Chapter 3, by Christina Lea
thing," Sash the Green said, squinting disdainfully at the
revealed Void-craft, "This thing is supposed to fly? Is there a
giant athlete around here somewhere who's going to hurl it over the
horizon for us?"
had to admit, the Void ship did look a lot like a discus. It
appeared to be made of brass and tin, roughly the diameter of a small
tavern, and shaped like two dinner plates pressed together with the
convex sides facing outward. The large, bubble-like windows were
is that amber?" Mousehide asked, pointing exactly where Cutter
had been looking.
dwarf engineer smiled, "After a fashion," he said, puffing
just a little bit with pride. "You might call it 'pre-amber'.
Our alchemists concocted the stuff by cooking moisture out of the sap
of carefully bred desert trees. The Void is insidious, and can claw
its way through the tiniest crack. Our soft amber helps seal it out.
The bound elementals circulate in the narrow fringes of the craft,
and the crew sits comfortably-"
snorted, but allowed Arkimedes to finish.
the central structure, where there are also food stores and a crystal
where the lead spirit is bound. You'll note also that the center is
designed to remain still while the outer rims spin."
Mousehide muttered, "which begs the question of just how sure
the tinkerers really are about this schedule we've been memorizing."
They had been through days of training since they agreed to go to
the Looking Glass. They had been taught what not to do in the Void,
and how to command the elementals that would be keeping them alive
there. The trip, according to everything they had been told, would
take approximately three of the four quarters of the day, although
the sun would become an unreliable timekeeper as they crossed the
horizon. Cutter noticed that Nemo had overheard Mouse's comment and
was frowning ruefully. Sash, despite her initial disdain, was
eagerly examining the Void craft.
hours that followed were a sheen of moisture sizzling away from a hot
rock. Strapped into the seats at the center of the craft, they
waited while spirits of air and fire screamed around the edges of the
saucer. Finally, the world of Elder itself rejected them, sending a
great cyclonic tentacle of wind down to suck them into the Void.
Cutter noticed that Sash was frowning in concentration, and wondered
if she was communing with the elemental spirits. The Void ship
tumbled end over end.
Green touched the central crystal and said something like,
"Shriftspinth oarsreach." The Void ship lurched
hard to one side, then settled into a fairly steady course, skipping
sometimes like a flat rock on water, but otherwise staying smooth.
The elementals hummed quietly in the periphery.
done, sorceress," Nemo said. "I've seen the wizards who
conjured those spirits handle them less skillfully."
snorted, "Hardly surprising with that lot," but couldn't
seem to contain a satisfied smile.
of gold shot through the roof, then the floor, and was gone. Cutter
unbuckled himself from his chair and jumped up. "Did you see
looks all around. Everyone got up. Mousehide peered out one of the
round windows, "They did say there could be visual illusions,
Cut. Wow, look at this!"
edge of the saucer, they could see part of a great bluish sphere,
with large greenish-brown patches that had to be the continents of
the wolrd of Elder. Cutter tried to place what he was looking at,
and found one that looked like it could be Athebes, although it was
oddly misshapen compared to the maps he had seen. Clouds scudded
over the globe at various points, sometimes in lumpy patches,
sometimes in spirals. Where the world curved out of sight, there was
a strange distortion. It was hard to look at, but it reminded Cutter
of tiny golden fish darting back and forth in the light.
looked away, blinking. Three golden streaks shot through the floor
into the central crystal. "There! Look at the crystal!"
The three golden shapes were pulsing inside the crystal, and dark
veiny patches were spreading out from each.
I don't like that," Mousehide said.
the only one who hadn't run to the crystal, said, "I like this
even less." He was looking through one of the portals to the
spinning periphery of the ship, where several more golden flecks were
whirling around them, each with its own black veins.
below!" Sash hissed, "They're infecting the elementals!"
NEXT INSTALLMENT OF VOIDFARERS WILL BE UP IN DECEMBER