Vibrations harmonic magi.., p.34

Vibrations: Harmonic Magic Book 1, page 34

 

Vibrations: Harmonic Magic Book 1
 



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  The Zouy stood there, appearing to be thinking, trying to figure something out, as the creatures got closer and closer to him. At the last moment, he said something unintelligible and clapped his hands together. Sam saw a burst of light and heard a whine almost too high-pitched for him to hear. All eight of the creatures, looks of pain upon their faces, turned and fled back in to the trees.

  Sam remained motionless, breathing hard, waiting to see what would happen next. He checked on Skitter, finding the hapaki curled up at his feet, scared and still wary, waiting. After a few minutes, Sam took what felt like his first breath all day. Looking at Rindu, he was about to ask what happened, but the monk started speaking first.

  “Fascinating,” he said. “Those creatures are not only sensitive to vibration, but they use vibratory energy as a weapon. That first one attempted to flatten me with concentrated sound. Luckily, I recognized what it was trying to do and protected myself accordingly. They must have survived the Gray Man’s traps because they can sense the triggers and can fly above the forest.”

  “Wait a minute,” Sam said. “You’re telling me that those creatures use sonic weapons? Can such a thing be done? Can sound be used like that?”

  “Yes. That is what I did with them. I projected my rohw, at the precise frequency that would affect them, and it pushed them back. Did you not see it?”

  “I did,” Sam answered, “but I heard it, too. At least, I heard a little bit of it. I had the sense that there was more beyond what I could hear.”

  “Yes, much more. The part you heard, that was just my sloppy technique. I have never used that particular frequency of vibration before, so I used energy in a broad range to make sure it was effective. If I had done it correctly, you would not have been able to hear anything.”

  “You know, Master Rindu, you can be handy to have around.” Sam winked at the Zouy and Rindu smiled back.

  “I do what I can with such gifts as I have been given. Come, let us continue. I do not know if they will accept that we are not food now or if they will gather more forces to try to overwhelm us. I do not desire a battle with these creatures. They are only doing what they must to survive. I would not like to kill them.”

  For the next several hours, the party passed from one trap to the next, Rindu detecting and safely triggering them. Sam was trying to detect them as well, and had seen a few of them shortly after Rindu did. Even Nalia was watching for the traps, using her rohw to look for triggers. She found only one, which made Sam feel proud at first that he had seen more than her, but then feel embarrassed that he was thinking competitive thoughts.

  Tired from the constant searching and the constant tension, they took several breaks to eat snacks, drink, and to refocus. It was after the started out again after one such break that Sam heard Skitter’s mind screaming at him, Stop! Trap! Sam repeated the warning immediately and the others halted.

  Sam, take exactly one step forward so that you are standing next to Rindu, Skitter sent. Sam did so. Now, look down, just above the height of my back when I am lying down.

  Sam knelt carefully and looked. There, less than a foot off the ground, was a tripwire. An actual, physical tripwire. Pointing it out to Rindu, the Zouy nodded his head once and told everyone to move back fifty yards.

  Once they were all back, Rindu put his hand out, fingers splayed. He paused a moment, breathed, and then jerked his hand downward, palm first, as if he was slapping a tabletop. Sam heard the tripwire break and then the entire forest floor twenty feet on either side of where the tripwire was laid folded up like a giant book, crushing everything within it. The smashed foliage hung suspended in the air for a brief moment and then it all came crashing down, pulverized particles raining to the freshly turned soil where the forest floor once was. Trees, bushes, even a small boulder or two, were all crushed to dust from the force of the trap.

  “Now that,” Sam whistled, “is impressive.”

  Rindu didn’t take his eyes off of the fresh soil. “The trip wire must have triggered some sort of rohw powered device I have never seen nor heard of. I saw a flash of intense energy as it snapped shut, but do not know how it was done. How did you see the wire, Sam?”

  “I didn’t. Skitter saw it. He warned me.”

