We’ve found them, I’d told Nogilian. The Augers found the ships that go faster than light.
Yeah. I rode on. As I neared, the golden lights shifted uneasily, as if aware of my presence. I could almost touch them. Something tingled through me that was hot and cold at once. The electric spirits hissed, like sleet driven in the wind. I thought I heard, for a moment, something of a musicality. I certainly felt a will.
Then the waves of light parted like a curtain, and I passed between them. Their domain was only as thick as the space between the spires, a few lengths of my machine. There were no dead Augers on the path ahead of me. I stopped just where it started climbing gently out of the caldera again.
O Suriel, I thought. All the things you have not told me.
Nogilian approached. Behind him, the first of long string of valkyries was reaching the gate of golden lights between the spires.
“Our Guardian,” he said. “It will take days to free these ships. We must begin.”
I wept. I swear I cried, standing there at the bottom of a pass between ten thousand meter peaks, for a tragedy undergone long ago by persons incomprehensible to me. I wiped everything away.
“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “I was wrong. The Augers were wrong. They didn’t find any lightships here. Not that we could ever pilot, anyway. See that design? That look like any Profusionist machine you have ever seen? It’s just wreckage, Nogilian. A broken ship buried in the ice, and it’s not even human. That’s why they worshipped it. So, you’re right. There is no time for anything else. It’s over. There’s no place left to go. We’ve come to the wrong place.”