Brik’ken Pullid Ruanna of Ostracus Prime, often tired of overseeing his forest domain. Perched near the peak of Mount Shadow, his attention again drifted from the mundane facts of the World to loftier concerns. He gazed at the stars—distant imitations of the Sun separated by a vast desert of air so thin his great wings could not propel him. There were mysteries beyond that impenetrable void—mysteries stolen from the World by an ancient and almost forgotten conflict.
These thoughts raced through his mind in fractions of a second. There were other esoteric concerns, equally fascinating and considerably more complex, that also commanded his attention. It was such lofty daydreaming that led the Council to assign him here, overseeing this peaceful land that needed little intervention. There were no rock trolls or desert hags here.
But this night his keen eyes found something in the sky that did not belong. It was small—barely two knuckles in diameter. It was brushing the thinnest layers of high air leagues above the tallest spire.
He had heard of objects falling from the sky—another ancient tale resembling myth more closely than it resembled historical fact. But if he believed the Keepers, no object of import had been able to reach the World since the capture of Tora, the World's third moon.
But if that was so, then what was this?
He narrowed his focus and searched for detail. The things fall did not feel right. It was not dropping like a free weight. And as it descended into thicker air, it drifted against the wind. This was not an experience he could keep to himself. It would probably annoy her, but he poked Pril with a mental nudge. She was the only one he trusted with a clear line of sight to the object.
Pril parried the nudge gruffly. What?
Brik shared his vision with her. The object was still several kilometers away, but falling. Don't you think that's odd?
Stop making things up, she said.
Look for yourself, he urged.
She resisted, but finally he felt her relent. Her eyes joined his and focused on the object. The vision was now clearer. There were angular details. There was a mix of materials—it had a taste of alchemy to it unlike anything Brik or Pril had experienced in their centuries of adult life.
We have to tell the Council.
Brik recoiled. I'm not telling the Council anything—especially not something as strange as this.
Brik shuttered. Even worse.
It could be dangerous.
No. Look at its size.
Then, as they watched, it broke apart. The two broadened their focus to understand the scope of the event. Relatively equally sized and composed pieces left in different directions. One selected a direction toward Brik's domain.
Their attention then shifted in unison to the approaching piece of the strange thing.
Is it alive? asked Pril.
Of course not. But I'm going to see what it is.
No, said Pril. I'm going to tell Zara and the Council.
Brik didn't argue. Pril was right. This couldn't be kept from them. But it would take them time to choose a course of action. In that time, Brik would hopefully have been able to satisfy his curiosity. But he had to act quickly if he did not want to be excluded from the event altogether. Good idea, he said. Pril's attention vanished from his mind. He stretched, surging strength and mobility through his limbs and wings and lifted from his spot to intercept the strange intruding thing.
Copyright (c) 2013 John Conway