Read Waking Olympus (The Singers of the Dark Book 1) Online

Authors: Peter Yard

Tags: #Science Fiction

Waking Olympus (The Singers of the Dark Book 1)

contents

Waking Olympus

Dedication

One - The Watcher

Two - Mikel

Three - At the Center

Four - Bethor

Five - Trader

Six - Eastward Ho!

Seven - The Plains

Eight - The Story of How the World Was Made

Nine - The Story of David and the Citadel

Ten - The Story of the Star Boats

Eleven - A Story of the Dark

Twelve - Detour

Thirteen - Eve of a Nightmare

Fourteen - Sanfran

Fifteen - Borderlands

Sixteen - Tanten

Seventeen - Tipping Point

Eighteen - North

Nineteen - Quest

Twenty - Besieged

Twenty-One - Ruins

Twenty-Two - Snows of Olympus

Twenty-Three - Emissary

Twenty-Four - Q and A

Twenty-Five - Legacy

Twenty-Six - The Battle of Tanten

Twenty-Seven - Then a voice

Appendix - Neti

Acknowledgments

Book One of The Singers of the Dark

Copyright © 2015 Peter Yard

All rights reserved.

ISBN-13: 978-0-9944514-1-5

Dedicated to Rachel, Tristan, and Gavin. You inspire my efforts in all things.

one
The Watcher

There had been no word or signal for so long but he, for 'he' still thought of himself as flesh and blood at times, he would continue his duty. He took the usual daily readings, made any necessary slight course corrections, or repairs, then listened for a few minutes. There was nothing; across radio, laser, neutrino, or a dozen other modes, electromagnetic or exotic, the voices he sought still slept. He saw the terminator receding from the Western Sea on the world below. A new dawn was coming, a quiet dawn, like many before.

Once more he shut down his non-essential systems and drifted off to sleep waiting, perhaps in vain, for the world beneath to awaken, and, even though he was now just a machine, a ship, he still missed the wind and sky and the sound of human speech.

Far below on the cloud strewn world the sun was rising …

two
Mikel

Day 6, the month of Regin, in the year 635 of the Center.

He looked up, straight into a gust of wind whipping his face with the sharp sting of sea spray. It made him want to yell with joy for no reason. In his heart there was a reason; this short trip would make him a Wizard.

The bucking of the sea and ship and the waves all seemed a greeting, a joyous celebration of his life. Even against the mockingly sacred laws of Murphy he felt that nothing could go wrong now. Even with his infamous curiosity? He stopped a moment, just for an eye blink, squeezing out the saltwater. He'd be fine.

The last time he was at sea he didn't remember. It was as if it happened to someone else, in a tale, he had no connection to it. It was just a story he told himself, that he came to the island as a refugee rescued from slavery, to study as a Wizard. A fairy tale. Literally
a fairy tale
, his mother told him stories like this, about children taken by the Wizards to learn the great secrets. He didn't remember her, he didn't want to, for now there was only the rise and fall of the ship, the spray, the joy of living.

He tried to hide the almost hyperactive need to rush from one side of the ship to the other like a small boy, in case he missed anything. His hands closed on the coarse wooden railing, slick with ocean spray, reddish yellow wood glistening in sunlight, on what he was told was the starboard side; such an odd term, no one knew its origin. In the distance the horizon pitched, the ship bucked, the sea like a vast creature was trying to shake the minor annoyance off.

He was standing on the deck of what was quite a small ship. The vessel was one of the biggest in Lind, which was the biggest of the islands in the Farrel Archipelago, that meant they didn’t really come much bigger than this. His thoughts stopped as the ship came over a cresting wave and for a moment it seemed they were airborne. He saw deep blue sky over the bow. He became almost weightless. Then the crash, splash, surge, and heave as they hit the wave trough. Sea turned to white foam, suspended in mid-air, then thrown in his face. Wind and salt spray. Pure exhilaration!
 

The other passengers didn't share his enthusiasm, most were quite ill below decks, he was perhaps the only passenger enjoying the experience. Overhead the sails flapped noticeably, possibly they had not been trimmed properly, but at this latitude the trade winds came from the west driving towards the continent, not from the north.

The sea seemed to have calmed down a bit. He took the opportunity to look back at the drenched and dripping caravel. Its usual cargo was safely stowed below, 'usual' for Lind was not the same as elsewhere; clocks, mechanisms, medicines, specialized tools and so forth. Merely a fraction of what his people truly excelled at, the rest often embargoed.

The dolphins no longer shadowed the vessel, they had given up mocking the wooden hull with their effortless grace and speed. Now the ship only had the companionship of a few flying fish; sometimes one would dart out of the water, fins flapping sounding like a cicada in flight, as if the sea wanted to remind them that it was alive. Only a few of the fish flew high enough to land on the deck as it dipped and flew over the waves, casting spray over everything. He would rush to where one had fallen, like a stricken slick bird. Pick it up, a quick examination, forming an indelible image to think about later, then throw it overboard; returning it home. Life aiding life.

The entire ship was built from the amber-red colored timber, which he realized with a blush, he didn’t know the name of. There was a rough hewn impression here and there, like an experiment, a giant carpenter’s first effort. They still knew so little about sailing so that each new ship seemed like a step into the unknown.

