20. Crashed (Page 1)

Compared to the chaos aboard Jupiter's Return, The Null was incredibly peaceful. No sound of cracking wood or exploding engines. No taste of electrified ozone or cloud-filtered rain water. No feeling of the protective arm around her waist that made her heart traipse like a deer in a meadow of flowers. It was almost a relief. But, still, the absence of all sensation made Hataru’s skin crawl. I don’t see how I’ll ever get used to this. I can’t even feel the ground beneath my feet!

Suddenly, she was standing on a spongy surface, like a moss-covered, forest floor, which startled the princess so much, she fell down on her backside. Hataru scrambled to her feet and looked down, but she couldn’t see anything except her wiggling toes. Hmm… Maybe a little more… solid? The ground immediately changed to feel more like the tile floors in the grand hallways of the castle in Novallar. That’s more like it. Slightly more comfortable, the princess glanced at her right ring finger, the blue gem sparkling at her as if it had its own inner source of light.

“You’ve got some magic in you, don’t you?” she asked the ring skeptically.

It twinkled back.

Hataru took a step back, nearly falling down again, “Did… did you just… answer me?”

Again, the ring flashed of its own accord.

“Ah…okay.” Great,now I’m having a conversation with an inanimate object! “One blink for yes, two for no… Are you alive?”

Two blinks.

“Okay… so you’re not alive, but you are magic?”  I have gone completely insane!

One blink.

“Well… Sibyl did say that some powerful magic must have re-established my connection with this place. I felt you pulse when I put you on the first time up on the mountain. That was you, wasn’t it?”

One blink.

“Hmm. Do you have a name?” Insane, I tell you!

Two blinks.

“I guess I’ll call you… Saphira, then. You like that?”

One blink.

Yep, definitely insane! “Well, Saphira, you’re the reason I’m here. Are you going to, um, help me figure this place out?”

One blink.

“Great! So, ah, what do you do? You can’t exactly explain things to me like Sibyl would be able to if she were here ─ unless I keep asking you yes or no questions, but… I don’t have any idea what questions I should be asking.” Hataru thought for a moment, “I don’t suppose you can help me control those visions like I saw the last time I was here?”

One blink.

“So if I were to say, I don’t know, ‘Show me what’s happening on the ship right now,’ you’d be able to─”

The End

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