Chapter Five

The ruins of Sarkomand
Dame Dævara Tatharsdottir,
Teller of Fate

An unknown time later, Amber drifted back into consciousness.

She had no idea how long she’d slept; all her efforts to develop some way to measure the passage of time down here had failed. Well, at least she felt rested.

And hungry! Time for breakfast. Too bad it was the same crap she’d had to eat since the crash. Oh well, at least it was filling. She decided to forego the coffee and just sipped at her limited supply of water.

If things carried on as they were more than another day, water might be the worst of her problems, Amber thought, bathing as well as well as she was able. She was so very wrong about that.

She hadn’t bothered redressing, reasoning that the things that had followed her on the surface couldn’t be down here, so she needn’t be ready to run.

The glow encasing her was still there. It eliminated the need for any light in the tent, but had made sleep hard to achieve.

Amber packed up what she could before exiting the shelter. The zzzziss of the zipper was the loudest sound she had heard in hours. Still wincing at the noise, she stepped out into a…galaxy?

It was still black in most directions but, right in front of the tent stretched a huge net of what looked like stars. Some were so bright she could see the light they threw off reflected on the stone floor. No other surfaces did they illuminate.

They were even twinkling.

No. That wasn’t right. Flying streaks of light flashed between them; thousands of times a second, causing a stutter to the lights. Bright and beautiful and utterly silent, this vision was.

Slowly, Amber began to walk toward the stars, bare feet padding silently. The air was still; not even a hint of a breeze against her skin.

Some of the lights were larger than others. More flashing streaks of light went to and from them than the other, lesser lights. As they surrounded her, Amber noticed that the galaxy stretched much farther than she had first thought. Parts of it even shone beneath the stone of the floor.

Amber looked down.

The corona surrounding her showed grey stone flags that seemed quite solid. Farther away, the darkness hid what she had assumed was more flagstone paving.

She was certain that some of those lights were down far beneath her, though.

Amber turned her head to look back at the tent, but saw only more darkness. She was frightened until she realized that there was no light there. At least there were landmarks. She could find her way back when she was done.

As Amber’s gaze returned to her line of march, she found it blocked by a ghost.

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