keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 63: Beam 16
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 62: Hastings 153
“What we need,” Beam said, “is a way to know what’s happening in the room while we’re in the hall outside.”
“Well,” Bron replied, “I’ve got a trick I used as a boy. My uncle had brought me a bit of glass and asked me to make him a couple of glass balls, and I said I would if he would show me what he did with the thing and gave me enough glass to make some for myself. If I cast the spell that links the two and then put one in the place I want to watch, for a couple of hours the other will show me whatever is within sight of the one.”
“And you’ve done this?”
“Well, as it happens, the man who took me on as an apprentice blacksmith had a daughter a year older than me, so I used it quite a bit.” Bron blushed. Beam grinned.
“Well, you’re going to use it again. We need to know how they open the door. You have the balls?”
“Yeah, I keep them in my magic bag. Problem is, it’s eyes only. I don’t hear anything, so I won’t know the words.”
“Definitely a problem. I wish I had one of those doctor things they use for listening to heartbeats, but I don’t expect anyone in this world has ever heard of such a thing. I think, though, that if we can get a metal cup or a glass we should be able to listen through the door. Anyway, we’ll have Bob with us to listen to their thoughts, so hopefully he can give us the words that way. Let’s get what we need.”
By dinner they knew what they were doing. Dawn was going to enter the room when the girls were headed for bed, ostensibly to check that it was safe, and would carry the glass ball in and place it with the other knick-knacks on the mantel in plain sight of the rug. Bron would then watch until the girls opened the door, and the team would break into the bedroom, hopefully find the magical trapdoor open, or if not use the magic to open it.
After dinner everything was in readiness, and Bron cast his spell on the glass balls. The girls entered the room, Dawn accompanying them, and after making a show of checking behind tapestries and examining the lock on the shutters, she set the one ball on the mantel. She withdrew from the room, and Beam heard the bolt slide closed putting them on the outside. He had already hidden a heavy axe behind a nearby tapestry, so that wasn’t a worry.
“What’s happening?” he asked.
“They’re waiting,” Bron replied. “They probably want us to fall asleep, but they know better than to try to drug us.
Beam nodded. “We can wait. Keep watching and listening.” He sat against the door with one ear against the tin cup he had procured from the kitchen, listening to the muffled voices. Dawn stood implacably in the middle of the hall, Bob pacing back and forth around her.
“Here we go,” Bron said after almost half an hour. “They’re moving the rug.” Everyone focused on the task at hand.
“That’s it, the gate’s open,” Bron said. Beam dropped the cup and grabbed the axe, while Bron pocketed his glass ball. It took several whacks to break open the double doors, but then they were inside, and could see the large rectangular opening in the floor at the top of a long wide flight of stairs leading down into darkness.
Axe still in hand, Beam walked to the top of the stairs. He wanted a cigarette, but knew it was not a good time. Looking down, he saw that the stairs ran perhaps ten stories, and the princesses were running down them as fast as they could. At the bottom was a road, a narrow straight strip, running through a dark but eerily shiny forest toward a lake in the midst of which was an island. He paused to attempt to get the lay of the land, to see what else might be visible. “All right,” he said, “let’s go find out what they’re up to.”
Suddenly Bob stepped onto the first step and pushed Beam back such that the white-haired man almost fell, then stepping back up onto the stone floor again while saying, “Stah! Dayng!”
“What’s the matter, Bob?”
At that moment the girls reached the bottom of the stairs, and the stairs began folding into themselves from the bottom, vanishing rapidly such that in considerably less than a minute there were no stairs, and the gate closed leaving only floor.
“That would have been a nasty fall,” Bron said.
“Thanks, Bob,” Beam said.
“Yeah, thanks,” Bron added. “So, what do we do?”
“Well, we see if we can open it again and follow them. They have a head start, but there’s only one road that I saw, and it only goes one direction, so we don’t have to worry too much about losing them. You saw the ritual?”
“Yes, I think I can duplicate what Margaret did. I don’t know what she said, though.”
“What I heard was something like ahraylah wear ta way way doh passar.”
Bron shrugged, and stood near the door. “Stand back.” He then extended his arms and repeated what Beam had said, but nothing happened.
“O.K.,” Beam said, “let’s see what Bob got.
Bron dug out a penny and threw it at Bob. Then he frowned. “I’m afraid that Bob was listening to thoughts, not words, and what he got was something like ‘Open the door so I may pass.’ That doesn’t really help us, I think.”
Beam shrugged. “Well, try it anyway.” Bron did, but again nothing happened.
“Well, we’re stuck,” Bron said. “If we don’t know what she said, we apparently can’t open the gate.”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #293: Versers Relate. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: