What about the fourth dimension? Let's consider a cube. We can imagine a cube... This cube casts a shadow, and that shadow, we recognize...

Carl Sagan 


Jet expected to see the fourth dimension first—but it's the stopping of his heart that catches his attention, above all else; not the information coming through his eyes.

He no longer breathes. 

What used to circulate, does not need to circulate. 

It's as if he exists in a grand pause between two grand movements of music.

Maybe he thinks about his stillness as a grand pause before—or perhaps, after—he notices the frozen wavelengths, like a sunset ocean crashing in dried acrylic paints across an all-surrounding canvas, except those waves crash vertically along his peripheral vision, not across the edge of the horizon ahead; 

The horizon ahead, I cannot even fathom this—

He feels ill, motion sick, crushed by gravitational ups and downs, and hot and cold simultaneously, at once yanked and jostled to his core, and as he moves his head to look away from the nausea in front of him—he's suddenly more grateful than he's ever been, that he can twist his neck, turn his head—the frozen wavelengths, the crashing dried acrylic ocean, follows in his peripheral vision, wavelengths that are both in flux and stopped in time.

The fourth dimension is often conceptualized as time.

But the fourth dimension also has shapes. Geomancy says tesseracts interact with the fourth dimension. The studies of geomancy includes holding up a model in fading sunlight, so a tesseract can be projected as a shadow onto a wall.

Jet remembers playing with a model of a tesseract, when he was very small, when he had not yet completely given himself up to shadow magic; when he liked shadows, but hadn't yet loved them. Returning to this memory eases the queasy twists and turns of his gut, as the horizon unfurls before him, like millions of roses releasing their petals to a silent wind.

Then he realizes there's no sound here.

He can't hear anything.

This makes his thoughts very, very loud.

Meanwhile Nalowei scrambles to find the Elochild that isn't there. Somehow she used the chalk circle to transport others to the Fourth Dimension—she no longer has to travel alone—yet she lost Chante. She also lost Ovelia, Elexus, and Hahn.

"Fuck," Nalowei says, and her emotions drop dead to the fourth dimension's floor. Caught between the third dimension of early life, and the fifth dimension of artificial life, biological qualities like anxiety and pain deaden in the wake of mechanical qualities, like perfectionism and calculation. This is why the fourth dimension is so unstable, a complex space third-dimensional creatures can only visualize in shifting planes.

If she hadn't already visited this place many times before, she'd feel like she was going bonkers; so when she sees Alistar trying to maintain his balance a few feet than inches than yards than feet from her, she tries to help him out.

Alistar, not even remotely accustomed to the fourth dimension, sees Nalowei approaching him from above—then Macadera, waving both her hands in a panic below, gazing worriedly through thousands of faceted and broken rubies—and these gemstones are glittering in what, Alistar assumes, is an ocean glittering along the edge of sunset; 

Until he feels himself floating above the water, then reevaluates the ocean as a bed of clouds, as himself flying, as Nalowei descending upon him like a meteor about to tear him down, at such high speeds that his heart leaps into his throat, curdling his scream.

His heart is racing into a wall, beating up without beating down, over and over, like its trying to rip itself apart, until Nalowei's voice comes to him as a song, in a sad and sobering chord:

♪ Stop ♪

Then Alistar holds still. He finds peace with floating above the ocean and clouds.

♪ Follow ♪

He rises, in oscillating currents around him that seem to ripple at high speed, then jerk very still, so he's not lifting calmly—more like he's being tugged by a pulley.

As the image of Macadera disappears beneath him, Nalowei solidifies around him; yet it's only when both of their hands clasp together that they become clear to one another. The rest of the fourth dimension still wavers around them, like they're underwater, and the currents are alive with vibrant hues, blank whites, and rich blacks.

Alistar tries to reach to Nalowei telepathically. What happened?

Nalowei shakes her head.

♪ Us ♪

Not Ovelia? Alistar asks. Not Chante, Elexus, or Hahn?

Nalowei shakes her head again. Then she tugs.

♪ Follow ♪

As they move through the ebbs Nalowei recognizes as most familiar, Jet notices them spiraling up an eddy in the vertical wavelengths of the acrylic dried sea, so he swims through time-space, marveling at how it's similar to space-time, except it's not. With Nalowei in focus, he's no longer as sickened by the unfathomable curving of the fourth dimension, yet it still nags on him. It still locks and unlocks. He thinks, he tells himself, he can definitely keep up with Nalowei and her wide-eyed passenger, Alistar, as long as he focuses on them and only them.

After all, even here, she has a shadow.

He can follow any shadow.

Just, if he follows her shadow too long...

In that case, he may have to switch to Alistar's shadow, despite the Lord of Verdants' terrifying mind magic. Hopefully, Jet doesn't need to take that risk. He sends out a plea from within himself, that Nalowei is headed to Chante; he dreams of a stabilizing field, to end the roil in his stomach, and to calm his equally toiled nerves.

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