Memoirs of Bobbin Threadbare Loom-Child
The time has come to set straight the histories, and give my own account of the events that led to the Coming of the Third Shadow.
The tale, as it has been told around campfires, over tables in taverns, and even in our classrooms, has gathered much embellishment over the years. Even I can no longer recognize – in that swashbuckling, stalwart, ever-courageous hero – lonely young Bobbin Threadbare.
Even I? I was – I am – Bobbin Threadbare.
The story began long before the time at which I begin this account. That tale has already been told better than ever I could tell it, and I have set it down, in its traditional dramatic form, elsewhere in these pages. I shall begin with my awakening on the cliff, that morning of my seventeenth birthday:
Disappointed though I was to have missed the sight of my secret annual visitor, I was considerably more concerned by the summons of the Elders. They had, it seemed to me, paid little attention to my very existence through my entire childhood...and I was grateful for that presumed inattention. I might be always different, kept ever separate from the other of the village, but at least I was not subject to the scrutiny and judgment of the Elders...or so I thought.
To be called before the Elders now, a scant night's sleep from the time when Hetchel's patient private tutoring had succeeded...when at last I had felt that thrill of power every fledgling Weaver experiences when the threads of the draft are finally (finally!) spun truly and in tune...when the distaff becomes an extension and a servant of one's will –
The summons could hardly be a coincidence.
As I walked down the hill and west toward the village, I worried that the shattering of the window had brought upon Hetchel and myself the attention – perhaps the wrath – of the Elders.
The entrance to the Sanctuary, on the west side of the village, was outwardly no different from any of the other tents. When I passed through the antechamber, still dreading the audience with the Elders, I realized once again what special magic must be woven into the fabric of that structure. No simple tent could possibly contain the antechamber itself, much less the vast Hall of Tapestries or the Chamber at the end, where the Loom itself was housed. I hope that someday I, too, might learn to wield such power.
I hoped I'd be allowed the time to learn.
Loitering before the tapestries, I recalled the lessons Hetchel had given me on our infrequent, almost furtive, visits to the Sanctuary. The Two Shadows...the founding of the Guild of Weavers...and the coming of the Third Shadow. I should, I knew, have felt in that final torn tapestry some sort of damage. Even Hetchel winced when she looked at it. Try as I might, I could only sense a sort of destiny, as if the tear itself was a necessary part of the Pattern.
At last, knowing I could no longer postpone the inevitable, I approached the Loom chamber, and saw that Hetchel, too, had been summoned. The Elders seemed angry...and...afraid?
Loath to interrupt the Elders at such an emotional moment (and more than a little frightened at the thought of possible consequences to myself), I concealed myself behind a pillar and watched.
When finally I entered the Chamber, my first coherent thought was for the Loom. I had never before set foot in this room, had never been permitted to approach the Loom. Now, as I walked to it, I heard the echo of the draft the swan had just spun. Elder Atropos' distaff, I noticed, was glowing in tune with the threads.
Hesitantly, I picked up the distaff and approached the Loom again. This time I was able to somehow sense, through the distaff, each thread of the draft as it should be spun. I recognized the threads of the Draft of Transcendence; Hetchel had written them in the Book of Pattern when first she loaned it to me. Excited, I raised the distaff and began to repeat the draft...
...only to realize that the very first thread was far beyond my abilities. Well, Hetchel has long admonished me to "Practice! Practice! Practice!" and now I knew the reason.
Thoughts of Hetchel naturally led me back to thoughts of the confrontation I had just witnessed. It seemed to me that egghood was a very poor destiny indeed; upon examination, it appeared that the egg itself agreed with me. Clearly, it was trying to hatch!
Now these threads, I well knew, were not beyond my grasp. Again I raised my distaff – yes, I was already beginning to think of it as mine – and wove the Draft of Opening on the egg.
Leave? Hetchel had taught me that, in all the time the Guild had been on the Island, no Weaver had ever left it...except by banishment. Was I to banish myself from the only home – inhospitable as I knew it to be – that I'd ever known? Unimaginable!
