Chapter VI.

30 Jul

Dijo and his crew of workers transported the plasmoids, one by one, to the Popular Theater on horse-drawn wagons. Cacique accompanied the large transport wagon, then supervised the installation of the gigantic pieces of glass over the gas burners illuminating the stage.

Frelo, Caph, Yie, and Joa were present to watch and witness, burning with questions and curiosity. They waited impatiently to see the results of the glass-blowing project. Would the outcome be what they intended?

Cacique, once finished with the placement of all the plasmoids, stood on the front edge of the stage in order to give a short explanatory speech to all those present in the audience.

“I assign to these great, unusual prisms the function of polarizing and amplifying the corpuscles of light that will emanate from the gas flames once they begin burning. There will be a magnification and cleansing of the particles that originate in the combustion of the gas. It is a process that will line up the microscopic corpuscles in regulated, rectangular formations that then shine with renewed power and unprecedented clarity. The prismoids will divide the tiny bits of light, then recombine them into a new reticular pattern with a newly created shape and form.

“It is impossible for me to explain it fully, but the process can be demonstrated. That is exactly what I plan to do in the next several minutes.”

Cacique climbed down off the stage and began to turn on each gas burner, lighting it with a vesta stick in his left hand. Whenever the match died out, he would light himself a new one. He held an entire box full of them in his hand.

The prismoids varied in size, from one foot to three in height.

As the gas burners were lighted and the house lanterns dimmed, light streamed forth over the stage, at different angles, in various directions, creating a startling, stunning brilliance.

Cacique continued standing at the middle of the stage in front of the footlights.

“Let me show you how versatile these prismoid pieces are,” he told his small audience of comrades, watching with astonishment on their faces.

He proceeded to demonstrate the use of floats, wing lights, border lights, bunch lights, and focus beamers. Scenery prismoids could illustrate the backdrops in the rear of the stage. Focus lights provided a moveable spot that followed individual actors as they performed. All the different prismoids that Dijo had produced were placed in operation at once, till the stage became a crowded field of blinding light.

Then, Cacique shut off the gas supply of the lamps, one by one.

He looked out at his colleagues, a wide smile on his face.

“What do you people think of our new system?” he asked the stunned viewers. “Isn’t it phenomenal? Tegumen has never before had such an ingenious method of stage lighting. It is something unprecedented. Everyone who sees these sights will be surprised and amazed. They shall have an experience they never had before.”

Frelo suddenly rose to his feet and spoke.

“I want to start practicing with these prismoids. The cast has to become used to the intensity of illumination they will be working under. We will be using thus new method of lighting during the entire play and all its acts.”

Yie and Joa rose and went toward the side steps leading to the stage.

There was a load of work ahead for them, both of the fugitives realized.

Caph, Yie, and Joa had become cautious and watchful when out in the open air. Public places accessible to everyone posed clear dangers to them. If Nomb Aacn was here in Rocumbol with a contingent of disguised agents, there was always a chance of being seen and identified. They had to be very careful.

The three fugitives went to the Public Theater long before the dawn of the short day, stayed there throughout the twilight hours, and only returned home to their apartments hours after the city lay in solid darkness. They dressed inconspicuously, as ordinary residents did. All their meals were prepared and eaten in private, along with other members of the cast.

The Hegumen grew ever more frustrated in his search for his daughter and those connected with her disappearance. He knew she had to be somewhere in the city. Why was it so difficult to locate her?

Nomb Aacn made frequent visits to the office suite of the qadic to complain of the slowness, clumsiness, and ineffectiveness of the Rocumbol police. He was not receiving the amount of cooperation that he needed and expected. That was the basis of numerous complaints to the local powerholder.

“What is it that you wish me to do?” asked the city official with exasperation. “I have ordered everything you requested to be carried out. Isn’t that all that can be done?”

Nomb leaned forward in his chair. “I believe there is much more that is possible. For instance, money rewards can be offered to anyone providing useful tips that have investigative results. And there are special portions of your population who could be recruited for the hunt. For example, the children in the schools. We might organize them into squads to look for the refugees who are hidden in the city. Who knows where a useful clue might turn up? Anyone could be the key informant who spots these targets. We must use every person as a possible source of information.”

No reply came immediately, for the qadic was meditating. How far was the highlander willing to go in his mania to get his daughter back? Was the outsider going to take over all power and authority in Rocumbol?

There was no finite limit to the man’s thirst for cornering those he was after. Has Nomb Aacn gone mad? wondered the official forced by circumstances to cooperate with him.

“I will try the best I can to aid you, sir,” promised the qadic with a great deal of inner reluctance and hesitation.

Yie rarely remembered any dream that occurred to him while asleep. But this one was clear and graphic. It dominated his mind when he awakened in the darkness of morning. The minute he saw Joa after going to her flat to share breakfast with her, the young man described and related it to her. There was a high level of excitement in his face, eyes, and voice.

“It was more a vision than a dream,” he confessed to her. “It is connected directly to what we witnessed yesterday. I mean the stage lighting that Cacique demonstrated for us. My habit has always been to ignore dreams as fantasy and wishful-thinking. I do not take them seriously.

“My dream happened in Canara, where I was born and grew up. But my native dorp appeared transformed as I walked across it. The cottages were rebuilt and improved. Prosperity seemed general. Walls had fresh paint; what had previously been broken was now repaired.

“Even the sky appeared to have unusual brightness and color.

“Never before had I viewed this magnificent state when I lived there. What was the reason behind this phenomenon? That weighed upon me until the truth began to dawn on me. There was a new factor that did not exist before. A kind of illumination that did not exist before. A new sharpness was in my vision. I felt a great exhilaration in my heart. How was it being created? That was the question I asked myself.

“The answer came as an instant revelation. What did this new, lively light most resemble? It was a brightness coming from the prismoids brought into the Popular Theater by Cacique. The stage lighting we had witnessed there the day before was now shining radiantly in the world of my dream. The two conditions were identical. The new light in and over Canara was the result of something originating in prismoids.

“That was the conclusion I reached when I woke up. If only the dream had continued and I had witnessed more!”

All at once, Joa posed a question to him.

“What is the reality in what you saw, Yie? It was all a beautiful product of your imagination. What I think happened was that when you saw the new stage lighting, the image of it sank deeply into you. When you started to dream last night, it re-emerged in a fictional form. Your memory of Canara became the setting for a scene that you wished was true, even though it is impossible in actual life.”

Yie frowned. “You think that was all it was, a phantom of the mind?”

“We must not take illusions for real things,” she calmly said. “Our Tegumen is not a drama stage with scenery and footlights.”

He was unable to make any reply.

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