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Read Chapter 1 (Part 1) at: Deep Sky Stories
Alex The Inventor (And the Ghosts in the Glass Tunnels)
From faraway homes,
Two brothers must search,
For the answers to atone,
For the ancestors of each.
For while the Nethlin,
Prowls the portals her people created,
The torment for the ghosts,
Shall continue unabated.
Time and space are swiftly travelled,
Among the ancient pillars,
Made of chandelier crystals.
And dimensions are joined,
By the turning of the compass design on a coin.
And what a mother may lose,
A lost father must gain,
So that two worlds can be bridged,
So that peace may again reign.
For there are the Others,
Who would invade both worlds,
By trickery and deceit,
And they wait at the portals,
Plotting everyone's defeat.
So, if you dare to, now read on,
And discover another father's son,
Who began his journey,
Up through the ages,
To save the present,
Within these pages.
Chapter 1 (Part 1) - Of Lineage and Tokens of Manhood
When the boy and his large companion arrived on what became their new Homeworld, they had to learn to survive and adapt to the new environment as best as they could.
The boy was fit and hardy though and he had the good sense to pack what provisions he thought were necessary before he began his lone journey from one planet to the other.
He first saw his new Homeworld from afar only a year before - that being two of our years.
His father, King T'eir of the Valley's southwestern shores, had taken him to the highest tower of his palace on a dark, clear night and pointed up at the tiny blue dot nestled among the stars.
It did not appear to be very interesting to the boy at first - it was just a pale blue speck in the darkness and looked much too distant as well. Yet his father told him that that dot in the night sky was a very interesting place indeed. The blue dot was actually nearer to their Homeworld than even the brightest of the stars which turned in the black velvet dome high overhead.
How could that be, the boy wondered. It was only a little blue dot in space. There was no other place which could possibly match the beauty and wonders of the boy's own Homeworld.
The valley he lived in was a full, rich and wild country all by itself. It was the envy of the Plains People who roamed the cold and dusty steppe-lands beyond his home.
In the Valley there were thick, carpets of Ground-Leaf and mosses of every kind grown with care by the Life-Givers of each village. And rich farmlands of the hard-working Tils Clan stretched in thin strips of fertile soil for hundreds of miles along the banks of the mighty River Styx.
Then there were the Strand Villages which were clusters of mud huts that stood upon tall, erosion-carved sandstone pillars. The pillars were situated throughout the entire length of the endless river valley. The Valley did seem to be endless, so far did it stretch from East to West, from horizon to horizon.
The village pillars all stood a full two miles above the thundering river. A boy, such as he, could run and explore from village to village for weeks on end because each was inter-connected, one to the other by a web of strong rope bridges.
A boy could meet new and interesting people all along the way and would never go hungry because the food and bounty from the Valley floor was shared freely among the villagers.
No, there was nothing, the boy was sure, which could possibly compare with the splendor of his Homeworld. True, there were a few worrying signs of troubles ahead which the boy often heard his Royal parents discussing with various diplomats and "High-War Moderators" during evening meetings.
The meetings had something to do with "accidents" involving the "Moon-War" machines which were somehow reaching the surface of his world and causing serious problems, even fatalities at times, among the nomadic Plains People.
But Halden, the son of King T'eir was not afraid of such problems as these. His father would make short work of those nasty little robot Flies, he was sure. No, there was no world as wonderful nor any people as powerful as his race, that was certain.
"Come, look upon the yonder distant Waterworld through the lens of my Aether-Glass", Halden's father said as they stood together atop the tower of the Royal Palace that cold, clear summer night.
When he did look, Halden was astounded to see the blue dot in an entirely closer and different perspective. Halden was bundled up in his warmest buckskin, fur coat and leggings. Only his head was left uncovered so that his dark brown hair-quills could move freely about, scrubbing the oxygen from the thin Martian atmosphere.
Stepping up to the Aether-Glass, he saw a slowly turning gem of a world lying just beneath a scant blanket of curling, restless clouds. Within the curve of the planet's night-shadow, Halden saw the brilliant flashes and sparks of violent thunderstorms as they crashed across a huge expanse of deep blue ocean.
