The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 54: Island in the Sky
Teller ignores the tiny object in the viewport. He is more concerned that
the Tindomë is not headed directly for Lanthil. Aldamir sits down next to
him, and asks him about Lanthil. The Marginalis waxes enthusiastic about
home, the Lightfall, the Lady... As they talk, the elf from Tighmark (and
the others in the room) watch the object out the window.
It doesn't look familiar to anyone. We slowly draw closer to it. It is not quite on our exact course, but remains a few points to starboard. It develops color, a bluish green on its top, and a grayish-brown, on the bottom.
Aldamir asks, "Was there any mention of strange objects around here?"
"There's supposed to be a floating island," says Eïr.
Eric whisks away to his quarters, and returns with a map. He unrolls it on the map table in the middle of the room. It is one of the named maps that we were advised can help its user in navigation. This map is titled Sky Island. Eric has the translated versions of the labels on the map. The map shows not only the large, main island, but also a few sketched-out, minor islands.
As we look from the map to the viewport, we can see that there are four objects out there, in just the same orientation as on the map. It is a helpful map.
Teller darts below decks to wake up Mandorak. "Come see, come see. There's an island floating in front of us. Chekhov is leading us there, but I don't want to go there. I want to go home. You've got to come see it." Mannie grudgingly wakes up, and trudges from his quarters, aft the engine room, and up to the Sea Bridge.
"What the heck is that?" asks the dwarf. No one bothers to answer; it's clearly an island floating in the sky, with greenery on the top, and its base tapering to a wispy point.
Mandorak flicks out one of the folding stools, and starts looking over the map. There is a river or stream marked as wending down the hill or mountain to a pond or lake. There are dwellings marked on the edge of the lake, and others marked on the far edge of the island.
Eïr mentions that the man who gave her the map said that the 'floating island' was a gateway to Other Places.
The whole ship jars. Mannie and Teller go sprawling. "Chekhov, what just happened?" the dwarf demands.
"There was a planar interface," reports Chekhov.
Eric opens our Map of Here. He can see the four islands from the other map, plus two more islands.
"Chekhov, are there any more interfaces here?" demands the dwarf.
"No, there is only the interface below us."
"So, we hit that interface."
"No, we hit nothing."
We decide to head towards the nearer dwellings on the island. We level out in flight. As we slowly approach the island, we can see a few birds flying around the island. Eventually, we can tell that they are large, soaring creatures. Once we are closer still, they resolve into flying boats, with masses of sail to the top and sides. In fact, the ships seem to be forming into a wedge of boats aimed towards us.
Mannie finally reduces the magnification on the viewport, so that we can see the entire area free of distortion. Even at this magnification, the island is looking larger and larger. There are clouds above the green areas, and a tip of naked rock beyond them. The ships are more definitely in a formation.
Eric's eye is drawn to a glint of light at the leading edge of the island. He points it out to the others. Mandorak can see multiple glitters of light. He doesn't feel entirely safe. Teller Anticipates that the glittery bits resolve into explosions from the mouths of large, brass cannon. One of them will pass over our vessel. He Anticipates the need to grab the table.
The entire ships goes Voom, da, va, voom! Everyone except Teller, gripping the table, and Sam, gripping the ladder to the bridge, goes flying. Briefly, it is black as night with stars above and a glassy plain below, then it is back to the normal, blue-grey world. It goes to the night-world again, then back to normal.
Mandorak directs the ship to sail up at an angle again.
"What was that?" asks Sam, still clinging to the banister.
"Don't know. Grabbed something," says Teller.
"I just came up to ask what we hit the first time. What was it?"
"Don't know. Chekhov says we didn't hit anything."
Mannie addresses the navigation system again. "Chekhov, did we pass a boundary?"
"No, that was an anomaly."
"Can that anomaly take us to Lanthil?"
"Where did it go?"
"It did not seem to be localized, spatially. It had duration but not location."
Teller continues to explain to Sam what he just experienced. "There was night, then light, then night, then light again."
Two of the airships have turned away from us and back towards the island. We can now see that there's a grey edge to the island, at what should be the shoreline. Aldamir remarks, "The ships seem more liable to shoot cannonballs that blaster bolts."
"Blaster bolts?" asks Mannie.
"Bolts of lightning." Aldamir thinks about those flashes of night. "Chekhov, is it two days later than it was a few minutes ago?"
"Was there a temporal anomaly?"
Teller continues with the explanation. "There was a cannonball. It was a big shiny that went 'whoomp'!"
Sam protested. "I didn't see that."
"I saw it inside my head. So I knew to hold on."
Mandorak joins the conversation. "Next time, could you tell us all?"
"I did not think you would believe me."
"If you don't warn us, we won't be around to not-believe you," he points out. He returns his attention to the viewport. The four ships are now in an open tetrahedral formation. There are blue flags or pennants on the ships. Well, since the signature flag is a plain light blue, it is neither a Jolly Roger nor serpents. Mannie re-zooms the viewport. The grey line resolves into a wall. The glinting things are in a line, and glint from time to time, rather than constantly.
"How could you see the cannon?" asks the dwarf.
Aldamir chides him. "Sir, we are in a floating ship facing four other floating ships near a floating island. I put it to you that a few visions here and there are not remarkable."
It is not the visions that are bothering him. Mannie sends out his Viewpoint towards the ships. Each ship looks like a normal, wooden sailing ship, with lots of canvas, and sailors in the ratlines, but with those extra lanteen sails on the booms out to the sides. There are a lot on cannon on the ships, with clusters of men around each one. And they are brass.
The crew is not, precisely, in uniform, but they are dressed roughly alike. The sailors are mostly male, but there are some females.
Mandorak reports all this back to every one on the Sea Bridge. Aldamir remarks that, given the gender split, and the flight of the island, these people are liable to be elves.
The dwarf can see that spyglasses are now appearing among the sailors that he's looking at. Teller asks Eric, "How good are your paper airplanes?"
"They're not that good at this distance."
Eïr returns (When did she go?) with a stick with a white piece of cloth tied to it. Aldamir suggests writing "friend" on it in Quenya. Eric offers to make a large piece of paper for it. Eïr ignores them, and goes outside to wave her pillowcase. Meanwhile, Mannie feels a bit queasy, so he drops his Viewpoint, and draws psi points from his psi battery.
We continue to rise, and continue to draw closer. Mannie returns to his Second Sight. We can tell that, like us, the four ships have a Flight Bridge below the 'waterline.' Almost everyone facing us has a spyglass. One exception is a young girl talking animatedly to a tall, dark woman. The woman turns to the man next to her, and says something to him. At this point, Mandorak actives the Audio on his Second Sight. "Sofa, no, come back here!" cries the woman to the girl who is (now) clearly her daughter. The daughter runs across the bridge, across the deck, snatches up something, and continues up to the prow, where she waves a standard signal flag.
The others continue muttering, in some variety of Elvish. "They're speaking Elvish, and they're signaling to us."
The tall man has stepped away from Mother.
Eïr can barely see the figure at the bowsprit with the blue flag, but she waves her broomstick vigorously. The girl also waves with enthusiasm.
"Captain, get somebody out there," says the tall woman. She points towards her daughter.
The captain calls out, in another dialect of Elvish. A couple of sailors head forward in response.
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.