=========================== CHAPTER I ==============================
I woke elated. Sleep was much better than before.
I was not the usual divided self, thinking of the ways to deal with my Everworld problems and real world problems. Caught between two worlds with two sets of troubles, worries and crisises.
It was nice to wake without that sense of provoking seperation. Although my dreams were exactly that. It was also good to wake in the nicely built dwarf bed, no sleeping on the cold, rocky ground or cold, wet, decks with the nuiscance of the odd swerve of a boat.
But waking wasn't very easy after my dreams or whatever they were. The only way to go back to the Old World was through sleep. I guessed it was just our memory, since we no longer truly existed in the other world. Or maybe the dimensional divide was so used to us crossing that we had burned some kind of permanent hole in it and it still excepted that we crossed over and pushed us through when we slept, just like always. But since we were fully in Everworld, only our minds went across, leaving our physical body in Everworld. We were nothing more than a ghost there. Nothing more than a mind, absent of the body. Reminded me of Einstein's saying that when we left the body, our minds existed as energy on some astral plane. We were mere ghosts.
Being an apparition was very tentative. It was not very easy to be dreaming and also looking among your parents bed as they slept. It felt very odd. You knew your own boundaries, but could ignore them and change them. It was some online tour where it was just click and drag. Go where you want to go via some limitless Hollywood effect. The big bold print showing over the tiny window reading "TOUR OF JALIL'S OLD LIFE". Kind of unnerving seeing what was once yours flash before you, with everyone but you completely unaware of the presence.
My parents seemed to be getting over my dissapearance. No real desperation. They seemed always the type to hang over things, but it seemed that they had excepted this. I was gone, no coming back. Miyuki seemed very upset, but not to a point that she was in any bad way. She seemed fine, except that she seemed to be alot more quiet.
I didn't really like to talk to anyone about what I saw when I was asleep. Christopher said that he wished he still had a body so he could truly enjoy sneaking into his next-door-neighbors shower. That seemed like a very Christopher thing to say, but not Christopher at all. He had changed more than any of us in Everworld. It might have been that he was making it up to change our thoughts about him, to make us see him as the old Chris. Maybe, but not likely. It seemed like he was trying to mask himself. Trying to shield himself from the pain he felt from the marrying off what looked like his first actual love. The whole idea of Christopher in love would have made me laugh, but that was Old World Chris.
Others in our party had changed too, though not as drastically as Christopher. April had made a very noticable change, but not exactly for the better. We dare not mention Senna around her, it seemed to make her well up with mixed emotions. She seemed to feel guilt about killing Senna, but also an anger about Senna in general. I am sure she regrets in some ways and is glad in others. This made me feel very sorry for her. I wonder what it might me feel like to have such a thing weigh down your conscience.
David seemed to only have changed in the fact that he was no longer bound to Senna with that seemingly overbearing tension and need to save her. He seemed much more concentrated and aware of what we were going to do. Although it was obvious that he bared a deep hatred in himself for not being the hero he wanted to be.
Analyzing people actually gave me comfort, oddly enough. I couldn't seem to get over the fact that I wasn't supposed to be here. I didn't believe in fate. We could choose what we wanted. That was a key difference in a human mind, choice. Nothing could predetermine my choices.
Now that everything was clear and I we all knew what we were here to do, things became very hectic. I was now in charge of a fair amount of things. Merlin had instructed us not to build guns to match the Sennites until he had found the Coo-Hatch. He seemed to be convinced that the Coo- Hatch could teach the dwarves a thing or two about metallurgy. I didn't think so. I had seen how stubborn these creatures could be when they wanted to be. I suggested they search out some titanium alloy to strenghten this place against the Sennites. Not even a slight bit of interest. Only an appalled speech on how no metal would ever be better than their steel. They must have thought I had offended them.
But to strenghten their defense wasn't really why I had wanted it, and they might have known that. Normally I would have told them straight up, but I was sure that they would not care whether we lived or died, rather that they still lived. They probably knew I was after it for my own purposes, I wasn't the best at lying after all. But I knew if they brought a stronger metal, our weapons would be stronger. I wouldn't mind having a titaium sword belted around me. Coo-Hatch was better. I am pretty sure that the Coo-Hatch will be much more up to making gun-powder. It was a good thing we were in caves, I am pretty sure it hard to find saltpeter around here.
So this was it. We were going to gather our weapons and resources. Then David, Merlin and April were headed back to Olympus to tell Athena and those other naive gods up there of their improvements and their armies. It didn't seem like the best plan to me. The Greeks were one of our most vital assets and as far as I could see, walking up to Olympus and telling them all to fight this new enemy would make them very frightened and, knowing the Greek gods, would make them want to flee.
Then the rest of us, Christopher, Goewynne, and I were setting off to Asgard, to form a few plans with Loki and Odin. Loki seemed to think that we were to destroy the Sennites before worrying about the Hetwan. It was obvious he was grieving the loss of his son, Fenrir. Odin was very shifty about letting man into Asgard because of some person named Thiazi, but Merlin was so kind to point out that Midgard was nonexisting in Everworld and that Idun was still very well enough, so the gods are safe. I had no idea what any of this meant, except for Idun. I had heard of a story called Idun and Her Apples when I was in grade school, but I didn't remember it.
Once we got word that they had gotten close to the Hetwan citadel, we were going to drop our last weapon, an army of Jorfun, some kind of giants led by a the god named Surt, and Berserkers come from Muspelheim on a ship and war agianst the Sennites while we turn-tail and run to the Hetwan fortress and start the invasion of and destruction of Ka Anor. This all sounded very faulty to me. I didn't dare crunch the statistics to see if we would succeed. I also felt no need to note that if we failed against the Sennites there was no way the others would win against Ka Anor. The Nordic gods were the only thing that held strong. The Greeks were to puerile and violent. The Norse were strong warriors can could probably pull this war right back to our side with out a single problem.