  “Skitter, my friend,” Rindu said, looking at the hapaki, “you just saved all our lives.” Sam knew Skitter could pick up the meaning from Sam’s mind and he added his congratulations and thanks to his friend as well. Skitter just seemed to take it in stride, like it was nothing special. Sam knew otherwise, though. His friend had justified his decision to complete the journey with them, and he was proud of it.

  It was a bedraggled and fatigued foursome that finally made its way to the edge of the forest. They could see across the barren buffer zone to the cliffs and the fortress placed atop them. The bat creatures had not bothered them again, so apparently their encounter had convinced the flyers that there were easier sources of food elsewhere.

  It had taken all day to cross the forest. The sun was just now setting and it would be dark soon. Discussing it amongst themselves, the little party decided to wait until it was fully dark to try crossing to the cliffs. There was no good way to cross without being seen in the daylight. They had decided, too, that it would do them good to get a few hours of sleep before continuing because they were so tired from the forest march. Late night would be a better time to cross, they reasoned.

  51

  With a few hours of rest, the party was ready to move on. They stood at the edge of the clearing around the fortress, wondering what surprises the Gray Man had in store for them.

  “Maybe it’s only what it appears to be, a cleared space that makes it easier to see people coming toward the fortress,” Sam said.

  Rindu was thoughtful. “Perhaps. Still, I expect that there is more to the area than it appears.” He stared out toward the cliff walls, as if looking for something.

  “Let us begin. Dr. Walt is a prisoner still and delay will achieve nothing,” Nalia pointed out.

  They began to cross the open area slowly, looking for traps or guards. They got to within a quarter mile of the cliff walls when Rindu stopped them. “Wait. I feel something is not right, but I cannot place it. Give me a moment.” He stared at the ground for several minutes. Shaking his head, he began to say something when his attention locked onto something just off to his left.

  A faint glow appeared where Rindu was looking. Sam could see the ground glow as if someone was shining a light on it. A weak light. All three humans and the hapaki watched the glowing light.

  The pulse of light seemed to be moving, yet it was not something glowing moving along the ground. It was the ground itself that was glowing, but the luminous spot was traveling. At first preoccupied with the light itself, Sam was not seeing the whole picture. Closing his eyes briefly, he widened his range of vision and then saw what was happening. Apparently the first to realize it, he tapped Rindu’s shoulder.

  “Look within the glow, not at it. Tell me if you see what I’m seeing.”

  Rindu looked back toward the glowing ground and Sam could see understanding dawn on the Zouy’s face. There, in the middle of the nascent area was a small animal, a rodent of some kind. As it moved along the ground, the dirt at its feet glowed. When it moved onto another part of the ground, that section would light up.

  Rindu looked relieved. “That is it. It is a trap. It is not to harm, but to warn the defenders. The entire area from here to the walls has been set in motion. The specific vibrations glow visibly when something steps onto the trapped surface. It dampens the vibrations, causing a glow. In this way, guards on the walls can track the movement. I am assuming the bigger the creature stepping into the trap, the brighter the glow. We will set off a glowing alarm if we continue in this way.”

  “How do we diffuse it or bypass it?” Sam asked.

  The Zouy mage thought for a moment, silent. Then, he looked intently at the rodent scurrying across the ground looking for food. A look that Sam recogn
ized came across Rindu’s face, the look of complete calm and intense focus.

  Rindu’s hand came up and Sam looked toward where the hand was pointing, right toward the rodent. As he watched, the glow underneath the animal suddenly winked out. As it skittered to and fro, the light would come back at times, though weaker than it was, but for the most part, the ground didn’t glow under the creature. When Rindu lowered his hand, the glow followed the little animal’s feet again as before.

  “That is it,” Rindu said. “I can manipulate the ground, fool it into thinking there is nothing on it to dampen the vibration. I do this by vibrating the ground just beneath the intruder, keeping its vibration from changing. “

  Nalia stepped forward. “Yes, but you were unable to suppress the glow even for a small animal. How will you do this with the four of us, who are much bigger?”

