Chrono Shift Chapter 7
Resurrection And Revelation
Well, I hate to say it, but it looks like we lost another one. King Zeal is really gonna fry us now, unless we can get rid of him and no one notices.
When was the last time we were lucky enough to get away with anything? They keep a tighter net on this place than they do on the private quarters up in the palace.
How would you know, anyway? Have you ever actually been up to Zeal? I wouldnt just make assumptions on that place based on old rumors and stories. We dont know a whole lot about them, and most of it comes from tales that are God knows how old. Its not like their eager to talk when they come down here, either.
Actually, believe it or not, I have been up to the island once.
Yeah, sure. How the hell did you manage to pull that off?
It was about a year ago, not long before that first kid got killed down here. They heard about some power source coming off the Ridge Mountain to the northeast, and they pulled me up for interrogation. Of course I didnt know a thing about it, but they asked me questions anyway. It couldnt have been more than a couple weeks after that they actually came down, which was when that young man kicked the bucket.
You know what I think the strangest part is? They found him in the exact same spot they found that boy last year.
Augur slowly opened his bleary eyes, and it took awhile to adjust to the dark setting. He sat up in due time, stretching out all the muscles in his arms and legs and yawning heavily, although rather silently. He didnt know how long he had slept for, but he still felt tired, and his mind stayed fogged up from the extensive night. From behind him he heard a stranger talking to another person, apparently not paying any attention to him. Augur turned to look at them.
Wha AAUURRHH, Augur became startled at the sight of two Earthbound men with their backs turned to them. The men immediately swiveled around at the sound of the scream, and seemed surprised to see him as well, because they both shrieked in terror while their eyes grew wider and wider.
Back back off, demon! The first one yelled at the top of his lungs.
Relax, Ter, the second on said to the first man, after he had finished his own squealing. Then, turning to Augur, said, Son, we thought you were a dead body. We couldnt find a pulse and you werent breathing. This is very strange indeed.
Augur, now wide awake, replied, Yeah, Im a little surprised to be here as well. He couldnt seem to recall what had recently happened, and he kept having these strange thoughts about what seemed to be a dream, but he couldnt get the deliberations to fit together.
Well, sorry for being so rude, but I think you can understand that we were pretty surprised when you woke up. My name is Casper, and hes Terrance, but we always call him Ter. Im the chief of the Earthbound village, although Ive only recently acquired this position. I welcome you to what little we have here, and I hope you can enjoy yourself until you get back home.
Thanks, Augur tried his best to sound proper, not a strong suit of his. My name is Augur, and Im pleased to meet you.
After he shook hands with both the Earthbounds, they offered him something to eat, but Augur declined. He still could not remember what had happened to him, and trying to recover the lost information of the holes in his memory strained him. Casper interjected his reflections, I dont know how you managed to get here, the last mission Zeal sent down here had to be at least six months ago, and we havent seen anyone from the island since. They said something about extracting more power from Lavos, although I dont know why they need to.
The word Lavos embedded itself into Augurs mind, and slowly a few of the experiences began to return to him. Thoughts of the malevolent parasite stabbed deeper into his head, and he began to receive a clearer understanding of what had happened to him, although it was still vague and cloudy. Realizing it would prove fruitless to search for information in events he couldnt remember, he began to go over other affairs that had recently occurred. Lets see here Augur scratched his head as he spoke silently, Port Dalton, Seraph, Candor Ah, thats right! I took a trip to the Earthbound Caves, but this Casper fellow wasnt the chief, and I remember
Without warning all the memories came flooding back to him, and each wave drown him a little more. Now everything became clear, and he remembered his death and resurrection, along with all the events in the Valley of the Lost Souls and with the Sanctified Deity. So, it appeared that he had accomplished his mission through the most painstaking of hardships, and at least for now, all he would have to do would be to return home. Soon he would be able to see his dear mother again, along with Seraph and Candor. Although something seemed very strange about some of the musings the two Earthbounds were chatting about, Augur decided that he did not need to concern himself with them.
