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To do so, he has poisoned the crops gathered by the races of Eelong, urged the Klee to hunt and eat the Gar, and arranged for Black Water to be bombarded by toxic gases. It is discovered by the acolytes of Second Earth that the poison used by Saint Dane in these plans was taken from the territory of Cloral.
The only antidote is likewise Cloran, having been developed by the Scientists of Faar. Eager to take an active role in the Travelers' quest, the Acolytes go to Cloral and collect the antidote. Because the poison, the antidote, and the acolytes are unique to their respective territories, the interrealitial tunnels called flumes undergo stress and strain in transporting them.
Because of the stress and straining, the flumes start to break. On Eelong, Bobby has experienced the most degrading aspects of Gar life and learned from them. There, Kasha is exposed violently to Saint Dane's evil ways for the first time. This encounter creates a passionate dedication to her destiny. Travelers and acolytes work together to bring the antidote to Black Water, where it will be distributed throughout the city's irrigation system. Bobby is ripped away from this happy moment by his Uncle Press, who tells him some people need his help and takes him to and abandoned subway station.
There, Bobby sees Saint Dane for the first time, who's taken on the form of a city cop. He uses mind control to kill a homeless person, then transforms back into his normal form.
Bobby runs away as Saint Dane and Press shoot at each other. He flumes to Denduron alone. When he gets to Denduron, Press tells Bobby a little bit about being a Traveler and the flume.
They have to leave quickly to avoid the quigs, but they end up getting chased down the mountain. They crash at the bottom and Bobby sees Press get kidnapped by some knights on horseback before he passes out. Characters Bobby Pendragon - The protagonist.
He writes journals to send to his best friend. Mark Dimond - Bobby's best friend who takes care of his journals. Courtney Chetwynde - Bobby's crush who Mark shares the journals with. Loor - The Traveler from Zadaa. Where to begin? It already seems like a lifetime ago that I was on Veelox with Aja Killian. I've lost all track of real time. Jumping between territories will do that. A day in one territory isn't always twenty-four hours in another.
What year is this? What month? What century? I'm totally lost. I gotta get a grip. Let me go back to where I finished my last journal and pick up my story from there.
So much has happened, I hope I can remember all the details. Aja Killian and I stood together in the dark, subterranean room that held the flume on Veelox, not sure of what to say to each other. Her normally well-kept blond hair was kind of a mess. I know that doesn't sound all that weird, but for somebody like Aja, who is all about being perfect, it was a huge statement.
It was a tough moment because no matter how you cut it, we had lost. The Reality Bug had failed. No, worse than that. It had nearly killed every last person on Veelox.
Calling it a failure is kind of an understatement. The virtual-reality computer called Lifelight was back online and most everybody on Veelox had jumped back inside to live in their own personal fantasy worlds.
There was nobody left in reality to 21 31 grow food, to maintain buildings, to uphold the law, or to do the million and one other basic things that a civilization needs to function.
It would only be a matter of time before the territory itself began to fall apart. Bottom line was, Saint Dane had won his first territory. I couldn't let him win another, so staying on Veelox wasn't an option. Good question. Maybe I was too tired. Maybe I was drained after having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
I could even say that I was in too much of a hurry to find Gunny. All that was true. But as I think back, I believe the real reason was because I was too embarrassed to admit defeat. Especially to you guys.
I still don't know why I was chosen to be a Traveler, but I've been around the block enough times now to realize that whether I liked it or not, the job was mine. On Veelox, I had done a lousy job. I was angry, frustrated, and a little bit scared, because I didn't know what losing a territory was going to mean in the battle against Saint Dane.
My head was not in a good place. She took off her small, yellow glasses and cleaned them on her sleeve. Aja hated to admit defeat even more than I did. She was a brilliant computer scientist who never failed at anything she tried, until now. Too bad it had been the most important challenge of her life. When we fail, we fail together. I was as much to blame as Aja. Every time I had gone to a territory for the first time, I had another Traveler with me.
But it wouldn't have been right to take Aja away from Veelox. No, this time I had to fly solo. I was suddenly missing Uncle Press a whole bunch. Remember, this is about all of Halla, not just Veelox. Saint Dane hasn't won yet.
Anything can happen. To be honest, I wasn't sure about that at all. But I had to give Aja hope. She grabbed me and hugged me close.
It took me totally by surprise because Aja wasn't normally an affectionate person. But she held me so tight--it made me realize that telling her there was still hope was like throwing a lifeline to a drowning person. She needed to hear that, whether it was the truth or not. I hugged back.
I liked Aja. I felt bad that she was hurting. But I was hurting too. Hugging her felt good. I guess misery loves company. She pulled back from me. I looked into her deep, blue eyes. They once again flashed with the confidence I remembered from when we first met.
