Burning in the Void – Chapter 15

sickness _Sera

The surface of the black tablet swam with colors, reminding Sera of the strange boxes with moving white and blue symbols which she had touched to open doorways and lower ladders as she traveled through the strange passages behind the walls. Kamon sat beside Sera’s bed and stroked the images with her fingers, causing them to grow and shift, until Sera recognized the scene unfolding before her.

She was looking at a Festival of Giving.

“Is this happening now?” she exclaimed, suddenly terrified that she had slept for two whole weeks and her cousin Anna was being sacrificed to god even as she lay in bed, watching the festival from a distance.

Kamon shook her head and gestured with her fingers, revealing a series of letters and numbers glowing in white over the moving images. “No, this is the gathering that took place three weeks ago. Here, let me show you…” her fingers danced and the image on the screen raced forward, then shifted so suddenly that Sera felt her stomach turning at the sight. Finally the image froze and Kamon said, “See, here you are.”

Sera took the tablet from Kamon and stared at the image. It did indeed show her standing beside the stretchers on which lay the sick who were to be sacrificed. She could remember that exact moment. Seven residents of the fourth ward had been sacrificed that month. That had been more then the usual number, but with food and raw resources continuing to be in short supply, more and more people were turning to scavenging in the deep passages. Master Rigel stood just a couple meters away, speaking the ceremonial words that transferred responsibility for those who were beyond his ability to heal to the priests, who would see them delivered to god. She remembered the press of the crowd and the weeping of family members as they said their final goodbyes.

“How can you see this? Is this some sort of magic?”

“It’s not magic, Sera. We can see anything that happens in the hub of your world. I think your people call it the ‘spin’.”

“The Spine. It is the core of god’s body, from which radiate the wards, like ribs growing from the spine of a body.”

“Spine. I’ll have to take note of that and tell our linguists to update their software.”

“How can you know any of this?”

“There are very small machines throughout the Spine, we call them cameras, which allow us to see whatever is happening. They are placed throughout your wards as well, but we cannot use all of them due to, well… damage that keeps us from talking to them.”

Sera closed her eyes and tried to concentrate, to understand what Kamon was describing. It seemed impossible, this ability to see something from far away, but she held in her hands the tablet that showed events far away and in the past.

After a time she asked, “What happened to me? I don’t understand any of this, except that I followed magic blue arrows to escape from the kingdom and somewhere along the way I got sick and lost a week.” She waved the tablet, saying, “I remember this happening two weeks ago, but you tell me it was almost three weeks ago.”