  “The rodent is moving quickly, making it difficult to vibrate the ground at its feet. We will move slowly. It will be easier.”

  Moving ahead, Rindu last so that he could visually pick out which part of the ground to manipulate, the party went forward. Skitter rode on Sam’s shoulders so that there was one less body to buffer. What seemed like hours later, they arrived within feet of the cliff walls. Rindu sat down, obviously fatigued from his effort.

  “There is a narrow band right at the bottom of the cliffs where the vibratory trap is not present. We are in the area now. Allow me a moment to rest before we move on.”

  “Of course,” Sam said. “While you rest, maybe Nalia and I can figure out how to get up these walls. They are much too steep, with holds that are too small, for us to climb them with our current footwear.”

  Sam and Nalia went together, staying at the base of the cliff walls so that they wouldn’t activate the glow trap. They walked along the wall in one direction for about a mile. Then, they turned around and passed by where Rindu sat, and scanned a mile in the other direction. They found nothing that would help them scale the cliffs.

  Returning to Rindu, they told him that they couldn’t figure out how to scale the cliffs. He got to his feet and told them to wait for him as he started walking slowly toward where they had just been. He brushed his hand lightly against the stone of the cliff as he walked.

  The cliffs themselves were unnaturally straight, almost like they had been cut to be a sheer wall. There was none of the scree or rockfall that would normally be present littering the base of the cliff, but instead the bare vertical stone met the ground at nearly a right angle. It was obvious that the area had been meticulously cleaned and was maintained so as not to have any type of platform on which to start climbing.

  Soon, the Zouy was almost out of sight, walking slowly and trailing his hand along the cliff’s surface. Occasionally, he would stop for a moment, but never for long. Sam and Nalia looked at each other questioningly. Sam shrugged, and sat down with his back to the cliff wall, looking outward across the barren landscape. It was only a few hours until dawn at this point, and the urgency of the situation was tugging at him. He was worried that they had come all this way, only to be foiled by something as mundane as a stone cliff.

  When Rindu returned, he bade them to follow him and he walked purposefully toward where he had just been. After about a half a mile, he stopped abruptly, turned and faced them. “Here is where we will enter,” he told them.

  Sam and Nalia both looked at the cliff face. It looked exactly the same as all the other rock surfaces of the cliff. Sam spoke first, “Enter? How are we going to enter?”

  Rindu’s mouth twitched into the shadow of a smile. “This fortress belonged to the Arzbedim before the Gray Man destroyed them and took it for himself. The Arzbedim were a group of rogue Zouyim who put their own greed for money and power above the honorable tradition of the Zouyim order.” He looked at them significantly, “They did not, however, completely change themselves. They were still trained as Zouyim and though they developed different abilities, much of what they did was based on what they learned in the Zouyim Temple.”

  “Father,” Nalia interjected. “I know you enjoy making your students guess to determine the lesson for themselves, but we have not the time for this. Please explain simply what you have found and how it can help us. It will be daylight soon.”

  “Of course. My apologies, Iba. What I have found is this.” He closed his eyes briefly and put his hand on the stone surface of the cliff. Sam thought he heard sound coming from the monk’s closed lips, but wasn’t sure. In his rohw-sensitive sight, he saw a brief glow and then the cliff’s wall suddenly shimmered like the surface of a clear lake disturbed by a slight breeze. The shimmering increased and then a portion of the wall was simply not there. In its place was a doorway roughly as wide as an average man and just high enough for him to enter without scraping his head.

  Stepping back, Rindu waved toward the doorway. “The stone was only partially in this world, vibrating at just the right frequency that a little nudge pushed it somewhere else. It has an affinity to this world, however, so when I stop forcing the area to vibrate as I am doing, it will snap back into existence, sealing the passageway again. It is a very old Zouyim method used for capping cisterns and the like. It is the first time I have ever heard of it being used for a passageway, though. It was very difficult to detect. There are probably several such passageways, used in the past for secret missions for which the Arzbed did not want others to know he or she was leaving or returning to the fortress.”

