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They left the shopping centre and walked down the lonely highway until they abruptly hit an invisible barrier where the space given to the sector simply ran out. The Game Gear found a seam in the wall and they climbed through. The next sector was a steep, narrow mountain path that reminded Will of the time Claris had taken him on a day trip to see Stick Canyon. Looking down at the sheer drop, he saw that the rocky expanse went on for miles, and he couldn’t tell how far down it went. The gaping hole in the ground looked bottomless. Looking down too long made him feel dizzy and a reflexive terror that he was going to fall off the cliff made him spring backwards and flatten himself against the wall. One of his hands clipped straight through it and he pulled it back. Shivering, he sat down firmly on a ground he at least knew worked. He tore his eyes away from the cliff ledge and deliberately looked up at the sky, which he wasn’t about to fall into – not in this sector, anyway. The gravity worked properly. This was cold comfort when so much of the world lurked below him and the gravity was waiting to pull him down to his demise.

As in the last sector, the sky wasn’t working. The cracks were even worse, and had joined together to form one long, jagged rift that was welling up with the colours of the system, dark fractal pools in the sky. Motes of glittering screen-dust were falling to the ground, creating curtains of light that illuminated different layers of the peninsula as they washed over them. The sight was breathtaking, like the Northern Lights, and he had never imagined that such fragile, delicate beauty could come from something so clearly broken. As he watched them, entranced, he noticed that he could see further down when the light hit the lower levels. He could even make out vague shapes that might indicate the bottom. Despite his earlier promise to himself not to try and look down, he moved a little closer to the edge and squinted to try and make out the shapes. They were cogs – outcrops of them protruding from the ground like clumps of crystals. Some were slowly rotating, some had stopped and others still had come loose from whatever they were attached to. They faintly glowed under their own natural light, different shades of blue. They reminded him of the Clock Tower, the way they were so obviously mechanical but so integrally parts of the Universe.

“Come back from the edge!” warned Owl, but the Game Gear beeped furiously at them.

“I think it’s down there!” said Will. The Game Gear confirmed this with a loud beep.

NiGHTs shot off to get a better look and soon disappeared out of sight. The AdvoCat grabbed Will and the two of them floated gently down the slope using his umbrella, bouncing from ledge to ledge to help them gain momentum in a place with no laws for wind. At first Will had to fight off a wave of panic at a sensation uncomfortably close to falling. Once he had convinced himself he wasn’t going to die, he found himself beginning to enjoy the ledge-hopping game. Then, half an hour later, he was bored and his legs were tired from pushing off from ledges. He had never imagined that jumping off a cliff would get boring, but it was a very high cliff and a long way down, and anything could get boring if it took too long. He was relieved when his feet touched solid ground, which took him four attempts as the floor was still a little buggy.

He could see the cogs all around him now, softly whirring. A soft blue glow illuminated the entrance to a small cave, a light that could only have been emitted by a much larger conglomeration of cogs inside. NiGHTs was already peeking into the cave mouth. Once they were together again, they carefully entered through the narrow tunnel. The Game Gear led the way, beeping with increasing enthusiasm that Will hoped was an indication that they were close to their goal. The tunnel went on for a long time, the walls becoming increasingly packed with cogs until Will was worried there would be no space for him to crawl through. At that point, he saw the first signs of an exit. He climbed out again and was surprised to find himself no longer in a cave, but on the other side of the mountain. He decided that he must have crawled through a seam without realising it. It was no longer making him uncomfortable to clip through objects, it happened to him so often these days.

He looked out across a steep hill that descended into gentle forests, or maybe orchards. The trees looked like none he had seen before, even in Nightopia. Tall and broad-leaved, they were laden with large fruit that hung down from the branches, almost ready to drop. The fruit looked like bunches of grapes, except grapes were half that size and weren’t cylindrical, almost rectangular, and they didn’t glow with the same blue as the cogs in the cave. Winged creatures flitted in and out of the boughs, nibbling on the fruit. A winding path cut through the forest, lined by blue-flamed lanterns on tall poles. The forest thinned out again into fields, then turned back into a slope. The path carried on for miles, too far for Will to see the end. In the distance, he saw a castle with soaring spires and domed minarets, surrounded by a tall, stout wall. Its shape was also outlined in blue, as though it were studded with millions of sapphires that reflected in the light of the moon. It looked like a scene from a fairy tale, some enchanted Kingdom under a spell to sleep for a thousand years. For all he knew, it could be even older than that. Could a fairy tale be Unused? Come to think of it, he had never heard the tale of the Magical Blue Glowing Kingdom of Oddly Shaped Trees.

“Could that be where the Clock Tower is?” asked Will, pointing to the highest spire of the castle. The Game Gear responded with a stream of disappointed-sounding, low-pitched beeps, then suddenly shot off down the hill towards the forest.

“Where’d do you think you’re going? You’re supposed to be our map!” protested the AdvoCat, “Owl? How do I stop them being uncooperative?”

“Usually a handful of batteries works…” said Owl, then he stopped, “Hm… I don’t suppose… those things on the trees look like batteries!”

“I don’t believe this…” muttered the AdvoCat, running after the Game Gear and hollering.

clockwork18.1353985894.txt.gz · Last modified: 2012/11/27 03:11 by doan
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