“What is this place?” said Ailad.
“We call it the Kolab Room,” said Brynmor. “The Regents built it especially for thee, Ailad. They felt that since the time was so short before the opening of the Sixth Eon, that we should, ah, accelerate thy training, so that tha’ wilt be fully prepared to become a seer.”
They entered the room and Brynmor opened the door to the sphere. He motioned for Ailad to enter, and then followed him in.
The sphere was about twice Ailad’s height, and was illuminated by a soft blue light. In the very center of the floor was a small pedestal topped by a metal box. Mounted on the box were two black handles and an array of switches and buttons. Baffled, Ailad looked around and said,
“All this was built for me? For what purpose, Uncle?”
“Watch and learn,” Brynmor replied. He moved to the center of the floor, grasped the handles and thumbed several switches. Instantly the walls of the sphere glowed, and Ailad gasped. The sphere seemed to vanish, and now he was looking at the walls of the cubical room that contained the sphere.
Brynmor pulled up on the pedestal and they appeared to silently rise upward, passing through the rocks of the Olami Mountains until they were suspended in the night air. Ailad looked up and saw the majestic Great River of stars spanning the heavens from the north horizon to the south. Terrified, Ailad seized the pedestal and held on for his life.
Brynmor laughed. “Fear not, Ailad – that which you see is but a projection, like thy view-screen. Go ahead, touch it.”
Hesitantly, Ailad stepped away from the pedestal and felt the cold, metal wall of the sphere.
“Amazing…” he breathed, while gazing out at the night sky.
“Now here are the controls, my boy. Simply pull up to rise, and push down to descend. Twist the controller to the left or right to turn, and push forward and back to move.”
“I feel more than a bit dizzy,” said Ailad, as he hesitantly took the controls.
“Worry not! Thy feet are still firmly planted in the Cave of Treasures, my boy. These images are but an illusion.”
“A quite convincing illusion, I must say,” Ailad replied. “Where can this device take me?”
“Why, anywhere in Edom thou desirest!”
Ailad thought for a moment.
“You called this the Kolab Room, Uncle. Why is that?”
“Remember ye from thy vision, how that the Messenger took thee to a place called Kolab? That name means ‘All Things’ in the ancient Edomic language. We thought it was an appropriate name for this learning device. Here, I shall demonstrate.”
Brynmor pushed several switches and rotated the pedestal to the left; then he pushed forward. They began racing through the night air, directly west. Ailad looked behind him and saw the Olami Mountains receding in the distance. Below him, he could see Midland and the Spey River.
“Look, there’s Stroma!” he cried as they flew along.
Brynmor did not pause, but continued his path straight westward, passing the northern spur of the Suthurfjöll Mountain range.
“Ganedom is down yonder,” he said, pointing to the left.
They flew onward, until Ailad noticed another river that emptied into a vast sea.
“The Namsen River, and the Northern Sea,” said Brynmor. “We are nearly there.”
Where? Ailad thought.
At last they paused above a large city perched on three hills, just to the east of the mouth of the Namsen River.
“Behold Torshavn, the godless capitol of the Akamerian Empire,” said Brynmor, as they began slowly descending.
Ailad had never seen a large city before, and the vast, twinkling sea of lights below him took his breath away.
“It’s beautiful…” he said as they continued to descend.
“Perhaps – from a distance. But you will never find a more wretched nexus of evil than here in Torshavn, my boy. Come, we must pay someone a visit.”
By now Brynmor and Ailad were suspended above a massive fortress with two concentric walls. Still they descended.
“Uh… Uncle, what if they see us?” Ailad said nervously.
“As I said, my boy, these are merely projections. We are still in the Cave of Treasures, you and I.”
Not entirely convinced, Ailad watched nervously as he descended, until he appeared to be standing in the courtyard of the fortress. Soldiers and courtiers passed to and fro in silence, apparently oblivious to him.
Brynmor spun the view around and Ailad watched as they glided effortlessly across the courtyard and through several rock walls. Now they were standing in a large chamber with a raised stand at one end, with two ornate thrones. Jutting from the stand were two wooden dragon heads. To the side of the chamber was a boxed area containing benches. Several dozen people were milling about the room or sitting on the benches. An important-looking man wearing a crown was seated on one of the thrones, and a beautiful young woman wearing a red robe was seated on the other throne.
Ailad whispered. “Can they hear us?”
Brynmor replied, “No, but we can hear them. The Regents secretly positioned several viewing devices in this throne room, which allow us to observe and listen. That man sitting on the throne is King Theobald, and the woman is Queen Annora.”
Brynmor pushed a switch, and suddenly Ailad could hear several conversations going on in Nordish. King Theobald was apparently having a rather heated argument with some of his courtiers. He shouted,
“Lýthveldith er lokith! Althingi er slitith! Ég lýsi hér meth mér Theobald, Keisari af Akameria og Iskaldurey! Láta einhvern sem thora gegn mér!”
“What did he say?” Ailad whispered.
Sadly, Brynmor replied,
“The Republic is ended. Theobald has just declared himself Emperor. This is a sad day in Akamerian history, my boy. He has just dared anyone here to oppose him.”
The chamber fell silent. Emperor Theobald cast his gaze around the room, daring anyone to rise in opposition to his new decree. Ailad watched the new Emperor intently. Then he heard a rustling behind him. He turned around and saw that an elderly statesman had just risen to his feet.
“That is Vilgerd, one of the most respected of the Athals,” said Brynmor. “He has long opposed Theobald’s ambitions.”
Vilgerd pointed at Theobald and cursed him in Nordish.
“Hvernig thora ath hringja í thig í keisara, thú skítugu svín!”
“Thögn!” Theobald bellowed. Then he seized a javelin from a sheath next to his throne, cocked his arm back and threw the javelin with all his might, whistling straight at Ailad.
Terrified, Ailad watched the spear fly directly through his own unseen body. He heard a cry, and spun around just in time to see Vilgerd fall to the floor, impaled by the spear.
Ailad looked back in horror at Theobald, who sneered,
“Láta einhvern sem á móti mér, deyja thennan sama dautha.”
“Come, we have seen enough,” said Brynmor. He lifted up on the control column, and in a moment they were suspended above the fortress, hanging in the night sky.
“Ailad, do ye now understand the gravity of thy calling? Tha’ must oppose this tyrant and all he doth stand for.”
Ailad was trembling. “I understand, but I fear I be not up to the task,” he replied. “What must I do?”
“Trust in God, and follow his counsel, Ailad, and he shall lead thee aright.”
Brynmor twisted the controls, and they sailed off through the night sky, back towards the Cave of Treasures.