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The Logs of the TDFS Tindome

Chapter 71: Lunch in the Crystal Cave

by Ann Broomhead

New Blood Logs:

Tom Noon's Tale


In Chaos

Voyages of the Nones



Mother Goose Chase

Ancient Oz


Adventures of the Munch

Lanthil & Beyond

Mandorak starts.  “We went slowly through the interface, while Chekhov watched and navigated.  We only intended to approach it, but we found ourselves passing through it, and the ship, well, sort of, bent.  This is not good for a wooden ship.  It took us four days to repair it.”

The captan adds, “Teller was very unhappy with that place, and remained hidden there.  He said it wasn’t right.”

“We think that the islands are falling because that interface place is getting smaller, or some such.  Also, there was that crystal entity.  It looked… like this.”  Using ectoplastics, Mannie shapes an excellent model of the sparkling thing.

Daëwen speculates aloud, “So their islands started falling about the same time that Alvarin closed the Summerlands.”

“Well,” Bavor points out, “that may not be true.  To us, it seemed that we were gone for only several weeks.  Although our time in Darkholme seemed to stretch on forever.”  At Daëwen’s request, Bay describes the pocket universe on the other side of the interface.  “When we came through, the sky was black, with bright, non-twinkling stars.  There did not seem to be much atmosphere; we had to improve the seals.  There was air as we got closer to the island.  That had a flat beach with a spire rising from it.  Then the gravity pointed down.  But when we tried to go under it, our orientation flipped.  This alternate side had a stubbier spire, but was otherwise just the same.”

Mandorak suggests that the Lady could take the information about the floating islands directly from his mind.  She agreed, explaining that, while Chekhov has a great deal of information, he has not been calibrated recently, which throws things off.  So, in addition to Eric’s tokens, and Eïr’s fruits and nuts, she would appreciate his mental information.  Daëwen then explains that she is not telepathic, and will require the services of a strong telepath.

We volunteer the captain, who obligingly connects between the dwarf and the ever-quiet Daëwen.  He remembers the pocket universe for her.  “So, it’s like something in outer space, with a rather odd, planar gravity source.  And the lighting, you say?”

“Was strange.  It was good enough to read by.  We could see at least half way across the island,” remembered Finwë.  “The light was even, but dim.  It was like the waning light of Lanthil.”

Daëwen remarks, “Chekhov says that it’s near the continua of the Helenes.”  This confuses everyone, especially Bavor.  Each continuum with a Helene would have an Earth, and they have the same natural laws, so how could this pocket realm be nearer Helene?  Daëwen explains, “The star patterns in Mr. Craggenhilt’s memory, are the same as those near Helene, but reversed.”

We think about the gravity and decide that, although there was none as we first crossed the interface, it was pretty much normal where we walked.  Daëwen laments that memories of a non-technological person are still missing something.  The gravity definitely drops off faster than the square of the distance.  Bavor, whom she remembers as having worked in Manufacturing for Eldacur Technologies, then volunteers his memories.  She uses them to identify the Milky Way, and some nebulae that are near Helene.  She confirms his claim that the gravity was constant everywhere on the island, and was straight up and down.

“So, a location in interstellar space, with this strange gravity…” she murmurs.

Mannie volunteers, “It seemed a very vibe-y place to me.”

She nods, and mentally adds that information to her mental construct.  “Places without much life are liable to be low on magic.  Your place, however, seems high on magic, which is odd.”

Mannie points out that the island has a lot of sky-silver and sky-gold.  She agrees, but will not let us commit to that as a source instead of an effect.

“We need to study the magic, the manna, and … the shape of space in that area. Oh, dear.”  Having framed the problem of the pocket universe, Daëwen passes on to the problem of the falling islands.  Finwë describes our interactions with the Sky Islanders, and then our reaction to the Darkholmers.  She decides that she must talk with the Ambassador, and so excuses herself, after pointing out the kitchen and pantries.

We drift into the kitchen, and start experimenting with the telepathic labels on the foods, and the preservation seals, and selecting some favorite foods for actual consumption.  Sam happily gathers raw materials, and masters the magical water faucet and stove, to produce lamb stew.  Toma joins in, and starts producing something with a spicy aroma.  Sam tastes it, and proclaims it “an Italian curry.”

Daëwen and Ambassador Rhanna stroll in, still chatting amiably.  The two dwarves set up a trestle table, and arrange enough chairs around it.  Daëwen announces that the treaty between Lanthil and the Sky Islands should not be a difficulty, and that therefore we could concentrate on examining the pocket universe.  “We should be able to do this before dinner.”

Finwë offers the Tindomë, of course.  Daëwen is dubious.  She asks if we ever left our ship unattended.  We admit that we left it unattended (but locked) when we made our first attach on the pirate island, but not since then.  “But the passage through the interface seriously warped the ships and damaged the engines, so we’d have noticed the change if we borrowed the ship from then.”  Ah.  So when can we borrow the ship from ourselves?  We can’t.  We need another Tindomë-class ship.

“Is there one?” 

“There will be.  We were successful.”  Mandorak thinks.  “There were two hulls well under way when we left, so they’ve advanced by a year since then.”

“Yes, yes.  That will do it.  Fallataal was on the verge of taking his ship out for a shakedown cruise.  We can go down there, under cover, and sail with him to New Dawn, and finish off one of those ships.”

The Ambassador explains how we can approach the anomaly without having to interact with the ships of the Sky Islands.  We consider leaving her and Toma here while we work at the shipyards, since they’re secret, then fold back to here later today.  Then we realize that we don’t have to sail to the Spire Island, we can walk.

“I do have some equipment here, but it’s not enough for everyone.  There is enough breathing apparatus, as long as things don’t get...” She instructs Fallataal on what she needs him to do, then goes off to instruct his men and Sam on the operation of the crystal cave.  She comes back, and shows us the weapons cabinets, the tools cabinets, the instrument caches, et cetera.  We start stocking up, including looped belts, knapsacks, and the like.  Finwë finds an elven bow to enter into communion with, and Bavor finds a stout little war hammer.  He and Mandorak also stock up on instruments, climbing gear, digging gear, and a telescope.  We all get handed emergency breathing apparatus, and half of us are given rescue bubbles.  Since Finwë is about the same size as Daëwen, he and she both put on skinsuits.

We stock up on preserved food, and snatch up the ever-filled bottles of water.  There are not enough for everyone, but what does that matter?  Eïr asks about medical supplies.  Daëwen provides some items, but especially two books of instructions that are designed for people who don’t read Elvish.  She inquires about funds and trade goods.  Well, Finwë has the token that will open those cabinets.  It’s trivial for Eïr to borrow it, and open the cabinet with enticing little bags of gold, silver, and gems.  Soon an appropriate number of assorted bags are in the pockets of her cloak, and the token is back in Finwë’s possession.

Updated: Aug 25, 2007
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.

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