The Chaos Marches
Chapter 15, Saving the Marginalia
Where we left our heroes:
The miniature Dragons are about 10 minutes from finding us. Meanwhile, we've gotten just about all of the Marginalia inside the Zephyr, Professor Cadwallader's trans-dimensional ship. They're crammed into the shelves in the three levels of the Zephyr's hold, and are scurrying in and out of open hatches as they help us fix the Zephyr's power conduits in preparation for heading back to Vinyagarond to get help to kick the dragons out of Lanthil.
Dafnord sees Scout #3 and asks him for Leader. "Find?" Yes, Find. Scout #3 comes scrambling down and points at ladder. "Leader!". Dafnord climbs the ladder and finds Leader at the top of the ladder. "All here?" asks Dafnord. "No... Most...". "Want All!". "Most"
Robbie is still playing cat and mouse with the fire lizards. They're getting bored with machine noises. He has the eye call out "Bad!", like a Marginalia. "Very Bad!". Then the eye swoops away. This re-engages their interest for a while.
Meanwhile, back on the Zephyr, Dafnord looks down to find Scout #3 tugging at his pants with another Marginalia in tow. He says "New!" emphatically. The "new" Marginalia doesn't look familiar. In fact, nobody's seen him before. He stands there looking bashful. Dafnord calls to Salimar that she needs to come over in Marginalia form. The Marginalia are very interested in watching a Marginalia climb out of the bucket of slime. Salimar goes over to the new one and says "Me new too!" with a winsome smile. In response, the new Marginalia chitters back. Robbie confirms that we've heard this before, but he doesn't have enough of a language sample to translate it. Salimar attempts to talk back in the Marginalia's language. Not knowing the language, she says something equivalent to "My hovercraft is full of eels." The Marginalia looks down at the floor, clearly confused. Clearly the Marginalia have never seen Monty Python.
Scout #3 comes back again and announces "One!". Dafnord responds "One new?" Scout #3 thinks for a minute, then grins and says "Two new!" Dafnord asks "How new". This results in much stuttering, then Scout #3 runs off. Scout #3 then comes back with yet another Marginal. Dafnord says "New?" Scout 3 replies "Talker". Talker and the new Marginalia now start nattering, but not getting anywhere. Scout 3 says "New two?". Dafnord sends him off after the second new one. He takes a long time getting back. While he's gone, one of the makers comes over and says "Fixed". Dafnord says "All fixed?" After much stuttering, the marginalia gets out "Very Bad Fixed". Dafnord sends him off to help fix the crimped conduits.
Scout #3 comes back looking distressed and says "New!" in an aggrieved tone. Dafnord asks "More new?" Scout #3 responds "3 new" Dafnord points at the door, where a few are straggling in. He asks "New?" Scout #3 responds "No...", slowly. Dafnord says "Tell Leader all here". Scout #3 goes off shaking his head. Dafnord goes to the door to close it. Out of the corner of his eye, Dafnord sees a person falling out of the air. It's definitely someone falling, not flying. Dafnord calls to Kate to try to catch the falling person.
Kate flies out of the hold and into the sky. Robbie has the eye let out the scream of a dying rabbit and zoom away from the Zephyr in attempt to distract the mini-dragons from this new arrival. As Kate flies by, Dafnord heads in the same direction to try and catch whoever it is. Looking up, Dafnord sees that it's a very small humanoid.
As she gets closer, Kate realizes that she's probably not going to make it to the falling being in time. She tries to levitate the falling person. She noticeably slows it, but loses control of her own flight in the process. The only good thing is that she's now sure that this is a Marginalia. Great. It's raining Marginalia.
Dafnord sees that there's a tree where the falling being will land, and tries to cut through the tree with the sword that Tom made in the chaos. Whack! Whack! Whack! The tree cracks and leans. Dafnord pushes on it to urge it on. Crack! Timber!
Kate and the Marginalia fall out of the sky onto Dafnord. He attempts to catch both, sort of like trying to catch two medicine balls at the same time. Dafnord catches the Marginal, and Kate lands on him. Thump. The Marginalia is screaming. Well, at least he's alive.
Dafnord picks up Kate and walks back to the ship with the two, bruised but alive. He sends over the net "Congratulations. It's a Marginalia." The Marginalia he just caught continues to scream and struggle in his grasp. Dafnord holds out the Marginalia straight out and says in a loud, commanding voice "Be Quiet!". The marginalia is now very quiet. As he walks up to the ship, Scout #3 is standing at the top of the ramp, looking awed. Dafnord asks "New?" Scout #3 points at the sky and says "New". Dafnord steps into the ship and dogs the hatch. Dafnord puts down the Marginalia he caught and says "Welcome to your new home". The marginalia looks up at him, looks at his hand, then falls over in a faint. Kate heads off to the autodoc and goes to sleep, hoping to wake up in better condition.
