This is the ninth chapter in Sky of Stone and the third in part two: Ore.

His Radiance

Geb had already thought of the cave of the ore tribe as impressive, but the interior of the column could also be seen as such. The many bridges led to a single room, which connected all the colors. Each entrance had a frame of precious stones of the respective color - and in the center of the round hall was a spiral staircase that led up and down. This entrance was decorated with stones of all colors.

"You really have a nice city here," Geb said as he looked around. "All the colors are perfect."

Their group leader nodded. "The entire city has been under construction for many decades. It is an honor for me to live here."

"Our tribe has always been known for its craftsmanship," Tanzanite added. "No other tribe is even nearly as talented."

Sedna rolled her eyes. "Did you know that self-praise stinks?"

To Geb's relief, her group leader ensured that the dispute did not continue. "We should not let Enki wait any longer. Let's go upstairs." He looked at Geb. "Your companion had better stay here, so he does not have to struggle with the steps. Summiteer will keep him and the bird company until we are back."

"Good idea. That is really nice of you." He patted Boulder of his head to say good-bye to him and noticed Iris was doing the same thing with Shimmer. Terrai, please make sure that Shimmer heals in the best way. But did the guardian of the earth have any influence on birds? He improved it. You too, Aricel. Even if I do not know you.

If something bad happened to Shimmer, it was all Geb's fault, of which he was well aware. Why could he never do something right? He only put himself and his friends in danger and could not even defend them, as his powers were absolutely useless.

But now he had no time to pity himself. They had a meeting with a chief, he had to stand up for his friends as best he could. In contrast to Iris, he knew that there were situations where one had to stick to certain formalities. In such an audience as they were about to meet, for example.

They left their companions behind and climbed the spiral staircase in the middle of the cave. On their way up, Geb gazed at the glass boxes, which had been set into the wall and which met them every few steps. They saw stones in various colors and shapes that were all equipped with a shield. Chalcedon, he read on one. Fluorite. He paused. So suddenly that Tanzanite ran into him.

"Be careful!"

"Sorry," Geb excused as he stared at this mineral.

"What is it?" Tanzanite asked impatiently. Geb knew he was holding him, so he went on. But the fluorite did not let go of him. Tanzanite could certainly enlighten him.

"Your name ends on -ite," Geb began hesitantly.

"So what?"

"Well, one of the stones before. I wondered if the horns are from - "

"How dare you?" Tanzanite had already pressed him against the wall, his black crystal ready for piercing. "So insult my tribe! I should - "

"Let go of him immediately." Of course, Tanzanite had drawn the others to them and their group leader was not at all impressed with the sight. "I've heard what it's all about," he continued, looking at Geb, "and I can assure you that these minerals are for exhibition purposes only, and have nothing to do with the fact that some of us have their children after them to name. For if you had guessed correctly, my name would be here someday, and it will not be because Heimdall is not a mineral. "

"What I said," Tanzanite nodded, only reluctantly letting go. "These are just stones and nothing else."

So the situation had calmed down again and they continued their ascent. Geb was glad to have been wrong, but Tanzanite had reminded him again that he could not defend himself at all. How could he protect his friends if he did not even dare to defend himself?

"So," Heimdall interrupted his thoughts. "We are there."

In fact, they had reached the end of the spiral staircase and thus the top floor of the column. There they were all dazzled by a glistening bright light, so that Geb's eyes narrowed. He believed that the entire space was lit up by giant versions of the luminous crystals, but these were not the only ones responsible for blindness: in front of the group stood a throne that consisted entirely of iridescent crystal and thus spread the light in all directions. The person who sat on this throne Geb could hardly see, but their crystal horns also shone in the light of the luminous crystals. They were not as blue as the horns of Tanzanite and Heimdall, but seemed to consist of all possible colors, which made the light in the room more impressive.

"Down!" Heimdall whispered, remembering him who they were facing. He had almost forgotten to respect the Chief of the Ore tribe. So he went to his knees and lowered his head as he had been told.

Seconds later, someone clapped their hands and the light around them nearly went blank, so it was almost dark. The remaining light sources were placed in such a way that only the head of Enki with its rainbow horns was illuminated, as well as his wrinkles. He had so many of them that he looked almost older than the cave he lived in. Even in this weak light, Geb saw the distinctive feature of each tribal chief: his markings were not as usual white, but in his case rose dark gray from his light gray skin.

