Chapter VII

     The pictorial instructions for the platform which the Builders provided the three travelers were simple enough to follow. The entire device, circular with a fifteen-foot diameter, was mounted on wheels for rolling over smooth terrain. It was easily brought out the doors and to the grass outside the Builders' tower. The platform was glider-based. From the air, the canopy was designed to catch the wind and slow the descent considerably, allowing for manual control over horizontal direction. The entire perimeter of the craft was equipped with fans which, powered by a battery of tremendous capacity, could actually elevate the platform hundreds of feet above the ground in a single, fast discharge. Once aloft, an alternate battery controlled the fans which could be turned horizontally to direct the platform as it fell. A complete descent would take approximately three minutes, and the battery was recharged through an impressive mere fifteen-second's turn of a small hand crank. In this way, the three could reach a great height through repeated discharges every half minute or so and then glide all the way across the ocean at a horizontal rate of nearly fifty miles per hour.
     Drum Boy and Tim stayed on the ground while Lord Psycho gave the craft its first trial run. The bane stood in the center of the platform at the small control deck and discharged the battery through the vehicle's many fans. As expected, the platform rose into the air at a sudden rate, sending blown dirt into the faces of the onlookers. When they were able to look again, the craft was no longer visible.
     "Where is it?" asked Tim, looking directly upwards.
     "There!" pointed out Drum Boy after a moment. Psycho had circled the entire tower in only a minute. He pulled a release cord and the center of the canopy opened to double his descent speed. The craft landed on its spring- mounted wheels, took a brief bounce and settled.
     "I think it will do quite nicely," spoke Psycho. "It's really a lot easier to navigate than it looks, but it requires two people on board if you need to recharge the battery while you're moving."
     "How's the climb?" asked Tim.
     "Don't try it after a meal," suggested Psycho. "Speaking of which, it's time we had one."
     "If this device really works so well, perhaps we should start by taking a trip back to your castle," decided Drum Boy. "That way, if there is a problem, we won't be stranded far from a familiar place."
     "Do you always think like a pessimist?" asked Psycho.
     "If you don't expect much, you're never disappointed with the result," retorted Drum Boy. "It'll be easier to get food there, anyway."
     "Good idea. Are you all ready to depart?" No one had anything to say further, so the three boarded the craft. "You work the crank," commanded Psycho of Tim. "When the gauge reaches zero and the fans stop, turn this crank. When the meter fills up, I'll activate the fans again. If I don't, it means we're as high as we need to be. At that point, relax and enjoy the ride. Drum Boy, you're going to recharge navigational batteries the same way after we land. They don't use as much power so we'll worry about them as needed. Everyone understand?"
     Tim turned the crank as asked to prepare for the take off. "I think so," he answered. With a nod from Drum Boy, Psycho released the charge.
     Tim was pushed to the deck by the sheer momentum with which they rose. He was stunned by the speed at which they were pulling away from the ground until he became aware of Psycho shouting something to him. He immediately remembered to work the crank. Fifteen seconds later, the platform was shot upward again. Tim continued to crank. This time, Psycho did not use the reserved power, so Tim relaxed and approached the platform's side railing.
     Looking downward, he could finally realize just how high above the ground they really were. The tower looked like a toy below them. The small village was a blotch of color on an otherwise green landscape. There were forests, the river, other towns and what appeared to be another smaller tower. "What's that over there?" Tim asked Drum Boy, who too was observing the scenery.
     "Oh, probably the Builders' most recent... no, that one burned down. It's one of the Builders' past homes, anyway. Whenever they found they needed more space or wanted to incorporate a new method such as smelting, the whole lot of them simply went on to build a new, larger, more impressive tower the next hill over. We were just at what's probably, oh I'd say, number twenty perhaps? Look over this way, boy. It's where we're headed."
     Sure enough, Tim could make out the large stone castle in the center of an otherwise completely forested hill. He could also see the nearby village and marketplace. Tim wondered how Undecided was, the first person he had encountered in the Bane World to have given him any hospitality.
     Psycho maneuvered the platform carefully, and was just able to land it squarely atop the tallest parapet, just over the castle's foyer where Psycho had fought Drum Boy's illusionary General. The vehicle made it's impacting bounce and came to rest atop the stone roof. As Drum Boy recharged the navigational power, Jester appeared to investigate the resounding noise from within the castle's halls. Seeing his friends were home safely, he invited them all inside to prepare for that evening's dinner.

