The Useless Worlds
The Travel mages repaired the hhejŝṧhyant with careful spellwork. Sjojarn had a small silver hammer that, unlike most things, existed in several styles of reality simultaneously. He tapped each structural element with it, and he and Wo Awo, and often Xilobrax the physical magicologist, attended to the resultant quiverings and resonances quite carefully. They replaced several members who character did not wholly please them.
Two days later they were ready to try again. All the dragons and small people gathered to watch. Wo Awo performed the final ritual of the Pentagonal Cyclone this time. The hhejŝṧhyant did not immediately collapse; its whirling winds — and the whirling of the world-wefts that it passed through — simply persisted, leading off from the hhejŝṧhyant at an impossible angle.
“Well then,” said Osoth. “This is a more promising start to the day than the last one. Let us proceed with all the caution that Quel Quen recommends at this point. Send forth a minikin!”
Charimaan cast the Clever Paw of the Clever Beast, spinning potentiate nothingness(†) into a small hairy beast with big hands and big eyes. The group lacked a proper scryer, so Itharieth the biologist cast the The Excellences of the Elongated Ears to observed it.
(†)That’s what physical magicologists say. If you can understand what it means, please explain it to me. Unless you’re a physical magicologist. —Jʸ
The minikin scampered on its fingertips into the cyclone. Itharieth watched it, and, when Osoth tapped him on a shiny horn, offered a running commentary. “There it goes. Its fingertips sink slightly into the edges of the cyclone, as if the cyclone were spongy. Is that normal, Sjojarn?(❖) My, this is a long cyclone. I suppose it must be, to reach from here to our distant cluster of universes … It is not having any trouble walking. That will be useful when we try to move our herds through there. Though we might want to blindfold them. The appearance of the borders of the cyclone is not a bit comforting, even to me, and I know the basics of what it is made of and what it is doing. Actually, knowing such things makes it less comforting…” He blithered on for the better part of an hour.
(❖) It is normal.
At length he said, ”…Ah! Now we observe a change in the structure of the cyclone. A dot of glow has appeared in the distance. Can it be that the distal end… I’m sorry, that’s biologist-speak, I should be clear. Can it be that the far end of the cyclone is opening on a pleasant world, and facing the sky, so that we see the sun?(⊕) The dot is growing as the minikin approaches, it is becoming a disc. Now it is the size of a six-kirkop coin … don’t give me such a look, Psajathrion, of course I mean a six-kirkop coin held at foreleg’s length with the head at the most natural position, which would be, let me see, seven feet away. Now it is the size of a six-kirkop coin as seen from four and three-sevenths feet away. You think my measures are ridiculous? Very well. It subtends seven degrees. Does that satisfy you, by Snirdle’s girdle? Have you no poetry in your soul?”
(⊕) No, it can’t be, or not if the spell is functioning properly. The other end will be oriented vertically, so that travellers can walk out comfortably, in any world where ‘oriented vertically’ makes sense.
“I have no poetry about six-kirkop coins,” said Psajathrion. “Especially metaphorical ones. Larger and realer denominations will surely elevate me.”
“Well, then. Fourteen degrees … Twenty-two … By dint of much scuttling and clambering, the minikin has come to a towering wall of glow that fills the entire cyclone-passage.”
Sjojarn said, “Are there striations in the ṃahảkony texture of the walls?” [Sorry, there’s no good translation of that or any magicology word. —Jʸ∧BB]
“It is hard to see such things through my pitiful little scrying spell. But I believe so.”
“You have come to the outermost of our protective barriers, then. Beyond is the essence of the new world.”
“The essence of the new world seems to be a mass of illumination, with subtle shifting variations forming three distinct sorts of pattern,” said the scrying biologist.
“That is most likely unfortunate. But I suppose there is some chance it could be something surprising or useful. Send the minikin through — into the Beyond!” cried Sjojarn melodramatically.
“Well, that’s certainly a substantial transition,” said Itharieth shortly.
“Into what?” asked Osoth.
“My spell was destroyed the instant the minikin crossed the barrier,” said Itharieth. “Did the barrier cancel the spell? That would be a strange choice on the part of Sjojarn … who indicates denial, so no, the barrier is not responsible. Most likely the minikin was destroyed and the spell with it. Though some magically-active entity or effect could have broken the spell and let the minikin survive.”
Sjojarn shook his head. “Most likely the world is a Dull Glow. Still, Osoth? Would you care to investigate further? Have you some immaterial ghost or spirit at your disposal?”
Osoth said, “In fact, I have acquired dominion over a suitable apparation. I had raised one at the first suggestion of immateriality, and here it is. Gimuse Nuthu, arise, come forth!” Gimuse Nuthu was the ghost of a hoven biologist, one of the ones who had worked on the problem of the mind-controlling worms. I had met her several times. She had died young, in a regrettable mountain-climbing accident on vacation in the Khamrous.
Gimuse Nuthu whispered, “I died, but now dragons surround me.”
Osoth said, “Gimuse Nuthu, you died as an adventuresome tourist! Now I summon you forth for further adventures in touristry! Sound fun?”
“Master, I obey with pleasure!” The ghost paused. “Why am I calling you ‘Master’?”
“I raised you in the usual way. It expects unfriendly ghosts. Wait, I’ll fix that…” Osoth dismissed Gimuse Nuthu, and then re-summoned her. “Better?”
“Yes, thank you very much! What did you want me to do?” Osoth explained, with interruptions from everyone but Roroku. “Oh, that’s wild! When do I set off?”
“On the instant, good Gemuse!”