They were almost
at the base of the tower. Suddenly, eight immense telescopic tubes
reared up, looming out of the mist. They crouched down low and advanced
Now they could
see smaller diagonal tubes criss-crossing between the main tubes,
forming a network of metal. Platforms moved in a continuous cycle,
going up empty on one side, coming down empty on the other.
Ferren gave the
signal and they darted forward in a final sprint. Ferren mounted
the first available platform, along with Miriael, Shanna and half
a dozen others. A second group filled a second platform. Then a
third and a fourth.
The speed of
the ascent was terrifying. Gigantic grey shadows of tubes rushed
past in the whiteness. The cables creaked, the platforms shook and
rattled under their feet. There were no walls or railings to fence
'Don't look down!'
Some of the Residuals
were starting to sway outwards, dizzy with vertigo. Other Residuals
pulled them back. Turning away from the edge, everyone linked arms
and held on tight.
Higher and higher
they went. The air grew chill and a breeze started to blow. The
whole tower tilted perceptibly from side to side.
'Not very solid!'
Ferren called out to Miriael.
to adjust itself to the wind,' answered Miriael. 'There are Plasmatics
inside those telescopic tubes.'
ten minutes, fifteen minutes - and still they were going up. They
couldn't even begin to grasp their height above the ground. As the
shadowy tubes rushed past, they could almost imagine they were standing
motionless while the tower moved.
The trance was
broken by a strange swooshing sound. Like a great wave, it passed
by in the cloud. Not close, but vast.
'What was that?'
A few minutes
later, it came again. Then a third time. It hissed past at different
heights, in different directions. Where it went, the cloud seemed
to become a little thinner.
Shanna had slung
Peeper's frame on a cord across her back. When the swoosh flew past
for the fourth time, Peeper broke into an agitated, high-pitched
her head to listen. 'He senses the presence of other Morphs,' she
at once. 'Asmodai's flying wing!'
They caught sight
of it on its next appearance. Only the flash of a wingtip - like
a black fin in the white vapour. They gasped as it sheered past,
from right to left. Fortunately, Asmodai's globe remained masked.
the spiritual energy of the Morphs against the energy of the cloud,'
Large gaps began
to appear in the vapour. Now the platform ascended through layers
of clear sky interspersed with layers of cloud. How much further?
If Asmodai flew past when the platforms were exposed . . .
They'd been waiting
so long, it seemed they would never arrive. Then came a sudden change,
like entering a tunnel. Dark walls surrounded them, sounds boomed,
the air grew warm. Great bolts fastened the tubes to the walls of
'Is this it?'
Ferren cried in Miriael's ear.
Miriael was staring.
'It's the foundation of Heaven.'
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