Week 13, Parking the Floating City
We left our heroes with Tom holding the diadem segment. We had just landed the sultanate fleet of flying ships are were looking for a place to land the city. Directly under the city we have the under-city, which we don't want to squash. Nearby are some level plains, but there are a few herds of sheep and cows on them. Alag sets out to scare them off with illusory grass fires.
Meanwhile, Tom uses the diadem to start lowering the city V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y straight down. He plans to start moving it sideways before it's in danger of squashing the under-city.
Suddenly, something pulls at the wand on which the segment is mounted. The pull is toward the city. Pfusand helps Tom, but to no effect. Tom issues a direct order to the segment to stop moving. This kind a works, but Tom can't move the segment from its current position in the air car, and the car is headed slowly but inexorably toward the sinking city. And now Tom can't arrest the fall of the city.
Eventually, Tom tells the segment to ignore all orders but his. Around then, we lose a tower. A phoenix blossoms and starts toward the car. Tom tries to turn it off, but fails on the first try.
Lorelei tries to analyze the magic of the phoenix, to see if it is the same as that of the segment. (It is.) She finds that Tom did not take the amulet we found on the sultan and suggests that he order all power withdrawn from it.
Tom can't manage to control much of anything, though, and the phoenix is closing with the air car. Finally, just as Chris breaks the air car free and starts a frantic retreat, Tom manages to get a command in edgewise and the phoenix flickers out.
Obviously, what we have here is the previous owners of the wand trying to regain control of it, and/or trash us. They either don't know or don't care that we are currently controlling the descent of the city. Or maybe that's what makes them so frantic to regain the segment.
Next, Daewen spots an explosion somewhere on the city. Alag, who is out on the grav sled, takes a reconnaissance flight over the area and reports fires at the barge docks. He also spots a flying man leaving the city. He gives chase and shoots at him with some of his enchanted arrows. These either miss or are deflected by a magical shield that glows on strike. The flying man responds with fireballs. These temporarily blind Alag's infrared goggles. One of them trashes the grav sled and Alag, after a few parting shots, must give his attention to levitation, to save him and his craft.
At length, and after much ticklish motion vertically, then horizontally, then vertically again, Tom lands the city. We lose another minaret. Then he withdraws the lines of power from the city. Many towers come crashing down, too fast for Tom to save. Oops. (Tom's from a place with shreds of hi-tech and a variable gravity. It never occurred to him that a structure might need magic to keep it up, just because it was thin and delicate. Oh well...)
We pick up Alag and head back for New Detroit and the valley of the Soa. Cantrel is disgruntled because "Alag trashed his [Cantrel's] grav sled." It does not gruntle him to reflect that he was the one who told Alag to take it.
Tom, meanwhile, still has the segment. And our next problem is how to "land" the world -- arrange things so that we can leave with the segment and not destroy the whole place. Tom decides that, first, he's like to know more about how the place is put together.
After some experimentation, he gets a "satellite view" of the world to appear outside the starboard window. It appears to be a disc with foggy edges.
Next, he tries to "scry" in Deryni fashion and asks the segment for a short history of this world. It is much as we suspected. The segment was discovered by an African witch doctor in the 15th century, on Earth. He used it to (1) create this world, (2) open a gate into it, and (3) get himself sucked in through it. He found himself in the valley, which was probably all there was to that world just then. He brought the city of the Soa in with him. Time passed. He ruled for some time, but for some reason wanted to leave the city. He then followed the river to the "edge of the world," and began exploring or unfolding or creating the world beyond the valley.
Tom thrashes around mentally and gets no impression that the segment can simply declare this world to be self-supporting and leave. Cantrel suggests that we shrink the world-disc down to pizza size and take it with us. This, too, seems impossible; the door would be too large in relation to the total size of local space.
What IS the size of local space? Tom wonders. Let's look at this world-disc from the side instead of above. He shifts the camera angle to a position two world-diameters to the west.
This world rides on the back of a giant turtle. The turtle is in a vast, misty sea.
Damn. Not that we are exactly surprised. If this was created by the imagination of a stoneager, after all... We resume speculating. Ways of securing the world:
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.