35. Light Conversation

May 29th, 2017 § 0 comments

Chapter thirty-five of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.


Dajenour brought Sophie back to Henry, but not to the spot they had taken off from. The Golgantry knew everything about the woods and Perendjo, so finding people wasn’t hard for them. There were others who could see farther, and when the Golgantry needed help, they knew who to ask, but Dajenour needed no help finding the boy. They landed almost silently—the slightest puff of air from back-pedaling wings ran though Henry’s hair—and when Henry turned to them, he only had eyes for Sophie. He cried out and ran to her and hugged her before he composed himself, his smiles quickly fading to concern. He realized the tree she’d been beside wasn’t there anymore, because the Golgantry were as good at not being found as they were at finding.

“Sophie? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

She looked intense, like when she was studying for a test and trying to remember something.

“I told them the Golgantry took you,” he said. “We found the temple, Sophie!”

The non sequitur seemed to peak her interest and she finally seemed to see him.

“The temple?”

“But no one wanted to go in without you—obviously. They’re still searching for you! They knew the Golgantry took you but they didn’t want to believe it. Did you talk to Ana-loop?”

Sophie tried to keep up with his excited commentary, but her face flickered again and the concentration returned.

“Lightfall…Lithari… Radiance…” she started repeating, hoping she was remembering the pieces correctly.

“Lightfall… Lithari… Radiance…”

“What did you say?” Henry asked suspiciously.

She didn’t imagine it mattered if she remembered everything Ana-loop had said, but those three things had seemed like the most important. She snapped back to the present again, reminded of something Henry had just said.

“They have her in a box. It’s like an ark, like in my illustrated Bible. They keep the box—with Ana-loop inside—in a place called the Expanse. It was so dark,” she added fearfully, her brow furrowing in fear and confusion at the memory. “I couldn’t see anything. Not until they let her out, then I could see her and the box…”

She trailed off, staring into the distance again: “Lightfall… Lithari… Radiance…”

“So she was arrested, Sophie? She’s in a box? In the dark?”

Sophie shrugged distantly, no longer hearing what he was saying. “I have to find my mom and Bransen. Lightfall… Lithari… Radiance…”

Lightfall?” Henry snapped.

Sophie stopped and whispered in a clipped tone, “Ana-loop said to find a lightfall—whatever that is—and go through it to a place called Lithari. Then we’d find something called Radiance and that would force them to let us go—”

“We found that!” Henry shrieked. “The lightfall! We did! We found the temple and it has a…a… Well, it’s a lightfall! Like a waterfall of light!”

“Henry, we’re trapped! They’ve locked us in!”

“Henry!” a voice called out and Carlos emerged through the brush. “For God’s sake, don’t you wander off, too!”

He stopped short when he saw Sophie, though she didn’t think he looked genuinely surprised to see her.

“Here!” he yelled back over his shoulder. “I found Henry! And he’s with Sophie!”

Before his voice had even stopped resounding though the woods, Luci came pounding through the brush and trees to them, scooping Sophie up and hugging her tightly.

“Sophie—oh God, don’t run off like that!”

“Lightfall… Lithari… Radiance…” she intoned, squirming until Luci was forced to put her back down. “Mom! I didn’t run off! Dajenour took me to see Ana-Loop!”

The others caught up behind them and Sophie singled out Bransen with her gaze, moving past her mom to him. She knew her mom had been scared, but she didn’t want to forget, and for some reason she thought Bransen would understand.

“There’s a lightfall,” she said deliberately to him “Beyond the lightfall is a city called Lithari. In Lithari is something called Radiance. When we get that, they have to put the portals back and we can leave.”

Bransen felt like he understood, but not everything. He’d seen the lightfall—they’d all seen that—but what she’d said about the portals seemed more immediately important than the rest of it.

“Who told you they moved the portals?” he asked her gently.

“Ana-Loop,” Sophie said. “Dajenour said they didn’t move them very far—they can’t. Something to do with lines, he said. But she said to find Lithari—”

“Where is Ana-Loop?”

“She’s in a box in the darkness. They called it the Expanse.” Sophie’s brow furrowed and she glanced at Henry for support. “The box is like the pictures I’ve seen of the Ark of the Covenant—sort of. It’s rectangular and has two poles, so it can be carried. It’s surrounded by the Golgantry. They told her not to go into the Expanse because she knew what it was like out there.”

The adults mumbled and spoke softly to each other, sharing glances and uncertainties. Despite the overwhelming proof that the children could astral project as well as any other person could walk to the corner market, they were still children, and the suspicion of exaggeration always loomed. Except for Bransen. He knelt down in front of Sophie so he could speak to her quietly. He looked afraid, but in a guilty way, like he’d broken his mom’s favorite knick-knack.

“What did she do that was so wrong?” Bransen asked.

“She let us in before we were ready. She gave us the machine. That’s why we need to find the Radiance—she said that only then would we understand.” Sophie titled her head as she spoke, watching Carlos for his reaction. “They think we’ll harm Perendjo.”

There was silence. Bransen looked to Carlos for a translation since Sophie had been watching him. Carlos wondered how much Sophie had learned from Ana-Loop and Dajenour.

“Our light bodies,” he explained cautiously. “It’s more Hiram’s thing—he said something about our Radiance. It’s like the opposite of our physical body. It’s our light body. There must be some lesson about it in this city—Lithari.”

“Through the lightfall,” Sophie prompted. “The city through the lightfall.”

She finally relaxed and smiled. She’d remembered the whole message and they seemed to understand it. They’d be home again soon.

“Well didn’t we already know that? ” Mouse blurted defensively. “That we’re body and light? Just like in the Bible?”

“No,” Henry cut in sharply. “Not like in the Bible. And knowing isn’t the same as understanding.”

“Understanding what?” Mouse asked, glowering at the boy. He sounded angry, but it was only to cover his fear. Luci reached out and put her hand on his arm and his posture softened. “Well, doesn’t it say in the Bible something about Jesus being the body and the light?”

“It was Matthew,” Lorna replied softly. “He said the light of the body is in the eye, and if the eye is good, then the whole body shall be full of light, but if the eye is evil, then body will be full of darkness.”

“Is not the life more than the meat and the body more than the raiment?” Mouse said slowly and nodded, some distant memory of Sunday school bubbling to the surface.

What?” he added. “I went to church as a kid!”

“We were always told it was a lesson about faith over material possessions,” Lorna explained. “It’s the part where Matthew says no man can serve two masters. You can’t be both spiritual and material.”

“Maybe we can,” Bransen decided, standing back up. “Maybe that’s the lesson.”

“Or maybe we have to decide,” Carlos intoned. “Maybe Lithari will make us choose. I think this might be the faith portion of your science, Bransen.”

Bransen looked at Henry and Sophie. Henry nodded slowly, his face serene, and for some reason that frightened Bransen more than anything.


34. The Long Watch | 36. Wood and Stone  ⇒

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