The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 74: A Cavern, While Measureless to Man, Is Measured by Mannie
"The problem is to discover what's gone amiss with the Sky Islands," murmured Daëwen.
Mannie helpfully reminds her. "Chekhov's comment was that the interface was shrinking, and that the Sky Islands were drawn to it."
"So the geometry between the two is changing… The Spire Island is like the universe I grew up in, and that's very stable." Discussion continues. Daëwen consults with Toma, without being able to pinpoint the time at which the Islands started to fall, but it still seems to be when Alvarin closed Faerie. "So… Alvarin was making Faerie farther from Earth… Could that drive a wedge between these other two worlds? Yes, probably. All to control us, or spite us. So we have to chart that interface, and other phenomena…"
"Chekhov seems to sense the interface, so we can use him."
"We can start in the caves in the Islands. They're as close to the interface as we can get there. If we're to save the Sky Islands, we have to understand those things. We'll need the properly sized crew… We'll still have to do this before dinner. Right. Who do you folks think we should take?"
"Obviously Chekhov has to go," Bavör states. "But who else?"
"There are going to have to be future explorations. We need a ship that is amphibious."
"That's the Tindomë."
"I think you should sail out after dinner along the anomaly. Before dinner… the Tindomë has a small crew, although it certainly had a lot of passengers. We can use the entire original crew. What else do we need?"
"We need other instruments," insisted Eric.
"I'll spend some time making another Map of Here, and a few other things. Who else should come?"
"We should have someone from the Sky Islands, which means the Ambassador or Toma," says Bay. Mannie nods. "Toma knows the caves."
He continues. "Chekhov keeps complaining that he needs to be connected. He's a navigator, and he can't work without some linkages. At one point, the Captain used his telepathy to link Chekhov to my Second Sight. This was on our way back through the interface."
She nods, and keeps thinking out loud. "You should keep your eye out for Chris, Tom, Alag, Nick, or any of the girls. Fallataal might be useful; he has some navigation skills. I think Aldamir should come; he can take care of Chekhov."
She rummages around here and there in the crystal cave. "Here," she addresses Mandorak. "Here are some spoons and other surveying equipment. … You'll need some watches." She hands him two chronometers. "I haven't given you any recording instruments, have I?" She hands him… something.
Daëwen starts organizing the string of people for a witchwalk to the caves of the Sky Islands. Toma and Daëwen lead us off on a familiar-looking journey. This time it ends in a cave.
They are in a passage. Daëwen asks, "Who needs a source of light?" All the non-dwarves signal for a light. She passes out glowing balls of light. Eric has made his own, before the Lady could hand him one. We creep out into the open part of the cave. There is the underground lake we saw before.
Daëwen takes the surveying equipment back from Mannie. She instructs him and Bay in the use of these tools as she sets them up. "It would be good if someone would take Chekhov around this entire area, so that he can map it out, and note anything he can sense, such as the interface."
Eric volunteers, and walks off with the bust.
Daëwen shows the dwarves how she determines what continuum she is in; how to calibrate a chronometer, so that one face shows local time, and the other show personal time. She explains more about gravity, and keeps measuring. Eventually, she decides that she needs to do some work in the middle of the lake. Mandorak solidifies a tongue of water, and they walk out into the middle of the lake. "Yes, there are significant differences here," she says, then rises to the ceiling of the cave. "Can you follow me?"
"No," says Mannie. "But Bay can." Bay levitates up to join the Lady. They look down at Mannie.
"Oh, just a minute." She gestures, then tells Mannie to make one step up from the lake, then another, and so on. Mannie follows her instructions, and walks up this hypothetical circular staircase until he stands next to her again. "Would you like to be able to do that any time?"
"Pick two words."
"Very well. 'Plover' will turn your boots on. 'Egg' will turn them off, but in an intelligent fashion."
"Oh. Thank you." Mannie looks down at his magical climbing boots.
They examine the roof of the cave. There is a great mass of sky metal here. "Well, it looks like their theory is correct. This mass is at the center of the island. Now, what we need to do is record if there are any changes here. … Oh. I left the case down there."
Bavör levitates it up. She pulls out a small clock, peels back the cover of its sticky strip, and attaches it to the ceiling. "Now we can measure the changes over time.
"This is a very thin patch, and it's right over the Open Sea. The Open Sea is a very stable part of Chaos, and it borders on a great many places. They may be right."
"That Alvarin, in putting up his boundaries between the fay and mortal lands, may have leaked his effect right out to here. I'm afraid you people are going to have to measure this all the way around. It's not even clear whether the thinness is good or bad."
The idea that we are going to have to undo something Alvarin did is not a happy one.
"We are going to need to take more measurements. You people are going to have to sail around more."
"At least we know how to measure things now."
The Ambassador comes over. "Have you solved our problem yet?"
"No, but we are well on our way. It may still not be possible to save your Islands, but we will try." The Ambassador nods in understanding. They walk off together.
Fallataal asks the dwarves, "Do you understand this?" He gestures at the surveying equipment.
"Yes, once the Lady explained it to us," said Mannie.
Fallataal explains some things about the innate level of magicality of some worlds, and the nature of psi. He had just about finished imparting this information to the dwarves when we here a far-off noise. It is time to leave. We gather all our equipment, and Daëwen leads us out, and back to the Crystal Cave. So now, the Ambassador and Toma have joined Daëwen's conspiracy.
Updated: Aug 25, 2007
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.