Dafnord asks Robbie over the net what the state of the hold is. All of the cracks in the conduit are fixed, but there's still some crimping. The Marginalia are doing some amazing things with their hammers. Walking to the control cabin, Robbie asks Professor C what the state of things is. "Well, we've been able to move for about the last 5 minutes, but things are still broken all over the ship. We really should take the time to fix things." Dafnord joins them in the cabin. Professor C. asks "5 minutes to elevation?" Dafnord says "3 would be better." The dragons will be here in about 5 minutes. Well, that will have to do.
Dafnord goes into the hold, then realizes that a Marginalia has been following him since he came into the ship. Dafnord says "Yes...". The Marginalia says "Birds." Dafnord asks "Birds?" The Marginalia replies "New birds! Sick birds!" Dafnord hands the problem to Robbie, since he has other things to do right now.
Walking to the center of the hold, Dafnord bangs his sword on the floor to attract attention. In a loud voice, Dafnord announces "Leader, we're going to find the Great Lady." Salimar glamours a picture of Daewen hovering in the middle of the hold. This elicits a loud murmur from the watching Marginalia. "Everyone think about the Great Lady. We have to find the Great Lady. Tell them: We all go to Great Lady home." Leader asks "Place move?" Dafnord nods affirmatively. "Yes, place move." About now the Zephyr starts to power up. "Tell all we're going to the Great Lady" "Going to Great Lady?" "Yes, going to the Great Lady." Leader starts nattering to the Marginalia and gesturing at the image of Daewen. The Marginalia talk excitedly among themselves and point at the glamour.
Meanwhile, Robbie and the Marginalia who was talking about sick birds have gotten to the hatch. Robbie opens the hatch to find 12 Marginalia at the edge of the clearing. Robbie waves them on, and they dash across the clearing and up the ramp. The Marginalia asks if he should go get one of the sick birds. Robbie says "No, look." The Marginalia peers around the clearing and reports "No see" unhappily. Robbie asks him for the direction where he saw the sick bird, and the Marginalia replies "In that direction" Robbie sends the eye off in the indicated direction and sees songbirds, but they don't look distressed. He reels in the eye and starts to close the hatch, just as one more Marginalia comes running out of the woods. Robbie pulls him in and closes the hatch. The new Marginalia stands puffing by the hatch and says "Far!" Pant, pant, pant.
Over the PA system, comes Professor C. "Stand by" and the Zephyr starts to rise. Robbie heads to the control cabin. When he gets there, he directs Professor C to the place where we came into Last Valley.
In the hold, Dafnord continues to exhort the Marginalia; "The Great Lady will help against the bad.", attempting to focus their attention on the effort to reach Vinyagarond. Suddenly the Zephyr rises with a lurch, spilling Marginalia to the decks. Leader cries out "Place moves!" Dafnord replies "Yes, we go to the Great Lady" Leader sends callers out into the crowd with directions to stay away from the edges of the shelves. Salimar starts creating railings around the shelves that the Marginalia are sitting on. She looks down at a Marginalia that's been following her for a while and says "Hello." The Marginalia replies "Two hurt". "Where?". "Down... Need soft". Salimar tells him "Take me to him" The Marginalia leads the way to the main deck and explains "No leaves. No soft" Salimar makes a giant floor pillow for the injured Marginalia to nest in.
As they rise towards the twilight, Professor C announces over the PA system "Stand by for etheric surface." Robbie looks back towards the dark side and sees a couple of dozen rather large dragons coming this way. Good thing we left when we did!
Finished making railings, Salimar repeats the phrase the first new Marginalia said to Leader. He isn't sure, but thinks it means "Bad place"
Suddenly everybody gets dizzy, then the lights dim. We've risen into the twilight. Large lights shine out into the dark from the front of the craft. Robbie is pretty sure that this is the same place we came in. Professor C. is throwing levers and turning switches at a rapid rate and says "We may have to put down for repairs before we go to far" Robbie points out that we have a dozen angry dragons behind us and shouldn't hang around if we don't really have to. Dafnord asks if there's anything that we need to fix before we leave. Professor C. mutters that he cant really describe it, he'd have to do it. Everyone gets disoriented again, and then the Zephyr breaks out of the twilight zone. There's a steep rock face directly in front of us as the Zephyr continues to rise. Professor C. puts the Zephyr on "autopilot" and explains that there navigation was difficult due to a differential fore and aft. Robbie says "That's entirely possible", thinking of the dif! fere nt worlds that we saw on each side of the twilight. Dafnord asks "This surprises you?" Professor C. continues, "It's as if there is a wind pushing us up on one side and down on the other. Sort of as if we've got a tail wind." Dafnord asks if we need to stop, but Professor C. decides to take advantage of the tailwind while it's blowing us in the direction we want to go. We continue up the rock face to a plateau that looks like where we entered the land. A ridge leads off into the distance. Professor C. directs the Zephyr along the ridge.