A light tap echoed on the heavy steel door. I came over and opened the large door with some difficulty. It was a dwarf. I recognized him as Berlgem a young dwarf who had helped me gather the materials needed for the coal plant. He is a very smart dwarf and seemed to catch on to the idea of water pressure very fast.
"Lord Jalil," he said in a very buisnesslike tone. Many of the dwarves had gone to calling me "lord", even though that wasn't really my real title. If had anything to do with it I rather be 'Professor', or maybe 'Court Advisor'. Lord held to much responsibility. "The pumpers have gotten tired and are loafing. There is not enough steam to manage all of this." Not good. If the whole places electricity went down we were screwed as a group. The King would be pissed! I racked my brain thinking for another soultion. I knew what they could do, but I didn't think it would get much of an applause from the King. King Baldwin didn't seem to like immolate his resources, this meant water. I ran the plan by the young dwarf anyway, I didn't have anytime to deal with the rantings of a rich king. It was time to get back to Olympus, where we belonged.
"You can sacrifice a well and make pipes that continually pushed water onto the could give you enough water to turn the turbines forever. Wait, no, you have to ration. Wait, hold on." I racked my brain again. This was really pissing me off. I don't really like offering soultions to every small problem. But it seemed true that power was low. My own bedside light was flickering madly. "Okay I got it. Come back in twenty minutes. I will be ready by then." Berlgem quickly turned on heel and marched down the steel hallway. This was a real problem. This was the third time in the past ten hours they had come to me to solve their problems. I grabbed a small scroll from the small bed side table and a long peice of charcoal. I couldn't deal with this. I knew I was clever and all, but this was outrageous.
Twenty minutes later I found myself back in the throne room, looking into the eyes of King Baldwin, my face stern and undecided. King Baldwin's lip seemed to curl into a snarl. I had more important things to do than play advisor to a wise yet easily annoyed king, that wasn't my job. I was ready to give up. He sat there, unmoving, his eyebrows moving up and down as he examined the diagram of the new plant.
"It will take many days. I do not have that time. My production will waver. I cannot afford this." He looked royally ticked, no pun intended. I stood, my face a mask. I couldn't show frustration, or he would be angry. Look worried, he will think you as week. Look infuriated, that was the right path. Look exactly like you felt. Angry. I had much more important things to do. Ka Anor was waiting.
"Fine!" He finally said. He stood and looked over to a few dwarves at his side. "Order the building of this. Untill than you should assign new pumpers." Good man. I allowed a small smile leak through. Finally this guy had done something for himself. A few of the dwarves stalked off, looking very much like medieval businessmen.
I walked out, straight out, not even being dismissed. I was greeted through the castle doors by the interesting Great Diggings. Odd as they were I couldn't help but be compelled by the resemblance they had to the North Shore. Flourishing buisnesses in a well contained area. Yuppie town of Everworld. I had definetely changed my mind. WHo cared about Merlinshire. The Great Diggings was the Industrial Hub of the buisness world. This was where I belonged. Soon enough we would be looking onto Wallstreet. Boyish, money-hungry fairies, tiny business-like dwarves, smart and ingenious elves humans caught in the flow searching out their riches, probably even a few Coo-Hatch, trading dividends on sales of their magnificent metal, if there even was any left.
This was now our hide-out until Goewynne returned with her people, and after our representatives sought out a large enough amount of the tiny archers from Fairy Land. This was now our hideout from the Sennites and their terrible technology. Christopher was very optomistic that after a while they would definately run out of ammo and become so lost in Everworld's surrounding oddities that they would either be destroyed by unknown peoples, or destroy each other in their homicidal boredom. It seemed very logical, unless they found a remaining Coo-Hatch before us. Then we were truly screwed.
I bent my head low to enter one of the lower hanging passages. I felt sorry for Thor. He was twice the size as any of the normal passages, it was hard to imagine how he ever reached the mouth of the Great Diggings.
I wandered off to find the others. They were probably at lunch about now. I followed the path that I had took the previous nights. Finding my way to the big round room that we dined in. I pushed the large steel door open. It gave a loud creeking noise as it flew open. The room was empty, to my dismay. I guess I really should have told the others that I had gone to, that way I wouldn't lose them. I felt a soft hand place suddenly on my shoulder.
April was standing behind me in an odd assortment of elfin clothing and dwarven clothing. She looked very forlorn, as if she had just recieved word that she was going to die. I guess that was true. There was a small tear in her eye.
"What's up?" I asked quietly. Not usually my chosen words, but oh well.
"Merlin's back. He found a Coo-Hatch." April looked very sad ar rhis news.
"Just one?" I asked, already sensing the answer on her lips.
"Well, no. You know Coo-Hatch. They travel in tight little bunches. There are four. They didn't manage to get back. They are pretty pissed. They say since Senna..." she lightly cleared her throat.
"Died." I said slowly. Why couldn't she just say it?
"Er, yes. They...can't get home." She stopped. It now made sense why she looked so sad. I was guessing her old wave of guilt had caught up with her. I didn't want to inquire further. I focused my attention elsewhere. A particularlly small dwarf was examining a small lightbulb on the wall. He jabbed it hard with a small icicle-looking sword and was sent flying back with a wave of sparks and loud billowing screech. He walked away from the showering sparks, smoking and grumbling loudly about "pain spirits".
I decided to turn my attention back to April. She still stood quiet. She looked very awkward and worried. Suddenly she said, "Merlin wants to talk to you."