Now I am filled with the weight of the dread occasioned by the coming battle. That is my preoccupation. Sharing with the mastodon only helped me bear it, as Jerem Cozak must have meant. But the dread increased when Marcus came to urge me to come up on the deck again.
“There is a thing I would have you explain to me,” he said.
The clouds were glowing orange and red and purple over the western horizon when we climbed through the hatch, and I thought for one absurd moment that the Neverborn did not understand a sunset. But then he gestured to the south, where dark shapes reared up, jagged edges and cutting peaks climbing higher and higher through the clouds until they overwhelmed all expectation.
“The Spine of the World,” I said, “the highest mountains Thaeron has.” I shrugged. “I have always wanted to see them. There is, or was, great debate in the Temple as to their origin.”
His eyes widened. “Not Earth nor any other world had mountains such as these. These must be twice as high. How are they traversed?”
I shrugged, wondering if he had become more like Julius now. “They are not, or at least they are no longer. In the wars between the cities, Kasora once had great advantage because of it Arks, which could fly even over these. Now everyone travels Ostara by ship, just as we are.”
He frowned. “These Arks,” he said. “What are they?”
I shrugged. “Few living have seen them. Since they closed, they are sealed away in the vaults beneath Kasora, tended only by the highest-ranking Historians. But they are said to be golden spheres as high as a man standing, and that they went wherever their riders wished, and unleashed great energies.”
“They are closed, you say?”
I nodded. “Sealed, and inert. It is said they stopped responding sometime before the army of the first Faith marched on Kasora to end the wars between the cities. There is no record of him fighting them, as there surely would be if he had.”