Eternity is an irrational concept.

For Seth a personal eternity began when when he felt the Seed lurch to a halt beneath him.

It was a bleak and pathetic, intellectual eternity that floated on the whispers of doomed souls.

When Calhwin's eyes glazed slightly, as he looked down at the unfolded text, the texture of that eternity changed to the universal nightmare of all human kind. The dream where you struggle to move, to run from something, or to someone's rescue, but distance is wrong or the air too thick. The nightmare of a journey that can not be completed despite the most desperate need.

With Calhwin lost to the thrall of the book, and all the other things Seth guessed he must be doing through Morgan to have stopped the implacable Seed, Seth knew this was his chance to destroy the thing that held Morgan trapped like a fly in amber.

Behind the link Morgan was raging. An individual mantra of raging thoughts. “We shouldn't have come here”. “Everything is ruined”. “He must be stopped Now!” “I should have killed us both”. “No! Don't touch that you idiot!” With countless others just like those pouring from Morgan's mind. Unique combinations of the same ideas in continuously variant patterns like the digits of a transcendental number. The only clear inference Seth took was that every instant counted, he must hurry and he dare not let any thought or sound make its way back to Calhwin.

By main force of will, and application of brute strength, Seth forced himself to stand. He was trapped most of the way within a temporal paradox. Whatever his own nature, he could move his flesh freely, he rightly presumed, only because of his resistance to spell-work. Everything else about him including his armor and clothes seemed to have exaggerated properties of inertia. It took a lot just to get even the shirt-tails hanging down his back to move.

All of his passable-at-best knowledge of formal physics danced just out of reach in his head. He knew that it had something to do with the diminishment of the significance of time within the mechanics of acceleration. It didn't matter what he knew really. When he stood up his clothes and the damnable restraints actually carried him slightly into the air with residual mutated momentum.

Seth got himself moving toward the pier leading back toward the Doorway to Fire. The image was completely obscured by the dust cloud but he'd kept track of which pier it was. He had to lean into it to get himself moving and then realized that he really couldn't get his shuffling feet to keep up. The effect nearly pitched him into the waiting abyss between stone and pier but also gave him nearly a minute to appreciate the situation and formulate a response.

He managed to bring his legs up together in a jackrabbit hop and then get them both extended down in front of him at the edge of the gap. That done he used his legs in a combination standing jump and pole-vault across the gap.

The landing sucked. It was like being dragged behind a wagon for a few yards, and the particularly massive weights on his arms wanted to move further, faster, and longer. Managing them involved making sure he landed with them under his abdomen and the motion made the rough iron pins file against the bones in his arms in jaw-clenching agony. The only good thing was that the sledge came free of the straps on his back, and skittered along the stone, sparking in slow motion.

It took nearly five hundred heartbeats by his count, to get up and then get down to retrieve the sledge and then up again without breaking any bones or falling off the pier. Still, it beat trying to reach over his shoulder with a pinned and weighted arm to fight the thing loose of the straps.

Seth found the thought of going thousand yards like this impossibly daunting. Fortunately he discovered that the further he got from the Seed the easier and more-normal movement became. By fifty yards he was shuffling along as easily as he had going out to the Seed in the first place. The odd timing effect was very local and the thousand yards went fairly quickly.

Seth stopped to consider as he reached the shell of wind and dust. From a distance it had looked quite different. Up close, and Seth could get quite close, within arms reach actually, it looked mirror smooth and it was moving so fast that there was no sense of separate particles.

Seth, holding firmly to the head of the sledge, extended the handle and touched the heel of it to the whirling mess. It felt as if someone had slapped it away to his left. He looked at the tip and saw there was a sparkling gray layer of dust on, and partly embedded in, the wood of the handle.

If Seth hadn't been head-blind he would never have considered crossing the threshold. The smooth inner surface was the point where the protective shielding built into the Seed ended. Someone who could see would have seen elementals of all sorts twisting and raging within the dust. What Seth could see in the odd moments when the dust thinned ever so slightly, was the distance to the place where the end of the pier met the continuous floor. It was just a foot or so beyond the start of the dust.

He tried sticking in the handle several more times. The deflection was consistently to his right and extremely strong. He headed to his left. The base of the pier was quite wide and he figured he only needed to make it that foot and another to spare or so before the wind carried him the width of the pier. If he didn't make it to the ring of solid floor he'd be swept into the open space and just keep whirling around with the dust until he fell to the bottom or hit something solid. Something like the underpinnings of the next pier to his right.

A low fast jump would do the trick. It would have to be all leg power and a shoulder roll if he hoped to keep a firm grip on the sledge and keep his forearms safely in against his body. It wouldn't do to let the iron pinions break his arms when he had come this far. There would be no point if he got to the glass matrix and couldn't use his hands to swing the sledge.

* * *

Seth crouched and jumped, and for a sinking instant thought he would loft up in the hellish force. He also felt like the winds had changed direction while he was thinking. Whatever the details, he flew and tumbled and then sprawled onto the wide floor.

