Strange harmonic sounds came faintly to Jord’s ear, distant and close at the same time. The source was impossible to determine. His brain had not really processed what had happened, but now he had time to think he realised the smell was gone. So was the uneasiness he had experienced. By using his hands and legs he could tell that he was resting on a ledge of rock. He could feel nothing below him when sitting on the edge and dangling his legs over. The wall behind his back felt strangely smooth and the ledge itself was around half his body length in width. It seemed to go either side of where he was sitting in an arc that joined with the wall about one body length away. Standing up he felt that the smooth wall at his back was seamless and had no opening. Now he remembered what he had done, and realised that he had been in a dreamlike state when he had crawled through what felt like a small door in the sacred stone. Not being able to see his surroundings didn’t scare him, he was used to that. What did scare him was the complete absence of the sounds of his home. The brutes’ growls and screeches were gone. Gone too was the rustling of the trees, and the bird noises. Most disconcerting was the absence of sound from the tribe. No voices or familiar sounds, Old Rab snoring or Lena arguing with Marick.
He tried calling out now as panic began to set in. With no reply his voice became more frantic. Suddenly a voice sounded. It was an alien voice, with raspy intonation and sibilant tone.
It was a calming sound but Jord was too panicked to be calm. Flinging himself back against the wall he tried to face the source of the sound. It seemed to come from in front but its source was as equally hard to place as the faint harmonics. The voice spoke again.
This time it sounded more directly in front of him and was accompanied by a gentle touch on his forehead. Instantly Jord could see. He was unsure just what seeing was as he had always imagined things based on their feel and sound. But he knew instinctively that he was seeing the being that appeared in front of him. He knew because his mind was instantly calm and he felt a deep sense of peace flooding through him from the touch. The being was still touching him and Jord’s view was partly obscured by its hand and arm. Not so obscured however that he could see straight through it. It appeared to be made of swirly flashing light, muted and dim, and apparently encased in a translucent shell. It was roughly humanoid, having limbs, approximately 6 Jord guessed, though as they kept shifting it was hard to tell. The being was not apparently standing on the ledge but seemed to be floating just off the edge. Jord’s instinct not to step off was well founded. As he glanced over the edge he saw an apparent drop of hundreds of feet to a dark still lake. This initial rush of sensory input overloaded Jord’s brain so much that he brought his hands up to his face and covered his eyes. In doing so he saw his hands for the first time and was momentarily amazed before closing his eyes and sinking to the ground in an almost faint. The touch on his forehead did not cease, the being simply extended its limb to maintain the contact. It spoke again.
Now Jord opened his eyes again and looked directly at the being. It didn’t appear to have a head as such, but rather a central mass of light, swirling and sparking just above the section that the limbs joined to.
He responded weakly, “What do you want?”
“It’s not what I want but what you must become.” The voice intoned. Its alien sound was even more disconcerting this time not just because it spoke in an absolute monotone but also because Jord couldn’t see how it was making the noise. No visible mouth appeared to move when it spoke. Jord’s exceptional hearing skills told him that the sound didn’t even appear to come from the being at all.
“Come,” it said and it drew Jord to his feet as if he had no will of his own. The limb was still attached and Jord now realised that maybe that was how he was hearing and seeing. It floated away from the ledge and Jord felt the solid ground disappear. He screamed in anticipation of falling but he just floated alongside the being.
“Don’t be afraid,” it intoned.
Jord looked now for the first time around the cavern as that was what he realised this must be. Roughly the size of the meeting place across it was several hundred feet high. A dark still lake covered the entire bottom while the walls were lightly lit with an orange glow. The roof arched over him. By the time he had taken all that in the being had drawn him over half way across. Jord looked back to the ledge that his had been on and saw it was high up near the roof. They were now quite a bit lower and he realised they were slowly descending as well as travelling across the cavern. Shortly he was able to determine that there were a series of ledges similar to the one he had entered on. They were headed directly towards one on the opposite side of the cavern and as they drew close Jord could see that these ledges were slightly different from the one he had entered on. Approximately twice the size for a start, and the walls, while still smooth were not featureless. What could only be described as control panels were sunk into the wall at regular intervals. Jord was not overly astounded. Being a tribesman as well as this being the first time he had seen anything in his life he had nothing to gauge normal against. This alien technology was no more abnormal to Jord then the Whiteface’s healing station had been. The being drew him onto a platform that seemed larger than all the others and looking left and right Jord could see that this platform also had more controls than the others. Three separate panels were embedded into the wall. The being stopped moving once Jord’s feet hit the ground. Another limb extended from it toward the central panel and began manipulating it. Short sparks of light of various colours flashed brightly in Jord’s eyes. Shortly the creature extended a second limb to the panel on the left. After a couple of seconds of flashes two things started to happen. Jord saw a recess open under the left panel. It contained a pile of folded cloth. The second thing he saw was a section of the wall above the central panel dissolved and turned liquid black. It flickered momentarily white and black and then resolved into a featureless grey colour. Suddenly as Jord watched in fascination the grey turned into colours. Moving vibrant colours. Jord had never experienced anything so amazing. Sound accompanied the colours and suddenly he realised that he was seeing the meeting place. Arutha loomed large immediately in front of him and then suddenly vanished. Now the picture showed Lena and Marick. They appeared to be praying in front of the sacred stone. For once Lena wasn’t arguing with Marick.
Jord watched in amazement as the creature continued to manipulate the controls. It reached with another limb into the recess and removed a square of folded cloth. As he shook it out Jord saw that it was a coat. The creature pulled it around Jord and he instinctively thrust his arms in. Suddenly he felt tingling in his arms that quickly extended itself over his entire body. The tingling feeling was gone as quickly as it came and now he realised that the creature had withdrawn the limb that had been attached to his forehead. The picture of the meeting place on the wall expanded to around 4 feet high. The creature spoke again in its flat drone.
“Go and bring peace to your people.”
Suddenly Jord felt himself propelled forward into the screen. He thrust his hands forward to stop the impact and they disappeared straight into the screen offering no resistance at all. A split second later the rest of his body had flowed through the transparent portal and Jord was back in the meeting place, standing in front of Lena and Marick who were still praying kneeling in front of him. Arutha he saw was behind him to his left and Old Rab had gone back to snoring on the bench. There were other tribe members scattered around in small groups, some standing and some sitting. As one they turned to face him and their mouths dropped open in surprise. Jord wasn’t sure who was more surprised, he or they. He could see!
“I can see!” he called out raising his arms victoriously.
This broke the spell and suddenly the tribe surrounded him. Lena hugged him close and Marick rubbed his head and shoulders. Arutha peered at his face and suddenly poked two fat fingers toward his eyes. Jord jerked back in surprise and Arutha’s face burst into a grin as his voice rose above the babble of excited questions and exclamations. “It is true, he can see!”