Chapter 115: First Disembarkation
We left our heroes cleaning up after a brief infestation of pixies, and getting ready to unload the first third of the Nephilim Exodus. The Hierowesch and Banuesch have agreed to give us geographical advice in the form of an annotated atlas of New Hierow, which we will apply to its analog, tentatively named "Olam Nephilim." As to how to distribute the nephilim over this world -- we leave that to the council of nephilim exodus leaders here on the ship.
They want to stay reasonably close to each other, but not inconveniently crowded, and they want to match the climates they were used to back on Yazatlan. Olam Nephilim doesn't offer a great match to all those conditions at once, but they thrash something out.
Timmons then asks for passage down to Olam Nephilim, to start setting up a connection station -- a teleport gate for the miniature fleet of elven starcraft that will run supplies to this world. Then he needs a similar station, but in vacuum, in the asteroid belt of the same system, only over in the United Earth line, and a third station in another asteroid belt, in an uninhabited system near Hellene.
After Tom obliges with all of this, Timmons hands him a smoky, coin-sized, glassy disc and asks him to get it to Lanthil "now" (i.e. about 30 years in Tom's future). It's a report, with specifications for the next step. Tom agrees.
WE START UNLOADING
Yes! Finally! It all goes much faster than the pickup. First, Daphne flits to the arboretum and rallies the fays. All of them then leave together, to a temperate-forested part of Olam Nephilim. In fact, rather more than all of them leave. Daphne notices an ent-like tree-troll moving through the corridors "hand" in "hand" (branch in branch?) with what certainly looks like a tree from the arboretum. It looks worried when it sees Daphne -- Will she tell it to leave its sweetie behind? -- but she waves them on. Morniesul surely wouldn't want to keep a tree in the arboretum against its will...
Then we unload various African-like groups, under the guidance of N'Tabo Bey, then some quasi-Chinese under the guidance of Min Yan. Then some of the inland-area folks, including some Amerindian types collected by Sunbird. We ask these various council members to stay with us, to help on the next round, and they agree except for Min Yan, who feels she is really needed here.
The fays from Timmon's crew, on the Lachesis, then ask to be set down in a mountainous area, to start construction on a new, wooden, starship. They now include three dwarves from Yazatlan, who signed on while aboard the ship. Fine. (We hadn't even known we'd picked up any dwarves. Oh, well.)
Timmons has also collected some halflings and a dryad, whom we drop off in nearby forest, to look for suitable timber. Tom makes arrangements to check on everyone periodically, to make sure they're safe.
Remember the Kitsu and the N'Butu? How could we forget. The council has set them down on opposite sides of the continent, where they can start making new enemies.
Daphne and Robbie check out the arboretum and find that a fair number of fays have elected to stay on board. They decide this is Morniesul's problem, or opportunity.
The ship is now more or less empty. Morniesul needs to re-stock it, and clean up after his first round of guests, many of whom brought their own goats. Also, the Hierowesch and Banuesch are ready to leave, now, having given their advice. They offer to make inter-dimensional patrols of the area. We're grateful, and Robbie shows them what dragontrooper ships look like, warning them that the dragons, too, have inter-dimensional technology. To emphasize the warning, we show them images of the Sack of Destine. Hischradow takes the warnings seriously, and drops hints to Dafnord that he's already met him, though Dafnord hasn't met Hischradow before. Another time-twist, it looks like.
That's that, for the moment. The next obvious step is to go to Lanthil of Timmon's day (dubbed "Lanthil+30") and deliver his report. Only we still have several folk from Lanthil+30, to wit Runyana, Mirien, and Mithriel. Tom offers the coin to Runyana, but she says Tom probably has to go there with the pantope, since she expects they want the pantope to ferry Timmon's supplies back to him. She tells him to take it to the "New Dawn Yards."
Using Runyana herself as a token to steer by, Tom finds the Yards without much trouble. They are on a little island, off the coast of Lanthil, in the strait that divides the Open Sea from the Endless Ocean, and Lanthil from the wriggly chaos-scape leading to Faerie. Tom opens the door on a sandy beach, at a circumspect distance from the buildings. We step out and start marching. The Gargoyle tends to sink in the sand.
Soon, we are met by two horseback riders in the distinctive uniforms of the Twilight Defense Force, grey with individualized black and white sections. They have both ray-guns and sabres. One summons an air-car-- wait, it's more of an air-boat, being wooden and magical. The boat lands by us. It contains four people -- the elven pilot, two rather solid-looking elves, and a lady, who though elven, looks particularly solid and even middle-aged. She recognizes us (time-twist again) but also recognizes our time-twisted perspective and so introduces herself: "Rilya Windiel, Commandant." She addresses Tom as "Commander," and accepts the glassy grey coin Timmons gave us.
We then get in the air-boat and take in a quick tour of the New Dawn Yards, where they build ... things. Water boats. Something cigar-shaped on shore. Unfinished bits we can't figure out yet. There's even an observatory on a hill nearby. Tom asks what there is to observe, out here near chaos.
Rilya explains that the moon is often visible to the north, and it's useful to watch the weather changing over Lanthil, and the coming and going of the days and nights -- there being neither days nor nights out here on the island. And sometimes you can see the stars and watch them shift. (In fact, right now we are under a very starry night sky, though the light level down on the ground is as bright as early evening.) And of course, one wants to watch the ships out in the trade lanes. (Oh, we do, do we?)
While we continue the tour, Rilya continues the tour of the Yards. They've already turned out two Men o' War sailing ships, which the TDF uses to patrol the Open Sea. The cigar-shaped thing is another magical spaceship for Timmons, the Atropos. There are a couple of lighthouses on the island, and dwarf-run smithies and foundries.
We learn that Rilya came from an alternate version of "Ennorath," Middle Earth, but, after getting herself into a certain amount of trouble, went exploring and somehow managed to wind up in the faux Ennorath of the Worldbenders, among the more gracile elves of that place. She lived there for a very long time, finding herself in an orchestrated repeat (with variations) of the history of her own world. When the Daughters of Daewen staged one of their escape raids, she took the opportunity and left with them, first for Faerie and now for here, Lanthil. She finds it a very quiet place. (Compared to her own history, it would be.)
She takes us to her quarters, for tea, while people read that disc and decide what to do about it. (As we enter, she turns a picture against the wall, perhaps so one of us won't see a future self with, say, the peg-leg, the eye-patch, the hook, or all that weight we're going to gain.) When they bring the decoded list, she asks us to fast-forward about six weeks, to give them time to get stuff ready. We agree.
We get a lift back to the door on the beach. Tom then runs ahead, counting the days by watching the Lanthil lightfall wax and wane. Once at the right date, he steers the window to the foundry and opens it as a door.
We're expected. Many teams of elves and dwarves come marching in, lay down protective matting on the fragile emerald deck, and start loading masses of Stuff. Boxes, and barrels and bundles, oh my. These include huge and curiously-shaped pieces of wood that we learn are pieces of a magical starship, to be assembled where needed.
The last major item is a subterrean, a giant earth-boring vehicle, equipped with treads and tipped with a huge drill bit. It was, of course, made by dwarves. The chief designer, one Gorf, is terribly eager to show Tom all over it. Tom nods in an impressed way and prevents his eyes from glazing. "What's it run on?" he asks. "Extravagant promises? Magic? Steam? Magical steam?" "Any of the last three, sir." Gorf then demonstrates how the treads can move up to the sides of the subterrean, the better to crawl through self-dug tunnels. Tom feels around psychically and determines that he can, if necessary, run the thing himself using his Knack of Tools.
Timmons ought to be quite pleased.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.