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Saga of Rim II

The Return of the Lantern Bearers

 

Cecilia Wennerström

 

 

Thin, black threads, gleaming with damp, trailed up the high walls of rock. Little pale green gnemons scraped the black algae from the wall of the palace. Flat-fingered hands carried dripping armfuls to the kitchen, where a blue fire flickered beneath a giant kettle.

Kveggla's hands moved close to the rim of the kettle, creating spells to make the ladle go round in the nasty-smelling soup. Other movements, other spells--now the soup changed color, form, and taste. Part of the black sludge compacted into greyish quenelles, part of it thinned out to light yellow broth. Hundreds of deep plates waited to be filled with tasty, nourishing soup for Ramgor's gnemons.

True, they could manage without eating at all. They could even manage without breathing. During the first period in the rocky black wasteland, with only the thinnest possible stratum of air around, nobody had been allowed to eat. She herself had barely been allowed to breathe during the Demon's horrible experiments. He reshaped the Gnomes into gnemons; he incubated bodies of new gnemons from stone eggs smelling of sulphur, filling their empty minds with thoughts; he built rivers of streaming water directly of the atoms in the air and the ground; he raised a temporary palace of the grey and black rocks around them.

Finally, Kveggla had a kitchen and a duty: to keep things clean and tidy, and prepare savory meals for the Demon and his growing household of gnemons. Mealtimes brought variety to the humdrum life where only one thing mattered: to plan the Demon's return to reality, to his homeland Winny-Vanna-Ye in the Land on the Rim of Time.

As time went by, Ramgor had failed at turning her into a gnemon. This was strange, her mind being clean after all these suncycles. Her soul was untouched by evil. Most likely, she was too old, her psyche clinging to her brain like burnt food in a frying pan.

Dirty dishes piled up in the kitchen: beautifully patterned china plates, bowls, and pots of black basalt, designed by Ramgor from memories of his desolate homeland; spoons, knives, forks, all in shining blackish silver. Ice-cold water poured from the rock. Shivering, she moved her hands and fingers to direct the running water at the used china. Even the tiniest mistake would be punished - if the plates weren't clean enough; if the food tasted bad, or wasn't pleasant to the eyes. If the illusion was shattered: when the meals collapsed in a heap of evil-smelling algae, or when the hot, delicious tea was unmasked as ice-cold water tasting of metal. Then the Demon's dark rays threw her, whining, into the nearest corner. She would lie there whimpering, arms above her head, waiting for the pain to cease.

Now and then she tried to teach the little gnemons to help her, or at least not to run in front of her feet, disturbing her, but they were completely impossible. They were designed to create chaos and disturbance. A few of them had intelligence, which they used to make her life even more difficult. They flew in front of her eyes when she was serving tea, so that the tea tray fell to the floor. They teleported between her feet, and swish! a piece of china lay in broken fragments all over the kitchen floor and had to be recreated or put together by Ramgor. On such occasions the Demon prolonged the punishment as if tasting it, making it a lengthy pleasure, trying out dark rays of varying quality and strength on her.

Now they were moving. Ramgor had found a path through spacetime to his castle in Winny-Vanna-Ye. His magic crept through the dimensions like tendrils, always searching for a crack in time, a hole in the multidimensional space, where he could sneak through. He listed everything he found, ordered it meticulously, with a flair for organization that made an astounding contrast to his yearning for chaos and destruction. To be sure, the castle on the Mountain of Evil Dreams was only half real. Around it were magical barriers preventing him from going outside the castle and into present time and reality in the Land on the Rim of Time. Possibly, the castle belonged to an older period of time, with a gap to Rim's spacetime that his magic was not able to bridge. Maybe the mountain was surrounded by some ancient spells, tough as old tree roots, once sung forth by the hated Yimbouks. Nevertheless, the castle was a great improvement compared to the desolate place where his household had been residing until now.