Augur tried to stand up, but fell to the ground under his own weight. Alright, maybe I need to work on this a little bit. I guess these legs have never been used before. Maybe a little supplemental magic will do the trick. Augur had been itching to test out his magic skills again after such a long drought in usage, but the spell to strengthen his leg didnt do much. Well, supplements had never been his thing anyway. He would try out his offensive powers later, but he wouldnt dare try it with the two cavemen in the room.
So, the one named Ter started, Do you remember anything about what happened?
Lying, Augur responded, No, not a single thing. I have a history of strange lapses of amnesia. It sounded real corny, and Augur did not think that they had believed him, but neither of the men questioned the remark. The only reason Augur lied in the first place was that they wouldnt have believed the truth, either, and he knew that he could not reveal the future to anyone.
A sharp knocking on the door of the dirt room startled everyone, and Casper almost fell off his chair. Upon recovering, he told the informant to enter. It turned out to be a woman in her early twenties, although her face showed signs of stress that should not have been dealt with at her young age. Casper, Sir, Im sorry to interrupt you, but some Enlightened Ones have arrived unannounced. We are not sure at this point, but we believe that Melchior is with them.
Thank you. Tell them that I shall be out to meet with them shortly, The chief said. Then, turning to Augur, added, This is just your lucky day. First you turn out to be alive, and now it appears that you have a ride home. Casper steadied himself on his feet, and walk to the door with Ter. Arent you coming with, Son?
Yeah, just give me a couple minutes and Ill be out. Augur would have to stand up on his own real soon, but he waited until the older men left the quarters. He deliberately crawled over to the chair Casper had sat on and used his arms to push himself to his knees, and then stood up. After releasing his grip on the stool, he had to struggle to balance, and his knees became rubber, but he managed to avoid falling. Now he could test his magic out for the first time since he died in this cave. Augur held his palm upward and began to charge energy, planning to release a small fireball on a deceased sapling that lay on the soil. His hand warmed immediately from the heat being built up, and when he had enough, he released his clutch on the flames and sent them flying. The fireball shot forward and missed its mark, instead hitting the wall high and wide to the right of the dead flora. Okay, he sighed, So Im just a little bit rusty with my skills. No problem, Ill work on it later. Right now I have to get out and see if I can hitch a ride home.
After staggering the first few steps out the door, his walking returned to normal, and had again become second nature. Surveying the area for a few brief moments, he saw Casper and his friend in the distance, climbing up a rope ladder. Since he knew they were going to see the guru, he followed them throughout the immense cavern until he reached the top of the cave system. Looking around, he saw Ter talking to a couple of hunched over villagers, and in the distance he could see a few golden beams of sunlight penetrating through the opening. Inside the opening, snow had made the surface slippery, and at the time two Enlightened men were carrying a long, dull crate over the top of the frozen water.
Thats it, keep going, now. Come on, move it! Augur had heard that voice a few times before, and it was unmistakable. Melchior had a very unique tone in his speech that conveyed leadership but illustrated a humble sincerity. Although he had never talked to him personally, he had witnessed a few lectures made by him, and also heard him mingling with workers in the palace. Well, he had to start talking to him sometime, so he walked up to the prudent leader.
Hey, Old Man Melchior! The gurus had been around for so long that they did not mind being called ancient. In fact, they actually joked about their ages with each other, although Melchior seemed to always have the last word, being the youngest of the trio. The man turned to see Augur.
Hmm. I did not know anyone else was down here. Who might you be?
My name is Augur, and I was, um, ah, doing some research down here. Yeah, thats it. Augur swore at himself under his breath. He had to learn how to lie better than he had done in the recent minutes in the Earthbound Caves. Anyway, Ive pretty much wrapped up my work, and my problem is I need a ride home, or at least until to Port Dalton. Do you think that you could help me out?
A smile slowly formed on Melchiors face, and the low chuckling soon became howling laughter. My, how long have you been down in these caves? Port Dalton got buried in the snowstorm months ago.
Augur could not keep the shock from showing up on his face, and he became aware that while he was away in the Afterlife, time continued to go on in Zeal. Really? Im sorry, but I dont get much information from the outside world, and I dont really know how long Ive been down here. His lie actually sounded decent this time around. What is todays date?
