A/N: Yay, I'm acheiving my goal for winter break! Wicked is Maguire's, Borrowing is Pratchett's. Beginning quote is from Wicked. Can anyone guess who the figure is?

"… an ancient manuscript of magic, generated in a world far away from this one. It was long thought to be merely legendary, or else destroyed in the dark onslaughts of the northern invaders. It had been removed from our world for safety by a wizard more capable than I." (pg 52)

A dark, hooded figure moved through the trees. Branches could be seen grasping at his cloak and then springing back, but not a sound was heard. It was a moonless night, but not cloudy, and starlight illuminated the figure's path.

Quite suddenly, the figure came to a stop. He was at the edge of the wood, which had remained as dense and tangled as the middle had been. In front of him was a vast lake, the opposite bank of which could not be seen. The sudden void in front of him cleaved the way for starlight to reveal his face.

It was old, was the first impression. Wrinkles and deep creases furrowed their way across it, deliberate as the furrows made by a plough. They cast eerie shadows, disturbing depth perception, even in light retaining the shroud of mystery. Except for on the nose. The nose had no wrinkles, though the skin hung off of it in a tired, wary sort of way. It was long and crooked at the end, shoving into prominence a single brown wart on the left side of the tip. His left, that is, an onlooker's right.

In comparison to the wart on his nose, the figure's eyes were set quite far back in his face. The cowl his them, but they seemed to glint of their own accord, surprising at first because of the low, lazily half-shut eyelids.

For a minute, a long minute, the figure stood there, completely still, in a state similar to that which in other worlds has been called borrowing, but is simply a calming, a slowing of the self, to listen, and gradually raise awareness in a slightly different path until perfectly in tune with the world. It's a very fragile balance, averaging the individual vibrations of essence with that of the world, but it can be learned, with much patience and practice. The figure was a master of it.

After this minute, the figure began to whisper, strange sounds, neither the common tongue of English, the ancient words of Latin, not the secretive Celtic speech. The sounds were so foreign, a listener would have thought them to be made up, nonsense.

But they were not. Slowly, the waters of the lake before the man began to boil, and then lethargically churn, reluctantly stirring itself like a witch's cauldron. Steam rose, hissing as it met the cool night air. Around and around it gushed, rapidly, picking up speed and force. At last, it achieved a remarkable resemblance to a tornado, or whirlpool, and the figure reached inside his clock, still whispering, though now with such force that he hissed and spit with the waters.

He pulled out a large leather volume with gold lettering on the deep purple cover. Silver edging on the fringes of the pages reflected the pale starlight, into the trees, now into the roaring lake. The figure opened it, and flipped through it quickly, stopping on a page with an unusual picture. There was a man, quite ordinary-looking, standing alone one minute, and then sort of stepping apart from himself the next, creating two identical men. The bearer of this strange book however, looked not at the diagram, but at the silver words accompanying it, with the air of a confident but cautious student checking a fact before an exam.

Satisfied, he closed the book, said a final few words, completing the unbroken stream he had uttered so far, closed his eyes, and imitated the diagram. In the hands of the figure that stepped forth from his body, he placed the book, and as he did so their eyes met and he gave a quick, reassuring nod. The second figure returned the nod, then sprinted to the edge of the swirling vortex and leapt into its very center, disappearing from sight.