Friday, October 2, 2015

Beyond the Rim Installment 17

"Now, Oorgo, we must go out of the compound and return to the main thoroughfare. Do you know the way?"
"I think I do, Master."
"Good. The sixth mine is against the Setting Wall; we avoided it when we climbed into the mountains."
"When I explored the little cave high up there, and then told you about the sunset because you could not see it?"
"That is not why you told me about it, but it was that day. Unless you learn to talk while moving your feet we will have to cease talking, if we are to make our transit there and returned before the day grows late. I do not prefer to walk back in darkness."
"Doesn't it all look the same to you?"
"That is a question which I think I am unable to answer honestly, because neither yes nor no speaks the truth. But see here, your feet are still planted. I'll not answer another question until we are out of the gate."
Oorgo bounded, Thurgod feeling the tension increase on the guiding chain increase suddenly, and began to walk. Within another moment Oorgo called, "I'm out of the gate!" then Thurgod heard the sound of his feet pattering along the stone road.
Thurgod grinned as he stepped beyond the door into his walled compound. "You're out but not going far. This chain is for more than my guidance." And immediately there was a thud as Oorgo tripped up, held back by the god's planted feet as the deity dropped the metal latches of his door shut again. "Now we may move forward, boy."
Oorgo ran along excitedly, with Thurgod stomping along his short strides behind him. The line that connected them stayed nearly taught. From its varying direction, Thurgod could tell that Oorgo was running hither and thither across the street, looking down the streets that crossed with theirs.
Thurgod lived on what been the western edge of the city a thousand years ago, but was now surpassed by two more quarters of the city, a distance which the city had grown in the first few centuries of the city's growth, whereupon population growth, except by immigration and forced resettlement, ceased. His home lay within a walled compound - the exterior walls of his home were the walls - all surrounding that inner courtyard in which the messenger machine had landed. His living quarters occupied less than a quarter of this ring, with storage sheds and work chambers forming most of the rest. The gate of his compound faced south, towards that main causeway of a road which ejected from the Rim Gate, which, truthfully called, was merely a door into Cyllgod's castle, for none ever ventured beyond the Rim. The road was more of a causeway because it insisted upon remaining perfectly level, ignoring the fluctuation of terrain, and so was, by time it reached this distance from the Rim Gate, being considerably beyond the tallest foothills, nearly forty feet above Thurgod's home.
What it lacked in practicality, Cyllgod's Way made up in grandeur. Built in an era before Cyllgod's attending demigods had grown proud and lazy, each of its stone was laid by immortal hands which did not tire from lifting, and which might work for five hundred years at one task and not grow weary. Oorgo could hardly help but find a path to it, as the road loomed overall the houses, apartments, and shops which lay between Thurgod's compound and the Way.
On the north side of Thurgod's compound the ground had been worthless before the compound was built. When Thurgod had been established there and had drilled down for water he had discovered a great lake of it, fed by snowmelt draining through the mountainsides and into subterranean rivers. The stories said that he and an army of golems had descended thither, and below the ground built mighty waterworks which provided the moisture for the soil downhill, and thus was established the Smith Farms, a colony of growing food in the valley.
By now they had reached the foot of the Way, and Oorgo had stopped, forgetting in which direction the stairway was located. Thurgod's legs, though, knew the way, Oorgo to guide or no, and he naturally turned to the right, against the way their little road up from his gate, which lay at the end of a north-south road, had veered. Oorgo immediately agreed and came up along Thurgod, this time not running further on.
"So does it all look the same to you?"
Thurgod's mind had been otherwise occupied, but he quickly recalled the topic from which this question sprung. "My eyes see things no differently, but I see different things."
"I thought you didn't see anything."
"Now, child, you know I see some things. Or how else did you think I could make the device you carry far too unsteadily?"
Oorgo unconsciously tightened his left arm. "You can see metal. But metal's the same in the day or the night."
"What men do with metal is different. More knives and, whether you would believe it or not, more coins move around at night than at day."
"Can you see other people's coins?"
"They are all my coins. Every coin with which every thing is bought and for which everything in the Rim is sold was made by my strike, by my mold, or by my golem, and they all bear my seal. I have given them to the Queen's nation, so that it may profit by trade."
"How far can you see?"
"But how far? Can you see the Queen's crown from here?"
"If I stopped to look for it, yes."
"And the rims on the wheels of her chariots, can you see them?"
"If I cared to."
"And the golems with metal heads in other towns, do you see them?"
"There is no golem within the Rim that I do not see."
"Are there golems outside the Rim? I was taught there was nothing outside the Rim?"
Thurgod suddenly sat down and drooped his head. He rubbed his hand against the Band, but then quickly withdrew it.
"Can't you talk about things beyond the rim?"
"No, I can't, Oorgo. It is forbidden."
"Does the Queen not want anyone to know about things past her gate?"
Thurgod fell down flat on the stone pavement, and Oorgo began to cry.
"I am sorry, Master. I am sorry. I..."
Thurgod put up a hand to tell the child to stop, or otherwise to grasp the child's shoulder, but instead ended up palming the boy's face. This, by reason of its strangeness, had the desired affect of ending the child's blubbering. Thurgod stood up, then released the boy's face.
"There is no need to cry for my pain, child. When I chose you I might have known you would have questions on questions, and some I could not answer. I am older than this pain, and fear it not. See, even now it is gone. We must be walking up the stairs"
Before Oorgo could wimper any more he found himself being pulled along by the leading line, and then in another minute he had forgotten the last time he made his master drop down short, though anyone who was the pink lines of tears which had appeared as rapidly as they do for children would have known something had happened amiss.

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