Melchior kept to himself while he thought about it for a couple seconds, then responded, It is the first day of April, 12,009 BC. Port Dalton has been out of commission for nearly an entire year. So that means that I spent nearly a year of my life in that boring circus sideshow, Augur thought. This would mean that many of the things in Zeal would be different from before, as all things change through time, but he shouldnt have too much trouble adapting.
So Melchior, Augur began, changing the subject. Whats in all these crates your men are hauling around? The old mans face turned slightly red, and he seemed to think about his response for an eternity.
Well, Ill be honest, but please dont let anyone know about this, or King Zealll have my tail on a golden platter. Ive been secretly sneaking food into the caves for several years because these people desperately need it. If youve been down here as long as you say you have, then Im willing to bet that youd agree with me. Augur had only really been down in the caves for a matter of hours during his absence, but that was more than enough to know that he was right. Augur remembered his previous experience so vividly that he actually jumped at the chance to help carry them in. The boxes were much heavier than he had thought, probably about a hundred pounds, but with two men to each one it was no problem carrying them into the caves. The real obstacle came with trying to get the food down the ropes and ladders to the parts of the subterranean cavern that lay far below. The men had developed a rather ingenious procedure to clear this hurdle. It involved several very large pillows being tied around the crates so that it was no longer visible, and more pillows being placed on key positions on the platforms below. Then they would simply heave the large enclosures over the edge onto the cushions below, and several men would immediately jump on it to keep it from bouncing over the next ledge. The work became very hard and tedious, but the whole time Augur felt a supreme sense of accomplishment knowing that he would benefit so many people.
After the twelve-hour workout, the men settled around each other and waited for Melchior to address them. His speech began with the typical formal introduction. First of all, I would like to thank everyone that helped out today, and I can assure you that these people appreciate it more than any of you could understand. Second, Im afraid I have a little bit of bad news. The wind from the north has picked up steadily since we arrived, and although we have done our best to keep the Blackbird from being buried, if we tried to take off in this gale we would surely blow over and be either killed or stranded. Ive decided it would be best if we stayed in the hospitality of the Earthbounds until the weather clears. The expected assortment of whining and moaning erupted from the group, but they all decided he was right. Everyone rose and left the gathering to their own respective areas, and they would look for sleeping quarters a little bit later.
Augur had another thing on his agenda at the time, however. Waiting until after the crowd dispersed, he walked up to the guru and initiated a conversation. Um, Melchior, when exactly did the Blackbird get completed? When I first came down here, Port Dalton was still open.
The old, tired eyes looked back at him. You didnt really think that with Port Dalton gone, we actually tried to make it down here without the flying machine, did you? Its been more than a year since the final testing phases began, although we kept that entirely secret. Its been in official operation for ten months now.
Just how bad are the winds outside?
Well, its blowing steadily at about fifty miles per hour, although the gusts have topped over a hundred miles. The major problem that were worried about is if hail starts to come with the storm. The crystals will surely puncture large holes in the hull, and possibly smash into the fuel lines, causing a crippling explosion. Ive got a few men out there covering it with a tarp right now, but of course were taking the risk that the ship could be buried under the snowstorm. Its a small price to pay, however, because Im sure that the men would rather dig in the snow than walk miles in the blizzard.
Do they need any help? I can go out there and lend a hand to them.
Melchior smiled at him. Wow, youre a real ambitious worker. Sure, be my guest. I know the men out there wont mind more help at all.
Augur walked outside, noticing immediately that night had fallen a couple hours ago. The only source of light came from a magical fire some of the men were struggling to maintain, and as soon as Augur left the sanctuary, the strong gale removed him from his feet. Peering over to the Blackbird, he saw the leather tarp flapping high in the air, secured to the ground on one side. The wind raged so intensely that the simple flurries stung his face, and the temperature had dropped far below zero, cold enough to burn on his skin. Digging himself out of his newly created hole in the ground, he turned to the first man he saw. Im here to help out, so what do you want me to do?