The three gnemons, who had formerly been Gnomes, were packing clothes, carrying trunks and furniture, planning, arguing, and fluttering about everywhere. As for herself, she took the best china, the one patterned with pictures of white ghames and black vampires, the one where the ghames looked like vampires if you focused your eyes in a certain way; it was Ramgor's favorite china and she had to be careful; but in the very moment after she had spoken the right words, making the pile of plates move neatly through the impossible moebius strip of the spacetime corridor on its way to the ebony shelves in the elegant grey-marble-walled kitchen in the Mountain of Evil Dreams, in that very moment a puny gnemon popped up in the air in front of her eyes it had learned from Borgwhan, the ex-Gnome, to teleport a few pitiable meters and for a moment she lost her concentration and the kinetic magic that was her specialty lost its effect and the plates fell to the floor with a thundering, crashing sound of shattered china, echoing off the solemn marble walls.

***

Kveggla rose in her bed with a start. She always woke up right there, the very moment before Ramgor carried out his most dreadful punishment of her: the exile in Jadnan's city and the video shop with its abominable collection of violence, torture, murder, and other rottenness, so common in all the multiverse. How many suncycles had she spent there? Time had lost its meaning long ago. Her body didn't seem to age. She was the same old Gnomewoman, about three hundred suncycles old, as she had been when the Demon dragged her with him in his exile, over the flaming ring of Yimbouks, covered by the flapping, white cloak of delusion.

She rose from the bed, took off her night dress and with a twist of her fingers made it fold itself on the bed. Then she went to the washbowl in the corner and, using a simple spell, ordered the washcloth to pass over her cold sweating, wrinkled green skin. Afterwards she put on a comfortable, well-worn flannel dress, seated herself at the dinner table, and made herself a fresh cup of tea by waving hands and fingers. The tea was brewed from her own mix of herbs. It made her relax, something she badly needed, especially after that often-recurring nightmare. She let her gaze fly over the Brown Heath. Its sameness was beautiful, its brown and lilac colors sweet and calm. The desolation lent peace to her tormented mind.

The fear was always there. That the Demon would come back. Or make someone kill her. No, take her back, as a slave, as a housekeeper, forcing her to wipe up the filth and dirt of all this gnemon vermin. Another humdrum eternity, which Ramgor would make her endure, which he in his almighty power could force her to endure.

If she managed it fast enough, she could kill herself before the Demon came back. Simply order her own body to die. But life was dear to her in this moment, when she was sitting at a rustic table, its cloth neat and brown-checked, enjoying the good taste of tea brewed with fresh spring water, watching the free and soothing view of the heath through a small round window in her cozy one-room cottage. She wanted to be alive some years yet, to lead the good life in the Land on the Rim of Time. The life that had been given back to her by a being from another dimension: Human Petra Bravo.

Having pondered this far, Kveggla came upon the idea of taking a walk. She armed herself with her broom. It made it easier for her to drive away the heathlemmings, those bloodthirsty creatures, alone of their kind in Rim. Probably a genetic experiment that had failed, she thought. Anybody could guess that, if they just cared enough to read the ancient documents in Rim's library and put two and two together. During the past dayhundred she had been reading a lot about Rim's history after The Great Throwing. When it came to the history before The Great Throwing, she was an expert, since it had been discussed, yes, harped on the same string, for suncenturies and yet more suncenturies, by Ramgor and his closest gnemons, Bignor and Borgwhan. She knew all about the slavery of the Foxmen and the Gnomes and their rebellion supported by the Yimbouks, all the sagas and tales, all about the sad story of the Lantern People.

She wrapped a shawl around her shoulders, slipped a small basket under her arm for gathering something edible during the walk, stepped into the dry brown grass outside the cottage, and started walking north through the heather.

"Share a meal," a heathlemming squeaked, snapping at her legs, where brown stockings were sagging above sturdy, high-legged felt boots. She muttered a spell and hit out at the creature with the broom. The action had to be repeated several times.

But the bright side of it, Kveggla thought, is that with these beasts you're left in peace here on the heath.

It occurred to her that she could have a look to see if the heath morels--tasty and easily plucked--had come up by the small mere, which lay about five miles north. It was too far to walk, so she mounted the broom, commanding it to fly low over the heath. In this way she would also avoid the lemmings for a while.

The season was early varma, and the morning sun was baking the ground of the heath ground. Kveggla extended her spell with a command to the shawl to tie itself around her head, protecting her from the sun. Far to the east she saw rain clouds, but the wind wasn't blowing in a direction that would bring them to the heath. Sad, some rain would have been fine on the pitifully dry grass outside her cottage.

