119: Rogan


After Nam treated her continuously until the sun had been up for an hour, Simkit was able to walk the full distance to Aum, although they’d had to let her rest several times. Meadhbh was riding double with Fionna, so her mount was now doing packhorse duty, carrying Simkit’s gear.

The guardsman was… doing as best he could. He was riding a horse on his own, although a few times, on stretches where they could canter, Koursh’s people had needed to grab his beast’s reins to force the animal to keep up. It had a lazy disposition, and had realized its rider didn’t know what he was doing, so it had to be persuaded to change its pace.

Overall, the last leg of the journey to Aum ended up painfully slow.

As they entered the city, Rogan surveyed the spread of lofty stone towers interspersed through a vast plain of villas and town buildings. In his previous times through here, he’d had no time to stop and admire it.

The name ‘Chald’ had always evoked early childhood memories of a rural castle, or a mountain redoubt, locations from his relatively provincial home, where his parents had presided as minor nobility, local surrogates for his great-grandmother, the last Dhan of the influential Intr’ith clan.

This sight was far different. It was the Gireidil people’s version of the Big City. Even in Chald’s heyday, the City of Parha would have dwarfed it, but this vista still awed him.

This was Aum, the once-great Gireidil trading city that dominated the Great Inland Sea and off-world trade for a millennium.

Between levels in the multiworld, major features like the shape of continents tended to be relatively similar, but the rise and fall of land could vary by hundreds of feet. Jack’s Earth and Rogan’s Trin followed a common pattern of a great river draining the continent southward, respectively to the Gulf of Mexico of Earth and the Sotirran Sea of Trin. Trin’s Grandwater also drained the freshwater seas in the center of the continent, the parallels of Earth’s ‘Great Lakes’. Where Earth had the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Trin featured a wide, fertile valley drained by a barely navigable river.

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But some whim of plate tectonics had dropped the center of the cognate continent on Chald to a much lower altitude. A vast salt sea spread out across the parallel of Earth’s ‘Midwest’, many times the size of its freshwater cognates on Trin and Earth. It connected to the greater oceans of the world at both its northern and southern extents, separating the land of his birth off into a minor continent to the east of the continent where they now rode. If not for the highlands they had trekked down from, the Liocei Hills in the middle of the Liocethim peninsula, the warehouse in St. Louis where Jack and Nam had come through would have connected to empty air more than a thousand feet above the ground on Chald instead of a Gireidil fortress.

Rogan’s ancestors had recognized the advantage they could have by using this location, being able to match the elevation required for land passage to most other worlds using precisely staged floors in towers built at Chald’s relatively low sea level. Each of these stages, set at unique elevations, matched the elevation of a simple platform on the world to which each room connected. Nearly four thousand such rooms waited, in towers scattered throughout the city. One of those towers had a room for Trin, and that room was their ultimate destination.

In most non-industrial societies, the space between the villas they were passing would have contained lower grade wooden structures, dwellings for the common class. The streets would be avenues of dirt lined with crowded chaos.

But such urban densities did not suit the Gireidil psyche. Here, streets of cut stone pavement, wide enough to accommodate the freight transfers between towers, ran through a town built almost exclusively of stone, with hundreds of yards between the buildings. It was a city plan that few pre-automotive cultures could conceive. The remains and pathways scattered through the open spaces suggested gardens and parks with in most cases no buildings at all filling the gaps between. He pictured a society such as never existed on Earth or Trin, somehow simultaneously both medieval and advanced, feudal and global. He even often even saw hints of agriculture in the gaps between villas and towers.

At the shoreline, a fairly orthodox seafront district existed, but the towers converted the entire city into the ‘port’. Was it that aspect that had made this place develop in such an odd way, or the agrarian leanings of his people?

His time for reflection was cut short before he could decide the answer. They had arrived at their first destination.

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- my thoughts:

I am currently posting three chapters per week on a M-W-F basis.

I divided this volume into chapters for eventual print publication. Every seven web installments equals one print chapter. The next installment begins the final chapter of Volume 1. In other words, the volume has seven more web installments.

For those who are interested, I will be posting a short series of extras giving background information before proceeding to volume 2. Mostly, they will comprise a summary of the massive amount of detail this story contains. I realize it probably is difficult to keep up with this sort of thing in a web novel format. There will also be a pronunciation guide and a list of the cast members seen so far.

Check out my other novel: Substitute Hero

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