The man turned around. Well, that depends how good your magic is, because we really need someone to control this wind a little bit. It keeps blowing out the fire, and as you can plainly see, makes the working conditions impossible. Snow began to swirl in the distance not far behind the airship, causing a cyclone that the laborers had to run from to avoid being thrown high in the air.
Augur again turned back to the worker. Ill see what I can do, but Im a little bit rusty with my magic. I havent really used it for some time. Augur contemplated how he should go about averting the wind. Using green magic to counteract the storm seemed to be the easiest solution, but that would take a lot of energy, considering the wind blew upwards of seventy miles. Maybe he could try using a black spell to create a rush of air, neutralizing it, but that would be only temporary. As of right now, however, there did not seem to be any other choices. Going with the green energy option, he stumbled through the snow until he managed to get to the other side of the large machine, so that nothing shielded him from the wind.
Staring into the pitch-black night, he began to charge the spell. When he believed he had all the power in his body that he could hold, he held his arms out to the darkness and let the force fly from his fingertips. Augur immediately noticed the difference, as his artificial wind battled against nature, the force of the gust subsided. Though the wind wasnt gone, it was now much easier to stand, and the tarp dropped back to the glacier. Continuing to force all the power out of he body he could, he grit his teeth and lurched forward. Despite the cold, a small bead of sweat began to form on his eyebrow. The spell weakened, and the wind started to return as he fell to his knees, breathing heavily. Augur finally gave into the wind and collapsed. A few seconds later he felt an icy hand touch the back of his neck, and he rolled to see one of the workers examining him.
You alright, Kid? I dont know what you just did, but the wind just died for about ten seconds. Unfortunately, there wasnt anything we could get done in that short of a time.
A second man struggled to get to his position, and Augur recognized him as the first man he talked to when he entered the blizzard. You know, I just had an idea crazy enough to work. I believe we can stop the wind altogether.
Like usual, youre idea isnt crazy, its downright idiotic. But now is not the time to complain, and Ill take anything I can get right about now. Whats your plan, Genius?
I think that if we brought all of the men together, we could gather
enough blue magic to form a giant wall of ice, which should stop the wind
until we can get the tarp on.
Also, if it stays there for the rest of the night, the Blackbird might
not even get
The first man raised his head. Go gather all the men we have out here. For once, I actually think youre making a little sense. After he left, the Enlightened One next to him spoke again. What about you? Do you think you can help us out a little bit, or did you use all the magic you had with that last spell?
Augur was still kicking himself for not thinking of the ice wall plan first, but that could not be helped. Yeah, of course I can assist you. I just need to rest for a couple minutes.
It took much longer than Augur needed to recover for all the workers to form a small group on what appeared to be the leader. Unless this announcement involves a lot of beautiful young masseuses and a sauna, I dont want to hear about it. one of the men groaned.
Another one of them cracked up at his derisive remark. Amen to that, Brother. I could really go for some nice Kajar tang about now. Turning to the leader, he added, So just how bad is the news this time?
Actually, weve come up with a way that just may get us out of this hole were stuck in, and if it works, well be out of here in less than half an hour.
Ooh, I can already tell were in for some serious trouble.
Hey, shut the hell up and listen to me for once. If you guys werent such an incompetent bunch of wisecracking, burnt out, alcoholic slackers, wed be out of here by now! Once everyone had quieted down, he continued with the monologue. What were gonna do is combine our magic and build up a giant wall of ice to block the wind out. With the wall up, we can cover the Blackbird really fast and then of you mommas boys here can go inside and cuddle up with your plush teddy bears. So start charging, and when I give the signal, release.
Everyone did as they were told, including Augur. About ten second passed before the leader of the group raised his hand into the air and pointed, which caused the ground about ten feet in front of everyone to begin to rumble. Everyone else released their spells without needing to be told again, and small ice spikes rose out of the snow. Augur, knowing he hadnt reached his capacity yet, reserved his magic until he could no longer hold it in. As the power within him grew, he watched the wall in front of him grow inch-by-inch, foot-by-foot, until most of the gathering had stopped adding to the wall. Come on, keep going, we arent there yet! came the rants of the boss. Augur released his ice and began to add large sections to the barricade growing in the darkness. By this time most of the people were on their second and third rounds of magic, and fatigue began to set in. The leader of the group was a very strong magic user, and was doing just as much to solidify and raise the wall as Augur. When they finally finished after another minute, Augur used some fire to light up the sky around them, and everyone could plainly see that the snow flying in from the far side of the wall was being blown at enough of an angle that the vast majority of it flew a few dozen feet beyond the flying machine.