Nor could I imagine the means by which I could accomplish this feat. I hadn't the skill to turn myself into a swan – a destiny which, in any event, I wasn't entirely willing to embrace – and more mundane solutions seemed just as remote. Outsiders had been known to visit the Island by boat, but such encounters were extremely rare and it seemed highly unlikely that some stranger would obligingly choose this time to stop at the dock, simply because I needed a ride.
No, if I had to leave the Island, I would have to find a way to do it myself. I pondered the problem as I returned to the village proper.
Hetchel's tent had been pitched on the east side of the village, as far from the Sanctuary – and the Elders – as possible. When I entered, I could almost convince myself that nothing had changed – that, in the next moment, or perhaps the one after that, Hetchel would bustle in behind me and put me back to work folding and storing the dyed cloth that represented our livelihood.
But Hetchel had followed the swans, and she expected me to leave the Island. More or less idly, I walked to the table and – more than less clumsily – I knocked over the flask. As it emptied its contents onto the floor, my distaff resonated with the threads of a draft.
I quickly retrieved the Book of Patterns and jotted down the threads next to the description of the Draft of Emptying. Yet another draft beyond my abilities! Until I gained enough experience to spin the draft myself, I'd have to be absolutely certain I'd recorded it properly. I touched the flask to invoke the draft again, and rechecked the Book.
And how was I to gain experience? I couldn't see myself wandering through the world, even if I managed to get off the Island, opening every window and knitting basket in my path. People might tend to object. Surely there must be some other drafts in my limited range!
I investigated Hetchel's dye pot, and was rewarded with a draft even I could manage. It was the work of a few moments to dye the heap of cloth and the basket of wool. Frowning, I inspected my handiwork.
I had always had an aversion to green, and now I'd managed to fill the room with nothing but that detestable color. It wasn't important, I though, but I nevertheless wished that somehow I could reverse the process.
Shrugging, I returned to the village center and cautiously entered the only other tent that held any interest for me.
In the center of the village stood a tent that had long piqued my curiosity. I had been forbidden to enter this tent, which was hardly surprising, since I had been forbidden to take part in virtually every activity of the Guild of Weavers. What made this tent unique was the fact that all of the children of the Guild, and nearly all the adults, were also forbidden entrance. I knew that there were goods which the Guild could not weave on the Island of Loom; the visits of traders in such good nearly always involved visits to this tent as well. At last I could learn its secrets...
...balked again! Hetchel had told me that off-Island that gold stuff was held in high esteem; the Elders must have traded it for the goods the traders bought. The darkness had to hold the secret of its manufacture, but I had no idea how to penetrate it. Unless –
I left the village and walked north to the woods and the graveyard where my mother was buried.
All my lonely childhood, I had played in and explored these woods. I knew there was a grove where the owls preferred to nest, and I remembered that Hetchel had told me owls had exceptionally keen nigh vision. Could I learn a draft from a living being?
As I'd hoped, each of the owls in the grove supplied a thread of a draft. But there were only three owls; three threads do not make a draft. I made my way west to the graveyard, in search of a fourth owl.
Well, I'd found my fourth owl, for all the good it was doing me. The lazy creature hadn't bothered to return to its nest and, short of hitting it with my distaff (which, I had no doubt, was not the distaff's proper function), I had no idea how to persuade it to wake up and go home.
Frustrated, I wandered through the graveyard, eventually blundering into a patch of thorns. A rabbit, spooked by my less-than-graceful approach, accomplished what I could not; the owl awoke and bore its hapless victim back to the grove.
I stooped to read, again, the puzzling epitaph on my mother's gravestone. And, for the first time, the words began to make sense! Could I... Open the sky itself?
Well, why not? Things couldn't get much worse than they were already (well, so I thought then), and that line about "Far across the Sea" certainly suggested that I might have found the way to leave the Island. I promptly raised my distaff, and Opened the sky above the graveyard.
Or rather, failed to Open it.
Perhaps if I'd been better educated, I would never have thought the cliff could be that much closer to the sky. Or perhaps it wouldn't have mattered; I already knew there was only one tree on the Island that resembled that storm-twisted tree engraved on the headstone. I made my way back to the cliff top – was it only this morning that I had awakened there? – stopping only to learn from the owls the final thread of what had to be the Night Vision Draft.