Should he ask the Captain some details about the ship, including the name of the wood? He was supposed to know these things, he should start behaving professionally. He wondered: was being 'professional' an act, or did it come from maturity? He wondered how he was going to manage this new magician's trick. He wondered about too many things, it was time to start finding out in earnest. He was almost a Wizard, he had completed his studies, though normally he was supposed to spend a year of apprenticeship to one of the Majors, Wizards of acknowledged skill and achievement. So close, it was almost impossible to suppress an elation greater than the thrill of riding the waves. When he finally became a Wizard he could undertake more of his own projects and there were so many things he wanted to explore. However, even then his vows would always tie him to the higher aims of the Center, especially direct orders, such as the ones he was now tasked to complete.

Once he was a Wizard he could decide to work his way up to becoming a sea Captain if he wished. Captains and navigators were usually the same person, so he could use his mathematical and astronomical knowledge and maybe earn and discover something for the Center. Mikel liked learning new things, or rather it was an obsession, beyond mere 'liking', and the world was full of so many things to learn, discover, and record. They said he was ‘promising’ back in Lind. His Mentor, Master Samuel, had said he was a fine empiricist but a better theorist, ‘creative’ was the word he had used, his undergraduate work was worthy of a full Wizard. He wasn’t supposed to hear that conversation but he was testing a directional hearing trumpet he had made and...

“Just an accident,” he said aloud.

But he was getting ahead of himself.
Don't be so impatient, you can't do everything
. The intersection of all of his mentors' wisdom distilled right there.

About him he saw an almost universal seascape. It could have been anywhere. But this was the Western Sea of Neti. Waves cresting in a fresh wind below a deep blue sky, isolated ragged patches of cloud fleeing at right angles to their course. He judged that the wind must be faster at the altitude of the clouds. He remembered the kite experiments back in Lind when he was just twelve, it had been fun inventing techniques to measure the wind speed at the kite altitude. Finding out something new like that, it was a feeling nothing else could ever promise or deliver, such good times.

“So, boy! Got your sea legs yet?”

Mikel jumped slightly. The Captain had caught him daydreaming.
 

Captain Woran was a couple of centimeters taller than Mikel. Suntanned, he looked lean, cured like a piece of leather tailored to a purpose. He wore an earring in his right ear.
 
Sailors wore one on their left ear when they first went to sea. Switching when they took their first command. He seemed about 45 years, black hair creeping down the side of his face, a touch of graying at the temples. A decent black beard rounded him out, white streaked and now flecked by salt, sun blemishes beneath his clear blue eyes betrayed his age and experience. The whole effect made him seem a pagan god of the sea.

“Yes, sir,” he said.

“I remember when I was just out of training. Marvelous time, but you know when the sea gets into your blood you just can’t stay away. Many of our sea Captains were Wizards you know.”

He was clearly distracted, but had to keep the customers happy in this rougher than usual weather.

“So I have been told. But I’m not sure I understand it”

“Well, Mikel. You learn astronomy and mathematics. Chemistry, biology, geology. I must confess I balked a bit at the quantum mechanics lectures. But most importantly … ,” he didn’t finish it. The great secret, secret lest it be polluted. The Method itself. More than a method, more than an art. As they say.

“And then, well many want to — test the ideas, make their own observations. Make a contribution.
Explore
.” He said the last word with emphasis and drama. There was blue fire in his eyes. Mikel's own skin tingled in sympathy. The Captain turned to check on his men and women, which gave Mikel a chance to see the man rather than the 'force of the sea'. He wore a brown shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbows, with red stitching crisscrossing and occasionally making intricate Celtic-like designs, if either of them had ever heard of the Celts. His face was partly in shadow from the faded, salt crusted sky blue captain’s beret, a style which had been fashionable a generation ago. Mikel could see on the Captain’s left forearm, partly visible, a stylized dragon. A symbol of the Center: a Wizard. Not all Wizards chose to identify themselves that way or at all.

The Captain noted his gaze. “And where are you off to young one? What is your
grand
quest?”

“I have been instructed to research the trade routes east of Bethor.”

Not for the first time, this mission made him lie to a colleague. He was told he would learn a great deal, this was not what he had imagined, his first accomplishment apparently was learning how to lie. He calmed his unease remembering that he had not really lied, since it was true or half true, he had only told half the truth, the unimportant half. Seems he had also learned to lie to himself.

"I’m not actually a Wizard yet, still an Apprentice."

The Captain nodded probably knowing full well that such missions were trivial exercises more to test whether the candidate could actually do some thinking and not get lost. He muttered something about how Mikel should work hard and it being a valuable thing. Then he must have remembered his duties and lost interest in this youngster, wished him well, and wandered off yelling commands to his sailors.

What was his quest anyway? Mikel pondered, it all seemed so vague. He had been called to the Center’s ancient Main Hall eight days ago. The building that always suggested momentous actions and ideas to him; and now he was heading to Bethor, of all places, it filled him with dread and he was afraid to know why.

three
At the Center

It had only been three days since Mikel’s advancement when Master Samuel came for him, about an hour after sunrise. He had just finished some physical exercises; yoga, then running, pushups. He didn't even regard the dawn swim as exercise, rather it was simply pure delight.

The hut that he rented from the Center for a pittance was situated at the top of the small green hill overlooking the deserted beach, no one else wanted it, too far to walk, too remote and alone. Perfect. The southern coast of the island here was divided up into small beaches separated by low sandstone headlands, it somehow felt homely and comforting.

He had planned to meet Mai and Dmytri at the old abandoned pier just a few hundred meters to the west. They would go fishing and later build a fire, or get distracted by something interesting, that was the 'noplan' as he liked to call it. Mikel had made a particularly clever fire-starting kit just for today. He thought he could even sell the idea to some merchants, or perhaps make them himself and export them, it could give him a supply of coin for his projects.

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