On this side of the interface the blasts were far less regular and predictable. Blasts of hot wet gritty air seemed to be rushing everywhere at once like a blustery day gone mad. Seth was pretty sure he'd broken at least two fingers of his left hand in the landing but not unmanageably so, and blessed be the matron of the forge, he still had the hammer. If he stayed close to the ground he could almost function. His normal clothes were already starting to shred but for the first time in a while something was completely on his side. The wyrsa hide didn't let any of the scouring reach down to his skin. Only his head, face, and hands were really exposed and he could survive that long enough to do his task.

Getting oriented was a little tougher and he wasn't sure how long he crawled about or how he figured which way to go. Maybe he heard the wind trashing some of the stuff about. For all the scouring effect this was no normal wind. It didn't seem to want to move anything very far. It just swirled and eddied and shifted at an unnatural speed while never really traveling any distance.

First there were bits. The unidentifiable bits of things that had broken when the work tables had been sundered. Then there was something else. It took a second to register. Carpeting. The heavy area rugs that had been laid out for camp had stayed put. They were too big to be lifted all at once by the vacuum of the darting jets of air and they were otherwise happy to stay unmoving in the ground effect along the floor.

Seth found the bulky glass rectangular solid Calhwin had referred to before. It was about the size and shape of a coffin for a seven year old child. Inside there seemed to be a shadow in the shape of a body. It was hard to be sure really, the viewing conditions were less than ideal. But regardless of the details, this was the thing Calhwin said held Morgan as his thrall.

Seth rolled his back against the ground and pushed the thing with his feet, hoping to slide it closer to the outer wall where the wind might be less severe. He got the thing to just past the edge of the carpet but after that there wasn't enough traction to overcome the thing's weight.

There was only one step left.

Seth knelt, took up the hammer by the handle end, raised it above his head, and got blown over before he could strike.

“Not the idea” he muttered to himself.

It took several variations on the theme before he found a technique that worked. Struggle into position, Knees to the floor spread wide. Hunch up the back in an arch. Position the hammer along the spine gripping the end of the handle behind the head. Pop up the torso while simultaneously swinging the hammer up, over, and down with all possible strength. Do some damage. Get blown over.

It took seven full cycles through it to lay open the glass and reveal the inner shape. Inconvenient details aside, it was very like hammering a corpse free from a block of ice. First some cracks, then some chips, and then chunks break away. Finally the difference between the outer and inner parts of the solid mass make themselves manifest and the outer calves off and the body is revealed.

The eighth and ninths strikes glanced off the vaguely humanoid shape of glass and iron with a spark, and when Seth felt the hammer head it was hot to the touch. When the tenth strike did likewise and the hammer came back deformed Seth reconsidered. Running his hand along the pristine figure he had an insight.

There was only one thing he knew he had that could mess up magic. Himself. His own body. The dampening effect. He also had nearly half-again the weight of the hammer bonded to his forearms. If he just smashed at the form with that...

As sure as he knew it would break his arms, Seth became sure that the inspiration was true and correct. He wouldn't have the leverage of the hammer's handle, but he wasn't able to swing it well anyway between the wind and his hobbled arms.

Seth positioned himself along the middle of the mannequin. It was both his target and a wind block. He made a double fist, raised up, and struck with his full might.

He felt bones break but he'd done some damage so he did it again. And again. And again. He could feel the iron heating, searing the flesh of his broken arms, and he was yelling out in pain, fury, and revenge. The battle cry of the desperate and broken.

And then a bubble of calm surrounded him.

His arms were thoroughly broken. His hands were numb and bleeding, laid open repeatedly by the glass. The iron bands were so hot they were cooking his flesh. Some corner of his mind compared it all to injuries he'd seen men take in battle, which told him that he was probably going to lose both his arms at the elbow, but he didn't care.

The man-like figure was in shards around him and he could feel Morgan enveloping him in love and gratitude.

For the briefest of eternities Seth plummeted into unconsciousness while every little bit of effort Morgan could spare was brought to bare. He cooled the metal and reshaped it into splints and pins to help heal instead of harm, casting off the unnecessary, hurtful weight. He stripped off the stupid leggings, they weren't necessary. He even set a minuscule healing web to maybe save his hands. It was all he had to spare and it wouldn't last long enough to do much good. It was kind of futile really, since Morgan was now fairly certain they would all be dead presently, but he did as much as possible of what he felt was right to repay the debit. Seth had freed him to act after all.

When Seth bobbed back into his own awareness he felt much improved. Morgan was there within his mind and heart and that was a good thing.

Morgan spoke to him on that inner connection. “I have to try to fix this, wait here my love, if anything can be saved you will be safe.” And Seth felt his kiss across the distance.

But he felt more. There are no lies on the intimate mode. Morgan knew he would not exist for more than a hand-full of minutes more. He was going to scour Calhwin's incompetence from the realm somehow and that would be his own undoing too.

“Wait! I love you! You must wait!” Seth bellowed down the link.

“I know my love, but there is no more time. I want you to survive.” And Seth could feel Morgan trying to cut him off, trying to sever the link, even as he began something truly monstrous.

And Seth began to run.