He really knows how to intimidate people, thought Geb, who actually felt a bit afraid. For me it's already worked. Iris and Sedna also looked as though they felt uncomfortable in this atmosphere; Heimdall, however, seemed already to be accustomed to it.

"Greetings, Enki the Radiant."

"Likewise, captain Heimdall." The chief sounded as old as he looked, and spoke slowly and quietly. "I see, you ... tracked down intruders."

"That's what I told them," Tanzanite confirmed. "Of course I wanted to dispose of them, but -"

"Silence, guard. Nobody speaks without my orders." Enki raised a trembling hand with precious stone-ringed fingers and pointed directly to Geb. "You. Earth-Elm. Tell me what brings you to me."

It took a moment for Geb to actually register the question. He was too preoccupied with Enki's face, though he knew how rude it was. He still preferred it to his sparsely lit environment. "The companion of my friend Iris has injured her foot," he finally explained. He had not forgotten the real reason for their journey, but he knew that Shimmer was more important at that moment. He stood up and prayed that this was all right. The others, however, did the same and Enki did not mind, so he had probably not violated a rule. Still, it was not easy not to sound nervous. "We were hoping your healers could help her."

"Of course they can. The question is, however ... why they should."

"Because you are an honorable and good-hearted chief?" Geb suggested.

"That I am." For a moment, Enki actually sounded flattered. "Therefore, I am concerned about the good of my tribe. I am not associating positive memories with your three tribes. Who guarantees me that you are not a threat?"

"I do," Iris interrupted. "As Geb said, my companion is hurt. Geb is a pretty big loser in his magic, and Sedna's companion is not even here. So we are apprentices without magic and therefore I doubt that we could destroy your tribe, even if we wanted."

"Which we don't want, of course," added Geb quickly. "We will disappear so quickly that you will immediately forget that we were here at all."

Heimdall also supported them: "They have not caused us any problems so far."

Enki nodded thoughtfully as he looked at them again. "...Well. As I trust Heimdall, I allow you to stay in my tribe until ... the healers are of the opinion that they are no longer needed. Be aware, however, that your tribes are not welcome here." His eyes rested on Tanzanite. "This guard will stay with you for safety reasons. If he considers it necessary, he will kill you without hesitation. He has my permission to do so."

Tanzanite bowed. "I will not disappoint you, my chief."

"Of course not." Enki paused for a moment; Probably because he was more exhausted with speeches at his age than he wanted to admit. "And now go to the healers. I am busy."

Geb also bowed to say goodbye. "Thank you, Your Radiance."

Iris looked at him as if he were acting like an idiot, but Geb found that he was doing the right thing. He did not want to appear rude to the chief.

"You've heard Chief Enki," Tanzanite reminded the friends. "Let's go."

They left the throne room and returned to where their companions were waiting for them. Geb was glad that he could finally see everything around him again - less so, however, that Heimdall and his companion now also left them to devote themselves again to the guarding of the tribe. They were now alone with Tanzanite, and no one hindered the ore-elm from attacking them, except, of course, the fact that Geb saw no reason. The man would soon realize that they did not pose a threat.

Tanzanite did not bring them back across the blue bridge to the cave wall. Instead, he took the violet bridge, which accordingly led to a part of the town adorned with violet jewels. Once again, Geb could not believe that there were such incredible places on Elysia: every new place seemed to be overpowering the previous one, since he had already considered Sunstone itself as breathtaking. This once again made him realize how important it was to find the hero of the prophecy. This world was not to fall victim to the shadow.

The bridge ended at a place from which stairs lead in different directions. Luckily, Tanzanite ignored them perfectly, so they did not have to think about how they should help Boulder up or down. The guard chose a path that was just wide enough for Boulder and fell down at the side, so that one could fall into the abyss at any time. Geb was the last of the group, taking care that Boulder had no trouble before him, but everything went smoothly.

At some point Tanzanite stopped, made sure everyone was still with him, and then disappeared into a violet-lined entrance. Together with the others, Geb entered this cave and found himself surprised that it was an apartment. In fact, it reminded him of the houses of the Earth Tribe - the only difference being the lesser brightness and the fact that most of the furnishings were made of stone and not of wood or clay. Nevertheless, he felt somewhat at home here.

"You definitely can exaggerate with the stones," Sedna said, when she discovered the numerous decorative minerals.