  “Well then,” Sam said. “What are we waiting for? Let’s see where it leads.” Causing the tip of his staff to glow, he stepped into the passageway, closely followed by the other two humans and Skitter. Once they were all past the doorway, Rindu allowed the door to materialize again, causing the darkness to sweep in on them, seeming to resist the the light Sam had provided.

  Rindu squeezed by the others to get in the lead. Using his rohw sensitivity, he didn’t need Sam’s light. Just ahead of them were stairs that were carved into the rock itself, so steep that they were almost like a ladder.

  “Do you think this passageway goes under the walls and into the fortress itself?” Sam asked.

  “I would not think so. Relying on only one doorway would be foolish. Knowing how paranoid the Arzbedim were, I think it probably ends somewhere outside the walls. Unfortunately, getting through the walls will probably be its own challenge.”

  Silently, the four made their way up the steep stairs. At no time did the stairs go straight up. Instead, they angled to the left, like a subtly turning spiral staircase would, occupying just a small section of the cliff itself. The air was dank and musty and Sam was feeling claustrophobic, even though the passageway was wide enough for him to travel up the stairs without his shoulders hitting the walls. They went up the stairs for a very long time, it seemed to Sam.

  By the time they came to the top of the passageway, Sam had no idea which direction they were facing. The stairs ended suddenly at a stone ceiling, the top step of the stairs mere inches below the cold stone. Rindu stood silently for a moment, focusing on something out of sight, past the stone ceiling. Finally, with a nod, he directed Sam to extinguish his light. Once in the deep blackness that can only be experienced in the bowels of the earth, he repeated the procedure he had performed below, including the sounds that Sam still could not understand, and the ceiling shimmered out of existence.

  The light pouring into the stairway was brighter than Sam would have thought. At first, he was afraid that they had been found out, but he quickly realized it was just in contrast with the utter dark of the stairway so that it appeared to be brighter. The stars and half moon showed the stone walls not twenty feet away, dark and imposing in the pale light.

  One more obstacle completed, Sam thought to himself.

  Yes, but still more to go before we are finished, Skitter answered, startling Sam. He had forgotten that the hapaki was there and that he probably heard everything Sam thought. Yes, everything, Skitter sent, conveying laughter along with it.

  Finding
the way the Arzbed used to traverse the walls was easy. There was a massive stone door close to where the stairway opening was. After several attempts at probing the door, Rindu looked disgusted. “It is only a door. There is no vibrational energy trigger or mechanism. It is several feet thick and it is barred with massive wooden beams with metal rods running through the center of them. There is no way to break in. Rather, there is no way to break in silently. We must find another way.”

  The stone wall in front of them was impressive. According to Rindu, it was at least a dozen feet thick, solid stone, and built with the stones stacked directly on top of each other. Each massive stone weighed several tons and the seams between them were so perfectly fitted that a piece of paper could not have been slid between them. There would be no climbing this wall by using the space between stones. In addition to being very thick, the wall was high, at least 50 feet, too far to throw a rope with a grappling hook, even if they had a grappling hook.

  Sam looked out across the barren buffer zone. Was the sky lightening? Was it almost dawn already? He knew they had to get inside the walls and into the fortress itself before it was light outside or they would be vulnerable to being spotted by the guards patrolling the top of the wall. Even now, Sam could see a pair of guards with torches making their way from his right toward his left along the top of the massive stone structure. He sniffed. Even he knew that the torches were probably ruining the guards’ night vision. The soldiers were complacent.

  The party quietly discussed what they could do for several minutes before Rindu came up with the only reasonable plan. Though Sam didn’t think it was very reasonable, or probable, he agreed because there simply was no other way they could think of, short of going to the main gate and trying to get in that way. If they did that, they would alert all the forces within the fortress that they were there and they would not survive to get inside.

 
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