Monday, June 13, 2016

Brewertes in N Cal

The Silent Sphere - 5

Interlogue

Eight Solar Houses

Eight the houses that rule the ecliptic plane,
eight the greater that are given names.
Four the cardinals, four for the medes,
The leopard is south, strong from the kill,
the falcon is north, crying and shrill,
the elephant west leading to night,
the heifer is east bringing the bright.

Tween leopard and heifer is the hunting dog,
Twixt cattle and falcon, rises the swan.
Treading between the paca and raptor,
is the hare who scurries to avoid talons and capture,
Medial last comes the running ram.

Maw tooth horn,
wing claw ear,
tusk, horn, tooth
round they ran.
South north south
Round and round,
since worlds began.

Part II
i

As the outside measured time, it was a day later. They stood in a strangely oval shaped clearing in the vast fir forrest, a green wall surrounding them, with boughs close together and crinkled with needles.
One full-time the stars had risen and set above the tower, and Captain Niccolo had labored on plans. Albrecht had volunteered to help, and it was rapidly clear that the rapier was not the only thing with a point that he used well. His freehand lines were almost perfect, his curves voluptuous. It soon became clear that Niccolo was better off doing the rough sketch, and allowing Albrecht to turn out fine ink finished drawings. The ship was small, it would be cramped, but Niccolo put three enormous masts at right angles, and a small folding mast below that would be deployed after they had leapt off the surface of the sphere. He had the astrologer make an extremely detailed model of it, down to the smallest detail. He called forth small clever homunculi to speed the work. Some would actually cut and carve and etch, but others would form themselves into tools so precise that no human hand could use them.
During the working, Albrecht set himself up on a drawing table several floors down in the tower, and rapidly around him a pile of finished vellum scrolls formed. He stayed concentrated on his work, but was amazed that the pen never seemed to clog, the ink never smeared, and the tip never scratched. Usually, when he worked this quickly there were difficulties, that he overcame by having a meticulous care. With each scroll that he tossed salt upon to dry, he gave a furrowed examination that ended in a look of qualified approval. There was something in the air about him, a scent of some unnamed flower, that he grew aware of as he took deep breaths in while he paused between sections, however, when ever he looked around, he could not see anyone.
Morwethe noticed that the princess was hard to find, and was seen only in entering and leaving the observatory. Higar followed her comings and goings carefully, causing Morwethe to remark to him:You would snap that one like a twig.Higar frowned, clearly caught out in lusts that he had thought hidden. Privately Morwethe noted that the Captain, as well, seemed to have a very fine eye for the princess and her comings and goings.