Dafnord asks "What can we do to help repairs" Professor C. replies "There was that one chap who understood my systems, but he's not here." Unfortunately, Tom is still among the missing, and none of us have any idea how this contraption works. Professor C. says that one of the Etheric Vanes isn't responding properly. He believes that one of the linkages must be broken. He explains where it is and Robbie goes off to get some Marginalia to fix this. The linkage is on one side of the hold. It's a large pipe attached to a hinge that's partially sheered off. He goes to the hold and collects some Makers and Salimar. Salimar makes a ladder to the top of the pipe, and we set the Makers to work on it. One comes down asking for ropes. "Many ropes?" and holds up 4 fingers. The chief Maker ties the rope to the hinge... and retries the ropes... and looks, and retries. Then he sends Scout #3 for an army of Marginalia to pull. And pull. And pull, until the hinge in position to b! e re paired. The Makers scramble up the ladder and start working on it.
Up on the bridge, Dafnord sees a broad, flat area, much like where we met the dude on the skycycle. Professor C. says we need to put down for 1/2 to 1 hour of repairs. Robbie and Dafnord agree that this is a good place to put down. Off in the distance, Robbie sees what looks like islands out in the mist. We didn't see them last time... Professor C. manages a 3 point landing on the broad place, just as the Marginalia are taking the ropes down. Dafnord relays from Salimar that the aft steering vane has been fixed.
One of the Marginalia come to Salimar and says, "Come see, come see!" He points to a broken stanchion. "Broke!" Salimar relays the image to Dafnord, who describes it to Professor C. "Ah! It would account for the difficulties with the landing legs. That ought to be fixed, if you can. The repair ought to be obvious." Dafnord wanders back, looks at it and notes that if you move the BIG pipe, then put a cotter pin through it like so, it should be fine. Letting out a loud grunt, Dafnord moves the pipe, and then a pyramid of marginalia put the cotter pin in. Not bad, considering that the strut is supporting part of the weight of the Zephyr.
Up to the bridge, Katrina is watching for anybody coming down the path. She thinks she saw movement in the direction that Robbie pointed out the islands, but she doesn't see anything now. Dafnord returns to the bridge and peers into the mist. He's pretty sure he saw a person. Spying on us. Then Katrina sees someone, tall, overly slender, dark haired. Not somebody she recognizes. In the direction of Vinyagarond, Dafnord sees shadows of people scurrying across the path. He tries looking at one of the islands with the binoculars and thinks he saw two or three "spear points" sticking up out of the mists, but he can't find them again.
Salimar comes up the to bridge. Dafnord points out the areas of activity, and asks her to contact Mithriel. She's unable to. She tries to focus on Tom, using one of the bullets he gave Robbie, but still gets nothing. She sends a hexalog psy call wending its way towards Daewen, to no immediately obvious effect.
Out of the mists come ranks of soldiers on horses and afoot, surrounding us. They're tall, armored, dark haired. Possibly elfin. A solitary rider comes out of the ranks in front of us, on a tall gray horse. It looks a lot like a steed from Vinyagarond. She's clad in silver armor, riding proudly. She gets well ahead of the surrounding folk who move in behind her. She rides up, pulls off her helmet and... nobody recognizes her. Salimar wakes up Kate in the autodoc and relays the image. Kate says it's definitely someone from Vinyagarond, but we're still not sure who. Dafnord, Robbie and Salimar open the hatch. The surrounding archers are waiting with arrows cocked, pointing at our feet, but not directly at us. We descend and the rider calls out "Who goes there?" in Pantope patois. Dafnord identifies himself as Dafnord of the Jack Crosstime Office, Cantrel's own time patrol, etc., etc. The rider grinds broadly and cries "Dafnord, it is you! I thought! so! And you don't recognize me! Glorian, at your service!"
Dafnord replies "Well met." Glorian asks what we're doing out here, so Dafnord proceeds to introduce Salimar and Robbie. "May I introduce Sentient Salimar, Liaison Officer to Its Unity, the KaiSenese Race Mind and Mr. Roberts, an artificial person. Kate comes down and is introduced in turn. Salimar asks, "Someone got our message" Glorian replies "Message? We got no message" Dafnord asks "Where are you taking these people?" Glorian replies, "Home. From Ennorath." Pointing to the Marginalia crowding the open hatch, Dafnord explains that we're taking them to Daewen, since she promised to help them repel the Lilim. This gives Glorian pause, and she asks to speak to us someplace a little more private.
Glorian comes with us to the galley, and we shoo out the Marginalia. Glorian says that "Taking a thousand souls to Vinyagarond is not what she'd describe as safe. Between us we have several hundred innocents and a score or so warriors to defend them. And Vanessa is behind me with more. Daewen will not be happy if we arrive with thousands of refugees."
Robbie then adds that we're missing Tom and Mithriel. Glorian suggests that it would not be wise to drop this on Daewen. She suggests that we leave the innocents in her little valley and go try to rescue Mithriel and Tom. Glorian goes on to tell us that Mirien went off on her own and she has no idea where she'd gone. Dafnord notes that Mithriel and Mirien are a lot alike.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.