I sometimes think that, had I heeded half the warnings buried in the clues I found in my travels, I'd still be wandering that Island, looking for a safe way out. Yes, the epitaph mentioned lightning, and something about sundering a tree, but I had no idea!
I barely got under cover in time.
At least, it appeared, there was a way off the Island, if I dared to try it. But I had one more errand, back in the Guild Treasurer's tent. And, there was something else I wanted to try...
I found that, once I wove Night Vision into the darkness, I could see as clearly in the tent as if I'd lit a lamp. I seemed that, like Hetchel, the Guild Treasurer preferred to work his draft through its ancient symbol; sure enough, the spinning wheel fairly vibrated with the Straw Into Gold Draft. For practice, I spun the threads on the pile of straw and was rewarded with some more gold stuff...and something far more precious to me: a strengthening of my abilities!
I returned to Hetchel's tent, and that odious green cloth.
Try as I might, I hadn't been able to put the question of reversing the effects of a draft completely out of mind. All the while I'd been nosing about the Island, blowing up trees and whatnot, that little matter had been nagging at me. And now I thought I had the answer.
Experimentally, I spun the threads of the Dye Draft, backwards, on the basket of wool. And it worked! All the green was spun straight out of the wool! I named my new draft "Bleach Green" and trotted busily around the tent, bleaching every speck of green out of the cloth.
On my way west to the dock, I stopped at the Treasurer's Tent and changed the gold into straw. Immensely pleased with myself, I thought to reverse Night Vision, when I realized that, first, there was no light-that-had-been-darkness upon which to spin it and, second, the Draft of Night Vision was the same both forward and backward.
Clearly, some drafts were not meant to be reversed.
The dock had been another of my favorite hiding places. Members of the Guild avoided it, for it represented to them the intrusions of the outside world. I was, as far as I knew, the only inhabitant of the Island who actually knew how to swim; I'd taught myself and, although my technique was probably atrocious, it served to get me from place to place in the waters near the dock.
I'd toyed, in fact, with the idea of swimming to the mainland, but had discarded the notion when I realized how dangerous the intervening waters might be.
Resolutely thrusting from my mind the thought that a scrap of wood could hardly provide much more protection against the dangers of the sea, I leaped into the water and boarded the log.
Needless to say, I had no idea what a waterspout was, nor how powerful one might be, until I tried to steer around it toward that tantalizing glimpse of land beyond. Fortunately, I kept a tight grip on my distaff during my unscheduled side trip.
I reboarded my log and drifted back to the twister, which I examined more closely. Its draft was one of those that might be reversed, and in a few moments I was able to make my way to the mainland beach.
(I sometimes wonder if that waterspout was a side effect of my Opening the sky. If so, it was not the only time during my travels when I freed myself from one dilemma only to land in something worse as a result...)
When I arrived at the beach, I found that, yet again, the range of threads I might control had grown. Soon, I thought, I would be a Master Weaver.
I was now confronted with a choice: to the east lay a glittering city; to the north, a forest. For me, accustomed to roaming the woods of the Island, shunning and being shunned by the people, the decision was not difficult – I made for the forest.
I'd gone no further than a few steps into the forest when I was confronted by the sentries. If they hadn't been so adamant about not permitting me to enter their worthless realm, I wouldn't have cared. But they'd challenged, me, and I was well on my way to becoming a Master Weaver, and now I had to find a way to awe them, so they'd let me enter their miserable domain.
I would, after all, have to visit that city.
At least I'd learned from the shepherds the Draft of Invisibility. With care, I might not need to speak to any strangers at all.
So as not to seem to be retreating, I took the other path, and made my way, with as much dignity as I could muster, toward the glass city.
Not knowing what else to do, I entered the square building at the foot of the cliff. The planes and angles of that glass in that place were most confusing; I fumbled my way up a flight of steps, and found myself facing an exit. It seemed more sensible to thoroughly explore each building of the city in its turn; accordingly, I turned my back on the exit and cautiously negotiated the next upward set of stairs. I found myself turned around yet again, on a ledge leading to a crystal chamber.