     "That thing on our roof can fly?" asked Extremely between bites.
     "And rather well, too," replied Lord Psycho. "Got the three of us all the way here from the tower without a stop in between."
     "And without casualty," added Drum Boy.
     "Everything I've seen here so far has just been amazing!" remarked Tim.
     "This place is nothing like Earth, huh?" asked Jester.
     "Actually, I've found quite a few more similarities than I expected to discover here," explained Tim. "I guess I'd just pictured things to be a lot more primitive."
     "What did you do to get thrown in here anyway?" asked Extremely. "I don't remember you saying. It must have been pretty severe to merit such a punishment as this."
     Tim was shocked. For all the weeks he'd been here trying to get his cover story straight, he'd never developed a reason to be in the Bane World which wouldn't reveal the fact that he had once been a god himself. He couldn't tell them the truth now. They had taken such good care of him that he couldn't tell them he'd been lying all along. He wasn't even certain they would still want to help him if they learned of his true origins. He'd have to stick to that "lost my memory" bit, but for how long could he use it to his hosts' satisfaction?
     "I..." he began. He really didn't know what to say, and sincerely wished for a way to express his gratitude when Lord Psycho interrupted him.
     "Now I'm certain we can stop interrogating the poor lad by now, can't we? He's had enough trauma concerning his past. I'm still a heck of a lot more interested in why the Prophets want him dead. There must be something wrong, and I'd like to know what it is."
     "What if you went to Mount Eldred with the whatchamacallit device?" suggested Jester. "You could find out straight from them what the deal is."
     "They'd shoot us out of the sky if we went anywhere near there!" remarked Drum Boy.
     "Going there by flight is out of the question," concluded Lord Psycho. "They have at least one winged follower, anyway, and the craft is too fragile to take into a battle of any kind."
     "Then you three are taking it to the City to begin with?" asked Extremely. "Does the ship have a name?"
     "Don't ask Tim to make one up, it might take him a day or two," joked Jester. He had hoped to share a laugh but found that he was the only one to give the joke any notice, so he sulked for the duration of the meal.
     "I think the Builders called it Serial #6100," declared Lord Psycho after a swig. "What do you want to call it? 'The Psycho?'"
     Everyone groaned but Extremely who cited his approval of the name.
     "We could name it after Tim," suggested Drum Boy, "but I like the name 'Zdijian,' personally."
     "Name it after me? Like 'Timalak?'"
     "How about if we just call it a Lark?" muttered Jester.
     "I propose we call it something generic like the glider or something," declared Lord Psycho. "We don't have to make it our pet, after all."
     "Sounds good to me," agreed Drum Boy, pushing his chair from the table and preparing to leave. Isn't it time for your next lesson in swordplay, boy?" he asked Tim.

     "Ouch!" shouted Ryan who was awakened by the onslaught of a bucket being dropped down the well and onto his head. "Dammit! My head's still a little soft you... huh?" The regenerative found himself to still be within the well he'd awoken in that afternoon. "Hey! You'd better hold onto that rope tight!" he called upward. He began to clamber up the rope attached to the bucket but found himself falling once more. Whomever had dropped the bucket in had now let go of the rope and left Ryan at the bottom. "Hey! Get back here! You...!"
     Aries walked away from the town well. "I can't remember the last time I threw a dead regenerative down a well," spoke the Bane of Pimpin'.

     "You've gotten much better!" spoke Lord Psycho, observing as his brother fended off Tim's blows.
     "If I've gotten so much better, how come my sword hasn't touched him once?" inquired Tim.
     "Don't forget whom you're dealing with," grunted Extremely. "You aren't sparring with Jester anymore."
     They practiced for hours until the pair were exhausted and then some. After a very long night's rest, the brothers Psycho partook in their morning ritual. The five shared breakfast together and the three adventurers launched the glider for the long-awaited journey to the famed City of the Bane World.

[Chapter VI] [Chapter VIII]

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Last page update: 7.21.98