Aja wasn't the type to feel sorry for herself for long. She had too much brass for that. Aja leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek. She held 23 33 her cheek against mine for a second longer and said, "I believe you. I have to admit, it felt kind of good. My time on Veelox was over.
I was on the wrong territory. I backed away from Aja and took two steps into the mouth of the flume. As I stood there staring into the infinite black void, my thoughts went to what I might find next. Truth was, I had no idea. Eelong was a total mystery. Gunny had left for Eelong only a few days before, in pursuit of Saint Dane. The plan was for him to get a quick look around and then meet me back on Veelox. He never returned. That could only mean trouble.
So I had to flume to a new territory, alone, and be prepared to face whatever nastiness prevented Gunny from coming back. I suddenly wanted to step back out of the flume and hug Aja again. But that would have blown whatever small bit of cool I had managed to build. The tunnel instantly came to life. The stone walls cracked and groaned; a distant pin spot of light appeared and the sweet magical jumble of notes could faintly be heard.
They were coming to take me away. The stone walls of the tunnel began to dissolve to crystal as the light grew brighter and the music grew louder. But other than making Aja feel better, what I thought didn't matter. Veelox was then. The battle was moving to Eelong. A second later I was lifted off my feet and launched through the flume. Next stop, Eelong. I still had no clue as to what a flume actually was, or why they were able to send Travelers through time and space, but the experience was awesome.
It was like floating through space on a bed of light. It was the closest you could get to playing Superman. But this time something was different. It wasn't a physical difference. The ride felt the same as always. The difference was with what I saw.
I was surrounded by the usual star field, but there was something else. Something more. Beyond the crystal walls of the flume, I saw floating images. As I flew along, I'd see something far in the distance, then whip past it and watch it disappear behind me. The images were nearly transparent, which meant I could see the stars behind them like they were ghosts on the edge of becoming solid.
Some looked to be my size, others were so huge it took me a few seconds to move past them. Some I even recognized. I saw a Bedoowan knight from Denduron on horseback, galloping through space. I saw what looked to be a school of swimmers in green swimskins from the underwater city of Faar, moving in formation. I saw a tall building that could have been the Manhattan Tower Hotel and an aquaneer on a skimmer from Cloral, riding the sky. Other images I didn't recognize. There were two giant men who looked like twins, running across the sky.
They looked powerful, though somewhat stiff, as if they were mechanical. I saw a vast field of people wearing nothing but rags. They were all raising their open hands into the air in some common gesture that looked like they were cheering. I also saw a huge, 25 35 spotted jungle cat charging across the field of stars. None of this was scary. In fact, it was kind of cool. It was like kicking back and watching a bunch of weird movies projected in space.
But the more I saw, the more it bothered me. Why was it happening? What had changed? What did the strange images mean? I couldn't help but think back to what Saint Dane had warned. He said that once the first territory fell, the rest would fall like dominos. I didn't want to be paranoid or anything, but since Saint Dane had finally toppled a territory, I worried that there might have been some grand, cosmic change in Halla. I didn't get the chance to stress about it for long because the musical notes began to play quickly.
I was at the end of my trip. My thoughts turned to Eelong. Was I about to be dumped into a pool of water, like on Cloral?
Would there be quigs waiting for me, licking their chops because the dinner bell had just rung? A few seconds later the flume gently deposited me on my feet. Nothing dramatic at all. That was the good news.
Bad news was that I was instantly engulfed in a tangle of thick, sticky ropes. At least I thought they were ropes. For all I knew it was a massive web and the quigs on Eelong were hungry spiders. But I didn't want to believe the worst, so I pushed my way through the dense tangle of ropes. I came out on the far side to find myself standing in a cave. A quick three-sixty showed me it was a grand, underground cavern with a high ceiling.
Light leaked through random cracks high above. The ropes I had pushed through turned out to be a curtain of thick vines that cascaded down from the ceiling and covered the mouth of the flume. Roots were good.
Way better than spiderweb. The cavern 26 36 was full of these long, green sticky roots that covered the rock walls. I took a few steps toward the center, still on high alert. But there were no gangsters, no quigs, no pools of water, and no Saint Dane.
So far, so good. I looked back to the flume to see it was hidden by the dense curtain of roots. I dug an arrow into the dirt floor with my heel, pointing to it.
I wasn't taking any chances if I had to bolt out of there fast. In the dead center of the cavern was a large flat rock. Lying on it was something I wasn't happy to see. It was a pile of clothing. As you know, acolytes put clothing at the flumes for visiting Travelers. According to the Traveler rules, I had to dress in these clothes. No problem, right? The clothing on this rock was nothing more than a pile of dirty rags.