When I inspected the chamber, I found that it contained a bell. Naturally, I rang it -
- and found myself stumbling out of the chamber on the other side of the building!
Before I had a chance to collect myself, I was accosted by one of the denizens of this strange place...
It wasn't, as it turned out, so horrible to talk to a stranger; at least, not that one. I was beginning to understand that, whoever Bobbin Threadbare may have been on the Island, here on the Mainland no one knew – or cared – that he was an outcast. Whatever made me so significantly different to my Guild was buried in the larger difference between my Guild and all the others.
To these people on the Mainland, I was a representative of the Guild of Weavers. It was ironic.
And, I would learn before my travels were over, it was dangerous...
Master Goodmold had given me the freedom of his city. I hoped only to find a draft within these crystalline walls that would let me show those shepherds a thing or two...
I wondered if more practice would expand my range to the point at which I might turn them all into swans. And, I thought scientifically, the chalice on the pedestal offered an excellent opportunity to test that draft I wasn't able to try on the Island.
I reversed the Empty Draft on the chalice and, as I examined my handiwork, Master Goodmold reappeared and treated me to what I saw as a rather irrelevant lecture on its, and the city's, history.
Later, of course, I was glad that Hetchel's teaching had asserted itself; that I had listened and asked questions and remembered.
(It was, I grant, I small thing; it mattered only to a Guild that has long since vanished...but whatever else I was, or am, or shall become, I am a Weaver.)
(And Weavers ever long to know..."How did that fit in the Pattern?")
Free finally of Master Goodmold's attentions, I took a moment to Empty the chalice ("irreverence," indeed!), then followed him and left the building as he had done.
Though the epitaphs in the cemetery wove a few more threads into the Glassblower's Pattern, I still hadn't found any way to impress the shepherds. I left the dome through the back exit, stopping to admire a few more gravestones, and chose to enter the tower on the beach side of the city.
I had apparently intruded on a private conversation between another citizen and ...? I could not tell; I would never become used to the distortions of the glass of this city. Politely, I turned to leave, but somehow the conversation attracted me...
I knew well how inexperienced I was with regard to the business of mainlanders; just the same, it seemed to me that Bishop Mandible's interests might not be as honorable as those of the Guild of Glassmakers. I'd come to like the people of this city, and I felt an uneasy foreboding at the thought of their association with this Cleric.
I told myself that it was not my concern...that I'd only come here to find a way to continue my personal quest...that it was absurd to imagine that Master Crucible had less judgment than I in the conduct of his business...
And, all the while lecturing myself, I made my way up the steps and across to the chamber that, I thought, must lead to the platform and that "Scrying Sphere". I rang the bell.
I was beginning to develop a streak of stubbornness that would have appalled Hetchel. In the course of a few days, I had discarded the habits of seventeen years of unquestioning obedience to my elders and presumed betters. Kind as they were, those workers were preventing me from doing what I wanted to do. I had to find a way to get past them.
Remember that, before I'd entered, I'd seen some sort of busy activity at the top of the tower, I went back outdoors and confirmed my guess; the workers had to be the same men who had earlier forestalled my explorations. They were far away, but I thought it possible that, if I could see them, I should be able to spin a draft on them. Accordingly, I spun upon them the Draft of Invisibility, and returned to the tower room.
Invisibility did have its advantages; I was relieved to learn that this city was not entirely unprepared for treachery. For some reason, the presence of the scythe disturbed me, but – apart from making a note of the Draft of Sharpening – I resolved not to involve myself any further in mainland concerns. As I rang the bell on the other side of the room, I hoped that mainland concerns, particularly those of Bishop Mandible, would refrain from involving themselves with me.
Unexpectedly, the Sphere of Scrying provided a solution to the problem of the sentries. Although it was difficult to imagine how the weaving of a few threads could so influence four grown men that they would flee in terror from an innocuous Weaver such as myself, I was convinced that, with the Terror Draft, I could bring to reality the scene from the Sphere.