Although exhausted, everyone rushed to get the tarp on so that they could return to their friends in the cave. The effort took no more than fifteen minutes, much less than anyone had anticipated, and not five minutes after that Augur fell into a deep slumber inside one of the dirt rooms of the cavern. He did not wake up until a good twelve hours had passed, and when he did it was only because of the abrupt knocking on the door. Groggily, he rolled out of bed and dressed himself, then exited the room, not seeing any sign of the person that woke him up. Augur hadnt dreamt last night, but maybe that was because he was technically dead in this world. Either way, he didnt give much thought to it, and instead climbed the scores of ladders to get near the top of the cavern. Most of the exposition team had clambered together where Melchior sat in alone in front of everyone. Okay, lets hightail it out of here before Zeal gets even more concerned about us. Ill take care of our story, and if anyone asks you where you were, mumble and trail off, then walk away immediately afterward. The men will be finished touching up the Blackbird in a few minutes, so gather your stuff and board orderly. If you get left behind, Im saying that youre dead. Everybody acknowledged the remarks made by the old man, then disbanded to do their last minute duties.
Augur exited the Earthbound Village and found that the snow had never stopped its assault last night, but the wind was down to only a gentle whisper and the troops knew they had to take advantage of their window of opportunity. So this is your first time on the Blackbird. Augur twisted to see the guru standing before him, and he could tell the elder was anxious to leave.
Yeah, Augur replied. The conditions are still kind of hostile, are you sure this thing will be able to get us out of here?
Melchiors smile quickly faded. No, he said, causing Augur to look more than a little concerned. But Im not going to wait around, because no one can guess when the weather will get dispiriting again. Frankly, Im taking the first chance we can get, and Im hoping that everything will turn out okay. He could tell that Augur still wasnt convinced, so he added, Just get on the ship and dont worry about it. Everything is going to be fine. Augur did as he was told.
The Blackbird looked rather big from the outside, but on the inside it seemed even more expansive. There were workrooms and recreational areas, and he had to ask someone to guide him to the passenger section. He sat in one of the seats and waited nervously for several minutes, but then all the other men filed in rather rapidly. To help to calm his pulsating heart, he grabbed a newsletter that was on the back of the seat in front of him and began to page through it, scanning the articles.
Meanwhile, in the cockpit, the two veteran pilots were preparing for takeoff. They had already strapped themselves in, and most of the electrical systems had been turned on immediately following their entrance. All that remained was running through the checklist to make sure that everything worked correctly despite the snowstorm. It became insidiously boring, but they could not deviate from standard procedure or they would surely be swallowed in the storm.
More than enough to make it back, and we even have enough to make a little side trip to the local tavern.
Perfectly protected, not a dent, scratch, or hole in it.
Well, then, I guess all systems are go, so lets get the hell outta this dump. Hows the weather holding up?
The winds are still holding steady at ten to fifteen, with gusts up
to twenty five. On the upside,
the flurries arent going to do anything, but that wind could make takeoff
a tad bit bumpy. Are you sure
Dont worry, Ill take care of it. The captain picked up the intercom that connected to all the various speakers throughout the ship and held it up to his mouth. Okay ladies, listen up! Our ascent is going to be a little turbulent, so right now I want everyone onboard to put on the safety restraints, and if you have any complaints I strongly recommend you jump ship right now, because I dont want any crap! He slammed the intercom back into its place. Well, here we go, the captain said as he started fiddling with the controls on the jet.
