21 ♦ Ovelia

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Second Street, Red School of Magic,
Inside Melody-Harmony Sanctum


The Journey
Within the Machine

The Melody-Harmony Engine, once telescopic in structure, now seems alien, too powerful, too far ahead or too far back for its time, dials and switches from its base to its cylindrical head, four round speakers right, three oblong speakers on its left.

I crouch, pause, and pace around the machine, trying to convince myself I can get Aleria back from this artificial monster that—for reckless reasons, I'm sure—Lord Vay felt he had to bring into the world.

If I just focus,
quiet, intent,
on coming up with a solution—

"We need to go into the fifth dimension," Lord Hahn of Suns says, too cheerfully for my tastes. "And we also need to prevent anyone else from hearing this machine."

Why is Lord of Suns the one worried about this? Why isn't it Lord of Reds?

I try not to physically gag, although behind my eyes, my disgust for Lord Vay is virulent. Of all the Lords and Ladies—hell, of everyone at the Wizardhood—shouldn't he be the one most concerned with the safety of the innocent red mages in range of the Melody-Harmony Engine's maddening music?

I cannot help but feel the casualties of this device is not just my sister. Not just us.

Not the selected few, but the many, all who thought they came to a safe, academic bubble to learn how to manipulate the magic bestowed upon us by the real gods, our artificial intelligences.

Why didn't Watson, Ollen, or any of the other AI stop Lord Vay from building this nightmare?

"Milord," one of the sun mages says, wide-eyed in the presence of his leader. "I think all of Second Street can hear this music by now..."

Another of the sun mages pales, the realization hitting him. "All of the red mages are affected by the device's magic...?"

"Not all of them," Lord Vay replies coolly. "But most of them, yes."

"Lord Vay," Hahn says. "Please do what you can to prevent this mess from spreading. I'll have my sun mages assist you. Meanwhile, others of us—we must consider how the fifth dimension will—"

"We?" Nalowei starts. "Lady Aleria belongs to the Violet School. If anyone's going to help her, it's violet mages."

"I told you, you won't go in that machine," Macadera says, her voice shattering, breaking apart.

We have to leave the sanctum, and soon. Dimensional magicians are the most affected: Nalowei; Macadera; myself;

My sister.

"No," Nalowei says, "I wouldn't go into the machine directly..."

"Directly?" I echo.

Nalowei nods. "But I could go in there without the machine, and try to help her out."

As Nalowei smiles at Macadera's horrified glare, her muscles tighten, and her teeth bare in more of a grimace.

Around, everyone looks intrigued, overwhelmed, or both, except Chante; her face has fallen very serious, lost in deep thought.

"Be my anchor?" Nalowei asks.

"I better be your anchor," Macadera says. "If you want to go, I'm an infinitely better option than that infernal device."

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