Chapter 5 Whales in the Sky Fzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Braaaaaaaaooooooom. Ghrnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. A member of the Aldus Watch glanced nervously at the walls of the Conjuration tower. "This thing's been whining for days. What does it want?" "Its mother. Help me here." They grabbed the legs and arms of a dead Avian and hoisted the corpse onto a stretcher. A week had passed since the storm left Aldus, but it still lingered. The Watch had their hands full combing through the towers for carcasses, trapped Avians, and pockets of refugees and hostages. It was hard to say whether going through the dead towers was worse, or the alive ones. The pair grunted, hefting the stretcher between them and moving for the stairs. Around them the floor and walls groaned. Motes of light on the wall traced geometric patterns from floor to ceiling. Floor blocks rearranged themselves, some floating in the air and recombining into new shapes before falling back into the floor. Day after day, reports from the relief effort came back to Marin's hands, detailing the strange occurrences happening inside the towers that had not been touched by the Ghoul Sage. Despite Marin's instructions, none of the Aldus mages were able to ascend the stone column to the higher levels of the tower. The Avians provided some descriptions, but they were all too weak to carry a surveyor higher. The stone column resisted activation by the best divinations, and the ceiling resisted the best energy beams and storms that they threw against it. It seemed that with the storm's coming and going, a secret beyond their grasp was briefly dangled in front of them. However, that was precisely the sort of challenge the Aldus scholars liked. But they would have to move a little faster. Tssssssssssssssssssss. Zooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmm. Byyyyyuaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrnnnn. They moved a little faster. The Mother that the tower had been crying to for a week straight finally responded. A star winked, high up in the heavens, and fell down as a beam of light. The Conjuration tower, and all inside, vanished in a cylinder of divine fire. Barvelle ..., grey The Inner Council convened once again, the Archon in the center. Voices, sentences, and thoughts lingered in the smooth, cone shaped room, ephemeral objects snatched with lightning quick ears, thoughts, logic, and reflexes. "The storm." "Aldus." "Aviary -- " "-- Alate." "Storm?" "The Alate spins extremely rapidly and is held perfectly still by three-hundred-and-twenty-three spell circles." "Geomantic disturbance." "Clumsy hand." "Where was the Alate tak--- " "Hold thought." "Aldus." "The towers awaken." "Mordakar moves again." "He speaks with the towers. Commands them back to sleep." "Aldus must not investigate the towers. They should be dismantled if possible." Shocked silence. Arktus broke the meditation to speak his mind, indicating the direst of circumstances. Once again, the three Inner Sages burst out of the council room. "I can't believe you did that." "I had to." "You know something we don't." "How is that possible?" Michel and Helena stared Arktus down. The three Inner Sages had worked together since Pegulis was founded, selected from each major city by the Archon. They were privy to her deepest secrets, the ones that the Archon held close to her chest. They all knew that Mordakar was the source of thermic gems for Pegulis. Despite that, Arktus' last move shocked the other two. The three slowed their pace. The feelings of betrayal emanating from Michel and Helena were too much. Arktus stopped and turned to face them. They gathered automatically in a circle, facing the center, a habit born from a thousand council meetings. "Did you notice Aldus Wall's response to the storm? Even our best circles and resonators are not able to tap into raw energy that effectively." Horror dawned on the the faces of the two. So that was what it was. As one they turned to face Ilsa, who had just rounded the corner. "You must return to Aldus."