Curious, I looked again into the Sphere, hoping I might learn the whereabouts of the departed swans. The leaping flames in - what was that, a cave? – made no sense to me. I could only hope that the Sphere was showing a scene from some other's future – or, if it was indeed mine, that the experience would not be painful.
The Sphere produced but one more vision, before it began to repeat itself. That vision of the swan, and her reiteration of the Draft of Transcendence, was more confusing than helpful; was this a warning? An invitation? Time, I supposed, would tell.
I put the matter of the swan from my mind, and worked my way through the glittering city, up the cliff, and into the forest. This time, I thought, those sentries could not fail to be amazed.
The Terror Draft, when I wove it upon the shepherd guards, was far more effective than I had guessed it would be...for a moment, I sensed, I was more than the apparition of that which they feared – I had the power and the will of the thing itself. I could wreak havoc here!
As the effects of the draft ebbed, my exultation faded as well. I began to understand, better than I wished, how the children of the Island may have felt when they chose to torment that outsider, Bobbin Threadbare.
As I walked the path to the west, I wondered if they ever felt as I did now.
When first I came upon the dozing shepherd, I thought that I might, yet again, have to make some display of "magic" in order to pass.
When I had examined (and thereby disturbed) his sheep a few times, it became clear to me that I would have to devise a mighty magic indeed if I wished even to capture his undivided attention.
I made a note of the threads of the Sleep Draft, wondering briefly why sheep jumping over a fence should evoke it. Then I continued west.
As I trudged though the vast verdant meadow, I reminded myself that the ways of the mainlanders were no concern of mine. I told myself that even a drowsy shepherd must have an excellent reason for pasturing his sheep in the shadow of a forest, rather than in the midst of this lush green grassland.
I entered the largest of the huts on the west edge of the pasture, hoping to find someone who might help me in my quest. There was no one at home, save a little lamb in a manger. As I examined it, I had the eerie feeling I was being watched...
I understand now why the sheep were being kept from the open meadow, and thought back to my recent uneventful trek across the same meadow, shuddering at the realization that, at any moment during that journey, I might have been attacked by some ferocious dragon and carried off to be broiled and consumed at leisure.
I decided not to go back outdoors until the real wizard arrived to deal with the menace.
Then, I began to wonder whether that wizard might be apt to resent my impersonation, unavoidable as it was, of a member of the Guild; did Mages still turn people into frogs? And, of course, there was the little matter of the terrorized sentries; no doubt they, too, would find it difficult to forgive my deception.
I faced, on the one hand, the unpleasant possibility that I would soon become a dragon's dinner...on the other, the prospect of being transformed into a small green webfooted individual on the run from four angry men carrying big sticks.
And I hate green!
I began to think I might have a plan. Stalling for a time, I looked again at the little lamb in the manger.
After jotting the threads of the Healing Draft – Fleece's "Song of Healing" – in my Book of Patterns, I turned the page and read again the history of the Draft of Invisibility. "Questionable circumstances," eh?
I returned to the meadow, where I confirmed that the flock was, indeed, the most obvious feature of the landscape.
With what I imagined was an acceptable wizardlike flourish, I raised my distaff and spun the Dye Draft upon the sheep.
Clinging desperately to my distaff, dangling upside down in a decidedly undignified manner from the dragon's claws, I vowed yet again not to involve myself in the affairs of mainlanders.
I might have expected that only I could end up in the lair of a talking dragon. At least, it appeared, I was not due to be eaten immediately.
The cave looked very familiar; I remembered the scene from the Sphere and realized the exit had to be just behind the dragon's hoard. I looked more closely at the gold...
So, somewhere in the mountain there was another Sphere of Scrying. I was, of course, no nearer to it than when I'd first arrived. I paced the width of the cave, searching for another way out. Frustrated, I returned to the middle of the lair and stared at my captor.
There I was, trapped in a cave by a talkative dragon who was actually afraid of fire. I tried to imagine how things could possibly get worse, and thought again of the scene in the Sphere.
The first step, clearly, would be to acquire something sufficiently flammable. As I turned the hoarded gold to straw, I braced myself for the dragon's reaction, which wasn't likely to be positive...