Iris nodded, although she was clearly fascinated by the shining stones. "They have nothing else down there that they could put into their apartments, after all."

"Remember that I can kill you at any time," Tanzanite reminded them. "And I will do that if you do not show us more respect."

"I don't believe this." A woman appeared from a back part of the cave, so Geb asked herself how big it really was. It could still extend forever into the mountain, as the buildings here were only above and next to each other.

The chubby woman, who, in contrast to Tanzanite, had deep violet accents in body and clothing, stared at Geb and his friends as though she had never seen any members of these tribes. No wonder, with a chief, who had made his mistrust more than clear to them. "Tanzanite, what ...?"

"They're intruders," he said, sounding even less irritable than usual when he looked at the woman talking. Geb noted that the two were about the same age. "Enki allowed me to kill them if I thought it necessary." The woman grimaced, so Tanzanite changed his tone. "In addition, one of their companions has injured her foot. Enki wants you to look at her. "

"I in particular or just some healer?" She smiled, which made Tanzanite visibly embarrassed.

"Help them, alright? The faster you do, the faster we are going to get rid of them. "

"If it were for me, they may stay as long as they want." The woman shook hands with all of them and apologized at once when her hand was a little too tight for Iris. "By the way, I'm Amethyst. I'm sorry if my husband was making trouble with you. "

"All right," Geb said. He doubted that Tanzanite really wanted to do something to them. He only threatened them to protect his tribe. And he had a partner - how bad could he be?

"Good, let's see what's going on at all." Amethyst brought the friends to a table big enough to put Shimmer on. "There are undoubtedly a lot of healers who are actually at work, you know, but I can help you here as well." She looked at Tanzanite. "This also means that I will not get to go grocery shopping. Why do not you do this? You have nothing to do."

"I guard the intruders," he corrected, but she shook her head.

"Tanzanite, I can take care of myself. Besides, I'm certain that they will not run away until you get back."

"Okay, but be careful." He threw a warning glance at the three friends, then left the apartment again.

"You do not have to buy anything, do you?" Iris asked mischievously, just after Tanzanite was gone.

Amethyst shook her head as she examined Shimmer's foot. Once again Geb saw how badly it looked, and concentrated on the woman, so that he could no longer had to look at the injury. "Nothing urgent, no. It's just so incredibly exciting to meet Elmen as you."

"Down here nothing is going on," said Sedna. "Underwater, there are at least animals."

"In the caves, too, if you know where to look for them. But you're right, I'd really like to see the upper world. If I could, I would accompany Alioth. "

Sedna frowned. "Alioth? That is a star." Her tribe knows something like this, recalled Geb. Still, he could not imagine how she could remember all this - there were thousands of stars, and every single one to know by name ... nobody could. Above all, not himself.

"Right." Amethyst also seemed surprised at Sedna's knowledge. "That is the name of my companion, a bear. She only comes to sleep in the cave, if at all. Tanzanite makes sure that no one else will notice ... when Enki finds out that I can get things from the upper world through Alioth, it does not look good for me."

"Then it is no wonder that Tanzanite wants us dead," said Iris. "We are pretty much the embodiment of the upper world."

"I already told you," Sedna added. "The tribes are not much better than the shadows. They all have anchovies in their brains."

"That's enough," Amethyst said. They had probably talked about things that she probably could not tell anyone. Geb did not want to put her in danger. "We should take care of things that are more important. For example, the injury of your companion, little one."

Iris was immediately worried about the magpie. "She's fine, isn't she?"

"Well, it could have gotten far worse. She will not lose her foot completely, I'll take care of that."

"But?" Sedna asked. Geb had also been able to hear from Amethyst's tone that she was not yet done.

She looked at Iris apologetically. "But I'm afraid I'll have to remove their middle claw completely."

Sky of Stone Chapters
 Prologue  Prologue
 One: Earth  1: Summer Solstice2: Riders of the Wind3: Light and Shadow4: Opposites5: A Strange Encounter6: Across the River
 Two: Ore  7: Dark Omens8: Underground9: His Radiance10: The Forbidden11: A Boy and His Goat12: The Story of a Tribe13: Keeper of Earth14: At the Bottom15: Changes
 Three: Sky  16: Back to the Start17: Against the Darkness18: Old Acquaintances19: Change of Plans20: Unexpected21: Sky Holes22: Wind and Water
 Epilogue  Epilogue