Impossible Voyage

Having left the Fair Isle in search of the Tearing Gale, the collection of Exalts and mortals riding the winds within Mercury’s Envy had crossed what remained of the White Sea and were now cruising over an endless wintry expanse on the way to Diamond Hearth.

Most of those aboard had little concern for the journey itself, but as the pilot, Tya Mnemia did not have that luxury. Though the ship could almost fly itself, detecting the destructive manses of Kal Bax required the instincts and skills of an actual pilot, so the woman found herself at the helm far more often than not when the circle needed to travel. And though she considered herself an excellent pilot, their destination lay beyond her skills as a navigator.

“Ananasa, a word if I may.” the Tya said to no one in general. “Neya, your attention would also be appreciated.”

Within moments both of those called by Mnemia had materialized on the bridge. Neya, the AI of Mercury’s Envy, simply coalesced out of the air as most AI were prone to do. Mnemia had seen the effect often enough when Anna projected her presence as well. Ananasa’s entrance was a bit more unorthodox. The spider like god of Mercury’s Envy always seemed to drop down from above when called, even though it was never seen actually doing that. As far as the eyes were concerned one moment it was not there, the next it was. But there was always the unmistakable impression that it had been lurking above, waiting, and had descended when summoned.

“Ananasa, what can you tell me about how we will be traveling through the Wyld? I was not present for the travels in the East.”

“As you will.” Ananasa replied with an odd staccato cadence that accompanied all of it’s spoken interactions. “Space in the Wyld is not constrained in the same manner as space in Creation. Physical distance is irrelevant. Instead, it is the act of the journey that matters. It is these passages, connection between points of interest called way points, that define travel in the Wyld.”

Oh, good. This was going to be one of those conversations. “Once more?” Mnemia asked.

“As you will. Space in the Wyld is not constrained in the same manner…” but its words were cut off by Mnemia.

“Ananasa, what I mean to say is that I didn’t understand what you were saying. Is there another way you can describe it?”

“As you will.” it began again, no hint in its voice that it had an emotional response to what Mnemia had said. “All travel in the Wyld is composed of two components. The first is the way point. This is a location of interest within the Wyld, holding something of meaning to someone. The second is the journey. This is the passage that connects one way point to the next.”

Mnemia tilted her head at that. It made more sense than the first explanation, but she was still missing something. “So what’s the difference then? I could call Nexus a way point and the Fair Isle a way point and the trip between them a journey. Why is it different in the Wyld?”

“It is different in that the length of the journey is dictated by the thematic importance of that journey. The less important the journey the shorter it is. But the position of a way point in the Wyld, at least the Wyld that you will be exposed to, is based upon the influence of the poles of Creation.”

Maybe being around Kadon was rubbing off on Mnemia. That didn’t sound nearly as absurd as it should have. “So you’re telling me that if a way point was close to the pole of wood and another close to the pole of water that if the journey was boring the distance would be very small?”

“In a manner of speaking.” Ananasa confirmed. “And seemingly short trips with profound journeys may cover a massive distance.”

Mnemia nodded at that. “So if those are the rules, what are you doing to the Envy to facilitate our travel? I was told you could travel through the Wyld almost instantaneously.”

“This is a more difficult concept to convey. Though not entirely accurate, the closest parallel I was able to determine with the help of Kadon is to think of a journey as a pipe and the way points as boxes on either end. Instead of traveling inside the pipe as is required of almost all travelers I walk the exterior of the pipe. The content of the journey is irrelevant. All that matters is how interesting the journey is. As a result I am able to quickly cover distance in the Wyld by traveling the least engaging, and therefore shortest, journeys.”

“I am also able to move from journey to journey without needing to enter a way point. I simply walk on the exterior of the box much the same as I walk on the exterior of the pipe. I may enter a way point should I have a reason to, but it is not required.”

“Traveling in this way is said to be traveling the webways as the vast network of journeys connecting the infinite way points would appear much like a chaotic spider web should such a thing be possible to visualize.”

“So, if that’s the case, how do we find the Tearing Gale?” Mnemia asked.

“That is also a difficult concept to properly convey. To use the webway one must have an instinctive understanding of all way points and all journeys. Without that understanding it would be impossible to choose the proper journey. I have such an understanding. Kadon compared it to a library…”

Mnemia rolled her eyes at this a bit. They really had to stop letting Kadon teach super powerful creatures that know nothing about Creation about Creation.

“…where each book has been read. If there is something you wish to find in the library you first canvas the book titles. As each title is read the contents of the book are recalled. It is much the same with me and the journeys and way points. As I examine one I instinctively understand it. That is not to say that I know all of the details; but the number of pages, the content, some of the critical components, etc… I do know simply by examining the exterior. The more I know about what it is I seek and the traditional journeys required to reach it the easier I can find it, but such details are not required. Our search will be much the same.”

“Neya, do you have any records from the last time this was done? Can you tell me what level of navigation is still required by the pilot?” If the god was annoyed that Mnemia had asked the ship this question instead of it it didn’t show it.

“From the bridge we appeared to be traveling a tunnel. Propulsion was active and the helm was engaged, but no pilot interaction was required. Ananasa assumed almost total control of operations.”

That was not the answer Mnemia wanted to hear even if she did expect it. “No offense, but giving up so much control makes me nervous. What were to happen should you be incapacitated in some way Ananasa?”

“Traveling the webways breaks the natural laws of the Wyld. That laws would reassert themselves in the case of my incapacitation and the ship would immediate enter the nearest journey or way point. Should such an event occur I would strongly advise you to not move the ship and wait for my recovery. It is possible that the journey or way point the ship will have entered will not be connected to Creation in any way. As a result, returning to Creation would require the forging of a new journey and way point, both of which the denizens of the Wyld would readily influence in an effort to destroy you.”

Mnemia wasn’t thrilled with the idea of being stranded in the Wyld, but the benefits of utilizing Ananasa’s skills far outweighed the potential problems. Best to not linger any longer than needed in the Wyld.

“Thank you Ananasa. Please inform me as we near the boundaries of the Wyld, say 15 minutes before you must take control of the ship.”

“As you will.” it said before suddenly not being there, an odd feeling that it was above her again lingering for just a moment before it too faded.

“Neya, please monitor and record all readings when that happens. Please cut your standard safety margins in half at that point and inform me immediately if those margins are exceeded or if other unusual elements arise.”

“Certainly.” the AI confirmed.

“Thank you.” Mnemia concluded with a nod, turning her attention back to the sea of snow.

Impossible Voyage

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