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.With that and the energy he kept taking from me, he recovered quite a bit.And then, after you rescued us and he killed so many of the soldiers, he regained much of his mass.He is a strange and frightening man.”“Wow.”A disembodied voice suddenly fills the room.“Folding space in thirty seconds.” I look questioningly at William.“That means sit down or hold onto something, you’re about to feel sort of… well, weird.” I put down my grapes and make sure everything is swallowed properly.“Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Follllddddddiiiiiiiiinnnnnggg complete.”Whoa, what was that? For a few moments I felt like, well, like I was turned inside out, scrambled about a bit, then poured back into my skin? I swallow hard, just in case some of my meal hadn’t been entirely returned to my stomach.“Like I said, it feels weird.Finished eating for a while?”“Ah, yes, yes I think I’ll just let everything settle for a bit.”“Well then, care for a tour? This ship is fascinating!” Without waiting for a reply he jumps up like a child who’s just been offered a trip to a chocolate factory.“You’re going to love this!”His excitement, as usual, is contagious.My discomfort all but forgotten, I follow him out.He leads me deeper into the ship, while explaining the capabilities of this amazing vessel.“This ship is larger on the inside than the outside, and can take on different forms when needed.It can sail the seas, dive below them, fold space or, as we are now doing, cross deep space.”“But, if we just folded space, shouldn’t we be back home now?”“According to Gwenllian, you can’t fold space from just anywhere, at least not when you’re as far out as we were.You also can’t do it very close to Lumina – it’s too real, to fixed.”“William, just how far away were we?” His expression of mixed amusement and of being impressed sends a chill down my spine.“Pretty far out.Reality was only marginally stable there… you were deep in Chaos, nearly half way to what they call the Rimall.”“The Rimall?”“All I know is that it is just this side of the end of everything.“But then… how did you ever find us?”“That’s an interesting story, actually.You see, while we were out searching for you, we picked up a distress signal from Alma.I wasn’t very pleased with the detour, but as it happened, while we were rescuing her I felt, well, I felt your presence.I've always felt something I can't describe when you work your version of not-quite-sorcery, and soon after we landed it was like alarms going off in my head.I just knew you were in that castle.”“That’s almost too lucky to be believed.So Alma is on the ship as well?”“Yes, but you don’t want to see her now – trust me.” Just then, Gwenllian enters the room.“So, Shi'ahn, what do you think of my ship?”“It’s… amazing.It has so many functions, so many fascinating capabilities, and yet… it’s absolutely beautiful.”My words strike a favorable chord with her, she caresses a wall before responding.“Her name is Hiraeth.My father created her… he was, even for one of us, a prodigy.Not many have successfully created devices that can fold space – let alone all the other wonders of this ship.And yet, he also loved the simple life, he loved sailing.” I recognize the longing in her voice, she still misses him tremendously.“What happened to your father, Gwenllian?” She frowns.“He… disappeared.I have asked the Emperor, but he will not speak of it.They were close, you see, and Father was his heir.Maximus firmly believes that he will return, but he has been gone for a very long time, I fear I have lost hope.” There is a chiming alarm, and she says, “Excuse me, we will soon reach the transition point.We will be in Lumina within the hour.”William leads me out to the deck.“You're going to love this, Sis.”He's right, the night sky surrounds us – space.It still looks like a sailing ship, but I was right about the shielding around the ship, it's quite impressive.We seem to leave the majority of stars and planetary systems behind us, there is but one planet ahead – a water world.We approach it rather quickly.“This is going to be so cool!”He sounds excited, whereas I… prefer to fly dragons.Safe, dependable.Nearly indestructible.We plunge into the water – deeply.“That was amazing!”He sounds like the little boy I remember so well.I can almost hear him ask if we can do it again, but he restrains himself.I think, now that I know it's safe, I'll enjoy it much more the next time.I must admit that being underwater with the shielding around us is intriguing.There are some pretty large fish in these waters.We surface too quickly to properly enjoy the sights, and set sail for the Citadel.Chapter 8A Less Than Warm ReceptionImmediately upon our return, we are met by three separate escorts; one consists of medical personnel intent upon taking custody of Aurora.Novanus moves to go with them, but the second escort intervenes.“The rest of you are to be taken to the throne room immediately.”“She is my sister, and I will see that she is given proper care!”One of the medical staff steps forward, “Count Novanus, I understand your concern for her, but I assure you we will give her the best care possible.”“How can you when you don’t even know what is wrong with her?” He pauses, looking at the other escorts.“Alright, listen.She is in a coma that was brought about by an extremely powerful mental attack.She shielded two others from it, thus compounding it’s effect upon her; she has been in a coma ever since – I’d say three and a half to four days so far.Most of that occurred while she was imprisoned way out on the fringes of Chaos.I have done all I could for her in the short term, but she needs rest, nourishment and exposure to artifacts of power.The closer she is kept to the Spire, the faster she will recover.”“I understand, thank you for your assessment, Novanus.We will begin treatment immediately.” One of them taps a device on his wrist and they all disappear – I suppose it makes sense that they would have some way of reaching their medical facilities quickly.I return my attention to the rest of the group and notice another argument in progress.Alma sounds upset.“You don’t understand – she is extremely dangerous! I will not allow her out of my sight until I am certain she is safely detained.” She sounds as though set in stone… they will not win this argument with her.I see now why William encouraged me to steer clear of her earlier; she raises ‘angry’ to a new level.She takes hold of the floating pallet with the heavily chained occupant and gazes intently at the guards.They step closer to her and all disappear in sparkling light.The remaining escort looks at us expectantly.“Would you now please accompany us to his Imperial Majesty?”Novanus still sounds annoyed.“Oh please…” We are engulfed in sparkling light, and appear just inside the throne room doors.The guards' startled expressions almost make me laugh.The Emperor greets Novanus first, “Ah, Novanus, we launched our rescue operation just this morning, and already you are returned to us safe and sound.It appears that you hardly needed assistance.”“On the contrary, Your Majesty, in truth I nearly met my end this time, and I have many to thank for my life and freedom.Celeste and Shi'ahn rescued themselves and my sister from a crystal trap, and Gwenllian came for us after rescuing Alma from her abductor.”The Emperor looks surprised.“They escaped a crystal trap? How?” Novanus turns toward Celeste, who in turn looks to me.“Well, there wasn’t that much to it… after we puzzled it through.Celeste explained to me that we were more than data but less than mass [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]