The Doubting Wizard tried to regard the machine in the same way of thinking as the Master of Enlightenment. Yet, still being doubtful he said, “You’re telling us that a lone human, from Land of all Domains, built this entire machine without aid of coven or council?”

“Yes, I think one man did invent and build it,” said Kevin, “but I am convinced he had at least one accomplice from Sky. You see, there are several components of the machine that could only have come from Sky. Not the least of which is the lightning-wood firebox, without which the machine could not build up a head of steam big enough to halt the stars. No, I think the haggard man had an accomplice who was instrumental in helping him get the components to build his machine, and later was crucial in trying to conceal the machine’s existence from his king and me.”

“You mean Duke Northstorm?” said the Sky King, speaking for the first time, and gravely so.

Lt. Nimbus was quick to answer, “Master Galwynn speaks true, Your Highness. When Duke Northstorm so innocently delivered the machine’s debris in neatly organized crates, he surreptitiously concealed it true purpose. And when he guilefully suppressed shepherd Peter’s eyewitness account, he cunningly obstructed Master Galwynn’s investigation.”

“If that is so,” said the Doubting Wizard, “then he should be brought to court to defend his honor.”

“That may not be possible, Your Mage,” said Aaron. “When Master Galwynn told me he suspected Northstorm was hiding something, I requested the Ethereal Legion keep His Grace under surveillance. Just as you entered this very room, a page delivered a message from the Legion saying Duke Northstorm received a visit from a knavish necromancer whom the Legion considers, shall we say, less than honorable. Shortly thereafter, His Grace proclaimed he had just received word of an emergency in his dukedom, and that he and his retinue of soldiers had to hurry home. The Legionnaires who were watching him tried to follow, but somehow the duke managed to shake off his watchdogs.

“Furthermore, the Legion checked His Grace’s story,” Aaron continued, “and discovered no emergency had been reported to him. No one knows what message Duke Northstorm actually received; or why in actual fact it alarmed him; or where he is right now. However, the Legion’s finest trackers are searching far and wide for His Grace.”

King Cirrus and the Doubting Wizard caught each other’s eye, but they had no need to confer. The Sky King stood up stony-faced, rising to his full majestic height, attracting the attention of the entire room as surely as a lodestone attracts iron.

“’Tis treason then,” said the Sky King, solemnly. “Tell the captain of the guard to redouble his efforts in the search, lieutenant. Find the duke.

“As for the man from Land, what of him, Master Galwynn? And what of the empyreal light he trapped in his lantern box?”

Master Galwynn said matter-of-factly, “I do not know, Your Highness. But may I suggest we go to his home, and ask him to explain himself?”

“Aye, and so we shall,” said the Sky King. “To horse, one and all, before next strikes the hour. Lt. Nimbus, alert the Ethereal Legion to prepare for combat. And then prepare Master Galwynn and yourself for travel. I suspect we have a long ride ahead of us, and if the signs in Heaven are any indication, we have no time to tarry.”

— End of Chapter 4 —

Previous page | Next page