I'm not exaggerating. At first I thought that's what they were.
But when I lifted one up, I saw that it was a crudely made pair of cloth pants. It wasn't exactly soft, either. It felt like rough burlap. I picked up what looked like a shirt. I wasn't really sure at first, because I saw one sleeve and a hole that I thought would go around your neck, but the rest was in tatters. Not exactly something you'd find on the rack at the Gap. And they smelled, too. Like bad BO. Is there such a thing asgoodBO?
I also found some crude shoes made of cloth. I knew they were shoes because they were sort of foot-shaped with extra layers on the bottom. This was not good. I looked around, hoping there might be some other clothes that were a little less nasty, and saw something that made my heart jump. Lying on the ground next to the rock, neatly folded, was a black suit with a white shirt and a large pair of leather shoes.
These were the clothes he'd worn when he left me on Veelox. There was no mistake; I was in the right place in the 27 37 wrong clothes. I had to change. Those were the rules. I reluctantly took off my comfy green jumpsuit from Veelox and folded it next to Gunny's clothes. I then did something I absolutely hated, but didn't have a choice about. I had to lose my boxer shorts. In the past, no matter what territory I visited, I kept on the boxers. I figured that if the future of Halla rested on my choice of underwear, it was beyond saving.
But these Eelong clothes were so raggy and threadbare, my boxers would have shown! There was no way I could wear them without arousing suspicion. Or at least looking like a total dork. I wanted to scream. It was the final injustice. I had to wear these rough, itchy, torn-up rags, without boxer protection.
They were smelly, too. Did I mention that? I already felt like I was on Eelong for too long. I put on the rags as best as I could, but they hung on me like, well, like rags. On the rock I spotted several strips of thin, braided vine about two feet long.
I used them to tie up the cloth in places where it hung too loose. I used these vines on the cloth shoes, too, wrapping up both my feet to keep the ratty material on. After a while I felt like a Thanksgiving turkey, all trussed and ready for the oven. It was awful. Compared to these putrid rags, the leather skins on Denduron were like soft pajamas. I must have mentioned that. Now that I was all dressed up or down the next step was to find the gate and get out of this cavern.
I figured the way out must be hidden by the hanging roots. I walked to the side and stuck my arm out to brush aside the dangling vegetables. I walked along, pushing aside the vines, peering beyond to look for something that might be an exit. I saw that the walls weren't entirely made of rock.
There were thick sections of roots that had grown into and around the rock. I figured 28 38 there must be some serious vegetation on the surface. I had gotten more than halfway around the cavern when I started to worry that I might have missed it. That's when I saw something. Beyond the thick curtain of hanging vines, there was a vertical crack in the rock wall. This had to be the way out. I took a step through the vines and immediately tripped on something. I stumbled forward, hit the wall, and face-planted into the dirt.
When I opened my eyes, I was face-to-face with When I got the guts to look back, I nearly retched. Lying on the dirt floor in front of the crack in the wall was a pile of bones. Human bones. I had seen enough horror movies to recognize people bones when I saw them. I couldn't tell how many victims these bones belonged to, and I wasn't about to do inventory, but I'm guessing they were the remains of about six poor souls.
They must have been there for a while, because there was nothing left of them but bones, and raggy clothes like I was wearing. Their clothes actually looked a little better than mine, but I wasn't about to make a swap. I began to question whether the opening in the rock was the way out, or the path to a gruesome death that would land me back on this pile. I saw crudely fashioned stairs, leading up. They looked to have been carved out of the root material that snaked through the rock.
Better, I saw a faint hint of light coming from above. Light was good. I decided to take my chances. I gingerly stepped over the bones because the idea of stepping on something and hearing acrackwould have pushed me over the edge into gak-dom. With a quick hop I was over, and slid through the opening in the rocks. The steps were narrow and steep and wound around like 29 39 a spiral staircase. I could smell fresh air coming from above, so my confidence grew. I really, really wanted to be out of here.
This place was starting to feel more like a crypt than a gate to the flumes. After climbing for a few minutes, I got to the top of the crude stairs and found myself in a dark space. I couldn't see the walls, and the ceiling was so low I couldn't stand.
What now? A few feet away I saw a thin sliver of light shining through what looked like more hanging vines. I stayed on my knees for fear of bonking my head and crawled toward the light. It was growing cooler, as if fresh air were only a few feet away.
I found myself squeezing through a narrow passageway that at first gave me claustrophobia, but the urge to get the heck out was stronger. I picked up the pace, and a few seconds later the final veil of vegetation was pushed aside and I was hit with bright sunlight.
