Scene 25  1560 4D

Time froze everything for Derizan. His senses wandered freely through a presence that stood still for him. A voice spoke softly inside him, “Thank you. I am Fiarsinhilh, now your inner partner. You see now, briefly, with my eyes free of time.”

Past and future stood around Derizan like furniture in a rich, royal room. He moved, trying to stand. His movements sent out small energies; pieces of the future drifted to new places and forms, while pieces of the past gained or lost focus.

With great effort at first, then more easily, he stood. At his right the pedestal of the buried chamber displayed its top tablet of symbols, all glowing brightly in changing colors. He reached to it reflexively, but his inner voice said firmly, “Stop. Do not touch this. If you do, you will never return to your family, your loved ones.”

Derizan formed a reply that seemed to speak itself inside him. “I’m afraid my kin will touch the one we found.” As his words came, Fiarsinhilh gave agreement.

“Do not be concerned. You will return to them in time.” The pedestal evaporated into pale fog.

“Where am I now? Is this some other world?” Derizan sensed a smooth white enclosure around him, but he had no idea of its size. He took a step.

“It is best if you stay still. Movement will hinder your return to your people.”

Derizan stepped back again. “Please tell me more about that pedestal. What does it do?”

“I will be brief – you must return soon. You cannot thrive here for long. The pedestal is a transportation device across worlds – you might say “across planes of existence”. Each symbol on it activates to move everyone and everything in the chamber to another such chamber. Some chambers are in the same world, in the same flow of time. Some are in a later or earlier time flow. And some take the room’s contents to another world altogether.”

Derizan felt weak, and his breath came hard. “How is this known? Who built these? Where do they lead?”

Fiarsinhilih spoke quickly in him, “Questions! We can learn more after you return. One last thing – it is important. Call on me when you are in need. You will not remember much of this place. Call on me!”

Derizan fell to the floor, and then through the floor, through pitch darkness, and onto dust and mold.

# # #

“Derizan!” Ajina bent over him. He lay face up next to the wall where the hand had clutched him. “What happened?”

He shuddered, sucking in a great breath of the chamber’s thick air. The glow from the pedestal lit Denzari’s face, and Selech’s behind him. He croaked out, “Do not touch that pedestal!”

Ajina felt his forehead. “Are you all right? You were standing by this drawing on the wall, and then you fell flat. Did something hit you? A shock?”

“Was I lying here for a while?” A haze obscured Derizan’s memory.

“No, you fainted, and a few seconds passed before I could reach you,” she said. “Just a few seconds.”

You were outside of time, a voice murmured in Derizan’s head.

“It felt like… longer,” he answered Ajina. He got to his feet and looked around the chamber. At the base of its circular wall, a thick incrustation of fungal growths glowed here and there. He spoke without thinking, pointing at them, “These plants are edible, nourishing. Let’s take some of them back down with us.”

Denzari asked, “How do you know this? You’ve never been here before. Is that really a good idea? We don’t know whether or not they’re toxic.”

“I don’t know how I know, but I know.” Derizan gathered some of the fungal blooms into a pouch. Ajina and Denzari joined him. He tasted a morsel of the fungus – it was musty and sweet, with an odd tang of herbals, and hunger came over him, but he resisted.

Selech still hovered near the pedestal. “These symbols! I’ve never seen anything like them. They must mean something, in some language.”

Ajina crumbled a small piece of a bloom, and tasted it. “It’s like the edible mushrooms we gathered when I was little. We were visiting my mother’s family just outside Purusil...”

“Not the funny mushrooms, were they?” Ajina made a face at Denzari, and he chuckled. Derizan shook his head. Denn knows his mushrooms, and we all know why.

Selech’s finger grazed the pedestal’s glowing panel.


Next scene.

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