It seemed that the changes that stretched and colored Roz were not only of the flesh.
It was evident to all of them that Seniya was not who she claimed to be. Her own flabbergasting at her failure to be satisfied by their information about Starloscet showed that even she was aware of it.
Gently, persistently, Roz guided the young woman to realize the truth: she was not, in fact a young girl from across the sea. She was a construct – a wonderful, helpful, kind construct that was a remarkable facsimile of living. It was evident that there was a deeper layer of consciousness. It yielded quickly to the obvious truth, and Seniya sat quietly. When asked if she wanted to dig down and fully open up her obviously lengthy past, she quietly demured. She would explore.
She was not sure what she would do now, but that exploration might guide her.
In the great empty glass monument on which Barrowtown was a barnacle, Hasver remembered that he was in fact a servant of the Truth. It’s mission: to spread the Truth in the 9th world: to promulgate the highest virtues human civilization aspires to.
Hasver and Seniya released Burris Hahn from his Infinite Fall. The Priest looked into Burris’ mind, and questioned him about his plans for the future. In the process of the experience, the man relented.
Whether it was Hasver’s powers or his presence, or his words, or the Fall, Burris Hahn was already changing from what he had been – perhaps into something he dreaded.
Seniya took his hand. She nodded. “I will help. We will make something for Barrowtown. Yes?” It was not a question.
It was back to the Tithe for them, in Frund’s scudder
On the second day, he spent the afternoon in the wide sun repainting the name of the vessel in dark paint The Revelator.
They talked about their destination with a secretive order related to Takir’s Ebon Hall, who had their headquarters at the Unseen Lake in Western Navarene.
The quiet burr of the engine and the wide flats of the eastern Tithe were a paradise for them, drenched in warm northern sunlight.
Then they came upon a second moon, hanging quiet and white above the river, turning, gleaming. The engine scaled down. Takir went into the water, his body the greatest instrument he knew. The whitening of the river was not merely look. The upper foot or so of the river had salinized. Under the water ahead, great crystals of salt were forming. The boat creaked toward the crystals. Takir found no danger. The white light fell upon their skin, their eyes, but did nothing to them. It changed water, and nothing else.
Once the boat bumped against the salt, it came to life, accreting, pulling together, humping up to form a bridge from a nearby only partly-glimpsed salt gazebo.
A white woman with long white hair, in a white dress and tan shawl came striding toward them, her dark glasses in place. A white silk papoose strung loosely across one shoulder. A crying came from it.
Hasver stepped forward, his voice banging off the salt, “Lady Jiara!”
She nodded and held out a hand to be helped aboard. “Lord Koshi sends his greetings, Truth-bearer,” she placed a protective hand on the papoose.