Well, that was a relief...I took advantage of the new note I'd added to my range, and spun the sleep draft on the dragon. That, I thought, should give me enough time to find some way to ignite the straw...I had no idea dragons snored so loudly.
There you have the true story: daring Bobbin Threadbare single-handedly defeated the dragon and escaped the lair by virtue of the fact that dragons snore when they sleep – and spark when they snore.
The final appearance of the cave was exactly as it had been in the Sphere in Crystalgard; as I left the lair, I wondered if I would be lucky enough to find the dragon's Sphere, and what I might see within its depths.
The caverns within the mountain, though maze-like to some degree, proved relatively easy to negotiate once I remembered to spin Night Vision on the darkness. After a few false starts and a bit of backtracking, I eventually tumbled down a rocky slope onto a plateau half-awash in water. After examining the pool, and recording the threads of the Draft of Reflection in my Book of Patterns, I wended my way off the plateau and up to the exit from the caverns.
Though I searched carefully as I explored the caverns, I never did find that other Sphere.
I still have the feeling that, at one time or another, I must have been within just a few feet of it.
I still wonder what visions it might have contained.
At first I thought I might simply leap across the gap at the foot of the spiral stairs. After looking over the edge, however, and contemplating the drop I risked should I fail to reach the other side, I returned to the top of the steps to look for some less dangerous means of bridging the gap.
I was prepared to look for a very long time, indeed, but the solution presented itself almost immediately. I reversed the Twisting Draft on the steps and, keeping carefully to the center of the unrailed staircase, walked down to the foot of the mountain.
I thought the sleeping boy might be a lookout for whatever Guild lived in these parts, so I tiptoed past him and approached the city to the east.
People did seem to be wasting a lot of their time these days keeping me out of places. I waited until the sentry had marched out of sight, spun the threads of the Draft of Opening on the gate, and entered, only to be ignominiously escorted back onto the drawbridge.
Reconsidering my options, I returned to the graveyard and the sleeping boy.
Admittedly, I was still not accustomed to using the subtle thinking of a Weaver. My first thought was that I could steal the boy's clothes and, thus disguised, sneak into the city. Looking at him, I thought despairingly that I could not possibly hope to succeed unless I could steal his visage as well...which was when I remembered the Draft of Reflection. I raised my distaff and spun the threads...
Fortunately, Rusty was not so wary of strangers as were his elders. I would have liked to spend more time talking with him; he was the only boy I knew who'd treated me with friendliness rather than scorn.
Sooner than I wished, though, Rusty returned to his primary pastime – sleeping – and I returned to mine – getting into trouble. More quietly this time, I spun the threads of the Reflection Draft on Rusty and confidently walked back to the drawbridge.
I was beginning to get the impression that Rusty was not quite a pillar of his community. Hoping I needn't meet that Stoke person, I entered the Forge.
What an unbelievably [em]noisy[/em] place this Forge was! No wonder Rusty preferred to catch up on his sleep in a graveyard!
None of the blacksmiths paid any attention to me; I doubted whether, even had I been able to attract their notice, any of them could have heard me over that ceaseless hammering on ten thousand anvils.
I wandered through the chamber, hoping that somewhere in this enormous clanging city I could find a quiet room, where I could rest and think...
If I hadn't been so dizzied by the noise, I might have realized before it was too late that the man by the furnace had to be the dreaded Stoke.
Across the sea, through thunderstorm and waterspout – even in midair – I had managed to hold onto that distaff. Then, in one brief moment of confused dismay, I let that man take it from me. Unless Hetchel came to my rescue, as she had promised, my distaff would shortly be consigned to the fire, and I would be condemned to await the coming of the Third Shadow in this dismal cell.
Naturally distressed by this turn of events, I kicked the cell door a few times to show my defiance, then laid myself down on the bed of straw and fell asleep.
After I awoke to find that I was myself again, I reached to the barred window in the cell door just in time to watch Stoke fling my "stick" into the flames. I watched helplessly as, still vibrating with power, it began to smolder.
Turning away from the sight, I wondered if Hetchel had forgotten me...