White froth from thundering waves outlined the crooked dividing line where brown and green continental shores met the waters and slowly fell into them over millennia. Once or twice as Halden scanned even further down upon that strange new world, he thought he saw huge living beings splashing up out of the deep blue seas and blowing strong, white mist from out of their heads.
Then, along the tops of the highest snow-capped mountains could also be seen other moving, walking beings who ran and leaped nimbly from peak to peak with agile grace. Sometimes, they even could be seen crashing their curved horns against one another in violent, exciting battles!
Halden, the Royal Prince was at once enthralled and taken away by all these living wonders and each night he pestered his father to turn his Aether-Glass toward that alien planet once more. He soon knew so much about, "the Blue Waterworld” that Halden told his father that he wished he could journey to it so he could explore and truly experience all there was to see there.
"Do you think there are people like us on the Blue Waterworld, father", he asked one night after a particularly exciting few hours of watching that world with the small beings climbing the mountain tops and the larger ones swimming in the waters.
For, at one point, Halden thought he also saw several small fires burning in the darkness of the planet's night-shadow as well. Was it only some trees burning from a chance lightning storm passing over them, or could they be fires which were deliberately set by intelligent hands?
Fire was an extremely rare occurrence on his Homeworld because the air was very thin and so did not allow for fires unless they were taken from the hot lava which flowed from the crater of Mount Olympah.
"Nay, t'is a world that be too near the Centra-orbal Flame, t'is too hot for ones such as us to live wi'out being baked alive, Hal'd", his father, the King replied.
"See there, lad, only the bein's who live in the cool of the seas or the cold of the high snows may hope to survive wi'in such heat." "Nay, Hal'd", he finished wisely with a proud and arrogant sweep of his thickly muscled arm, "this be the only world within the domain of our Centra-orbal Flame which may hope to sustain those such as us."
T'eir's long, kingly mane of graying hair-quills shivered and flourished proudly in the thin atmosphere of Mars. As the king spoke, his young son hung on every evenly worded pronouncement.
Halden was always in awe of his father's even-handed way of thinking through difficult problems of the State or of the individual, then solving each with fair and sensible words. Very rarely was there the need for a heavy hand of any sort and T'eir was always loathed to see the need for such violent acts.
Still, there had been rumors of late - word of the possibility, no matter how remote, that there would come the need for military combat someday soon. For there were some in the Guild of High-War Moderators who did not believe that the kill-signals, which had been sent to the War Machines of the two moons several years before, could have shut down all the Machines so easily.
No, there was news of many unfamiliar lights sighted in the night sky that flashed by overhead much too swiftly. They were often seen moving back and forth between the moons as they passed each other and T'eir, who studied much of the astral realm, saw those curious sights as well.
And they were becoming more and more frequent of late. Stranger still was the meteor clusters which fell from the heavens day and night. Then, soon after that, small hordes of Flies were sighted off on the distant eastern plains and contact with some of the nomadic people was lost.
The king did not share such worrisome thoughts with his young son though and the spare time that he did spend with Halden was to enrich their bond as father and son as much as possible.
For some reason he could feel in his gut, the king sensed that these precious moments he had with his wide-eyed young son would soon be lost. For, it was not only the War Machines that gave the king grave concerns, he also saw something else through the lens of his powerful Aether-Glass.
It was a shimmering, distant, icy smooth sphere which moved swiftly against the backdrop of stars each night, and during each watchful night it grew larger and brighter before his eyes.
Being a Royal, T'eir knew of the legend of the “Great Change” which must befall his Homeworld every five thousand Martian years. He also knew that if this dangerously closing planet was the harbinger of the Great Change then the time of the long winter and the "Death-Sleep" was nearly at hand.
And so, T'eir came up with a plan, a trick actually which he knew would give his inventive-thinking boy something to occupy his ingenious young mind. It was something that Halden could build when T'eir could no longer spend the time with him that he wished to.
