Yedi listened, his ears turned, indicating his full attention. "I always kept my promises to Grammy, even if she seemed a bit loony at times. I know she's dead, but today's my birthday and I promised her that if on my thirtieth birthday I wasn't married or an attorney, I'd do it. So that's it. No more discussion." She let the reins sag, and took the chain in her left hand, the talisman dancing in the bright sunlight.
"Clockwise forward, counter clockwise back, I just wish--" She flicked the inner scrolls with her fingernail sending it spinning. A gust of wind at her back caught her cowboy hat and sent it flying over Yedi's head. Yedi spooked, crow-hopped and spun. Trish grabbed at the reins and brought him up short.
"Easy, easy boy. It was just my hat. Look, there it is." Her hat balanced on its brim near the edge of the gulley, poised to continue its runaway flight.
Frustrated with yet another thing going amiss in her life, her favorite curse formed on her lips. She bit it back and dismounted, leading Yedi toward her hat. As she reached for it, another gust of wind carried it out and over the gulley. She watched as the hat flirted with the air currents before dropping to settle below her. Things didn't seem all that different. Maybe the talisman and its magical ability to transport her through time and space was all a fantastical and continual fantasy of Grammy's. Trish turned to remount.
"Well, I'm not walking down in there alone. You're coming with me. We'll have to find a way down, and I don't want to go to the bottom--"
Trish stopped. Her stomach bucked. Paralyzed, her hand rested on the saddle horn, her foot in the stirrup, her weight balanced across Yedi's back. The view from his back had changed. Open and groomed fields of crops no longer graced the valley floor as they had moments ago. Stands of trees filled most of the valley, dotted with the occasional brown of small buildings. There were no tractors, no cars or pick-ups traversing country roads. In fact, there weren't any roads.
Had Grammy been sane all along? Trish settled in the saddle and stared at the scene before her, her hat momentarily forgotten. Her mind raced through Grammy's stories. Stories of time travel, romance, and adventure. Wonderful stories of times long forgotten or romanticized by paperback novels and old movies. Stories of unbelievable characters in futuristic setting that put the biggest blockbusters to shame. But all of Grammy's stories had two things in common… Grammy and romance.
Trish grasped the chain about her neck, lifting it into the sunlight. The talisman remained as beautiful, but somehow not quite as alive. The reflected sunlight didn't dance, it merely reflected off the metallic surfaces. The crystal no longer glowed. What had Grammy said?
"My adventures were not always glamorous but they were always very real. Sometimes full of romance, other times deception and danger. I wasn't ever afraid at those dangerous times. I knew the talisman worked in a seven-day cycle. I just had to survive for seven days until the cycle began again. Of course there were times I didn't use the talisman, letting it lay dormant for sixty-three days and once even a year. But that year cost me. You must not abuse the talisman. If you do, it will have its revenge. And that, my dear is why I must have your promise…"