I could hardly believe it when my distaff slid into view. Quickly, I retrieved it, spun the Opening Draft on the door, and hurried outside...but Hetchel had departed.
Knowing that, looking as I did now, I couldn't hope to escape through the great chamber, I descended the stairs to the inner chamber of the Forge.
Though this room featured but one blacksmith at one anvil, it seemed no less noisy than the great chamber itself. When the two men entered – the one wearing the mitre could be none other than Bishop Mandible – I strained to make out the words of their conversation.
I soon realized that, when this particular sword was finished, there would be a great many people bustling through the inner chamber, fetching the swords lining the walls. I would not be able to hide there much longer.
The decision I made next had nothing to do with any opposition to Mandible's plans – I reminded myself that I had renounced any interest in the activities of the mainlanders. They could for all I cared, hack each other to bits with those swords – I owed them nothing. Well, with the possible exception of Master Goodmold, who had welcomed me into his city. And Fleece, who'd taught me the Draft of Healing. And Rusty, who just might be my friend...
No, I just needed to buy more time to plan my escape. When next the two interrupted the blacksmith, I reversed the Sharpening Draft and blunted the upraised sword.
Though I knew I lacked the experience of more seasoned travelers, it still seemed to me that, what with that seagoing log, the claws of the dragon and – now – the Bishop's winged beast, I was beginning to run out of new, untried means of transportation.
Not that I was likely to have an opportunity to continue my travels.
Mandible clearly knew enough about the Guild of Weavers to know that I was perfectly capable of Opening the cage. Why, then, had he provoked this pointless exercise?
I could think of no other means of breaking the stalemate, though, for Mandible seemed willing to wait and watch until we all three were festooned with cobwebs (though I had no doubt such decoration could do nothing but improve Cob's appearance).
I wove the threads of the Draft of Opening upon the cage.
I had little hope that Mandible had heeded my warnings. Restlessly, I wandered the room, inspecting the beast, then Cob, then the beast again.
Finally, it occurred to me that the Bishop's Sphere might give me a glimpse of the effects of Mandible's ill-conceived actions. Naturally, the moment I approached the Sphere, Cob interfered...
Of course, I'd heard the legends from Hetchel, and later from Master Goodmold. Still, I'd never really believed them, and my warning to Cob sprang from sheer nervous bravado. Perhaps he detected that...perhaps he simply didn't believe... or care...
I tried to summon up some feeling of pity for Cob, but I could not. He was a nasty person who had come to an especially nasty end, and my only thought at the moment was that I might be able to induce Mandible to make the same mistake.
I hurried out to the parapet and approached him.
I retrieved my distaff, relieved to note that it was none the worse for its recent ill-use, and returned to the prison. Anxiously, I gazed into the Sphere.
The swan again! With Chaos loosed upon the Universe, I would have thought her message would change, but she only wove those same four threads of Transcendence. I looked again...
The next two scenes left me even more confused. The sight of those mundane objects filled me with a horrid sense of foreboding.
I suppose it should have occurred to me that Mandible's Opening Draft would affect more than just the graveyards; as I turned away from the Sphere, I noticed for the first time that the beast's cage was empty. I had thought, vaguely, that I might somehow be able to tame it and thus escape the tower; now I could only hope it had flown away in search of meatier prey than I. I could find some other way to leave.
Cautiously, I crept back onto the parapet.
I imagine that, without the help of the beast, I would eventually have elected to enter the hole on my own.
I might, on the other hand, have dithered over the decision until it was all too late.
Just the same, I wasn't able to summon any great feeling of gratitude towards the ravening creature.
Because the hole offended my sense of order (and because I couldn't be certain the beast wouldn't simply follow behind me), I reversed the Opening draft upon it. To my great relief, the tear obligingly sealed itself.
I turned my attention to the next hole; suppressing my initial inclination to simply close it up and forget it, I passed through...
Rusty! Shocked, I moved forward to inspect my friend's remains...
Inexplicably filled with remorse (how could I have known this fate would befall Rusty? How could he think I would have permitted it?), I leafed desperately through my Book of Patterns. Yes, here was the Healing Draft: nothing in the description suggested that it would be effective in this case – then again, nothing suggested that it would not.