The propulsion jets underneath the ship fired up, blasting their heat out into the arctic tundra below. The loose powder on top of the snow was kicked up from the sudden rush of hot air, and the frozen water molecules rose into the sky surrounding the Blackbird. The airship climbed slowly and steadily as more of the white residue swirled upwards, surrounding the ship. Jesus, I cant see a thing! yelled the copilot as the particles blanketed the window in the cockpit. The crosswind hit the side of the ship as soon as it left the snow banks that had housed it for the previous day, and the ship tilted sideways. Inside the passenger compartment, magazines and drinks dropped to the wall on the far side while everyone yelped and barked. Back in the control room, the two pilots struggled relentlessly with the instruments attempting to stabilize it.
Dear God, we came up right into a gust! Were gonna roll this sucker over in midair if we cant get this fixed. We cant stay up much longer at this angle. Although the captain seemed calm despite the copilots remarks, he also felt a sense of urgency.
Dont worry, I have an idea. Hit the rear jets, were burning out.
Wont that run us right into the ground?
Yeah, pretty much. The captain, feeling a sense of urgency, turned on the stern-side engines himself, and moved them to full power. The Blackbird shot forward like a rocket, but also lost substantial altitude. The pilot pulled back on the wheel as hard as he could while also attempting to roll the plane back to its upright position. It wasnt long before the left wing of the plane began to dig into the snow, breaking of embankments and ice chunks off the ground. The efforts of the men in the cockpit rotated the ship enough for it to return to its original pose, but they were not out of trouble when the weight of the ship became balanced. The Blackbird fell even further, and the belly began skidding on the ground while the wings sliced through the white dunes made from the snowfall. An extensive streak of divots lengthened behind the airplane, and the bumpiness caused passengers to become nauseous as they bounced in their seats.
Um, Cap, wed better pull up soon, because if we dont, were going to crash right into that giant ice lump in front of us, and I doubt wed survive it. The man at the controls didnt need to be told, and he gritted his teeth as he pulled back once more, while at the same time instructing his partner to initiate the full output of the bottom thrusters. The ship once again began to ascend into the air, and the captain turned the body of it slightly in a hopeful attempt to clear the rock. It became apparent that these efforts would not be enough, so the man flying the plane came up with a desperate final effort in order to get them past it.
Rookie, arm one of those special explosives and fire it immediately.
Sir, were not authorized to
Goddammit, dont give me any of that crap! You had better do whatever the hell I say before you get us all friggin killed!
The copilot acted on an impulse caused by the harsh threats of his comrade, and fiddled with the controls for a few brief moments. A long, cylindrical object jettisoned from a compartment underneath the ship, and a burst of flame erupted behind it as the projectile rushed through the air, striking the miniature mountain a split second before the Blackbird would have run into it. A large blaze of flames flared in front of the ship, and the captain had to fly the plane blind as smoke covered the windshield. Instantaneously, a glorified firestorm engulfed the aircraft and charred the underside of it. Everyone in the passenger section could fell the heat rise from the fire, but no one knew what had happened. Below, the icy hillside exploded from the sudden force, and flying rock fragments began to chink away at the hull of the Blackbird. The pilots hands shuddered vindictively on the controls as the entire world around them rumbled.
Half a second later, the smoke and fire left the glass covering, and the two men could plainly see that the Blackbird had become airborne. Looking down, they could both watch as the peak they nearly crashed into burned and the snow on top evaporated into the sky. Both men screamed with glee and exchanged congratulations with each other.
Hot damn! Do you believe that just happened?
We have got to be the luckiest SOBs that Ive ever known!
Their celebration, while full of exhilaration, did not last very long, because Melchior managed to make his way into the cockpit fairly fast after the incident. Both of you know that I am a mild tempered man, so I would just like to say that I am more than a little pissed off right about now. What in the hell do you two think youre doing?
The pilot swiveled around in his comfortable plush chair to confront the older man. I dont really think theres much of a problem, considering that it was necessary to get us off the ground.
