TKC 173 and 174
As the orb slaps back into my hand the red dome vanishes. Thus, the shield is in place, but we cannot see it.
No one says a word for some minutes, until Kay murmurs, “Someone still needs to test what it does.”
“Well, I am not putting even a finger into that,” Manuel grumbles.
“I will do it,” I state and move forward.
Kay shakes his head. “Horin, it will prove nothing. You are different to the rest of us.” He strides boldly forward …
… and Manuel tackles him to earth. “Do not be stupid, brother.” Manuel sits on him, glaring down. “It will probably kill you.”
Kay shoves him off to rise in titanic fury. “Don’t tell me what to do!”
“I will!” Manuel hollers. “You always do the crazy stuff; I know you, remember? This is beyond crazy and I won’t lose you to your stupid bravery!”
Kay’s expression clears of every emotion. “Fine.”
I almost laugh when Manuel’s mouth drops open in astonishment. Almost, for I understand Kay is at the point he may reveal something he should not at this stage let loose.
“Fine?” Manuel echoes. “Really?”
Swiftly I intervene. “We need a warm-blooded animal.” Both men jerk their heads in my direction. “To test the barrier; what did you think I meant? A rabbit, or something to that effect.”
“Actually, that is a brilliant plan,” Manuel sighs in relief, “and I know where to find what we need. Wait here.” He strides away into the darkness.
Kay stares at me. “I will not be able to hide what I know from him.”
I nod, well aware of his difficulties. “Then one of you needs to join a work detail that takes you away for a time.”
A sigh sounds. “Again, a brilliant plan. You are full of ideas tonight, aren’t you?” A shrug follows. “There’s a team preparing for tree felling …”
“First ask Damin what the team is before joining,” I warn. “It may have to be Manuel who goes.”
Another sigh erupts and then silence overtakes us.
We wait for Manuel to return and he does within a few minutes, holding aloft a mole. “I noticed dirt piles a few days ago,” he grins.
“Man, I am loath to send even that little creature into the barrier,” Kay whispers.
“It must be done,” I state and take the mole from Manuel. Carefully approaching, I place the tiny animal on the ground, pointing its snout towards the invisible shield. It does not move, and I am forced to prod it forward. It shuffles a bit and stops. Muttering, I urge it to move.
The mole crawls forward … and passes through without harm befalling it. For the briefest instant the shield sparks, and yet the mole passes through unmolested.
“What the hell does that signify?” Manuel demands, watching the tiny creature shuffle away into the darkness beyond.
“No soul, therefore no threat,” Kay murmurs.
I nod. “I am afraid so. Thus we still have no idea what this barrier will do to us.”
“You passed through before,” Kay points out.
“I was already dead,” I mutter.
“But what did you feel?” he insists.
“Nothing. I was dead, idiot.”
“I will test it,” a new voice says. A young voice. As we turn to see who it is, Attis is already striding past us.
“Attis, no!” I shout.
But it is too late. Attis walks without stopping into the barrier. It sparks and shimmers and an eerie wail – low, almost below the edge of hearing – fills the region.
The lad passes through and halts. For a long moment he is motionless, staring outward, and then he turns.
“I see,” he says. “I am a Glonu. And this Glonu is now free.”
Swiftly he vanishes then over the rim.