In his dream it had seemed smaller, but that was the way of dreams, he knew – that when we dream, we make things small enough to fit inside our heads. The reality was a shock, seeing it before him, something to touch, to feel rather than just see.

The Tower.

Hundreds of feet cast in pale stone crowned with four immense pylons, like four fingers clawing towards the heavens, loomed over them. The afternoon sunlight dusted the stone with a soft ochre haze, sandstone and dust. Towards the base, the walls of the Tower were broached by what looked like tubes and coils of organic machinery, as if they had grown and broken through the stone itself. Some had even begun breaking through the pavement nearby, like the roots of a tree that had grown past its limits. They were lit from within by threads of dim phosphorescence, pulsing through like a heartbeat. A simple cut arch served as a doorway.

As they watched, a whip of lightning flicked down from the clear sky and struck one of the pylons, crackling down it before winking out in sparks.

“The Librais Tower,” said Kaire. She was standing with her arms folded, a calculating eye on the building. “Impressive, no?”

Dax looked up the sheer walls, his eyes inexorably drawn to the pylons on the roof. They had had a peculiar fascination in his dream, and that hadn’t changed.

In fact…the whole building had a strange pull about it, some deep magnetic attraction that seemed to beckon him towards it. It wasn’t a comfortable feeling, more like a compulsion, like the whisper that tempts towards the edge of a cliff.

“You okay?” Athellus asked, cutting through his daze.

“What? Yeah, I’m fine.”

Lightning ran across the sky again, eerily silent. The bolt split in two and struck two of the pylons at once.

“There’s no thunderstorm,” Dax murmured, shielding his eyes as he turned his head up towards the roof of the Tower. “Where’s the lightning coming from?”

“It’s not lightning,” Kaire explained. “That’s Gating energy, condensing out of the atmosphere. The Librais Tower uses it for power.”

“Oh.” Something had caught Dax’s attention. “ ‘Librais’?”

Kaire wasn’t listening – she was talking to Athellus. “Keep watch. If anything shows up, take cover and wait for me. This shouldn’t take too long. And if –“

Athellus shook his head. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll be right here.”

“Okay.” Kaire turned and started walking away, picking her way over the erupting roots almost daintily. When she reached the steps she started up them, two at a time. Athellus dropped easily to the ground, cross-legged and making himself comfortable.

 

 

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