I wove the threads of Healing around Rusty's corpse.
When I returned to the void, I found I was unwilling to lock myself away from the first and only friend I'd had. I thought that, once I'd found my Guild, I might be able to return and join Rusty in his search.
I proceeded to the next hole, through which I could see the trees of the forests of the Guild of Shepherds.
Chaos and his minions had been at work here, too. Appalled, I examined the bodies strewn across the meadow.
Grateful for the opportunity to undo some of the damage for which I felt responsible, I once again raised my distaff and spun the Healing Draft on the shepherds.
I continued to the next rift, entering what remained of the glass city of Crystalgard.
As I prepared to weave the threads of Healing around Master Goodmold, he stopped me...
Distressed at what I saw as my inability to save Master Goodmold, and bitterly ruing the day that I had set out on this dreadful journey, I chose, this time, to Heal the rip in the fabric of the Universe, sealing away the sight of the shattered city of Crystalgard.
I would not forget them.
As I traveled further into the void, I thought for a time that there was no more to be found here...that I would have to return to the Forge and join Rusty's quest. Just as I began to make up my mind to turn back, I saw before me what appeared to be a fantastic crystal lake.
I made my way toward it.
This was the swan I had seen in the Spheres; the others must be the members of the Guild of Weavers. Curious, I looked more closely at the swan.
Regretfully, I turned back and closed the holes leading to the shepherd's realm and Rusty's home. I might not even have considered such an irreversible action had I not, at heart, believed that the swan was, indeed, my mother, and that Hetchel was in great danger.
After I healed the final hole, my range expanded yet again. I hoped the increased in powers would be sufficient.
I hoped I wasn't too late.
I continued past the lake, found the final rent in the fabric of the Pattern, and through it returned to the devastated Loom Island. Watching anxiously for Hetchel, dreading the approaching of Chaos, I hurried into the Sanctuary.
Nothing had changed here. Hetchel had not yet come back, or she had been and gone again...I turned to go back outside and search the Island more thoroughly...
Poor Hetchel... I had known her so well, for so long, that even her cygnet form could not mask from me her characteristic frustration at how easily Chaos had thwarted her. As she struggled to speak, I examined the Loom, evoking the echoes of Chaos' Draft of Silence.
I reversed the Draft of Silence and wove the threads around Hetchel...
Chaos' next draft must have been that of Shaping...even as I repeated the process of reversing the draft still resonating in the Loom, I could feel nothing but dread...I now understood the meaning of the second scene in the Bishop's Sphere.
I could only pray that Hetchel and I could act quickly enough...I saw no other way to avoid the implications of the Sphere's third – and final – scene.
Hetchel must have known, from the very beginning, that it would come to this. She certainly knew later how serious her choice would be, when she warned me to close my eyes.
Hoping against hope that the Healing Draft would restore her, I prepared to spin the threads round all that remained of Hetchel, the lonely feather.
I could barely contain my helpless fury at Chaos' casual cruelty.
I told myself that Hetchel would not wish her final sacrifice to be wasted - and I knew that, in fact, she would agree.
But I do not believe that noble sentiment was all that motivated my next action; I wanted to avenge Hetchel...and Master Goodmold. I wanted to hurt the one responsible for separating me from my friend (my [em]friend![/em]) Rusty.
I learned the Rending Draft from the Loom and wove those terrible threads into the Loom itself...
I had lost my home – won and bid farewell to the first friends of my life – watched the woman who had raised me give up her life for the sake of the Universe – I had, in fact, split that Universe asunder.
I left the Chamber – and the Island, and my old life – and joined the flock on our side of the Pattern.
On the other side, Chaos followed my example.
I hesitated, wondering if I had any other choice...and realized, finally, that I wanted no other choice.
For the last time, I raised my distaff...
...and wove the threads of the Draft of Transcendence upon myself.
As for what came to pass in the newly formed Realm of the Undead, I can tell you nothing, for that section of the Pattern is woven into the destinies of those I left behind.
My story – my part in the Pattern – ends here.