Chapter VI.

7 Aug

Cacique sped along with no heed to anything beyond getting to his lost comrades, somewhere in the vicinity of Lake Orteil. With the Red Hats of Nomb Aacn on his trail, he could afford no mistake in the path he took. A great quantity of luck was needed to take him to the location where he would find the three he meant to give a warning to.

As if by a directing intuition of some kind, the fleeing designer entered the valley to the east of Enfer Mountain. From time to time, the sound of thundering equine hooves could be heard in the distance. He continued on, seeking both information and protection in each dorp he passed through.

His situation became increasingly desperate and threatened.

Some interior sense informed Cacique he was near his goal. It was in the dorp of Soison, under the shadow of high Enfer Mountain, that he received confirmation of this feeling within him.

“They were here only days ago, and the leader spoke to us of the light from the lake that we might share in. But then the Red Hats came and took all three of them away up to the peak. That was the last we saw of them.”

The dorper pointed to the top of the adjacent mountain.

“Thank you for what you have told me,” said Cacique, his eyes staring up at the pure white snow of Enfer beyond the circular window.

He knew that instant where he had to go. But what could possibly be done by him to rescue the trio held up there at the mountain peak?

I will decide that when I reach the height, the fugitive said to himself.

Joa and Gui listened with astonishment to what Yie related to them. The three met in the back corridor behind their rooms.

“And he did not attack or disregard what you said to him?” inquired Joa, breathing rapidly with her emotions aroused.

“His reaction was very surprising,” said Yie with all his mental force. “I did not expect such sudden, immediate interest. Everything was positive, nothing negative, in the attitude the man took. He showed enormous curiosity. His mind was fascinated by the picture I drew of the possibilities for the future. It was a big surprise to me, how he was reacting to the picture I described for him.”

“But what will he do for us?” interceded Gui. “Will our situation as captives remain unchanged?”

Yie’s face became a stony wall of flint.

“My suspicion is that he will go to the Hegumen with the material I gave him to think about. If he does that immediately, we could see some important changes. What way these go, depends on factors beyond us. The thoughts of the governor of the conventicle are unpredictable. No one knows where they will lead and where they will end up.”

“How true!” exclaimed Joa, a wry expression on her face.

“Now,” grimly said Yie, “we must wait to learn how this turns out.”

Eter entered the private chamber of the Hegumen Tiso to make his report on the questioning of Yie. As soon as the two sat down, the mechanician began to describe the startling revelation he had heard.

“I was told of a technical development that this trio is involved with. It is something which, if successful, can turn life upside down for all the people on our planet. Do not laugh when you hear what it is. They are absolutely serious about their project. Their goal is to bring the light we enjoy on top of the mountains to the belowers in the valleys.”

“What?” said Tiso, surprised and energized. “How do these people propose to accomplish that impossible task?”

“By bending the corpuscula of light falling from the heliac. They plan to build large reflective walls that deflect the particles into horizontal levels across the valleys.

“Yie claims that the process is proven to work. A type of prism called a prismoid is the basis for the invention. He told me that it has already been done on a small, test scale. The method applied was successful, the belower claimed.”

“I do not find his claims credible,” grumbled the Hegumen. “Not at all. You should let Yie know that I believe he is trying to pull my leg for some devious purpose. I suspect the man is a fraudulent imposter.

“I order you to take no stock in his fantasies. They have no value whatsoever. He must realize that he is not dealing with fools here on Enfin Mountain. He cannot hope to carry out any fraud or swindle on us.”

Eter excused himself and departed, his mind caught in a dilemma.

His superior had given him a clear, direct command, and he intended to obey it.

But through his thinking resonated the voice of Yie, telling him of the glorious future of Tegumen that was to result from polarized, bent light produced by prismoids.

What was he to say to the stranger who had presented the enticing dream to him? How could he deny what was glowing so brightly in his imagination?

Eter decided not to reveal the negative judgment of Tiso to the prisoner who had given him the vision of a planet transformed through optical science. No, he planned to think this out for himself, not follow his leader blindly. It would take a lot of time and thought to reach any solid, valid conclusion.

Cacique trudged onward and upward with growing exhaustion, increasing his effort despite the pain expanding through his body.

He had learned that his friends had been taken prisoners by the Red Hats. What could one person do to rescue them? There was no ready answer to that.

The path he was on left the zone of conifers and entered an area of bare rock, then came to the white snow that covered the peak. As the drifts became deeper, Cacique had trouble striding forward. The coldness of the air and snow penetrated his light coat. He felt a painful chill.

What will I do when I reach my destination? he asked himself.

Never looking back or downwards, his eyes did not catch sight of the posse following him on equines.

The pursuers drew nearer as the claustrum became visible to the climber.

Nomb Aacn could see the moving object traversing the snow. His mind was perplexed. Why was this fugitive heading for a place where he must know he would be taken prisoner and given over to those he was running away from?

There is no use trying to understand the belowers, he once more concluded. They are dense and inexplicable. Do not be concerned with their cloudy, inexplicable thoughts.

Eter did not wait for Yie to be brought to him, but himself went to the section of the claustrum where prisoners were kept.

A Red Hat guard informed him in which room Yie stayed. Eter went up to it and rapped on the hornbeam door with all his might.

Opening it, Yie gave a start of surprise upon seeing who it was.

“Come in,” he succeeded in gasping.

The little mechanician entered. Yie invited him to sit down, but Eter said he would not be there long and preferred to stand rather than take a seat.

“I have spoken to the Hegumen about what you revealed to me,” said Eter. “No final decision can be reached at this time. We will need to mount a demonstration of how these prismoids work. Is that possible?”

The eyes of Yie expanded and dilated. “There is nothing that we brought with us. I would have to return to Lake Digit to obtain what is needed to accomplish that.”

Eter thought a moment. “I shall present the matter to our Hegumen. If he agrees, you can leave and the other two remain here. As soon as possible, I aim to tell him of a demonstration before his own eyes. That will interest him greatly. I know that for certain.”

With that, the little mechanician turned around and left the room.

The front gate of the summit settlement loomed ahead as Cacique panted and raced toward it. He dared not look behind. The noise of hooves sounded in his ears. A single neigh revealed that equines were pursuing behind him.

Toward the quercine portal rushed the stage designer.

What would he do when he reached it? Could he open it by himself?

It would be horrible if the gate was locked from the inside.

Would anyone show him mercy and admit him into the conventicle?

The mind of Cacique whirled dizzily, till consciousness and balance reached a tipping point.

A sound unlike anything he had ever experienced struck and felled him. A shot from a carabine rifle struck the back of his neck and decided his future.

One of the pursuing Red Hats had fired from an equine, putting an end to further movement of any kind by the individual who had first devised the prismoid invention.

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