But now they were assembled on the clearing. The Summoner had them walk off the plans, and in the center he drew one of his circles, this one inscribed by an almost square that rotated slightly with each repetition to produce a 17 pointed figure. He gestured for the astrologer to join him in the center and then for the others to move away.
Standing in the center of the still in active figure, Jehanjir turned to him,,as the Summoner wrote in fine grains a very detailed series of instructions. He looked at the plans at each step, which were quite ornate, with decorative scrolls, and ribbed flourishes, each with a specific purpose, but each crafted with an eye to beauty. It was not Niccolo's hand that had turned banal masts into pillars, or ordinary fixtures into sculptures.
I don't understand how this is going to work old friend.
You are the great Astrologer of our age.
Surely, you know I do not care for such boasts by now.
This is no boast, it is the hope that I place everything upon.
For argument, say I am. How does this help.
You know, and have mastered the art of attraction.
Surely, but for heavenly bodies.
Let me go on then. For a heavenly body, even were it to be dissolved, you could use your skill to draw it together.
Well so long as I have an orrery for it, and it is not too large. I could invoke a comet, though I never would.
Well what if I give you a star?
A star? But that's a departed soul.
Well it will be soon.
I could assemble a star that had faded or been tarnished. I was called upon to do that once, a soul was fading into the beyond. But I still do not understand how that will help us.
Good. Listen carefully, because we do not have long. I am going to depart now, only not quite. For a time, my soul will reside in that model you hold in your hand. You will, from this circle, summon it into full form, my servants will carve the wood and make the metal, and in some cases even become it.
But that would mean...
I will be imprisoned in the ship for a time. Burn the ship, promise me, and I will be free then.
Must it truly be the end?
“Tis only a change. I have enough riches for the afterlife, and think, I will be the vessel that will carry you on this quest.
I am not sure that will accrue to your benefit.
Perhaps, perhaps not. But it won't hurt. Like your bell, I will give my life for this ship.
You didn't know the story.
That's because I have never cast anything except with living forms. This will be new for me, an experiment that reaches out beyond what I have so far done in life. What better way to depart, than by doing something new.
So you imprison and depart, and when that happens, I draw the full size ship around this model.
Yes.
But it will almost instantly leap. It will have no attraction to this sphere.
Hmmm. A flaw in my plan.
Call Niccolo.
The Summoner gestured to the Captain, but waved him to stop before the crossing the circle's outer edge.
We have a problem.
If it were only one, I would feel much better.
We are going to cast a spell that will build your ship, but according to Jehanjir, it will leap. How long does that take.
A few moments, but not long.
Could you get everyone on?
We have no supplies here. Can you summon some bearers?
We can send Higar, because I can't summon now without ruining the circle, and I need everything I have left for, ummm, summoning the ship, as it were.
Niccolo nodded.
You aren't going to come through this, are you?
Is it that obvious?
Mariners can see death on a man's face, much more often than not.
Then it is on mine, without a doubt.
You are a braver man than I, summoner.
No, I am a rich man going to an eternal feast. But your compliment is touching.
I will tell the others, give us some time. Higar is bound now, and knows better than to break a blood bond to the priestess.
He would die, wouldn't he? Well, not immediately. He would probably be allowed to linger to contemplate his sins first.
In his case, the sin is breathing.
He is not as bad as that, actually, he was following along. If he lives, he might even dig his way out of debt and debasement.The Summoner said these words in the way a steward counts coins, without the smallest room for equivocation.
Curtly, Niccolo nodded.
I will be about our part.
Jehanjir nodded:Probably better anyway that you not be about, I have a feeling it will be, hazardous, to be in the way.He paused.Oh wait. One more detail, if you could do something very important for me.He fumbled with is large chain of keys and then slide out a small key that was cunningly hidden inside the ring itself, it was quite small, but had an enormous number of teeth on it. He tossed it beyond the circle, landing at Niccolo's feet.Take this to the observatory, there is a keyhole in the center of the clock face. Place this in it, and turn it three times. Then pull it out, and bring it back.
Niccolo picked up the key, and then moved off taking large strides, and soon the others departed back towards the tower.
Jehanjir and the Summoner faced each other, and then embraced, kissing lightly on each cheek. They stared at each other, still arms locked. Jehanjir let a tear outwards.
This is truly an end I would never have envisioned.
It is as it must be.
With that the separated, and the Summoner pointed a single finger towards the sky. A strand of light appeared that pierced the heaven, and then, gradually, and far above, a pastel blue tinged with orange began to appear. Jehanjir marveled, because, of course, the darkness of the sky was a spirit that was bound over this place, and the summoner was going to use the force that bound it, to bind himself instead. The result was that the spirit of night, so long bound here, would be free.
The speed of the transition accelerated, and soon it seemed as if the sky was pouring down through the shaft, a vast long thin cataract. And around it the sky appeared, with a wash of soft clouds, through which the light of the Hiro, the sun she was orbiting at that time poured. The night was broached away. It covered the two magicians like paint. With each moment the outline of the Summoner grew fainter, and his features less distinct.
On the way back to the tower, the other soon to be voyagers turned back and looked, the cataract seemed far away, and they began to realize that this was a magic path, where each step they took was, in fact, much farther, and the clearing was a magic clearing, in a magic wood. Niccolo motioned for them to hurry, because, of course, the had only the length of the enchanting.
Back in the clearing, a small hoard of tiny spirits spread out, they began sawing and cutting, some formed themselves into thin saws, others into tiny axes, while others would gather in gangs to use their transformed companion. Others hammered at rocks and rapidly forged all the small metal and stone fittings of the vessel. Thousands of tiny fires stroked thousands of very thin pillars of smoke that disappeared up into the air, tossed about by vagrant winds and vanishing into a haze that cast an even redder pall on everything. Lastly, the mirrors of Lilith faded, for they were the anchors of the spell, and she appeared, as a then crescent like a sail in the sky.
Then, just as the whole of the celestial dome was bathed in a rich sunset, pieces of wood and ringlets flew in towards the center, assembling themselves in the pattern of the orrery of the ship, each piece floating in its proper location, until joining with others, small spirits pushing and forcing each into place, or using cunning hammers the size of fleas to create a snug fit. Finally the last chord of the dying light of sunset touched the far edge of the clearing, and Niccolo, Higar and the others ran to the almost assembled ship, trying to race the shaft of light, because that would be the auspicious moment to launch. Higar tossed everyone else in, one by one, and then found that Albrecht was there to offer a rope ladder, while Niccolo found himself on the wheel.
She was long like a bird with three wings, with two eyes to the front. There were billowing sails, that were half transparent, and had on them the markings of Lilith as each were a map of that moon. Behind was a tail, like the feathers of a bird, before which was Niccolo at the wheel. Below, Jehanjir was already in the hold, which now encased him. His friend had faded entirely in the light. Then, there was only the natural illumination, which meant the hold was almost black. The astrologer, having spent his life in darkness, walked among the masts and bulkheads without needing to look, and walked up the stairs into the open deck.
Niccolo was furiously mixing phosphoric acid, camphor, mercury, and magnesium together, along with several other more specific compounds. He used these to light two giant lanterns that were aft of the vessel: these would turn the ether into air and that they could breath.
The ship rocked back and forth, and then it floated free of the ground, pulling over the trees. Niccolo had time only to light the lanterns, before taking the wheel. The entire ship seemed ready to turn over, and he fought the wheel to keep the port sail from smashing into the edges of the trees. But then their velocity increased and the trees began to fall away, and the blue of the sea grew larger. They could see the astrologer's tower, clearly a league away from where they launched. It was slowly sinking into the ground, covered by the sphere's skin, entombed not merely in the dirt, or the rock below, but in the very material of Eowilonwey, safe until their return, if they ever did.
The princess looked and pointed at the descending tower.What is going on?
Jehanjir smiled, and said.I have a key.

 The air of the sphere whipped by them.