What he built could also become his son's means to escape the two disasters which the King felt certain were soon to come.
T'eir was a Warrior-King of the Fier-waii Clan and a leader among The Royals of The Valley and he had earned much respect from them as well as the common folk.
However, he was a thinker and a planner as well who did not turn a blind eye away from the hard facts of a coming harsh reality. Only a fool would do so and would pay for their folly.
Therefore, T'eir faced the two dangers head-on and planned how to deal with the worst outcomes while giving his two children the best protection he could.
One, his little Rainah he would keep close to home in the family palace while the other, his adventurous older one, Halden he gave a chance to spread his wings and escape to the one other place beyond his Homeworld that he longed to see: the Blue Waterworld.
((Halden)), the king telepathed to his son not long afterward, ((come to the foot of the southern cliff which receives the first rays of each summer morning, I have a mission of great importance for you to complete for me.))
Halden obeyed his father's cryptic summons and, mounting Spear, his gleaming Dragonfly Guardian, the mystified Martian boy flew swiftly to the place his father had mentioned.
There, on the valley floor, Halden found his father as well as a curious assortment of people. One woman who was there, he knew to be his private tutor but the others were several men whom he occasionally saw discussing important matters with his parents.
Halden landed gently on a carpet of creeping Ground-Vines, a short distance away and walked over to the small group of adults while Spear pranced daintily behind on long, thin insect legs, his powerful rainbow-coloured wings folded neatly back.
"Halden, you are near to becoming a young man and a fine Royal Warrior", his father announced, "that is why I have decided to entrust you with a most important and challenging endeavor."
"Come", T'eir said, and without further explanation, he and the group of adults turned and started climbing some steep rock steps that had been carved into the cliff face ages ago. Halden followed, keeping up as best he could with the small entourage as they scaled upward.
Presently, they came to a small plateau and there Halden saw the entrance to a cave. Inside they all walked and there, the boy saw a wondrous sight, for the cave was filled from the floor to the ceiling with all manner of tools, metal materials and mechanical devices.
Then the story unfolded from his father, and it was a most enticing story, with a goal that he had set for his ingenious young prince to accomplish.
"Father...what is all this for", Halden asked as he gazed all about him with awe and delight.
"Halden", T'eir began, "I have finally decided to give you a Manhood Challenge which will be most difficult but which I also know that you will strive your utmost to fulfill.
A Manhood Challenge, so that was it! Every boy of the Martian race was given his own special challenge to accomplish after they reached a certain age. The challenge was often something which his parents both realized would befit whatever the boy was most keen on learning to do. Whether the Manhood Challenge was athletic or academic, it was a task which was often very difficult but which was still overcome more often than not.
"What-what is my challenge", Halden asked eagerly for he was at once impatient to be hard at the task, whatever it was, so he could earn his father's respect as a man. Halden couldn't wait to grow up.
"Come, to the plateau." "There we will strike a flame and wait till night-fall." "Then you will know your challenge", the king finished. And there the father and his son and the small group of learned people lit a weak Meditation Flame and sat down to wait.
All was silent after that, with the unlikely group sitting together around the feebly guttering flame, deep in quiet meditation or simply sharing with one another their open honesty through telepathic waves.
Dusk soon fell and the stars began appearing overhead. Then, shining blue and clear among its silently winking companions appeared the Blue Waterworld.
Without further ceremony, T'eir the king simply pointed up to the dark velvet, twilight sky and said, "There...that is your Manhood Challenge, Hal'd. You will build a ship, with the aid of these most learned people and with it, you shall voyage to that most distant world."
Next: Chapter 1 (Part 2)
While young Halden works to complete his Manhood Challenge, his father prepares him for his journey and reveals wonders and terrible new secrets kept closely guarded by the Kings and Queens of the Valley. For there are awful dangers swiftly approaching Mars, their Homeworld, and their time as father and son will soon be but a memory, scattered by the Great Change.
As of July 17, 2017, Alex The Inventor (Book 2)
can be read at: Deepskystories.com