squarely in the jaw, but he held back. The Archimago went on his way.

Dee saw that Smollett had left too. When he got back, he would have word with him. He was certain that he had some dealings with Caketaker's apprentice from the future that he wasn't sharing with the others.