She started looking for the mere. But before the water of the mere glittered in her eyes, she saw something else: a pale tinge of grey among the sprigs of heather. She let the broom descend, dismounted, and pushed the sprigs aside to find out what it was. Maybe it was something she could use.

It was a pair of grey oars, broad, flat, crooked, and ill built.

Why in all suncycles were a pair of oars lying on the Brown Heath?

She decided to forget about the morels and instead take the oars home. At least she could burn them up in her fireplace. Maybe she could use them as baking spades, if she carved them down to a smaller size. They were not very heavy. She mounted the broom, put the oars across her lap and secured them with a sticking spell so they wouldn't fall off, and flew toward home.

 

 

Saga of Rim II Copyright © 2006. Cecilia Wennerström. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission. Translated from Swedish by Cecilia Wennerström. Language-checked by Anne Cleaves.

 

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Author Bio

Cecilia Wennerström is a jazz musician, saxophone player, composer and arranger, educated at the music academies in Malmoe and Gothenburg. She was born in 1947 and lives in Stockholm, Sweden.

Since 1994 she has played baritone saxophone with the internationally known Swedish tenor saxophone player Nisse Sandströms 10-piece band which plays transcriptions of Miles Davis/Gil Evans tuba band music. Among many memorable concerts is one with Rolf Eriksson on trumpet at the festival Jazz at Nyköpingshus 1995.

One of Swedens best jazz singers, Peo Jönis, is the leader of a ladies big band, Satin Dolls, where Wennerström has played the baritone sax for several years and also does some arranging for the band. Satin Dolls is an entertainment band and has been quite involved with Swedish television.

Wennerström also leads a Marty Paich-style 12-piece orchestra of her own which plays her arrangements, for instance at the jazz festival Sandviken Big Band Bang in 1996.

TTB title: Saga of Rim, The Land On The Rim Of Time
Saga of Rim II, Return of the Lantern Bearers

More information on Cecilia can be found at her web site.

 

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  Author News

Saga of Rim, Book I was the winner of the Dream Realm Award in the Young Adult category.

 

 

  Reviews of Saga of Rim, Book I

A fun combination of reality and fantasy with emphasis on fantasy. A great place to meet new heroes and villains who display some very human tendencies.

Petra Bravo is a young girl who travels to Rim through a time warp created by a magician called Vahinya, who turns out to be a very good friend, even when she is occupying a cat's body. In Rim, it is found Petra's coming was foretold in old legends and that she would be "a being of your kind" who would help with a problem concerning a destructive icy wind.

A second adventure involves the city ruled by Jadnan and populated by the grey children. Here Petra meets Kveggla, house- keeper to an evil demon who was exiled many thousands of years before in a battle of wills and magic.

Petra's third adventure is when she is captured by Ramgor after she goes to the Mountain of Evil Dreams to help free Vahinya who is held there.

This is a story that could easily be the first in a series of exciting adventures for Petra and her new friends. "Rim" introduces the young reader to the world of fantasy, and stretches the imagination in visiting places like the Sea of Sorrow or the place where the Lantern people live. Highly recommended as a read to please any reader. Enjoy.

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, author of Journey into Terror and Reviewer for eBook Reviews Weekly.
 



Petra Bravo first learned of the Land on the Rim of Time when she was transported there to defeat a rather minor threat. During her brief stay, she learned about the eons old land out of time where magical beings descended from demons lived and observed other worlds. It was a peaceful, happy place, with only one enemy, a demon who refused to be adapted into a peaceful creature and now lurked in a void, waiting to re-enter some world and wreck havoc.

Upon returning home, it all becomes rather like a dream, a distant memory to Petra. Then, one of her friends takes control of her cat to warn her that the demon, Ragmor is poised to strike. Petra is needed to help defeat him. So it is that she embarks on a fantastic odyssey where her inner strength is her greatest weapon. Demonized gnomes, ages old mythic evils, and beings that are purely mean will stand in her way using trickery and cruelty to hinder her quest. Then, when facing her foe, love may be the thing that overcomes her.

If you are a fan of quests and fantastic worlds, no matter your age, you will be charmed by this book. It has a sweetness and grit that all classic fairy tales share, and an originality that keeps it from being tired and trite.

Reviewed by Amanda Faye for The Eternal Night.

 

 

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