I was out! I squeezed myself through, ready to be free of the dark tunnel and get my first look at the territory of Eelong. I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't this. Eelong was totally, absolutely, beautiful. I found myself about twenty yards from the edge of a cliff, looking out over a green, tropical forest.
I don't think I've ever seen anything so awesome. I walked closer to the edge, on ground that was thick with grass so soft I probably didn't need the lame-o shoes. The view spread out before me was absolutely stunning. As far as I could see there was nothing but forest. The canopy of trees below was so dense, you couldn't see the ground. There were no structures, no roads, no towers, no sign at all of civilization.
Just forest. A flock of birds that looked like pelicans soared by beneath me. They were bright yellow with brilliant red heads. As dramatic as this was, there was another sight that made the view even more spectacular. Eelong didn't have a sun. At 30 40 least not in the way we think of a sun. The sky was blue, just like at home. There were even clouds. But rather than a ball in the sky, there was a wide band of light, stretching from one horizon all the way across to the opposite, like a rainbow.
It was directly overhead, and I wondered if it would move across the sky as the day wore on. It was hot, too. Jungle hot. This band of brilliant light gave off heat like a tropical sun. Looking to either side, I found myself on a wide outcropping that must have been at least a couple of hundred yards above the forest below.
But it was hard to judge, since I couldn't see the ground through the dense trees. Far to my right I saw a waterfall shoot from near the top of the rock and cascade down through the tree canopy below. I couldn't see where it landed, though. The trees were too thick. And the smell. It was sweet, but not icky sweet like when you walk into a flower shop.
Whatever flowers grew on Eelong, they had a faint smell that reminded me of lemons. To my left I saw some low, scrubby trees that were covered with deep blue flowers. I walked over to this bushy tree and took a deep whiff. Oh yeah, this is where the smell came from. One word came to mind as I surveyed Eelong: That was important because the little tunnel I had crawled through was the gate to the flume.
A quick look at my Traveler ring confirmed it. The gray stone in the center was glowing slightly. When in doubt, this ring would always lead me to the flume, so long as I was in the neighborhood. So I turned around to take a mental picture of where the gate was hidden. What I saw made me catch my breath. I instantly knew that I wouldn't have any trouble finding the gate again. That's because looming up in front of me was thehugesttree I had 3l 41 ever seen. I'm not talking big.
I mean immense. The trunk at the base must have been thirty yards across. Did you ever see a picture of those trees in California that have a tunnel cut through the base you could drive a car through?
Well, if there were a tunnel cut into the base of this tree, you could drive a dozen eighteenwheelers through, side by side, and still have room for a couple of Hummers. It was like a skyscraper covered with bark. Looking up, the branches didn't even begin for about fifty yards up. Then the tree spread out into a canopy that could shade Yankee Stadium.
I don't know why, but being next to giant things like that makes my palms sweat, and they were definitely sweating. That's how awesome it was. I looked to the base of the tree and saw the small opening that I had crawled out of. It was so small compared to this monster tree that if I hadn't known it was there, I'd have missed it.
Sure enough, carved in the bark just above the opening was the star symbol that marked it as a gate to the flume.
Now the hanging vines in the cavern below made sense. They were the root system of this immense tree. I walked along the base, running my hand across the rough bark.
You could live in this tree I took a step back, looked up, and laughed. The impossible kept proving itself to be possible. What was I going to see next? The answer came quickly, and it wasn't a good one. I felt something hit the back of my leg. I looked down and instantly wished I hadn't, because lying on the ground next to my leg was an arm. A bloody, human arm.
I quickly looked up to the direction it came from and felt like the wind was knocked out of me. If the big tree hadn't been there to catch me, I would have fallen back on my butt.
It was like nothing I had ever seen before. The first thing I thought of was It stood upright on two legs, with a long, thick tail that whipped back and forth angrily. It looked to be around seven feet tall, with powerful arms and hands that were three-finger talons. Same with its feet. Its entire body was bright green, like a lizard, with scales covering it.
But what I couldn't take my eyes off of was its head. It was reptilian with a snoutlike nose. It had bright green hair that swept back from its forehead and fell halfway down its back. But most hideous was its mouth. It looked like a shark mouth, with multiple rows of sharp teeth that were all about tearing flesh. And that's exactly what it was doing, because clasped in its jaws was another human arm. Blood ran into the beast's mouth and down its chin.
If I hadn't been so scared, I would have gotten sick. We held eye contact. I could feel this monster sizing me up. Its eyes were red, and angry. Without looking away, it closed its jaws, crunching the arm like a dry twig.
The sound made my stomach turn. The monster flipped out a green tongue and sucked the shattered arm into its mouth. One gulp later, the arm was gone. Bone and all.
It turned back to me as its mouth twisted into a bloody grin. I was next on the menu.