Melchior snapped, You dont think theres much of a problem? You turned this vessel sideways before going on a cross country skiing trip which probably tore chunks off the wings, then you proceeded to fire one of the kings secret, and needless to say, very expensive missiles! You nearly blew up the whole ship! How am I supposed to explain the damages done to the ship, not to mention its appearance? How do you think a large black char mark covering the entire Blackbird and a missing explosive is going to look? Just look at all the chinks in the windshield and tell me honestly that you dont think that there is much of a problem!
The pilot smiled at the man, turned to look at the insignificant scrapes in the glass, and then looked back at Melchior. I honestly dont think that there is much of a problem. Melchior swore passionately before exiling, threatening to place all the blame on them if it came down to it. The captain turned to his partner, I dont know about you, but I think he took it rather well.
The remainder of the flight passed without incident, excluding Melchiors fervent rants and raves. Besides this latest incident, he would also have to explain their prolonged absence, the missing food, and the fact that they were now one passenger heavy. The man told Augur that if he could somehow slip past everyone without being noticed, it would be a great help to him. The story Melchior had put together involved an attack by wild animals out in the blizzard, which managed to take the food and damage the ship, and the necessity of the missile to clear them out. He would have to oil out all the squeaks in the story rather fast, because he would probably have to report to King Zeal almost immediately.
From the time of the explosion to the time the captain announced that they would soon be docking ended up being just over half an hour, much more effective than Augurs trip involving the mammoths had been. Augur planned to just walk right on by every guard that tried to stop him, but he would probably be in the palace, and he had no idea how to get from there to the city of Enhasa. He would have to ask one of the members of the exposition team for directions. Once he did get inside, security seemed almost nonexistent, a pleasant result of being isolated from the dangers associated with the outside world for thousands of years. He was able to walk right out of the extravagant haven without being questioned, and he figured it would be best to lay low until the entire Blackbird episode blew over. He would love to spend more time in the magnificent building, but he figured it wasnt a good time to be sight seeing.
From just outside the grand doors, he realized he stood on the highest point in the world, hundreds of feet higher than Enhasa or Kajar, and miles above the ocean. Only a miniscule portion of the floating island hung over the main continent, which happened to be where they placed the teleporter. Looking around, he could see countless miles of the landmass on one side and the eternal sea stretching out in all directions on the other. Earthbounds who were brought up had a very difficult time breathing due to the lack of oxygen at high altitudes, and the only thing that made it possible was the large assortment of plants kept outside. The Enlightened had become adapted to the conditions, and had no problems. Looking from above, the greenery looked splendid, and one could easily call it heavenly. Below, the golden sparkle of the walls of his home shined in the noon sun. A gentle breeze blew his hair to the side of his head, and he began his stride to the city. For once, the trip was relaxing and trouble free.
It did not take long to get to Enhasa, only a few winding paths and a couple of caves stood in his way. Magical fires sitting inside torches lighted the caves, and since no wind or rain could enter the caves, they would probably keep burning forever. When he could finally see the doors of the city, He broke into a dead sprint, trying to get there as fast as he could. Only a few minutes later, the unnecessary door guard greeted him and allowed him passage. Looking inside the entrance for the first time in over a year, he had to suppress the water forming at the edge of his eye. The beauty shined throughout the immense complex, and the sweet sounds of the everyday commonwealth called to him. Augur took a full minute to bask in the magnificence that Zeal had built. If there was a heaven on earth, this was it.
Augur would be lying if he said that he wasnt excited to see his mother, but he decided that he had to pay a little visit to someone else first. Like riding a bicycle, he still remembered all the nooks and crannies of the enclosed metropolis. When he arrived at his destination, he stopped in front of the entrance to gather his thoughts, thinking about what he would say when he finally saw her. Peering past the hinges, he saw the lonely woman sitting unaccompanied, absorbed in a book, surrounded by candlelight. Reading anything good?
Candor jumped, obviously startled from hearing a voice so suddenly break the silence. After calming down, she turned to the doorway, and this time became so alarmed that she almost fell off her chair. Augur secretly laughed at Candors reaction. Not really the welcome I was expecting from an old friend. Its not like Im back from the dead, or anything.
Candor was understandably at a loss for words, But what how did I thought youre not
Augur again chuckled. Get comfortable, Candor. This is going to take a while.
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