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Aenir (the Seventh Tower, Book 3)

Aenir (the Seventh Tower, Book 3)



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Published by akankshaprakash43

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Published by: akankshaprakash43 on Feb 27, 2010
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Aenir (The Seventh Tower, Book 3)Garth NixCHAPTER ONE The mountain appeared to be one gigantic mass of gray stone looming over the green rivervalley. But it was not really a mountain.It was a creature of stone. Old and cold and enormous, it liked to lie in one place forthousands of years, sleeping and dreaming of the time it was born from the fiery depths of the earth.Since it had sat in one place for so long, most travelers thought that it was a fixed andpermanent part of the terrain. Unlike the rest of Aenir, where forests walked and hills wrestledand rivers changed their courses whenever they felt like it.On their maps the Chosen of the Castle called the great hulk of rock Cold Stone Mountain.Every year the Chosen came from another world to Aenir and spent many weeks trapping andenslaving the local creatures, to take back to their own place to serve as Spiritshadows.But some of the Chosen knew that Cold Stone Mountain was not a mountain at all. Oneparticular Chosen had even found out how to make the mountain move.One day, he had made Cold Stone Mountain stretch and rumble and lift itself out of the bed of lesser rock that formed the valley floor.While the mountain creature arched its back, two other Chosen - companions of the firstscuttled in, right under the massive belly of gold-flecked granite, and put something in one of the many holes and caverns that pockmarked Cold Stone Mountain's underside.Unfortunately for those two Chosen, their master could not maintain the magic that made themountain move. It settled back a little earlier than expected and the two men were crushed todeath. The object they had put in the crevasse survived, locked away in darkness under sixhundred stretches of solid rock.
 The object was almost indestructible. A single crystal that had been grown into a rectangularshape, it was about as high as a tall Chosen, three times as wide, and only a hand-span thick.Even without light, its surface shone like water reflecting the moon, a mysterious silverluminosity.Occasionally the light would ripple in a rainbow effect, and there would be pictures, absolutelylifelike pictures, that moved on its strange surface. Or there might be writing, in the elegantand complex script used by the Chosen, or the blocky runes of the Icecarls. The strange, shining object was the Codex of the Chosen, and its rightful place was in theCastle, atop the Mountain of Light in the Dark World. It did not belong in Aenir and shouldnever have been brought there. The Codex had many powers, but none that would help it burrow through stone or make themountain creature move. All of its power lay in knowledge gathering knowledge and givingknowledge.Down in the deep dark of its rocky prison, the Codex could only use one of its many powers. Itcould see and hear through the minds of animals, using them as its eyes and ears.It started to seek out those minds as soon as the mountain that imprisoned it settled down.In the first year, the Codex found eyeless, deaf worms.In the second year, it found blind crickets that scuttled through the many cracks and fissuresof the mountain.In the third year the Codex found lumps of semi-intelligent mold, which had no senses at allthat the magical artifact could understand.For several years after that, the Codex continued to send out its questing mental tendrils,only to encounter useless creatures… or nothing at all.It was not in the Codex's nature to give up. It would keep trying for a hundred years, or athousand.
Fortunately it did not have to. A mere twenty-two years after it was stolen from the Castle andplaced under the mountain, it found a Grugel. The Codex had not personally encountered aGrugel before, but it knew exactly what one was when it felt the mind of the small armor-plated rodent. The Grugel had come down from outside to eat the blind crickets, and now itwas returning. It crossed the Codex's cave on its way to climb up a very narrow chimney,using the hooks on its legs and throwing its equally hooked tail ahead like a climbing rope. The Codex entered the mind of the Grugel and went with it to the outside world. It could enterthe minds of several thousand animal-level intelligences at once, or a single Aeniran creatureof human intelligence, though this was very difficult. It could not enter the minds of actualhumans. Its makers had prohibited that.But the Codex had to be close to its first target, or be able to see out of one of its helper'seyes.From the Grugel, it entered the minds of a roving pair of Lipits, and then a whole swarm of Frox. After that it kept adding eyes and ears from all sorts of creatures. Slowly, the Codex'sperception ranged over almost the whole of Aenir.It was not a constant presence, though. Sometimes creatures died or the Codex simply losttouch with them, as happened when they strayed too far from another one of the Codex'seyes and ears. The Codex had to constantly work at keeping the many thousands of minds inits unique spy network linked back to its dark prison.Always the Codex hoped to see or hear someone ask the question it desperately wanted toanswer: "Where is the Codex of the Chosen?" or "How can I find the Codex?"Once the question was asked, the Codex could use one of the animals it controlled to guidethe questioner, or communicate with them.But it was the nature of the Codex that it could only answer questions. It could not act of itsown accord.So the Codex brooded in its prison, watching the life of Aenir through the eyes of its manyagents and listening through their many ears.It most closely watched the Chosen, for they were its people. On the Day of Ascension itwould send hundreds of creatures running, jumping, flying, and burrowing toward the ChosenEnclave, waiting for the people of the Castle to appear from the Dark World, as they did everyyear.

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